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CHAPTER III - OF THE LAW OF CHRIST.
Section 1 - The nature of the law of Christ.
Nom. Then sir, I pray you, proceed to speak of the law of Christ; and first, let us hear what the law of Christ is.
Evan. The law of Christ, in regard of substance and matter, is all one with the law of works, or covenant of works. Which matter is scattered through the whole Bible, and summed up in the decalogue, or ten commandments, commonly called the moral law, containing such things as are agreeably to the mind and will of God, that is, piety towards God, charity towards our neighbour, and sobriety towards ourselves. And therefore was it given of God to be a true and eternal rule of righteousness, for all men, of all nations, and at all times. So that evangelical grace directs a man to no other obedience than that whereof the law of the ten commandments is to be the rule.256256The author here teaches, that the matter of the law of works and of the law of Christ, is one, namely, the ten commandments, commonly called the moral law. And that this law of the ten commandments was given of God, and so of divine authority, to be a rule of righteousness for men to walk by; a true rule agreeable in all things to the divine nature and will; an eternal rule, indispensable, ever to continue, without interruption for any one moment; and that for all men, good, bad, saints and sinners, of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, and at all times, in all ages, from the moment of man's creation, before the fall, and after the fall; before the covenant of works, under the covenant of works, and under the covenant of grace, in its several periods. Thus he asserts this great truth, in terms used by orthodox divines, but with a greater variety of expression than is generally used upon this head, the which serves to inculcate it in the more. And speaking of the ten commandments, he declares in these words. "That neither hath Christ delivered believers any otherwise from them, than as they are the covenant of works. The scope of this part of the book, is to show that believers ought to receive them as the law of Christ, whom we believe to be with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, the eternal Jehovah, the Supreme, the most High God; and consequently as a law having a commanding power, and binding force, upon the believer, from the authority of God, and not as a simple passive rule, like a workman's rule, that hath no authority over him, to command and bind him to follow its direction. Nay, our author owns the ten commandments to be a law to believers, as well as others, again and again commanding, requiring, forbidding, reproving, condemning sin, to which believers must yield obedience, and fenced with a penalty, which transgressing believers are to fear, as being under the law to Christ." These things are so manifest, that it is quite beyond my reach to conceive how, from the author's doctrine on this head, and especially from the passage we are now upon, it can be inferred that he teaches, that the believer is not under the law as a rule of life; or can be affirmed that he does not acknowledge the law's commanding power, and binding force upon the believer, but makes it a simple passive rule to him; unless the meaning be, that the author teaches, "That the believer is not under the covenant of works as a rule of life"? or, "that the law, as it is the covenant of works, is not a rule of life to the believer; and that he does not acknowledge the commanding power, and binding force of the covenant of works upon the believer; nor that obedience is commanded him upon the pain of the curse, and bound upon him with the cords of the threatening of eternal death in hell." For, otherwise, it is evident that he teaches the law of the ten commandments to be a rule of life to a believer, and to have a commanding and binding power over him. Now, if these be errors, the author is undoubtedly guilty; and if his sentiments on these heads were proposed in those terms, as the thing itself doth require, no wrong would be done him therein. But that these are gospel-truths, appears from what is already said: and the contrary doctrines do all issue out of the womb of that dangerous position, "That the believer is not set free both from the commanding and condemning power of the covenant of works,"—of which before.
Nom. But yet, sir, I conceive, that though [as you say] the law of Christ, in regard of substance and matter, be all one with the law of works, yet their forms do differ.
Evan. True, indeed; for [as you have heard] the law of works speaks on this wise, "Do this and thou shalt live; and if thou do it not, then thou shalt die the death": but the law of Christ speaketh on this wise, (Eze 16:6), "And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, live."—(John 11:26), "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die."257257These texts are adduced to show, that they to whom the law of the ten commandments is given, as the law of Christ, are those who have already received life, even life that shall never end; and that of God's free gift, before they were capable of doing good works; who therefore need not to work for life, but from life. "The preface to the ten commandments teaches us, that because God is the LORD, and our GOD, and REDEEMER, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments." (Luke 1:74), "That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear."—(1 Peter 1:15), "As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy; because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy. Forasmuch as ye know, that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things—but with the precious blood of Christ." Short. Cat. with the Scriptures at large. —(Eph 5:1,2), "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children: and walk in love, as Christ hath loved us." And "if ye love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15). And "if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless my loving- kindness will I not utterly take away from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail," (Psa 89:31-33). Thus, you see, that both these laws agree in saying, "Do this." But here is the difference; the one saith, "Do this and live"; and the other saith, "Live, and do this"; the one saith, Do this for life; the other saith, Do this from life: the one saith, "If thou do it not, I will chastise thee with the rod."258258Of this penalty of the law of Christ, the author treats afterwards. The one is to be delivered by God as he is Creator out of Christ, only to such as are out of Christ; the other is to be delivered by God, as he is a Redeemer in Christ, only to such as are in Christ.259259To direct the believer how to receive the law of the ten commandments with application to himself, he assigns this difference betwixt the law of works and the law of Christ. the one, namely, the law of works, is the law of the ten commandments, but supposed to be delivered by God as he is Creator out of Christ; and so standing in relation to man, only as Creator, not as Redeemer; the other, namely, the law of Christ, is the same law of the ten commandments, but supposed to be delivered by God, as he is not only Creator but Redeemer in Christ. And although the notion of Creator doth not imply that of Redeemer, yet the latter implies the former; as he is Redeemer, he is sovereign Lord Creator, else we are yet in our sins, for none of inferiour dignity could remove our offence or guilt; but the word of truth secures this foundation of believers' safety and comfort; (Isa 44:6,24), "Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, I am the First, and I am the Last, and besides me there is no God. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself."—(54:5), "Thy Maker is thine Husband." Now, the law of the ten commandments is given, the former way, only to unbelievers, or such as are out of Christ, the latter way to believers, or such as are in Christ. And to prove whether this be a vain distinction or not, one needs but to consult the conscience, when thoroughly awakened, whether it is all a case to it, to receive the law of the ten commandments in the thunders from Mount Sinai, or in the still small voice, out of the tabernacle, that is, from an absolute God, or from a God in Christ. It is true, unbelievers are not under the law, as it is the law of Christ; and that is their misery, even as it is the misery of the slaves, that the commands of the master of the family, though the matter of them be the very same to them, and to the children, yet they are not fatherly commands to them, as they are to the children, but purely masterly. And they are not hereby freed from any duty, within the compass of the perfect law of the ten commandments; for these commands are the matter of the law of works, as well as of the law of Christ. Neither are they thereby exempted from Christ's authority and jurisdiction, since the law of works is his law, as he is with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Sovereign Lord Creator: yea, and even as Mediator, he rules in the midst of his enemies, and over them, with a rod of iron. Wherefore, neighbour Neophytus, seeing that you are now in Christ, beware that you receive not the ten commandments at the hands of God out of Christ, nor yet at the hands of Moses, but only at the hands of Christ; and so shall you be sure to receive them as the law of Christ.260260The receiving of the ten commandments at the hands of Christ, is here opposed, (1.) To the receiving of them at the hands of God out of Christ. (2.) To the receiving of them at the hands of Moses, namely, as our Lawgiver. The first is a receiving of them immediately from God, without a Mediator; and so receiving of them as the law of works. The second is a receiving of them from Christ, the true Mediator, yet immediately by the intervention of a typical one, and so is a receiving of them as a law of Moses, the typical Mediator, who delivered them from the ark or tabernacle. To this it is, and not to the delivering of them from Mount Sinai, that the author doth here look, as is evident from his own words. The former manner of receiving them is not agreeable to the state of real believers, since they never were, nor are given in that manner to believers in Christ, but only to unbelievers, whether under the Old or New Testament. The latter is not agreeable to the state of New Testament believers, since the true Mediator is come, and is sealed of the Father, as the great Prophet, to whom Moses must give place, (Matt 17:5, Acts 3:22). See Turret. loc. 11. q. 24, th. 15. However, the not receiving of Moses as the lawgiver of the Christian church, carries no prejudice to the honour of that faithful servant; nor to the receiving of his writings, as the word of God, they being of divine inspiration, yea, and the fundamental divine revelation.
Nom. But, sir, may not God out of Christ deliver the ten commandments, as the law of Christ?
Evan. O no! for God out of Christ stands in relation to man,
according to the tenor of the law as it is the covenant of works; and, therefore,
can speak to man upon no other terms than the terms of that covenant.261261This plainly concludes, that to receive the law of the ten commandments from God, as Creator out of Christ, is to receive
them as the law [or covenant] of works; unless men will fancy, that after God hath made two covenants, the one of works, the
other of grace, he will yet deal with them neither in the way of the one, nor of the other.
Chapter III, Section 2
The law of the ten s a rule of life to believers.
Nom. But, sir, why may not believers amongst the Gentiles receive the ten commandments as a rule of life, at the hands of Moses, as well as the believers amongst the Jews did?
Evan. For answer hereunto, I pray you consider that, the ten commandments being the substance of the law of nature262262Calling the ten commandments but the substance of the law of nature, he plainly intimates, that they were not the whole of that law, but that the law of nature had a penal sanction. Compare his speaking of the same ten commands, still as the substance of the law of works, and of the law of Christ. Indeed, he is not of opinion, that a penal sanction is inseparable from the law of nature. That would put the glorified saints, and confirmed angels in heaven, [to say nothing more,] under a penal sanction too; for without question, they are, and will remain for ever, under the law of nature. The truth is, the law of nature is suited both to the nature of God, and to the nature of the creature; and there is no place for a penal sanction, where there is no possibility of transgression. engraven in the heart of man in innocency, and the express idea, or representation of God's own image, even a beam of his own holiness, were to have been a rule of life both to Adam and his posterity, though they never had been the covenant of works;263263The ten commands being the substance of the law of nature, a representation of God's image, and a beam of his holiness, behoved for ever unalterably to be a rule of life to mankind, in all possible states, conditions, and circumstances; nothing but the utter destruction of human nature, and its ceasing to be, could divest them of that office, since God is unchanging in his image and holiness. Hence, their being a rule of life to Adam and his posterity, had no dependence on their becoming the covenant of works; but they would have been that rule, though there never had been any such covenant: yea, whatever covenant was introduced, whether of works or of grace, whatever form might be put upon them, they behoved still to remain the rule of life; no covenant, no form whatsoever, could ever prejudice this their royal dignity. Now, whether this state of the matter, or their being the covenant of works, which was merely accessory to them, and might never have been at all, is the firmer foundation, to build their being a rule of life upon, is no hard question to determine. but being become the covenant of words, they were to have been a rule of life to them, as a covenant of works.264264And would have been so always to them all, till they had perfectly fulfilled that covenant, had they not been divested of that form, unto believers, through Jesus Christ their surety. To them they remain to be a rule of life, but not under the form of the covenant of works; but to unbelievers they are, and still will be, a rule of life under that form. And then, being as it were raised out of man's heart by his fall, they were made known to Adam, and the rest of the believing fathers, by visions and revelations, and so were a rule of life to him;265265And to them. One will not think strange to hear, that the ten commands were, as it were, razed out of man's heart by the fall, if one considers the spirituality and vast extent of them, and that they were, in their perfection engraven on the heart of man, in his creation, and doth withal take notice of the ruin brought on man by the fall. Hereby he indeed lost the very knowledge of the law of nature, if the ten commands are to be reckoned, as certainly they are, the substance and matter of that law; although he lost it not totally, but some remains thereof were left with him. Concerning these the apostle speaks, (Rom 1:19,20, 2:14,15). And our author teaches expressly, that the law is partly known by nature, that is, in its corrupt state. And here he says, not simply, that the ten commandments were razed, though in another case he speaks after that manner, where yet it is evident he means not a razing quite; but he says, "They were, as it were, razed." But what are these remains of them in comparison with that body of natural laws, fairly written, and deeply engraven, on the heart of innocent Adam? If they were not, as it were, razed, what need is there of writing a new copy of them in the hearts of the elect, according to the promise of the new covenant? "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them," (Heb 10:16, 8:10, Jer 31:33). What need was there of writing them in the book of the Lord, the Bible, in which they were made known again to us, as they were to Adam and the believing fathers, the author speaks of, by visions and revelations? the latter being as necessary to them as the former is to us, for that end, since these supplied to them the want of the Scriptures. As for those, who neither had these visions and revelations given to themselves, nor the doctrine thereby taught communicated to them by others, it is manifest they could have no more knowledge of those laws, than was to be found among the ruins of mankind in the fall. yet not as the covenant of works, as they were before his fall, and so continued until the time of Moses. And as they were delivered by Moses unto the believing Jews from the ark, and so as from Christ, they were a rule of life to them, until the time of Christ's coming in the flesh. And since Christ's coming in the flesh, they have been and are to be, a rule of life both to believing Jews and believing Gentiles, unto the end of the world; not as they are delivered by Moses, but as they are delivered by Christ: for when Christ the Son comes and speaks himself, then Moses the servant must keep silence; according as Moses himself foretold, (Acts 3:22), saying, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things which he shall say unto you." And, therefore, when the disciples seemed to desire to hear Moses and Elias266266The former, the giver of the law, the latter the restorer of it. speak on the mountain Tabor, they were presently taken away; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him," (Matt 17:4,5). As if the Lord had said, You are not now to hear either Moses or Elias, but my "well-beloved Son"; and, therefore, I say unto you, HEAR HIM.267267"Which words establish Christ as the only doctor and teacher of his church; the only one whom he had betrusted to deliver his truths and will to his people; the only one to whom Christians are to hearken," Sup. to Poole's Annot. on Matthew 17:5. And is it not said, (Heb 1:2), "That in these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son"? and doth not the apostle say, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; and whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The wife must be subject unto the husband, as unto Christ;268268"Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord," (Eph 5:22). the child must yield obedience to his parents, as unto Christ; and the believing servant must do his master's business, as Christ's business; for says the apostle, "Ye serve the Lord Christ," (Col 3:16-24). Yea, says he to the Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," (Gal 6:2).
Ant. Sir, I like it very well, that you say, Christ should be a Christian's teacher, and not Moses; but yet I question whether the ten commandments may be called the law of Christ; for where can you find them repeated, either by our Saviour, or his apostles, in the whole New Testament?
Evan. Though we find not that they are repeated in such a method as they are set down in Exodus and Deuteronomy, yet so long as we find that Christ and his apostles did require and command these things, that are therein commanded, and reproved and condemn those things that are therein forbidden, and that both by their lives and doctrines, it is sufficient to prove them to be the law of Christ.269269Whether or not this be sufficient to prove them to be the law of Christ, having a divine, authoritative, binding power on men's consciences, notwithstanding of the term doctrines here used by the author, one may judge from these texts: (Matt 7:28,29), "The people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."—(John 7:16), "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me."—(Heb 1:1-3), "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," &c.—(Matt 27:18-20), "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth: go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The original word, in the Old Testament, rendered law, doth properly signify a doctrine, Hence, (Matt 15:9), "Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," i.e., the laws and commands of men, for the laws and commands of God. Compare verses 4-6.
Ant. I think, indeed, they have done so, touching some of the commandments, but not touching all.
Evan. Because you say so, I entreat you to consider,—
1st, Whether the true knowledge of God required, (John 3:19); and the want of it condemned, (2 Thess 1:8); and the true love of God required, (Matt 22:37); and the want of it reproved, (John 5:42); and the true fear of God required, (1 Peter 2:17, Heb 12:28); and the want of it condemned, (Rom 3:18); and the true trusting in God required, and the trusting in the creature forbidden, (2 Cor 1:9, 1 Tim 6:17); be not the substance of the first commandment.
And consider, 2dly, Whether the "hearing and reading of God's word," commanded, (John 5:39, Rev 1:3); and "prayer," required, (Rom 12:12, 1 Thess 5:17); and "singing of psalms," required, (Col 3:16, James 5:13); and whether "idolatry," forbidden, (1 Cor 10:14, 1 John 5:21); be not the substance of the second commandment.
And consider, 3dly, Whether "worshipping of God in vain," condemned, (Matt 15:9); and "using vain repetitions in prayer," forbidden, (Matt 6:7); and "hearing of the word only, and not doing," forbidden, (James 1:22); whether "worhsipping God in spirit and truth," commanded, (John 4:24); and "praying with the spirit and with understanding also"; and "singing with the spirit" and "with understanding also," commended, (1 Cor 14:15); and "taking heed what we hear," (Mark 4:24); be not the substance of the third commandment.
Consider, 4thly, Whether Christ's rising from the dead the first day of the week, (Mark 16:2,9); the disciples assembling, and Christ's appearing unto them, two several first days of the week, (John 20:19,26); and the disciples coming together and breaking bread, and preaching afterwards on that day, (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:2); and John's being in the Spirit on the Lord's day, (Rev 1:10); I say, consider whether these things do not prove, that the first day of the week is to be kept as the Christian Sabbath.
Consider, 5thly, Whether the apostle's saying, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right: honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise," (Eph 6:1,2), and all these other exhortations, given by him and the apostle Peter, both to inferiours and superiours, to do their duty to each other, (Eph 5:22,25, 6:4,5,9, Col 3:18-22, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 3:1, 2:18); I say, consider whether all these places do not prove that the duties of the fifth commandment are required in the New Testament.
