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Of the Law of Faith, or Covenant of Grace
Ant. I beseech you, sir, proceed to help us to the true knowledge of the law of faith.
Evan. The law of faith is as much as to say the covenant of
grace, or the gospel, which signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings; that is
to say, that God, to whose eternal knowledge all things are present, and nothing past
or to come, foreseeing man's fall, before all time purposed,4444(2 Tim 1:9), "Who hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."—(Eph
3:11), "According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
and in time
promised,4545(Rom 1:1,2), "The gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy Scriptures."
and in the fullness of time performed,4646(Gal 4:4,5), "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them
that were under the law."
the sending of his Son Jesus
Christ into the world, to help and deliver fallen mankind.4747 These are the good tidings, this is the law of faith,
i.e. the law to be believed for salvation, which the apostle plainly teacheth. (Rom
1:16), "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth"; and, (verse 17), "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith." In this last text, clouded with a great variety of
interpretations, I think there is a transposition of words to be admitted, and would read the whole
verse thus: "For therein is revealed the righteousness of God by faith unto
faith; as it is written, But the just by faith shall live." The key to this construction
and reading of the words in the former part of the verse, is, the testimony adduced
by the apostle in the latter part of it, from Habakkuk 2:4, where the original
text appears to me to determine the version of that testimony as here offered. The
sense is, the righteousness which is by faith, namely, the righteousness of
Christ, the only righteousness in which a sinner can stand before God, is in the
gospel revealed unto faith, i.e. to be believed. See a like phrase, 1 Timothy
4:3, translated after this manner.
Of the eternal purpose of grace.
Ant. I beseech you, sir, let us hear more of these things; and first of all, show how we are to conceive of God's eternal purpose in sending of Jesus Christ.
Evan. Why, here the learned frame a kind of conflict in God's holy attributes; and by a liberty, which the Holy Ghost, from the language of holy Scripture, alloweth them, they speak of God after the manner of men, as if he were reduced to some straits and difficulties, by the cross demands of his several attributes.4848"How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together," (Hosea 11:8). For Truth and Justice stood up and said, that man had sinned, and therefore man must die; and so called for the condemnation of a sinful, and therefore worthily a cursed creature; or else they must be violated: for thou saidst, [said they to God], "In that day that thou eatest of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt die the death." Mercy, on the other side, pleaded for favour, and appeals to the great court in heaven: and there it pleads, saying, Wisdom, and power, and goodness, have been all manifest in the creation; and anger and justice have been magnified in man's misery that he is now plunged into by his fall: but I have not yet been manifested.4949Mercy requires an object in misery. O let favour and compassion be shown towards man, woefully seduced and overthrown by Satan! Oh! said they5050Favour and compassion. unto God, it is a royal thing to relieve the distressed; and the greater any one is, the more placable and gentle he ought to be. But Justice replied, If I be offended, I must be satisfied and have my right; and therefore I require, that man, who hath lost himself by his disobedience, should, for remedy, set obedience against it, and so satisfy the judgment of God. Therefore the wisdom of God became an umpire, and devised a way to reconcile them; concluding, that before there could be reconciliation made, there must be two things effected; (1.) A satisfaction of God's justice. (2.) A reparation of man's nature: which two things must needs be effected by such a middle and common person that had both zeal towards God, that he might be satisfied; and compassion towards man, that he might be repaired: such a person, as, having man's guilt and punishment translated on him, might satisfy the justice of God, and as having a fullness of God's Spirit and holiness in him, might sanctify and repair the nature of man.5151 As man lay in ruins, by the fall guilty and unclean, there stood int he way of his salvation, by mercy designed, 1. The justice of God, which could not admit the guilty creature; and, 2. The holiness of God, which could not admit the unclean and unholy creature to communion with him. Therefore, in the contrivance of his salvation, it was necessary that provision should be made for the satisfaction of God's justice, by payment of the double debt mentioned above; namely, the debt of punishment and the debt of perfect obedience. It was also necessary that provision should be made for the sanctification of the sinner, the repairing of the lost image of God in him. And man being as unable to sanctify himself, as to satisfy justice, [a truth which proud nature cannot digest], the Saviour behoved, not only to obey and suffer in his stead, but also to have a fullness of the Spirit of holiness in him to communicate to the sinner, that his nature might be repaired through sanctification of the Spirit. Thus was the groundwork of man's salvation laid in the eternal counsel; the sanctification of the sinner, according to our author, being as necessary to his salvation as the satisfaction of justice; for indeed the necessity of the former, as well as of the latter, ariseth from the nature of God, and therefore is an absolute necessity. And this could be none other but Jesus Christ, one of the Three Persons of the blessed Trinity; therefore he, by his Father's ordination, his own voluntary offering, and the Holy Spirit's sanctification, was fitted for the business. Whereupon there was a special covenant, or mutual agreement made between God and Christ, as is expressed, (Isa 53:10), that if Christ would make himself a sacrifice for sin, then he should "see his seed, he should prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper by him." So in Psalm 89:19, the mercies of this covenant between God and Christ, under the type of God's covenant with David, are set forth: "Thou spakest in vision to thy holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon One that is mighty": or, as the Chaldee expounds it, "One mighty in the law." As if God had said concerning his elect, I know that these will break, and never be able to satisfy me; but thou art a mighty and substantial person, able to pay me, therefore I will look for my debt of thee.5252That is, the debt which the elect owe to me. Thus was the covenant made betwixt the Father and the Son for the elect, that he should obey for them, and die for them. As Pareus well observes, God did, as it were, say to Christ, What they owe me I require all at thy hands. Then said Christ, "Lo, I come to do thy will! in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God! yea, thy law is in my heart," (Psa 40:7,8). Thus Christ assented, and from everlasting struck hands with God, to put upon him man's person, and to take upon him his name, and to enter in his stead in obeying his Father, and to do all for man that he should require, and to yield in man's flesh the price of the satisfaction of the just judgment of God, and, in the same flesh, to suffer the punishment that man had deserved; and this he undertook under the penalty that lay upon man to have undergone.5353The Son of God consented to put himself in man's stead, in obeying his Father, and so to do all for man that his Father should require, that satisfaction should be made: farther, he consented, in man's nature, to satisfy and suffer the deserved punishment, that the same nature that sinned might satisfy; and yet farther, he undertook to bear the very same penalty that lay upon man, by virtue of the covenant of works, to have undergone; so making himself a proper surety for them, who, as the author observes, must pay the sum of money that the debtor oweth. This I take to be the author's meaning; but the expression of "Christ's undertaking under the penalty," &c., is harsh and unguarded. And thus was justice satisfied, and mercy by the Lord Jesus Christ; and so God took Christ's single bond; whence Christ is not only called the "surety of the covenant for us," (Heb 7:22), but the covenant itself, (Isa 49:8). And God laid all upon him, that he might be sure of satisfaction; protesting that he would not deal with us, nor so much as expect any payment from us; such was his grace. And thus did our Lord Jesus Christ enter into the same covenant of works that Adam did to deliver believers from it:5454Our Lord Jesus Christ became surety for the elect in the second covenant, (Heb 8:22); and in virtue of that suretyship, whereby he put himself in the room of the principal debtors, he came under the same covenant of works that Adam did; in so far as the fulfilling of that covenant in their stead was the very condition required of him, as the second Adam in the second covenant. (Gal 4:4,5), "God sent forth his Son; made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." Thus Christ put his neck under the yoke of the law as a covenant of works, to redeem them who were under it as such. Hence he is said to be the "end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth," (Rom 10:4); namely, the end for consummation, or perfect fulfilling of it by his obedience and death, which pre-supposeth his coming under it. And thus the law as a covenant of works was magnified and made honourable; and it clearly appears how "by faith we establish the law," (Rom 3:31). How then is the second covenant a covenant of grace? In respect of Christ, it was most properly and strictly a covenant of works, in that he made a proper, real, and full satisfaction in behalf of the elect; but in respect of them, it is purely a covenant of richest grace, in as much as God accepted the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them; provided the surety himself, and gives all to them freely for his sake. he was contented to be under all that commanding, revenging authority, which that covenant had over them, to free them from the penalty of it; and in that respect, Adam is said to be a type of Christ, as you have it, (Rom 5:14), "who was the type of him that was to come." To which purpose, the titles which the apostle gives these two, Christ and Adam, are exceeding observable: he calls Adam the "first man," and Christ our Lord the "second man," (1 Cor 15:47); speaking of them as if there never had been any more men in the world besides these two; thereby making them head and root of all mankind, they having, as it were, the rest of the sons of men included in them. The first man is called the "earthy man"; the second man, Christ, is called the "Lord from heaven," (1 Cor 15:47). The earthy man had all the sons of men born into the world included in him, and is so called, in conformity unto them, the "first man":5555And so, in relation to them, is called the "first man." the second Man, Christ, is called the "Lord from heaven," who had all the elect included in him, who are said to be the "first born," and to have their "names written in heaven," (Heb 12:23), and therefore are appositely called "heavenly men"; so that these two, in God's account, stood for all the rest.5656Thus Adam represented all mankind in the first covenant, and Christ represented all the elect in the second covenant.—See the first note on the Preface. And thus you see, that the Lord, willing to show mercy to the fallen creature, and withal to maintain the authority of his law, took such a course as might best manifest his clemency and severity. Christ entered into covenant, and became surety for man, and so became liable to man's engagements: for he that answers as a surety must pay the same sum of money that the debtor oweth.
And thus have I endeavoured to show you, how we are to conceive
of God's eternal purpose in sending of Jesus Christ to help and deliver
Chapter II, Section II, 1
The promise made to Adam.
Ant. I beseech you, sir, proceed also to the second thing; and first tell us, when the Lord began to make a promise to help and deliver fallen mankind.
Evan. Even the same day that he sinned,5757This, our author does here positively assert, and afterwards confirm. And there is plain evidence for it from the holy Scriptures, which determines the time of our Lord's calling our guilty first parents before him, at the which time he gave them the promise. (Gen 3:8), "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day"; [Heb, "At the wind of that day," as Junius and Tremellius, Piscator and Picherellus, read it;] the which, as soon as it began to blow, might convince them that their aprons of fig- leaves were not fit covers for their nakedness. which, as I suppose, was the very same day he was created.5858Our author is far from being singular in this opinion. The learned Gataker, [apud Pol. Synop. Crit. in Genesis 3:23,] owns it to be the common opinion, though he himself is of another mind, "That man fell, and was cast out of paradise, the same day in which he was created." And he tells us, [Ibid. in Psalm 49:13,] that "Broughton does most confidently assert Adam not to have stood in his integrity so much as one day; and that he saith, out of Maimonides, This is held by all the Jews, as also by the Greek fathers." That this opinion is less received than formerly, is, if I mistake not, not a little owing to the cavils of the Deists; who, to weaken the credit of the inspired history, allege it to be incredible that the events recorded (Gen 1:24-26, 2:7,18, to the end of the third chapter), could all be crowded into one day. [See Nichol's Conference with a Theist.] The reasons to support it, taken from the learned Sharp, one of the six ministers banished in the year 1606. [Curs. Theol. Loc. de Peccato.] 1. "Because of the devil's envy, who, it is likely, could not long endure to see a man in a happy state. 2. If man had stood more days, the blessing of marriage would have taken place, Adam would have known his wife, and begot a child without original sin. 3. The Sabbath was not so much appointed for meditating on the works of creation, as on the work of redemption. 4. It appears from the words of the serpent, and of the woman, that she had not yet tasted any fruit. 5. When the Holy Ghost speaks of the sixth day, (Gen 1), and of the day of the fall, it is with HE emphatic. [Compare Genesis 1 ult. and 3:8.] 6. He fell so soon, that the work of redemption might be the more illustrious, since man could not stand one day without the Mediator's help." How the Sabbath was broken by Adam's sin, though committed the day before, may be learned from the Larger Catechism, on the fourth commandment, which teaches, that "The Sabbath is to be sanctified—and to that end we are to prepare our hearts—that we may be the more fit for the duties of that day": and that "the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment, are all omissions of the duties required," &c. For Adam, by his sin, being become the child of wrath, and both in body and in soul subject to the curse, and seeing nothing due to him but the wrath and vengeance of God, was "afraid, and sought to hide himself from the presence of God," (Gen 3:10), whereupon the Lord promised Christ unto him, saying to the serpent, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed"; he [that is to say, the seed of the woman, for so is the Hebrew text] "shall break thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This promise of Christ, the woman's seed, (verse 15), was the gospel; and the only comfort of Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, and the rest of the godly fathers, until the time of Abraham.5959In this promise was revealed, 1. Man's restoration unto the favour of God, and his salvation; not to be effected by man himself, and his own works, but by another. For our first parents, standing condemned for breaking of the covenant of works, are not sent back to it, to essay the mending of the matter, which they had marred before; but a new covenant is purposed,—a Saviour promised as their only hope. 2. That this Saviour was to be incarnate, to become man, "the seed of the women." 3. That he behoved to suffer; his heel, namely his humanity, to be bruised to death. 4. That by his death he should make a full conquest over the devil, and destroy his works, who had now overcome and destroyed mankind; and so recover the captives out of his hand: "he shall bruise thy head, viz: while thou bruisest his heel." This encounter was on the cross: there Christ treading on the serpent, it bruised his heel, but he bruised its head. 5. That he should not be held by death, but Satan's power should be broken irrecoverably: the Saviour being only bruised in the heel, but the serpent in the head. 6. That the saving interest in him, and his salvation, is by faith alone, believing the promise with particular application to one's self, and so receiving him, forasmuch as these things are revealed by way of a simple promise.
Nom. I pray you, sir, what ground have you to think that Adam fell the same day he was created?
Evan. My ground for this opinion is, Psalm 49:12; which text Mr. Ainsworth makes to be the 13th verse, and reads it thus, "But man in honour doth not lodge a night; he is likened unto beasts that are silenced."6060"From this text the Hebrew doctors, also in Bereshit Rabba, do gather, that the glory of the first man did not night with him, and that in the beginning of the Sabbath his splendour was taken away from him, and he was driven out of Eden."—[Cartwright and Pol. Synops. Crit. in Loc.] The learned Leigh, [in his Crit. Sacr. in voc. Lun,] citing this text, says, "Adam lodged not one night in honour, for so are the words, if they be properly translated." He repeats the same in his annotations on the book of Psalms, and points his reader to Ainsworth, whose version does evidently favour this opinion, and is here faithfully cited by our author, though without the marks of composition—"lodge a night," there being no such marks in my copy of Ainsworth's version or annotations, printed at London, 1639. However the word lun may signify, to abide or continue, it is certain the proper and primary signification of it is, tonight [at, in, or with]. I must be allowed the use of this word to express the true import of the original one. Thus we have it rendered, (Gen 28:11), "tarried all night."—(Judg 19:9,10,13), "Tarry all night—tarry that night—lodged all night." And since this is the proper and primary signification of the word, it is not to be receded from, without necessity; the which I cannot discover here. The text seems to me to stand thus, word for word, the propriety of the tenses also observed: "Yet Adam in honour could not night; he became like as the beasts, they were alike." Compare the Septuagint, and the vulgar Latin; with which, according to Pool, [in Synop. Crit.,] the Ethiopic, Syriac, and Arabic, do agree, though unhappy in not observing the difference between this and the last verse of the Psalm. Nothing can be more agreeable to the scope and content. Worldly men boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, (verse 6), as if their houses should continue for ever, (verse 11); and yet Adam, as happy as he was in paradise, continued not one night in his honour; it quickly left him; yea, he died, and in that respect became like the beasts; (compare verse 14), "Like sheep they are laid in the grave, death shall feed on them." And after showing that the worldly man shall die, notwithstanding of his worldly wealth and honour, (verse 19), this suitable memorial for Adam's sons is repeated with a very small variation, (verse 20,21), "Adam was in honour, but could not understand; he became," &c. That may be minded, says he, both for the first man Adam, who continued not in his dignity, and for all his children.
Ant. But, sir, do you think that Adam and those others did understand that promised seed to be meant of Christ?
Evan. Who can make doubt, but that the Lord had acquainted Adam with Christ, betwixt the time of his sinning and the time of his sacrificing, though both on one day?
Ant. But did Adam offer sacrifice?
Evan. Can you make any question, but that the bodies of those beasts, whose skins went for a covering for his body, were immediately before offered in sacrifice for his soul? Surely these skins could be none other but of beasts slain, and offered in sacrifice; for before Adam fell, beasts were not subject to mortality nor slaying. And God's clothing of Adam and his wife with skins signified, that their sin and shame were covered with Christ's righteousness. And, questionless, the Lord had taught him, that his sacrifice did signify his acknowledgment of his sin, and that he looked for the Seed of the woman, promised to be slain in the evening of the world, thereby to appease the wrath of God for his offence; the which, undoubtedly, he acquainted his sons, Cain and Abel, with, when he taught them also to offer sacrifice.
Ant. But how doth it appear that this his sacrificing was the very same day that he sinned?
Evan. It is said, (John 7:3), concerning Christ, "That they sought to take him, yet no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come"; but after that when the time of his suffering was at hand, he himself said, (John 12:23), "The hour is come"; which day is expressly set down by the Evangelist Mark to be the sixth day, and ninth hour of that day, when "Christ, through the eternal Spirit, offered up himself without spot to God," (Mark 15:34,42). Now, if you compare this with Exodus 12:6, you shall find that the paschal lamb, a most lively type of Christ, was offered the very same day and hour, even the sixth day, and ninth hour of that day, which was at three of the clock in the afternoon: and the Scripture testifies, that Adam was created the very same sixth day; and gives us ground to think that he sinned the same day. And do not the before alleged Scriptures afford us warrant to believe that it was the very same hour of that day, (Gen 1:26); when Christ entered mystically and typically upon the work of redemption, in being offered as a sacrifice for Adam's sin?6161That the promise was given the same day that Adam sinned, was evinced before: and from the history, (Gen 3), and the nature of the thing itself, one may reasonably conclude, that the sacrifices were annexed to the promise. And since the hour of Christ's death was all along the time of the evening sacrifice, it is very natural to reckon that it was also the hour of the first sacrifice; even as the place on which the temple stood was at first designed by an extraordinary sacrifice on that spot, (1 Chron 20:18-28, 22:1). 1. "At three o'clock in the afternoon, Christ yielded up the Ghost, (Mark 15:34,) the very time when Adam had received the promise of this his passion for his redemption."—Lightfoot on Acts 2:1. And surely we may suppose, that the covenant [as you heard] being broken between God and Adam, justice would not have admitted of one hour's respite, before it had proceeded to execution, to the destruction both of Adam and the whole creation, had not Christ, at that very time, stood as the ram [or rather the lamb] in the bush, and stepped in to perform the work of the covenant. And hence I conceive it is, that Saint6262This word might well have been spared here; notwithstanding that we so read in the title of the book of the Revelation in our English Bibles; and in like manner, in the titles of other books in the New Testament, St. [i.e. Saint] Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, &c.; it is evident, there is not such a word to be found in the titles of these books in the original Greek; and the Dutch translators have justly discarded it out of their translations. If it is to be retained, because John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, &c., were, without controversy, saints, why not on the same ground, Saint Moses, Saint Aaron, [expressly called "the Saint of the Lord," (Psa 106:16)] &c.? No reason can be given of the difference made in this point, but that it pleased Antichrist to canonize these New Testament saints, but not the Old Testament ones. Canonizing is an act or sentence of the Pope, decreeing religious worship and honours to such men or women departed, as he sees meet to confer the honour of saintship on. These honours are seven, and the first of them is, "That they are enrolled in the catalogue of saints, and must be accounted and called saints by all."—Bellarmin Disp. tom. 1. Col. 1496. John calls him the "Lamb slain" from the beginning of the world,6363The benefits thereof [viz: of Christ's redemption] "were communicated unto the elect from the beginning of the world in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the Seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world."—Westm. Confess. chap. 8, art. 6. (Rev 13:8). For as the first state of creation was confirmed by the covenant which God made with man, and all creatures were to be upheld by means of observing the law and condition of that covenant; so that covenant being broken by man, the world should have come to ruin, had it not been, as it were, created anew, and upheld by the covenant of grace in Christ.
Ant. Then, sir, you think that Adam was saved?
Evan. The Hebrew doctors hold that Adam was a repentant sinner, and say, that he was by wisdom, [that is to say, by faith in Christ,] brought out of his fall; yea, and the Church of God doth hold, and that for necessary causes, that he was saved by the death of Christ; yea, says Mr. Vaughan, it is certain he believed the promise concerning Christ, in whose commemoration he offered continual sacrifice; and in the assurance thereof, he named his wife Hevah, that is to say, life,6464So the Septuagint expounds it. Others, an enlivener, not doubting but Adam, in giving her this name, had the promised life- giving Seed, our Lord Jesus Christ, particularly in view, amongst the "all living" she was to be mother of. and he called his son Seth, settled or persuaded in Christ.
Ant. Well, now, I am persuaded that Adam did understand this seed of the woman to be meant of Christ.
Evan. Assure yourself, that not only Adam, but all the rest of
the godly fathers did so understand it, as is manifest in that the Targum, or
Chaldee Bible, which is the ancient translation of Jerusalem, has it thus: "Between thy
son and her son"; adding further, by way of comment, "So long, O serpent, as the
woman's children keep the law, they kill thee! and when they cease to do so, thou
stingest them in the heel, and hast power to hurt them much; but whereas for
their harm there is a sure remedy, for thee there is none; for in the last days they
shall crush thee all to pieces, by means of Christ their king." And this was it which
did support and uphold their faith until the time of Abraham.
Chapter II, Section II, 2
The promise renewed to Abraham.
Ant. What followed then?
Evan. Why, then, the promise was turned into a covenant with Abraham and his seed, and oftentimes repeated, that in his seed all nations should be blessed,6565The ancient promise given to Adam was the first gospel, the covenant of grace; for man, by his fall, "having made himself incapable of life by the covenant of works, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace," (Gen 3:15). Westm. Confess. chap. 7, art. 3. When that promise or covenant, in which the persons it respected were not expressly designed, was renewed, Abraham and his seed were designed expressly therein; and so it became a covenant with Abraham and his seed. And the promise being still the same as to the substance of it, was often repeated, and in the repetition more fully and clearly opened. So Jesus Christ, revealed to Adam only as the seed of the woman, was thereafter revealed to Abraham as Abraham's own seed; and thus was it believed and embraced unto salvation in the various revelations thereof. "God did seek Adam again, call upon him, rebuke his sin, convict him of the same; and, in the end, made unto him a most joyful promise, viz: that the seed of the woman should break down the serpent's head; that is, he should destroy the works of the devil; which promise, as it was repeated, and made more clear from time to time, so was it embraced with joy, and may constantly [i.e. most steadfastly] be received of all the faithful, from Adam to Noe, and from Noe to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so, forth to the incarnation of Christ Jesus." Old Confess. art. 4. (Gen 12:3, 18:18, 22:18); which promise and covenant was the very voice itself of the gospel, it being a true testimony of Jesus Christ; as the apostle Paul beareth witness, saying, The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, (Gal 3:8), saying, "In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And the better to confirm Abraham's faith in this promise of Christ, it is said, (Gen 14:19), that Melchisedec came forth and met him, and blessed him. Now, says the apostle, (Heb 7:1-3, 6:20), "This Melchisedec was a priest of the most high God, and king of righteousness, and king of peace, without father and without mother; and so like unto the Son of God, who is a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec"; and both king of righteousness and king of peace, (Jer 23:6, Isa 9:6); yea, and without father as touching his manhood, and without mother as touching his godhead. Whereby we are given to understand, that it was the purpose of God that Melchisedec should, in these particulars, resemble the person and office of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and so, by God's own appointment, be a type of him to Abraham, to ratify and confirm the promise made to him and his seed, in respect of the eternal covenant,6666That passed betwixt the Father and the Son from everlasting. namely, that he and his believing seed should be so blessed in Christ, as Melchisedec had blessed him.6767Melchisedec was unto Abraham a type, to confirm him in the faith, that he and his believing seed should be as really blessed in Christ, as he was blessed by Melchisedec. Nay, let me tell you more, some have thought it most probable, yea, and have said, if we search out this truth without partiality, we shall find that this Melchisedec, which appeared unto Abraham, was none other than the Son of God, manifest by a special dispensation and privilege unto Abraham in the flesh, who is therefore said to have "seen his day and rejoiced."6868This seems to me to be a more than groundless opinion, as being inconsistent with the Scripture account of Melchisedec, (Gen 14:18, Heb 7:1-4); howbeit it wants no patrons among the learned; the declaring of which is no just ground to fit it on our author, especially after his speaking so plainly of Christ and Melchisedec as two different persons, a little before. The text, (John 8:56), alleged by the patrons of that opinion, makes nothing for their purpose: "for all [we mean the faithful fathers under the law] did see [viz: by faith] the joyful day of Christ Jesus, and did rejoice." Old Confess. art. 4. (John 8:56). Moreover, in Genesis 15, we read that the Lord did again confirm this covenant with Abraham; for when Abraham had divided the beasts, God came between the parts like a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, which,6969Namely, the passing of the furnace and burning lamp between the pieces. as some have thought, did primarily typify the torment and rending of Christ; and the furnace and fiery lamp did typify the wrath of God which ran between, and yet did not consume the rent and torn nature. And the blood of circumcision did typify the blood of Christ;7070(Heb 9:22), "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without shedding of blood is no remission." Compare Genesis 17:14, "The uncircumcised man-child shall be cut off from his people: he hath broken my covenant." and the resolved sacrificing of Isaac on Mount Moriah, by God's appointment, did prefigure and foreshow, that by the offering up of Christ, the promised seed, in the very same place, all nations should be saved. Now this covenant, thus made and confirmed with Abraham, was renewed with Isaac, (Gen 26:4), and made known unto Jacob by Jesus Christ himself; for that man which wrestled with Jacob was none other but the man Christ Jesus; for himself said, that Jacob should be called Israel, a wrestler and prevailer with God; and Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, because he had "seen God face to face," (Gen 32:28,30). And Jacob left it by his last will unto his children in these words, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come," (Gen 49:10); that is to say, of Judah shall kings come one after another, and many in number, till at last the Lord Jesus come, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords; or, as the Targum of Jerusalem and Onkelos do translate it, until Christ the Anointed come.
Nom. But, sir, are you sure that this promised seed was meant of Christ?
Evan. The apostle puts that out of doubt, (Gal 3:16), saying, "Now unto Abraham and to his seed were the promises made.7171Namely, the promises of the everlasting inheritance, typified by the land of Canaan: the which promises see in Genesis 12:7, and 13:15. He says not—and to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ."7272That is, Christ mystical, Christ and the Church, the head and the members; yet so as the dignity of the head being still reservedâ€”he is to be understood here primarily, which is sufficient for our author's purposes; and his members secondarily only. And so no doubt but these godly patriarchs did understand it.
Ant. But, sir, the great promise that was made to them, as I conceive, and which they seemed to have most regard to, was the land of Canaan.
Evan. There is no doubt but that these godly patriarchs did see their heavenly inheritance [by Christ] through the promise of the land of Canaan, as the apostle testifies of Abraham, (Heb 11:9,10), saying, "He sojourned in a strange country, and looked for a city having foundations, whose builder and maker is God." "Whereby it is evident," says Calvin, [Instit. p. 204,] "that the height and eminency of Abraham's faith was the looking for an everlasting life in heaven." The like testimony he gives of Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, "All these died in the faith,"7373That these three, together with Abraham, are here meant by the apostle, and not these mentioned in the first seven verses of the chapter, if it is considered, that of them he spoke last, (verse 9,11). To none before them was the promise of Canaan given; and they were the persons who had opportunity to have returned to the country whence they came out, (verse 15). (Heb 11:13); implying that they did not expect to receive the fruit of the promise till after death. And, therefore in all their travails they had before their eyes the blessedness of the life to come; and which caused old Jacob to say at his death, "Lord, I have waited for thy salvation," (Gen 49:18). The which speech the Chaldee paraphrase expounds thus, "Our father Jacob said not, I expect the salvation of Gideon, son of Joash, which is a temporal salvation, nor the salvation of Samson, son of Manoah, which is a transitory salvation, but the salvation of Christ, the Son of David, who shall come, and bring unto himself the sons of Israel, whose salvation my soul desireth." And so you see that this covenant, made with Abraham in Christ, was the comfort and support of these and the rest of the godly fathers, until their departure out of Egypt.
Ant. And what followed then?
Evan. Why, then, Christ Jesus was most clearly manifested unto
them in the passover lamb; for, as that lamb was to be without spot or
blemish, (Exo 12:5), even so was Christ, (1 Peter 1:19). And as that lamb was taken
up the tenth day of the first new moon in March, even so on the very same day of
the same month came Christ to Jerusalem to suffer his passion. And as that lamb
was killed on the fourteenth day at even, just then, on the same day, and at the
same hour, did Christ give up the ghost; and as the blood of that lamb was to
be sprinkled on the Israelites' doors, (Exo 12:7), even so is the blood of Christ
sprinkled on believers' hearts by faith, (1 Peter 1:2) And their deliverance out of
Egypt was a figure of their redemption by Christ,7474That is, the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt was a figure of the redemption of believers by Christ.
their passing through the Red Sea
was a type of baptism,7575Not that it prefigured or represented baptism as a proper and prophetical type thereof, though some orthodox divines seem
to be of that mind; but that, as the author expresses himself, in the case of the manna and the water out of the rock, it
resembled baptism, being a like figure [or type] thereunto, as the apostle Peter determines, concerning Noah's ark with the
waters of the deluge, (1 Peter 3:21), even as the printer's types of the letters impressed on the paper, both signifying one and the same word. For the ancient
church is expressly said to have been "baptized in the sea," (1 Cor 10:1,2), and as the rock, with the waters flowing from it, did not signify the Lord's Supper, but the thing signified by that New
Testament Sacrament, namely, Christ, (verse 4), so their baptism in the sea did not signify our baptism itself, but the thing
represented thereby. And thus it was a type or figure answering to and resembling the baptism of the New Testament-church;
the one being an extraordinary sacrament of the Old Testament, and the other an ordinary sacrament of the New, both representing
the same thing.
when Christ should come in the flesh, and their
manna in the wilderness, and water out of the rock, did resemble the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and hence it is that the apostle says, (1 Cor 10:2- 4),
"They did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink;
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was
Christ." And when they were come to Mount Sinai, the Lord delivered the ten
commandments unto them.
Chapter II, Section II, 3
The law, as the covenant of works, added to the promise.
Ant. But whether were the ten commandments, as they were delivered to them on Mount Sinai, the covenant of works or no?
Evan. They were delivered to them as the covenant of works. 7676As to this point, there are different sentiments among orthodox divines; though all of them do agree, that the way of salvation was the same under the Old and New Testament, and that the Sinai covenant, whatever it was, carried no prejudice to the promise made unto Abraham, and the way of salvation therein revealed, but served to lead men to Jesus Christ. Our author is far from being singular in this decision of this question. I adduce only the testimonies of three late learned writers, "That God made such a covenant [viz: the covenant of works] with our first parents, is confirmed by several parts of Scripture," (Hosea 6:7, Gal 4:24),—Willison's Sacr. Cat. p. 3. The words of the text last quoted are these: "For these are the two covenants, the one from the Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage." Hence it appears, that in the judgment of this author, the covenant from Mount Sinai was the covenant of works, otherwise there is no shadow of reason from this text for what it is adduced to prove. The Rev. Messrs. Flint and M'Claren, in their elaborate and seasonable treatise against Professor Simpson's doctrine, [for which I make no question but their names will be in honour with posterity] speak to the same purpose. The former having adduced the fore-cited text, (Gal 4:24), says, Jam duo federa, &c., that is, "Now here are two covenants mentioned, the first the legal one, by sin rendered ineffectual, entered into with Adam, and now again promulgate." [Exam. Doctr. Joh. Simp. p. 125.] And afterwards, speaking of the law of works, he adds, Atque hoc est illud fadus, &c., that is, "And this is that covenant promulgate on Mount Sinai, which is called one of the covenants," (Gal 4:24). Ibid. p. 131. The words of the latter, speaking of the covenant of works are these, "Yea, it is expressly called a covenant," (Hosea 6, Gal 4). And Mr. Gillespie proves strongly, that Galations 4 is understood of the covenant of works and grace. See his Ark of the Testament, part 1. chap. 5. p. 180. The New Scheme Examined, p. 176. The delivering of the ten commandments on Mount Sinai as the covenant of works, necessarily includes in it the delivering of them as a perfect rule of righteousness; forasmuch as that covenant did always contain in it such a rule, the true knowledge of which the Israelites were at that time in great want of, as our author afterwards teaches.
Nom. But, by your favour, sir, you know that these people were the posterity of Abraham, and therefore under that covenant of grace which God made with their father; and therefore I do not think that they were delivered to them as the covenant of works; for you know the Lord never delivers the covenant of works to any that are under the covenant of grace.
Evan. Indeed it is true, the Lord did manifest so much love to the body of this nation, that all the natural seed of Abraham were externally, and by profession, under the covenant of grace made with their father Abraham; though, it is to be feared, many of them were still under the covenant of works made with their father Adam.7777The strength of the objection in the preceding paragraph lies here, namely, that at this rate, the same person, at one and the same time, were both under the covenant of works, and under the covenant of grace, which is absurd. Ans. The unbelieving Israelites were under the covenant of grace made with their father Abraham externally and by profession, in respect of their visible church state; but under the covenant of works made with their father Adam internally and really, in respect of the state of their souls before the Lord. Herein there is no absurdity; for to this day many in the visible church are thus, in these different respects, under both covenants. Farther, as to believers among them, they were internally and really, as well as externally, under the covenant of grace; and only externally under the covenant of works, and that, not as a covenant co-ordinate with, but subordinate and subservient unto, the covenant of grace: and in this there is no more inconsistency than in the former.
Nom. But, sir, you know, in the preface to the ten commandments, the Lord calls himself by the name of their God in general; and therefore it should seem that they were all of them the people of God.7878As delivered from the covenant of works, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
Evan. That is nothing to the purpose;7979That will not, indeed, prove them all to have been the people of God in the sense before given, for the reason here adduced by our author. Howbeit, the preface to the ten commandments deserves a particular notice in the matter of the Sinai transaction, (Exo 20:2), "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Hence it is evident to me, that the covenant of grace was delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. For the Son of God, the messenger of the covenant of grace, spoke these words to a select people, the natural seed of Abraham, typical of his whole spiritual seed. He avoucheth himself to be their God; namely, in virtue of the promise, or covenant made with Abraham, (Gen 17:7), "I will establish my covenant—to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee": and their God, which brought them out of the land of Egypt; according to the promise made to Abraham at the most solemn renewal of the covenant with him.—(Gen 15:14), "Afterwards shall they come out with great substance. And he first declares himself their God, and then requires obedience, according to the manner of the covenant with Abraham, (Gen 17:1); "I am the Almighty God, [i.e. in the language of the covenant, The Almighty God TO THEE, to make THEE for ever blest through the promised SEED,] walk thou before me, and be thou perfect." But that the covenant of works was also, for special ends, repeated and delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, I cannot refuse, 1. Because of the apostle's testimony, (Gal 4:24), "These are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage." For the children of this Sinai covenant the apostle here treats of, are excluded from the eternal inheritance, as Ishmael was from Canaan, the type of it, (verse 30), "Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman"; but this could never be said of the children of the covenant of grace under any dispensation, though both the law and covenant from Sinai itself, and its children, were even before the coming of Christ under a sentence of exclusion, to be executed on them respectively in due time. 2. The nature of the covenant of works is most expressly in the New Testament brought in, propounded, and explained from the Mosaical dispensation. The commands of it from Exodus 20 by our blessed Saviour, (Matt 19:17-19), "If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery," &c. The promise of it, (Rom 10:5), "Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doth these things shall live by them." The commands and promise of it together, see Luke 10:25-28. The terrible sanction of it, Galations 3:10. For it is written [viz: Deuteronomy 27:26,] "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." 3. To this may be added the opposition betwixt the law and grace, so frequently inculcated in the New Testament, especially in Paul's epistles. See one text for all, (Gal 3:12), "And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them." 4. The law from Mount Sinai was a covenant, (Gal 4:24), "These are the two covenants, the one from the Mount Sinai"; and such a covenant as had a semblance of disannulling the covenant of grace, (Gal 3:17), "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was 430 years after, cannot disannul"; yea, such an one as did, in its own nature, bear a method of obtaining the inheritance, so far different from that of the promise, that it was inconsistent with it; "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise," (Gal 3:18), wherefore the covenant of the law from Mount Sinai could not be the covenant of grace, unless one will make this last not only a covenant seeming to destroy itself, but really inconsistent: but it was the covenant of works, which indeed had such a semblance, and in its own nature did bear such a method as before noted; howbeit, as Ainsworth says, "The covenant of the law now given could not disannul the covenant of grace," (Gal 3:17). Annot. on Exodus 19:1 Wherefore I conceive the two covenants to have been both delivered on Mount Sinai to the Israelites. First, The covenant of grace made with Abraham, contained in the preface, repeated and promulgate there unto Israel, to be believed and embraced by faith, that they might be saved; to which were annexed the ten commandments, given by the Mediator Christ, the head of the covenant, as a rule of life to his covenant people. Secondly, the covenant of works made with Adam, contained in the same ten commands, delivered with thunderings and lightnings, the meaning of which was afterwards cleared by Moses, describing the righteousness of the law and sanction thereof, repeated and promulgate to the Israelites there, as the original perfect rule of righteousness, to be obeyed; and yet were they no more bound hereby to seek righteousness by the law than the young man was by our Saviour's saying to him, (Matt 19:17,18), "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments—Thou shalt do no murder," &c. The latter was a repetition of the former. Thus there is no confounding of the two covenants of grace and works; but the latter was added to the former as subservient unto it, to turn their eyes towards the promise, or covenant of grace: "God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added, because of transgressions, till the Seed should come," (Gal 3:18,19). So it was unto the promise given to Abraham, that this subservient covenant was added; and that promise we have found in the preface to the ten commands. To it, then was the subservient covenant, according to the apostle, added, put, or set to, as the word properly signifies. So it was no part of the covenant of grace, the which was entire to the fathers, before the time that was set to it; and yet is, to the New Testament church, after that is taken away from it: for, says the apostle, "It was added till the seed should come." Hence it appears that the covenant of grace was, both in itself, and in God's intention, the principal part of the Sinai transaction: nevertheless, the covenant of works was the most conspicuous part of it, and lay most open to the view of the people. According to this account of the Sinai transaction, the ten commands, there delivered, must come under a twofold notion or consideration; namely, as the law of Christ, and as the law of works: and this is not strange, if it is considered, that they were twice written on tables of stone, by the Lord himself,—the first tables the work of God, (Exo 32:16), which were broken in pieces, (verse 19), called the tables of the covenant, (Deut 9:11,15)—the second tables, the work of Moses, the typical Mediator, (Exo 34:1), deposited at first [it would seem] in the tabernacle mentioned, (33:7), afterward, at the rearing of the tabernacle with all its furniture, laid up in the ark within the tabernacle, (25:16); and whether or not, some such thing is intimated, by the double accentuation of the decalogue, let the learned determine; but to the ocular inspection it is evident, that the preface to the ten commands, (Exo 20:2, Deut 5:6), stands in the original, both as a part of a sentence joined to the first commands, and also as an entire sentence, separated from it, and shut up by itself. Upon the whole, one may compare with this the first promulgation of the covenant of grace, by the messenger of the covenant in paradise, (Gen 3:15), and the flaming sword placed there by the same hand, "turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life." for many wicked and ungodly men, being in the visible church, and under the external covenant, are called the chosen of God, and the people of God, though they be not so. In like manner were many of these Israelites called the people of God, though indeed they were not so.
Nom. But, sir, was the same covenant of works made with them that was made with Adam?
Evan. For the general substance of the duty, the law delivered on Mount Sinai, and formerly engraven on man's heart, was one and the same; so that at Mount Sinai the Lord delivered no new thing, only it came more gently to Adam before his fall, but after his fall came thunder with it.
Nom. Ay, sir, but as yourself said, the ten commandments, as they were written in Adam's heart, were but the matter of the covenant of works, and not the covenant itself, till the form was annexed to them, that is to say, till God and man were thereupon agreed: now, we do not find that God and these people did agree upon any such terms at Mount Sinai.
Evan. No;8080Here, there is a large addition in the ninth edition of this book, London, 1699. It well deserves a place, and is as follows: "I do not say, God made the covenant of works with them, that they might obtain life and salvation thereby; no, the law was become weak through the flesh, as to any such purpose, (Rom 8:3). But he repeated, or gave a new edition of the law, and that, as a covenant of works, for their humbling and conviction; and so do his ministers preach the law to unconverted sinners still, that they who 'desire to be under the law may hear what the law says,' (Gal 4:21). And as to what you say of their not agreeing to this covenant, I pray take notice, that the covenant of works was made with Adam, not for himself only, but as he was a public person representing all his posterity, and so that covenant was made with the whole nature of man in him, as appears by Adam's sin and curse coming upon all, (Rom 5:12, Gal 3:10). Hence all men are born under that covenant, whether they agree to it or no; though, indeed, there is by nature such a proneness in all to desire to be under that covenant, and to work for life, that if natural men's consent were asked, they would readily [though ignorantly] take upon them to do all that the Lord requireth; for do you not remember," &c. say you so? do you not remember that the Lord consented and agreed, when he said, (Lev 18:5), "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them"; and in Deuteronomy 27:26, when he said, "Cursed is he that confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them?" And do you not remember that the people consented, (Exo 19:8), and agreed, when they said, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do?" And doth not the apostle Paul give evidence that these words were the form of the covenant of works, when he says, (Rom 10:5), "Moses describeth that righteousness which is of the law, that the man that doeth these things shall live in them"; and when he says, (Gal 3:10), "For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them?"8181That the conditional promise, (Lev 18:5), [to which agrees Exodus 19:8,] and the dreadful threatening, (Deut 27:26), were both given to the Israelites, as well as the ten commands, is beyond question; and that according to the apostle, (Rom 10:5, Gal 3:10), they were the form of the covenant of works, is as evident as the repeating of the words, and expounding them so, can make it. How, then, one can refuse the covenant of works to have been given to the Israelites, I cannot see. Mark the Westminster Confession upon the head of the covenant of works; "The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience." And this account of the being and nature of that covenant is there proved from these very texts among others, Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:10, chap. 7, art. 2. And in Deuteronomy 4:13, Moses, in express terms, calls it a covenant, saying, "And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments, and he wrote them upon tables of stone." Now, this was not the covenant of grace; for Moses afterwards, (Deut 5:3), speaking of this covenant, says, "God made not this covenant with your fathers, but with you"; and by "fathers" all the patriarchs unto Adam may be meant, [says Mr. Ainsworth,] who had the promise of the covenant of Christ.8282"But the covenant of the law [adds he] came after, as the apostle observeth, (Gen 3:17).—They had a greater benefit than their fathers; for though the law could not give them life, yet it was a schoolmaster unto, i.e., to bring them unto, Christ." (Gal 3:21-24). Ainsworth on Deuteronomy 5:3. Therefore, if it had been the covenant of grace, he would have said, God did make this covenant with them, rather than that he did not.8383The transaction at Sinai or Horeb [for they are but one mountain] was a mixed dispensation; there was the promise or covenant of grace, and also the law; the one a covenant to be believed, the other a covenant to be done, and thus the apostle states, the difference betwixt these two, (Gal 3:12), "And the law is not of faith, but the man that DOETH them shall live in them." As to the former, viz: the covenant to be believed, it was given to their fathers as well as to them. Of the latter, viz: the covenant to be done, Moses speaks expressly, (Deut 4:12,13), "The Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire, and he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to PERFORM [or DO] even ten commandments." And (5:3), he tells the people no less expressly, that "the Lord made not THIS COVENANT with their fathers."
Nom. And do any of our godly and modern writers agree with you on this point?
Evan. Yes, indeed. Polonus says, "The covenant of works is that in which God promiseth everlasting life unto a man that in all respects performeth perfect obedience to the law of works, adding thereunto threatenings of eternal death, if he shall not perform perfect obedience thereto. God made this covenant in the beginning with the first man Adam, whilst he was in the first estate of integrity: the same covenant God did repeat and make again by Moses with the people of Israel." And Dr. Preston, on the New Covenant, [p. 317,] says, "The covenant of works runs in these terms, 'Do this and thou shalt live, and I will be thy God.' This was the covenant which was made with Adam, and the covenant that is expressed by Moses in the moral law." And Mr. Pemble [Vind. Fid. p. 152] says, "By the covenant of works, we understand what we call in one word 'the law,' namely, that means of bringing man to salvation, which is by perfect obedience unto the will of God. Hereof there are also two several administrations; the first is with Adam before his fall, when immortality and happiness were promised to man, and confirmed by an external symbol of the tree of life, upon condition that he continued obedient to God, as well in all other things, as in that particular commandment of not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second administration of this covenant was the renewing thereof with the Israelites at Mount Sinai; where, after the light of nature began to grow darker, and corruption had in time worn out the characters of religion and virtue first grave in man's heart,8484That is, had worn them out, in the same measure and degree as the light of nature was darkened; but neither the one nor the other was ever fully done. (Rom 2:14,15). God revived the law by a compendious and full declaration of all duties required of man towards God or his neighbour, expressed in the decalogue; according to the tenor of which law God entered into covenant with the Israelites, promising to be their God in bestowing upon them all blessings of life and happiness, upon condition that they would be his people, obeying all things that he had commanded; which condition they accepted of, promising an absolute obedience, (Exo 19:8), 'all things which the Lord hath said we will do'; and also submitting themselves to all punishment in case they disobeyed, saying, 'Amen' to the curse of the law, 'Cursed be every one that confirmeth not all the words of the law: and all the people shall say, Amen.'" And Mr. Walker, on the Covenant, [p. 128,] says, that "the first part of the covenant, which God made with Israel at Horeb, was nothing else but a renewing of the old covenant of works,8585Wherein I differ from this learned author as to this point, and for what reasons, may be seen earlier [footnote #4]. which God made with Adam in paradise." And it is generally laid down by our divines, that we are by Christ delivered from the law as it is a covenant.8686But not as it is a rule of life, which is the other member of that distinction.
Nom. But, sir, were the children of Israel at this time better able to perform the condition of the covenant of works, than either Adam or any of the old patriarchs were, that God renewed it now with them, rather than before?
Evan. No, indeed; God did not renew it with them now, and not before, because they were better able to keep it, but because they had more need to be made acquainted what the covenant of works is, than those before. For though it is true the ten commandments, which were at first perfectly written in Adam's heart, were much obliterated8787Both in the heart of Adam himself, and of his descendants in the first ages of the world. by his fall, yet some impressions and relics thereof still remained;8888Both with him and them. and Adam himself was very sensible of his fall, and the rest of the fathers were helped by tradition;8989The doctrine of the fall, with whatsoever other doctrine was necessary to salvation, was handed down from Adam, the fathers communicating the same to their children and children's children. There were but eleven patriarchs before the flood; 1. Adam, 2. Seth, 3. Enos, 4. Cainan, 5. Mahalaleel, 6. Jared, 7. Enoch, 8, Methuselah, 9. Lamech, 10. Noah, 11. Shem. Adam having lived 930 years, (Gen 5:5), was known to Lamech, Noah's father, with whom he lived 66 years, and much longer with the rest of the fathers before him; so that Lamech, and those before him, might have the doctrine from Adam's own mouth. Methuselah lived with Adam 243 years, and with Shem 98 years before the deluge. See Genesis 5. And what Shem, who, after the deluge, lived 502 years, (Gen 11:10,11), had learned from Methuselah, he had occasion to teach Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, (Gen 21:5,), and Jacob, to whose 51st year he [viz: Shem] reached. Genesis 11:10, and 21:5, and 25:26, compared. [Vid. Bail. Op. Hist. Chron. p. 2, 3.] Thus one may perceive, how the nature of the law and covenant of works given to Adam, might be far better known to them, than to the Israelites after their long bondage in Egypt. and, says Cameron, "God did speak to the patriarchs from heaven, yea, and he spake unto them by his angels";9090That is, and besides all this, God spake to the patriarchs immediately and by angels. But neither of these do we find during the time of the bondage in Egypt, until the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the bush, and ordered him to go and bring the people out of Egypt, (Exo 3). but now, by this time, sin had almost obliterated and defaced the impressions of the law written in their hearts;9191The remaining impressions of the law on the hearts of the Israelites. and by their being so long in Egypt, they were so corrupted, that the instructions and ordinances of their fathers were almost worn out of mind; and their fall in Adam was almost forgotten, as the apostle testifies, (Rom 5:13,14), saying, "Before the time of the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Nay, in that long course of time betwixt Adam and Moses, men had forgotten what was sin; so, although God had made a promise of blessing to Abraham, and to all his seed, that would plead interest in it, 9292By faith; believing, embracing, and appropriating it to themselves, (Heb 11:13, Jer 3:4). yet these people at this time were proud and secure, and heedless of their estate; and though "sin was in them, and death reigned over them," yet they being without a law to evidence this sin and death unto their consciences,9393Inasmuch as the remaining impressions of the law on their hearts were so weak, that they were not sufficient for the purpose. they did not impute it unto themselves, they would not own it, nor charge themselves with it; and so, by consequence, found no need of pleading the promise made to Abraham;9494By faith proposing it as their only defence, and opposing it to the demands of the law or covenant of works, as their only plea. (Rom 5:20), therefore, "the law entered," that Adam's offence and their own actual transgression might abound, so that now the Lord saw it needful, that there should be a new edition and publication of the covenant of works, the sooner to compel the elect unbelievers to come to Christ, the promised seed, and that the grace of God in Christ to the elect believers might appear the more exceeding glorious. So that you see the Lord's intention therein was, that they, by looking upon this covenant might be put in mind what was their duty of old, when they were in Adam's loins; yea, and what was their duty still, if they would stand to that covenant, and so go the old and natural way to work; yea, and hereby they were also to see what was their present infirmity in not doing their duty:9595How far they came short of, and could not reach unto the obedience they owed unto God, according to the perfection of the holy law. that so they seeing an impossibility of obtaining life by that way of works, first appointed in paradise, they might be humbled, and more heedfully mind the promise made to their father Abraham, and hasten to lay hold on the Messiah, or promised seed.
Nom. Then, sir, it seems that the Lord did not renew the covenant of works with them, to the intent that they should obtain eternal life by their yielding obedience to it?
Evan. No, indeed; God never made the covenant of works with any man since the fall, either with expectation that he should fulfil it,9696Nor before the fall neither, properly speaking; but the expression is agreeable to Scripture style, (Isa 5:4), "Wherefore when I looked it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" or to give him life by it; for God never appoints any thing to an end, to the which it is utterly unsuitable and improper. Now the law, as it is the covenant of works, is become weak and unprofitable to the purpose of salvation;9797(Rom 8:3), "For what the law could not DO, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son," &c. and, therefore, God never appointed it to man, since the fall, to that end. And besides, it is manifest that the purpose of God, in the covenant made with Abraham, was to give life and salvation by grace and promise; and, therefore, his purpose in renewing the covenant of works, was not, neither could be, to give life and salvation by working; for then there would have been contradictions in the covenants, and instability in him that made them. Wherefore let no man imagine that God published the covenant of works on Mount Sinai, as though he had been mutable, and so changed his determination in that covenant made with Abraham; neither, yet let any man suppose, that God now in process of time had found out a better way for man's salvation than he knew before: for, as the covenant of grace made with Abraham had been needless, if the covenant of works made with Adam would have given him and his believing seed life; so, after the covenant of grace was once made, it was needless to renew the covenant of works, to the end that righteousness of life should be had by the observation of it. The which will yet more evidently appear, if we consider, that the apostle, speaking of the covenant of works as it was given on Mount Sinai, says, "It was added because of transgressions," (Gal 3:19). It was not set up as a solid rule of righteousness, as it was given to Adam in paradise, but was added or put to;9898It was not set up by itself as an entire rule of righteousness, to which alone they were to look who desired righteousness and salvation, as it was in the case of upright Adam, "For no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law," Lar. Cat. quest. 94. But it was added to the covenant of grace, that by looking at it men might see what kind of righteousness it is by which they can be justified in the sight of God; and that by means thereof, finding themselves destitute of that righteousness, they might be moved to embrace the covenant of grace, in which that righteousness is held forth to be received by faith. it was not set up as a thing in gross by itself.
Nom. Then, sir, it should seem that the covenant of works was added to the covenant of grace, to make it more complete.
Evan. O no! you are not so to understand the apostle, as though it were added by way of ingrediency as a part of the covenant of grace, as if that covenant had been incomplete without the covenant of works; for then the same covenant should have consisted of contradictory materials, and so it should have overthrown itself; for, says the apostle, "If it be by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work," (Rom 11:6). But it was added by way of subserviency and attendance, the better to advance and make effectual the covenant of grace; so that although the same covenant that was made with Adam was renewed on Mount Sinai, yet I say still, it was not for the same purpose. For this was it that God aimed at, in making the covenant of works with man in innocency, to have that which was his due from man:9999This was the end of the work, namely, of making the covenant of works with Adam, but not of the repeating of it at Sinai; it was also the end or design of the worker, namely of God, who made that covenant with Adam, to have his due from man, and he got it from the Man Christ Jesus. but God made it with the Israelites for no other end, than that man, being thereby convinced of his weakness, might flee to Christ. So that it was renewed only to help forward and introduce another and a better covenant; and so to be a manuduction unto Christ, viz: to discover sin, to waken the conscience, and to convince them of their own impotency, and so drive them out of themselves to Christ. Know it then, I beseech you, that all this while there was no other way of life given, either in whole, or in part, than the covenant of grace. All this while God did but pursue the design of his own grace; and, therefore, was there no inconsistency either in God's will or acts; only such was his mercy, that he subordinated the covenant of works, and made it subservient to the covenant of grace, and so to tend to evangelical purposes.
Nom. But yet, sir, methinks it is somewhat strange that the Lord should put them upon doing the law, and also promise them life for doing, and yet never intend it.
Evan. Though he did so, yet did he neither require of them that
which was unjust, nor yet dissemble with them in the promise; for the Lord may
justly require perfect obedience at all men's hands, by virtue of that covenant
which was made with them in Adam; and if any man could yield perfect obedience
to the law, both in doing and suffering, he should have eternal life; for we may
not deny [says Calvin] but that the reward of eternal salvation belongeth to
the upright obedience of the law.100100That is, the perfect obedience of the law; as it is said, (Eccl 7:29), "God made man upright."
But God knew well enough that the Israelites were
never able to yield such an obedience: and yet he saw it meet to propound
eternal life to them upon these terms; that so he might speak to them in their own
humour, as indeed it was meet: for they swelled with mad assurance in themselves,
saying, "All that the Lord commandeth we will do," and be obedient, (Exo 19:8).
Well, said the Lord, if you will needs be doing, why here is a law to be kept;
and if you can fully observe the righteousness of it, you shall be saved:
sending them of purpose to the law, to awaken and convince them, to sentence and humble
them, and to make them see their own folly in seeking for life that way; in
short, to make them see the terms under which they stood, that so they might be
brought out of themselves, and expect nothing from the law, in relation to
life, but all from Christ. For how should a man see his need of life by Christ, if
he do not first see that he is fallen from the way of life? and how should he
understand how far he had strayed from the way of life, unless he do first find what
is that way of life? Therefore it was needful that the Lord should deal with them
after such a manner to drive them out of themselves, and from all confidence in the
works of the law; that so, by faith in Christ, they might obtain righteousness and
life. And just so did our Saviour also deal with that young expounder of the law,
(Matt 19:16), who it seems, was sick of the same disease: "Good Master," says
he, "what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" He doth not, says Calvin,
simply ask, which way or by what means he should come to eternal life, but what
good he should do to get it; whereby it appears, that he was a proud justiciary,
one that swelled in fleshly opinion that he could keep the law, and be saved by it;
therefore he is worthily sent to the law to work himself weary, and to see need
to come to Christ for rest. And thus you see that the Lord, to the former promises
made to the fathers, added a fiery law; which he gave from Mount Sinai, in
thundering and lightning, and with a terrible voice, to the stubborn and
stiff-necked Israel; whereby to break and tame them, and to make them sigh and long
for the promised Redeemer.
Chapter II, Section II, 4
The promise and covenant with Abraham, renewed with the Israelites.
Ant. And, sir, did the law produce this effect in them?
Evan. Yea, indeed, it did; as will appear, if you consider, that although, before the publishing of this covenant, they were exceeding proud and confident of their own strength to do all that the Lord would have them do; yet when the Lord came to deal with them as men under the covenant of works, in showing himself a terrible judge sitting on the throne of justice, like a mountain burning with fire, summoning them to come before him by the sound of a trumpet, [yet not to touch the mountain without a mediator,] (Heb 12:19,20), they were not able to endure the voice of words, nor yet to abide that which was commanded, insomuch, as Moses himself did fear and quake; and they did all of them so fear, and shake, and shiver, that their peacock feathers were now pulled down. This terrible show wherein God gave his law on Mount Sinai, says Luther, did represent the use of the law: there was in the people of Israel that came out of Egypt a singular holiness; they gloried and said, "We are the people of God; we will do all that the Lord commandeth." Moreover, Moses sanctified them, and bade them wash their garments, and purify themselves, and prepare themselves against the third day: there was not one of them but was full of holiness. The third day, Moses bringeth the people out of their tents to the mountain in the sight of the Lord, that they might hear his voice. What followed then? why, when they beheld the horrible sight of the mountain smoking and burning, the black clouds and the lightnings flashing up and down in this horrible darkness, and heard the sound of the trumpet blowing long, and waxing louder and louder, they were afraid, and standing afar off, they said not to Moses as before, "All that the Lord commandeth we will do; but talk thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God talk with us, lest we die." So that now they saw they were sinners, and had offended God; and, therefore, stood in need of a mediator to negotiate peace, and entreat for reconciliation between God and them; and the Lord highly approved of their words, as you may see, (Deut 5:28), where Moses, repeating what they had said, adds further: "The Lord heard the voice of your word, when ye spake to me, and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee, they have well said, all that they have spoken," viz: in desiring a mediator. Wherefore, I pray you, take notice, that they were not commended for saying, "All that the Lord commandeth we will do." "No," says a godly writer, "they were not praised for any other thing, than for desiring a mediator";101101I see no warrant for restraining the sense of this text to their desiring a mediator. The universal term, "All that they have spoken," includes also their engaging to receive the law at the mouth of the mediator, which is joined with their desire (verse 27): "Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear and do," (verse 28). And the Lord said, "They have well said all that they have spoken." But there is a palpable difference between what they spoke, (Exo 19:8), and what they spoke here, relative to their own practice. The former runs thus: "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do"; the latter thus: "And we will hear and do"; the original text bears no more. The one, relates to obedience only, the other to faith also,—"We will HEAR," i.e., believe, (Isa 55:3, John 9:27). Hence the object of faith, that which is to be believed, is called a report, properly a hearing, (Isa 53:1, Rom 10:16). The former speaks much blind self-confidence; the latter a sense of duty and a willing mind, but with all a sense of duty and fear of mismanagement. whereupon the Lord promised Christ unto them, even as Moses testifies, saying, "The Lord thy God shall raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me, from among you, even of your brethren; unto him shall you hearken, according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly, when thou saidst, Let me hear the voice of the Lord my God no more, nor see this great fire any more, that I die not: and the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken, I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I command him"; and to assure us that Christ was the prophet here spoken of, he himself says unto the Jews, (John 5:46), "If you have believed Moses, you would have believed me; for he wrote of me"; and that this was it which he wrote of him, the apostle Peter witnesses, (Acts 3:22); and so doth the martyr Stephen, (Acts 7:37). Thus you see, when the Lord had, by means of the covenant of works made with Adam, humbled them, and made them sigh for Christ the promised Seed, he renewed the promise with them, yea, and the covenant of grace made with Abraham.102102Making a promise of Christ to them, not only as "the seed of the woman," but as "the seed of Abraham," and yet more particularly, as "the seed of Israel: the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet, from the midst of THEE, of THY BRETHREN," (Deut 18:15). And here it is to be observed, that this renewing of the promise and covenant of grace with them was immediately upon the back of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, for at that time was their speech which the Lord commended as well spoken: this appears from Exodus 20:18,19, compared with Deuteronomy 5:23-28, and upon that speech of theirs was that renewal made, which is clear from Deuteronomy 18:17,18.
Ant. I pray, sir, how doth it appear that the Lord renewed that covenant with them?
Evan. It plainly appears in this, that the Lord gave them by
Moses the Levitical laws, and ordained the tabernacle, the ark, and the mercy- seat,
which were all types of Christ. Moreover, (Lev 1:1), "The Lord called unto
Moses and spake unto him out of the tabernacle,"103103From the mercy-seat, which was within the tabernacle. The tabernacle was an eminent type of Christ, (Heb 9:11), as the temple also was, (John 2:19,21). So this represented God's speaking in a Mediator, in Jesus Christ. Here was a change agreeable to the people's desire on
Mount Sinai. God speaks, not from a burning mountain as before, but out of the tabernacle: nor with terrible thunderings as
at Sinai, but in a still small voice, intimated to us, and intimated by the extraordinary smallness of one letter in the original
word rendered called, as the Hebrew doctors do account for that irregularity of writing in that word.
and commanded him to write
the Levitical laws, and the tabernacle ordinances; telling him withal, (Exo
34:27), "that after the tenor of these words, he had made a covenant with him, and with
Israel."104104Moses exceedingly feared and quaked, (Heb 22:21), while he stood amongst the rest of the Israelites at Mount Sinai during the giving of the law, (Exo 19:25, 20:21). But here he is represented as Israel's federal head in this covenant, he being the typical mediator; which plainly intimated
the covenant of grace to have been made with Christ, and with him in all the elect: "I have made a covenant with thee and
with Israel," says the text.—See the first note on the preface, in the Larger Catechism, quest. 31.
So Moses wrote those laws, (Exo 24:4), not in tables of stone, but
in an authentical book,105105Moses was twice on the Mount with God forty days. In the time of the second forty days he received the order to write, mentioned
Exodus 34:27, as appears by comparing verse 27 with 28. This comprehended his writings of the Levitical laws, but not of the decalogue
or ten commandments; for these last, God himself wrote on tables of stone, verse 28 compared with verse 1. This peremptory
divine order, Moses, no doubt, did obey; understanding it of writing in a book, since he was not commanded to write another
way. So, in a like case, before he went up into the Mount for the first forty days, he wrote Levitical laws in a book called
the Book of the Covenant, (Exo 24:4,7), "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he took the book of the covenant and read." Compare verse 18. This writing
also comprehended Levitical laws, but not the ten commandments. For all the words of the Lord which Moses wrote, were all
the words of the Lord which Moses told the people. And what these were, appears from his commission received for that effect:
(20:21,22), "And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was; and the Lord said unto
Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel," &c. So "all the words" were these which follow to the end of the
says Ainsworth, called the Book of the Covenant, which
book Moses read in the audience of the people, (Exo 24:7), and the people
consented unto it. Then Moses having before sent young men of the children of
Israel, who were first-born,106106In the original text, (verse 5) they are called emphatically the young men [or ministers, or servants, (1 Sam 2:13,15, Esth 2:2)] of the children of Israel, to signify that they were first-born. And so Onkelos reads it, "the first-born of the children
and therefore priests until the time of the
Levites, to offer sacrifices of burnt-offerings and peace-offerings unto the Lord, "took the
blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the
covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning these things"; whereby they
were taught, that by virtue of blood, this covenant betwixt God and them was
confirmed, and that Christ, by his blood shed, should satisfy for their sins;
for, indeed, the covenant of grace was, before the coming of Christ, sealed by
his blood in types and figures.107107The blood of the sacrifice representing the precious blood of Christ.
Chapter II, Section II, 5
The covenant of grace under the Mosaic dispensation.
Ant. But, sir, was this every way the same covenant that was made with Abraham?
Evan. Surely I do believe, that reverend Bullinger spake very truly, when he said that God gave unto these people no other religion, in nature, substance, and matter itself, differing from the laws of their fathers; though, for some respects, he added thereunto many ceremonies and certain ordinances; the which he did to keep their minds in expectation of the coming of Christ whom he had promised unto them; and to confirm them in looking for him, lest they should wax faint. And as the Lord did thus by the ceremonies, as it were, lead them by the hand to Christ; so did he make them a promise of the land of Canaan, and outward prosperity in it, as a type of heaven, and eternal happiness; so that the Lord dealt with them as with children in their infancy and under age, leading them on by the help of earthly things, to heavenly and spiritual, because they were but young and tender,108108The church was in her minority under the law, (Gal 4:1-3). and had not that measure and abundance of the Spirit which he had bestowed upon his people now under the gospel.
Ant. And, sir, do you think that these Israelites at this time did see Christ and salvation by him in these types and shadows?
Evan. Yes, there is no doubt but Moses and the rest of the believers among the Jews did see Christ in them, "For," says Tindal, "though all the sacrifices and ceremonies had a star-light of Christ, yet some of them had the light of the broad day, a little before the sun-rising"; and did express him, with the circumstances and virtue of his death, as plainly, as if his passion had been acted upon a scaffold: "Insomuch," says he, "that I am fully persuaded, and cannot but believe, that God had showed Moses the secrets of Christ, and the very manner of his death aforehand"; and, therefore, no doubt but that they offered their sacrifices by faith in the Messiah, as the apostle testifies of Abel, (Heb 11:4). I say, there is no question but every spiritual believing Jew, when he brought his sacrifice to be offered, and, according to the Lord's command, laid his hands upon it whilst it was yet alive, (Lev 1:4), did, from his heart, acknowledge that he himself had deserved to die; but by the mercy of God he was saved,109109From the death he had deserved by his sin. and his desert laid upon the beast;110110Typically. and as that beast was to die, and be offered in sacrifice for him, so did he believe that the Messiah should come and die for him, upon whom he put his hands, that is, laid all his iniquities by the hand of faith.111111"The mystical signification of the sacrifices, and especially this rite, some think the apostle means by the doctrine of 'laying on of hands,' (Heb 6:2), which typified evangelical faith." Henry on Leviticus 1:4. It is evident that the offerer, by laying his hand on the head of the sacrifice, did legally unite with it; laid his sin, or transferred his guilt upon it, in a typical or ceremonial way., (Lev 16:21); the substance and truth of which ceremonial action plainly appears to be faith, or believing on Jesus Christ, which is the soul's assenting, for its own part, to, and acquiescing in the glorious device of, "the Lord's laying on him the iniquities of us all," (Isa 53:6). So that, as Beza on Job 1 says, "The sacrifices were to them holy mysteries, in which, as in certain glasses, they did both see themselves to their own condemnation before God,112112That is, they saw themselves, as in themselves condemned by the holy law. and also beheld the mercy of God in the promised Messiah, in time to be exhibited": "And therefore," says Calvin, Institut. p. 239, "the sacrifices and satisfactory offerings were called Ashemoth, which word properly signifies sin itself, to show that Jesus Christ was to come and perform a perfect expiation, by giving his own soul to be an asham, that is, a satisfactory oblation."
Wherefore, you may assure yourself, that as Christ was always set before the fathers in the Old Testament, to whom they might direct their faith, and as God never put them in hope of any grace or mercy, nor ever showed himself good unto them without Christ:113113That is, as an absolute God out of Christ, but always as a God in Christ. even so the godly in the Old Testament knew Christ by whom they did enjoy these promises of God, and were joined to him.114114To Christ, by faith. And, indeed, the promise of salvation never stood firm till it came to Christ.115115It stood, at first, on man's own obedience: which ground quickly failed: then, it came to Christ, where it stood firm, (Gen 3:15). It [namely, "the seed of the woman"] "shall bruise thy head," viz: the serpent's head. And there was their comfort in all their troubles and distresses, according as it is said of Moses, (Heb 11:26,27), "He endured as seeing him who is invisible,116116"Faith presenting to his view at all times the great angel of the covenant, God the Son, the Redeemer of him and Israel." Suppl. Poole's Annot. on the Text. esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect to the recompense of reward."
And so, as Ignatius says, the prophets were Christ's servants, who, foreseeing him in spirit, both waited for him as their master, and looked for him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, "He shall come and save us."
And so says Calvin, Institut. p. 207, "So oft as the prophets speak of the blessedness of that faithful, the perfect image that they have painted thereof was such as might ravish men's minds out of the earth, and of necessity raise them up to the consideration of the felicity of the life to come"; so that we may assuredly conclude, with Luther, that all the fathers, prophets, and holy kings, were righteous, and saved by faith in Christ to come; and so, indeed, as Calvin says, Institut. p. 198, "were partakers of all one salvation with us."
Ant. But, sir, the Scriptures seem to hold forth as though they were saved one way, and we another way; for you know the prophet Jeremiah makes mention of a twofold covenant; therefore it is somewhat strange to me, that they should be partakers of one way of salvation with us.
Evan. Indeed, it is true, the Lord did bequeath unto the fathers, righteousness, life, and eternal salvation, in and through Christ the Mediator, being not yet come in the flesh, but promised: and unto us in the New Testament he gives and bequeaths them to us in and through Christ, being already come, and having actually purchased them for us; and the covenant of grace was, before the coming of Christ, sealed by his blood in types and figures; and at his death in his flesh,117117"Christ—being put to death in the flesh," (1 Peter 3:18). it was sealed and ratified by his very blood, actually, and in very deed shed for our sins. And the old covenant, in respect of the outward form and manner of sealing, was temporary and changeable; and therefore the types ceased, and only the substance remains firm; but the seals of the new are unchangeable, being commemorative, and shall show the Lord's death until his coming again. And their covenant did first and chiefly promise earthly blessings,118118Chiefly; in so far as, in that dispensation of the covenant of grace, the promises of earthly blessings were chiefly insisted on; and the promises of spiritual blessings and salvation more sparingly. and in and under these it did signify and promise all spiritual blessings and salvation; but our covenant promises, Christ and his blessings in the first place, and after them earthly blessings.
These, and some other circumstantial differences in regard to administration, there were betwixt their way of salvation, or covenant of grace, and ours; which moved the author to the Hebrews, (Heb 8:8), to call theirs old, and ours new; but, in regard to substance, they were all one and the very same;119119"There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace, differing in substance; but one and the same under various dispensations." Westm. Confess. chap. 7, art. 6. And their covenant of grace, confirmed by the sprinkling of blood, (Exo 24, Heb 9:19,20) [the which covenant they brake, by their unbelief frustrating the manner in which it was administered to them,] was given to them when the Lord had led them out of Egypt, and at Sinai too, as well as the ten commandments delivered to them as the covenant of works. This is evident from Exodus 20:1-17, compared with Deuteronomy 5:2-22, and Exodus 20:20,21, compared with chapter 24:3-8. for in all covenants this is a certain rule, "If the subject matter, the fruit and the conditions, be the same, then is the covenant the same": but in these covenants Jesus Christ is the subject matter of both, salvation the fruit of both, and faith the condition of both:120120Not in a strict and proper sense, as that, upon the performance of which the right and title to the benefits of the covenant are founded and pleaded; as perfect obedience was the condition of the covenant of works. Christ's fulfilling of the law, by his obedience and death, is the only condition of the covenant of grace, in that sense. But in a large and improper sense, as that whereby one accepts and embraces the covenant and the proper condition thereof, and is savingly interested in Jesus Christ, the head of the covenant. "The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him," &c. Lar. Cat. quest. 32. therefore, I say, though they be called two, yet they are but one; the which is confirmed by two faithful witnesses: the one is the apostle Peter, who says, (Acts 15:11), "We believe, that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they"; meaning the fathers in the Old Testament, as is evident in the verse next before. The other is the apostle Paul, who says, (Gal 3:6,7), "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham": by which testimony, says Luther, on the Galatians, p. 116, "we may see that the faith of our fathers in the Old Testament, and ours in the New, is all one in substance."
Ant. But could they that lived so long before Christ, apprehend his righteousness by faith for their justification and salvation?
Evan. Yea, indeed; for as Mr. Forbes, on Justification, p. 90, truly says, it is as easy for faith to apprehend righteousness to come, as it is to apprehend righteousness that is past: wherefore, as Christ's birth, obedience, and death, were in the Old Testament as effectual to save sinners, as they are now; so all the faithful forefathers, from the beginning, did partake of the same grace with us, by believing in the same Jesus Christ, and so were justified by his righteousness, and saved eternally by faith in him. It was by virtue of the death of Christ, that Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and Elias was taken up into heaven by virtue of Christ's resurrection and ascension. So that from the world's beginning to the end thereof, the salvation of sinners is only by Jesus Christ; as it is written, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," (Heb 13:8).
Ant. Why, then, sir, it seems that those who were saved amongst the Jews, were not saved by the works of the law?
Evan. No, indeed; they were neither justified nor saved, either by the works of the moral law, or the ceremonial law. For, as you heard before, the moral law being delivered unto them with great terror, and under most dreadful penalties, they did find in themselves an impossibility of keeping it; and so were driven to seek help of a Mediator, even Jesus Christ, of whom Moses was to them a typical mediator:121121That is a type, he being to them a typical Mediator. so that the moral law did drive them to the ceremonial law, which was their gospel, and their Christ in a figure; for that the ceremonies did prefigure Christ, direct unto him, and require faith in him, is a thing acknowledged and confessed by all men.
Nom. But, sir, I suppose, though believers among the Jews were not justified and saved by the works of the law, yet was it a rule of their obedience?