Here you see are five of the ten commandments; and as for the
other five, the apostle reckons them up altogether, saying, "Thou shalt not
commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear
false witness, Thou shalt not covet," (Rom 13:9). Now, judge you whether the ten
commandments be not repeated in the New Testament; and so consequently whether
they be not the law of Christ, and whether a believer be not under the law to
Christ, or "in the law through Christ," as the apostle's phrase is, (1 Cor
Chapter III, Section 3
Antinomian objections answered. Ant. But yet, sir, as I remember, both Luther and Calvin do speak as though a believer were so quite freed from the law by Christ, as that he need not make any conscience at all of yielding obedience to it.
Evan. I know right well that Luther on the Galatians, p. 59, says, "The conscience hath nothing to do with the law or works"; and that Calvin, in his Instit. p. 403, says, "The conscience of the faithful, when the affiance of their justification before God is to be sought, must raise and advance themselves above the law, and forget the whole righteousness of the law, and lay aside all thinking upon works." Now, for the true understanding of these two worthy servants of Christ, two things are to be considered and concluded. First, That when they speak thus of the law, it is evident they mean only in the case of justification. Secondly, That when the conscience hath to do with the law in the case of justification, it hath to do with it only as it is the covenant of works; for as the law is the law of Christ, it neither justifies nor condemns.270270That is, the law of the ten commandments, commonly called the moral law, as it is the law of Christ, neither justifies nor condemns men's persons in the sight of God. How can it do either the one or the other as such, since to be under it, as it is the law of Christ, is the peculiar privilege of believers, already justified by grace, and set beyond the reach of condemnation; according to that of the apostle, (Rom 8:1), "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus"? But to say that this makes the law of Christ despicable, is to forget the sovereign authority of God in him, his matchless love in dying for sinners, the endearing relations wherein he stands to his people, and upon the one hand, the enjoyment of actual communion and fellowship with God, and the many precious tokens of his love, to be conferred on them, in the way of close walking with God; and upon the other hand, the want of that communion and fellowship, and the many fearful tokens of his anger against them for their sins. [See sec. 11.] All these belong to the law of Christ, and will never be despicable in the eyes of any gracious soul; though I doubt if ever hell and damnation were more despised in the eyes of others, than they are at this day, wherein believers and unbelievers are set so much on a level with respect to these awful things. As to the point of condemnation, it is evident from Scripture, that no law can condemn those "who are in Christ Jesus," (Rom 8:1,33,34). And the law, as it is the covenant of works, condemns all those who are not in Christ, but under the law. (Gal 3:10, Rom 3:19) And particularly, it condemns every unbeliever, whose condemnation will be fearfully aggravated by his rejection of the gospel offer; the which rejected offer will be a witness against him in the judgment; in respect whereof our Lord says, (John 12:48), "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." Compare (15:22), "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin." Therefore the law, which unbelievers still remain under, as a covenant of works, will condemn them with a double condemnation. (John 3:18), "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And hence it appears that there is as little need of, as there is warrant for, a condemning gospel. The holy Scripture states it as the difference betwixt the law and the gospel, that the former is the ministration of condemnation and death, the latter, the ministration of righteousness and life." (2 Cor 3:6-9) Compare (John 12:47), "If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." As to the point of justification; no man is, nor can be justified by the law. It is true, the Neonomians or Baxterians, to wind in a righteousness of our own into the case of justification, do turn the gospel into a law, properly so called; and do tell us, that the gospel justifieth as a law, and roundly own what is the necessary consequent of that doctrine, namely, that faith justifieth, as it is our evangelical righteousness, or our keeping the gospel law, which runs thus: He that believeth shall not perish. [Gibbon's Ser. Morn. Ex. Meth. p. 418-421.] But the holy Scripture teaches, that we are justified by grace, and by no law nor deed, [or work of a law, properly so called,] call it the law of Christ, or the gospel law, or what law one pleaseth; and thereby faith itself, considered as a deed or work of a law, is excluded from the justification of a sinner, and hath place therein, only as an instrument. (Gal 3:11), "That no man is justified by a law in the sight of God, it is evident."—(5:4), "Whosoever of you are justified by a law, ye are fallen from grace."—(Rom 3:28), "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without deeds of a law." (Gal 2:16), "Knowing that a man is not justified by works of a law." I read, a law, deeds, works, simply; because so the original words, used in these texts, do undeniably signify. To this agrees Westm. Confess. chap. 11, art. 1, "These whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them, as their righteousness; but," &c. Larg. Cat. quest. 73.—"Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness." West. Confess. chap. 19, art. 6.—"Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them, as well as to others, in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly." From this last passage of the confession, two important points plainly offer themselves. (1.) That the law is a rule of life to believers, directing and binding them to duty, though they are neither justified nor condemned by it. (2.) That neither justifying nor condemning belong unto the law, as a rule of life simply, but as a covenant of works. And these are the very points here taught by our author. And so, if you understand it of the law, as it is the covenant of works, according to their meaning, then it is most true what they say; for why should a man let the law come into his conscience? That is, why should a man make any conscience of doing the law, to be justified thereby, considering it as a thing impossible? Nay, what need hath a man to make conscience of doing the law to be justified thereby, when he knows he is already justified another way? Nay, what need hath a man to make conscience of doing that law, which is dead to him, and he to it? Hath a woman any need to make conscience of doing her duty to her husband when he is dead, nay, when she herself is dead also? or, hath a debtor any need to make any conscience of paying that debt which is already fully discharged by his surety? Will any man be afraid of that obligation which is made void, the seal torn off, the writing defaced, nay, not only cancelled and crossed, but torn in pieces?271271(Col 2:14), "Blotting out the hand-writing, nailing it to his cross." I remember the apostle says, (Heb 10:1,2), That if the sacrifices which were offered in the Old Testament "could have made the comers thereunto perfect, and have purged the worshippers, then should they have had no more conscience of sin"; that is, their conscience would not have accused them of being guilty of sins. Now, the "blood of Christ" hath "purged the conscience" of a believer from all his sins, (9:14), as they are transgressions against the covenant of works; and, therefore, what needs his conscience be troubled about that covenant? But now, I pray you, observe and take notice, that although Luther and Calvin do thus exempt a believer from the law, in the case of justification, and as it is the law or covenant of works, yet they do not so, out of the case of justification, and as it is the law of Christ.
For thus saith Luther, on the Galatians, p. 182, "Out of the matter of justification, we ought, with Paul, (Rom 7:12,14), to think reverently of the law, to commend it highly to call it holy, righteous, just, good, spiritual, and divine. Yea, out of the case of justification, we ought to make a God of it."272272That is, raise our esteem of it to the highest pitch, and give it illimitable obedience. And in another place, says he, on the Galatians, p. 5, "There is a civil righteousness, and a ceremonial righteousness; yea, and besides these, there is another righteousness, which is the righteousness of the law, or of the ten commandments, which Moses teacheth; this also we teach after the doctrine of faith." And in another place, he having showed that believers, through Christ, are far above the law, adds, "Howbeit, I will not deny but Moses showeth to them their duties, in which respect they are to be admonished and urged; wherefore such doctrines and admonitions ought to be among Christians, as it is certain there was among the apostles, whereby every man may be admonished of his estate and office."
And Calvin, having said, as I told you before, "That Christians, in the case of justification, must raise and advance themselves above the law," adds, "Neither can any man thereby gather that the law is superfluous to the faithful, whom, notwithstanding, it doth not cease to teach, exhort, and prick forward to goodness, although before God's judgment-seat it hath no place in their conscience."
Ant. But, sir, if I forget not, Musculus says, "That the law is utterly abrogated."
Evan. Indeed, Musculus, speaking of the ten commandments, says, If they be weak, if they be the letter, if they do work transgression, anger, curse, and death: and if Christ, by the law of the Spirit of life, delivered them that believed in him from the law of the letter, which was weak to justify, and strong to condemn, and from the curse, being made a curse for us, surely, they be abrogated. Now, this is most certain, that the ten commandments do no way work transgression, anger, curse, and death, but only as they are the covenant of works.273273According to the holy Scripture, it is certain, that the law of the ten commandments has an irritating effect, whereby they increase sin; and a condemning and killing effect, so that they work curse, death, and wrath, called anger [it would seem] in the language of our forefathers, when Musculus' commonplaces were Englished. And it is no less certain, that Jesus Christ hath delivered believers from the law as it hath these effects, (Rom 14:15), "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect, because the law worketh wrath."—(7:5,6), "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins which were by the law, did work in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law that we should serve in newness of spirit," &c.—(8:2), "For the law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death."—(Gal 3:13), "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." If then the ten commandments have these effects, not only as they are the covenant of works, but as they are the law of Christ, or a rule of life, then believers are altogether delivered from them, which is absurd and abominable doctrine. Therefore it evidently follows, that the ten commandments have these effects, only as they are the covenant of works. The truth is, unto a gracious soul, the strongest possible temptation to Antinomianism, or casting off the ten commandments for good and all, would be to labour to persuade him, that they have these effects, not only as they are the covenant of works, but as they are the law of Christ; so that, take them what way he will, he shall find they have not only a cursing, condemning, and killing power, but also an irritating effect, increasing sin in him. Nevertheless, a Christian man's doing against them [which is the reverend Musculus' phrase, as cited by the author in the following,] may be a transgression, for a man may transgress the law, though the motions of his sins be not by the law. And how such a man's sinning is more outrageous than an ungodly man's will convincingly appear, if one measures the outrageousness of sinning, by the obligations to duty lying on the sinner, and not by his personal hazard, which is a measure more becoming a slave than a son. Neither hath Christ delivered believers any otherwise from them, than as they are the covenant of works. And therefore we may assuredly conclude, that they are no otherwise abrogated, than as they are the covenant of works.274274Thus our author has proved, that the law of the ten commandments is a rule of life to believers; and hath vindicated Luther and Calvin from the opposite Antinomian error, as he does Musculus also, in the following words: and that from their express declarations, in their own words. And here is the conclusion of the whole matter. To show the judgment of other orthodox Protestant divines, on this head, against the Antinomians, it will not be amiss to adduce a passage out of a system of divinity, commonly put into the hands of students not very many years ago, I am sure. "It is one thing [says Turretine, disputing against the Antinomians] to be under the law as a covenant; another thing, to be under the law as a rule of life. In the former sense, Paul says, 'That we are not under the law, but under grace,' (Rom 6:14), as to its covenant relation, curse, and rigour; but in the latter sense we always remain bound unto it, though for a different end; for in the first covenant man was to do this, to the end that he might live; but in the other, he is bound to perform the same thing, not that he may live, but because he lives." Turret. loc. 11. quest. 24, thes. 7. View again, Westm. Confess. chap. 19, art. 6. Hereunto agreeth our author's conclusion, viz: That believers are no otherwise, not any otherwise delivered from the law of the ten commandments, but as they are the covenant of works. Now, how can those who oppose Antinomianism, on this head, contradict the author thereupon but by asserting, "That believers are not delivered from the law, as it is the covenant of works, but that they are still under the power of the covenant of works"? The which are principles as opposite to the received doctrine of orthodox Protestant divines and to the Confession of Faith, as they are to the doctrine of our author. Neither did Musculus intend any otherwise; for, says he, in the words following, it must not be understood, that the points of the substance of Moses' covenant are utterly brought to nothing; 275275That is, that the particular precepts of the law of the ten commandments, called by Musculus the substance of the law-covenant, are disannulled, and no more to be regarded. God forbid. For a Christian man is not at liberty to do those things that are ungodly and wicked; and if the doing of those things the law forbids, do not displease Christ; if they be no much different,276276That is, very unsuitable. yea contrary; if they be not repugnant to the righteousness which we received of him; let it be lawful for a Christian man to do them; or else not.277277That is, or if they be, as certainly they are, displeasing to Christ: most unsuitable, contrary, and repugnant to the righteousness which the believer hath received from Christ, then they are by no means to be done. But a Christian man doing against those things which are commanded in the decalogue, doth sin more outrageously than he that should so do, being under the law;278278These are the words of Musculus still, adduced by the author to show, that that famous divine was no Antinomian; and if they will not serve to clear him, but he must still be on that side, I apprehend orthodox Protestants will be sorry for their loss of that great man. But though it be observed, that he speaks of doing against the things commanded in the law, but not against the law itself, there is no hazard: for it is evident, that by the law, Musculus understands the covenant of works, or, in his style, Moses' covenant; and since he was not of the opinion that believers are under the covenant of works, no, nor under the commanding power of that covenant, he could not say that they sinned against it. However, he still looks on the ten commandments, the substance of that covenant, to be also the law of Christ, binding the Christian man to obedience. From his saying, That a Christian doing against these things, sins more outrageously than one who is under the law; it does, indeed, follow, that a Christian's sin is more displeasing to God, and deserves a heavier curse in itself, though in the mean time, the law of Christ has no curse annexed unto the transgressions of it. For, sin's deserving of a curse, arises not from the threatening, but from its contrariety to the precept, and consequently, to the holy nature of God; since it is manifest that sin does not therefore deserve a curse, because a curse is threatened; but a curse is threatened, because sin deserves it. And the sins of believers do in themselves deserve a heavier curse than the sins of others. Yet the law of Christ has not a curse annexed to the transgressions of it; because the heavy curse, deserved by the sins of believers, was already laid on Christ, to whom they are united, and he bare it for them, and bore it away from them; so that they cannot be threatened with it over again, after their union with him. so far off is he from being free from those things that be there commanded.
Chapter III, Secion 4
The necessity of marks and signs of grace.
Wherefore, friend Antinomista, if either you, or any man else, shall, under a pretence of your being in Christ, exempt yourselves from being under the law of the ten commands, as they are the law of Christ, I tell you truly, it is a shrewd sign you are not yet in Christ; for if you were, then Christ were in you; and If Christ were in you, then would he govern you, and you would be subject unto him. I am sure the prophet Isaiah tell us, that the same Lord, who is our Saviour, "is also our King and Lawgiver," (Isa 33:22); and, truly, he will not be Jesus a Saviour to any but only to those unto whom he is Christ a Lord; for the very truth is, wheresoever he is Jesus a Saviour, he is also Christ a Lord; and, therefore, I beseech you, examine yourself whether he be so to you or no.
Ant. Why then, sir, it seems that you stand upon marks and signs?
Evan. Yea, indeed, I stand so much upon marks and signs, that I
say unto you in the words of the apostle John, (1 John 3:10), "In this the
children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not
righteousness, is not of God." For says Luther, "He that is truly baptized, is become
a new man, and has a new nature, and is endowed with new dispositions; and
loveth, liveth, speaketh, and does far otherwise than he was wont, or could
before." For says godly Tindal, "God worketh with his word, and in his word: and
bringeth faith into the hearts of his elect, and looseth the heart from sin,
and knitteth it to God, and giveth a man power to do that which was before impossible
for him to do, and turneth him into a new nature." 1 And, therefore, says
Luther in another place, "Herein works are to be extolled and commended, in that
they are fruits and signs of faith; and, therefore, he that hath no regard how
he leadeth his life, that he may stop the mouths of all blamers and accusers, and
clear himself before all, and testify the he has lived, spoken, and done well, is not
yet a Christian." How then, says Tindal again, "dare any man think that God's
favour is on him, and God's Spirit within him, when he feels not the working of
his Spirit, nor himself disposed to any good thing?" 2 Evan. Indeed, I must
needs confess with Mr. Bolton and Mr. Dyke, that in these times of Christianity, a
reprobate may make a glorious profession of the gospel, and perform all the
duties and exercises of religion, and that, in outward appearance, with as great
spirit and zeal as a true believer; yea, he may be made partaker of some measure of inward
illumination, and have a shadow of true regeneration; there being no grace
effectually wrought in the faithful, a resemblance whereof may not be found in the
unregenerate. And therefore, I say, if any man pitch upon the sign, without the
thing signified by the sign, 3 that is, if he pitch upon his graces [or gifts rather]
and duties, and conclude The Marrow of Modern Divinity by THOMAS BOSTON
Chapter III, Section 5
Antinomian objections answered.
Ant. But, sir, you know the Lord hath promised to write his law in a believer's heart, and to give him his Spirit to lead him into all truth: and therefore he hath no need of the law, written with paper and ink, to be a rule of life to him; neither hath he any need to endeavour to be obedient thereunto, as you say.
Evan. Indeed, says Luther, the matter would even so far as you say, if we were perfectly and altogether the inward and spiritual men, which cannot be in any wise before the last day at the rising again of the dead:279279We would have no need for the law written without us, if, as we are spiritual in part, in respect of sanctification begun in us, we were perfectly and altogether spiritual, both in body and soul. But that is not to be expected till the resurrection; when that which is now "sown a natural body, is raised a spiritual body," (1 Cor 15:44); being re-united to the spirit or soul "made perfect at death"; (Heb 12:23); the which doth therefore no more, from the moment of death, need the law written without it. so long as we be clothed with this mortal flesh, we do but begin and proceed onwards in our course towards perfection, which will be consummated in the life to come: and for this cause the apostle, (Rom 8) doth call this the "first fruits of the Spirit," which we do enjoy in this life, the truth and fullness of which we shall receive in the life to come. And therefore, says he in another place, it is necessary so to preach to them that have received the doctrine of faith, that they might be stirred up to go on in good life, which they have embraced; and that they suffer not themselves to be overcome by the assaults of the raging flesh; for we will not so presume of the doctrine of faith, as if, that being had, every man might do what he listed: no, we must earnestly endeavour ourselves, that we may be without blame; and when we cannot attain thereunto, we must flee to prayer, and say before God and man, "Forgive us our trespasses." And, says Calvin, Instit. p. 162, one proper use and end of the law, concerning the faithful,280280That is, respecting believers. in whose hearts liveth and reigneth the Spirit of God, is this: namely, although they have the law written and engraven in their hearts by the finger of God, yet is the281281Written. law to them a very good means, whereby they may daily, better and more assuredly, learn what is the will of the Lord: and let none of us exempt himself from this need, for no man hath hitherto attained to so great wisdom, but that he hath need to be daily instructed by the law. And herein Christ differeth from us, that the Father hath poured out upon him the infinite abundance of his Spirit: but whatsoever we do receive, it is so by measure, that we have need one of another.