Evan. It is very true, indeed: the law of the ten commandments was a rule for their obedience;122122The obedience of the believing Jews. yet not as it came from Mount Sinai;123123That is, in the sense of our author, not as the covenant of works, but of the twofold notion or consideration under which the ten commandments were delivered from Mount Sinai. but rather as it came from Mount Zion; not as it was the law or covenant of works, but as it was the law of Christ. The which will appear, if you consider, that after the Lord had renewed with them the covenant of grace, as you heard before, (Exodus 24 at the beginning) the Lord said unto Moses, (verse 12), "Come up to me into the mount, and be there, and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law that thou mayest teach them"; and after the Lord had thus written them the second time with his own finger, he delivered them to Moses, commanding him to provide an ark to put them into; which was not only for the safe keeping of them, (Deut 9:10, 10:5); but also to cover the form of the covenant of works that was formerly upon them, that believers might not perceive it; for the ark was a notable type of Christ; and therefore the putting of them therein did show that they were perfectly fulfilled in him, Christ being "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth," (Rom 10:4). The which was yet more clearly manifest, in that the book of the law was placed between the cherubim, and upon the mercy-seat, to assure believers that the law now came to them from the mercy-seat;124124From an atoned God in Christ, binding them to obedience with the strongest ties, arising from their creation and redemption jointly; but not with the bond of the curse, binding them over to eternal death in case of transgression, as the law or covenant of works does with them who are under it, (Gal 3:10). The mercy-seat was the cover of the ark, and both the one and the other type of Christ. Within the ark, under the cover of it, were the tables of the law laid up. Thus was the throne of grace, which could not have stood on mere mercy, firmly established in Jesus Christ; according to Psalm 89:14, "Justice and judgment are the habitation [marg. 'establishment'] of thy throne." The word properly signifies a base, supporter, stay, or foundation, on which a thing stands firm, (Ezra 2:68, 3:3, Psa 104:5). The sense is, O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Psa 89:19), justice satisfied, and judgment fully executed in the person of the Mediator, are the foundation and base which thy throne of grace stands upon. for there the Lord promised to meet Moses, and to commune with him of all things which he would give him in commandment to them, (Exo 25:22).
Ant. But, sir, was the form quite taken away, so as the ten commandments were no more the covenant of works?
Evan. Oh no! you are not so to understand it. For the form of the covenant of works,125125Namely, the promissory and penal sanction of eternal life and death, in which God's truth was engaged. as well as the matter, [on God's part,]126126Man's part was his consenting to the terms set before him by his Creator. came immediately from God himself, and so consequently it is eternal, like himself; whence it is that our Saviour says, (Matt 5:18), "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no ways pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." So that either man himself, or some other for him, must perform or fulfill the condition of the law, as it is the covenant of works, or else he remains still under it in a damnable condition: but now Christ hath fulfilled it for all believers; and therefore, I said, the form of the covenant of works was covered or taken away, as touching the believing Jews; but yet it was neither taken away in itself, nor yet as touching the unbelieving Jews.
Nom. Was the law then still of use to them, as it was the covenant of works?
Evan. Yea, indeed.
Ant. I pray you, sir, show of what use it was to them.
Evan. I remember Luther [on the Galatians, p. 171] says, "There be two sorts of unrighteous persons or unbelievers: the one to be justified, and the other not to be justified: even so was there among the Jews." Now, to them that were to be justified, as you have heard, the law was still of use to bring them to Christ: as the apostle says, (Gal 3:24), "The law was our schoolmaster until Christ,127127That is, to bring us unto Christ, as we read it with the supplement. that we might be made righteous by faith"; that is to say, the moral law 128128As the covenant of works; so the author uses that term here, as it is used, Larg. Cat. quest. 93, above cited. did teach and show them what they should do, and so what they did not; and this made them go to the ceremonial law;129129Broken under the sense of guilt, the curse of the law, and their utter inability to help themselves by doing or suffering. and by that they were taught that Christ had done it for them;130130Christ's satisfying the law for sinners by his obedience and death, being the great lesson taught by the ceremonial law, which was the gospel written in plain characters, to those whose eyes were opened. the which they believing,131131Appropriating and applying to themselves by faith Christ's satisfaction held forth and exhibited to them in these divine ordinances. were made righteous by faith in him. And to the second sort it was of use, to show them what was good, and what was evil; and to be as a bridle to them, to restrain them from evil, and as a motive to move them to good, for fear of punishment,132132Both in time and eternity. or hope of reward in this life; which, though it was but a forced and constrained obedience, yet was it necessary for the public commonwealth, the quiet thereof being thereby the better maintained. and though thereby they could neither escape death, nor yet obtain eternal life, for want of perfect obedience, yet the more obedience they yielded thereunto, the more they were freed from temporal calamities, and possessed with temporal blessings, according as the Lord promised and threatened, (Deut 28).
Ant. But, sir, in that place the Lord seemeth to speak to his own people, and yet to speak according to the tenor of the covenant of works, which has made me think that believers in the Old Testament were partly under the covenant of works.
Evan. Do you not remember how I told you before, that the Lord did manifest so much love to the body of that nation, that the whole posterity of Abraham133133Which were of that nation, according to Genesis 21:12, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." And chapter 28:13, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." were brought under a state-covenant or national church; so that for the believers' sakes he enfolded unbelievers in the compact; whereupon the Lord was pleased to call them all by the name of his people, as well unbelievers as believers, and to be called their God? And though the Lord did there speak according to the tenor of the covenant of works, yet I see no reason why he might not direct and intend his speech to believers also, and yet they remain only under the covenant of grace.
Ant. Why, sir, you said that the Lord did speak to them out of the tabernacle, and from the mercy-seat; and that, doubtless, was according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, and not according to the tenor of the covenant of works.
Evan. I pray you take notice, that after the Lord had pronounced all those blessings and curses, (Deut 28 in the beginning of the 29th chapter), it is said, "These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." Whereby it doth appear to me, that this was not the covenant of works which was delivered to them on Mount Sinai;134134The author does not make the covenant at Horeb distinct from that at Sinai; for he takes Horeb and Sinai for one and the same mountain, according to the holy Scriptures, (Exodus 19:20, compared with Deuteronomy 5:2), and therefore, because the text speaks of this covenant in the land of Moab as another for the form of that covenant was eternal blessings and curses, 28 but the form of this covenant was temporal blessings and curses. 29 So that this rather seems to be the pedagogy of the law, than the covenant of works; for at that time these people seemed to be carried by temporal promises into the way of obedience, and deterred by temporal threatenings from the ways of disobedience, God dealing with them as in their infancy and under age, and so leads them on, and allures them, and fears them, by such respects as these, because they had but a small measure of the Spirit.
Nom. But, sir, was not the matter of that covenant and this all one?
Evan. Yea, indeed; the ten commandments were the matter of both covenants, only they differed in the forms.
Ant. Then, sir, it seems that the promises and threatenings contained in the Old Testament were but temporary and terrestrial, only concerning the good and evil things of this life.
Evan. This we are to know, that like as the Lord, by his prophets, gave the people in the Old Testament many exhortations to be obedient to his commandments, and many dehortations from disobedience thereunto; even so did he back them with many promises and threatenings, concerning things temporal, as these and the like Scriptures do witness: (Isa 1:10), "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah": (verse 19,20), "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good things of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." And (Jer 7:3,9,20), "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely by my name? Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, behold mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place." And surely there be two reasons why the Lord did so: first, because, as all men are born under the covenant of works, they are naturally prone to conceive that the favour of God, and all good things, do depend and follow upon their obedience to the law, 30 and that the wrath of God, and all evil things, do depend upon and follow their disobedience to it, 31 and that man's chief happiness is to be had and found in terrestrial paradise, even in the good things of this life. So the people of the Old Testament being nearest to Adam's covenant and paradise, were most prone to such conceits. And secondly, because the covenant of grace and celestial paradise were but little mentioned in the Old Testament, they, for the most part, 32 had but a glimmering knowledge of them, and so could not yield obedience freely as sons. 33 Therefore the Lord saw it meet to move them to yield obedience to his laws by their own motives, 34 and as servants or children under age. 35
Ant. And were both believers and unbelievers, that is, such as were under the covenant of grace, and such as were under the covenant of works, equally and alike subject, as well to have the calamities of this life inflicted upon them for their disobedience, as the blessings of this life conferred upon them for their obedience?
Evan. Surely the words of the preacher do take place here, when he says, (Eccl 9:2), "All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked." Were not Moses and Aaron, for their disobedience, hindered from entering into the land of Canaan, as well as others? (Num 20:12). And was not Josiah, of his disobedience to God's command, slain in the valley of Megiddo? (2 Chron 35:21,22). Therefore assure yourself, that when believers in the Old Testament did transgress God's commandments, God's temporal wrath 36 went out against them, and was manifest in temporal calamities that befell them as well as others, (Num 16:46). Only here was the difference, the believers' temporal calamities had no eternal calamities included in them, nor following of them; 37 and the unbelievers' temporal blessings had no eternal blessings included in them, and their temporal calamities had eternal calamities included in them, and following of them. 38
Ant. Then, sir, it seems that all obedience that any of the Jews did yield to God's commandments, was for fear of temporal punishment, and in hope of temporal reward?
Evan. Surely the Scriptures seem to hold forth, that there were three several sorts of people amongst the Jews, who endeavoured to keep the law of God, and they did all of them differ in their ends.
The first of them were true believers, who, according to the measures of their faith, did believe the resurrection of their bodies after death, and eternal life in glory, and that it was to be obtained, not by the works of the law, but by faith in the Messiah or promised seed; and answerably as they believed this, answerably they yielded obedience to the law freely, without fear of punishment or hope of reward: but, alas! the spirit of faith was very weak in most of them, and the spirit of bondage very strong, and, therefore, they stood in need to be induced and constrained to obedience, by fear of punishment and hope of reward. 39
The second sort of them were the Sadducees and their sect, and these did not believe that there was any resurrection, (Matt 22:23), nor any life but the life of this world; and yet they endeavoured to keep the law, that God might bless them here, and that it might go well with them in this present life.
The third sort, and indeed the greatest number of them in the future ages after Moses, were the Scribes and Pharisees, and their sects; and they held and maintained, that there was a resurrection to be looked for, and an eternal life after death, and, therefore, they endeavoured to keep the law, not only to obtain temporal happiness, but eternal also. For though it had pleased the Lord to make known unto his people, by the ministry of Moses, that the law was given, not to retain men in the confidence of their own works, but to drive them out of themselves, and to lead them to Christ the promised seed; yet after that time, the priests and the Levites, who were the expounders of the law, and to whom the Scribes and Pharisees succeeded, did so conceive and teach of God's intention in giving the law, as though it had been, that they, by their obedience to it, should obtain righteousness and eternal life; and this opinion was so confidently maintained, and so generally embraced amongst them, that in their book Mechilta, they say and affirm, that there is no other covenant than the law; and so, in very deed, they conceived that there was no other way to eternal life than the covenant of works.
Ant. Surely, then, it seems they did not understand and consider that the law, as it is the covenant of works, does not only bind the outward man, but also the inward man, even the soul and spirit; and requires all holy thoughts, motions, and dispositions of the heart and soul?
Evan. O, no; they neither taught it nor understood it so spiritually; neither could they be persuaded that the law requires so much at man's hands. For they first laid this down for a certain truth, that God gave the law for man to be justified and saved by his obedience to it; and that, therefore, there must needs be a power in man to do all that it requires, or else God would never have required it; and, therefore, whereas they should have first considered what a straight rule the law of God is, and then have brought man's heart, and have laid it to it, they, contrariwise, first considered what a crooked rule man's heart is, and then sought to make the law like it: and so indeed they expounded the law literally, teaching and holding, that the righteousness which the law required was but an external righteousness, consisting in the outward observation of the law, as you may see by the testimony of our Saviour, (Matt 5); so that, according to their exposition, it was possible for a man to fulfil the law perfectly, and so to be justified and saved by his obedience to it.
Ant. But, sir, do you think the Scribes and Pharisees, and their sect, did yield perfect obedience to the law, according to their own exposition?
Evan. No, indeed; I think very few of them, if any at all.
Ant. Why, what hopes could they then have to be justified and saved, when they transgressed any of the commandments?
Evan. Peter Martyr tells us, that when they chanced to transgress any of the ten commandments, 40 they had their sacrifices to make satisfaction [as they conceived]; for they looked upon their sacrifices without their significations, and so had a false faith in them, thinking that the bare work was a sacrifice acceptable unto God; in a word, they conceived that the blood of bulls and goats would take away sin, and so what they wanted of fulfilling the moral law, they thought to make up in the ceremonial law. And thus they separated Christ from their sacrifices, thinking they had discharged their duty very well, when they had sacrificed and offered their offerings; not considering that the imperfection of the typical law, which, as the apostle says, made nothing perfect, should have led them to find perfection in Christ, (Heb 7:19); but they generally rested in the work done in the ceremonial law,even as they had done in the moral law, though they themselves were unable to do the one, 41 and the other was as insufficient to help them. And thus "Israel, which followed the law of righteousness, did not attain to the law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith," but, as it were, by the works of the law. For they being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God, (Rom 9:31, 10:3).
Ant. Then, sir, it seems there were but very few of them 42 that had a clear sight and knowledge of Christ?
Evan. It is very true indeed; for generally there was such a
veil of ignorance over their hearts, or such a veil of blindness over their minds, that
it made their spiritual eye-sight so weak and dim, that they were no more able
to see Christ, the Sun of righteousness, to the end of the law, 43 (Mal 4:2), than
the weak eye of man is able to behold the bright sun when it shineth in its full
strength. And therefore we read, (Exo 34:30), that when Moses's face did
shine, by reason of the Lord's talking with him, and telling him of the glorious
riches of his free grace in Jesus Christ, and giving unto him the ten commandments,
written in tables of stone, as the covenant of works; 44 to drive the people out of
confidence in themselves, and their own legal righteousness, unto Jesus Christ
and his righteousness, the people were not able to behold his face; that
is to say, 45 by reason of the weakness and dimness of their spiritual eye-sight,
they were not able to see and understand the spiritual sense of the law:
namely, that the Lord's end or intent in giving them the law as a covenant of works, and
as the apostle calls it, "the ministration of condemnation and death," (2 Cor
3:7,9), was to drive them out of themselves to Christ, and that then 46 it was to be
abolished to them, as it was the covenant of works, (verse 13), and therefore Moses
put the cloudy veil of shadowing ceremonies over his face, (Exo 34:35), that
they might be the better able to behold it: that is to say, that they might be the
better able to see through them, and understand, that "Christ is the end of the law
for righteousness to every one that believeth," (Rom 9:4). For Moses' face, says
godly Tindal, is the law rightly understood. And yet, alas! by reason that the
priests and Levites in former times, and the Scribes and Pharisees in after times,
"were the blind leaders of the blind," (Matt 15:14), the generality of them were so
addicted to the letter of the law, [and that both moral 47 and ceremonial,] that they used
it not as a pedagogy to Christ, but terminated their eye in the letter and
shadow, and did not see through them to the spiritual substance, which is Jesus
Christ, (2 Cor 3:13), especially in the future ages after Moses: for at the time of
Christ's coming in the flesh, I remember but two, namely, Simeon and Anna, that desired
him, or looked for him as a spiritual Saviour to save them from sin and wrath.
For though all of them had in their mouths the Messiah, says Calvin, and the
blessed state of the kingdom of David; yet they dreamed that this Messiah should be
some great monarch that should come in outward pomp and power, and save and
deliver them from that bondage which they were in under the Romans, of
which bondage they were sensible and weary; but as for their spiritual bondage
under the law, sin, and wrath, they were not at all sensible; and all because
their blind guides had turned the whole law into a covenant of works, to be done for
justification and salvation: 48 yea, and such a covenant as they were able to keep
and fulfil, if not by the doing of the moral law, yet by their offering sacrifices
in the ceremonial law. And for this cause, our Saviour, in his sermon upon the
mount, took occasion to expound the moral law truly and spiritually,
removing that false literal gloss which the Scribes and Pharisees had put upon it, that men
might see how impossible it is for any mere man to fulfil it, and so
consequently to have justification and salvation by it. And at the death of Christ,
the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, to show, says
Tindal, "that the shadows of Moses' law should now vanish away at the flourishing
light of the gospel," (Matt 27:51). And after the death of Christ, his
apostles did, both by their preaching and writing, labour to make men understand, that all
the sacrifices and ceremonies were but types of Christ; and therefore he being now
come, they were of no further use: witness that divine and spiritual
epistle written to the Hebrews. Yet, notwithstanding, we may say of the Jews at this
day, as the apostle did in his time, "even until this day remaineth the same
veil untaken away in the reading of Moses." The Lord in mercy remove it in his due
Chapter II, Section II, 6
The natural bias towards the covenant of works.
Ant. Well, sir, I had thought that God's covenant with the Jews had been a mixed covenant, and that they had been partly under the covenant of works; but now I perceive there was little difference betwixt their covenant of grace and ours.
Evan. Truly the opposition between the Jews' covenant of grace and ours was chiefly of their own making. They should have been drive to Christ by the law: but they expected life in obedience to it, and this was their great error and mistake.
Ant. And surely, sir, it is no great marvel, though they in this point did so much err and mistake, who had the covenant of grace made known to them so darkly; when many amongst us, who have it more clearly manifested, do the like.
Evan. And, truly, it is no marvel, though all men naturally do so: for man naturally doth apprehend God to be the great Master of heaven, and himself to be his servant; and that therefore he must do his work before he can have his wages; and the more work he doth, the better wages he shall have. And hence it was, that when Aristotle came to speak of blessedness, and to pitch upon the next means to that end, he said, "It was operation and working"; with whom also agrees Pythagoras, when he says, "It is man's felicity to be like unto God, [as how?] by becoming righteous and holy." And let us not marvel that these men did so err, who never heard of Christ, nor of the covenant of grace, when those to whom it was made known by the apostles of Christ did the like; witness those to whom the apostle Paul wrote his epistles, and especially the Galatians: for although he had by his preaching, when he was present with them, made known unto them the covenant of grace; yet after his departure, through the seducement of false teaches, they were soon turned to the covenant of works, and sought to be justified, either in whole or in part by it; as you may see if you seriously consider that epistle. Nay, what says Luther? It is, says he, the general opinion of men's reason throughout the whole world, that righteousness is gotten by the works of the law; and the reason is, because the covenant was engendered in the minds of men in the very creation,135135This is not to be understood strictly of the very moment of man's creation, in which the natural law was impressed on his heart, but with some latitude, the covenant of works being made with man newly created; and so divines call it the covenant of nature. See Dickson's Therap. Sacr., book 1, chap. 5, p. 116. so that man naturally can judge no otherwise of the law than as of a covenant of works, which was given to make righteous, and to give life and salvation. This pernicious opinion of the law, that it justifieth and maketh righteous before God, says Luther again, "is so deeply rooted in man's reason, and all mankind so wrapped in it, that they can hardly get out; yea, I myself, says he, have now preached the gospel nearly twenty years, and have been exercised in the same daily, by reading and writing, so that I may well seem to be rid of this wicked opinion; yet, notwithstanding, I now and then feel this old filth cleave to my heart, whereby it cometh to pass that I would willingly have so to do with God, that I would bring something with myself, because of which he should give me his grace." Nay it is to be feared, that, as you said, many amongst us [who have more means of light ordinarily, than ever Luther, or any before him had,136136This is not to insinuate, that Luther had arrived but to a small measure of the knowledge of the doctrine of justification and acceptation of a sinner before God, in comparison with those of later times; I make no question but he understood that doctrine as well as any man has done since; and doubt not but our author was of the same mind anent him: but it is to show, that that great man of God, and others who went before him, found their way out of the midnight darkness of Popery in that point, with less means of light by far than men now have, who notwithstanding cannot hold off from it. yet notwithstanding] do either wholly, or in part, expect justification and acceptation by the works of the law.
Ant. Sir, I am verily persuaded, that there be very many in the city of London that are carried with a blind preposterous zeal after their own good works and well-doings, secretly seeking to become holy, just, and righteous, before God, by their diligent keeping, and careful walking in all God's commandments;137137By which means they put their own works in the room of Christ, "who of God is made unto us—righteousness and sanctification," (1 Cor 1:30). According to the Scripture plan of justification and sanctification, a sinner is justified by his blood, (Rom 5:9), sanctified in Christ Jesus, (1 Cor 1:2), through sanctification of the Spirit, (2 Thess 2:13), sanctified by faith, (Acts 26:18). and yet no man can persuade them that they do so: and truly, sir, I am verily persuaded that this our neighbour and friend, Nomista, is one of them.
Evan. Alas! there are thousands in the world that make a Christ of their works; and here is their undoing, &c. They look for righteousness and acceptation more in the precept than in the promise, in the law than in the gospel, in working than in believing; and so miscarry. Many poor ignorant souls amongst us, when we bid them obey and do duties, they can think of nothing but working themselves to life; when they are troubled, they must lick themselves whole, when wounded, they must run to the salve of duties, and stream of performances, and neglect Christ. Nay, it is to be feared that there be divers who in words are able to distinguish between the law and gospel, and in their judgments hold and maintain, that man is justified by faith without the works of the law; and yet in effect and practice, that is to say, in heart and conscience, do otherwise. 138138It is indeed the practice of every unregenerate man, whatever be his knowledge or professed principles; for the contrary practice is the practice of the saints, and of them only, (Matt 5:3), "Blessed are the poor in spirit."—(Phil 3:3), "We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." And there is some touch of this in us all; otherwise we should not be so up and down in our comforts and believing as we are still, and cast down with every weakness as we are.139139For these flow from our building so much on something in ourselves, which is always very variable; and so little on the "grace that is in Christ Jesus," (2 Tim 2:1), which is an immovable foundation. But what say you, neighbour Nomista, are you guilty of these things, think you?
Nom. Truly, sir, I must needs confess, I begin to be somewhat jealous of myself that I am so; and because I desire your judgment touching my condition, I would entreat you to give me leave to relate it unto you.
Evan. With great good will.
Nom. Sir, I having been born and brought up in a country where there was very little preaching, the Lord knoweth I lived a great while in ignorance and blindness; and yet, because I did often repeat the Lord's prayer, the apostles' creed, and the ten commandments, and in that I came sometimes to divine service, as they call it, and at Easter received the communion, I thought my condition to be good. But at last, by means of hearing a zealous and godly minister in this city, not long after my coming hither, I was convinced that my present condition was not good, and therefore I went to the same minister, and told him what I thought of myself; so he told me that I must frequent the hearing of sermons, and keep the Sabbath very strictly, and leave off swearing by my faith and troth, and such like oaths, and beware of lying, and all idle words and communication; yea, and said he, you must get good books to read on, as Mr. Dodd on the Commandments, Mr. Bolton's Directions for Comfortable Walking with God, Mr. Brinsley's True Watch, and such like; and many similar exhortations and directions he gave me, the which I liked very well, and therefore endeavoured myself to follow them. So I fell to the hearing of the most godly, zealous, and powerful preachers that were in the city, and wrote their sermons after them; and when God gave me a family, I prayed with them, and instructed them, and repeated sermons to them, and spent the Lord's day in public and private exercises, and left off my swearing, and lying, and idle talking; and, according to exhortation, in few words, I did so reform myself and my life, that whereas before I had been only careful to perform the duties of the second table of the law, and that to the end I might gain favour and respect from civil, honest men, and to avoid the penalties of man's law, or temporal punishment, now I was also careful to perform the duties required in the first table of the law, and that to gain favour and respect from religious, honest men, and to avoid the penalty of God's law, even eternal torments in hell. Now, when professors of religion observed this change in me, they came to my house, and gave unto me the right hand of fellowship, and counted me one of that number: and then I invited godly ministers to my table, and made much of them; and then, with that same Micah mentioned in the book of Judges, I was persuaded the Lord would be merciful unto me, because I had gotten a Levite to be my priest, (Judg 17:13). In a word, I did now yield such an outward obedience and conformity to both tables of the law, that all godly ministers and religious, honest men who knew me, did think very well of me, counting me to be a very honest man, and a good Christian; and indeed I thought so of myself, especially because I had their approbation. And thus I went on bravely a great while, even until I read in Mr. Bolton's works, that the outward righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees was famous in those times; for, besides their forbearing and protesting against gross sins, as murder, theft, adultery, idolatry, and the like, they were frequent and constant in prayer, fasting, and alms-deed, so that, without question, many of them were persuaded that their doing would purchase heaven and happiness. Whereupon I concluded, that I had as yet done no more than they; and withal I considered, that our Saviour says, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God," (Matt 5:20); yea, and I also considered that the apostle says, "He is not a Jew that is one outwardly; but he that is one inwardly, whose praise is not of men, but of God," (Rom 2:28,29). Then did I conclude that I was not yet a true Christian; for, said I in my heart, I have contented myself with the praise of men, and so have lost all my labour and pains in performing duties; for they have been no better than outside performances, and, therefore, they must all fall down in a moment. I have not served God with all my heart; and, therefore, I see I must either go further, or else I shall never be happy. Whereupon I set about the keeping of the law in good earnest, and laboured to perform duties, not only outwardly, but also inwardly from my heart; I heard, and read, and prayed, and laboured, to bring my heart, and forced my soul to every duty; I called upon the Lord in good earnest, and told him, that whatsoever he would have me to do, I would do it with all my heart, if he would but save my soul. And then I also took notice of the inward corruptions of my heart, the which I had not formerly done, and was careful to govern my thoughts, to moderate my passions, and to suppress the motions and risings of lust, to banish pride and speculative wantonness, and all vain and sinful desires of my heart; and then I thought myself not only an outside Christina, but also an inside Christian, and therefore a true Christian indeed. And so I went on comfortably a good while, till I considered that the law of God requires passive obedience as well as active: and therefore I must be a sufferer as well as a doer, or else I could not be a Christian indeed; whereupon I began to be troubled at my impatience under God's correcting hand, and at those inward murmurings and discontents which I found in my spirit in time of any outward calamity that befell me; and then I laboured to bridle my passions, and to submit myself quietly to the will of God in every condition; and then did I also, as it were, begin to take penance upon myself, by abstinence, fasting, and afflicting my soul; and made pitiful lamentations in my prayers, which were sometimes also accompanied with tears, the which I was persuaded the Lord did take notice of, and would reward me for it; and then I was persuaded that I did keep the law, in yielding obedience both actively and passively. And then was I confident I was a true Christian, until I considered, that those Jews, of whom the Lord complains, (Isa 58), did as much as I; and that caused me to fear that all was not right with me as yet. Whereupon I went to another minister, and told him that though I had done thus and thus, and suffered thus and thus; yet was I persuaded that I was in no better condition than those Jews. O yes! said he; you are in a better condition than they: for they were hypocrites, and served not God with all their hearts as you do. Then I went home contentedly, and so went on in my wonted course of doing and suffering, and thought all was well with me, until I bethought myself, that before the time of my conversion, I had been a transgressor from the womb; yea, in the womb, in that I was guilty of Adam's transgression: so that I considered that although I kept even with God for the time present and to come, yet that would not free me from the guiltiness of that which was done before; whereupon I was much troubled and disquieted in my mind. Then I went to a third minister of God's holy word, and told how the case stood with me, and what I thought of my state and condition. He cheered me up, bidding me be of good comfort: for however my obedience since my conversion would not satisfy for my former sins; yet, inasmuch as, at my conversion, I had confessed, lamented, deplored, bewailed, and forsaken them, God, according to his rich mercy and gracious promise, had mercifully pardoned and forgiven them. Then I returned home to my house again, and went to God by earnest prayer and supplication, and besought him to give me assurance of the pardon and forgiveness of my guiltiness of Adam's sin, and all my actual transgressions before my conversion; and as I had endeavoured myself to be a good servant before, so I would still continue in doing my duty most exactly; and so, being assured that the Lord had granted this my request, I fell to my business according to my promise; I heard, I read, I prayed, I fasted, I mourned, I sighed, and groaned; and watched over my heart, my tongue, and ways, in all my doings, actions, and dealings, both with God and man. But after a while, I growing better acquainted with the spiritualness of the law, and the inward corruptions of my own heart, I perceived that I had deceived myself, in thinking that I had kept the law perfectly; for, do what I could, I found many imperfections in my obedience; for I had been, and was still subject to sleepiness, drowsiness, and heaviness, in prayers and hearing, and so in other duties; I failed in the manner of performance of them, and in the end why I performed them, seeking myself in everything I did: and my conscience told me I failed in my duty to God in this, in my duty to my neighbour in that. And then I was much troubled again: for I considered that the law of God requires, and is not satisfied without, an exact and perfect obedience. And then I went to the same minister again, and told him how I had purposed, promised, striven, and endeavoured, as much as possibly I could, to keep the law of God perfectly; and yet by woeful experience I had found, that I had, and did still transgress in many ways; and therefore I feared hell and damnation. "Oh! but," said he, "do not fear; for the best of Christians have their failings, and no man keepeth the law of God perfectly; and therefore go on, and do as you have done, in striving to keep the law perfectly; and in what you cannot do, God will accept the will for the deed; and wherein you come short, Christ will help you out." And this satisfied and contented me very much. So I returned home again, and fell to prayer, and told the Lord that now I saw I could not yield perfect obedience to his law, and yet I would not despair, because I did believe that what I could not do Christ had done for me: and then I did certainly conclude, that I was now a Christian indeed, though I was not so before: and so have I been persuaded ever since. And thus, sir, you see I have declared unto you, both how it hath been with me formerly, and how it is with me for the present; wherefore I would entreat you to tell me plainly and truly what you think of my condition.140140It is not necessary, for saving this account of Nomista's case from the odious charge of forgery, that the particulars therein mentioned should have been real facts; more than [not to speak of Scripture parables] it is necessary to save the whole book from the same imputation, that the speeches therein contained should have passed, at a certain time, in a real conference of four men, called Evangelista, Nomista, Antinomista, and Neophytus; yet I make no question but it is grounded on matters of fact, falling out by some casuist's inadvertency, excess of charity to, or shifting converse with, the afflicted, as to their soul exercise, or by means of corrupt principles. And as the former are incident to good men of sound principles at any time, which calls ministers on such occasions to take heed to the frame of their own spirits, and to be much in the exercise of dependence on the Lord, lest they do hurt to souls instead of doing them good; so the latter is at no time to be thought strange, since there were found, even in the primitive apostolical churches, some who were reputed godly, zealous gospel ministers, especially by such as had little savour of Christ on their own souls, who nevertheless, in their zeal for the law, perverted the gospel of Christ, (Gal 1:6,7, 4:17). Whether Nomista was of opinion that the covenant of works was still in force or not, our Lord Jesus Christ taught that it was, (Luke 10:25-28); and so does the apostle, (Gal 3:10); and unbelievers will find it so to their everlasting ruin. For, "our Lord Jesus, who now offers to be Mediator for them who believe on him, shall, at the last day, come armed with flaming fire, to judge, condemn, and destroy all them who have not believed God, have not received the offer of grace made in the gospel, nor obeyed the doctrine thereof, but remain in their natural state, under the law or covenant of works."—Practical Use of Saving Knowledge, tit. For convincing a man of Judgment by the Law, part 2.
Evan. Why, truly I must tell you, it appears to me by this relation, that you have gone as far in the way of the covenant of works as the apostle Paul did before his conversion; but yet, for aught I see, you have not gone the right way to the truth of the gospel; and therefore I question whether you be as yet truly come to Christ.
Neoph. Good sir, give me leave to speak a few words. By the hearing of your discourse concerning the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, I was moved to fear that I was out of the right way; but now having heard my neighbour Nomista make such an excellent relation, and yet you to question whether he truly be come to Christ or no, makes me conclude absolutely, that I am far from Christ. Surely, if he, upon whom the Lord hath bestowed such excellent gifts and graces, and who hath lived such a godly life as I am sure he hath done, be not right, then woe be unto me!
Evan. Truly, for aught I know, you may be in Christ before him.
Nom. But, I pray you, sir, consider, that though I am now thoroughly convinced, that till of late I went on in the way of the covenant of works; yet seeing that I at last came to see my need of Christ, and have verily believed that in what I come short of fulfilling the law he will help me out, methinks I should be truly come to Christ.
Evan. Verily, I do conceive that this gives you no surer evidence of your being truly come to Christ, than some of your strict Papists have. For it is the doctrine of the Church of Rome, that if a man exercise all his power, and do his best to fulfil the law, then God, for Christ's sake, will pardon all his infirmities, and save his soul. And therefore you shall see many of your Papists very strict and zealous in the performance of duties, morning and evening, so many Ave Marias and so many Pater Nosters; yea, and many of them do great deeds of charity, and great works of hospitality; and all upon such grounds, and to such ends as these. The Papists, says Calvin, cannot abide this saying, "By faith alone"; for they think that their own works are in part a cause of their salvation; and so they make a hotch-potch and mingle-mangle, that is neither fish nor flesh, as men say.
Nom. But stay, sir, I pray; you are mistaken in me; for though I hold that God doth accept of my doing my best to fulfil the law, yet I do not hold with the Papists, that my doings are meritorious; for I believe that God accepts not what I do, either for the work or worker's sake, but only for Christ's sake.
Evan. Yet do you but still go hand in hand with the Papists; for though they do hold that their works are meritorious, yet they say it is by the merit of Christ that they become meritorious; or, as some of the moderate sort of them say, "Our works, sprinkled with the blood of Christ, become meritorious." But this you are to know, that as the justice of God requires a perfect obedience, so does it require that this perfect obedience be a personal one, viz: it must be the obedience of one person only; the obedience of two must not be put together, to make up a perfect obedience;141141For in that case the obedience both of the one and of the other is imperfect, and so is not conform to the law; therefore it can in no wise be accepted for righteousness; but according to justice proceeding upon it, the soul that hath it must die, because a sinful soul, (Eze 18:4). so that, if you desire to be justified before God, you must either bring to him a perfect righteousness of your own, and wholly renounce Christ; or else you must bring the perfect righteousness of Christ, and wholly renounce your own.
Ant. But believe me, sir, I would advise him to bring Christ's and wholly renounce his own, as, I thank the Lord, I have done.
Evan. You say very well; for, indeed, the covenant of grace
terminates itself only on Christ and his righteousness; God will have none to have a
hand in the justification and salvation of a sinner, but Christ only. And to
say as the thing is, neighbour Nomista, Christ Jesus will either be a whole Saviour,
or no Saviour; he will either save you alone, or not save you at all. (Acts 4:12),
"For among men there is given no other name under heaven, whereby we must be
saved," says the apostle Peter; and Jesus Christ himself says, (John 14:6), "I am
the way, the truth, and the life; and no man cometh to the Father but by me."
So that, as Luther truly says, "besides this way Christ, there is no way but
wandering, no verity but hypocrisy, no life but eternal death." And verily,
says, another godly writer, "we can neither come to God the Father, be reconciled
unto him, nor have anything to do with him, by any other way or means, but only by
Jesus Christ; for we shall not anywhere find the favour of God, true
innocency, righteousness, satisfaction for sin, help, comfort, life, or salvation,
anywhere but only in Jesus Christ; he is the sum and centre of all divine and evangelical
truths: and therefore as there is no knowledge or wisdom so excellent, necessary, or
heavenly, as the knowledge of Christ, as the apostle plainly gives us to
understand, (1 Cor 2:2), that he 'determined to know nothing amongst them, but only Jesus
Christ and him crucified'; so there is nothing to be preached unto men, as an
object of their faith, or necessary element of their salvation, which doth not in some
way or other, either meet in Christ, or refer unto him."142142(Eph 4:20,21), "But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus."
Chapter II, Section II, 7
The Antinomian faith rejected.