Now mind it, I pray you, if believers have the Spirit but in measure, and know but in part, then have they the "law written in their hearts" but in measure and in part,282282They have not the law written completely and perfectly in their hearts. (1 Cor 13:9); and if they have the law written in their hearts but in measure and in part, then have they not a perfect rule within them; and if they have not a perfect rule within them, then they have need to have a rule without them. And therefore, doubtless, the strongest believer of us all, had need to hearken to the advice of Tindal, who says, "Seek the word of God in all things, and without the word of God do nothing." And says another godly and evangelical writer, "My brethren, let us do our whole endeavour to do the will of God as it becometh good children, and beware that we sin not, as near as we can."
Ant. Well, sir, I cannot tell what to say, but, methinks, when a man is perfectly justified by faith, it is a very needless thing for him to endeavour to keep the law, and to do good works.283283This Antinomian principle, That it is needless for a man, perfectly justified by faith, to endeavour to keep the law, and do good works, is a glaring evidence that legality is so engrained in man's corrupt nature, that until a man truly come to Christ, by faith, the legal disposition will still be reigning in him; let him turn himself into what shape, or be of what principles he will in religion; though he run into Antinomianism he will carry along with him his legal spirit, which will always be a slavish and unholy spirit. He is constrained, as the author observes, to do all that he does for fear of punishment, and hope of reward; and if it is once fixed in his mind that these are ceased in his case, he stands still like a clock when the weights that made her go are removed, or like a slave when he is in no hazard of the whip; than which there cannot be a greater evidence of loathsome legality.
Evan. I remember Luther says, that in his time there were some
that did reason after the like manner: "If faith, say they, do accomplish all
things, and if faith be only and alone sufficient unto righteousness, to what end are we
commanded to do good deeds? we may go play then, and work no working at all."
To whom he makes an answer, saying, "Not so, ye ungodly! not so." And there
were others that said, "If the law do not justify, then it is in vain, and
of none effect." "Yet it is not therefore true, says he; for like as this consequence is
nothing worth, money doth not justify or make a man righteous, therefore it is
unprofitable; the eyes do not justify, therefore they must be plucked out; the
hands make not a man righteous, therefore they must be cut off; so is this naught
also, the law doth not justify, therefore it is unprofitable. We do not therefore
destroy and condemn the law, because we say it doth not justify; but we say with
Paul, (1 Tim 1:8), 'the law is good, if a man do rightly use it.' And that this is
a faithful saying, that they 'which have believed in God might be careful to maintain
good works; these things are good and profitable unto men,'" (Titus 3:8).
Chapter III, Section 6
Holiness and good works attained to only by faith.
Neo. Truly, sir, for mine own part, I do much marvel that this my friend Antinomista should be so confident of his faith in Christ, and yet so little regard holiness of life, and keeping of Christ's commandments, as it seems he does. For I give the Lord thanks, I do now, in some small measure, believe that I am, by Christ, freely and fully justified and acquitted from all my sins, and therefore have no need either to eschew evil or do good, for fear of punishment or hope of reward; and yet, methinks, I find my heart more willing and desirous to do what the Lord commands, and to avoid what he forbids, than ever it was before I did thus believe.284284It is not the scope or design of Neophytus here, to show wherein the essence of faith consists, or to give a definition to it. But suppose it was so, his definition falls considerably short of some given by famous orthodox Protestant divines, yea, and churches too. See the note on the definition of faith. I repeat here Mr. John Davidson's definition only, viz: "Faith is an hearty assurance that our sins are freely forgiven us in Christ." From whence one may clearly see, that some time a-day, it was reckoned no absurdity that one's justification was made the object of one's belief. For the understanding of which ancient Protestant doctrine, grown almost quite out of ken with unlearned readers, I shall adduce a passage out of Wendeline's Christ. Theol. lib. 1. cap. 24, p. 542, 543. He proposes the Popish objection thus, "Justifying faith must go before justification; but the faith of special mercy doth not go before justification; if it did, it were false; for at that rate, a man should believe that his sins are forgiven, which as yet are not forgiven, since they are not forgiven but by justification; therefore the faith of special mercy is not justifying faith." In answer to which, he denies the second of these propositions, with the proofs thereof, and concludes in these words: "Justifying faith, therefore, hath for the special object of it, forgiveness of sins, future, present, and past." He explains it thus, "By the faith of special mercy, as it goeth before justification, a man doth not believe that his sins are forgiven him already, before the act of believing"; this, by the by, is the Antinomian faith, justifying only declaratively. Follows the true doctrine of faith: "But that he shall have forgiveness of sins; in the very act of justification, he believes his sins are forgiven him, and so receives forgiveness; after justification, he believes the past application," viz: forgiveness, that is, that his sins are now already forgiven him. But the design of Neophytus is, to make a profession of his faith, and, by an argument drawn from Christian experience, to refute the Antinomian pretended faith, whereby a sinner, at first brush, believes his sins to be already forgiven him, before the act of believing, and thereafter hath no regard to holiness of life; a plain evidence that that persuasion is not of God. And in opposition to it, is this profession made, which consists of three parts: (1.) He professes that he believes himself to be justified and acquitted from all his sins; and this is the belief of the past application, after justification, which we heard before from Wendeline. For we have already found Neophytus brought unto faith in Christ, and the match betwixt Christ and him declared to be made, though his faith was accompanied with fears. And now he finds his faith grown up in some small measure unto the height which Antinomista pretended his faith to be at, namely, unto believing himself to be already justified; but withal he intimates, that his faith had not come to this pitch all of a sudden, as Antinomista's had done; but that it was some time after he believed, ere he did thus believe. And now, indeed, his believing thus, only in some small measure, was his sin, and argued the weakness of his faith: but such a man's believing, in any measure, great or small, that he was justified and acquitted from all his sins, must be commended and approved, unless we will bring back the Popish doctrine of doubting. (2.) He professes, That therefore, namely, since he was justified, and believed himself to be so, he had no need to eschew evil, or do good for fear of punishment or hope of reward; the which Antinomista pretending to likewise, had cast off all care of keeping the law, or doing good works, having no other principle of obedience within him. This does not at all look to punishments and rewards, improperly so called, that is, fatherly chastisements and favours, of which the author afterwards treats expressly; but it is plainly meant of rewards and punishments taken in a proper sense, as flowing from the justice of God, remunerative and vindictive, and proceeding upon our works, good and evil; and particularly it is meant of heaven and hell. This is the sense in which that phrase is commonly used by divines; and that it is so to be taken here, is evident from its being inferred from his justification, which indeed leaves no place for fear of punishment and hope of reward in the latter sense: but not so in the former sense. And thus, it appears, Nomista understood it, as shall appear afterwards. (3.) He professes, That he was so far from being the less inclined to duty, that he believed himself to be fully justified, and that the fear of punishment and hope of reward were ceased in his case; that, on the contrary, he found, as his faith grew, his love to and readiness for holiness of life, grew: he was more willing, and more desirous to do the Lord's commandments than he had been before his faith was advanced to that pitch. And herein, I conceive, the experience of the saints will not contradict him. Thus he gives a plain testimony against the Antinomian faith. Surely, sir, I do perceive that faith in Christ is no hindrance to holiness of life, as I once thought it was.
Evan. Neighbour Neophytus, if our friend Antinomista do content himself with a mere gospel knowledge, in a notionary way, and have run out to fetch in notions from Christ, and yet is not fetched in by the power of Christ, let us pity him, and pray for him. And in the mean time, I pray you, know that true faith in Christ285285Namely, the faith of special mercy, or a faith of particular application, without which, in greater or lesser measure, it is not saving faith. is so far from being a hindrance from holiness of life and good works, that it is the only furtherance; for only by faith in Christ, a man is enabled to exercise all Christian graces aright, and to perform all Christian duties aright, which before he could not. As, for example, before a man believe God's love to him in Christ, though he may have a kind of love to God, as he is his Creator and Preserver, and gives him many good things for this present life, yet if God do but open his eyes, to see what condition his soul is in, that is, if he do but let him see that relation that is betwixt God and him, according to the tenor of the covenant of works, then he conceives of him as an angry Judge, armed with justice against him, and must be pacified by the works of the law, whereunto he finds his nature opposite and contrary; and therefore he hates both God and his law, and doth secretly wish and desire there were neither God nor law. And though God should now give unto him ever so many temporal blessings, yet could he not love him; for what malefactor could love that judge or his law, from whom he expected the sentence of condemnation, though he should feast him at his table with ever so many dainties? "But after that the kindness and love of God his Saviour hath appeared, not by works of righteousness that he hath done, but according to his mercy he saved him," (Titus 3:4,5); that is, when as by the eye of faith, he sees himself to stand in relation to God, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace,286286His soul resting on Christ, whom he hath received for salvation. then he conceives of God as a most merciful and loving Father to him in Christ, that hath freely pardoned and forgiven him all his sins, and quite released him from the covenant of works;287287Thus he conceives of God according to the measure of his faith, or of his soul's resting on Christ, which admits of various degrees. and by this means "the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, through the Holy Ghost which is given to him," and then "he loves God because he first loved him," (Rom 5:5, 1 John 4:19). For as a man seeth and feeleth by faith the love and favour of God towards him in Christ his Son, so doth he love again both God and his law; and indeed it is impossible for any man to love God, till by faith he know himself beloved of God.
Secondly, Though a man, before he believe God's love to him in Christ, may have a great measure of legal humiliation, compunction, sorrow, and grief, and be brought down, as it were, to the very gate of hell, and feel the very flashing of hell-fire in his conscience for his sins, yet it is not because he hath thereby offended God, but rather because he hath thereby offended himself, that is, because he hath thereby brought himself into the danger of eternal death and condemnation.288288A man's believing God's love to him, is woven into the very nature of saving faith, as hath been already shown. Wherefore, whatsoever humiliation, compunction, sorrow, and grief for sin, go before it, they must needs be but legal, being before faith, "without which it is impossible to please God," (Heb 11:6). But when once he believes the love of God to him in Christ in pardoning his iniquity, and passing by his transgressions,289289The belief of which, in some measure, is included in the nature of faith.—See note on the definition of faith. then he sorrows and grieves for the offence of God by sin; reasoning thus with himself: And is it so indeed? Hath the Lord given his own Son to death for me who have been such a vile sinful wretch? And hath Christ borne all thy sins? and was he wounded for thy transgressions? Oh then, the working of his bowels, the stirring of his affections, the melting and relenting of his repenting heart! "Then he remembers his own evil ways, and his doings that were not good, and loathes himself in his own eyes for all his abominations"; and looking upon Christ, "whom he hath pierced, he mourns bitterly for him, as one mourneth for his only son," (Eze 36:31, Zech 12:10). Thus, when faith has bathed a man's heart in the blood of Christ, it is so mollified that it quickly dissolves into tears of godly sorrow; so that if Christ do but turn and look upon him, Oh then, with Peter, he goes out and weeps bitterly! And this is true gospel-mourning; and this is right evangelical repenting.290290This is the springing up of the "seeds of repentance put into the heart in sanctification," Larg. Cat. q. 75; a work of sanctifying grace, acceptable to God; the curse being taken off the sinner, and his person accepted in the Beloved, and like to the mourning and repenting of that woman, (Luke 7:47), "Who, having much forgiven her, loved much." Betwixt which repentance and pardon of sin, there is an inseparable connection, so that it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it. Westm. Confess. chap. 15. art. 3.
Thirdly, Though, before a man do truly believe in Christ, he may so reform his life and amend his ways, that as "touching the righteousness which is of the law," he may be, with the apostle, blameless, (Phil 3:6); yet, being under the covenant of works, all the obedience that he yields to the law, all his leaving off of sin, and performance of duties, all his avoiding what the law forbids, and all his doing what the law commands, is begotten by the law of works, of Hagar the bond-woman, by the force of self-love; and so, indeed, they are the fruit and works of a bond-servant, that is moved and constrained to do all that he doth, for fear of punishment and hope of reward.291291This can have no reference at all to the motives of a believer's obedience, unless believers, as well as unbelievers, are to be reckoned to be under the covenant of works; for it is manifest, that the author speaks here of such only as are under that covenant. But, on the contrary, if a man is under the covenant of works called the law, in the style of the Holy Ghost, he is not a believer, but an unbeliever, (Rom 6:14), "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." This reasoning proceeds upon this principle, viz: Those who are under the covenant of works, and they only, are under the dominion or reigning power of sin. And if men, being under the covenant of works, are under the dominion of sin, it is evident that they are not believers, but bond-servants, that the love of God dwelleth not in them, but corrupt self-love reigns in them; and, therefore, unto the good they do, they are constrained, by fear of punishment and hope of reward, agreeable to the threatening and promise of the broken covenant of works they are under; that their obedience, conform to their state and condition, is but servile; no better than it is here described to be, having only the letter, but not the spirit of true obedience, the which, before any man can attain unto, he must be set free from the covenant of works, as the apostle teaches; (Rom 7:6), "But now, we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter": and finally, that as is the condition and the obedience of those under the covenant of works, so shall their end be, (Gal 4:30), "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." "For," says Luther, on the Galatians, p. 218, "the law given on Mount Sinai, which the Arabians call Agar, begetteth none but servants." And so indeed all that such a man doth is but hypocrisy; for he pretends the serving of God, whereas, indeed, he intends the serving of himself. And how can he do otherwise? for whilst he wants faith, he wants all things: he is an empty vine, and therefore must needs bring forth fruit unto himself: (Hosea 10:1). Till a man be served himself, he will not serve the Lord Christ.292292That is, till the empty vine be filled with the Spirit from Jesus Christ, it will never bring forth fruit unto him. Till a man do once eat by faith he will never work aright. The conscience must be purged from dead works, else one is not in case "to serve the living God," (Heb 9:14). The covenant of works says to the sinner, who is yet without strength, "Work, and then ye shall be filled"; but the covenant of grace says to him, "Be filled, and then thou must work." And until the yoke of the covenant of works be taken off a man's jaws, and meat be laid unto him, he will never take on and bear the yoke of Christ's acceptably. Nay, while he wants faith, he wants the love of Christ, and therefore he lives not to Christ, but to himself, because he loves himself. And hence, surely, we may conceive it is that Dr. Preston says, "All that a man doeth, not out of love, is out of hypocrisy. Wheresoever love is not, there is nothing but hypocrisy in such a man's heart."
But when a man, through the "hearing of faith, receives the
Spirit of Christ," (Gal 3:2), that Spirit, according to the measure of faith, writes the
lively law of love in his heart, [as Tindal sweetly says,] whereby he is enabled to
work freely and of his own accord, without the co-action or compulsion of the law.