Ant. O, sir, you please me wondrous well in thus attributing all to Christ: and surely, though of late you have not been so evangelical in your teaching as some others in this city, which has caused me to leave off hearing you to hear them, yet I have formerly perceived, and now also perceive, that you have more knowledge of the doctrine of free grace than many other ministers in this city have; and to tell you the truth, sir, it was by your means that I was first brought to renounce mine own righteousness, and cleave only to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.143143What this is, in the sense of the speaker, he himself immediately explains at large. In a word, in his sense, it is to be an Antinomian indeed. The sum of his compliment made to Evangelista, or the author, which you please, lies here; namely, that he had left off hearing him, because he did not preach the gospel, so purely as some others in the place; yet in his opinion, he understood it better than many others; and [to carry the compliment to the highest pitch] it was by his means he turned downright Antinomian. One would think, that whatever was the measure of the author's pride or humility, self- denial or self-seeking, he had as much common sense as would render this address not very taking with him, or at least would teach him, that the publishing of it was none of the most proper means for commending of himself. So that the publishing of it may rather be imputed to the author's self-denial than to the want thereof; though I presume the considering reader will neither impute it to the one nor to the other. And thus it was: after that I had been a good while a legal professor, just like my friend Nomista, and heard none but your legal preachers, who built me up in works and doings, as they did him, and as their manner is; at last, a familiar acquaintance of mine, who had some knowledge of the doctrine of free grace, did commend you for an excellent preacher; and at last prevailed with me to go with him and hear you; and your text that day, I well remember, was Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us"; whence you observed, and plainly proved, that man's own righteousness had no hand in his justification and salvation; whereupon you dehorted us from putting any confidence in our own works and doings, and exhorted us by faith to lay hold upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ only; at the hearing whereof it pleased the Lord so to work upon me, that I plainly perceived that there was no need at all of my works and doings, nor anything else, but only to believe in Jesus Christ.144144The preacher taught, according to his text, That man's own righteousness had no hand in his justification and salvation; he dehorted, from putting confidence in good works; and exhorted, by faith to lay hold on Christ's righteousness only. And this hearer thence inferred, that there was no need at all of good works; as if one should conclude, that because it is the eye only that seeth, therefore there is no need at all of hand or foot. So the apostle Paul's doctrine was misconstrued; (Rom 3:8), "Some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come." Yea, in the apostles' days, the doctrine of free grace was actually thus abused to Antinomianism, by some "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness," (Jude 4). The apostle was aware of the danger on that side, through the corruption of the hearts of men; (Gal 5:13), "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh." And ministers of Christ, [who himself was accounted "a friend to publicans and sinners," &c., (Matt 11:19),] followers of Paul's doctrine, which, in the eyes of carnal men, had a show and semblance of favouring sinful liberty, ought to set the apostles' example in this matter before them in a special manner; with fear and trembling, keeping a jealous eye on the danger from that part; especially in this day, wherein the Lord's indignation is visibly going out in spiritual strokes, for a despised gospel; knowing that the gospel of Christ is to some "the savour of death unto death," (2 Cor 2:16), and that "there are who wrest the Scriptures [themselves] unto their own destruction," (2 Peter 2:17). And indeed my heart assented to it immediately, so that I went home with abundance of peace and joy in believing, and gave thanks to the Lord for that he had set my soul at liberty from such a sore bondage as I had been under. And I told all my acquaintance what a slavish life I had lived in, being under the law; for if I did commit any sin, I was presently troubled and disquieted in my conscience, and could have no peace till I had made humble confession thereof unto God, craved pardon and forgiveness, and promised amendment. But now I told them, that whatsoever sins I committed, I was no whit troubled at them, nor indeed am I at this day; for I do verily believe that God, for Christ's sake, has freely and fully pardoned all my sins, both past, present, and to come; so that I am confident, that whatsoever sin or sins I commit, they shall never be laid to my charge, being very well assured, that I am so perfectly clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness, that God can see no sin in me at all. And therefore now I can rejoice evermore in Christ, as the apostle exhorts me, and live merrily, though I be never so vile or sinful a creature; and indeed I pity them that are in the same slavish condition I was in; and would have them to believe as I have done, that so they may rejoice with me in Christ.145145How easy is the passage from legalism to Antinomianism! Had this poor man, under his trouble and disquiet of conscience, fled to Jesus Christ for the purging of his conscience from guilt by his blood, and the sanctifying of his nature by his Spirit; and not put his own confessions of sins, prayers for pardon, and promises of amendment, in the room of Christ's atoning blood; and his blind and faithless resolutions to amend, in the room of the sanctifying spirit of Christ; he had escaped this snare of the devil (Heb 9:14, Rom 7:4- 6). And thus, sir, you see I have declared unto you my condition; and therefore I entreat you to tell me what you think of me.
Evan. There is in this city, at this day, much talk about Antinomians; and though I hope there be but few that do justly deserve that title, yet, I pray, give me leave to tell you, that I fear I may say unto you in this case, as it was once said unto Peter in another case, "surely thou art one of them, for thy speech betrayeth thee," (Matt 26:73). And therefore, to tell you truly, I make some question whether you have truly believed in Christ, for all your confidence; and indeed, I am the rather moved to question it, by calling to mind, that, as I have heard, "your conversation is not such as becometh the gospel of Christ," (Phil 1:27).
Ant. Why, sir, do you think it is possible for a man to have such peace and joy in Christ as I have had, and I thank the Lord have still, and not to have truly believed in Christ?
Evan. Yes, indeed, I think it is possible; for does not our Saviour tell us, that those hearers, to whom he resembles the "stony ground,—immediately received the word with joy, and yet had no root in themselves," (Mark 4:16,17), and so indeed were not true believers? and does not the apostle give us to understand, that as there is a form of godliness without the power of godliness, (2 Tim 3:5), so there is a form of faith, without the power of faith? and therefore he prays that God would grant unto the Thessalonians "the work of faith with power," (2 Thess 1:11). And as the same apostle gives us to understand, "there is a faith that is not feigned," (1 Tim 1:5), so, doubtless, there is a faith that is feigned. And surely when our Saviour says, (Mark 4:26-28), "the kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear"; he giveth us to understand, that true faith is produced by the secret power of God, by little and little; so that sometimes a true believer himself neither knows the time when, nor the manner how, it was wrought. So that we may perceive, that true faith is not ordinarily begun, increased, and finished, all in a moment, as it seems yours was, but grows by degrees, according to that of the apostle, (Rom 1:17), "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith," that is, from one degree of faith to another; from a weak faith to a strong faith, and from faith beginning to faith increasing towards perfection; or from faith of adherence to faith of evidence; but so was not yours. And again, true faith, according to the measure of it, produces holiness of life; but it seems yours does not so; and therefore, though you have had, and have still much peace and joy, yet that is no infallible sign that your faith is true; for a man may have great raptures, yea, he may have great joy, as if he were lifted up into the third heaven, and have a great and strong persuasion that his state is good, and yet be but a hypocrite for all that. And therefore, I beseech you, in the words of the apostle, "examine yourself, whether you be in the faith, prove your own self: know you not your own self, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be a reprobate?" (2 Cor 13:5).—"And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness,"146146This doctrine of our author is far from cherishing of presumption, or opening of a gap to licentiousness. (Rom 8:10).
Ant. But, sir, if my friend Nomista went wrong in seeking to be justified by the works of the law, then, methinks I should have gone right in seeking to be justified by faith; and yet you speak as if we had both gone wrong.
Evan. I remember Luther says, that in his time, if they taught
in a sermon, that salvation consisted not in our works or life, but in the gift of
God, some men took occasion thence to be slow to good works, and to live a
dishonest life. And if they preached of a godly and honest life, others did by and by
attempt to build ladders to heaven.147147That is, to scale and get into it by their own good works.
And moreover, he says, that in the year 1525, there
were some fantastical spirits that stirred up the rustical people to
sedition, saying, That the freedom of the gospel giveth liberty to all men from all manner
of laws; and there were others that did attribute the force of justification to the
law. Now, says he, both these sorts offend against the law; the one on the right
hand, who would be justified by the law, and the other on the left hand, who would
be clean delivered from the law. Now, I suppose, this saying of Luther's may be
fitly applied to you two; for it appears to me, friend Antinomista, that you have
offended on the left hand, in not walking according to the matter of the law; and it
is evident to me, neighbour Nomista, that you have offended on the right hand, in
seeking to be justified by your obedience to it.148148The offences of these men here taxed, were both against the law [or covenant] of works; for they must needs have been against
that law which they were under, and not another; and both of them were as yet under the law, or covenant of works, as being
both unbelievers, the which was told to Antinomista, as it was to Nomista; wherefore it is manifest, that by the matter of
the law here, is not meant the law of Christ, but the matter of the law of works, that is, the ten commandments, as they stand
in the covenant of works, which Antinomista had no regard to in his conversation, though they had all the authority and binding
force upon him found in the covenant. And as he offended against the matter of it, so did Nomista against the form, in seeking
to be justified by his obedience; for the covenant of works never bound a sinner to seek to be justified by his obedience
to it; but, on the contrary, always condemned that as presumption, staking down the guilty under the curse, without remedy,
till satisfaction be made by another hand.
Chapter II, Section II, 8
The evil of legalism.
Nom. But, sir, if seeking justification by the works of the law be an error, yet it seems, that, by Luther's own confession, it is but an error on the right hand.
Evan. But yet I tell you, it is such an error, that, by the apostle Paul's own confession, so far forth as any man is guilty of it, he makes his services his saviours, and rejects the grace of God, and makes the death of Christ of none effect, and perverts the Lord's intention, both in giving the law and in giving the gospel; and keeps himself under the curse of the law, and makes himself the son of a bond-woman, a servant, yea, and a slave, and hinders himself in the course of well-doing, (Gal 5:4, 3:19, 1:7, 3:10, 4:25, 5:7, 2:11); and in short, he goes about an impossible thing, and so loses all his labour.
Nom. Why then, sir, it would seem that all my seeking to please God by my good works, all my strict walking according to the law, and all my honest course of life, has rather done me hurt than good?
Evan. The apostle says, that "without faith it is impossible to please God," (Heb 11:6); that is, says Calvin, [Institut. p. 370,] "Whatsoever a man thinketh, purposeth, or doeth, before he be reconciled to God by faith in Christ, it is accursed, and not only of no value to righteousness, but of certain deserving to damnation." So that, says Luther, on Galatians, p. 63. "Whosoever goeth about to please God with works going before faith, goeth about to please God with sin; which is nothing else but to heap sin upon sin, to mock God, and to provoke him to wrath. Nay, [says the same Luther, on the Galatians, p. 23,] if thou be without Christ, thy wisdom is double foolishness, thy righteousness is double sin and iniquity." And, therefore, though you have walked very strictly according to the law, and led an honest life, yet if you have rested and put confidence therein, and so come short of Christ, then hath it indeed rather done you hurt than good. For, says a godly writer, a virtuous life, according to the light of nature, turneth a man further off from God, if he add not thereto the effectual working of his Spirit. And, says Luther, "they which have respect only to an honest life, it were better for them to be adulterers and adulteresses, and to wallow in the mire." 149149 This comparison is not stated betwixt these two, considered, simply, as to their different manner of life; but in point of pliableness to receive conviction, wherein the latter hath the advantage of the former; which the Scripture oftener than once takes notice of, (Matt 21:31), quoted in the following sentence, "I would thou wert cold or hot," (Rev 3:15). The passage is to be found in his Sermon upon the Hymn of Zacharias, page 50. And surely for this cause it is that our Saviour tells the strict Scribes and Pharisees, who sought justification by works, and rejected Christ, that "publicans and harlots should enter into the kingdom of God before them," (Matt 21:31). And for this cause it was that I said, For aught I know, my neighbour Neophytus might be in Christ before you.
Nom. But how can that be, when, as you know, he hath confessed that he is ignorant and full of corruption, and comes far short of me in gifts and graces?
Evan. Because, as the Pharisee had more to do before he could come at Christ than the publican had, so I conceive you have more to do than he hath.
Nom. Why, sir, I pray you, what have I to do, or what would you advise me to do? for truly I would be contented to be ruled by you.
Evan. Why, that which you have to do, before you can come to
Christ, is to undo all that ever you have done already; that is to say, whereas you
have endeavoured to travel toward heaven by the way of the covenant of works, and
so have gone a wrong way; you must go quite back again all the way you have
gone, before you can tread one step in the right way. And whereas you have
attempted to build up the ruins of old Adam, and that upon yourself, and so, like a
foolish builder, to build a tottering house upon the sands,—you
must throw down and utterly demolish all that building, and not leave a stone upon a stone,
before you can begin to build anew. And whereas you have conceived that there
is some sufficiency in yourself, to help to justify and save yourself,
you must conclude, that in that case there is not only in you an insufficiency, but
also a non-sufficiency:150150 That is, you are not only unable to do enough, but
also, that you are not able to do anything. "Not that we are sufficient of
ourselves to think anything as of ourselves," (2 Cor 3:5).
yea and that sufficiency that seemed to be in
you, to be your loss. In plain terms, you must deny yourself, as our Saviour
says, (Matt 16:24), that is, "you must utterly renounce all that ever you are, and
all that ever you have done"; all your knowledge and gifts; all your hearing,
reading, praying, fasting, weeping, and mourning; all your wandering in the way of
works, and strict walking, must fall to the ground in a moment: briefly,
whatsoever you have counted gain to you in the case of justification, you must now,
with the apostle Paul, (Phil 3:7-9), "count loss for Christ," and judge it to be
"dung, that you may win Christ, and be found in him, not having your own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith."
Chapter II, Section III
OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PROMISE.
Neo. But, sir, what would you advise me to do?
Evan. Why, man, what aileth you?
Neo. Why, sir, as you have been pleased to hear those two declare their condition unto you, so I beseech you to give me leave to do the same; and then you will perceive how it is with me. Sir, not long since, it pleased the Lord to visit me with a great fit of sickness; so, that, indeed, both in mine own judgment, and in the judgment of all that came to visit me, I was sick unto death. Whereupon I began to consider whither my soul was to go after its departure out of my body; and I thought with myself, that there were but two places, heaven and hell; and therefore it must needs go to one of them. Then my wicked and sinful life, which, indeed, I had lived, came into my mind, which caused me to conclude, that hell was the place provided for it; the which caused me to be very fearful, and to be very sorry that I had so lived; and I desired of the Lord to let me live a little longer, and I would not fail to reform my life, and amend my ways; and the Lord was pleased to grant me my desire. Since which time, though, indeed, it is true I have not lived so wickedly as formerly I had done, yet alas! I have come far short of that godly and religious life which I see other men live, and especially my neighbour Nomista; and yet you seem to conceive that he is not in a good condition, and therefore surely I must needs be in a miserable condition. Alas! sir, what do you think will become of me?
Christ's fulfilling of the law in the room of the elect.
Evan. I do now perceive that it is time for me to show how God, in the fullness of time, performed that which he purposed before all time, and promised in time, concerning the help and delivering of fallen mankind. And touching this point, The Scripture testifies, that God "did, in the fullness of time, send forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law," &c., (Gal. 4:4). That is to say, look how mankind by nature are under the law, as it is the covenant of works; so was Christ, as man's surety, contented to be; so that now, according to that eternal and mutual agreement that was betwixt God the Father and him, he put himself in the room and place of all the faithful,151151That is, all those who have, or shall believe, or all the elect, which is one and the same in reality, and in the judgment of our author, expressly declared in the first sentence of his preface. (Isa 53:6), "And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Then came the law as it is the covenant of works, and said; "I find him a sinner,152152By imputation and law-reckoning; no otherwise, as a sinner believing in him is righteous before God. [Thus Isaac Ambrose, speaking of justification, says, "This righteousness makes a sinner sinless"; i.e., as to guilt.] This must be owned to be the meaning of this expression, unless one will shut one's eyes to the immediately foregoing and following words,—I find him a sinner, said the law; such an one as hath taken sin upon him. They are the words of Luther, and he was not the first who spoke so. "He made him who was righteous to be made a sinner, that he might make sinners righteous," says Chrysostom, on 2 Cor. 5. Hom. 11. cit. Owen on Justification, p. 39. Famous Protestant divines have also used the expression after him. "When our divines," says Rutherford, "say, Christ took our place, and we have his condition,—Christ was made us, and made the sinner; it is true, only in a legal sense. He [Christ] was debitor factus,—a sinner; a debtor by imputation, a debtor by law, by place, by office." Trial and Triumph of Faith, p. 245, 257. Charnock argues the point thus: "How could he die, if he were not a reputed sinner? Had he not first had a relation to our sin, he could not in justice have undergone our punishment. He must, in the order of justice, be supposed a sinner really, or by imputation. Really, he was not; by imputation then he was," vol. 2. p. 547. Serm. on 1 Cor. 5:7. "Though personally he was no sinner, yet by imputation he was," says the Contin. of Poole's Annot. on 2 Cor. 5:21. "What Illyricus wrote," says Rivet, "that Christ might most truly be called a sinner, Bellarmine calls blasphemy and cursed impudence. Now Bellarmine himself contends, that Christ might attribute our sins to himself, therefore he might also truly call himself a sinner, while in himself innocent, he did represent our person. What blasphemy, what impiety is here?" Comment. on Psalm 21:1. The Scripture phrase to this purpose is more forcible; (2 Cor 5:21), "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." For as it is more to say we are made righteousness, than to say we are made righteous, since the former plainly imports a perfection of righteousness, if I may be allowed the phrase, righteousness not being properly capable of degrees; so it is more to say, Christ was made sin for the elect world, than to say he was made a sinner, since the first of these doth accordingly point at the universality and complete tale of the elect's sins, from the first to the last of them laid on our spotless Redeemer. Compare Leviticus 16:21,22, "And Aaron shall confess over him [viz: the scape-goat, which the apostle hath an eye to here] all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, and all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities," (Isa 53:6). "And the Lord [marg.] hath made the iniquity of us all to meet on [Heb. in] him." These two texts give the just notion of the true import of that phrase, "He was made sin for us." yea, such an one as hath taken upon him the sins of all men,153153Our Lord Jesus Christ died not for, nor took upon him the sins of, all and every individual man, but he died for, and took upon him the sins of, all the elect, (John 10:15, 15:13, Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25, Titus 2:14), and no other doctrine is here taught by our author touching the extent of the death of Christ. In the preceding paragraph, where was the proper place for giving his judgment on that head, he purposely declares it. He had before taught, that Jesus Christ did from eternity become man's surety in the covenant that passed betwixt him and the Father. A surety puts himself in the place of those for whom he becomes a surety, to pay their debt, (Gen 44:32,33, Prov 22:26,27). And our author tells us, that now, when the prefixed time of Christ's fulfilling the eternal covenant, paying the debt he had taken on him, and purchasing man's redemption by his sufferings, was come, he did, according to the tenor of that covenant, which stated the extent of his suretyship, put himself in the room and place—he says not, of all men, but—of all the faithful, or elect of God; Jesus Christ thus standing in their room and place, actually to take on the burden. "The Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all"; the which Scripture text can bear no other sense in the connection of it here, that what is the genuine sense of it, as it stands in the holy Scripture, namely, that the Father laid on Christ the iniquities of all the spiritual Israel of God, of all nations, ranks, and conditions; for no iniquities could be laid on him but theirs in whose room and place he put himself to receive the burden, according to the eternal and mutual agreement. These iniquities being thus laid on the Mediator, the law came and said, I find him such an one as hath taken on him the sins of all men. This is but an incident expression on the head of the extent of Christ's death, and it is a scriptural one too. (1 Tim 2:6), "Who gave himself a ransom for all," i.e., for all sorts of men, not for all of every sort. (Heb 2:9), "That he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man," i.e., for every man of those whom the apostle is there treating of, namely, sons brought or to be brought unto glory, (verse 10); those who are sanctified, Christ's brethren, (verse 11); given to him, (verse 13); and the sense of the phrase, as used here by the author, can be no other; for the sins, which the law found that he had taken on him, could be no other but the sins that the Lord had laid on him; and the sins the Lord had laid on him were the sins of all the faithful or elect, according to the author; wherefore, in the author's sense, the sins of all men which the law found in Christ were the sins of all the elect, according to the genuine sense of the Scripture phraseology on that head. And an incident expression, in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, and determined in its connection to the orthodox scriptural meaning, can never import any prejudice to his sentiment upon that point purposely declared before in its proper place. It is true, the author, when speaking of those in whose room Christ put himself, useth not the word alone; and in the holy Scripture it is not used neither on that subject. And it may be observed, that the Spirit of God in the word, doth not open the doctrine of election and reprobation, but upon man's rejecting or embracing the gospel offer; the which different events are then seasonably accounted for, from the depths of the eternal counsel of God. See Luke 10:17-22, Matthew 22:1- 14, Romans 9 throughout; Ephesians 1:3-5. To every thing there is a season. The author hitherto hath been dealing with the parties, to bring them to Christ; and particularly here, he is speaking for the instruction and direction of a convinced trembling sinner, namely, Neophytus; and, therefore, like a wise and tender man in such a case, he useth a manner of speaking, which being warranted by the word, was fitted to excite the awakening of the ordinary scruples in that case, namely, "It may be I am not elected,—it may be Christ died not for me"; and which pointed at the duty of all, and the encouragement that all have to come to Christ. And all this, after he had in his very first words to the reader, sufficiently provided for his using such a manner of expression, without prejudice to the truth. further, the law adds, "Therefore let him die upon the cross." Wherefore? For their sins, of the laying of which upon him there is no mention made? or for the sins of those in whose room he is expressly said to have put himself, accoding to the eternal agreemtn betwixt the Father and him? Then said Christ, "Lo! I com"; viz: actually to pay the debt for which I have become surety in the eternal compact; the which, whose it was, acccording to our author, is already sufficiently declared. The law then set upon him, and killed him; for whom, according to our author? For these, surely, in whose room and place he put himself, and so stood. If one considers his account of the effect of all this, one does not find it to be, as Arminians say, "tath Christ, by the merit of his detah, hath so far forth reconciled God the Father to all mankind, that the Father, by reason of the Son's merit, both could and would, and did enter and establish a new and gracious covenant with sinful man, liable to condmenation." [Examination of Tilenus, p. 164, art. 2, sect 2.] "and obtained for all and every man a restoration into a sttate of grace and salvation; so that none will be condemened, nor are liable to condmenation for original sin, but all are free from the guilt of that sin." [Teste. Turret. loc. 14. ques. 14. th. 5.] Neither does he tell us, that Christ died to "render sin remissible to all persons, and them savalbe," as the Continuator of Poole's Annotations on Hebrews, chapter 2:9, says, with other Universalists. By this means, says our author, "was the justice of God fully satisfied, his wrath appeased, and all true believers acquitted." Compare Westm. Confess. chap. 8. art. 4, 5. "This office [viz: of a surety] the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it, endured most grievous torments, &c. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sactifice of himself—hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him. Christ, by his obedience and deth, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified," Chap. 11, art. 3. Wherefore the author does not here teach an universal redemption or atonement. Of this more afterward. therefore let him die upon the cross." Then said Christ, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me; in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O Lord!" (Heb 10:5-7). And so the law proceeding in full scope against him, set upon him, and killed him; and, by this means, was the justice of God fully satisfied, his wrath appeased, and all true believers acquitted from all their sins, both past, present, and to come.154154Pardon is the removing of the guilt of sin. Guilt is twofold: 1. The guilt of eternal wrath, by which the sinner is bound over to the eternal revenging wrath of God; and this, by orthodox divines, is called the guilt of sin by way of eminency. 2. The guilt of fatherly anger, whereby the sinner is bound over to God's fatherly anger and chastisements for sin. Accordingly, there is a two-fold pardon: the one is the removal of the guilt of eternal wrath, and is called legal pardon; the other the removal of the guilt of fatherly anger, and is called gospel pardon. As to the latter, the believer is daily to sue out his pardon, since he is daily contracting new guilt of that kind; and this the author plainly teaches afterwards in its proper place. As to the former, of which only he speaks here, all the sins of a believer, past, present, and to come, are pardoned together, and at once, in the first instance of his believing; that is to say, the guilt of eternal wrath for sin then past and present is actually and formally done away; the obligation to that wrath which he was lying under for these sins is dissolved, and the guilt of eternal wrath for sins then to come is effectually prevented from that moment for ever, so that he can never come under that kind of guilt any more; and this pardon, as it relates to these sins, is but a pardon improperly so called, being rather a not imputing of them, than a formal remission, forasmuch as a formal remission being a dissolution of guilt actually contracted, agrees only to sins already committed. Therefore our author here uses the word acquitted, which is of a more extensive signification. All pardon of sin is an acquittance, but all acquittance of sin is not a formal pardon of it: "For at the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment." Short. Cat. But they will not then be formally pardoned. Now, this is the doctrine of the holy Scriptures, (Rom 4:48), "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord WILL NOT IMPUTE sin."—(7:1), "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." That is, not only they shall never be actually damned, i.e., sent to hell, as that phrase is ordinarily taken, for that is the privilege of all the elect, even before they believe, while yet they are under condemnation according to the Scripture; but there is no binding over of them that are in Christ to eternal wrath, no guilt to that kind to them. Compare John 3:18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already."—"The one [viz: justification] doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation." Larg. Cat. quest. 77. "Albeit sin remain, and continually abide in these our mortal bodies, yet it is not imputed unto us, but is remitted and covered with Christ's justice," [i.e., righteousness]. Old Confess. art. 25. Q. "What then is our only joy in life and death? A. That all our sins, by past, present, and to come, are buried; and Christ only is made our wisdom, justification, sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor 1:30) Craig's Cat. quest. 43. "The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers, under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law." Westm. Confess. chap. 20, art. 1. See 11, art. 5; chap. 17, art 3. "They [the Arminians] do utterly deny, that no sins of the faithful, how great and grievous soever they be, are imputed unto them, or that all their sins present and future are forgiven them." Exam. of Tilen. p. 226, art. 5. sect. 5. So that the law, as it is the covenant of works, hath not anything to say to any true believer,155155"What things soever it saith, it saith to them who are under it," (Rom 3:19). But believers are not under it, nor under the law of the covenant of works, (6:14), therefore it saith nothing to them. As such, it said all to Christ in their room and place; and, without the Mediator's dishonour, it cannot repeat its demands on them which it made upon him as their surety. Meanwhile the law, as a rule of life to believers, saith to them all, in the name and authority of God, the Creator and Redeemer, (Matt 5:48), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Howbeit, they are under a covenant, under which, though no less is required, yet less is accepted, for the sake of Christ their covenant head. for indeed they are dead to it, and it is dead to them.
Nom. But, sir, how could the sufferings of Christ, which in respect of time were but finite, make full satisfaction to the justice of God, which is infinite?
Evan. Though the sufferings of Christ, in respect of time, were but finite, yet in respect of the person that suffered, his sufferings came to be of infinite value; for Christ was God and man in one person, and therefore his sufferings were a sufficient and full ransom for man's soul, being of more value than the death and destruction of all creatures.
Nom. But, sir, you know that the covenant of works requires man's own obedience or punishment, when it says, "He that doeth these things shall live in them"; and "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them": how then, could believers be acquitted from their sins by the death of Christ?
Evan. For answer, I pray you consider, that though the covenant of works requires man's own obedience or punishment, yet it nowhere disallows or excludes that which is done or suffered by another in his behalf; neither is it repugnant to the justice of God: for so there be a satisfaction performed by man, through a sufficient punishment for the disobedience of man, the law is satisfied, and the justice of God permitteth that the offending party be received into favour; and God acknowledges him, after such satisfaction made, as a just man, and no transgressor of the law; and though the satisfaction be made by a surety, yet when it is done, the principal is, by the law, acquitted. But yet, for the further proof and confirmation of this point, we are to consider, that as Jesus Christ, the second Adam, entered into the same covenant that the first Adam did, so by him was done whatsoever the first Adam had undone. So the case stands thus,—that as whatsoever the first Adam did, or befell him, was reckoned as done by all mankind, and to have befallen them, even so, whatsoever Christ did, or befell him, is to be reckoned as to have been done by all believers, and to have befallen them. So that as sin cometh from Adam alone to all mankind, as he in whom all have sinned; so from Jesus Christ alone cometh righteousness unto all that are in him, as he in whom they all have satisfied the justice of God; for as being in Adam, and one with him, all did, in him and with him, transgress the commandment of God; even so, in respect of faith, whereby believers are ingrafted into Christ, and spiritually made one with him, they did all, in him and with him, satisfy the justice of God in his death and sufferings.156156Namely, in the sense of the law; for in the law-reckoning, as to the payment of a debt, and fulfilling of a covenant, or any the like purposes, the surety and the original debtor, the federal head or the representative, and the represented, are but one person. And thus the Scripture determining Adam to be the figure [or type] of Christ, (Rom 5:14), teaches upon the one hand, that all mankind sinned in Adam, (verse 12), and died in him, (1 Cor 15:22); and on the other hand, that believers were crucified with Christ, (Gal 2:20), and raised up in him. (Eph 2:6) "The covenant [of works] being made with Adam as a public person—all mankind—sinned in him." Lar. Cat. Quest. 22. "The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam," Quest. 31. "He satisfied divine justice, the which he did as a public person, the head of his Church," Quest. 52. "that the righteousness of the law," says the apostle, "might be fulfilled in us," (Rom 8:4); so believers satisfied in him, as they sinned in Adam. "The threatening of death, (Gen 2:17), is fulfilled in the elect so that they die, and yet their lives are spared: they die, and yet they live, for they are reckoned in law to have died when Christ their surety died for them." Ferguson on Galatians 2:20. "Although thou," says Beza, "hast satisfied for the pain of thy sins in the person of Jesus Christ," Beza's Confess. point 4, art. 12. "What challenges Satan or conscience can make against the believer—hear an answer; I was condemned, I was judged, I was crucified for sin, when my surety Christ was condemned, judged, and crucified for my sins.—I have paid all, because my surety has paid all," Rutherford's Trial and Triumph of Faith, serm. 19, p. 258. "As in Christ, we satisfied, so likewise in Adam we sinned," Flint. Exam. p. 144. This doctrine, and the doctrine of the formal imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers stand and fall together. For if believers be reckoned in law to have satisfied in Christ, then his righteousness, which is the result of his satisfaction, must needs be accounted theirs, but if there be no such law-reckoning, Christ's righteousness cannot be imputed to them otherwise than as to the effects of it, for the judgment of God is always according to truth, (Rom 2:2). This the Neonomians are aware of, and deny both, reckoning them Antinomian principles as they do many other Protestant doctrines. Hear Mr. Gibbons: "They [viz: the Antinomians] are dangerously mistaken in thinking that a believer is righteous in the sight of God, with the self-same active and passive righteousness wherewith Christ was righteous, as though believers suffered in Christ, and obeyed in Christ." Morn. Exer. Method. sec. 19, p. 423. On the other hand, the Westminster divines teach both as sound and orthodox principles, affirming Christ's righteousness, obedience, and satisfaction, themselves to be imputed to believers, or reckoned their righteousness, obedience, and satisfaction. "Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us." Short. Cat.—"Only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ by God imputed to them," Large. Cat. quest. 70.—"By imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them," Westm. Confess. chap. 11, art 1. And whosoever reckons thus reckons according to Scripture; for in Romans 5:12, all are said to have sinned in Adam's sin; in whom all have sinned, says the text, namely, in Adam, as in a public person: all men's acts were included in his, because their persons were included in his. So likewise in the same chapter it is said, "that death passed upon all men"; namely for this, that Adam's sin was reckoned for theirs. Even so, (Rom 6:10), the apostle, speaking of Christ, says, "In that he died, he died unto sin; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God": so likewise, says he in the next verse, "Reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." And so, as touching the resurrection of Christ, the apostle argues, (1 Cor 15:20), that all believers must and shall arise, because "Christ is risen, and is become the first fruits of them that sleep." Christ, as the first fruits, arises, and that in the name and stead of all believers; and so they rise in him and with him; for Christ did not rise as a private person, but he arose as a public head of the church; so that in his arising all believers did virtually arise. And as Christ at his resurrection was justified, and acquitted from all the sins of all believers, by God his Father, as having now fully satisfied for them, even so were they.157157Virtually justified, not actually, in his justification, even as in his resurrection they did virtually arise. That this is the author's meaning is evident from his own words, when speaking of Neophytus, he says expressly, "He was justified meritoriously in the death and resurrection of Christ, but yet he was not justified actually, till he did actually believe in Christ." And thus you see the obedience of Christ being imputed unto believers by God for their righteousness, it puts them into the same estate and case, touching righteousness unto life before God,158158So called to distinguish it from inherent righteousness, which is righteousness from life. wherein they should have been, if they had perfectly performed the perfect obedience of the covenant of works, "Do this and thou shalt live."159159This is a weighty point, the plain and native result of what is said, namely, that since Jesus Christ hath fully accomplished what was to have been done by man himself for life according to the covenant of works, and that the same is imputed to believers; therefore, believers are in the same state, as to righteousness unto life, that they would have been in if man himself had stood the whole time appointed for his trial. And here is the true ground in the law of the infallible perseverance of the saints; their time of trial for life is over in their Head the second Adam—the prize is won! Hence the just by faith are entitled to the same benefit which Adam by his perfect obedience would have been entitled to. Compare Romans 10:5, "The man which doeth these things shall live," with Habakkuk 2:4, "The just by his faith shall live"; the which is the true reading according to the original. And here, for clearing of the following purpose of the believer's freedom from the law, as it is the covenant of works, let it be considered, that if Adam had stood till the time of his trial had been expired, the covenant of works would indeed from that time have remained his everlasting security for eternal life, like a contract held fulfilled by the one party; but, as in the same case, it could have no longer remained to be the rule of his obedience, namely, in the state of confirmation. The reason is obvious, viz: that the subjecting of him still to the covenant of works, as the rule of his obedience, would have been a reducing him to the state of trial he was in before, and the setting him anew to work for what was already his own, in virtue of his [supposed] fulfilling of that covenant. Nevertheless it is absolutely impossible but the creature, in any state whatsoever, must be bound to and owe obedience unto the Creator; and being still bound to obedience, of necessity he behoved to have had a rule of that obedience; as to which rule, since the covenant of works could not be it, what remains but that the rule of obedience in the state of confirmation, would have been the law of nature, suited to man's state of immutability, improperly so called, and so divested of the form of the covenant of works, namely, its promise of eternal life, and threatening of eternal death, as it is, and will be in heaven, for ever? The application is easy, making always, as to the rule of believers' obedience, suitable reserves for the imperfection of their state, in respect of inherent righteousness; the which imperfection, as it leaves room for promises of fatherly smiles, and threatenings of fatherly chastisements, so it makes them necessary; but these also shall be done away in heaven when their real estate shall be perfect, as their relative state is now.
Chapter II, Section III, 2
Believers dead to the law as the covenant of works.
Nom. But, sir, are all believers dead to the law, and the law dead to them, say you?
Evan. Believe it, as the law is the covenant of works, all true believers are dead unto it, and it is dead unto them;160160(Rom 7:4), "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law."—(Gal 2:19), "I through the law am dead to the law." And this, according to the nature of correlates, concludes the law, as it is that covenant of works, to be dead also to believers. (Col 2:14), "Nailing it to his cross." for, they being incorporated into Christ, what the law or covenant of works did to him, it did the same to them; so that when Christ hanged on the cross, all believers, after a sort, hanged there with him. And therefore the apostle Paul having said, (Gal 2:19), "I through the law am dead to the law," adds in the next verse, "I am crucified with Christ"; which words the apostle brings as an argument to prove that he was dead to the law, for the law had crucified him with Christ. Upon which text, Luther on the Galatians, [p. 81,] says, "I likewise am crucified and dead to the law, forasmuch as I am crucified and dead with Christ." And again, "I believing in Christ, am also crucified with Christ." In like manner, the apostle says to the believing Romans, "So ye, my brethren, are dead also to the law by the body of Christ," (Rom 7:4). Now, by the body of Christ, is meant the passion of Christ upon the cross, or, which is all one, the sufferings of Christ in his human nature. And, therefore, certainly we may conclude with godly Tindal on the text, that all such are dead concerning the law, as are by faith crucified with Christ.
Nom. But, I pray you, sir, how do you prove that the law is dead to a believer?
Evan. Why, as I conceive, the apostle affirms it, (Rom 7:1-6).
Nom. Surely sir, you do mistake; for I remember the words of the first verse are, "how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth"; and the words of the sixth verse are, "but now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held," &c.
Evan. I know right well, that in our last translation the words are so rendered; but the learned Tindal renders it thus: "Remember ye not, brethren, that the law hath dominion over a man as long as it endureth?" And Bishop Hall paraphrases upon it thus, "Know ye not, brethren, that the Mosaical law hath dominion over a man that is subject unto it, so long as the said law is in force?" So likewise Origen, Ambrose, and Erasmus, do all agree, that, by these words, while "he" or "it" liveth, we are to understand, as long as the law remaineth. And Peter Martyr is of opinion, that these words, while "he" or"it" liveth, are differently referred, either to the law, or to the man; for, says he, "the man is said to be dead," (verse 4), "and the law is said to be dead," (verse 6). Even so because the word "he" or "it" mentioned verse 1, signified both sexes in the Greek, Chrysostom thinks, that the death both of the law and the man is insinuated. And Theophylact, Erasmus, Bucer, and Calvin, do all understand the sixth verse, of the law being dead. And as the death of a believer to the law was accomplished by the death of Christ, even so also was the law's death to him; as Mr. Fox, in his sermon of Christ crucified, testifies, saying, "Here have we upon one cross two crucifixes, two of the most excellent potentates that ever were, the Son of God and the law of God, wrestling together about man's salvation—both cast down and both slain upon one cross; howbeit, not after a like sort. First, the Son of God was cast down, and took the fall, not for any weakness in himself, but was content to take it for our victory. By this fall, the law of God, in casting him down was caught in his own trap, and so was fast nailed hand and foot to the cross, according as we read in Paul's words," (Col 2:14). And so Luther on the Galatians, [p. 184,] speaking to the same point, says, "This was a wonderful combat, where the law, being a creature, giveth such an assault to his Creator, in practising his whole tyranny upon the Son of God. Now, therefore, because the law did so horribly and cursedly sin against his God, it is accused and arraigned, and, as a thief and cursed murderer of the Son of God, loses all its right, and deserves to be condemned. The law, therefore, is bound, dead, and crucified to me. It is not only overcome, condemned, and slain unto Christ, but also to me, believing in him unto whom he hath freely given his victory."161161This is cited from Luther on the Epistle to the Galatians, according to the English translation, and is to be found there, fol. 184, p. 1, 2, fol. 185. p. 1, fol. 82, p. 1. His own words from the Latin original, after he had lectured that epistle a second time, as I find them in my copy, printed at Frankfort, 1563, are here subjoined. "Hoc profecto mirabile duellum est, ubi, lex, creatura cum Creatore sic congreditur, et prater omne jus, omnem tyrannidem suam in Filio Dei exercet. quam in nobis filiis irae exercuit," Luth. Comment. in Galatians 4:5, p. 598. "Ideo lex, tanquam latro et sacrilegus homicida Filii Dei, amittit jus, et meretur damnari," Ibid. p. 600. "Ergo lex est mihi surda, ligata, mortua et crucifixa," Ibid. cap. 2:20, p. 280. "Conscientia apprehendens hoc apostoli verbum, Christus a lege nos redemit—sancta quadam superbia insultat legi, dicens—nunc in posterum non solum Christo victa et strangulata es, sed etiam mihi credenti in eum, cui donavit hanc victoriam," page 600. That great man of God, a third Elias, and a second Paul, [if I may venture the expression,] though he was no inspired teacher, was endued with a great measure of the spirit of them both, being raised up of God for the extraordinary work of the Reformation of religion from Popery, while all the world wondered after the Beast. The lively savour he had of the truths of the gospel in his own soul, and the fervour of his spirit in delivering them, did indeed carry him as far from the modern politeness of expression, as the admiration and affectation of this last are likely to carry us off from the former. What he designed by all this triumph of faith is summed up in a few words, immediately following these last cited: "This, the law, [viz: as it is the covenant of works,] is gone for ever as to us, providing we abide in Christ." This he chose to express in such figurative terms, that that great gospel truth might be the more impressed on his own heart, and the hearts of his scholars, being prompted thereto by his experience of the necessity, and withal of the difficulty of applying it by faith to his own case, in his frequent deep soul exercises and conflicts of conscience. "Therefore," says he, "feeling thy terrors and threatenings, O law! I dip my conscience over head and ears, into the wounds, blood, death, resurrection, and victory of Christ; besides him I will see and hear nothing at all. This faith is our victory, whereby we overcome the terrors of the law, sin, death, and all evils, but not without a great conflict," Ibid. p. 597. And speaking on the same subject elsewhere, he has these remarkable words, "It is easy to speak these things, but happy he that could know them aright in the conflict of conscience." Comment. on Galatians 2:19, p. 259. Now, to turn outward the wrong side of the picture of his discourse, to make it false, horrid, profane, and blasphemous, is hard. At this rate, many Scripture texts must suffer, not to speak of approved human writers. I instance only that of Elias, (1 Kings 18:27), "He [Baal] is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." Yet I compare not Luther's commentary to the inspired writing; only where the holy Scripture goes before, one would think he might be allowed to follow. Here is an irony, a rhetorical figure, and there is a prosopopeia, or feigning of a person, another rhetorical figure; and the learned and holy man tells us withal, that Paul used it before him on the same subject, representing the law "as a most potent personage, who condemned and killed Christ, whom he [having overcome death] did in the like manner conquer, condemn, and kill"; for which he cites Ephesians 2 and 4, epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, p. 599. Now, albeit the law, as it is the covenant of works, not being a person indeed, but a most holy law of God, was incapable of real arraignment, sin, theft, or murder: yet one being allowed to speak figuratively of it, as such a person before mentioned; and finding the Spirit of God to teach that it was crucified, Jesus Christ "nailing it to his cross," (Col 2:14); what impiety—what blasphemy is there in assigning crimes to it for which it was crucified—crimes of the same nature with its crucifixion, that is, not really and literally so, but figuratively only? And the crucifying of a person, as it presupposeth his arraignment, accusation, and condemnation, so it implies his binding and death; all which the decency of the parable requires. And the same decency requiring the rhetorical feigning of crimes as the causes of that crucifixion, they could be no other but these that are assigned; forasmuch as Jesus Christ is here considered, not as a sinner by imputation, but as absolutely without guilt, though in the meantime the sins of all the elect were really imputed to him, the which in reality justified the holy law's procedure against him. Moreover, upon the crucifixion, it may be remembered how the apostle proves Christ to have been "made a curse for us"; for, says he, it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree," (Gal 3:13); the which if any should apply to the law, as the covenant of works, in a figurative manner, as its crucifixion must be understood, it could import no more by reason of the nature of the thing, than an utter abolition of it with respect to believers, which is a great gospel truth. And here one may call to mind the Scripture phrases, (Rom 7:5), "The motions of sins which were by the law";—(8:2), "The law of sin and death":—"The covenant of works, called the law of sin and death," Confess. p. 382, fig. 3; "The strength of sin is the law," (1 Cor 15:56). After all, for my part, I would neither use some of these expressions of Luther's, nor dare I so much as in my heart condemn them in him: the reason is one; because of the want of that measure of the influences of grace which I conceive he had when he uttered these words. And the same I would say of the several expressions of the great Rutherford, and of many eminent ministers, in their day signally countenanced of God in their administrations, Hear Luther himself, in his preface to that book, page [mihi] 10, "These our thoughts," says he, "on this epistle do come forth, not so much against those, [viz: the church's enemies,] as for the sake of our own, [viz: her friends,] who will either thank me for my diligence, or will pardon my weakness and rashness." It is a pity the just expectation of one, whose name will be in honour in the church of Christ, while the memory of the Reformation from Popery is kept up, should be frustrated. Now then, although according to the apostle's intimation, (Rom 7 at the beginning,) the covenant of works, and man by nature, be mutually engaged to each other, so long as they both live; yet if, when the wife be dead the husband be free, then much more when he is dead also.
Nom. But, sir, what are we to understand by this double death, or wherein does this freedom from the law consist?
Evan. Death is nothing else but a dissolution, or untying of a compound, or a separation between matter and form; and, therefore, when the soul and body of man are separated, we say he is dead; so that by this double death, we are to understand nothing else, but that the bargain or covenant, which was made between God and man at first, is dissolved or untied; or that the matter and form of the covenant of works is separated to a believer. So that the law of the ten commandments neither promises eternal life nor threatens eternal death to a believer, upon condition of his obedience or disobedience to it: 162162The law of the ten commandments given to Adam, as the covenant of works, promised eternal life, upon condition of obedience, and threatened eternal death in case of disobedience; and this was it that made it the covenant of works. Now, this covenant frame of the law of the ten commandments being dissolved as to believers, it can no more promise nor threaten them at any rate. The Scripture indeed testifies, that "godliness hath the promise, not only of the life that now is, but also of that which is to come," (1 Tim 4:8), there being an infallible connection between godliness and the glorious life in heaven established by promise in the covenant of grace; but in the meantime, it is the obedience and satisfaction of Christ apprehended by faith, and not our godliness, that is the condition upon which that life is promised, and upon which a real Christian in a dying hour will venture to plead for a share in that life. It is likewise certain that not only are unbelievers, in virtue of the covenant of works which they remain under, liable to eternal death as the just reward of sin, but there is by that covenant a twofold connection established, the one betwixt a state of unbelief, unregeneracy, impenitency, and unholiness, and eternal death; the other, betwixt acts of disobedience and eternal death. The former is absolutely indissoluble, and cannot but eternally remain; so that whosoever are in that state of sin, while they are in it they must needs be in a state of death, bound over to the wrath of God by virtue of the threatening of the law; but then it is impossible that believers in Christ can be in that state of sin. So these and the like sentences, "He that believeth not shall be damned," (Mark 16:16).—"Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," (Luke 13:3).—"If ye live after the flesh ye shall die," (Rom 8:13); do indeed bind over unbelievers to eternal death; but they do no otherwise concern believers than as they set before them a certain connection of two events, neither of which can ever be found in their case; and yet the serious consideration of them is of great and manifold use to believers, as a serious view of every part of the covenant of works is, particularly to move them to grow up more and more into Christ, and to make their calling and election sure. As to the latter connection, viz: betwixt acts of disobedience and eternal death, it is dissoluble, and in the case of the believer, actually dissolved; so that none have warrant to say to a believer, If thou sin, thou shalt die eternally; forasmuch as the threatening of eternal death, as to the believer, being already satisfied in the satisfaction of Christ, by faith apprehended and imputed of God to him, it cannot be renewed on him, more than one debt can be twice charged, namely, for double payment. and so shall you obtain forgiveness for eternal life, or fear eternal death upon any such terms.163163But on the having, or wanting of a saving interest in Christ. No; we may assure ourselves, that "whatsoever the law saith," on any such terms, it "saith to them who are under the law," (Rom 3:19); but believers "are not under the law, but under grace," (Rom 6:14), and so have escaped eternal death, and obtained eternal life, only by faith in Jesus Christ;164164This is a full proof of the whole matter. For how can the law of the ten commandments promise eternal life, or threaten eternal death, upon condition of obedience or disobedience, to those who have already escaped eternal death, and obtained eternal life by faith in Christ? The words which the Holy Ghost teaches, are so far from restraining the notion of eternal life to glorification, and of eternal death to the misery of the damned in hell, that they declare the soul upon its union with Christ to be as really possessed of eternal life as the saints in heaven are; and without that state of union, to be as really under death, and the wrath of God, as the damned in hell are, though not in that measure. [The term "eternal death" is not, as far as I remember, used in Scripture.] And this agreeable to the nature of things; for as there is no medium betwixt life and death in a subject capable of either, so it is evident, the life communicated to the soul, in its union with Christ, the quickening Head, can never be extinguished for the ages of eternity, (John 14:19); and the sinner's death under the guilt and power of sin, is in its own nature eternal, and can never end but by a work of Almighty power, which raiseth the dead, and calleth things that are not, to be as if they were. (1 Thess 1:10), "Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come."—(1 John 3:14), "We know that we have passed from death unto life."—(John 3:36), "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."—(5:24), "He that believeth, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."—(6:47), "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."— (verse 54), "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life."— (1 John 5:12,13), "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life."—See Romans 8:1; John 3:16-18, and 17:3. "for by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:39)—"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16).
And this is that covenant of grace, which, as I told you, was made with the fathers by way of promise, and so but darkly; but now the fullness of time being come, it was more fully opened and promulgated.
Ant. Well, sir, you have made it evident and plain, that Christ hath delivered all believers from the law, as it is the covenant of works; and that therefore they have nothing at all to do with it.
Evan. No, indeed; none of Christ's are to have anything to do with the covenant of works, but Christ only. For although in the making of the covenant of works at first, God was one party, and man another, yet, in making it the second time, God was on both sides:—God, simply considered in his essence, was the party opposed to man; and God, the second person, having taken upon him to be incarnate, and to work man's redemption, was on man's side, and takes part with man, that he may reconcile him to God, by bearing man's sins, and satisfying God's justice for them. And Christ paid God165165All the demands of the covenant of works on the elect world. till he said he had enough; he was fully satisfied, fully contented, (Matt 3:17), "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Yea, God the Father was well pleased, and fully satisfied from all eternity, by virtue of that covenant that was made betwixt them. And thereupon all Christ's people were given to him in their election. (Eph 1:4) "Thine they were,"166166That he, taking on their nature, might answer the demands of the covenant of works for them, (Eph 1:4), "According as he has chosen us in him." We are said to be chosen in Christ, not that Christ is the cause of election, but that electing love, flowing immediately from God to all the objects of it, the Father did, in one and the same decree of election, choose the head and the members of the happy body; yet Christ the head first, [in order of nature,] then all those who make up his body, who were thereby given to him, to be redeemed and saved, by his obedience and death; the which, being by him accepted, he, as Elect-Mediator and Head of elect-men, had full power and furniture for the work made over to him. And thus may we conceive the second covenant to have been concluded, agreeably to the Scripture account of that mystery. This, the author says, was done thereupon, not upon the Father's being well pleased and fully satisfied, by virtue of the covenant made; the which is the effect of the covenant, whereas this is one of the transactions or parts of the covenant, as all the following words brought to illustrate it do plainly carry it; but upon God the Son being on the other side in making of the second covenant, the which is the principal purpose in this paragraph, the explication whereof was interrupted by the adding of a sentence concerning the execution and effect of the glorious contrivance. In making of the second covenant, the second person of the ever blessed Trinity, considered simply as such, is one of the parties. Thereupon, in the decree of election, designing, as is said, both head and members, he is chosen Mediator and Head of the election, to be their incarnate Redeemer; the which headship accepted, he, as Mediator and Head of the election, took upon him to be incarnate, and in their nature to satisfy the demands of the covenant of works for them, (Isa 42:1, Eph 1:4, Psa 40:6), Westm. Confess. Chap. 8, art. 1; "It pleased God in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man—the Head and Saviour of his church—unto whom he did, from all eternity, give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed," &c. Chap 3, art. 5; "Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life—God hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love." says Christ, "and thou gavest them me," (John 17:6).
And again, says he, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given
all things into his hands," (John 3:35); that is, he hath entrusted him with the
economic and actual administration of that power in the Church, which originally
belonged unto himself. And hence it is that Christ also says, "The Father
judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son," (John 5:22) So that
all the covenant that believers are to have regard to, for life and salvation, is
the free and gracious covenant that is betwixt Christ [or God in Christ] and them.167167That is, the covenant of grace only, not the covenant of works.
And in this covenant there is not any condition or law to be performed on
man's part, by himself;168168Namely, for life and salvation; the same being already performed by Jesus Christ; he, having in the second covenant undertaken
to satisfy all the demands of the covenant of works, did do all that was to be done or wrought for our life and salvation.
And if it had not been so, life and salvation had remained eternally without our reach; for how is it possible we should perform,
do, or work, until we get life and salvation? what condition or law are we fit for performing of, while we are dead, and not
saved from, but lying under sin, the wrath and curse of God? See the following note.
no, there is no more for him to do, but only to know
and believe that Christ hath done all for him.169169Namely, all that was to be done for life and salvation. And neither repentance, nor sincere [imperfect] obedience, nay, nor
yet believing itself, is of that sort: though all of these are indispensably necessary in subjects capable of them. This expression
bears a kind of imitation, usual in conversation, and used by our blessed Saviour on this subject. (John 6:28,29), "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might WORK the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This
is THE WORK of God, that ye believe." The design of it plainly is, to confront the humour that is naturally in all men, for
doing and working for life and salvation, when once they begin to lay these things to heart; there is no more, says the author,
for him to do, but only to know and believe that Christ hath DONE all for him; and therefore the expression is not to be strained
besides its scope. However, this is true faith, according to the Scripture, whether all saving faith be such a knowledge and
believing or not; and that knowledge and believing are capable of degrees of certainty, and may be mixed with doubting, without
overturning the reality of them. (Isa 53:11), "By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many."—(John 17:3), "This is eternal life, that they might know thee
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."—(Gal 2:20), "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me,
and gave himself for me."—(Rom 10:9), "If thou shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou
shalt be saved." To believe that God hath raised him from the dead is to believe that he has perfected the work, and done
all that was to be done for life and salvation to sinners: but is this enough to constitute saving faith? Surely it is not;
for devils may believe that: therefore, it must be believed with particular application to oneself, intimated in the phrase,
"believing in thine heart"; and this is what devils and reprobates never reach unto; howbeit these last may pretend to know
and believe, that Christ is raised from the dead for them, and so hath done all for them, even as they also may pretend to
receive and rest on him alone for salvation. But in all this, one who truly believes may yet have ground to say with tears,
"Lord, I believe! help thou mine unbelief," (Mark 9:24). Nevertheless, under this covenant there is much to do; a law to be performed and obeyed, though not for life and salvation
but from life and salvation received; even the law of the ten commandments in the full extent thereof, as the author doth
at large expressly teach, in its proper place, in this and the second part. This is the good old way, [according to the Scriptures, (Acts 16:30,31, Matt 11:28,29, Titus 2:11,12),] if the famous Mr. John Davidson understood the Protestant doctrine, "Q. Then the salvation of man," says he, "is so fully
wrought and perfectly accomplished by Christ in his own person, that nothing is left to be done or wrought by us in our persons,
to be any cause of the least part thereof? A. That is most certain." Mr. John Davidson's Catechism, Edin. edit. 1708, p. 15.
"So we are perfectly saved by the works which Christ did for us in his own person, and no ways by the good works which he
works in us, with and after faith. [Marg. Here is the main point and ground of our disagreement with the Papists.] Rests,
then, anything for us to do after that we are perfectly justified in God's sight by faith in Christ? Disciple. Yes, very much;
albeit no ways to merit salvation; but only to witness, by the effects of thankfulness, that we ARE truly SAVED." Ibid. p.
Wherefore my dear Neophytus, to
turn my speech particularly to you, [because I see you are in heaviness,] I
beseech you to be persuaded that here you are to work nothing, here you are to do
nothing, here you are to render nothing unto God, but only to receive the
treasure, which is Jesus Christ, and apprehend him in your heart by faith, although
you be never so great a sinner;170170See the two foregoing notes. And hear another passage from the same book whence this is taken, namely, the English translation
of Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, fol. 75: "Good works ought to be done; the example of Christ is to
be followed—Well, all these things will I gladly do. What then followeth? Thou shalt then be saved, and obtain everlasting
life. Nay, not so. I grant, indeed, that I ought to do good works, patiently to suffer troubles and afflictions, and to shed
my blood also, if need be, for Christ's cause; but yet am I not justified, neither do I OBTAIN SALVATION THEREBY."
and so shall you obtain forgiveness of sins,
righteousness, and eternal happiness; not as an agent but as a patient, not by
doing, but by receiving. 171171This is the style of the same Luther, who useth to distinguish betwixt active and passive righteousness, i.e., the righteousness
of the law, and the righteousness of faith; agreeably to Romans 4:5: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
Nothing here comes betwixt but faith only, apprehending
Christ in the promise. 172172The passage at more length is this: "The marriage is made up without all pomp and solemnity: that is to say, nothing at all
comes between; no law nor work is here required. Here is nothing else but the Father promising, and I receiving; but these
things without experience and practice, cannot be understood." Luther, ubi sup., fol. 194.
this, then, is perfect righteousness, to hear nothing, to
know nothing, to do nothing of the law of works; but only to know and believe that
Jesus Christ is now gone to the Father, and sitteth at his right hand, not as a
judge, but is made unto you of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption.173173These words also are Luther's, in his argument on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 24 of the Latin copy, and fol. 7 of the
translation; but what our author reads, "Nothing of the law of works," is, in Luther's own words, "Nothing of the law, or
of works"; the sense is the same. What concerns the assurance in the nature of faith, which these words seem to bear, we will
meet with anon.
Wherefore, as Paul and Silas said to the jailer, so say I unto
you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; that is, be verily
persuaded in your heart that Jesus Christ is yours, and that you shall have life
and salvation by him; that whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did
it for you.
174174 In this definition of saving faith, there is the
general nature or kind of it, viz: a real persuasion, agreeing to all sorts of faith,
divine and human,—"Be verily persuaded"; the more special nature of it, an
appropriating persuasion, or special application to oneself, agreeing to a convinced sinner's
faith or belief of the law's curse, (Gal 3:10), as well as to
it.—"Be verily persuaded in your hearts"; thus, (Rom 10:9), "If thou shalt believe in thine heart that
God, &c. thou shalt be saved": and, finally, the most special nature of it, whereby it
is distinguished from all other, namely, an appropriating persuasion of Christ being
yours, &c. And as one's believing in one's heart, or appropriating persuasion of
the dreadful tidings of the law, imports not only an assent to them as true, but a
horror of them as evil; so believing in the heart, or an appropriating persuasion
of the glad tidings of the gospel, bears not only an assent to them as true, but a
relish of them as good.
The parts of this appropriating persuasion, according to our author, are, 1. "That Jesus Christ is yours," viz: by the deed of gift and grant made to mankind lost, or [which is the same thing in other words] by the authentic gospel offer, in the Lord's own word; the which offer is the foundation of faith, and the ground and warrant of the ministerial offer, without which it could avail nothing. That this is the meaning, appears from the answer to the question immediately following, touching the warrant to believe. By this offer or deed of gift and grant, Christ is ours before we believe; not that we have a saving interest in him, or are in a state of grace, but that we have a common interest in him, and the common salvation, which fallen angels have not, (Jude 3); so that it is lawful and warrantable for us, not for them, to take possession of Christ and his salvation. Even as when one presents a piece of gold to a poor man saying, "Take it, it is yours"; the offer makes the piece really his in the sense and to the effect before declared; nevertheless, while the poor man does not accept or receive it; whether apprehending the offer too great to be real, or that he has no liking of the necessary consequents of the accepting; it is not his in possession, nor hath he the benefit of it; but, on the contrary, must starve for it all, and that so much the more miserably, that he hath slighted the offer and refused the gift. So this act of faith is nothing else but to "believe God," (1 John 5:10); "to believe the Son," (John 3:36); "to believe the report" concerning Christ, (Isa 53:1); or "to believe the gospel," (Mark 1:15); not as devils believe the same, knowing Christ to be Jesus, a Saviour, but not their Saviour, but with an appropriating persuasion, or special application believing him to be our Saviour. Now what this gospel report, record, or testimony of God, to be believed by all, is, the inspired penman expressly declares, "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son," (1 John 5:11). The giving here mentioned, is not giving in possession in greater or lesser measure, but giving by way of grant, whereupon one may take possession. And the party to whom, is not the election only, but mankind lost. For this record is the gospel, the foundation of faith, and warrant to all, to believe in the Son of God, and lay hold on eternal life in him; but that God hath given eternal life to the elect, can be no such foundation nor warrant: for that a gift is made to certain select men, can never be a foundation or warrant for all men to accept and take it. The great sin of unbelief lies in not believing this record or testimony, and so making God a liar: "He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record," &c. (1 John 5:10,11). On the other hand, "He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true," (John 3:33). But the great sin of unbelief lies, not in not believing that God hath given eternal life to the elect; for the most desperate unbelievers, such as Judas and Spira, believe that, and the belief of it adds to their anguish and torment of spirit; yet they do not set to their seal that God is true; but, on the contrary, they make God a liar, in not believing that to lost mankind, and to themselves in particular, God hath given eternal life in the way of grant, so as they, as well as others, are warranted and welcome to take possession of it, so fleeing in the face of God's record and testimony in the gospel, (Isa 9:6, John 3:16, Acts 4:12, Prov 8:4, Rev 22:17). In believing of this, not in believing of the former, lies the difficulty, in the agonies of conscience; the which, nevertheless, till one do in greater or lesser measure surmount, one can never believe on Christ, receive and rest upon him for salvation. The truth is, the receiving of Christ doth necessarily presuppose this giving of him, There may, indeed, be a giving where there is no receiving, for a gift may be refused; and there may be a taking where there is no giving, the which is a presumptuous action without warrant; but there can be no place for receiving of Christ where there is not a giving of him before. "In the matter of faith, [says Rollock, Lect. 10 on 2 Thess p. 126,] there are two things: first there is a giver, and next there is a receiver. God gives, and the soul receives." The Scripture is express to this purpose: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven," (John 3:27).
2. "And that you shall have life and salvation by him"; namely, a life of holiness, as well as of happiness,—salvation from sin as well as from wrath,—not in heaven only, but begun here and completed hereafter. That this is the author's notion of life and salvation agreeably to the Scripture, we have had sufficient evidence already, and will find more in our progress. Wherefore this persuasion of faith is inconsistent with an unwillingness to part with sin, a bent or purpose of heart to continue in sin, even as receiving and resting on Christ for salvation is. One finds it expressed almost in so many words: (Acts 15:11), "We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved." It is fitly placed after the former, for it cannot go before it, but follows upon it. The former is a believing of God, or believing the Son: this is a believing on the Son, and so is the same with receiving of Christ, as that receiving is explained; (John 1:12), "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." It doth also evidently bear the soul's resting on Christ for salvation; for it is not possible to conceive a soul resting on Christ for salvation, without a persuasion that it shall have life and salvation by him; namely, a persuasion which is of the same measure and degree as the resting is. And thus it appears, that there can be no saving faith without this persuasion in greater or lesser measure. But withal, it is to be remembered, as to what concerns the habit, actings, exercise, strength, weakness, and intermitting of the exercise of saving faith, the same is to be said of this persuasion in all points.
3. "That whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for you."—"I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," (Gal 2:20). This comes in the last place; and I think none will question, but whosoever believes in the manner before explained, may and ought to believe this, in this order. And it is believed, if not explicitly, yet virtually, by all who receive and rest on Christ for salvation.
From what is said, it appears that this definition of faith is the same, for substance and matter, though in different words, with that of the Shorter Catechism, which defines it, by "receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel." In which, though the offer to us is mentioned last, yet it is evident it is to be believed first.
Object. But the author's definition makes assurance to be of the essence of faith?
Answ. Be it so; however, he uses not the word assurance or assured in his definition; nor will anything contained in it amount to the idea now commonly affixed to that word, or to what is now in our days commonly understood by assurance. And, (1.) He doth not here teach that assurance of faith whereby believers are certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, the which is founded upon the evidence of grace, of which kind of assurance the Westminster Confession expressly treats, chap. 18, art. 1-3; but an assurance which is in faith, in the direct acts thereof, founded upon the word allenarly, (Mark 16:15,16, John 3:16); and this is nothing else but a fiducial appropriating persuasion. (2.) He doth not determine this assurance or persuasion to be full, or to exclude doubting: he says not, be fully persuaded, but, be verily persuaded, which speaks only the reality of the persuasion, and doth not at all concern the degree of it. And it is manifest, from his distinguishing between faith of adherence, and faith of evidence, [p. 99,] that, according to him, saving faith may be without evidence. And so one may have this assurance or persuasion, and yet not know assuredly that he hath it, but need marks to discover it by; for though a man cannot but be conscious of an act of his own soul as to the substance of the act, yet he may be in the dark as to the specifical nature of it, than which nothing is more ordinary among serious Christians. And thus, as a real saint is conscious of his own heart's moving in affection towards God, yet sometimes doth not assuredly know it to be the true love of God in him, but fears it to be an hypocritical flash of affection; so he may be conscious of his persuasion, and yet doubt if it is the true persuasion of faith, and not that of the hypocrite.
This notion of assurance, or persuasion in faith, is so agreeable to the nature of the thing called believing, and to the style of the holy Scripture, that sometimes where the original text reads faith or believing, we read, assurance, according to the genuine sense of the original phrase; (Acts 17:31), "Whereof he hath given assurance"; orig. "faith," as is noted in the margin of our Bibles. (Deut 28:66), "Thou shalt have none assurance of thy life"; orig. "Thou shalt not believe in thy life." This observation shows, that to believe, in the style of the holy Scripture, as well as in the common usage of mankind in all other matters, is to be assured or persuaded, namely, according to the measure of one's believing.
And the doctrine of assurance, or an appropriating persuasion in saving faith, as it is the doctrine of the holy Scripture, (Rom 10:9, Acts 15:11, Gal 2:20), so it is a Protestant doctrine, taught by Protestant divines against the Papists, and sealed with the blood of martyrs in Popish flames; it is the doctrine of Reformed churches abroad, and the doctrine of the Church of Scotland.
The nature of this work will not allow multiplying of testimonies on all these heads. Upon the first, it shall suffice to adduce the testimony of Essenius, in his Compendium Theologia, the system of divinity taught the students in the College of Edinburgh, by Professor Campbell. "There is, therefore," says he, "in saving faith, a special application of gospel benefits. This is proved against the Papists, (1.) From the profession of believers, (Gal 2:20), 'I live by that faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.'—(Psa 23:1), 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; in cotes of budding grass he makes me to lie down, &c. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear evil; for thou art with me,' &c. And Job 19:25; Philippians 1:21-23; Romans 8:33-39, 10:9,10; 2 Corinthians 5:1-6, with 2 Corinthians 4:13, &c." Essen. Comp. Theol. chap. 2, sect. 12. And speaking of the method of faith, he says, it is "4. That according to the promises of the gospel, out of that spiritual desire, the Holy Spirit also bearing witness in us, we acknowledge Christ to be our Saviour, and so receive and apply him, every one to ourselves, apprehending him again, who first apprehended us, (2 Cor 4:13, Rom 8:16, John 1:12, 2 Tim 1:12, Gal 2:20, Phil 3:12). The which is the formal act of saving faith. 5. Furthermore, that we acknowledge ourselves to be in communion with Christ, partakers of all and every one of his benefits. The which is the latter act of saving faith, yet also a proper and elicit act of it. 6. That we observe all these acts above mentioned, and the sincerity of them in us; and THENCE gather, that we are true believers, brought into the state of grace," &c. Ibid. sect. 21. Observe here the two kinds of assurance before distinguished.
Peter Brulie, burnt at Tournay, anno 1545, when he was sent for out of prison to be examined, the friars interrogating him before the magistrate, he answered,—"How it is faith that bringeth unto us salvation; that is, when we trust unto God's promises, and believe steadfastly, that for Christ his son's sake our sins are forgiven us." Sleid. Comment. in English book 16, fol. 217.
Mr. Patrick Hamilton, burnt at St. Andrews about the year 1527. "Faith," says he, "is a sureness; faith is a sure confidence of things which are hoped for, and a certainty of things which are not seen. The faith of Christ is to believe in him, that is, to believe in his word, and to believe that he will help thee in all thy need, and deliver thee from all evil." Mr. Patrick's Articles, Knox's History, 4 to. p. 9.
For the doctrine of foreign churches on this point, I shall instance only in that of the Church of Holland, and the Reformed Church of France; "Q. What is a sincere faith? A. It is a sure knowledge of God and his promises revealed to us in the gospel, and a hearty confidence that all my sins are forgiven me for Christ's sake." Dutch Brief Compend. of Christian Religion, Vra. 19, bound up with the Dutch Bible.
"Minister. Since we have the foundation upon which the faith is grounded, can we rightly from thence conclude what the true faith is? Child. Yea; namely, a certain and steady knowledge of the love of God towards us, according as, by his gospel, he declares himself to be our Father and Saviour, by the means of Jesus Christ." Catechism of the Reformed Church of France, bound up with the French Bible, Dimanche 18. To obviate a common prejudice, whereby this is taken for an easy effort of fancy and imagination, it will not be amiss to subjoin the question immediately following there.
"M. Can we have it of ourselves, or cometh it from God? C. The Scripture teacheth us that it is a singular gift of the Holy Spirit, and experience also showeth it." Ibid.
Follows the doctrine of the Church of Scotland on this head.
"Regeneration is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of the elect of God an assured faith in the promise of God, revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in him." Old Confess. art. 3.
"This our faith, and the assurance of the same, proceeds not from flesh and blood, that is to say, from no natural powers within us, but is the inspiration of the Holy Ghost." Ibid. art. 12.
For the better understanding of this, take the words of that eminent servant of Christ, Mr. John Davidson, minister of Salt-Preston, alias Preston-Pans [of whom see the fulfilling of the Scripture, p. 361,] in his Catechism, p. 20, as follows: "And certain it is, that both the enlightening of the mind to acknowledge the truth of the promise of salvation to us in Christ, and the sealing up of the certainty thereof in our hearts and minds, [of the which two parts, as it were, faith consists,] are the works and effects of the Spirit of God, and neither of nature nor art."
The Old Confession above mentioned is, "The Confession of Faith, professed and believed by the Protestants within the realm of Scotland, published by them in Parliament, and by the estates thereof ratified and approved, as wholesome and sound doctrine, grounded upon the infallible truth of God," Knox's Hist. lib. 3. p. 263. It was ratified at Edinburgh, July 17, 1560, Ibid. p. 279. And this is the Confession of our Faith, mentioned and sworn to in the national covenant, framed about twenty years after it.
In the same national covenant, with relation to this particular head of doctrine, we have these words following, viz: "We detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman antichrist—his general and doubtsome faith." However the general and doubtsome faith of the Papists may be clouded, one may, without much ado, draw these two plain conclusions from these words: "1. That since the Popish faith abjured is a doubtsome faith, the Protestant faith, sworn to be maintained, is an assured faith, as we heard before from the Old Confession, to which the covenant refers. 2. That since the Popish faith is a general one, the Protestant faith must needs be an appropriating persuasion, or a faith of special application, which, we heard already from Essenius, the Papists do deny. As for a belief and persuasion of the mercy of God in Christ, and of Christ's ability and willingness to save all that come unto him, as it is altogether general, and hath nothing of appropriation or special application in it, so I doubt if the Papists will refuse it. Sure, the Council of Trent, which fixed and established the abominations of Popery, affirms that not pious man ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, nor of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments." Concil. Trid. cap. 9. I hope none will think the council allows impious men to doubt of these; but withal they tell us, "It is not to be affirmed, that no man is absolved from sin and justified, but he who assuredly believes, that he himself is absolved and justified." Here they overturn the assurance and appropriation, or special application of saving faith maintained by the Protestants; and they thunder their anathemas against those who hold these in opposition to their general and doubtsome faith. "If any shall say, that justifying faith is nothing else but a confidence of the mercy of God pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that confidence is it alone by which they are justified, let him be accursed." Ibid. cap. 13, can. 12. "If any shall say, that a man is absolved from sin, and justified by that, that he assuredly believes himself to be absolved and justified, let him be accursed." Ibid. can. 14.
Moreover, in the national covenant, as it was renewed in the years 1638 and 1639, mention is made of public catechisms, in which the true religion is expressed in the Confession of Faith [there] above written, [i.e., the national covenant, otherwise called the Confession of Faith,] and former Large Confession, [viz: the Old Confession,] is said to be set down. The doctrine on this head, contained in these catechisms, is here subjoined.
"M. Which is the first point? C. To put our whole confidence in God. M. How may that be? C. When we have assured knowledge that he is almighty, and perfectly good. M. And is that sufficient? C. No. M. What is then further required? C. That every one of us be fully assured in his conscience, that he is beloved of God, and that he will be both his Father and Saviour." Calvin's Cat. used by the Kirk of Scotland, and approved by the First Book of Discipline, quest. 8-12. This is the catechism of the Reformed Church of France, mentioned before. "M. Since we have the foundation whereupon our faith is builded, we may well gather hereof what is the right faith? C. Yea, verily; that is to say, it is a sure persuasion and steadfast knowledge of God's tender love towards us, according as he hath plainly uttered in his gospel, that he will be both a Father and a Saviour unto us, through the means of Jesus Christ." Ibid. quest. 111.
"M. By what means may we attain unto him there? C. By faith, which God's Spirit worketh in our hearts, assuring us of God's promises made to us in his holy Gospel." The manner to examine children before they be admitted to the supper of the Lord, quest. 16. This is called the Little Catechism, Assembly 1592, sess. 10. "Q. What is true faith? A. It is not only a knowledge, by which I do steadfastly assent to all things which God hath revealed unto us in his word; but also an assured affiance, kindled in my heart by the Holy Ghost, by which I rest upon God, making sure account, that forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and life, are bestowed, not only upon others, but also upon me, and that freely by the mercy of God, for the merit and desert of Christ alone." The Palatine Catechism, printed by public authority, for the use of Scotland. This famous Catechism is used in most of the Reformed Churches and schools; particularly in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, and is bound up with the Dutch Bible. "As for the Church of Scotland, the Palatine Catechism," says Mr. Wodrow, in the dedication to his History, "was adopted by us, till we had the happiness to join with the venerable Assembly at Westminster. Then indeed it gave place to the Larger and Shorter Catechisms in the Church: nevertheless it continued to be taught in grammar schools."
"Q. What thing is faith in Christ? A. A sure persuasion that he is the only Saviour of the world, but OURS in special, who believe in him." Craig's Catechism, approved by the General Assembly, 1592.
To these may be added the three following testimonies. "Q. What is faith? A. When I am persuaded that God loves me and all his saints, and freely giveth us Christ, with all his benefits," Summula Catechismi, still annexed to the Rudiments of the Latin tongue, and taught in grammar schools to this day, [1726,] since the Reformation.
"What is thy faith? My sure belief that God both may and will save me in the blood of Jesus Christ, because he is almighty, and has promised so to do," Mr. James Melvil's Catechism, in his Propine of a Pastor to his People, p. 44, published in the year 1598.
"Q. What is this faith, that is the only instrument of this strait conjunction between Christ crucified and us? A. It is the sure persuasion of the heart, that Christ by his death and resurrection hath taken away our sins, and, clothing us with his own righteousness, has thoroughly restored us to the favour of God." Mr. John Davidson's Catechism, p. 46.