293293The words co-action and compulsion signify one and the same thing, viz: forcing; so that to work without the co-action or
compulsion of the law, is to work without being force thereto by the law. One would think it so very plain and obvious, that the way how the law forceth men to work, is by the terror of the dreadful
punishment which it threatens in case of not working, that it does but darken the matter to say, The co-action or compulsion
of the law consists in its commanding and binding power or force; the which must needs be meant of the commanding and binding
power of the covenant of works, or of the law, as it is the covenant of works. For it cannot be meant [as these words seem
to bear] of that power which the law of the ten commandments, as a rule of life, hath over men, to bind them to obedience,
under which, I think, the impartial reader is by this time convinced that the author denies not believers still to be; for
to call that co-action or compulsion, is contrary to the common understanding and usage of these words in society. At this
rate, one must say, That the glorified saints and angels [to ascend no higher] being, as creatures of God, under the commanding
and binding power of the eternal rule of righteousness, are compelled and forced to their obedience too; and that when we
pray, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," we pray to be enabled to obey the will of God, as the angels do in
heaven, by co-action and compulsion in the height thereof; for surely the angels have the sense of the commanding and binding
power of the eternal rule of righteousness upon them in a degree far beyond what any believer on earth has. Wherefore that
exposition of the co-action or compulsion of the law, and so putting believers under the law's co-action or compulsion, amount
just to what we met with before, namely, That believers are under the commanding power [at least] of the covenant of works,
having obedience bound upon them with the cords of hell, or under the pain of the curse. Accordingly, the compulsion of the
law is more plainly described to be its binding power and moral force, which it derives from the awful authority of the sovereign
Lawgiver, commanding obedience to his law, and threatening disobedience with wrath, or with death, or hell. And so our author
is blamed for not subjecting believers to this compulsion of the law. In the preceding paragraph he had shown, that the obedience of unbelievers to the law of the ten commandments is produced
by the influence of the law [or covenant] of works upon them, forcing or constraining them thereto by the fear of the punishment
which it threatens. Thus, they work by the co-action or compulsion of the law, or covenant of works, being destitute of the
love of God. Here he affirms, that when once a man is brought unto Christ, he having the sanctifying Spirit of Christ dwelling
in him, and being endowed with faith that purifies the heart, and with love that is strong as death, is enabled to work freely,
and of his own accord, without that co- action or compulsion. This is the doctrine of the holy Scripture. (Psa 51:12), "Uphold me with thy free spirit." Compare (Gal 5:18), "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." So (Psa 110:3), "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Compare (1 Peter 5:2), "Not by constraint but willingly." And believers are declared to be "not under the law," (Rom 6:14).—"To be made free from the law of death. Not to have received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption,"
(8:2,15). How then can they still be under the co-active and compulsive power of the law, frightening and forcing them to
obedience by its threatenings of the second death, or eternal wrath? And it is evident that this is the received doctrine of orthodox divines, which might be attested by a cloud of witnesses,
if the nature of this work did permit. "Not to be under the law," says Luther, "is to do good things, and abstain from wicked
things, not through compulsion of the law, but by free love, and with pleasure." Chos. Ser. 20, p. 232. "The second part [viz: of Christian liberty] is," says Calvin, "that consciences obey the law, not as compelled by the necessity
of the law, but being free from the yoke of the law itself, of their own accord they obey the will of God." Instit. book 3,
chap. 19, sec. 4. "We would distinguish betwixt the law, considered as a law and as a covenant. A law doth necessarily imply no more than,
(1.) To direct. (2.) To command, enforcing that obedience by authority. A covenant doth further necessarily imply promises
made upon some condition, or threatenings added, if such a condition be not performed. The first two are essential to the
law, the last two to believers, are made void through Christ; in which sense it is said, that by him we are freed from the
law as a covenant; so that believers' lives depend not on the promises annexed to the law, nor are they in danger by the threatenings
adjoined to it." Durham on the Commands, p. 4. "What a new creature doth, in observance of the law, is from natural freedom, choice, and judgment, and not by the force
of any threatenings annexed to it." Charnock, vol. 2, p. 59. See Westminster Confession, chap. 20, art. 1, of which afterwards. And thus is that text, (1 Tim 1:9), "The law is not made for a righteous man, generally understood by divines, critics, and commentators, the law, threatening,
compelling, condemning, is not made for a righteous man, because he is pushed forward to duty of his own accord, and is no
more led by the spirit of bondage, and fear of punishment." Turret. loc. 2, q. 24, th. 8.—"By the law is to be understood
the moral law, as it is armed in stings and terrors, to restrain rebellious sinners. By the righteous man is meant one in
whom a principle of divine grace is planted, and who, from the knowledge and love of God, chooses the things that are pleasing
to him. As the law has annexed so many severe threatenings to the transgressors of it, it is evident that it is directed to
the wicked, who will only be compelled by fear from an outrageous breaking of it." Continuation of Poole's Annotations on
the Text. "The law is not for him, as a master to command him, to constrain him as a bondman." Lodovic de Dieu. "The law doth
not compel, press on, fright, lie heavy upon, and punish a righteous man." Strigelius.—"It lies not on him as a heavy burden,
compelling a man against his will, violently pressing him on, and pushing him forwards; it doth not draw him to obedience;
but leads him, being willing." Scultetus.—"For of his own accord he doth right." Castalio, apud Pol. Synop. in Loc.
For that love wherewith Christ, or God in Christ, hath loved him, and which by
faith is apprehended of him, will constrain him to do so; according to
that of the apostle, (2 Cor 5:14), "The love of Christ constraineth us." That is, it
will make him do so, whether he will or no; he cannot choose, but do it.294294"It is a metonymy from the effect, that is, love makes me to do it in that manner, as a man that is compelled; that is the
meaning of it. So it has the same effect that compulsion hath, though there be nothing more different from compulsion than
love." Dr. Preston, ibid. p. 29.
tell you truly, answerably as the love of Christ is shed abroad in the heart of
any man, it is such a strong impulsion, that it carries him on to serve and please
the Lord in all things, according to the saying of an evangelical man:295295If one considers that the drift and scope of this whole discourse, is to discover the naughtiness of Antinomista's faith,
observed by Neophytus, one may perceive, that by the author's quoting Towne, the Antinomian, upon that head, he gives no more
ground to suspect himself of Antinomianism, though he calls him an evangelical man than a Protestant gives in point of Popery,
by quoting Cardinal Bellarmine against a Papist, though withal he call him a Catholic. And the epithet given to Towne, is
so far from being a high commendation, that, really, it is none at all; for, though both these epithets, the latter as well
as the former, are in themselves honourable, yet in these cases, a man speaking in the language of his adversary, they are
nothing so. Evangelista could not but remember that Antinomista had told him roundly, "That he had not been so evangelical
as some others in the city, which caused him to leave hearing of him, to hear them," viz: those evangelical men; and why might
not he give him a sound note from one of those evangelical men, even under that character, so acceptable to him, without ranking
himself with them?
"The will and
affection of a believer, according to the measure of faith and the spirit
received, sweetly quickens and bends, to choose, affect, and delight in whatever
is good and acceptable to God, or a good man; the Spirit freely and
cheerfully moving and inclining him to keep the law, without fear of hell or hope of
heaven." For a Christian man, says sweet Tindal, worketh only because it is the
will of his Father; for after that he is overcome with love and kindness, he
seeks to do the will of God, which is indeed a Christian man's nature; and what
he doth, he doth it freely after the example of Christ. As a natural son, ask him
why he does such a thing. Why, says he, it is the will of my Father, and I do it
that I may please him; for, indeed, love desireth no wages, it is wages enough to
itself, it hath sweetness enough in itself, it desires no addition, it pays its own wages.
And therefore it is the true child-like obedience, being begotten by faith, of Sarah
the free-woman, by the force of God's love. And so it is indeed the only true
and sincere obedience: for, says Dr. Preston, "To do a thing in love, is to
do it in sincerity; and, indeed, there is no other definition of sincerity; that is
the best way to know it by."
Chapter III, Section 7
Slavish fear and servile hope not the springs of true obedience.
Nom. But stay, sir, I pray you, would you not have believers to eschew evil and do good, for fear of hell, or for hope of heaven?
Evan. No, indeed, I would not have any believer to do either the one or the other; for so far forth as they do so, their obedience is but slavish. 296296As for what concerns the hope of heaven, the author purposely explains that matter, that he would not have any believer to eschew evil or do good for fear of hell; the meaning thereof plainly is this, you being a believer in Christ, ought not to eschew evil and do good, for fear you be condemned, and cast into hell. So far as a believer doth so, the author justly reckons his obedience accordingly slavish. This is the common understanding and sense of such a phrase, as when we say, The slave works for fear of the whip. Some men abstain from stealing, robbing, and the like, for fear of the gallows; they eschew evil, not from love of virtue, but for fear of punishment, as the heathen poet says of his pretender to virtue, Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore, Tu nihil admittes in te formidine poenae. Horat. Epist. 16. Which may be thus Englished: Hatred of vice, in generous souls, From love of virtue flows, While nothing vicious minds controls But servile fear of blows. This is quite another thing than to say, that a believer in doing good, or eschewing evil, ought not to regard threatenings, nor be influenced by the threatening of death. For though believers ought never to fear that they shall be condemned and cast into hell, yet they both may and ought awfully to regard the threatenings of the holy law: and how they ought to regard them, one may learn from the Westm. Confess. chap. 19, art. 6, in these words, "The threatenings of it [viz: the law] serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law." Thus they are to regard them, not as denunciations of their doom, in case of sinning, but as a looking-glass wherein to behold the fearful demerit of their sin; the unspeakable love of God in freeing them from bearing it, his fatherly displeasure against his own for their sin, and the tokens of his anger to be expected by them in that case. So will they be influenced to eschew evil and do good, being thereby filled with hatred and horror of sin, thankfulness to God, and fear of the displeasure and frowns of their Father, though not with a fear that he will condemn them, and destroy them in hell; this glass represents no such thing. Such a fear in a believer is groundless. For (1.) He is not under the threatening of hell, or liable to the curse. If he were, he behoved that moment he sinneth to fall under the curse. For since the curse is the sentence of the law, passing on the sinner, according to the threatening, adjudging, and binding him over to the punishment threatened; if the law say to a man, before he sinneth, "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," it says unto him, in the moment he sinneth, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the law, to do them." And forasmuch as believers sin in every thing they do, their very believing and repenting being always attended with sinful imperfections, it is not possible, at this rate, that they can be one moment from under the curse; but it must be continually wreathed about their necks. To distinguish in this case, betwixt gross sins and lesser sins, is vain; for as every sin, even the least, deserves God's wrath and curse, [Short. Cat.,] so, against whomsoever the curse takes place, [and by virtue of God's truth, it takes place against all those who are threatened with hell or eternal death] they are cursed for all sins, smaller or greater: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things": though still there is a difference made betwixt greater and lesser sins, in respect of the degree of punishment, yet there is none in respect of the kind. But now believers are set free from the curse. (Gal 3:13), "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." (2.) By the redemption of Christ already applied to the believer, and by the oath of God, he is perfectly secured from the return of the curse upon him, (Gal 3:13), [see before,] compared with (Isa 53, 54:9), "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for, as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." Therefore he is perfectly secured from being made liable any more to hell or eternal death. For a man, being under the curse, is "so made liable to the pains of hell for ever." Short. Cat. (3.) He is justified by faith, and so adjudged to live eternally in heaven. This is unalterable, "for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance," (Rom 11:29). And a man can never stand adjudged to eternal life, and to eternal death, at one and the same time. (4.) One great difference betwixt believers and unbelievers lies here, that the latter are bound over to hell and wrath, the former are not: (John 3:18), "He that believeth is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already"; not that he is in hell already, but bound over to it. Now, a believer is still a believer, from the first moment of his believing; and therefore it remains true concerning him, from that moment for ever, that he is not condemned or bound over to hell and wrath. He is expressly secured against it for all time to come, from that moment. (John 5:24), "He shall not come into condemnation." And the apostle cuts off all evasion by distinctions of condemnation here, while he tells us in express terms, "There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," (Rom 8:1). (5.) The believer's union with Christ is never dissolved. (Hosea 2:19), "I will betroth thee unto me for ever": and being in Christ he is set beyond the reach of condemnation, (Rom 8:1). Yea, and being in Christ, he is perfectly righteous for ever; for he is never again stripped of the white raiment of Christ's imputed righteousness; while the union remains, it cannot be lost: but to be perfectly righteous, and yet liable to condemnation before a just Judge, are inconsistent. Neither is such a fear in a believer acceptable to God; for, (1.) It is not from the Spirit of God, but from one's own spirit, or a worse; (Rom 8:15), "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear"; namely, to fear death or hell. (Heb 2:15), "Who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage." (2.) It was the design of the sending of Christ, that believers in him might serve God without that fear, (Luke 1:74). That "We, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear." Compare (1 Cor 15:26), "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." And for this very cause Jesus Christ came, "That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their life-time," namely, before their deliverance by Christ, "subject to bondage," (Heb 2:14,15). (3.) Though it is indeed consistent with, yet it is contrary to faith; (Matt 8:26), "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith!" And to love too; (1 John 4:18), "Perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment."—(2 Tim 1:7), "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind." (4.) As it is not agreeable to the character of a father, who is not a revenging judge to his own family, to threaten to kill his children, though he threaten to chastise them: so such a fear is no more agreeable to the spirit of adoption, nor becoming the state of sonship to God, than for a child to fear that his father, being such a one, will kill him. And therefore, "the spirit of bondage to fear" is opposed to "the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," (Rom 8:15). "Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, [receive the spirit of adoption, Westm. Confess. chap. 12,] are under his fatherly care and dispensation, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory." Larg. Cat. q. 74. "The LIBERTY which Christ has 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, as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law." Westm. Confess. chap. 20, art. 1. By the guilt of sin here, must needs be understood obligation to eternal wrath. "The end of Christian liberty is, that being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might 'serve the Lord without fear.'" Ibid. art. 3. "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. q. 77. "Though a soul be justified and freed from the guilt of eternal punishment, and so the spirit is no more to be afraid and disquieted for eternal wrath and hell." Rutherford's Trial and Triumph, &c. Ser. 19, p. 261. "The believer hath no conscience of sins; that is, he in conscience is not to fear everlasting condemnation, that is most true." Ibid. p. 266. And therefore though, when they were first awakened and convinced of their misery, and set foot forward to go on in the way of life, they, with the prodigal, would be hired servants; yet when, by the eye of faith, they see the mercy and indulgence of their heavenly Father in Christ, running to meet them and embrace them; I would have them, with him, to talk no more of being hired servants, (Luke 16). I would have them so to wrestle against doubting, and so to exercise their faith as to believe, that they are by Christ "delivered from the hands of their enemies," both the law, sin, wrath, death, the devil, and hell, "that they may serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives," (Luke 1:74,75). I would have them so to believe God's love to them in Christ, as that thereby they may be constrained to obedience.297297And no marvel one would have them do so, since that is what all the children of God with one mouth do daily pray for, saying "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Nom. But, sir, you know that our Saviour says, "Fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," (Matt 10:28). And the apostle says, "We shall receive of the Lord the reward of the inheritance," (Col 3:24). And is it not said, that "Moses had respect unto the recompense of reward"? (Heb 11:26).
Evan. Surely the intent of our blessed Saviour, in that first Scripture, is to teach all believers, that when God commands one thing, and man another, they should obey God, and not man, rather than to exhort them to eschew evil for fear of hell. 298298There is a great difference betwixt a believer's eschewing evil for fear of hell, and his eschewing it from the fear of God, "as able to destroy both soul and body in hell." The former respects the event as to his eternal state, the latter not. To this purpose the variation of the phrase in the text is observable,—"fear not them that KILL the body": this notes the event, as to temporal death by the hands of men, which our Lord would have his people to lay their account with; but with respect to eternal death, he says not, fear him which destroys, but, "which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Moreover, the former is a slavish fear of God as a revenging judge; the believer eschewing sin for fear he be damned: the latter is a reverential fear of God as of a Father with whom is awful dominion and power. The former carries in it a doubtfulness and uncertainty as to the event, plainly contrary to the remedy prescribed in this same case: (Prov 29:25), "The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." The latter is consistent with the most full assurance of one's being put beyond all hazard of hell, (Heb 12:28,29), "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." A believer, by fixing his eyes on God, as able to destroy both soul and body in hell, may be so filled with the reverential fear of God, his dreadful power and wrath against sin, as to be fenced against the slavish fear of the most cruel tyrants, tempting him to sin; though in the mean time he most firmly believes that he is past that gulf, can never fall into it, nor be bound over unto it. For, so he hath a lively representation of the just deserving of sin, even of that sin in particular unto which he is tempted; and so must tremble at the thought of it, as an evil greater than death. And as a child, when he seeth his father lashing his slaves, cannot but tremble, and fear to offend him, so a believer's turning his eyes on the miseries of the damned, must raise in him an awful apprehension of the severity of his Father against sin, even in his own; and cause him to say in his heart, "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments," (Psa 119:120). Thus also he hath a view of the frightful danger, he has escaped; the looking back to which must make one's heart shiver, and conceive a horror of sin; as in the case of a pardoned criminal, looking back to a dreadful precipice from which he was to have been thrown headlong, had not a pardon seasonably prevented his ruin; (Eph 2:3), "We were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." And for those other Scriptures by you alleged, if you mean reward, and the means to obtain that reward, in the Scripture sense, then it is another matter; but I had thought you had meant in our common sense, and not in Scripture sense.
Nom. Why, sir, I pray you, what difference is there betwixt reward, and the means to obtain the reward, in our common sense, and in the Scripture sense?
Evan. Why, reward, in our common sense, is that which is conceived to come from God, or to be given by God; which is a fancying of heaven under carnal notions, beholding it as a place where there is freedom from all misery, and fullness of all pleasures and happiness, and to be obtained by our own works and doings.299299Thus, to eschew evil and do good for hope of heaven, is to do so in hope of obtaining heaven by our own works. And certainly "that hope shall be cut off, and be a spider's web," (Job 8:14); for a sinner shall never obtain heaven but in the way of free grace: "But if it be of works, then it is no more grace," (Rom 11:6). But that a believer may be animated to obedience by eying the reward already obtained for him by the works of Christ, our author no where denies. So indeed the apostle exhorts believers to run their Christian race, "looking unto Jesus, who, for the joy that was set before him," [to be obtained by his own works, in the way of most proper merits] "endured the cross," (Heb 12:1,2). "Papists," says Dr. Preston, "tell of escaping damnation, and of getting into heaven. But Scripture gives other motives [viz: to good works]: Thou art in Christ, and Christ is thine; consider what he hath done for thee, what thou hast by him, what thou hadst been without him, and thus stir up thyself to do for him what he requireth."—Abridg. of his Works, p. 394. But reward in the Scripture sense, is not so much that which comes from God, or is given by God, as that which lies in God, even the full fruition of God himself in Christ. "I am," says God to Abraham, "thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," (Gen 15:1), and "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" says David; "and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee," (Psa 73:25); and "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness,"300300"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever." Short. Cat.—"Believers shall be made perfectly blessed in full enjoying of God to all eternity." Ibid. (Psa 17:15). And the means to obtain this reward is, not by doing, but by believing; even by "drawing near with a true heart, in the full assurance of faith," (Heb 10:22); and so indeed it is given freely.301301(Rom 4:16), "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise [viz: of the inheritance (verse 13,14),] might be sure to all the seed." Otherwise it is not given freely; for "to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt," (verse 4). And therefore you are not to conceive of that reward which the Scripture speaks of, as if it were the wages of a servant, but as it is the inheritance of sons.302302The apostle's decision in this case seems to be pretty clear: (Rom 6:23), "for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life": he will not have us to look upon it as the wages of a servant too. The joining together of both these notions of the reward was, it seems, the doctrine of the Pharisees; (Mark 10:17), "Good Master, what shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?" And how unacceptable it was to our blessed Saviour, may be learned from his answer to that question. "The Papists confess that life is merited by Christ, and is made ours by the right of inheritance: so far we go with them. Yea, touching works, they hold many things with us; (1.) That no works of themselves can merit life everlasting. (2.) That works done before conversion, can merit nothing at God's hand. (3.) That there is no merit at God's hand, without his mercy, no exact merit as often there is amongst men. The point whereabout we dissent is, that with the merit of Christ and free promise, they will have the merit of works joined, as done by them who are adopted children."—Bayne on Ephesians 2:8). And when the Scripture seemeth to induce believers to obedience, by promising this reward, you are to conceive that the Lord speaks to believers as a father does to his young son, Do this or that and then I will love thee; whereas we know, that the father loveth the son first, and so does God; and therefore this is the voice of believers, "We love him, because he first loved us," (1 John 4:19). The Lord doth pay them, or at least gives them a sure earnest of their wages, before he bid them work;303303Namely, in the way of the covenant of grace. and therefore the contest of a believer [according to the measure of his faith] is not, what will God give me? but, what shall I give God? "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his goodness? For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes, and I have walked in thy truth," (Psa 116:12, 26:3).
Nom. Then, sir, it seems that holiness of life, and good works, are not the cause of eternal happiness, but only the way thither?
Evan. Do you not remember that our Lord Jesus himself says, "I
am the way, the truth, and the life"? (John 14:6); and doth not the apostle say
to the believing Colossians, "As ye have received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk
in him"? (Col 2:6); that is, as ye have received him by faith, so go on in
your faith, and by his power walk in his commandments. So that good works, as I
conceive, may rather be called a believer's walking in the way of eternal happiness,
than the way itself; but, however, this we may assuredly conclude, that the sum and
substance both of the way, and walking in the way, consists in the receiving of
Jesus Christ by faith, and in yielding obedience to his law, according to the
measure of that receiving.304304Our author, remembering Nomista's bias towards good works, as separated from Christ, puts him in mind, that Christ is the
way; and that the soul's motion heaven-ward is in Christ; that is, a man being once united to Christ by faith, moveth heaven-ward,
making progress in believing, and by influences derived from Jesus Christ, walking in his holy commandments. The Scripture
acknowledges no other holiness of life, or good works; and concerning the necessity of these the author moves no debate. But
as to the propriety of expression, since good works are the keeping of the commandments, in the way of which we are to go,
he conceives they may, with greater propriety, be called the walking in the way, than the way itself. It is certain that the
Scripture speaks of "walking in Christ," (Col 2:6), "walking in his commandments," (2 Chron 17:4), and "walking in good works," (Eph 2:10); and that as these terms signify but one and the same thing, so they are all metaphorical. But one would think the calling
of good works the way to be walked in, is further removed from the propriety of expression, than the calling them the walking
in the way. But the author waiving this, as a matter of phraseology, or manner of speaking only, tells us, that assuredly
the sum and substance, both of the way to eternal happiness, and of the walking in the way to it, consists in the receiving
Jesus Christ by faith, and in yielding obedience to his law, according to the measure of that receiving. Herein is comprehended
Christ and holiness, faith and obedience; which are inseparable. And no narrower is the compass of the way and walking mentioned,
(Isa 35:8,9), "It shall be called the way of holiness—the redeemed shall walk there."—"The way of holiness, or the holy way, [according
to an usual Hebraism,] as it is generally understood by interpreters, is the way leading to heaven, says Piscator; namely,
Christ, faith, and the doctrine of a holy life." Fererius apud Pol. Synop. in loc. And now that our author, though he conceives
good works are not so properly called the way, as the walking, yet does not say, that in no sense they may be called the way,
but does expressly assert them to be the soul's walking in the way of eternal happiness; he cannot justly be charged here
[more than any where else in his book] with teaching, that holiness is not necessary to salvation, unless one will, in the
first place, say that though the way itself to eternal happiness is necessary to salvation, yet the walking in the way is
not necessary to it; which would be Antinomian with a witness.
Chapter III, Section 8
The efficacy of faith for holiness of heart and life.
Neo. Sir, I am persuaded, that through my neighbour Nomista's asking you these
questions, you have been interrupted in your discourse, in showing how faith
enables a man to exercise his Christian graces, and perform his Christina duties
aright: and therefore I pray you go on.
Evan. What should I say more? for the time would fail me to tell, how that,
according to the measure of any man's faith, is his true peace of conscience; for,
says the apostle, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God," (Rom 5:1).
Yea, says the prophet Isaiah, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind
is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee," (Isa 26:3). Here there is a sure and
true grounded peace: "Therefore it is of faith," says the apostle, "that it might be
by grace, and that the promise might be sure to all the seed," (Rom 4:16). And
answerable to a man's believing that he is "justified freely by God's grace, through
spirit. So that, although he be endowed with excellent gifts and graces, and though
he perform never so many duties, he denies himself in all; he does not make them
as ladders for him to ascend up into heaven by, but he 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," (Phil 3:9). He does not think himself to be one step
nearer to heaven, for all his works and performances. And if he hear any man
praise him for his gifts and graces, he will not conceive that he has obtained the
same by his own industry and pains-taking, as some men have proudly thought;
neither will he speak it out, as some have done, saying; These gifts and graces
have cost me something—I have taken much pains to obtain them; but he says,
"By the grace of God I am what I am; and not I, but the grace of God that was
with me," (1 Cor 15:10). And if he behold an ignorant man, or a wicked liver, he
will not call him "Carnal wretch!" or, "Profane fellow!" nor say, "Stand by
thyself, come not near me, for I am holier than thou," (Isa 65:5), as some have
said; but he pities such a man, and prays for him; and in his heart he says
concerning himself, "Who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou
hast not received"? (1 Cor 4:7).
And thus I might go on, and show you how, according to any man's faith, is his
true joy in God, and his true thankfulness to God, and his patience in all troubles
and afflictions, and his contentedness in any condition, and his willingness to
suffer, and his cheerfulness in suffering, and his contentedness to part with any
earthly thing. Yea, according to any man's faith, is his ability to pray aright, (Rom
10:14), to receive the sacrament with profit and comfort: and to do any duty
either to God or man after a right manner, and to a right end, (Heb 4:2). Yea,
according to the measure of any man's faith, in his love to Christ, and so to man
for Christ's sake; and so, consequently, his readiness and willingness to forgive an
injury; yea, to forgive an enemy, and to do good to them that hate him; and the
more faith any man has, the less love he has to the world or the things that are in
the world. To conclude, the greater any man's faith is, the more fit he is to die,
and the more willing he is to die.
Neo. Well, sir, now I do perceive that faith is a most excellent grace, and happy is
that man who has a great measure of it.
Evan. The truth is, faith is the chief grace that Christians are to be exhorted to get
and exercise; and therefore, when the people asked our Lord Christ, "What they
should do to work the works of God," he answered and said, "This is the work of
God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent," (John 6:29); speaking as if there
were no other duty at all required, but only believing; for, indeed, to say as the
thing is, believing includes all other duties in it, and they spring all from it; and
therefore says one, "Preach faith, and preach all."—"Whilst I bid man believe,"
says learned Rollock, "I bid him do all good things"; for, says Dr. Preston, "Truth
of belief will bring forth truth of holiness; if a man believe, works of sanctification
will follow; for faith draws after it inherent righteousness and sanctification.
Wherefore" says he, "if a man will go about this great work, to change his life, to
get victory over any sin, that it may not have dominion over him, to have his
conscience purged from dead works and to be made partaker of the divine nature,
let him not go about it as a moral man"; that is, let him not consider what
commandments there are, what the rectitude is which the law requires, and how
to bring his heart to it; but "let him go about it as a Christian, that is, let him
believe the promise of pardon, in the blood of Christ; and the very believing the
promise will be able to cleanse his heart from dead works."306306The sum thereof is, that no considerations, no endeavours whatsoever, will truly sanctify a man, without faith. Howbeit, such considerations and endeavours are necessary to promote and advance the sanctification of the soul by faith.
Neo. But I pray you, sir, whence has faith its power and virtue to do all this?
Evan. Even from our Lord Jesus Christ; for faith doth ingraft a man, who is by
nature a wild olive branch, into Christ as into the natural olive; and fetches sap
from the root, Christ, and thereby makes the tree bring forth fruit in its kind; yea,
faith fetcheth a supernatural efficacy from the death and life of Christ; by virtue
him new principles of action.308308Namely, instrumentally. It cannot be denied that our author places faith before the new principles of actions in this passage, and before the habits of grace, and yet it will not follow, that, in his opinion, there can be no gracious change in the soul before faith. What he does indeed teach, in this matter, is warranted by the plain testimony of the apostle, (Eph 1:13), "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." And what this seal is, at least as to the chief part of it, may be learned from John 1:16, "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." For as sealing is the impression of the image of the seal on the wax, so that it thereby receives upon it point for point on the seal, so believers being sealed with the Spirit of Christ, receive grace for grace in Christ, whereby they are made like him, and bear his image. And as it is warranted by the words, so it is agreeable to the old Protestant doctrine, that we are regenerate by faith; which is the title of the 3d chap. of the 3d book of Calvin's Instit. and is taught in the Old Confess. art. 3, in these words: "Regeneration is wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of the elect of God an assured faith"; and art. 13, in these words: "So soon as 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 does he regenerate and renew the same man." Nevertheless, I am not of the mind, that, either in truth, or in the judgment of our reformers, or of our author, the first act of faith is an act of an unregenerate, that is to say, a dead soul. But to understand this matter aright, I conceive one must distinguish betwixt regeneration taken strictly, and taken largely; and betwixt new powers and new habits or principles of action. Regeneration, strictly so called, is the quickening of the dead soul, by the Spirit of Christ passively received, and goes before faith, according to John 1:12,13, "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; which were born not of blood, but of God." This is called by Amesius, the first regeneration, Medul. lib. 1, cap. 29, sect. 6; see cap. 26, sect. 19. And it belongs to, or is the same with effectual calling; in the description of which, in the Shorter Catechism, one finds a renewing mentioned, whereby sinners are enabled to embrace Jesus Christ; and, says the Larger Catechism on the same subject, "They, although in themselves dead in sin, are hereby made able to answer his call." Regeneration, largely taken, presupposing the former, is the same with sanctification, wrought in the soul by the Spirit of Christ, actively received by faith, and so follows faith. (Acts 26:18), "Among them which are sanctified by faith, that is in Me": the subjects of which "are the redeemed, called, and justified." Essen. Com. cap. 16, sect. 3. And accordingly, in the description thereof in the Shorter Catechism, mention is made of a second renewing, namely, "Whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness." And thus I conceive regeneration to be taken in the above passages of the Old Confession. The which is confirmed by the following testimonies: "Being in Christ, we must be new creatures, not in substance, but in qualities and disposition of our minds, and change of the actions of our lives, all which is impossible to them that have no faith." Mr. John Davidson's Catechism, page 29.—"So good works follow as effects of Christ in us, possessed by faith, who beginneth to work in us regeneration and a renewing of the whole parts and powers of the soul and body. Which begun sanctification and holiness he never ceases to accomplish." Ibid. p. 30.—"The effect [viz: of justification] inherent in us, as in a subject, is that new quality which is called inherent righteousness or regeneration." Grounds of Christian Religion, by the renowned Beza and Faius, 1586, chap. 29, sect. 11.—"That new quality, then called inherent righteousness and regeneration, testified by good works, is a necessary effect of true faith." Ibid. chap. 31, sect. 13. Now in regeneration taken in the former sense, new powers are put into the soul, whereby the sinner, who was dead in sin, is able to discern Christ in his glory, and to embrace him by faith. But it is in regeneration taken in the latter sense, that new habits of grace, or immediate principles of actions are given; namely, upon the soul's uniting with Christ by faith. So Essenius, having defined regeneration to be, the putting of spiritual life in a man spiritually dead, [compare chap. 14, sect. 11,] afterwards says, "As by regeneration new powers were put into the man, so by sanctification are given new spiritual habits." Theological Virtues, ibid. cap. 16, sect. 5. And as the Scriptures are express, in that men are "sanctified by faith," (Acts 26:18), so is the Larger Catechism in that it is in sanctification they are "renewed in the whole man, having the seeds of repentance unto life, and of all other saving graces, put into their hearts," quest. 75. So that, what a treasure of all graces Christ hath
stored up in him, faith draineth, and draweth them out to the use of a believer;
being as a conduit-cock, that watereth all the herbs of the garden. Yea, faith does
apply the blood of Christ to a believer's heart; and the blood of Christ has in it,
not only a power to wash from the guilt of sin, but to cleanse and purge likewise
from the power and stain of sin, and therefore, says godly Hooker, "If you would
have grace, you must first of all get faith, and that will bring all the rest, let faith
go to Christ, and there is meekness, patience, humility, and wisdom, and faith will
fetch all them to the soul; therefore, [says he,] you must not look for
sanctification till you come to Christ in vocation."
Nom. Truly, sir, I do now plainly see that I have been deceived, and have gone a
wrong way to work; for I verily thought that holiness of life must go before faith,
and so be the ground of it, and produce and bring it forth; whereas I do now
plainly see, that faith must go before, and so produce and bring forth holiness of
Evan. I remember a man, who was much enlightened in the knowledge of the
gospel,309309This man, Bernardine Ochine, an infamous apostate, was at first a monk; but as our author says, being much enlightened in the knowledge of the gospel, he not only made profession of the Protestant Religion, but, together with the renowned Peter Martyr, was esteemed a most famous preacher of the gospel, throughout Italy. Being in danger on the account of religion, he left Italy by Martyr's advice; and being much assisted by the Duchess of Ferrara in his escape, he went first to Geneva, and then to Zurich, and was admitted a minister in that city. But discovering himself there, [as Simon Magus did, after he had joined himself to the church of Samaria] he was banished; and is justly reckoned among the forerunners of the execrable Socinus. See Hoornbeck, appar. ad. contr. Soc. page 47. Hence one may plainly see how there are sermons of his which might safely and to good purpose be quoted. And as for the character given him by the author here, if one is in hazard of reckoning it an applause, one must remember that is no greater than what the apostle gives to the guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost, (Heb 6:6), "Those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift," &c., which I make no question but our author had his eye upon, in giving this man this character very pertinently. who says, "There may be many that think, that as a man chooses to
serve a prince, so men choose to serve God. So likewise they think that as those
who do best service, do obtain most favour of their lord; and as those that have
lost it, the more they humble themselves, the sooner they recover it; even so they
think the case stands between God and them; whereas, says he, it is not so, but
clean contrary, for he himself says, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen
you,' (John 15:16). And not for that we repent and humble ourselves, and do
good works, he gives us his grace; but we repent and humble ourselves, do good
works, and become holy, because he gives us his grace." The good thief on the
cross was not illuminated, because he did confess Christ; but he did confess
Christ, because he was illuminated. For, says Luther, on Galatians, p. 124, "The
tree must first be, and then the fruit; for the apples make not the tree, but the tree
makes the apples. So faith first maketh the person, which afterwards brings forth
works. Therefore to do the law without faith, is to make the apples of wood and
earth without the tree, which is not to make apples, but mere fantasies."
Wherefore, neighbour Nomista, let me entreat you, that whereas before you have
reformed your life that you might believe, why, now believe that you may reform
your life: and do not any longer work to get an interest in Christ, but believe your
interest in Christ, that so you may work.310310That is, by believing, get a saving interest in Christ; whereas, before, you have set yourself, as it were, to work it. See the note on the Definition of Faith. And then you will not make the change
of your life the ground of your faith, as you have done, and as Mr. Culverwell
says, many do, who being asked, What caused them to believe? answer,
"Because they have truly repented, and changed their course of life." 311311"Which [adds he] if it proceed not from faith, is not so much as a sound proof of faith, much less can it be any cause to draw them to believe."—"The only firm ground of saving faith is God's truth, revealed in his word; as is plainly taught," (Rom 10:17). Ibid p. 20, 21.
Ant. Sir, what think you of a preacher that, in my hearing, said, he durst not exhort nor persuade sinners to believe their sins were pardoned, before he saw their lives reformed, for fear they should take more liberty to sin?
Evan.. Why, what should I say but that I think that preacher was ignorant of the mystery of faith?312312This censure, as it natively follows upon the overthrowing of that doctrine, viz: "That holiness of life must go before faith, and so be the ground of it, and produce and bring it forth"; so it is founded on these two ancient Protestant principles: (1.) That the belief of the remission of sin is comprehended in saving, justifying faith. (2.) That true repentance, and acceptable reformation of life, do necessarily flow from, but go not before saving faith. Hence it necessarily follows, that remission of sin must be believed, before there can be any acceptable reformation of life; and that the preacher's fear was groundless, reformation of life being so caused by the faith of remission of sin, that it is inseparable from it: as our author teaches in the following passages. Calvin's censure in this case is fully as severe: "As for them [says he] that think that repentance does rather go before faith, than flow or spring forth of it, as a fruit out of a tree, they never knew the force thereof." Instit. book 3. chap. 3. sect. 1.—"Yet when we refer the beginning of repentance to faith, we do not dream a certain mean space of time, wherein it brings it out: but we mean to show, that a man cannot earnestly apply himself to repentance, unless he know himself to be of God." Ibid. sect. 2. For it,313313Namely, faith. is of the nature of sovereign waters, which so wash off the corruption of the ulcer, that they cool the heat, and stay the spreading of the infection, and so by degrees heal the same. Neither did he know that it is of the nature of cordials, which so comfort the heart and ease it, that they also expel the noxious humours, and strengthen nature against them. 314314Even so, faith not only justifies a sinner, but sanctifies him in heart and life.