In the same national covenant, as it was renewed, 1638 and 1639, is expressed an agreement and resolution to labour to recover the purity of the gospel as it was established and professed before the [there] foresaid novations; the which, in the time of Prelacy, then cast out, had been corrupted by a set of men in Scotland addicted to the faction of Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. In the year 1640, Mr. Robert Baily, then minister of Kilwinning, afterwards one of the Commissioners from Scotland to the Westminster Assembly, wrote against that faction, proving them guilty of Popery, Arminianism, &c.: and on the head of Popery, thus represents their doctrine concerning the nature of faith, viz: "That faith is only a bare assent, and requires no application, no personal confidence; and that that personal application is mere presumption, and the fiction of a crazy brain." Hist. Motuum in Regno Scotia, p. 517.
Thus, as above declared, stood the doctrine of the Church of Scotland, in this point, in her confessions, and in public catechisms, confirmed by the renewing of the national covenant, when, in the year 1643, it was anew confirmed by the first article of the Solemn League and Covenant, binding to [not the Reformation, but] the preservation of the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, &c., and that before the Westminster Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, were in being.
When the Westminster Confession was received, anno 1647, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, anno 1648, the General Assembly did, in their three acts, respectively approving them, expressly declare them to be in nothing contrary to the received doctrine of this Kirk. And put the case they were contrary thereto in any point, they could not in that point be reckoned the judgment of the Church of Scotland, since they were received by her, as in nothing contrary to previous standards of doctrine, to which she stands bound by the covenants aforesaid. But the truth is, the doctrine is the same in them all.
"This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; growing in many to the attainment of a full assurance." Westm. Confess, chap. 14, art. 3. Now, how faith can grow in any to a full assurance, if there be no assurance in the nature of it, I cannot comprehend.
"Faith justifies a sinner—only as it is an instrument, by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness." Larg. Cat. Q. 73.—"By faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death." Ibid. Q. 170.
"Q. When do we by faith receive and apply to ourselves the body of Christ crucified? A. While we are persuaded, that the death and crucifixion of Christ do no less belong to us, than if we ourselves had been crucified for our own sins; now this persuasion is that of true faith." Sum. Catech.
"Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel." Short. Cat.
Now, to perceive the entire harmony betwixt this and the old definitions of faith, compare with it, as to the receiving therein mentioned, the definition above cited from the Old Confession, art. 3. viz: "An assured faith in the promise by which they apprehend Christ," &c. Mr. John Davidson joins them thus: "Q. What is faith? A. It is an hearty assurance, that our sins are freely forgiven us in Christ. Or after this manner: It is the hearty receiving of Christ offered in the preaching of the word and sacraments, by the working of the Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins, whereby he becomes one with us, and we one with him, he our head, and we his members." Mr. John Davidson's Catechism, p. 24. As to the resting mentioned in the Westminster definition, compare the definition above cited from the Palatine Catechism, viz: "A sure confidence whereby I rest in God, assuredly concluding, that to me is given forgiveness," &c., quest. 21. See also Larger Catechism, quest. last. "We by faith are emboldened to plead with him that he would, and quietly to rely upon him that he will, fulfil our request; and to testify this our desire and assurance, we say, Amen." In which words, it is manifest, that quietly to rely upon him that he will, &c. [the same with resting on him for, &c.] is assurance in the sense of the Westminster divines.
Chapter II, Section III, 3
The warrant to believe in Christ.
Neo. But, sir, hath such a one as I any warrant to believe in Christ?
Evan. I beseech you consider, that God the Father, as he is in his Son Jesus Christ, moved with nothing but with his free love to mankind lost, hath made a deed of gift and grant unto them all, that whosoever of them all shall believe in this his Son, shall not perish, but have eternal life.175175Mr. Culverwell's words, here cited, stand thus at large: "The matter to be believed unto salvation is this, that God the Father, moved by nothing but his free love to mankind lost, hath made a deed of gift and grant of his son Christ Jesus unto mankind, that whosoever of all mankind shall receive his gift by a true and lively faith, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Dr. Gouge, in his preface to this treatise of that author, has these remarkable words concerning him, "Never any took such pains to so good purpose, in and about the foundation of faith, as he hath done." This deed of gift and grant, or authentic gospel-offer [of which see the preceding note] is expressed in so many words, (John 3:16), "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Where the gospel comes, this grant is published, and the ministerial offer made and there is no exception of any of all mankind in the grant. If there was, no ministerial offer of Christ could be warrantably made to the party excepted, more than to the fallen angels; and without question, the publishing and proclaiming of heaven's grant unto any, by way of ministerial offer, pre-supposeth the grant, in the first place, to be made to them: otherwise, it would be of no more value than a crier's offering of the king's pardon to one who is not comprehended in it. This is the good old way of discovering to sinners their warrant to believe in Christ; and it doth indeed bear the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ for all, and that Christ crucified is the ordinance of God for salvation unto all mankind, in the use-making of which only they can be saved; but not an universal atonement or redemption. "What is thy faith? My sure belief that God both may and will save me, &c. Tell me the promise whereon thou leanest assuredly? 'Whosoever [says God] will believe in the death of my Son Jesus, shall not perish, but get eternal life.'" Mr. James Melvil's Cat. ubi sup. "He freely OFFERETH unto SINNERS life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved." Mark 16:15,16; John 3:16; Westm. Confess. chap. 7. art. 3. "The visible Church hath the privilege of enjoying OFFERS of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall be saved." Larger Catechism, quest. 63. "This general offer, in substance, is equivalent to a special offer made to every one in particular, as appears by the apostle making use of it, (Acts 16:31). The reason of which offer is given, (John 3:16)." Pract. Use of Sav. Knowledge; Conf. p. 380. The Synod of Dort may be heard without prejudice on this head. "It is the promise of the gospel [say they,] that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified should not perish, but have life everlasting; which promise, together with the injunction of repentance and faith, ought promiscuously, and without distinction, to be declared, and published to all men and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel," chap. 2, art. 5. But forasmuch as many, being called by the gospel, do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in their infidelity, this comes not to pass for want of, or by any insufficiency of, the sacrifice of Christ offered upon the cross, but by their own default, art. 6. And hence it was, that Jesus Christ himself said unto his disciples, (Mark 16:15), "Go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven":176176That is, from this deed of gift and grant it was that the ministerial offer was appointed to be made in the most extensive terms. that is, Go and tell every man without exception, that here is good news for him; Christ is dead for him; and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have him.177177That the reader may have a more clear view of this passage, which is taken from Dr. Preston's Treatise of Faith, I shall transcribe the whole paragraph in which it is found. That eminent divine, speaking of that righteousness by which alone we can be saved, and having shown that it is communicated by gift, says, "But when you hear this righteousness is given, the next question will be, to whom is it given? If it be only given to some, what comfort is this to me? But [which is the ground of all comfort,] it is given to every man,—there is not a man excepted; for which we have the sure word of God, which will not fail. When you have the charter of a king well confirmed, you reckon it a matter of great moment: what is it then when you have the charter of God himself? which you shall evidently see in those two places, (Mark 16:15), 'Go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven'; What is that? Go and tell every man, without exception that here is good news for him; Christ is dead for him: and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have it; restraint is not; but go tell every man under heaven. The other text is, (Rev 22:17), 'Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.' There is a quicunque vult, whosoever will come [none excepted] may have life, and it shall cost him nothing. Many other places of Scripture there be to prove the generality of the offer; and having a sure word for it, consider it," p. 7,8. The words "under heaven" are taken from Colossians 1:23. The scope here is the same with that of our author, not to determine concerning the extent of Christ's death, but to discover the warrant sinners have to believe in Christ, namely, that the offer of Christ is general, the deed of gift or grant is to every man. This necessarily supposeth Christ crucified to be the ordinance of God for salvation, to which lost mankind is allowed access, and not fallen angels, for whom there is none provided: even as the city of refuge was the ordinance of God for the safety of the man-slayer, who had killed any person unawares, (Num 35:16); and the brazen serpent for the cure of those bitten by a serpent, (21:8). Therefore he says not, "Tell every man Christ died for him"; but, Tell every man "Christ is dead for him"; that is, for him to come to, and believe on; a Saviour is provided for him; there is a crucified Christ for him, the ordinance of heaven for salvation for lost man, in the use-making of which he may be saved; even as one had said of old, Tell every man that hath slain any person unawares, that the city of refuge is prepared for him, namely, to flee to, that he may be safe; and every one bitten by a serpent, that the brazen serpent is set up on a pole for him, namely, to look unto, that he may be healed. Both these were eminent types of Christ; and upon the latter, the Scripture is full and clear in this very point. (Num 21:8), "And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that EVERY ONE that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live."—(John 3:14-16), "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up; that WHOSOEVER believeth on him should not perish but have eternal life." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER," &c. Thus, what [according to Dr. Preston and our author] is to be told every man, is no more than what ministers of the gospel have in commission from their great Master, (Matt 22:4), "Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready, come unto the marriage." There is a crucified Saviour, with all saving benefits, for them to come to, feed upon, and partake of freely. See also Luke 2:30,31; Proverbs 9:2-4; Isaiah 25:6. To confirm this to be the true and designed sense of the phrase in question, compare the following three passages, of the same treatise, giving the import of the same text, (Mark 16), "Christ hath provided a righteousness and salvation, that is, his work that he hath done already. Now, if ye will believe, and take him upon these terms that he is offered, you shall be saved. This, I say, belongs to all men. This you have expressed in the gospel in many places: 'If you believe you shall be saved': as it is, (Mark 16), 'Go and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven; he that will believe shall be saved.'" Preston on Faith, p. 32. "You must first have Christ himself, before you can partake of those benefits by him: and that I take to be the meaning of that in Mark 16, 'Go preach the gospel to every creature under heaven; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved'; that is, he that will believe, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and that he is offered to mankind for a Saviour, and will be baptized; that will give up himself to him, that will take his mark upon him, shall be saved." Ibid. p. 46. "Go and preach the gospel to every creature; go and tell every man under heaven, that Christ is offered to him, he is freely given to him by God the Father; and there is nothing required of you but that you marry him, nothing but to accept of him." Ibid. p. 75. Thus, it appears, that universal atonement, or redemption, is not taught here, neither by our author. But that the candid reader may be satisfied as to his sentiments touching the question,—"for whom Christ died"? let him weigh these two things: 1. Our author puts a man's being persuaded that Christ died for him in particular, in the definition of saving faith, and that as the last and highest step of it. But Arminians, and other Universalists, might as well put there a man's being persuaded that he was created, or is preserved by Jesus Christ; since in being persuaded that Christ died for him, he applies no more to himself than what, according to their principles, is common to all mankind, as in the case of creation and preservation. Hear Grotius upon this head: "Some," says he, "have here interpreted faith to be persuasion, whereby a man believes that Jesus died for him in particular, and to purchase salvation all manner of ways for him, or [what with them is the same thing] that he is elected; when, on the contrary, Paul in many places teaches, 'that Christ died for all men'; and such a faith as they talk of, has not in it anything true or profitable." Grotius apud Pol. Synop. Those whom this learned adversary here taxes, are Protestant anti-Arminian divines. Those were they who defined faith by such a persuasion, and not the Universalists. On the contrary, he argues against that definition of faith from the doctrine of universal atonement or redemption. He rejects that definition of it, as in his opinion having nothing in it true, namely, according to the principles of those who gave it, viz: that Christ died, not for all and every man in particular, but for the elect only, and as having nothing in it profitable; that being, according to his principles, the common privilege of all mankind. 2. He teaches plainly throughout the book, that they were the elect, the chosen, or believers, whom Christ represented, and obeyed, and suffered for. See among others, pages 22, 23, 54, 86. I shall repeat only two passages; the one, page 81: "According to that eternal and mutual agreement that was betwixt God the Father and him, he put himself in the room and place of all the faithful." The other in the first sentence of his own preface, viz: "Jesus Christ, the second Adam, did, as a common person, enter into covenant with God his Father for all the elect, [that is to say, all those that have or shall believe on his name,] and for them kept it." What can be more plain than that, in the judgment of our author, they were the elect whom Jesus Christ, the second Adam, entered into covenant with God for; that it was in the elect's room he put himself when he came actually to obey and suffer, and that it was for the elect he kept that covenant, by doing and suffering what was required of him as our Redeemer? As for the description, or character he gives of the elect, viz: that by the elect he understands all that have or shall believe in it, he follows our Lord himself, (John 17:20), "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me"; and so doing, he is accompanied with orthodox divines. "Thus did the sin of all God's elect, or all true believers, [for of such, and only such, he there, viz: (Isa 53:6), speaks,] meet together upon the head of their common surety, the Lord Christ," Brinsley's Mesites, p. 64. "The Father is well satisfied with the undertakings of the Son, who entered Redeemer and Surety to pay the ransom of believers," Pract. Use of Saving Knowl. tit. 4. "The invisible church is the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head," Larg. Cat. quest. 64. "Christ's church, wherein standeth only remission of sins, purchased by Christ's blood to all them that believe," The Confess. of Faith used in Geneva, approved by the Church of Scotland, sect. 4. sect. ult. But Arminians neither will nor can, in consistency with their principles touching election and the falling away of believers, admit that description or character of the elect, else they are widely mistaken by one of their own, who tells us that, "Upon the consideration of his [viz: Christ's] blood, as shed, he [viz: God] decreed, that all those who should believe in that Redeemer, and persevere in that faith, should, through mercy and grace, by him be made partakers of salvation," Exam. of Tilen. p. 131. "Brought unto faith, and persevere therein; this being the condition required in every one that is to be elected unto eternal life," Ibid. p. 139. Behold the Arminian election: "They do utterly deny that God did destine, by an absolute decree, to give Christ a Mediator only to the elect, and to give faith to them alone," Ibid. p. 149. As for Universalists, not Arminians, "They contend, that the decree of the death of Christ did go before the decree of election, and that God, in sending of Christ, had no respect unto some, more than others, but destined Christ for a Saviour to all men alike." This account of their principles is given us by Turretine, loc. 14, q. 14, th. 6. I leave it to the impartial reader to judge of the evident contrariety betwixt this and our author's words above repeated. Therefore, says a godly writer, "Forasmuch as the holy Scripture speaketh to all in general, none of us ought to distrust himself, but believe that it doth belong particularly to himself."178178Namely, the deed of gift and grant, or the offer of Christ in the word, of which our author is all along speaking. And if there be any man to whom it doth not belong particularly, that man hath no warrant to believe on Jesus Christ: and whosoever pretends to believe on him, without believing that the grant or offer belongs to himself particularly, does but act presumptuously, as seeing no warrant he has to believe on Christ, whatever others may have. And to the end, that this point, wherein lies and consists the whole mystery of our holy faith, may be understood the better, let us put the case, that some good and holy king should cause a proclamation to be made through his whole kingdom, by the sound of a trumpet, that all rebels and banished men shall safely return home to their houses: because that, at the suit and desert of some dear friend of theirs, it has pleased the king to pardon them; certainly, none of these rebels ought to doubt, but that he shall obtain true pardon for his rebellion; and so return home, and live under the shadow of that gracious king. Even so, our good King, the Lord of heaven and earth, has, for the obedience and desert of our good brother Jesus Christ, pardoned all our sins,179179So far as he hath made the deed of gift and grant, or authentic gospel-offer of the pardon of all our sins, as of all other saving benefits in Christ. Such a thing, among men, is called the king's pardon, though, in the mean time, none have the benefit of it but such as come in upon its being proclaimed, and accept of it; and why may not it be called the King of heaven's pardon? The holy Scripture warrants this manner of expression. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life," (1 John 5:11); in which life, without question, the pardon of all our sins is included: "Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins," (Acts 13:38). The preaching of the gospel is the proclaiming of pardon to condemned sinners. But pardon of sin cannot be preached or proclaimed, unless, in the first place, it be granted, even as the king's pardon must be, before one can proclaim it to the rebels. That this is all that is meant by pardon here, and not a formal personal pardon, is evident from the whole strain of the author's discourse upon it. In the proposal of the simile, whereof this passage is the application, he tells us, that after it hath pleased the king [thus] to pardon the rebels, they ought not to doubt but they shall obtain pardon; and in the following paragraph he brings in Neophytus objecting, that in such a case an earthly king doth indeed intend to pardon all, but the King of heaven doth not so; the which Evangelista in his answer grants. So that, for all this general pardon, the formal personal pardon remains to be obtained by the sinner, namely, by his accepting of the pardon offered. And in the foresaid answer, he expounds the pardon in question, of the Lord's offering pardon generally to all. This, one would think, may well be admitted as the fruit of Christ's obedience and desert, without supposing an universal atonement or redemption. And to restrain it to any set of men whatsoever under heaven, is to restrain the authentic gospel-offer: of which before. and made a proclamation throughout the whole world,180180(Col 1:23): "The gospel which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." that every one of us may safely return to God in Jesus Christ: wherefore I beseech you make no doubt of it, but "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith," (Heb 10:22).181181Make no doubt of the pardon offered, or of the proclamation, bearing, that every one of us may safely return to God in Christ; but thereupon draw near to him in full assurance of faith. That there can be no saving faith, no acceptance with God, where there is any doubting, is what can hardly enter into the head of any sober Christian, if he is not under a grievous temptation, in his own soul's case, nor is it in the least insinuated here. Nevertheless, the doubting mixed with faith is sin, and dishonoureth God, and believers have ground to be humbled for it, and ashamed of it, before the Lord; and therefore the full assurance of faith is duty. The Papists indeed contend earnestly for doubting, and they know very very well, wherefore they so do; for doubting being removed, and the assurance of faith in the promise of the gospel brought into its room, their market is marred, their gain by indulgences, masses, pilgrimages, &c., is gone, and the fire of purgatory extinguished. But, as Protestant divines prove against them, the holy Scripture condemns it, (Matt 14:31), "O thou of little faith! wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Luke 12:29), "Neither be ye of doubtful mind." (1 Tim 2:8), "Lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
Neo. Oh, but, sir, in this similitude the case is not alike. For when the earthly king sends forth such a proclamation, it may be thought that he indeed intends to pardon all; but it cannot be thought that the King of heaven does so: for do not the Scriptures say, that "some men are ordained before to condemnation"? (Jude 4) And does not Christ himself say, that "many are called, but few are chosen"? (Matt 22:14) and, therefore, it may be, I am one of them that are ordained to condemnation; and, therefore, though I be called, I shall never be chosen, and so shall not be saved.
Evan. I beseech you to consider, that although some men be ordained to condemnation, yet so long as the Lord has concealed their names, and not set a mark of reprobation upon any man in particular, but offers the pardon generally to all, without having any respect either to election or reprobation, surely it is great folly in any man to say, It may be I am not elected, and therefore shall not have benefit by it; and therefore I will not accept of it, nor come in:182182Had the author once dreamt of an universal pardon, otherwise than that God offers the pardon generally to all, all this had been needless; it would have furnished him with a short answer, viz: That God hath pardoned all already. for it should rather move every man to give diligence "to make his calling and election sure," (2 Peter 1:10), by believing it, for fear we come short of it,183183By believing the offered pardon, with particular application to himself; without which one can never accept of it, but will undoubtedly come short of it. according to that of the apostle, "let us, therefore, fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it," (Heb 4:1). Wherefore, I beseech you, do not you say, It may be I am not elected, and therefore I will not believe in Christ; but rather say, I do believe in Christ, and therefore I am sure I am elected.184184Like that man mentioned Mark 9:24, who at once did and said. And check your own heart for meddling with God's secrets, and prying into his hidden counsel, and go no more beyond your bounds, as you have done, in this point: for election and reprobation is a secret; and the Scripture tells us, "that secret things belong unto God, but those things that are revealed belong unto us," (Deut 29:29). Now this is God's revealed will, for, indeed, it is his express command, "That you should believe on the name of his Son," (1 John 3:23); and it is his promise, "that if you believe, you shall not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16). Wherefore, you having so good a warrant as God's command, and so great an encouragement as his promise, do your duty;185185Believe on the name of Christ. and by the doing thereof you may put it186186Namely, your believing. out of question, and be sure that you are also one of God's elect. Say, then, I beseech you, with a firm faith, The righteousness of Jesus Christ belongs to all that believe, but I believe,187187This is what is commonly called the reflex act of faith, which presupposes, and here includes the direct act, namely, a man's doing of his duty, in obedience to the command to believe on Christ; by reflecting on which, he may put it out of question that he is a believer, one of God's elect, and one of those for whom Christ died. This passage is taken out of Dr. Preston's Treatise of Faith, p. 8. and therefore it belongs to me. Yea, say with Paul, "I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me," (Gal 2:20). "He saw in me [says Luther on the text] nothing but wickedness, going astray, and fleeing from him. Yet this good Lord had mercy on me, and of his mere mercy he loved me, yea, so loved me, that he gave himself for me. Who is this me? Even I, wretched and damnable sinner, was so dearly beloved of the Son of God that he gave himself for me."
Oh! print this word "me" in your heart, and apply it to your own self, not doubting but that you are one of those to whom this "me" belongs.188188"This manner of applying," says Luther, "is the very true force and power of faith."
Neo. But may such a vile and sinful wretch as I am be persuaded that God commands me to believe, and that he hath made a promise to me? 189189He had told him, that for his warrant to believe on Christ, he had God's command, (1 John 3:23). And for his encouragement, God's promise, (John 3:16). Thereupon this question is moved; the particular application to oneself being a matter of no small difficulty in the experience of many who lay salvation to heart.
Evan. Why do you make a question, where there is none to be made? "Go," says Christ, "and preach the gospel to every creature under heaven," that is, Go tell every man without exception, whatsoever his sins be, whatsoever his rebellions be, go and tell him these glad tidings, that if he will come in, I will accept of him, his sins shall be forgiven him, and he shall be saved; if he will come in and take me, and receive me, I will be his loving husband, and he shall be mine own dear spouse. Let me, therefore, say unto you, in the words of the apostle, "Now, then, I as an ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech you by me, I pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God; for he hath made him to be sin for you, who knew no sin, that ye might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor 5:20,21).
Neo. But do you say, sir, that if I believe I shall be espoused unto Christ?
Evan. Yea, indeed, shall you: for faith coupleth the soul with Christ, even as the spouse with her husband; by which means Christ and the soul are made one: for as, in corporal marriage, man and wife are made one flesh, even so in this spiritual and mystical marriage, Christ and his spouse are made one spirit. And this marriage, of all others, is most perfect, and absolutely accomplished between them; for the marriage between man and wife is but a slender figure of this union; wherefore, I beseech you to believe it, and then you shall be sure to enjoy it.190190Believe the word of promise, the offer of the spiritual marriage, which is Christ's declared consent to be yours. Believe that it is made to you in particular, and that it shall be made out to you; the which is, to embrace the offer, to receive Christ, as the evangelist teaches, (John 1:12); [which was adverted to before;] so shall you be indeed married or espoused to Christ. Thus the holy Scripture proposes this matter, (Isa 55:3), "Hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you"; to persuade us of the reality of the covenant betwixt God and the believer of his word, "the Father hath made a fourfold gift," &c., Pract. Use of Sav. Knowl. tit.; Warrant to Believer, fig. 7; compare Isaiah 53:1; Hebrews 4:1,2.
Neo. But, sir, if David said, "Seemeth it to you a light thing to be an earthly king's son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and lightly esteemed"? (1 Sam 18:23); then surely I have much more cause to say, Seemeth it a light thing to be a heavenly King's daughter-in- law, seeing that I am such a poor sinful wretch? Surely, sir, I cannot be persuaded to believe it.
Evan. Alas! man, how much are you mistaken! for you look upon God, and upon yourself, with the eye of reason; and so as standing in relation to each other, according to the tenor of the covenant of works: whereas, you being now in the case of justification and reconciliation, you are to look both upon God and upon yourself with the eye of faith; and so standing in relation to each other, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace. For, says the apostle, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their sins unto them," (2 Cor 5:19); as if he had said, Because as God stands in relation to man, according to the tenor of the covenant of works, and so out of Christ, he could not, without prejudice to his justice, be reconciled unto them, nor have any thing to do with them, otherwise than in wrath and indignation; therefore to the intent that Justice and Mercy might meet together, and Righteousness and Peace might embrace each other, and so God stand in relation to man, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace; he put himself into his Son Jesus Christ, and shrouded himself there, that so he might speak peace to his people, (Psa 85:8-10). Sweetly, says Luther, "Because the nature of God was otherwise higher than that we are able to attain unto it, therefore hath he humbled himself for us, and taken our nature upon him, and so put himself into Christ. Here he looketh for us, here he will receive us; and he that seeketh him here shall find him."191191An eminent type of this glorious mystery was that tabernacle so often mentioned in the Old Testament under the name of the tabernacle of the congregation, or rather the tabernacle of meeting, as the original word bears; and the Lord himself seems to give the reason of the name, (Exo 30:36), "In the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee"; or, "in the tabernacle of meeting, where I will be met with by thee."—(33:7), "And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord, went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation," or meeting. "This," says God the Father, "is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," (Matt 3:17); whereupon the same Luther says in another place, "We must not think and persuade ourselves that this voice came from heaven for Christ's own sake, but for our sakes, even as Christ himself says, (John 12:30), 'This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.' The truth is, Christ had no need that it should be said unto him, 'This is my beloved Son,' he knew that from all eternity, and that he should still so remain, though these words had not been spoken from heaven; therefore, by these words, God the Father, in Christ his Son, cheers the hearts of poor sinners, and greatly delights them with singular comfort and heavenly sweetness, assuring them, that whosoever is married unto Christ, and so in him by faith, he is as acceptable to God the Father as Christ himself;192192The acceptation, love, and the favour of God here treated of, do not refer to the real state of believers, but to the relative state, to their justification, reconciliation, and adoption: and so they have no respect to any qualities inherent in them, good or evil, to be increased by the one, or diminished by the other; but they proceed purely upon the righteousness of Christ, which is theirs in virtue of their union with him, and is imputed to them; the which righteousness is the self-same righteousness wherewith Christ, as Mediator and Surety for elect sinners, pleased the Father. And therefore, says one, whom nobody suspects of Antinomianism, "We are as perfectly righteous as Christ the Righteous," citing 1 John 3:7: "He that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous," Isaac Ambrose's Media, chap. 1, sect. 2, p. 4. This I take to be the true meaning of the passages of our author and Isaac Ambrose, expressed in terms stronger than I would desire to use. There is a danger in expressing concerning God even what is true. according to that of the apostle, 'He hath made us acceptable in his beloved,' (Eph 1:6). Wherefore, if you would be acceptable to God, and be made his dear child, then by faith cleave unto his beloved Son Christ, and hang about his neck, yea, and creep into his bosom; and so shall the love and favour of God be as deeply insinuated into you as it is into Christ himself; and so shall God the Father, together with his beloved Son, wholly possess you, and be possessed of you; and so God, and Christ, and you, shall become one entire thing, according to Christ's prayer, 'that they may be one in us, as thou and I are one,' (John 17:21)."193193The original word here rendered "one," indeed signifies "one thing." And it is evident from the text, that believers are united to God as well as to Christ. "Faith is that grace by which we are united to, and made one with, God and Christ," says the author of the Supplement to Poole's Annot. on the place. See 1 John 4:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16, compared with Ephesians 3:17. And whosoever owns Jesus Christ to be one with the Father, must needs grant this, or else deny believers to be united to Christ. This derogates nothing from the prerogative of our Lord Jesus, who is one with the Father; for he is one with him, as the Holy Ghost also is, by the adorable substantial union; but believers are so only by mystical union. Neither does it entrench upon God's supremacy, more than their confessed union with Christ does; who, notwithstanding of believers' union with him, remains to be, with the Father and Holy Spirit, the only supreme, and most high God. "Whosoever, therefore, cleaveth to Christ through faith, he abideth in the favour of God, he also shall be made beloved and acceptable as Christ is, and shall have fellowship with the Father and the Son." Luther's Chosen Sermons, Sermon of the Appearing of Christ, p. 23. "Here I will abide in the arms of Christ, cleaving inseparably about his neck, and creeping into his bosom, whatsoever the law shall say, and my heart shall feel," Ibid. Sermon of the Lost Sheep, p. 81. "Seeing, therefore, that Christ, the beloved Son, being in so great favour with God in all things that he does, is thine; without doubt, thou art in the same favour and love of God that Christ himself is in." And again, "the favour and love of God are insinuated to thee as deeply as to Christ, that now God, together with his beloved Son, does wholly possess thee, and thou hast him again wholly; that so God, Christ, and thou, do become as one certain thing,—that they may be one in us, as thou and I are one, John 17." Ibid. Sermon of the Appearing of Christ, p. 25. And by this means you may have sufficient ground and warrant to say, [in the matter of reconciliation with God at any time, whensoever you are disputing with yourself, how God is to be found, that justifies and saves sinners,] I know no other God, neither will I know any other God, besides this God, that came down from heaven, and clothed himself with my flesh,194194Luther, from whom this is taken, in the place quoted by our author, confirms it thus; "For he that is a searcher of God's majesty, shall be overwhelmed of his glory. I know [adds he] by experience, what I say. But these vain spirits, which so deal with God, that they exclude the Mediator, do not believe me." And on Psalm 130, he has these remarkable words, "Ego sepe, et libenter hoc inculco, ut extra Christum, oculos et aures claudatis, et dicatis nullum vos scire Deum nisi qui fuit in gremio Maria, et suxit ubera ejus": that is, "Often and willingly do I inculcate this, that you should shut your eyes and your ears, and say, you know no God out of Christ, none but him that was in the lap of Mary, and suckled her breasts." He means none out of him. Burroughs on Hosea 3:5, p. 729. unto "whom all power is given, both in heaven and in earth," who is my judge; "for the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son," (John 5:22). So that Christ may do with me whatsoever he liketh, and determine of me according to his own mind; and I am sure he hath said, "he came not to judge the world but to save the world," (John 12:47). And therefore I do believe that he will save me.195195This is the conclusion of that, which one, "by faith cleaving unto Christ, and hanging about his neck," has by that means warrant to say, according to our author. Whether or not there is sufficient warrant for it, according to the Scripture, let the reader judge: what shadow of the doctrine of universal atonement, or universal pardon, is in it, I see not.
Neo. Indeed, sir, if I were so holy and so righteous as some men are, and had such power over my sins and corruptions as some men have, then I could easily believe it; but, alas! I am so sinful and so unworthy a wretch, that I dare not presume to believe that Christ will accept of me, so as to justify and save me.
Evan. Alas! man, in thus saying, you seem to contradict and gainsay both the apostle Paul, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself; and that against your own soul: for whereas the apostle Paul says, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," (1 Tim 1:15), and doth justify the ungodly, (Rom 4:5), why, you seem to hold, and do in effect say, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save the righteous, and to justify the godly. And whereas our Saviour says, the whole need not a physician, but the sick; and that he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, (Matt 9:12); why, you seem to hold, and do in effect say, that the sick need not a physician, but the whole: and that he came, not to call sinners, but the righteous to repentance. And indeed, in so saying, you seem to conceive, that Christ's spouse must be purified, washed, and cleansed from all her filthiness, and adorned with a rich robe of righteousness, before he will accept of her; whereas he himself said unto her, (Eze 16:4-8), "As for thy nativity, in the day that thou wast born, thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed with water to supple thee; thou wast not swaddled at all, nor salted at all. No eye pitied thee to do any of these things unto thee; but when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time was a time of love. And I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, and I sware unto thee, and entered into covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine."—(Hosea 2:19), "And I will marry thee unto me for ever; yea, I will marry thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in mercy, and compassion."
Wherefore, I beseech you, revoke this your erroneous opinion, and contradict the word of truth no longer; but conclude for a certainty, that it is not the righteous and godly man, but the sinful and ungodly man,196196That is, such as are really so, and not, in their own opinion, only respectively. that Christ came to call, justify, and save: so that if you were a righteous and godly man, you were neither capable of calling, justifying, or saving by Christ; but being a sinful and ungodly man, I will be bold to say unto you as the people said unto blind Bartimeus, (Mark 10:49), "Be of good comfort; arise, he calleth thee," and will justify and save thee.197197As the people, observing Christ's call to Bartimeus, bid him be of good comfort, [or be confident] and arise; intimating, that upon his going so unto Christ, he would cure him; so one, observing the gospel call, may with all boldness bid a sinner comply with it confidently; assuring him that thereupon Christ will justify and save him. Go then unto him, I beseech you; and if he come and meet thee, [as his manner is,] then do not you unadvisedly say, with Peter, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8); but say, in plain terms, O come unto me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord! Yea, go on further, and say, as Luther bids you, Most gracious Jesus and sweet Christ, I am a miserable, poor sinner, and, therefore, do judge myself unworthy of thy grace; but yet I, having learned from thy word that thy salvation belongs unto such a one, therefore do I come unto thee, to claim that right which, through thy gracious promise, belongs unto me. Assure yourself, man, that Jesus Christ requires no portion with his spouse; no, verily, he requires nothing with her but mere poverty: "the rich he sends empty away," (Luke 1:53); but the poor are by him enriched. And, indeed, says Luther, "the more miserable, sinful, and distressed a man doth feel himself, and judge himself to be, the more willing is Christ to receive him and relieve him." So that, says he, in judging thyself unworthy, thou dost thereby become truly worthy; and so, indeed, hast gotten a greater occasion of coming to him. Wherefore, then, in the words of the apostle, I do exhort and beseech you to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need," (Heb 4:16).
Neo. But, truly, sir, my heart, as it were, trembles within me, to think of coming to Christ, after such a bold manner; and surely, sir, if I should so come unto him, it would argue much pride and presumption in me.
Evan. Indeed, if you should be encouraged to come unto Christ and to speak thus unto him, because of any godliness, righteousness, or worthiness, that you conceive to be in you; that, I confess, were proud presumption in you. But to come to Christ, by believing that he will accept of you, justify, and save you freely by his grace, according to his gracious promise, this is neither pride nor presumption:198198It is to believe the offer of the gospel, with particular application; to embrace it, and therein to receive Christ. And no man can ever receive and rest on Christ for salvation, without believing, in greater, or lesser measure, that Christ will accept of him to justification and salvation. Remove that gospel truth, that Christ will accept of him, and his faith has no ground left to stand upon. for Christ having tendered and offered it to you freely, believe it, it is true humility of heart to take what Christ offers you.
Nom. But, by your favour, sir, I pray you give me leave to speak a word by the way. I know my neighbour, Neophytus, it may be, better than you do; yet I do not intend to charge him with any sin, otherwise than by way of supposition: as thus, suppose he has been guilty of the committing of gross and grievous sins, will Christ accept of him, and justify and save him for all that?
Evan. Yes, indeed; for there is no limitation of God's grace in Jesus Christ, except the sin against the Holy Ghost.199199I doubt if the sin against the Holy Ghost can justly be said to be a limitation of God's grace in Jesus Christ. For in the original authentic gospel-offer, in which is the proper place for such a limitation [if there was any] that grace is so laid open to all men without exception, that no man is excluded; but there is free access to it for every man in the way of believing, (John 3:15,16, Rev 22:17); and this offer is sometimes intimated to these reprobates, who fall into that sin, else they should not be capable of it. It is true, that sin is a bar in the way of the guilty, so as they can never partake of the grace of God in Christ; for it shall never be forgiven, (Matt 12:31, Mark 3:29); and any further ministerial application of the offer to them seems to cease to be lawful or warranted, (1 John 5:16). But all this arises from their own willful, obstinate, despiteful, and malicious rejecting of the offer: and fighting against the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to apply the grace of Christ; and not from any limitation, or exclusive clause in the offer, for still it remains true, "Whosoever shall believe, shall not perish." Christ "stands at the door and knocks," (Rev 3:20). And if any murdering Manasseh, or any persecuting and blaspheming Saul, (1 Tim 1:13), or any adulterous Mary Magdalene, "will open unto him, he will come in," and bring comfort with him, "and will sup with him." "Seek from the one end of the heavens to the other," says Hooker; "turn all the Bible over, and see if the words of Christ be not true, 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no ways cast out,'" (John 6:37).
Nom. Why, then, sir, it seems you hold, that the vilest sinner in the world ought not to be discouraged from coming unto Christ, and believing in him, by reason of his sins.
Evan. Surely, if "Christ came into the world to seek, and call, and save sinners, and to justify the ungodly," as you have heard; and if the more sinful, miserable, and distressed a man judge himself to be, the more willing Christ is to receive him and relieve him; then I see no reason why the vilest sinner should be discouraged from believing on the name of Jesus Christ by reason of his sins. Nay, let me say more; the greater any man's sins are, either in number or nature, the more haste he should make to come unto Christ, and to say with David, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great!" (Psa 25:11).