Ant. And I am acquainted with a professor, though, God knows,315315I think this expression might very well have been spared here. a very weak one, that says, If he should believe before his life be reformed, then he might believe, and yet walk on in his sins:â€”I pray you, sir, what would you say to such a man?
Evan. Why, I could say with Dr. Preston, let him, if he can, believe truly, and do this; but it is impossible: let him believe, and the other will follow; truth of belief will bring forth truth of holiness: for who, if he ponder it well, can fear a fleshly licentiousness, where the believing soul is united and married to Christ?316316"Q. Does not this doctrine [viz: of justification by faith without works] make men secure and profane? A. No, for it cannot be, but they who are ingrafted into Christ by faith, should bring forth fruits of thankfulness." Palat. Cat. q. 64. The law, as it is the covenant of works, and Christ, are set in opposition, as two husbands to one wife successively, (Rom 7:4); whilst the law was alive in the conscience, all the fruits were deadly, (verse 5); but Christ, taking the same spouse to himself, the law being dead, by his quickening Spirit doth make her fruitful to God, (verse 6); and so raises up seed to the former husband: for materially these are the works of the law, though produced by the Spirit of Christ in the gospel.317317As a woman married to a second husband, after the death of the first, does the same work for subsistence in the family, that was required of her by the first husband; yet does it not to, nor as under the dead husband, but the living one; so the good works of believers are materially, and but materially, the works of the law, as a covenant, the first husband, now dead to the believer. In this sense only the law is here treated of: and to make the good works of believers formally the works of the law as a covenant and husband, is to contradict the apostle, (Rom 7:4-6), to "make them deadly fruits, dishonourable to Christ, the second husband, and unacceptable to God."
Ant. And yet, sir, I am verily persuaded, that there be many, both preachers and professors, in this city, of the very same opinion, that these two are of.
Evan. The truth is, many preachers stand upon the praise of some moral virtue, and do inveigh against some vice of the times, more than upon pressing men to believe. But, says a learned writer, "It will be our condemnation, if we love darkness, rather than light, and desire still to be groping in the twilight of morality, the precepts of moral men, than to walk in the true light of divinity, which is the doctrine of Jesus Christ; and I pity the preposterous care and unhappy travail of many well-affected, who study the practice of this and that virtue, neglecting this cardinal and radical virtue; as if a man should water all the tree, and not the root. Fain would they shine in patience, meekness, and zeal, and yet are not careful to establish and root themselves in faith, which should maintain all the rest; and therefore all their labour has been in vain and to no purpose."
Nom. Indeed, sir, this which you have now said, I have found true by my own experience; for I have318318After that manner. laboured and endeavoured to get victory over such corruptions as to overcome my dullness, and to perform duties with cheerfulness,
and all in vain.
Evan. And no marvel; for to pray, to meditate, to keep a Sabbath cheerfully, to
have your conversation in heaven, is as impossible for you yourself to do, as for
iron to swim, or for stones to ascend upwards; but yet nothing is impossible to
faith; it can naturalize these things unto you; it can make a mole of the earth a
soul of heaven. Wherefore, though you have tried all moral conclusions of
purposing, promising, resolving, vowing, fasting, watching, and self- revenge; yet
get you to Christ, and with the finger of faith touch but the hem of his garment;
and you shall feel virtue come from him, for the curing of all your diseases.
Wherefore I beseech you, come out of yourself unto Jesus Christ, and apprehend
him by faith, as, blessed be God, you see your neighbour Neophytus has done;
and then shall you find the like loathing of sin, and love to the law of Christ, as he
now does; yea, then shall you find your corruptions dying and decaying daily,
more and more, as I am confident he shall.
Neo. Aye, but, sir, shall I not have power quite to overcome all my corruptions,
and to yield perfect obedience to the law of Christ, as, the Lord knows, I much
Evan. If you could believe perfectly, then should it be even according to your
desire; according to that of Luther, on the Galatians, p. 173, "If we could
perfectly apprehend Christ, then should we be free from sin": but alas! whilst we
are here, we know but in part, and so believe but in part, and so receive Christ
but in part, (1 Cor 13:9), and so, consequently, are holy but in part; witness
James the Just, including himself, when he says, "In many things we sin all,"
(James 3:2). John the faithful and loving disciple, when he says, "If we say that
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," (1 John 1:8).
Yea, and witness Luther, when he says on the Galatians, p. 144, "A Christian
man hath a body, in whose members as Paul says, 'sin dwelleth and warreth,'
(Rom 7:15). And although he fall not into outward and gross sins, as murder,
adultery, theft, and such like, yet is he not free from impatience and murmuring
against God; yea, [says he] I feel in myself covetousness, lust, anger, pride, and
arrogancy, also the fear of death, heaviness, hatred, murmurings impatience." So
that you must not look to be quite without sin, whilst you remain in this life; yet
this I dare promise you, that as you grow from faith to faith, so shall you grow
from strength to strength in all other graces. "Wherefore," says Hooker,
"strengthen this grace of faith, and strengthen all; nourish this, and nourish all." So
that if you can attain to a great measure of faith, you shall be sure to attain to a
great measure of holiness; according to the saying of Dr. Preston, "He that hath
the strongest faith, he that believeth in the greatest degree the promise of pardon
and remission of sins, I dare boldly say, he hath the holiest heart, and the holiest
life. And therefore, I beseech you labour to grow strong in the faith of the
gospel," (Phil 1:27).
Chapter III, Section 9
Use of means for strengthening of faith.
Neo. O sir, I desire it with all my heart; and therefore, I pray you, tell me, what you would have me to do, that I may grow more strong.
Evan. Why, surely, the best advice and counsel that I can give you, is to exercise that faith which you have, and wrestle against doubting, and be earnest with God in prayer for the increase of it. "Forasmuch," says Luther, "as this gift is in the hands of God only, who bestoweth when, and on whom, he pleaseth, thou must resort unto him by prayer, and say with the apostles, 'Lord, increase our faith,'" (Luke 17:5). and you must also be diligent in hearing the word preached; for as "faith cometh by hearing," (Rom 10:17), so is it also increased by hearing. And you must also read the word, and meditate upon the free and gracious promises of God; for the promise is the immortal seed, whereby the Spirit of Christ begets and increases faith in the hearts of all his. And lastly, you must frequent the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and receive it as often as conveniently you can.
Ant. But by your favour, sir, if faith be the gift of God, and he give it when, and to whom he pleases, then I conceive that a man's using such means will not procure any greater measure of it than God is pleased to give.
Evan. I confess it is not the means that will either beget or increase faith; but it is the Spirit of God in the use of means that doth it: so that as the means will not do it without the Spirit, neither will the Spirit do it without the means, where the means may be had. Wherefore, I pray you, do not you hinder him from using the means.
Neo. Sir, for my own part, let him say what he will, I am
resolved, by the assistance of God, to be careful and diligent in the use of
these means which you have now prescribed; that so, by the increasing of my faith, I
may be the better enabled to be subject to the will of the Lord, and so walk as
that I may please him.
Chapter III, Section 10
The distinction of the law of works, and law of Christ, applied to six paradoxes.
But forasmuch as heretofore he hath endeavoured to persuade me to believe divers points, which then I could not see to be true, and therefore could not assent unto them, methinks I do now begin to see some show of truth in them; therefore, sir, if you please to give me leave, I will tell you what points they are, to the intent I may have your judgment and direction therein.
Evan. Do so, I pray you.
Neo. 1. Why, first of all, he hath endeavoured to persuade me that a believer is not under the law, but is altogether delivered from it.
2. That a believer does not commit sin.
3. That the Lord can see no sin in a believer.
4. That the Lord is not angry with a believer for his sins.
5. That the Lord doth not chastise a believer for his sins.
6. Lastly, That a believer hath no cause neither to confess his sins, nor to crave pardon at the hands of God for them, neither yet to fast, nor mourn, nor humble himself before the Lord for them.
Evan. These points which you have now mentioned have caused many needless and fruitless disputes; and that because men have either not understood what they have said, or else not declared whereof they have affirmed; for in one sense they may all of them be truly affirmed, and in another sense they may all of them be truly denied; whereof if we would clearly understand the truth, we must distinguish betwixt the law as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ.319319The Antinomian sense of all these positions is, no doubt, erroneous and detestable, and is opposed and disproved by our author. The positions themselves are paradoxes bearing a precious gospel truth, which he maintains against the legalist; but I doubt it is too much to call them all Antinomian paradoxes. But to call them simply, and by the lump, Antinomian errors, is shocking: one might as good say, it is a Popish or Lutheran error, "that the bread in the sacrament is Christ's body"; and that it is a Socinian, Arminian, or Baxterian error, "That a sinner is justified by faith"; for the first four of the paradoxes are as directly scriptural as these are; though the Antinomian sense of the former is anti-scriptural, as is the Popish, Lutheran, Socinian, Arminian, and Baxterian sense of the latter, respectively. At this rate, one might subvert the very foundations of Christianity, as might easily be instructed, if there were sufficient cause to exemplify it here. How few doctrines of the Bible are there that have not been wrested to an erroneous sense by some corrupt men or other! yet will not their corrupt glosses warrant the condemning of the scriptural positions themselves as erroneous. The first four of these paradoxes are found in the following texts of Scripture, viz: 1st. (Rom 6:14), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace."—(7:6), "Now we are delivered from the law." 2d. (1 John 3:6), "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not."—(verse 9), "Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin." 3d. (Num 23:21), "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel."—(Cant 4:7), "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." 4th. (Isa 54:9), "So have I sworn, that I would not be wroth with thee nor rebuke thee." The case standing thus, these paradoxes must needs be sensed one way or other, agreeable to the analogy of faith, and so defended by all who own the divine authority of the holy Scripture. And as an orthodox divine would not condemn the two propositions above mentioned, brought in for illustration of this matter, but clear the same by giving a sound sense of them, and rejecting the unsound sense, as that it is true that the bread is Christ's body sacramentally; false, that it is so by transubstantiation, or consubstantiation: that it is true, sinners, are justified by faith as an instrument, apprehending and applying Christ's righteousness; false, that they are justified by it as a work, fulfilling the pretended new proper gospel law: so our author gives a safe and sound sense of these scriptural paradoxes, and rejects the unsound sense put upon them by Antinomians; and this he does, by applying to them the distinction of the law, as it is the law of works, i.e., the covenant of works, and as it is the law of Christ, i.e., a rule of life, in the hand of a Mediator, to believers. Now, if this distinction be not admitted here, neither in these nor equivalent terms, but the law of Christ, and law of works, must be reckoned one and the same thing; then believers in Christ, whom none but Antinomians will deny to be under the law, as it is the law of Christ, or a rule of life, are evidently staked down under the covenant works still; forasmuch as, in the sense of the holy Scripture, as well as in the sense of our author, the law of works is the covenant of works. And since it is plain from the holy Scripture, and from the Westminster Confession, that believers are not under the law as a covenant of works; a way which, by this distinction, our author had blocked up, is, by rejecting of it, and confounding the law of works and law of Christ, opened for Antinomians to cast off the law for good and all. The two last of these paradoxes are consequently scriptural, as necessarily following upon the former, being understood in the same sense as they are, and as our author explains them.
Now, as it is the law of works, it may be truly said, that a believer is not under the law, but is delivered from it,320320"True believers be not under the law as a covenant of works." Westm. Confess. chap. 19, sect. 6.—"The law of works," says our author, "is as much as to say, the covenant of works." according to that of the apostle, (Rom 6:14), "Ye are not under the law, but under grace"; and (Rom 7:6), "But now we are delivered from the law." And if believers be not under the law, but are delivered from the law, as it is a law of works, then, though they sin, yet do they not transgress the law of works; for "where no law is, there is no transgression," (Rom 4:15). And therefore, says the apostle John, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not," (1 John 3:6); that is, as I conceive, whosoever abideth in Christ by faith, sinneth not against the law of works.321321"As the world is altogether set upon sin, and can do nothing but sin, so they that are born of God sin not; not that their sins of themselves are not deadly, but because their persons are so lively in Christ, that the deadliness of sin cannot prevail against them." Mr. John Davidson's Cat. p. 32. What he means by the deadliness of sin, appears from these words a little after: "Howbeit the condemnation of sin be removed from the faithful altogether," &c. The penalty which the law of works threatens, says our author to Neophytus, is "condemnation and eternal death; and this you have no cause at all to fear." And if a believer sin not against the law of works, then can God see no sin in a believer, as a transgression of that law;322322Mr. James Melvil to the same purpose expresses it thus:— But God into his daughter dear sees nane iniquitie, Nor in his chosen Israel will spy enormitie: Not looking in hir bowk, whilk is with frentickles replete But ever into Christ her face, whilk pleasand is and sweet. Morning Vision, dedicated to James VI. p. 85. and therefore it is said, (Num 23:21), "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel"; and again it is said, (Jer 50:20), "At that time the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found": and in Canticles 4:7, Christ says concerning his spouse, "Behold thou art all fair, my love, and there is no spot in thee." And if God can see no sin in a believer, then assuredly he is neither angry nor doth chastise a believer for his sins, as a transgression of that law;323323Such anger is revenging wrath, and such chastisement is proper punishment inflicted for satisfying offended justice; in which sense it is said, (Isa 53:5), "The chastisement of our peace was upon him," namely, on Jesus Christ; and therefore it cannot be on believers themselves. and hence it is, that the Lord says concerning his own people that were believers, (Isa 27:4), "Anger is not in me": and again, (Isa 54:9), the Lord speaking comfortably to has spouse the Church, says, "As I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will no more be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." Now, if the Lord be not angry with a believer, neither doth chastise him for his sins, as they are any transgression of the law of works, then hath a believer neither need to confess his sins unto God, nor to crave pardon for them, nor yet to fast, nor mourn, nor humble himself for them, as conceiving them to be any transgression of the law, as it is the law of works.324324Our author does not indeed here refute the Antinomian error, that the believer ought not to mourn for his sins; he does that effectually in the next paragraph. But here he refutes the legalist, who will needs have the believer still to be under the law, as it is the covenant of works; and therefore to confess and mourn, &c. for his sins, as still committed against the covenant of works. But it is evident as the light, that believers are not under the covenant of works, or, in other terms, under the law, as that covenant; and that principle being once fixed, the whole chain of consequences, which our author has here made, does necessarily follow thereupon. It is strange that nothing can be allowed in believers to be mourning for sin, unless they mourn for it as unbelievers, as persons under the covenant of works, who doubtless are under the curse and condemnation for their sin, (Gal 3:10). But "as our obedience now is not the performance, so our sinning is not the violation of the condition of the old covenant. Believers' sins now, though transgressions of the law, are not counted violations of the conditions of the covenant of works, under which they are not." Brown on Justification, chap. 15. p. 224.—"If sense of sin be taken for the unbelieving feeling of, and judging myself cast out of his sight, and condemned; whereas yet I am in Christ, and 'it is God that justifies me; who is he that shall condemn?' (Rom 8:33,34); we shall agree with Antinomians. This is indeed the hasty sense of unbelief. (Psa 31:22, John 2:4). Hence let them be rebuked, who say not that Christ in his gospel hath taken away this sense of sin." Rutherford on the Covenant, p. 222. Thus you see, that if you consider the law in this sense, then all these points follow: according as you say our friend Antinomista hath endeavoured to persuade you.
But if you consider the law, as it is the law of Christ, then
they do not so, but quite contrary. For as the law is the law of Christ, it may be
truly said, that a believer is under the law, and not delivered from it; according
to that of the apostle, (1 Cor 9:21), "Being not without law to God, but under
the law to Christ," and according to that of the same apostle, (Rom 3:31),
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! yea, [by faith] we
establish the law." And if a believer be under the law, and not delivered from
it, as it is the law of Christ, then if he sin, he doth thereby transgress the law of
Christ; and hence I conceive it is that the apostle John says, both concerning
himself and other believers, (1 John 1:8), "If we say we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us"; and so says the apostle James, chapter 3:2,
"In many things we offend all." And if a believer transgress the law of Christ,
then doubtless he seeth it: for it is said, (Prov 5:21), "that the ways of man are
before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings"; and in Hebrews 4:13, it
is said, "all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to
do." And if the Lord sees the sins that a believer commits against the law, as
it is the law of Christ, then doubtless he is angry with him; for it is said,
(Psa 106:40), that because the people "went a whoring after their own inventions,
therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he
abhorred his own inheritance"; and in Deuteronomy 1:37, Moses says concerning
himself, "The Lord was angry with me." And if the Lord be angry with a
believer for his transgressing the law of Christ, then assuredly, if need be, he
will chastise him for it: for it is said, (Psa 89:30-32), concerning the seed and
children of Jesus Christ, "If they forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, then will
I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes."
And in 1 Corinthians 11:30, it is said concerning believers, "For this cause,"
namely, their unworthy receiving of the sacrament, "many are weak and sickly among you,
and many sleep." And if the Lord be angry with believers, and do chastise
them for their sins, as they are a transgression of the law of Christ, then
hath a believer cause to confess his sins unto the Lord, and to crave pardon for them,
yea and to fast, and mourn, and humble himself for them, as conceiving them to be a
transgression of the law of Christ.325325Thus our author hath solidly refuted in this paragraph the Antinomian sense of all the six positions above mentioned.
Chapter III, Section 11
The use of that distinction in practice.
And now, my loving neighbour Neophytus, I pray you, consider seriously of these things, and learn to distinguish aright betwixt the law, as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ, and that in effect and practice; I mean, in heart and conscience.
Neo. Sir, it is the unfeigned desire of my heart so to do; and therefore, I pray you, give me some direction therein.326326Namely, now to improve these points of doctrine in my practice. There lies the great difficulty: and according as unbelief or faith has the ascendant, so will the soul in practice carry itself; confessing, begging pardon, fasting, mourning, and humbling itself either as a condemned malefactor, or as an offending child.
Evan. Surely the best direction I can give you is, to labour truly to know, and firmly to believe, that you are not now under the law, as it is the law of works; and that you are now under the law as, it is the law of Christ; and that therefore you must neither hope for what the law of works promises, in case of your most exact obedience; nor fear what it threatens, in case of your most imperfect and defective obedience: and yet you may both hope for what the law of Christ promises, in case of your obedience, and are to fear what it threatens, in case of your disobedience.
Neo. But, sir, what are these promises and threatenings? and, first, I pray you, tell me what it is that the law of works promises.
Evan. The law of works, or, which is all one, as I have told you, the covenant of works, promises justification and eternal life to all that yield perfect obedience thereunto: and this you are not to hope for, because of your obedience. And indeed, to say as the thing is, you, being dead to the law of works, can yield no obedience at all unto it; for how can a dead wife yield any obedience to her husband? And if you can yield no obedience at all unto it, what hope can you have of any reward for your obedience? Nay, let me tell you more, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hath purchased both justification and eternal life by his perfect obedience to the law of works, and hath freely given it to you, as it is written, (Acts 13:39), "By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses": and "Verily, verily," says our Saviour, "he that believeth in me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)
Neo. And I pray you, sir, what does the law of works threaten, in case of a man's disobedience unto it?
Evan. Why, the penalty which the law of works, in that case, threatens, is condemnation and death eternal: and this you have no cause at all to fear, in case of your most defective obedience; for no man hath any cause to fear the penalty of that law which he lives not under. Surely a man that lives under the laws of England, has no cause to fear the penalties of the laws of Spain or France: even so you, that now live under the law of Christ, have no cause to fear the penalties of the law of works.327327"The law, as it condemneth and curseth, is to the believer a mere passive and a naked stander-by, and has no activity, nor can it act in that power upon any in Christ; as the law of Spain is merely passive in condemning a free-born man dwelling in Scotland." Rutherford's Spirit. Antichrist, p. 87.—"The law being fully satisfied by Christ, it neither condemneth, nor can it condemn, to eternal sufferings, for that is removed from the law to all that are in Christ." Ibid. Nay, the law of works is dead to you; and therefore you have no more cause to fear the threats thereof, than a living wife has to fear the threats of her dead husband,328328For, according to the Scripture, the believer is dead to the law, and the law is dead to the believer; namely, as it is the law of the covenant of works. nay, than a dead wife has to fear the threats of a dead husband. Nay, let me say yet more, Jesus Christ, by his condemnation and death upon the cross, has delivered you and set you free from condemnation and eternal death; as it is written, (Rom 8:1), "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." And, says Christ himself, (John 11:26), "Whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die."
And thus you see your freedom and liberty from the law as it is the law of works. And that you may be the better enabled to "stand fast in this liberty, wherewith Christ has made you free"; beware of conceiving that the Lord now stands in any relation to you, or will any way deal with you as a man under that law. So that if the Lord shall be pleased hereafter to bestow upon you a great measure of faith, whereby you shall be enabled to yield an exact and perfect obedience to the mind and will of God;329329Exact and perfect, comparatively, not absolutely. then beware of conceiving that the Lord looks upon it s obedience to the law of works, or will in any measure reward you for it, according to the promises of that law. And if in case, at any time hereafter, you be, by reason of weakness of your faith, and strength of temptation, drawn aside, and prevailed with to swerve from the mind and will of the Lord, then beware of conceiving that the Lord sees it as any transgression of the law of works. For if you cannot transgress that law, then it is impossible the Lord should see that which is not; and if the Lord can see no sin in you, as a transgression of the law of works, then it is impossible that he should either be angry with you, or correct you for any sin, as it is a transgression of that law. No, to speak with holy reverence, as I said before, the Lord cannot, by virtue of the covenant of works, either require any obedience of you, or give you an angry look, or any angry word; much less threaten and afflict you for any disobedience to that covenant. And, therefore, whensoever your conscience shall tell you, that you have broken any of the ten commandments, do not conceive that the Lord looks upon you as an angry Judge, armed with justice against you; much less do you fear that he will execute his justice upon you, according to the penalty of that covenant, in unjustifying of you, or depriving you of your heavenly inheritance, and giving you your portion in hell-fire. No, assure yourself that your God in Christ will never unson you, nor unspouse you: no, nor yet, as touching your justification and eternal salvation, will he love you ever a whit the less, though you commit ever so many or great sins; for this is a certain truth, that as no good either in you, or done by you, did move him to justify you, and give you eternal life, so no evil in you, or done by you, can move him to take it away from you, being once given.330330The author speaks expressly of the love of God, touching believers' justification, and eternal salvation, which, according to the Scripture, he reckons to be given them already. And he asserts, That as no good in them, or done by them, did move him to love them, so as to justify them, and give them eternal life, so no evil in them or done by them, shall lessen that love, as to their justification and eternal salvation; that is, as himself explains it, move him to take eternal life [which includes justification] away from them, being once given. This is most firm truth; howbeit, the more and the greater the sins of a believer are, he may lay his account with the more and the greater effects of God's fatherly indignation against him; and the corruption of human nature makes the adding of such a clause in such a case very necessary. What our author here advances, is evident from the holy Scripture, (Psa 89:30-34), "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes: nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him; nor suffer my faithfulness to fail; my covenant will I not break; nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." And to deny it, is in effect to affirm that God loves believers, as touching their justification and eternal salvation, for their holiness; contrary to Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us."—(Rom 6:23), "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord"; and that that love of his to them changeth according to the variations of their frame and walk; contrary to Romans 11:29, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." But while the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints stands, viz: That true believers can neither fall away totally, nor finally, neither from relative grace, nor from inherent grace, our author's doctrine on this point must stand also; and the sins of believers, how great or many soever they be, can never be of that kind which is inconsistent with a state of grace, nor of another than that of infirmities. And how low soever grace is brought in the soul of a believer at any time, through the prevalence of temptation, yet can he never altogether lose his inherent holiness, nor can he at any time "live after the flesh." For, according to the Scripture, that is not the spot of God's children; but he who so lives, neither is, nor ever was, one of them. (Rom 6:2,14), "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace."—(8:1), "Them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." See verse 4; (1 John 3:9), "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." "God foresaw what infirmities thou wouldst have, before he gave Christ this commission; and Christ foresaw them before his acceptance of the charge. If their prescience could not stop God in his gift, nor cool Christ in his acceptance, why should it now? While they do continue, the love of God to thee is not hindered by them." Charnock, vol. 2, p. 749. "Observe a twofold distinction: 1st. Between God's love in itself, and the manifestation of it to us. That is perpetual and one, without change, increase, or lessening: but the manifestation of his love is variable, according to our more or less careful exercise of piety. 2d. Between God's love to our persons, and God's love to our qualities and actions. A distinction which God well knows how to make. Parents, I am sure, are well skilled in putting this difference between the vices and persons of their children; those they hate, these they love. The case is alike between God and the elect; his love to their persons is from everlasting the same. Nor doth their sinfulness lessen it, nor their sanctity increase it; because God in loving their persons, never considered them otherwise than as most perfectly holy and unblamable in Christ," Pemble's Works, p. 23. And, therefore, believe it whilst you live, that as the Lord first loved you freely, so will he hereafter "heal your backslidings, and still love you freely," (Hosea 14:4). Yea, "he will love you unto the end," (John 12:1). And although the Lord does express the fruits of his anger towards you, in chastising and afflicting of you, yet do not imagine that your afflictions are penal, proceeding from hatred, and vindictive justice; and so as payment and satisfaction for sins; and so as the beginning of eternal torments in hell; for you being, as you have heard, freed from the law of works, and so consequently from sinning against it, must needs likewise be freed from all wrath, anger, miseries, calamities, afflictions, yea, and from death itself, as331331They are. fruits and effects of any transgression against that covenant.
And therefore you are never to confess your sins unto the Lord, as though you conceived them to have been committed against the law of works: and so making you liable to God's everlasting wrath, and hell- fire; neither must you crave pardon and forgiveness for them, that thereupon you may escape that penalty; neither do you either fast, or weep, or mourn, or humble yourself, from any belief that you shall thereby satisfy the justice of God, and appease his wrath, either in whole or in part, and so escape his everlasting vengeance. For if you be not under the law of works, and if the Lord see not sin in you as a transgression of that law, and be neither angry with you, nor afflict you for any sin, as it is a transgression of that law, then consequently you have no need either to confess your sins, or crave pardon for them, or fast, or weep, or mourn, or humble yourself for your sins, as conceiving them to be any transgression of the law of works.
Neo. Well, sir, you have fully satisfied me in this point; and therefore, I pray you, proceed to show what is that reward which the law of Christ promises, which you said I might hope for, in case of my obedience thereunto.
Evan. Why, the reward which I conceive the law of Christ promises to believers, and which they may hope for, answerably to their obedience to it,332332Though not for their obedience, but for Christ's obedience. is a comfortable being in the enjoyment of sweet communion with God and Christ, even in the time of this life, and a freedom from afflictions, both spiritual and corporeal, so far forth as they are fruits and effects of sin, as it is any transgression of the law of Christ.333333I read the last word of this sentence, Christ, not works, judging it plain, that the latter is a press error. See the last clause of Neophytus' speech above, and the reason here immediately following. For you know, that so long as a child does yield obedience to his father's commands, and does nothing that is displeasing to him, if he love his child, he will carry himself lovingly and kindly towards him, and suffer him to be familiar with him, and will not whip nor scourge him for his disobedience. Even so, if you unfeignedly desire and endeavour to be obedient unto the will and mind of your Father in Christ; in doing that which he commands, and in avoiding that which he forbids, both in your general and particular calling; and to the end that you may please him; then, answerably as you do so, your Father will smile upon you, when you shall draw near to him in prayer, or any other of his own ordinances; and manifest his sweet presence and loving favour towards you; and exempt you from all outward calamities except in case of trial of your faith and patience, or the like; as it was written, (2 Chron 15:2), "The Lord is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you." And so the apostle James says, (James 4:8), "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." And "Oh," says the Lord, "that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! he should have fed them with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee," (Psa 81:13,16). And this may suffice to have shown you what you may hope for, answerably to your obedience to the law of Christ.
Neo. Then, sir, I pray you, proceed to show what is the penalty which the law of Christ threatens, and which I am to fear, if I transgress that law.
Evan. The penalty which the law of Christ threatens to you, if you transgress the law of Christ, and which you are to fear, is the want of near and sweet communion with God in Christ, even in the time of this life, and a liableness to all temporal afflictions, as fruits and effects of the transgressing of that law.334334An awful penalty, if rightly understood, as comprehending all manner of strokes and afflictions on the outward and inner man, called by our author "temporal and spiritual afflictions on the outward man"; not to speak of the reproach, disgrace and contempt, successless labour and toil, poverty, misery, want, and the like, which the believer is liable to for his disobedience, as well as others. His sins lay him open to the whole train of maladies, pains, torments, sores, diseases, and plagues, incident to sinful flesh; by which he may become a burden to himself and others. And these may be inflicted on him, not only by the hand of God, but by the hand of the devil; as appears in the case of Job. Yea, and the Lord may, in virtue of this penalty annexed to his law, pursue the controversy with the offending believer, even to death; so that his natural life may go in the cause of his transgression, (1 Cor 11:30,32). To this may be added the marks of God's indignation against his sin, set upon his relations; witness the disorders, mischiefs, and strokes on David's family, for his sin in the matter of Uriah, more bitter than death, (2 Sam 12:10-14, chapter 13,14). In the inner man, by virtue of the same penalty, he is liable for his transgression, to be deprived of the comfort, sense, exercise, and some measure of his graces; of his sense of God's love, his peace, joy, actual communion with God, and access to him in duties; to be brought under desertion, hiding of God's face, withdrawing the light of the Lord's countenance: and left to walk in darkness, to go mourning without the sun, and to cry and shout while the Lord shutteth out his prayer; to be thrown into agonies of conscience, pierced with the arrows of the Almighty in his spirit, compassed about and distracted with the terrors of God, seized with the fearful apprehensions of God's revenging wrath against him, and thereby brought unto the brink of absolute despair. Besides all this, he is liable to the buffettings of Satan, and horrid temptations; and, for the punishment of one sin, to be suffered to fall into another. And all these may, in virtue of the penalty annexed to the law in the hand of Christ, meet in the case of the offending believer, together and at once. Thus, howbeit God no where threatens to cast believers in Christ into hell, yet he both threatens and often executes the casting of a hell into them, for their provocations. Only the revenging wrath and curse of God are no part of the penalty to believers in Christ, according to the truth and our author. But whether or not this penalty, as it is without these, leaves the most holy and awful law of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, most base and despicable, the sober-minded reader will easily judge for himself. "The one, viz: justification doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life." Larger Cat. q. 77.—"They can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance." Westm. Confess. chap. 11, art. 5.—"They may fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve his holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves." Ibid. chap. 17. art. 3.—"The threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law." Ibid. chap. 19. art. 6.
Wherefore, whensoever you shall hereafter transgress any of the ten commandments, you are to know that you have thereby transgressed the law of Christ, and that the Lord sees it and is angry with it, with a fatherly anger; and, if need be, will chastise you, (1 Peter 1:6), either with temporal or spiritual afflictions, or both. And this our heavenly Father will do in love to you; either to bring your sins to remembrance, as he did the sins of Joseph's brethren, (Gen 42:21), and as the widow of Zarephath confesseth concerning herself, (1 Kings 17:18), or else "to purge or take away your sins," according to that which the Lord says, (Isa 27:9), "By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, even the taking away of sin." "For indeed," says Mr. Culverwell, "afflictions, through God's blessing, are made special means to purge out that sinful corruption which is still in the nature of believers; and therefore are they, in Scripture, most aptly compared to medicines, for so they are indeed to all God's children, most sovereign medicines to cure all their spiritual diseases." And indeed we have all of our great need thereof; for as Luther, on the Galatians, p. 66, truly says, "We are not yet perfectly righteous; for whilst we remain in this life, sin dwells still in the flesh, and this remnant of sin God purgeth."—"Wherefore," says the same Luther in another place,335335Chos. Sermons, Serm. of the Kingdom of God, page 120. "When God hath remitted sins, and received a man into the bosom of grace, then doth he lay on him all kind of afflictions, and doth scour and renew him from day to day." And to the same purpose, Tindal truly says, "If we look on the flesh, and into the law, there is no man so perfect that is not found a sinner; nor no man so pure, that hath not need to be purged. And thus doth the Lord chastise believers to heal their natures, by purging out the corruption that remains therein."
And therefore, whensoever you shall hereafter feel the Lord's chastening hand upon you, let it move you to take the prophet Jeremiah's counsel, that is, to "search and try your ways, and turn unto the Lord," (Lam 3:40), and confess your sins unto him, saying, with the prodigal, (Luke 15:21), "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son"; and beg pardon and forgiveness at his hands, as you are taught in the fifth petition of the Lord's prayer, (Matt 6:12). Yet do not you crave pardon and forgiveness at the hands of the Lord, as a malefactor doth at the hands of a judge, that feareth condemnation and death, as though you had sinned against the law of works, and therefore feared hell and damnation; but do you beg pardon and forgiveness as a child doth at the hands of his loving father; as feeling the fruits of his fatherly anger, in his chastising hand upon you; and as fearing the continuance and augmentation of the same, if your sin be not both pardoned and subdued:336336(Matt 6:9,12), "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven; forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." and therefore do you also beseech your loving Father to subdue your iniquities, according to his promise, (Micah 7:19). And if you find not that the Lord hath heard your prayers, by your feeling your iniquities subdued,337337The subduing of sin is the mark of God's hearing prayer for the pardon of it; if one feels not his iniquity subdued, he cannot find that God hath heard his prayers for pardon. then join with your prayers, fasting and weeping, if you can; that so you may be the more seriously humbled before the Lord, and more fervent in prayer. And this, I hope, may be sufficient to have showed you what is the penalty which the law of Christ threatens.
Neo. O, but, sir, I should think myself a happy man, if I could be so obedient to the law of Christ, that he might have no need to inflict this penalty upon me.
Evan. You say very well; but yet, whilst you carry this body of sin about you, do the best you can, there will be need that the Lord should, now and then, give you some fatherly corrections: but yet, this let me tell you, the more perfect your obedience is, the fewer lashes you shall have; "for the Lord doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men," (Lam 3:33). And therefore, according to my former exhortation, and your resolution, be careful to exercise your faith, and use all means to increase it; that so it may become effectual338338To the producing of holy obedience, according to the measure and degree of it. working by love. (1 Thess 1:3, Gal 5:6) For, according to the measure of your faith, will be your true love to Christ and to his commandments; and according to your love to them, will be your delight in them, and your aptness and readiness to do them. And hence it is that Christ himself says, (John 14:15), "If ye love me, keep my commandments": and "this is the love of God," says that loving disciple, "that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous," (1 John 5:3). Nay, the truth is, if you have this love in your hearts, it will be grievous unto you, that you cannot keep them as you would. Oh, if this love do abound in your heart, it will cause you to say with godly Joseph, in case you be tempted as he was, "How can I do this great wickedness, and so sin against God?" How can I do that which I know will displease so gracious a Father, and so merciful a Saviour? No, I will not do it; no, I cannot do it: no, you will rather say with the Psalmist, "I delight to do thy will, O my God! yea, thy law is within my heart," (Psa 40:8).