Ant. Surely, sir, if my friend Neophytus did rightly consider these things, and were assuredly persuaded of the truth of them, methinks he should not be so backward from coming to Christ, by believing on his name, as he is; for if the greatness of his sin should be so far from hindering his coming to Christ, that they should further his coming, then I know not what should hinder him.
Evan. You speak very truly indeed. And therefore I beseech you, neighbour Neophytus, consider seriously of it; and neither let your own accusing conscience, nor Satan the accuser of the brethren, hinder you any longer from Christ. For what though they should accuse you of pride, infidelity, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, and hypocrisy? yea, what though they should accuse you of whoredom, theft, drunkenness, and such like? yea, do what they can, they can make no worse a man of you than a sinner, or chief of sinners, or an ungodly person; and so, consequently, such an one Christ came to justify and save; so that in very deed, if you do rightly consider of it, they do you more good than hurt by their accusations.200200Which may put you in mind, that you are one of that sort which "Christ Jesus came into the world to save," (1 Tim 1:15); and in pleading for mercy, may furnish you with such an argument as David used, (Psa 25:11), and the woman of Canaan, (Matt 15:27), "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs," &c. And therefore, I beseech you, in all such cases or conflicts, take the counsel of Luther, who, on the Galatians, [p. 20,] says, "When thy conscience is thoroughly afraid with the remembrance of thy sins past, and the devil assaileth thee with great violence, going about to overwhelm thee with heaps, floods, and whole seas of sins, to terrify thee, and to draw thee from Christ; then arm thyself with such sentences as these: Christ the Son of God was given, not for the holy, righteous, worthy, and such as were his friends; but for the wicked sinners, for the unworthy, and for his enemies. Wherefore, if the devil say, Thou art a sinner, and therefore must be damned; then answer thou, and say, Because thou sayest I am a sinner, therefore will I be righteous and saved. And if he reply, Nay, sinners must be damned; then answer thou, and say, No, for I flee to Christ, who hath given himself for my sins; and, therefore, Satan, in that thou sayest I am a sinner, thou givest me armour and weapons against thyself, that with thine own sword I may cut thy throat, and tread thee under my feet."201201He adds, in the place quoted, these weighty words, "I say not this for nought; for I have often-times proved by experience, and I daily find what an hard matter it is to believe [especially in the conflict of conscience] that Christ was given, not for the holy, righteous, worthy, and such as were his friends; but for wicked sinners, for the unworthy, and for his enemies." And thus you see it is the counsel of Luther, that your sins should rather drive you to Christ than keep you from him.
Nom. But, sir, suppose he hath not as yet truly repented for his many and great sins, hath he any warrant to come unto Christ, by believing, till he has done so?
Evan. I tell you truly, that whatsoever a man is, or whatsoever
he hath done or not done, he hath warrant enough to come unto Christ by
believing, if he can;202202It is not in vain added, "if he can"; for there is, in this matter, a great difference betwixt what a sinner may do, in point
of warrant, and what he will or can do, in point of the event. "If we say to a man, the physician is ready to heal you; before
you will be healed, you must have a sense of your sickness: this sense is not required by the physician [for the physician
is ready to heal him]; but if he be not sick, and have a sense of it, he will not come to the physician." Preston on Faith,
p. 12. I make no question, but before a sinner will come to Christ by believing, he must be an awakened, convinced, sensible
sinner; pricked in his heart with a sense of his sin and misery; made to groan under his burden to despair of relief from
the law, himself, or any other creature, and to desire and thirst after Christ and his righteousness; and this our author
teaches afterwards on this subject. These things also are required of the sinner in point of duty. And, therefore, the law
must be preached by all those who would preach Christ aright. But that these, or any other things in the sinner, are required
to warrant him, that he may come to Christ by believing, is what I conceive the Scripture teaches not; but the general offer
of the gospel, of which before, warrants every man that he may come. And in practice, it will be found, that requiring of
such and such qualifications in sinners to warrant them to believe in Christ, is no great help to them in their way toward
him; forasmuch as it engages them in a doubtful disputation, as to the being, kind, measure, and degree of their qualifications
for coming to Christ; the time spent in which might be better improved in their going forward to Christ for all, by believing.
And since no man can ever believe in Christ, without knowing that he has a warrant for believing in him, otherwise he can
but act presumptuously: to tell sinners, that none may come to Christ, or have warrant to believe, but such as have a true
repentance, must needs, in a special manner, entangle distressed consciences, so as they dare not believe, until they know
their repentance to be true repentance. This must inevitably be the issue in that case; unless they do either reject that
principle, or else venture to believe without seeing their warrant. For, howbeit they hear of Christ and his salvation offered
in the gospel, these will be to them as forbidden fruit, which they are not allowed to touch, till once they are persuaded,
that they have true repentance. And before they can attain to this, it must be made out to their consciences, that their repentance
is not legal but evangelical, having such characters as distinguish it from the repentance of the Ninevites, Judas, and many
reprobates. So that, one would think the suggesting of this principle is but a bad office done to a soul brought to "the place
of the breaking forth of children." Let no man say, that, arguing at this rate, one must know also the truth of his faith,
before he can come to Christ; for faith is not a qualification for coming to Christ, but the coming itself, which will have
its saving effects on the sinner, whether he knows the truth of it or not.
for Christ makes a general proclamation, saying, "Ho, every one
that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come, buy and
eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price." This,
you see, is the condition, "buy wine and milk," that is, grace and
salvation, "without money," that is, without any sufficiency of your own;203203Take them freely, and possess them; which every one sees to be no proper condition.
your ear and hear, and your souls shall live"; yea, live by hearing that "Christ
will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of
Chapter II, Section III, 4
Evangelical repentance a consequent of faith.
Nom. But yet, sir, you see that Christ requires a thirsting, before a man come unto him, the which, I conceive, cannot be without true repentance.
Evan. In the last chapter of the Revelation, verse 17, Christ makes the same general proclamation, saying, "Let him that is athirst come"; and as if the Holy Ghost had so long since answered the same objection that yours is, it follows in the next words, "And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely," even without thirsting, if he will; for "him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out,"204204That gospel-offer, (Isa 55:1), is the most solemn one to be found in all the Old Testament; and that recorded, (Rev 22:17), is the parting offer made to sinners by Jesus Christ, at the closing of the canon of the Scripture, and manifestly looks to the former; in the which I can see no ground to think, that the thirsting therein mentioned does any way restrict the offer; or that the thirsty there invited, are convinced, sensible sinners, who are thirsting after Christ and his righteousness; the which would leave without the compass of this solemn invitation, not only the far greater part of mankind, but even of the visible church. The context seems decisive in this point; for the thirsting ones invited, are such as are "spending money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not," (verse 1,2); but convinced, sensible sinners who are thirsting after Christ and his righteousness, are not spending their labour and money at that rate; but, on the contrary, for that which is bread and satisfieth, namely, for Christ. Wherefore, the thirsting there mentioned, must be more extensive, comprehending, yea, and principally aiming at that thirst after happiness and satisfaction, which, being natural, is common to all mankind. Men pained with this thirst or hunger are naturally running, for quenching thereof, to the empty creation, and their fulsome lusts; so "spending money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not," their hungry souls find no food, but what is meagre and lean, bad and unwholesome, and cannot satisfy their appetite. Compare Luke 15:16. In this wretched case Adam left all mankind, and Christ finds them. Whereupon the gospel proclamation is issued forth, inviting them to come away from the broken cisterns, filthy puddles, to the waters of life, even to Jesus Christ, where they may have bread, fatness, what is good, and will satisfy that their painful thirst, (John 4:14, 6:35). (John 6:37). But because it seems you conceive he ought to repent before he believe, I pray tell me what you do conceive repentance to be, or wherein does it consist?
Nom. Why, I conceive that repentance consists in a man's humbling himself before God, and sorrowing and grieving for offending him by his sins, and in turning from them all to the Lord.
Evan. And would you have a man to do all this truly205205That is, in such a manner as it shall be true evangelical repentance, a gracious humiliation, sorrow and turning, acceptable in the sight of God. This question [grounded on Nomista's pretending that Neophytus had no warrant to believe, unless he had truly repented] supposes that there is a kind of repentance, humiliation, sorrow for sin, and turning from it, which goes before faith, but that they are not "after a godly sort," as the apostle's phrase is, (2 Cor 7:11). before he come to Christ by believing?
Nom. Yea, indeed, I think it is very meet he should.
Evan. Why, then, I tell you truly, you would have him to do that which is impossible.206206I think it nothing strange to find the author so very peremptory in this point, which is of greater weight than many are aware of. True repentance is a turning unto God, a coming back to him again; a returning even unto the Lord, according to an usual Old Testament phrase, found, (Hosea 14:1), and rightly so translated, (Isa 19:22). But no man can come unto God "but by Christ"; (Heb 7:25), "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God BY HIM."—(John 14:6), "No man cometh unto the Father but BY ME." We must take Christ in our way to the Father, else it is impossible that we guilty creatures can reach unto him. and no man can come unto Christ, but by believing in him, (John 6:35), therefore it is impossible that a man can truly repent before he believe in Christ. "Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince [or leader] and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins," (Acts 5:31). One would think this to be a sufficient intimation, that sinners not only may, but ought to go to him for true repentance; and not stand off from him until they get it to bring along with them; especially since repentance, as well as remission of sin, is a part of that salvation, which he as a Saviour is exalted to give, and consequently, which sinners are to receive and rest upon him for; and likewise that it is that by which he, as a leader, doth lead back sinners even unto God, from whom they were led away in the first Adam, the head of the apostasy. And if one inquires anent the way of his giving repentance to Israel, the prophet Zechariah showed it before to be by faith, (Zech 12:10), "And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn."
For, first of all godly humiliation, in true penitents, proceeds from the love of God their good Father, and so from the hatred of that sin which has displeased him; and this cannot be without faith.207207This the Scripture teacheth, determining in the general, that without faith one can do nothing acceptable in the sight of God, (John 15:5), "Without me," i.e. separate from me, "ye can do nothing."—(Heb 11:6), "Without faith it is impossible to please him": and particularly with respect to this case, (Luke 7:37-47), "And behold a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat, stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon: Her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."—It is an argument gathered of the effects following, whereby anything is proved by signs ensuring. Calvin. Inst. lib. 3. cap. 4. sect 37.
Secondly. Sorrow and grief for displeasing God by sin, necessarily argue the love of God; and it is impossible we should ever love God, till by faith we know ourselves loved of God.208208There is a knowledge in faith, as our divines teach against the Papists, and the Scripture maketh manifest. (Isa 53:11), "By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many."—(Heb 11:3), "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Now, saving faith being a persuasion that we shall have life and salvation by Christ, or a receiving and resting on him for salvation, includes in it a knowledge of our being beloved for God: the former cannot be without the latter. In the meantime, such as the strength or weakness of that persuasion is, the steadiness or unsteadiness of that receiving and resting, just so is this knowledge, clear or unclear, free of, or accompanied with doubtings. They are still of the same measure and degree. So that this is no more in effect, but that faith in Christ is the spring of true love to God; the which, how it is attained by a guilty soul, men will the better know, if they consider well what it is. The true love of God is not a love to him only for his benefits, and for our own sake, but a love to him for himself, for his own sake; a liking of, and a complacency in, his glorious attributes and perfections, his infinite, eternal and unchangeable being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. If a convinced sinner is void of any the least measure of persuasion of life and salvation by Christ, and of the love of this God to him; but apprehends, as he cannot miss to do in this case, that he hates him as his enemy, and will prove so at last; this cannot fail of filling his whole soul with slavish fear of God; and how then shall this love of God spring up in one's heart, in such a case? for slavish fear and true love are so opposite the one to the other, that, according to the measure in which the one prevails, the other cannot have access. (2 Tim 1:7), "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind." (1 John 4:18), "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment." But when once life and salvation, and remission of sin, is with application believed by the convinced sinner, and thereby the love of God towards him is known; then, according to the measure of that faith and knowledge, slavish fear of God is expelled, and the heart is kindly drawn to love him, not only for his benefits, but for himself, having a complacency in his glorious perfections. "We love him, because he first loved us," (1 John 4:19). The love of God to us is the inducement of our love to him: but love utterly unknown to the party beloved can never be an inducement to him to love again. Now, in consequence hereof, the sinner's bands are loosed, and his heart, which before was still hard as a stone, though broken in pieces by legal terrors, is broken in another manner, softened, and kindly melted in sorrow for displeasing this gracious God.
Thirdly. No man can turn to God, except he be first turned of God: and after he is turned, he repents; so Ephraim says, "After I was converted, I repented,"209209God's turning of a sinner first brings him to Christ, (John 6:44,45), "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." And then he comes to God by Christ, (John 14:26), "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." (Jer 31:19). The truth is, a repentant sinner first believes that God will do that which he promiseth, namely, pardon his sin, and take away his iniquity; then he rests in the hope of it; and from that, and for it, he leaves sin, and will forsake his old course,210210In a right manner, in the manner immediately after mentioned. because it is displeasing to God; and will do that which is pleasing and acceptable to him.211211Faith cometh of the word of God; hope cometh of faith; and charity springeth of them both. Faith believes that word; hope trusteth after that which is promised by the word; and charity doth good unto her neighbour. Mr. Patrick Hamilton's Articles in Knox's Hist. p. 11. So that, first of all, God's favour is apprehended, and remission of sins believed;212212Not as that they are pardoned already; but that one must so apprehend the favour of God, as to believe that God will pardon his sin, as the author speaks expressly in the premises from whence this conclusion is drawn; or that God doth pardon his sin in the present time. See note, chap. 3, sect. 6. Now, remission of sin is a part of that salvation which faith receives and rests on Christ for. As for the phrase the author uses to express this, it is most agreeable to the Scripture phrase, "Remission of sins preached," (Luke 24:47, Acts 13:38). then upon that cometh alteration of life and conversation.213213Namely, such an alteration as is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, the which he has described in the preceding sentence. Otherwise, he has already taught us, that there are notable alterations of life and conversation which do not proceed from faith; and therefore are not accepted of God. And of these we shall hear more anon. It will not be amiss here to observe how our author, in his account of the relation betwixt faith and repentance, treads in the ancient paths, according to his manner. "It ought to be out of question," says Calvin, "that repentance doth not only immediately follow faith, but also spring out of it. As for them that think that repentance doth rather go before faith, than flow or spring forth of it, as a fruit out of a tree, they never knew the force thereof, and are moved with too weak an argument, to think so. Christ and John, [say they] in their preachings, first exhort the people to repentance, &c. A man cannot earnestly apply himself to repentance, unless he know himself to be of God: but no man is truly persuaded that he is of God, but he that hath first received his grace. No man shall ever reverently fear God, but he that trusteth that God is merciful to him: no man will willingly prepare himself to the keeping of the law, but he that is persuaded that his services please him." Instit. b. 3. chap. 3. sec. 1, 2. "How soon that ever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, which God's elect children receive by true faith, takes possession in the heart of any man, so soon doth he regenerate and renew the same man. So that he begins to hate that which before he loved, and begins to love that which before he hated; and from thence comes that continual battle which is betwixt the flesh and the spirit." Old Confess. art. 13. "Being in Christ, we must be new creatures—so that we must hate and flee that which before we loved and embraced, and we must love and follow that which before we hated and abhorred. All which is impossible to them that have no faith, and have but a dead faith." Mr. John Davidson's Cat. p. 29. "Quest. When I shall ask you then, What is craved of us, after that we are joined to Christ by faith, and made truly righteous in him? ye shall answer. A. We must repent and become new persons, that we may show forth the virtues of him that hath called us." Ibid. p. 35. "What is thy repentance? The effect of this faith, working a sorrow for my sins by-past, and purpose to amend in time to come." Mr. James Melvil's Cat. in his Propine, &c. p. 44. "Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth with grief and hatred of sin, turn from it unto God." Shorter Cat. "M. This is then thy saying, That unto the time that God hath received us to mercy, and regenerated us by his Spirit, we can do nothing but sin; even as an evil tree can bring forth no fruit but that which is evil, (Matt 7:17). C. Even so it is." Calvin's Cat. quest. 117. "He doth receive us into his favour, of his bountiful mercy, through the merits of our Saviour Christ, accounting his righteousness to be ours, and for his sake imputeth not our faults unto us." Ibid. quest. 118. "Quest. What is the first fruit of this union? [namely of union with Christ by faith]. A. A remission of our sins, and imputation of justice. Q. Which is the next fruit of our union with him? A. Our sanctification and regeneration to the image of God." Craig's Cat. q. 24, 25. "Q. What is sanctification? A. Sanctification is a work of God's grace, whereby they are renewed in their whole man, after the image of God, having the seeds of repentance unto life, and of all other saving graces, put into their hearts." Larger Cat. quest. 75. "We would beware of Mr. Baxter's order of setting repentance and works of new obedience before justification, which is indeed a new covenant of works." Rutherford's Influences of the Life of Grace, p. 346.
Nom. But, sir, as I conceive, the Scripture holds forth, that the Lord has appointed repentance to go before faith; for, is it not said, (Mark 1:15), "Repent and believe the gospel"?
Evan. To the intent that you may have a true and satisfactory answer to this your objection, I would pray you to consider two things:
First. That the word "repent" in the original, signifies a change of our minds from false ways, to the right, and of our hearts from evil to good: 214214This is taken word for word out of the English Annotations of Matthew 3:2; which are cited for it by our author under the name of the Last Annotations, because they were printed in the year 1645, about which time this book also was first published. How the author applies it, will appear anon. and as that son in the gospel said, "He would not go" work in his father's vineyard: yet afterwards says the text, "he repented and went," (Matt 21:29): that is, he changed his mind and went.
Secondly. That in those days, when John the Baptist and our Saviour preached, their hearers were most of them erroneous in their minds and judgments; for they being leavened with the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, of which our Saviour bade his disciples take heed and beware, (Matt 16:6,12), the most of them were of opinion, that the Messiah whom they looked for should be some great and mighty monarch, who should deliver them from their temporal bondage, as I showed before. And many of them were of the opinion of the Pharisees, who held, that as an outward conformity to the letter of the law was sufficient to gain favour and estimation from men, so it was sufficient for their justification and acceptation before God, and so, consequently, to bring them to heaven and eternal happiness; and, therefore, for these ends, they were very diligent in fasting and prayer, (Luke 18:12-14), and very careful to pay tithes of mint, anise, and cummin, and yet did omit the weightier matters of the law, as judgment, mercy, faith, and the love of God, (Matt 23:23, Luke 11:42). And so, as our Saviour told them, (Matt 23:25), "they made clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter, but within they were full of extortion and excess."
And divers of them were of the opinion of the Sadducees, (Acts 23:8), who held "that there was no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit"; and so had all their hopes and comfort in the things of this life, not believing any other.
Now our Saviour, preaching to these people, said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel." As if he had said, The time set by the prophets for the manifestation of the Messiah is fully come; and his kingdom, which is a spiritual and heavenly kingdom, is at hand; therefore change your minds from false ways to right, and your hearts from evil to good;215215The word rendered repent, is, "To change one's mind, and to lay aside false opinions, which they had drunk in, whether from the Pharisees, concerning the righteousness of works, traditions, worship, &c.; or from the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection," &c. Lucus Brugensis, apud Pol. Synop. Crit. in Matthew 3:2. and do not any longer imagine, that the Messiah you look for, shall be one that shall save and deliver you from your temporal enemies; but from your spiritual, that is, from your sins, and from the wrath of God, and from eternal damnation; and therefore put your confidence no longer in your own righteousness, though you walk never so exactly according to the letter of the law; but believe the glad tidings that are now brought to you, namely, that the Messiah shall save you from sin, wrath, the devil, and hell, and bring you to eternal life and glory. Neither let any of you any longer imagine, that there is to be no resurrection of the dead, and so have your hopes only in this life: but believe these glad tidings, that are now brought unto you, concerning the Messiah; and he shall raise you up at the last day, and give you an eternal life. Now, with submission to better judgments, I do conceive, that if there be in the book of God any repentance exhorted unto, before faith in Christ; or if any repentance go, either in order of nature or time, before faith in Christ, it is only such a like repentance as this.216216That the reader may further see how little weight there is in the objection raised from Mark 1:15, I subjoin the words of two learned commentators on the text. "Repent ye, turn from the wickedness of your ways and believe. There is a repentance that must go before faith, that is, the applicative of the promise of pardoning mercy to the soul; though true evangelical repentance, which is a sorrow for sin, flowing from the sense of the love of God in Christ, be the fruit and effect of faith." Contin. of Poole's Annot. on the place.—"Faith or believing, in order of the work of grace, is before repentance, that being the first and mother grace of all others; yet is here and in other places, named the latter: first, because though faith be first wrought, yet repentance is first seen and evidenced," &c. Lightfoot's Harmony, part 3. p. 164. 4to.
Nom. But, sir, do you think that there is such a like repentance, that goes before faith in Christ, in men now-a-days?
Evan. Yea, indeed, I think there is. As, for example, when a profane sensual man [who lives as though, with the Sadducees, he did not believe any resurrection of the dead, neither hell nor heaven] is convinced in his conscience, that if he go on in making a god of his belly, and in minding only earthly things, his end shall be damnation; sometimes such a man thereupon changes his mind, and of a profane man, becomes a strict Pharisee, or [as some call him] a legal professor; but being convinced, that all his own righteousness will avail him nothing, in the case of justification, and that it is only the righteousness of Jesus Christ that is available in that case, then he changes his mind, and, with the apostle, "desires to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God through faith," (Phil 3:9). Now I conceive, that a man that does this, changes his mind from false ways to the right way, and his heart from evil to good; and so, consequently, doth truly repent.217217That is, his repentance is true in its kind, though not saving. There is a change of his mind and heart, in that, upon a conviction, he turns from profanity to strictness of life, and upon farther conviction, from a conceit of his own righteousness to a desire after the righteousness of Christ: nevertheless, all this is but selfish, and cannot please God while the man is void of faith, (Heb 11:6).
Nom. But, sir, do not you hold, that although repentance, according to my definition, goes not before faith in Christ, yet it follows after?
Evan. Yes, indeed; I hold, that although it go not before as an antecedent of faith, yet it follows as a consequent. For when a man believes the love of God to him in Christ, then he loves God because he loved him first; and that love constrains him to humble himself at the Lord's footstool, and to acknowledge himself to be less than the least of all his mercies; yea, and then will he "remember his own evil ways and doings, that were not good, and will loathe himself in his own sight for his iniquities, and for his abominations," (Eze 36:31); yea, and then will he also cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, having respect unto all God's commandments, (2 Cor 7:1, Psa 119:6).
Nom. Well, sir, I am answered.
Chapter II, Section III, 5
The spiritual marriage with Jesus Christ.
Neo. And truly, sir you have so declared and set forth Christ's disposition towards poor sinners, and so answered all my doubts and objections, that I am now verily persuaded that Christ is willing to entertain me; and surely I am willing to come unto him, and receive him; but, alas! I want power.
Evan. But tell me truly, are you resolved to put forth all your power to believe, and so to take Christ?218218His conviction of his lost and undone state was before represented in its proper place. After much disputing whether such a vile and sinful wretch as he had any warrant to come to Christ, he appears, in his immediately foregoing speech, to be so far enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, that he is verily persuaded that Christ is willing to entertain him; and to have his heart and will so overcome by divine grace, that he is willing to come unto Christ: yet, after all, he, through weakness of judgment, apprehends himself to want power to believe; whereas it is by these very means that a soul is persuaded, and enabled too, to believe in Jesus Christ. Hereupon the author, waving the dispute anent his power to believe, wisely asks him, If he is resolved to put forth the power he has? forasmuch as it was evident from the account given of the present condition of his soul that it had felt "a day of power," (Psa 110:3), and that he was "drawn of the Father, and, therefore, could come to Christ," (John 6:44). For "effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ." Shorter Catechism.—"Savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they are hereby made willing and able." Larg. Cat. quest. 67.
Neo. Truly, sir, methinks my resolution is much like the resolution of the four lepers, who sat at the gate of Samaria; for as they said, "If we enter into the city, the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit still here, we die also; now, therefore, let us fall unto the host of the Syrians; if they save us, we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but die," (2 Kings 7:4); even so say I in mine heart, If I go back to the covenant of works to seek justification thereby, I shall die there; and if I sit still and seek it no way, I shall die also; now, therefore, though I be somewhat fearful, yet am I resolved to go unto Christ; and if I perish, I perish.219219See the foregoing note. This is the concluding point in this matter; the man being drawn by efficacious grace, though he is not without doubts and fears as to the event, yet is no more in doubt, whether to embrace the offer or not. And the inward motion of his heart breaking through the remaining doubts and fears, after a long struggle, unto Jesus Christ, in the free promise, being in itself indiscernible, but to God and one's own soul, it is agreeably enough to one's way in that case: discovered in that expression of a conquered soul, Now am I resolved to go unto Christ, now am I determined to believe; the which cannot but present to him who deals with the exercised person, the whole soul going out unto Jesus Christ. Hence the match may justly thereupon be declared to be made, as our author does in the words immediately following. Thus Job, in his distress, expresseth his faith, (Job 13:15), "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." Compare (Acts 11:33), "That with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord."
Evan. Why, now I tell you the match is made; Christ is yours,220220In possession. and you are his, "this day is salvation come to your house," [your soul I mean:] for, what though you have not that power to come so fast to Christ, and lay such firm hold on him, as you desire; yet coming with such a resolution to take Christ, as you do, you need not care for power to do it, inasmuch as Christ will enable you to do it;221221That is, you need not, holding back your hand, stand disputing with yourself how you will get power; but with the power given, stretch forth the withered hand, and Christ will strengthen it, and enable you to take a firm hold. (John 12:32), "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."—(Isa 40:29), "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." for is it not said, (John 1:12), "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name?"222222The power here mentioned, seems rather to denote right or privilege [as the original word is rendered in the margin of our Bibles] than strength or ability. O therefore, I beseech you, stand no longer disputing; but be peremptory and resolute in your faith, and in casting yourself upon God in Christ for mercy; and let the issue be what it will. Yet let me tell you, to your comfort, that such a resolution shall never go to hell. Nay, I will say more; if any soul have room in heaven, such a soul shall; for God cannot find in his heart to damn such a one. I might, then, with as much true confidence say unto you, as John Careless said to John Bradford, in a letter to him, "Hearken, O heavens, and thou O earth, give ear, and bear me witness, at the great day, that I do here faithfully and truly declare the Lord's message unto his dear servant and singularly beloved John Bradford, saying, 'John Bradford, thou man so specially beloved of God, I do pronounce and testify unto thee, in the word and name of the Lord Jehovah, that all thy sins whatsoever they be, though never so many, grievous, or great, be fully and freely pardoned, released, and forgiven thee, by the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, the only Lord and sweet Saviour, in whom thou dost undoubtedly believe; as truly as the Lord liveth, he will not have thee die the death; but hath verily purposed, determined, and decreed, that thou shalt live with him for ever.'"
Neo. O, sir, if I have as good warrant to apply this saying to myself as Mr. Bradford had to himself, then I am a happy man!
Evan. I tell you from Christ, and under the hand of the Spirit, that your person is accepted, your sins are done away, and you shall be saved; and if an angel from heaven should tell you otherwise, let him be accursed. Therefore, you may [without doubt] conclude that you are a happy man; for by means of this your matching with Christ, you are become one with him, and one in him, you "dwell in him, and he in you," (1 John 4:13). He is "your well beloved, and you are his," (Cant 2:16). So that the marriage union betwixt Christ and you is more than a bare notion or apprehension of your mind; for it is a special, spiritual, and real union: it is an union betwixt the nature of Christ, God and man, and you;223223That is, an union with the whole Christ, God-Man; (1 Cor 6:17), "He that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit."—(Eph 5:38), "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." it is a knitting and closing, not only of your apprehension with a Saviour, but also of your soul with a Saviour. Whence it must needs follow that you cannot be condemned, except Christ be condemned with you; neither can Christ be saved, except you be saved with him.224224Jesus Christ and the believer, being one person in the eye of the law, there is no separating of them in law, in point of life and death. (John 14:19), "Because I live, ye shall live also." I have adventured this once to add one syllable to the text of the author; and so to read "condemned" for "damned." The words are of the same signification; only, the latter has an idea of horror affixed to it, which the former has not; and which perhaps it had not either, in the days of our forefathers, when godly Tindal used the expression, as our author informs us. And I take this liberty, the rather that a like expression of John Careless, in a letter to William Tyms, seems to me to run more smooth, by means of the same addition, though I doubt if the word stood so in the original copy. "Christ," says he, "is made unto us holiness, righteousness, and justification; he hath clothed us in all his merits and taken to himself all our sin—so that, if any should be now condemned for the same, it must needs be Jesus Christ, who hath taken them upon him." The Sufferer's Mirror, p. 66. And in the Old Confession of Faith, art. 9, according to the ancient copies, it is said, "The clean, innocent Lamb of God was damned in the presence of an earthly judge, that we should be absolved before the tribunal seat of our God." But in the copy standing in Knox's History, reprinted at Edinburgh, anno 1644, it is read "condemned." And as by means of corporeal marriage all things become common betwixt man and wife; even so, by means of this spiritual marriage, all things become common betwixt Christ and you; for when Christ hath married his spouse unto himself, he passeth over all his estate unto her; so that whatsoever Christ is or hath, you may boldly challenge as your own. "He is made unto you, of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," (1 Cor 1:30). And surely, by virtue of this near union it is, that as Christ is called "the Lord our righteousness," (Jer 33:6), even so is the church called, "the Lord our righteousness," (verse 16). I tell you, you may, by virtue of this union, boldly take upon yourself, as your own, Christ's watching, abstinence, travails, prayers, persecutions, and slanders; yea, his tears, his sweat, his blood, and all that ever he did and suffered in the space of three and thirty years, with his passion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension; for they are all yours. And as Christ passes over all his estate unto his spouse, so does he require that she should pass over all unto him. Wherefore, you being now married unto Christ, you must give all that you have of your own unto him; and truly you have nothing of your own but sin, and, therefore, you must give him that. I beseech you, then, say unto Christ with bold confidence, I give unto thee, my dear husband, my unbelief, my mistrust, my pride, my arrogancy, my ambition, my wrath, and anger, my envy, my covetousness, my evil thoughts, affections, and desires; I make one bundle of these and all my other offences, and give them unto thee.225225This gift would indeed be a very unsuitable return, for all the benefits received from Christ by virtue of the spiritual marriage, if he did not deal with us in the way of free grace; like unto a physician who desires nothing of a poor man full of sores, but that he will employ him in the cure of them. But this gift, such as it is, as it is all we have of our own to give, so one needs make no question but it will be very acceptable, (Psa 55:22), "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee"; not only thy burden of duty, suffering, and success, but of sin too, wherewith thou art heavy laden, (Matt 11:28). We are allowed, not only to give him our burden, but to cast it upon him. He knows very well that all these evils mentioned, and many more, are in the heart of the best: yet doth he say, (Prov 23:26), "My son, give me thine heart"; notwithstanding of the wretched stuff he knows to be in it. In the language of the Holy Ghost, these things, black as they are, are a gift by divine appointment to be given, (Lev 16:21): speaking of the scape-goat, an eminent type of Christ, he says, "And Aaron shall confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, and all their sins: and he shall give them upon the head of the goat." Thus the original expresses what we read, "putting them," &c. Now, the end for which the sinner is to give these to Christ is twofold: (1.) For removing of the guilt of them. (2.) For the mortifying of them. And though this is not an easy way of mortification, since the way of believing is not easy, but more difficult than all the Popish austerities, forasmuch as these last are more agreeable to nature, yet indeed it is the short way to mortification, because it is the only way; without which, the practice of all other directions will be but as so many ciphers, without a figure standing at their head, signifying nothing, for true Christian mortification. (Acts 15:9), "Purifying their hearts by faith."—(Rom 6:6), "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him." And (8:13), "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."—(Gal 5:24), "And they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts; namely, nailing them to the cross of Christ by faith." And thus was Christ made "sin for us, that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,"226226Thus, namely, by the giving of our sins to him, not by believers, but by his Father, as says the text, "He [not we] made him to be sin for us." Nevertheless, the Lord's laying our iniquities upon Christ is good warrant for every believer to give his sins in particular upon him; the latter being a cordial falling in with, a practical approbation, and taking the benefit of the former. (2 Cor 5:21). "Now then," says Luther, "let us compare these things together, and we shall find inestimable treasure. Christ is full of grace, life, and saving health; and the soul is freight-full of all sin, death, and damnation; but let faith come betwixt these two, and it shall come to pass, that Christ shall be laden with sin, death, and hell; and unto the soul shall be imputed grace, life, and salvation. Who then is able to value the royalty of this marriage accordingly? Who is able to comprehend the glorious riches of his grace, where this rich and righteous husband, Christ, doth take unto wife this poor and wicked harlot, redeeming her from all devils, and garnishing her with all his own jewels? So that you, through the assuredness of your faith in Christ, your husband, are delivered from all sins, made safe from death, guarded from hell, and endowed with the everlasting righteousness, life, and saving health of this your husband Christ." And, therefore, you are now under the covenant of grace, and freed from the law, as it is the covenant of works; for [as Mr. Ball truly says] at one and the same time, a man cannot be under the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.
Neo. Sir, I do not well know how to conceive of this freedom from the law, as it is the covenant of works; and therefore I pray you make it as plain to me as you can.
Evan. For the true and clear understanding of this point, you
are to consider, that when Jesus Christ, the second Adam, had, in the behalf of his
chosen, perfectly fulfilled the law as it is the covenant of works;227227Namely, by doing perfectly what it demanded to be done, by virtue of its commanding power, and suffering completely what it
demanded to be borne, by virtue of its condemning power.
justice delivered that bond in to Christ, who utterly cancelled that hand-writing, (Col
2:14); so that none of his chosen were to have any more to do with it, nor it
with them. And now, you, by your believing in Christ, having manifested that
you are one, who was chosen in him "before the foundation of the world," (Eph
1:4), his fulfilling of that covenant, and cancelling that hand-writing, is imputed unto
you; and so you are acquitted and absolved from all your transgressions against
that covenant, either past, present or to come;228228Although believers in the first moment of their union with Christ by faith, are delivered from the law, as it is the covenant
of works, and therefore their after sins neither are, nor can be, formally transgressions of that covenant; yet they are interpretatively
so, giving a plain proof of what they would have done against that covenant, had they been under it still. And forasmuch as
they could never have been freed from it, had not the glorious Mediator wrought their deliverance, by fulfilling it in their
room and stead; all their sins whatsoever, from their birth to their death, after as well as before their union with Christ,
were charged upon him, as transgressions against that covenant; and such as are pardoned to them in their justification. Even
as he who redeems a slave must pay in proportion to the service which it is supposed he would have done his master during
life; and the slave is loosed from all obligation to these several pieces of service unto that master, upon the ransom paid,
in compensation of all and every one of them. And thus our author says, that a believer, in his justification, is acquitted
from all his transgressions against the covenant of works, not only past and present, but to come. So that he leaves no ground
to question, but Christ satisfied for all the sins of believers whatsoever, whether in their state of regeneracy or unregeneracy.
Nor does he make the least insinuation, that the sins of believers, after their union with Christ, are not properly transgressions
of that law which was [yea, and to unbelievers still is] in the covenant of works: but, on the contrary, expressly teaches,
that it is the very same law of the ten commands which is the law of Christ, and which the believer transgresseth, that was
and is in the covenant of works. And although the revenging wrath of God and eternal death are not threatened against the
sins of believers after their union with Christ; and that for this one reason, That that wrath and that death [the eternity
whereof rose not from the nature of the thing, but the infirmity of the sufferer, and therefore could have no place in the
Son of God] were not only threatened before, but executed too upon their surety Jesus Christ, to whom they are united: it
is manifest, that there was great need of Christ's being made a curse for these sins of believers, as well as for those preceding
their union with him.
and so you are justified, as
the apostle says, "freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus
Christ," (Rom 3:24).
Chapter II, Section III, 6
Justification before faith, refuted.
Ant. I pray you, sir, give me leave to speak a word by the way; was not he justified before this time?
Evan. If he did not believe in Christ before this time, as I conceive he did not, then certainly he was not justified before this time.
Ant. But, sir, you know, as the apostle says, "It is God that justifieth; and God is eternal; and, as you have shown, Christ may be said to have fulfilled the covenant of works from all eternity, and if he be Christ's now, then was he Christ's from all eternity." And therefore, as I conceive, he was justified from all eternity.
Evan. Indeed, God is from all eternity, and in respect of God's
accepting of Christ's undertaking to fulfil the covenant of works, he
fulfilled it from all eternity: and in respect of God's electing of him, he was Christ's from
all eternity. And therefore it is true, in respect of God's decree, he was
justified from all eternity;229229 "The sentence of justification was, as it were,
conceived in the mind of God by the decree of justifying, (Gal 3:8), 'The Scripture
foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith.'" Ames. Med. cap. 37,
sec. 9,—"In which sense grace is said to be given us in Christ before the
world began." (2 Tim 1:9) Turret. loc. 16. q. 9. th. 11.—"Sins
were pardoned from eternity in the mind of God." Rutherford's Exer. Apolog. 110:1, cap. 2. sec. 21. p.
53. The same Rutherford adds, "It is one thing for a man to be justified in
Christ, and that from eternity: and another for a man to be justified in Christ in
time, according to the gospel-covenant. Faith is not so much as the instrument of
eternal and immanent justification and remission of sins." Ibid. p. 55.
and he was justified meritoriously in the death and resurrection
of Christ;230230 "Justification may be considered as to the execution
of it in time; and that again, either as to the purchase of it, which was made by
the death of Christ on the cross, concerning which it is said, (Rom 5:9,10), 'That
we are justified and reconciled to God by the blood of Christ; and that Christ
reconciled all things unto God by the blood of the cross,' (Col 1:20). And elsewhere,
Christ is said to be 'raised again for our justification,' (Rom 4:25). Because, as in
him dying, we died, so in him raised again and justified, we are justified; that is,
we have a certain and undoubted pledge and foundation of our justification. Or as to
the application of it," &c. Turret. ubi sup. "The sentence of justification was
pronounced in Christ our head, risen from the dead," (2 Cor 5:19). Ames, ubi sup.â€”"We were virtually justified, especially when Christ having finished the purchase of our salvation, was
justified, and we in him as our head," (1 Tim 3:16, 2 Cor 5:19). Essen. Comp. cap. 15, sec. 25.
but yet he was not justified actually, till he did actually believe
in Christ; for, says the apostle, (Acts 13:39), "By him all that believe are justified."231231 "Actual justification is done in time, and follows faith." Turret. loc. 16. q. 9. th. 3.â€”"Justification is done formally
when an elect man, effectually called, and so apprehended of Christ, apprehends Christ again," (Rom 8:30). Essen. ubi supra.â€”"The sentence of justification is pronounced virtually from that first relation which ariseth from
faith," (Rom 8:1). Ames. ubi supra.
Upon the whole, it is evident our author keeps the path trodden by orthodox divines on the subject; and though, in order to answer the objections of his adversary, he uses the school terms, of being justified in respect of God's decree, meritoriously, and actually, agreeably to the practice of other sound divines; yet otherwise he begins and ends his decision of this controversy, by asserting in plain and simple terms, without any distinction at all, "That a man is not justified before he believes, or without faith." So his answer amounts just to this, "That God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them." Westm. Confess. cap. 11. art. 4. So that in the act of justifying, faith and Christ must have a mutual relation, and must always concur and meet together; faith as the action which apprehendeth, and Christ the object which is apprehended; for neither doth Christ justify without faith, neither doth faith, except it be in Christ.
Ant. Truly, sir, you have indifferently well satisfied me in this point; and surely I like it marvellously well, that you conclude no faith justifies, but that whose object is Christ.
Evan. The very truth is, though a man believe that God is merciful and true to his promise, and that he has his elect number from the beginning, and that he himself is one of that number, yet if this faith do not eye Christ, if it be not in God as he is in Christ, it will not serve the turn: for God cannot be comfortably thought upon out of Christ our Mediator; "for if we find not God in Christ," says Calvin, Instit. p. 155, "salvation cannot be known." Wherefore, Neophytus, I will say unto you, as Mr. Bradford said unto a gentlewoman in your case, "Thus, then, if you would be quiet, and certain in conscience, then let your faith burst forth through all things, not only that you have within you, but also whatsoever is in heaven, earth, and hell; and never rest until it come to Christ crucified, and the eternal sweet mercy and goodness of God in Christ."
Chapter II, Section II, 7
Believers freed from the commanding and condemning power of the covenant of works.
Neo. But, sir, I am not satisfied concerning the point you touched before; and therefore, I pray you, proceed to show me how far forth I am delivered from the law, as it is the covenant of works.
Evan. Truly, as it is the covenant of works, you are wholly and altogether delivered and set free from it; you are dead to it, and it is dead to you; and if it be dead to you, then it can do you neither good nor hurt; and if you be dead to it, you can expect neither good nor hurt from it.232232Concerning the deliverance from the law, which, according to the Scripture, is the privilege of believers purchased unto them by Jesus Christ, there are two opinions equally contrary to the word of God, and to one another. The one of the Legalist, That believers are under the law, even as it is the covenant of works; the other of the Antinomian, That believers are not at all under the law, no, not as it is a rule of life. Betwixt these extremes, both of them destructive of true holiness and gospel-obedience, our author, with other orthodox divines, holds the middle path; asserting [and in the proper place proving] that believers are under the law, as a rule of life, but free from it as it is the covenant of works. To be delivered from the law as it is the covenant of works, is no more but to be delivered from the covenant of works. And the asserting, that believers are delivered from the law as it is the covenant of works, doth necessarily import, that they are under the law, in some other respects thereto contra- distinguished. And forasmuch as the author teaches, that believers are under the law, as it is the law of Christ, and a rule of life to them, it is reasonable to conclude that to be it. He must needs, under the term, "the covenant of works," understand and comprehend the law of the ten commandments; because no man, understanding what the covenant of works is, can speak of it, but he must, under that term, understand and comprehend the ten commandments, even as none can speak of a man, with knowledge of a sense of that word, but under that term must understand and comprehend an organic body, as well as a soul. But it is manifest, that the law of the ten commandments, without the form of the covenant of works upon it, is not the thing he understands by that term, "the covenant of works." Neither is the form of the covenant of works [which is no more the covenant itself, than the soul without the body is the man] essential to the ten commandments, so that they cannot be without it. If it be said, that the author, by the covenant of works, understands the moral law, as it is defined, [Larg. Cat. q. 92,] it is granted; but then it amounts to no more, but that, by the covenant of works, he understands the covenant of works; for by the moral law there, is understood the covenant of works, as has been already evinced. The doctrine of believers' freedom from the covenant of works, or from the law as that covenant, is of the greatest importance, and is expressly taught. [Larg. Cat. q. 97.] "they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law, as a covenant of works," (Rom 6:14, 7:4,6, Gal 4:4,5) West. confess. chap. 19, art. 6.—"True believers be not under the law as a covenant of works." To these I subjoin one testimony, from the Prac. Use of Saving Knowledge, tit. "For Strengthening the Man's Faith," &c. Romans 7, fig. 3, "Albeit the apostle himself [brought in here for example's cause] and all other true believers in Christ, be by nature under the law of sin and death, or under the covenant of works; [called the law of sin and death, because it bindeth sin and death upon us, till Christ set us free;] yet the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the covenant of grace, [so called because it doth enable and quicken a man to a spiritual life through Christ,] doth set the apostle, and all true believers, free from the covenant of works, or the law of sin and death." See more, ibid. fig. 4. As also tit. "For convincing a man of Judgment by the Law," par. 2, and last. And tit. "Evidences of true Faith." And tit. "For the First," &c. fig. 4. Now, delivering from a covenant being the dissolution of a relation which admits not of degrees, believers being delivered from the covenant of works, must be wholly and altogether set free from it. This appears also from the believers' being dead to it, and it dead to him, of which before at large. There is a twofold death competent to a believer with respect to the law, as it is the covenant of works; and so to the law as such, with respect to the believer. (1.) The believer is dead to it really, and in point of duty, while he carries himself as one who is dead to it. And this I take to be comprehended in that saying of the apostle, (Gal 2:19), "I through the law am dead to the law." In the best of the children of God here, there are such remains of the legal disposition and inclination of heart to the way of the covenant of works, that as they are never quite free of it in their best duties, so at sometimes their services smell so rank of it, as if they were alive to the law, and still dead to Christ. And sometimes the Lord for their correction, trial, and exercise of faith, suffers the ghost of the dead husband, the law, as a covenant of works, to come in upon their souls and make demands on them, command, threaten, and affright them, as if they were alive to it, and it to them. And it is one of the hardest pieces of practical religion, to be dead to the law in such cases. This death to it admits of degrees, is not alike in all believers, and is perfect in none till the death of the body. But of this kind of death to the law, the question proceeds not here. (2.) The believer is dead to it relatively, and in point of privilege; the relation betwixt him and it is dissolved, even as the relation between a husband and wife is dissolved by death; (Rom 7:4), "Wherefore, my brethren ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another." This can admit of no degrees, but it is perfect in all believers; so that they are wholly and altogether set free from it, in point of privilege, upon which the question here proceeds, and in this respect they can expect neither good nor hurt from it. Consider, man, I pray you, that, as I said before, you are now under another covenant, viz: the covenant of grace; and you cannot be under two covenants at once, neither wholly nor partly; and, therefore, as, before you believed, you were wholly under the covenant of works, as Adam left both you and all his posterity after his fall; so now, since you have believed, you are wholly under the covenant of grace. Assure yourself then, that no minister, or preacher of God's word has any warrant to say unto you hereafter, "Either do this and this duty contained in the law, and avoid this and this sin forbidden in the law, and God will justify thee and save thy soul: or do it not, and he will condemn thee and damn thee."233233"Believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned." Westm. Confess. chap. 19. art. 6. No, no, you are now set free both from the commanding and condemning power of the covenant of works.234234From the general conclusion already laid down and proved, namely, That believers are wholly and altogether set free from the covenant of works, or from the law as it is that covenant, this necessarily follows. But to consider particulars, for further clearing of this weighty point, (1.) That the covenant of works hath no power to justify a sinner, in regard to his utter inability to pay the penalty, and to fulfil the condition of it, is clear from the apostle's testimony, (Rom 8:3), "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son," &c. (2.) That the believer is not under the condemning power of it, appears from Galatians 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."—(Rom 8:1), "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."—(verse 33,34), "It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?" (3.) As to its commanding power, believers are not under it neither; for, 1. Its commanding and condemning power, in case of transgression, are inseparable; for by the sentence of that covenant, every breaker of its commands is bound over to death; (Gal 3:10), "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."—"And whatsoever it saith, it saith to them that are under it," (Rom 3:19), Therefore, if believers are under its commanding power, they must needs be under its condemning power, yea, and actually bound over to death; forasmuch as they are, without question, breakers of its commands, if they be indeed under its commanding power. 2. If, as to any set of men, the justifying and condemning power be removed from that law which God gave to Adam as a covenant of works, and to all mankind in him, then the covenant form of that law is done away as to them; so that there is not a covenant of works in being unto them, to have a commanding power over them; but such is the case of believers, that law can neither justify them, nor condemn them; therefore, there is no covenant of works in being betwixt God and them, to have a commanding power over them; our Lord Jesus "blotted out the hand-writing, took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross," (Col 2:14). 3. Believers are dead to the law, as it is the covenant of works, and "married to another," (Rom 7:4). Therefore they are set free from the commanding power of the first husband, the covenant of works. 4. They are not under it; (Rom 6:14), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace": how then can it have a commanding power over them? 5. The consideration of the nature of the commands of the covenant of works may sufficiently clear this point. Its commands bind to perfect obedience, under the pain of the curse, which, on every slip, is bound upon the transgressor; (Gal 3:10), "Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things," &c. But Christ hath redeemed believers from the curse, (verse 13), and the law they are under speaks in softer terms, (Psa 89:31,32), "If they break my statutes, then will I visit their transgression with the rod," &c. Moreover, it commands obedience upon the ground of the strength to perform, given to mankind in Adam, which is now gone, and affords no new strength; for there is no promise of strength for duty belonging to the covenant of works: and to state believers under the covenant of works, to receive commands for their duty, and under the covenant of grace, for the promise of strength to perform, looks very unlike to the beautiful order of the dispensation of grace, held forth to us in the word; (Rom 6:14), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace." Lastly. Our Lord Jesus put himself under the commanding power of the covenant of works, and gave it perfect obedience, to deliver his people from under it; (Gal 4:4,5), "God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." That they then should put their necks under that yoke again, cannot but be highly dishonouring "to this crucified Christ, who disarmed the law of its thunders, defaced the obligation of it as a covenant, and, as it were, grinded the stones upon which it was wrought to powder." Charnock, vol. 2. q. 531. So that I will say unto you, as the apostle says unto the believing Hebrews, (Heb 12:18,22,24), "Ye are not come to Mount Sinai that might be touched, and that burned with fire; nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest; but ye are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God: and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." So that [to speak with holy reverence] God cannot, by virtue of the covenant of works, either require of you any obedience, or punish you for any disobedience; no, he cannot, by virtue of that covenant, so much as threaten you, or give you an angry word, or show you an angry look; for indeed he can see no sin in you, as a transgression of that covenant; for, says the apostle, "Where there is no law, there is no transgression," (Rom 4:15). 235235And therefore since there is no covenant of works [or law of works, as it is called, (Rom 3:27),] betwixt God and the believer, it is manifest there can be no transgressing of it, in their case. God requires obedience of believers, and not only threatens them, gives them angry words and looks, but brings heavy judgments on them for their disobedience; but the promise of strength, and penalty of fatherly wrath only, annexed to the commands requiring obedience of them, and the anger of God against them, purged of the curse, do evidently discover, that none of these come to them, in the channel of the covenant of works. And therefore, though hereafter you do through frailty transgress any of all the ten commandments,236236And though all the sins of believers are not sins of daily infirmity, yet they are all sins of frailty; (Gal 5:17), "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would";—(Rom 7:19), "The evil which I would not, that I do." See chapter 5:15, 17, and 6:12. yet do you not thereby transgress the covenant of works: there is no such covenant now betwixt God and you.237237Thus far of the believer's complete deliverance from the covenant of works, or from the law, namely, as it is the covenant of works. Follows the practical use to be made of it by the believer. And, 1. In hearing of the word.
And therefore, though hereafter you shall hear such a voice as this, "If thou wilt be saved, keep the commandments"; or "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them"; nay, though you hear the voice of thunder and a fearful noise; nay, though you see blackness and darkness, and feel a great tempest; that is to say, though you hear us that are preachers, according to our commission, (Isa 58:1), "lift up our voice like a trumpet," in threatening hell and damnation to sinners and transgressors of the law; though these be the words of God, yet are you not to think that they are spoken to you.238238Though they are God's own sayings, found in his written word, and spoken by his servants, as having commission from him for that effect; yet, forasmuch as they are the language of the law, as it is the covenant of works, they are directed only to those who are under that covenant, (Rom 3:19), and not to believers, who are not under it. No, no; the apostle assures you that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, (Rom 8:1). Believe it, God never threatens eternal death, after he has given to a man eternal life.239239And to believers he hath given eternal life already, according to the Scripture. Nay, the truth is, God never speaks to a believer out of Christ; and in Christ he speaks not a word in the terms of the covenant of works.240240Follows, II. The use of it, in conflicts of conscience with the law in its demands, sin in its guilt, Satan in his accusations, death in its terrors. And if the law, of itself, should presume to come into your conscience, and say, "Herein and herein thou hast transgressed, and broken me, and therefore thou owest so much and so much to divine justice, which must be satisfied, or else I will take hold on thee"; then answer you and say, "O law! be it known unto thee, that I am now married unto Christ, and so I am under covert; and therefore if thou charge me with any debt, thou must enter thine action against my husband, Christ, for the wife is not sueable at the law, but the husband. But the truth is, I through him am dead to thee, O law! and thou art dead to me; and therefore Justice hath nothing to do with me, for it judgeth according to the law."241241He begins with the conflict with the law; for, as the apostle teaches, "the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law," (1 Cor 15:56). While the law retains its power over a man, death has its sting, and sin its strength against him; but if once he is dead to the law, wholly and altogether set free from it, as it is the covenant of works; then sin hath lost its strength, death its sting, and Satan his plea against him. That the author still speaks of the law as it is the covenant of works, from the commanding and condemning power of which believers are delivered, and no otherwise, cannot reasonably be questioned, since he is still pursuing the practical use of the doctrine anent it as such; and having before spoken of it as acting by commission from God he treats of it here, as acting, as it were, of its own proper motion, and not by any such commission. To those who are under the law, the law speaks its demands and terrors, as sent from God: but to believers, who are not under it, it cannot so speak, but of itself. (Rom 8:15), "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear." Now, in the conflict the believer has with the law or covenant of works, the author puts two cases; in which the conscience needs to be soundly directed, as in cases of the utmost weight. The first case is this, The law attempting to exercise its condemning power over him, accusing him of transgression, demands of him satisfaction to the justice of God for his sin, and threatens to hale him to execution. In this case, the author dare not advise the afflicted to say, with the servant in the parable, (Matt 18:26), "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all"; but he teaches him to devolve his burden wholly upon his surety: he bids him plead, that since "he is married to Christ," whatever action the law may pretend to be competent to it, for the satisfaction of justice, upon the account of his sin, it must lie betwixt the law and Christ, the husband; but that, in very deed, there remains no place for such action, forasmuch as, through Jesus Christ's suffering and satisfying to the full, he is set free from the law, and owes nothing to justice nor to the law upon that score. If any man will venture to deal in other terms with the law in this case, his experience will at length sufficiently discover his mistake. Now it is manifest that this relates to the case of justification. And if it yet reply, and say, "Aye, but good works must be done and the commandments must be kept, if thou wilt obtain salvation";242242Here is the second case, namely, the law attempting to exercise its commanding power over the believer, requires him to do good works, and to keep the commandments, if he will obtain salvation. This comes in natively in the second place. The author could not, reasonably, rest satisfied with the believer's being delivered from the curse of the covenant of works, from the debt owing to divine justice, according to its penal sanction; if he had, he would have left the afflicted still in the lurch, in the point of justification, and of inheriting eternal life: he would have proposed Christ to him only as a half saviour, and left as much of the law's plea behind without an answer as would have concluded him incapable of being justified before God, and made an heir of eternal life; for the law, as it is the covenant of works, being broken, has a twofold demand on the sinner, each of which must be answered, before he can be justified. The one is a demand of satisfaction for sin, arising from, and according to its penal sanction: this demand was made in the preceding case, and solidly answered. But there remains yet another, namely, the demand of perfect obedience, arising from, and according to the settled condition of that covenant; and the afflicted must have wherewith to answer it also; otherwise he shall still sink in the deep mire, where there is no standing. For as no judge can absolve a man, merely on his having paid the penalty of a broken contract, to which he was obliged, by and attour the fulfilling of the condition, so no man can be justified before God, nor have a right to life, till this demand of the law be also satisfied in his case. Then, and not till then, is the law's mouth stopped in point of his justification. Thus Adam, before his fall, was free from the curse; yet neither was, nor could be justified and entitled to life, until he had run the course of his obedience, prescribed him by the law as a covenant of works. Accordingly, we are taught that "God justifies sinners, not only by imputing the satisfaction, but also the obedience of Christ unto them" Westm. Confess. chap. 11. art. 1. And that "justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he not only pardoneth all our sins, but accepteth us as righteous in his sight." Short. Cat. Here then is the second demand of the law, namely, the demand of perfect obedience, respecting the case of justification, no less than the demand of satisfaction for sin. And it is proposed in such terms as the Scripture uses to express the self-same thing. (Luke 10:28), "This do, and thou shalt live."—(Matt 19:17), "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." In both which passages our Lord proposeth this demand of the covenant of works, for the conviction of the proud legalists with whom he there had to do. And the truth is, that the terms in which this demand stands here conceived, are so very agreeable to the style and language of the covenant of works expressed in these texts, and elsewhere, that the law, without receding in the least from the propriety of expression, might have addressed innocent Adam, in the very same terms; changing only the word salvation into life, because he was not yet miserable; and so saying to him, Good works must be done, and the commandments must be kept, if thou wilt obtain life. What impropriety there could have been in this saying, while as yet there was no covenant known in the world, but the covenant of works, I see not. Even innocent Adam was not, by his works, to obtain life, in the way of proper merit; but in virtue of compact only. Now, this being the case, one may plainly perceive, that in the true answer to it, there can be no place for bringing in any holiness, righteousness, good works, and keeping of the commandments, but Christ's only; for nothing else can satisfy this demand of the law. And if a believer should acknowledge the necessity of his own holiness and good works, in this point, and so set about them, in order to answer this demand; then he should grossly and abominably pervert the end for which the Lord requires them of him; putting his own holiness and obedience in the room of Christ's imputed obedience; and so should fix himself in the mire out of which he could never escape, until he gave over that way and betook himself again to what Christ alone has done for satisfying this demand of the law. But that the excluding of our holiness, good-works, and keeping of the commandments, from any part in this matter, militates nothing against the absolute necessity of holiness in its proper place, [without which, in men's own persons, no man shall see the Lord,] is a point too clear among sound Protestant divines, to be here insisted upon. And hence our author could not instruct Neophytus to say, in this conflict with the law or covenant of works, "It is my sincere resolution, in the strength of grace, to follow peace with all men, and holiness." Neither would any sound Protestant divine have put such an answer into the mouth of the afflicted in this case; knowing that our evangelical holiness and good works [suppose we could attain unto them before justification] would be rejected by the law, as filthy rags; forasmuch as the law acknowledges no holiness, no good works, no keeping of the commandments, but what is every way perfect, and will never be satisfied with sincere resolutions, to do, in the strength of grace to be given; but requires doing in perfection, in the strength of grace given already, (Gal 3:10). Therefore our author sends the afflicted unto Jesus Christ, the surety for all that is demanded of him by the law or covenant of works: and teaches him in this case, to plead Christ's works, and keeping of the commands; and this is the only safe way, which all true Christians will find themselves obliged to take at the long run, in this conflict. The difficulty raised on this head is owing to that anti-scriptural principle, "That believers are under the commanding power of the covenant of works"; which is overthrown before. The case itself, and the answer to it at large, is taken from Luther's Sermon of the Lost Sheep, pp. 77, 78, and Sermon upon the Hymn of Zacharias, p. 50. then answer you, and say, "I am already saved before thou camest;243243Saved, namely, really, though not perfectly; even as a drowning man is saved when his head is got above the water, and he, leaning on his deliverer, is making towards the shore; in this case, the believer has no more need of the law, or covenant of works, than such a man has of one, who, to save him, would lay a weight upon him, that would make him sink again beneath the stream. Observe the manner of speaking and reasoning used on this head. (Titus 3:5), "Not by works of righteousness, which we have DONE, but according to his mercy, he SAVED us, by the washing of REGENERATION, and RENEWING of the Holy Ghost."—(Eph 2:8-10), "For by grace ARE YE SAVED, through faith, not of WORKS, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, UNTO good works." Here (1.) It is undeniable, especially according to the original words, that the apostle asserts believers to be saved already. (2.) Denying that we are saved by works which we have done, he plainly enough intimates, that we are saved by the works which Christ has done. (3.) He argues against salvation by our works, upon this very ground, that our good works are the fruit following our being saved, and the end for which we are saved. Thus he at once overthrows the doctrine of salvation by our good works, and establishes the necessity of them, as of breathings and other actions of life to a man saved from death. (4.) He shows, that inherent holiness is an essential part of salvation, without which it can no more consist, than a man without a reasonable soul; for, according to the apostle, "We are saved by our being regenerated, renewed, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works." And so is our justification also, with all the privileges depending thereupon. In one word, the salvation bestowed on believers, comprehends both holiness and happiness. Thus the apostle Peter disproves that principle, (Acts 15:1), "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be SAVED," from his own observation of the contrary, namely, that God purified the hearts of the Gentiles by faith, (verse 9), adding for the part of the Jews, who were circumcised, (verse 11), "We believe, that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they"; that is, even as they were saved, namely, by faith without the works of the law. And the apostle Paul, encountering the same error, carries on the dispute in these terms, that a man is not justified by works, (Gal 2 and 3). From whence one may conclude, that justification does no further differ from salvation, in the Scripture sense, than an essential part from the whole. This is the doctrine of holy Luther, and of our author after him, upon this head, here and elsewhere. And the disuse of this manner of speaking, and the setting of salvation so far from justification, as heaven is from earth, are not without danger, as leaving room for works, to obtain salvation by. "They that believe, have already everlasting life, and therefore undoubtedly are justified and holy, without all their own labour." Luther's Chos. Sermons, Serm. 10, page [mihi] 113. "How has God, then, remedied thy misery? He has forgiven all my sins, and freed me from the reward thereof, and made me righteous, holy, and happy, to live for ever, and that of his free grace alone, by the merits of Jesus Christ, and working of the Holy Ghost." Mr. James Melvil's Cat. Propine of a Pastor, p. 44.—"Now, being made truly and really partakers of Christ, and his righteousness, by faith only, and so justified, saved, and counted truly righteous, we are to see what God craveth of us in our own part, to witness our thankfulness." Mr. John Davidson's Cat. p. 27. See Palat. Cat. q. 86.—"God delivereth his elect out of it [viz: the estate of sin and misery] and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant." Larg. Cat. q. 30. And surely one cannot be in a state of salvation who is not really saved; more than one can be in a state of health and liberty, who is not really saved from sickness and slavery. "Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation—effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ." Westm. Confess. chap. 10, art. 1. Whence one may easily perceive, that a sinner drawn to Jesus Christ, is saved; though not yet carried to heaven. and therefore I have no need of thy presence,244244A good reason why a soul united to Jesus Christ, and already saved by him really, though not perfectly, hath no need of the presence of her first husband, the law, or covenant of works: namely, because she hath in Christ, her head and present husband, all things necessary to save her perfectly, that is, to make her completely holy and happy. If it were not so, believers might yet despair of attaining to it: since Christ shareth his office of Saviour with none; neither is their salvation in any other, whether in whole or in part, (Acts 4:12). But surely believers have all that is necessary to complete their salvation, in Jesus Christ: forasmuch as he "of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption"; in the compass of which, there is sufficient provision for all the wants of all his people. It is the great ground of their comfort, that "it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell," (Col 1:19). And it becomes them, with their whole hearts, to approve of the design and end of that glorious and happy constitution, namely, that "he that glorieth, glory in the Lord," (1 Cor 1:31). It is true, that fullness is so far from being actually conveyed, in the measure of every part, into the persons of believers at once, that the stream of conveyance will run through all the ages of eternity, in heaven, as well as on earth. Nevertheless, whole Christ, with all his fullness, is given to them at once, and therefore they have all necessary for them at once, in him as their Head. (1 Cor 3:21), "All things are yours."—(Phil 4:28), "I have all, and abound."—(2 Cor 6:10), "As having nothing, yet possessing all things."—(Col 2:10), "and ye are complete in him, which is the Head." for in Christ I have all things at once: neither need I any thing more that is necessary245245But are not personal holiness, and godliness, good works, and perseverance in holy obedience, jostled out at this rate as unnecessary? No, by no means. For Christ is the only fountain of holiness, and the cause of good works, in those who are united to him; so that, where union with Christ is, there is personal holiness infallibly; there they do good works, if capable of them, and persevere therein; and where it is not, all pretences to these things are utterly vain. Therefore are ministers directed to prosecute such doctrines, and make choice of such uses, especially, "as may most draw souls to Christ, the fountain of light, holiness, and comfort." Directory, tit. "Of the Preaching of the Word."—"As we willingly spoil ourselves of all honour and glory of our own creation and redemption, so do we also of our regeneration and sanctification; for of ourselves we are not sufficient to think one good thought; but he who has begun the work in us, is only he that continues us in the same, to the praise and the glory of his undeserved grace. So that the cause of good works, we confess to be, not our free will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, who, dwelling in our hearts by true faith, bringeth forth such works, as God has prepared for us to walk in. For this we most boldly affirm, that blasphemy it is to say, that Christ abideth in the hearts of such, as in whom there is no spirit of sanctification." Old Confess. art. 12, 13.—"M. What is the effect of thy faith? C. That Jesus Christ his Son came down into this world, and accomplished all things, which were necessary for our salvation." The Manner to Examine Children, &c., quest. 3.—"Whether we look to our justification or sanctification, they are wholly wrought and perfected by Christ, in whom we are complete, howbeit after a diverse sort." Mr. John Davidson's Cat. p. 34. The truth is, personal holiness, godliness, and perseverance, are parts of the salvation already bestowed on the believer, and good works begun, the necessary fruit thereof. See the preceding note. And he hath, in Christ his head, what infallibly secures the conservation of his personal holiness and godliness: his bringing forth of good works still, and perseverance in holy obedience, and the bringing of the whole to perfection in another life, and so completing the begun salvation. If men will, without warrant from the word, restrain the term salvation to happiness in heaven, then all these, according to the doctrine here taught, are necessary to salvation, as what of necessity must go before it, in subjects capable; since, in a salvation carried on by degrees, what is by the unalterable order of the covenant first conferred on a man, must necessarily go before that which, by the same unalterable order, is conferred on him in the last place. But in the sense of Luther and our author, all these are comprehended in the salvation itself. For justifying of which, one may observe, that when the salvation is completed, they are perfected; and the saints in glory work perfectly good works, without interruption, throughout all eternity; for they were the great end God designed to bring about by the means of salvation. To the Scripture texts adduced in the preceding note, add (2 Tim 2:10), "I endure all things, for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." Here is a spiritual salvation, plainly distinguished from eternal glory. Compare (1 Peter 1:8,9), "Believing, ye rejoice. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." This receiving of salvation, in the present time, is but the accomplishment of that promise, in part; (Acts 16:31), "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; which, I make no question, bears a great deal of salvation, communicated on this side death, as well as beyond it; (Matt 1:21), "He shall save his people from their sins." Thus, salvation comprehends personal holiness and godliness. And the Scripture holds out good works, as things that accompany salvation, (Heb 6:9), and as the fruit of it, (Luke 1:71-75), "That we should be saved from our enemies—being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." For it is an everlasting salvation, (Isa 45:17), importing a perseverance in holy obedience to the end. to salvation. He is my righteousness, my treasure, and work;246246My righteousness, upon which I am justified, my treasure, out of which all my debt to the law, or covenant of works, is paid, and my work, whence my righteousness arises, and which I can, with safety and comfort, oppose to the law-demand of work. "The law of God we confess and acknowledge most just, most equal, most holy, most perfect, commanding these things, which being wrought in perfection, were able to give life, and able to bring man to eternal felicity. But our nature is so corrupt, so weak, and so imperfect, that we are never able to fulfil the works of the law in perfection—and therefore it behoves us to apprehend Christ Jesus, with his justice, i.e., his righteousness and satisfaction, who is the end and accomplishment of the law." Old Confess. art. 15. I confess, O law! that I am neither godly nor righteous,247247Namely, in the eye of the law, which acknolwedgeth no godliness nor righteousness, but what is every way perfect; (Rom 4:5), "Believeth on him that justifieth the UNGODLY." And to plead any other sort of godliness or righteousness, in the conflict of conscience with the law, is vain. (Gal 3:10) but yet this I am sure of, that he is godly and righteous for me. 248248That is, Christ hath perfect purity of nature and life, which is all that the law can demand in point of conformity and obedience to its commandments; he was born holy, and he lived holy in perfection. Now, both these are imputed to believers, not in point of sanctification, but of justification; for without the imputation of them both, no flesh could be justified before God, because the law demands of every man purity of nature, as well as purity of life, and both of them in perfection; and since we have neither the one nor the other in ourselves, we must have both by imputation, else we must remain under the condemnation of the law. So, the Palatine Catechism. "Q. How art thou righteous before God? A. The perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is imputed and given unto me, as if I had neither committed any sin, neither were there any blot or corruption cleaving unto me. Q. 60. The use—If Satan yet lay to my charge, Although in Christ Jesus thou hast satisfied the punishment which thy sins deserved, and hast put on his righteousness by faith, yet thou canst not deny, but that thy nature is corrupt, so that thou art prone to all ill, and thou hast in thee, the seed of all vices. Against this temptation this answer is sufficient, That by the goodness of God, not only perfect righteousness, but even the holiness of Christ also, is imputed and given unto me," &c. Ibid.—"the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ alone is my righteousness, in the sight of God." Ibid. quest. 61. And to tell the truth, O law! I am now with him in the bridechamber, where it maketh no matter what I am,249249Namely, to the law or covenant of works, which has no power over me, who am now married to another. or what I have done; but what Christ, my sweet husband, is, has done, and does for me:250250Luther expresses it thus, "What I am, or what I ought to do, and what not to do; but what Christ himself is, ought to do, and doth." and therefore leave off, law, to dispute with me, for by faith 'I apprehend him who hath apprehended me,' and put me into his bosom. Wherefore I will be bold to bid Moses with his tables, and all lawyers with their books, and all men with their works, hold their peace and give place:251251Moses with his tables, here, is no more, in the sense of Luther and our author, but the law, as it is the covenant of works; the which, whoso in the conflict of conscience with it, can treat at this rate, he is strong in faith, and happy is he. Consider the Scripture phrase, (John 5:45), "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye TRUST." Compare (Rom 2:17), "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and RESTEST in the LAW." By Moses here, is not meant the person of Moses, but Moses' law, which the carnal Jews trusted to be saved and justified by; that is plainly, by the law, as it is the covenant of works. And in our author's judgment, the law was given on Mount Sinai as the covenant of works. And he shows, that although Luther, and Calvin too, do thus exempt a believer from the law, in the case of justification, and as it is the covenant of works, yet do they not so out of the case of justification, and as it is the law of Christ. P. 184-186. And so, at once, clears them and himself from that odious charge which some might find in their hearts to fix upon them from such expressions. so that I say unto thee, O law! be gone." And if it will not be gone, then thrust it out by force, says Luther.252252Luther's words are, "Then it is time to send it [the law] away, and if it will not give place," &c. See the preceding note.
And if sin offer to take hold of you, as David said his did on him, (Psa 40:12); then say you unto it, "Thy strength, O sin, is the law, (1 Cor 15:66), and the law is dead to me, So that, O sin, thy strength is gone; and therefore be sure thou shalt never be able to prevail against me, nor do me any hurt at all."253253Here is the use to be made of the same former doctrine, in the conflict of conscience with sin. Guilt, even the guilt of revenging wrath is the handle by which, in this conflict, sin offers to take hold of the believer, as it did of David, (Psa 40:12). Who, in that Psalm, speaks as a type of Christ, on whom the guilt of the elect's sin was laid. "Now, in respect of that guilt, the strength of sin is the law, or covenant of works, with its cursing and condemning power, from which, since believers are delivered, that strength of sin is gone as to them; they are free from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God." Westm. Confess. chap. 20. art. 1.—"The revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life." Larg. Cat. quest. 77. Whence it necessarily follows, that sin, in this attack, can never prevail nor really hurt them in this point, since there neither is, nor can be, any such guilt remaining upon them. How sin may otherwise prevail against a believer, and what hurt it may do him in other respects, the author expressly teaches here and elsewhere. In the manner of expression, he follows famous divines, whose names are in honour in the church of Christ. "God saith unto me, I will forgive thee thy sin, neither shall thy sins hurt thee." Luther, Chos. Serm. p. 40.—"Forasmuch as Jesus Christ hath, by one infinite obedience, made satisfaction to the infinite majesty of God, it followeth, that my iniquities can no more fray nor trouble me, my accounts being assuredly razed by the precious blood of Christ." Beza, Confess. point 4. art. 10.—"Even as the viper that was upon Paul's hand, though the nature of it was to kill presently, yet when God had charmed it, you see it hurt him not; so it is with sin, though it be in us, and though it hang upon us, yet the venom of it is taken away, it hurts us not, it condemns us not." Dr. Preston on Faith, p. 51. Hear the language of the Spirit of God, (Luke 10:19); "And nothing shall by any means hurt you."—"Nothing shall hurt their souls, as to the favour of God, and their eternal happiness," says the author of the Supplement to Poole's Annot. on the Text.
And if Satan take you by the throat, and by violence draw you before God's judgment-seat, then call to your husband, Christ, and say, "Lord, I suffer violence, make answer for me, and help me." And by his help you shall be enabled to plead for yourself, after this manner: O God the Father! I am thy Son Christ's; thou gavest me unto him, and thou hast given unto him "all power, both in heaven and in earth, and hast committed all judgment to him"; and therefore I will stand to his judgment, who says, "he came not to judge the world, but to save it"; and therefore he will save me, according to his office. And if the jury254254The ten commandments. should255255By your own conscience. bring in their verdict that they have found you guilty, then speak to the Judge, and say, In case any must be condemned for my transgressions, it must needs be Christ, and not I; for albeit I have committed them, yet he hath undertaken and bound himself to answer for them, and that by the consent and good-will of God his Father: and indeed he hath fully satisfied for them.
And if death creep upon you, and attempt to devour you; then say, "Thy sting, O death! is sin; and Christ my husband has fully vanquished sin, and so deprived thee of thy sting; and therefore do I not fear any hurt that thou, O death! canst do unto me." And thus you may triumph with the apostle, saying, "Thanks be unto God, who hath given me the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Cor 15:56,57).
And thus have I also declared unto you how Christ, in the fullness of time, performed that which God before all time purposed, and in time promised, touching the helping and delivering of fallen mankind.
And so have I also done with the "Law of Faith."