Nay, let me tell you more, if this love of God in Christ be truly, and in any good measure, rooted in your heart; then, though the chastising hand of the Lord be not upon you, nay, though the Lord do no way express any anger towards you, yet if you but consider the Lord's ways towards you, and your ways towards him, you will mourn with a gospel- mourning, reasoning with yourself after this manner: Was I under the law of works by nature, and so, for every transgression against any of the ten commandments, made liable to everlasting damnation? and am I now, through the free mercy and love of God in Christ, brought under the law of Christ, and so subject to no other penalty for my transgressions, but fatherly and loving chastisements, which tend to the purging out of that sinful corruption that is in me? Oh what a loving Father is this! Oh what a gracious Saviour is this! Oh what a wretched man am I, to transgress the laws of such a good God, as he hath been to me! Oh the due consideration of this will even, as it were, melt your heart, and cause your eyes to drop with the tears of godly sorrow! yea, the due consideration of these things will cause you to "loathe yourself in your own sight for your transgressions", (Eze 36:31), yea, not only to loathe yourself for them, but also to leave them, saying with Ephraim, "What have I to do any more with idols?" (Hosea 14:8) and to "cast them away as menstruous cloth, saying unto them, Get ye hence," (Isa 30:22). And truly you will desire nothing more, than that you might so live, as that you might never sin against the Lord any more. And this is that "goodness of God which," as the apostle says, "leadeth to repentance"; yea, this is that goodness of God which will lead you to a free obedience. So that if you do but apply the goodness of God in Christ to your soul, in any good measure, then will you answerably yield obedience to the law of Christ, not only without having respect either to what the law of works either promiseth or threateneth; but also without having respect to what the law of Christ either promiseth or threateneth; you will do that which the Lord commandeth, only because he commandeth it, and to the end that you may please him; and you will forbear when he forbids, only because he forbids it to the end that you may not displease him.339339The author doth here no otherwise exhort the believer to yield free obedience, without respect to what either the law of works, or the law of Christ, promises or threatens, than he exhorts him to perfection of obedience, which, in the beginning of this answer, he told him not to be attainable in this life. And the truth is, neither the one nor the other is the design of these words. But he had exhorted him before, to use all means to increase his faith; and for his encouragement, he tells him here, that if he by faith applied the goodness of God in Christ to his own soul, in any good measure, then he would, answerably, yield obedience, without respect to what either the law of works, or the law of Christ promises or threatens, and only because God commands or forbids. The freeness of obedience is of very different degrees; and believers' obedience is never absolutely free, till it be absolutely perfect in heaven; but the freeness of their obedience will always bear proportion to the measure of their faith, which is never perfect in this life; thus, the more faith, the more freeness of obedience, and the less faith, the less of that freeness. And this obedience is like unto that which our Saviour exhorts his disciples unto, (Matt 10:8), saying, "Freely ye have received, freely give." And this is to "serve the Lord without fear" of any penalty, which either the law of works or the law of Christ threateneth, "in holiness and righteousness all the days of your life," according to that saying of Zacharias,340340"The believer obeys with an angel-like obedience; then the Spirit seems to exhaust all the commanding awesomeness of the law, and supplies the law's imperious power, with the strength and power of love." Rutherford's Spirit. Antichrist, p. 318.—"The more of the Spirit, because the Spirit is essentially free, (Psa 51:12, 2 Cor 3:17), the more freeness; and the more freeness, the more renewed will in the obedience; and the more renewed will, the less constraint, because freeness exhausteth constraint." Ibid. "When Christ's blood is seen by faith to quiet justice, then the conscience becomes quiet also, and will not suffer the heart to entertain the love of sin, but sets the man on work to fear God for his mercy, and obey all his commandments, out of love to God, for his free gift of justification, by grace bestowed upon him; for 'this is the end of the law' indeed, whereby it obtaineth of a man more obedience than any other way." Pract. Use of Sav. Knowledge, tit. The Third Thing Requisite, &c. fig. 7. Promises and threatenings are not, by this doctrine, annexed to the holy law in vain, even with respect to believers; for the law of God is, in his infinite wisdom, suited to the state of the creature, to whom it is given: and therefore, howbeit the believer's eternal happiness is unalterably secured from the moment of his union with Christ by faith; yet, since sin dwells in him still while in this world, the promises of fatherly smiles, and threatenings of fatherly chastisements, are still necessary. But it is evident that this necessity is entirely founded on the believer's imperfection; as in case of a child under age. And, therefore, although his being influenced to obedience by the promises and threatenings of the law of Christ, is not indeed slavish, yet it is plainly childish, not agreeing to the state of a perfect man, of one come unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. And, in the state of perfection, he shall yield such free obedience as the angels do in heaven, without being moved thereto by any promises or threatenings at all: and the nearer he comes in his progress to that state of perfection, the more will his obedience be of that nature. So by the doctrine here advanced, the author doth no more disown the necessity of promises to influence and encourage the believer's obedience, nor say that he ought not to have regard to promises and threatenings, than one is to be reckoned to say, that a lame man has no need of, and should not have regard unto the crutches provided for him: when he only says, That the stronger his limbs grow, he will have less need of them, and will lean the less on them. (Luke 1:74,75). And this is to "pass the time of your sojourning here, in fear" of offending the Lord, by sinning against him: as the apostle Peter exhorts, (1 Peter 1:17). Yea, and this is to "serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear": as the author to the Hebrews exhorts, (Heb 12:28). And thus, my dear friend, Neophytus, I have endeavoured, according to your desire, to give you my judgment and direction in these points.
Neo. And truly, sir, you have done it very effectually; the Lord
enable me to practise according to your direction!
Chapter III, Section 12
That distinction a mean betwixt legalism and Antinomianism.
Nom. Sir, in this your answer to his question, you have also answered me, and given me full satisfaction in divers points, about which my friend Antinomista and I have had many a wrangling fit. For I used to affirm with tooth and nail, [as men use to say,] that believers are under the law, and not delivered from it; and that they do sin, and that God sees it, and is angry with them, and doth afflict them for it, and that, therefore, they ought to humble themselves, and mourn for their sins, and confess them, and crave pardon for them; and yet truly I must confess, I did not understand what I said, nor whereof I affirmed; and the reason was, because I did not know the difference betwixt the law, as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ.
Ant. And believe me, sir, I used to affirm, as earnestly as he, that believers are delivered from the law, and, therefore, do not sin; and, therefore, God can see no sin in them; and, therefore, is neither angry with them, nor does afflict them for sin; and, therefore, they have no need either to humble themselves, or mourn, or confess their sins, or beg pardon for them; the which I believing to be true, could not conceive how the contrary could be true also. But now I plainly see that by means of your distinguishing betwixt the law, as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ, there is a truth in both. And, therefore, friend Nomista, whensoever either you, or any man else, shall hereafter affirm, that believers are under the law and do sin; and God sees it, and is angry with them, and does chastise them for it; and that they ought to humble themselves, mourn, weep, and confess their sins, and beg pardon for them: if you mean only, as they are under the law of Christ, I will agree with you, and never contradict you again.
Nom. And truly, friend Antinomista, if either you, or any man else, shall hereafter affirm, that believers are delivered from the law, and do not sin, and God sees no sin in them, nor is angry with them, nor afflicts them for their sins, and that they have no need either to humble themselves, mourn, confess, or crave pardon for their sins; if you mean it only as they are not under the law of works, I will agree with you, and never contradict you again.
Evan. I rejoice to hear you speak these words each to other: and truly, now I am in hope that you two will come back from both your extremes, and meet my neighbour Neophytus in the golden mean; having, as the apostle says, "the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind."
Nom. Sir, for my own part, I thank the Lord I do now plainly see, that I have erred exceedingly, in seeking to be justified, "as it were, by the works of the law." 341341 This Scriptural phrase is here aptly used, to intimate how men deceive themselves, thinking they are far from seeking to be justified by the works of the law, because they are convinced they cannot do good works in the perfection which the law requires: meanwhile, since God is merciful, and Christ hath died, they look for the pardon of their sins, and acceptance with God, upon the account of their own works, though attended with some imperfections: that is, "as it were, by the works of the law," (Rom 9:32). And yet could I never be persuaded to it before this day; and indeed should not have been persuaded to it now, had not you so plainly and fully handled this threefold law. And truly, sir, I do now unfeignedly desire to renounce myself, and all that ever I have done, and by faith to adhere only to Jesus Christ; for now I see that he is all in all. Oh, that the Lord would enable me so to do! And I beseech you, sir, pray for me.
Ant. And truly, sir, I must needs confess, that I have erred as much on the other hand; for I have been so far from seeking to be justified by the works of the law, that I have neither regarded law nor works. But now I see mine error; I purpose, God willing, to reform it.
Evan. The Lord grant that you may.
Chapter III, Section 13
How to attain to assurance.
But how do you, neighbour Neophytus; for methinks you look very heavily.
Neo. Truly, sir, I was thinking of that place of Scripture, where the apostle exhorts us "to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith or no," (2 Cor 13:5); whereby it seems to me, that a man may think he is in the faith, when he is not. Therefore, sir, I would gladly hear how I may be sure that I am in the faith.
Evan. I would not have you to make any question of it, since you have grounded your faith upon such a firm foundation as will never fail you; for the promise of God in Christ is of a tried truth, and never yet failed any man, nor ever will.342342This answer proceeds upon taking Neophytus to speak, not of the grace but of the doctrine of faith; namely, the foundation of faith, or ground of believing; as if he had desired to know whether the foundation of his faith was the true foundation of faith, or not. This is plain from the two following paragraphs. And upon the supposition that he had grounded his faith on the promise of the gospel, the tried foundation of faith, the author tells him, he would not have him make a question of that, having handled that question already at great length, and answered all his and Nomista's objections on the head, where Neophytus declared himself satisfied. And there is no inconsistency betwixt the author's advice in this case given to Neophytus, and the advice given in the text last cited unto the Corinthians, unreasonably and peevishly demanding a proof of Christ speaking in the apostle. Whether, with several judicious critics and commentators, we understand that text concerning the doctrine of faith, as if the apostle put them to try whether they retained the true doctrine or not; or, which is the common, and, I think, the true understanding of it, concerning the grace of faith; I see nothing here determining our author's opinion, as to the sense of it; but whether he seems here to be against self-examination, especially after he had urged that duty on Antinomista, and answered his objections against it, let the candid reader judge. Therefore I would have you to close with Christ in the promise, without making any question whether you are in the faith or no; for there is an assurance which rises from the exercise of faith by a direct act, and that is, when a man, by faith, directly lays hold upon Christ, and concludes assurance from thence.343343See the note on the Definition of Faith. "The assurance of Christ's righteousness is a direct act of faith, apprehending imputed righteousness: the evidence of our justification we now speak of, is the reflex light, not by which we are justified, but by which we know that we are justified." Rutherford's Christ Dying and Drawing, p. 111.—"We had never a question with Antinomians touching the first assurance of justification, such as is proper to the light of faith. He might have spared all his arguments to prove, that we are first assured of our justification by faith, not by good works, for we grant the arguments of one sort of assurance, which is proper to faith; and they prove nothing against another sort of assurance, by signs and effects, which is also divine." Ibid. p. 110.
Neo. Sir, I know that the foundation whereon I am to ground my faith remains sure; and I think I have already built thereon; but yet, because I conceive a man may think he has done so when he has not, therefore, would I fain know how I may be assured that I have so done?344344A good reason why this assurance, in or by the direct act of faith, is to be tried by marks and signs. There is certainly a persuasion that "cometh not of him that called us"; which obliges men to examine their persuasion, whether it be of the right sort or not.
Neo. Yea, indeed, that is the thing I want.
Evan. Why, the next way to find out and know this is to look back and reflect upon your own heart, and consider what actions have passed through there; for indeed this is the benefit that a reasonable soul has, that it is able to return upon itself, to see what it has done; which the soul of a beast cannot do. Consider, then, I pray you, that you have been convinced in your spirit that you are a sinful man, and, therefore, have feared the Lord's wrath and eternal damnation in hell; and you have been convinced that there is no help for you at all in yourself, by anything that you can do; and you heard it plainly proved, that Jesus Christ alone is an all-sufficient help; and the free and full promise of God in Christ has been made so plain and clear to you, that you had nothing to object why Christ did not belong to you in particular;346346In virtue of the deed of gift and grant. See the note on the definition of faith, fig. 1. and you have perceived a willingness in Christ to receive you, and to embrace you as his beloved spouse; and you have thereupon consented and resolved to take Christ, and to give yourself unto him, whatsoever betides you; and I am persuaded you have thereupon felt a secret persuasion in your heart, that God in Christ doth bear a love to you; and answerably your heart hath been inflamed towards him in love again, manifesting itself in an unfeigned desire to be obedient and subject to his will in all things, and never to displease him in anything. Now tell me, I pray you, and truly, whether you have not found these things in you, as I have said?
Neo. Yea, indeed, I hope I have in some measure.
Evan. Then I tell you truly, you have a sure ground to lay your believing that you have believed upon; and, as the apostle John says, "Hereby you may know that you are of the truth, and may assure your heart thereof before God," (1 John 3:19).
Neo. Surely, sir, this I can truly say, that heretofore, when I have thought upon my sins, I have conceived of God and Christ, as of a wrathful judge that would condemn all unrighteous men to eternal death: and, therefore, when I have thought upon the day of judgment, and hell torments, I have even trembled for fear, and have, as it were, even hated God. And though I have laboured to become righteous, that I might escape his wrath, yet all that I did, I did it unwillingly. But since I have heard you make it so plain, that a sinner that sees and feels his sins is to conceive of God, as of a merciful, loving, and forgiving Father in Christ, that hath committed all judgment to his Son, who came not to condemn men but to save them; methinks I do not now fear his wrath, but do rather apprehend his love towards me; whereupon my heart is inflamed towards him with such love, that, methinks, I would willingly do or suffer anything that I knew would please him; and would rather choose to suffer any misery than I would do anything that I knew were displeasing to him.
Evan. We read in the seventh chapter of Luke's gospel, that when that sinful yet believing woman did manifest her faith in Christ by her love to him, in "washing his feet with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head," (verse 38), he said unto Simon the Pharisee, (verse 47), "I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, for she loved much"; even so I may say unto you, Nomista, in the same words concerning our neighbour Neophytus. And to you yourself, Neophytus, I say, as Christ said unto the woman, (verse 48-50), "Thy sins are forgiven thee, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace."
Ant. But I pray you, sir, is to this his reflecting upon himself to find out a ground to lay his believing that he hath believed upon, a turning back from the covenant of grace to the covenant of works, and from Christ to himself?
Evan. Indeed, if he should look upon these things in himself,
and thereon conclude, that because he has done this, God had accepted of
him, and justified him, and will save him, and so make them the ground of his
believing; this were to turn back from the covenant of grace to the covenant of
works, and from Christ to himself. But if he look upon these things in himself,
and thereupon conclude, that because these things are in his heart, Christ
dwells there by faith, and therefore he is accepted of God, and justified, and shall
certainly be saved, and so make them an evidence of his believing, or the ground of
his believing that he has believed; this is neither to turn back from the covenant
of grace to the covenant of works, nor from Christ to himself. So that these
things in his heart being the daughters of faith, and the offspring of Christ,
though they cannot at first produce, or bring forth their mother, yet may they in time
of need nourish her.
Chapter III, Section, 14
Marks and evidences of true faith.
Nom. But, I pray you, sir, are there not other things besides these, that he says he finds in himself, that a man may look upon as evidences of his believing, or, as you call them, as grounds to believe that he has believed?
Evan. Yea, indeed, there are divers other effects of faith, which if a man have in him truly, he may look upon them as evidences that he hath truly believed; and I will name three of them unto you:
Whereof the first is, when a man truly loves the word of God, and makes a right use of it; and this a man does, First, when he hungers and thirsts after the word, as after the food of his soul, desiring it at all times, even as he does his "appointed 347347So the Margin reads it. food," (Job 23:12). Secondly, when he desires and delights to exercise himself therein day and night, that is, constantly, (Psa 1:2). Thirdly, when he receives the word of God as the word of God, and not as the word of man, (1 Thess 2:13); setting his heart, in the time of hearing or reading it, as in God's presence: and being affected with it, as if the Lord himself should speak unto him being most affected with that ministry, or that portion of God's word, which shows him his sins, and searches out his most secret corruptions; denying his own reason and affections: yea, and his profits and pleasures, in anything when the Lord shall require it of him. Fourthly, This a man does, when he makes the word of God to be his chief comfort in the time of his afflictions; finding it, at that time, to be the main stay and solace of his heart, (Psa 119:49,50).
The second evidence is, when a man truly loves the children of God, (1 John 5:1); that is, all godly and religious persons, above all other sorts of men; and that is, when he loves them not for carnal respects, but for the graces of God which he sees in them, (2 John 1:2, 3 John 1). And when he delights in their society and company, and makes them his only companions, (Psa 119:63), and when his well-doing [to his power] extends itself to them, (Psa 16:3). In being pitiful and tender-hearted towards them, and in gladly receiving of them, and communicating to their necessities with a ready mind, (Phile 7, 1 John 3:17). And when he has not the glorious faith of Christ in "respect of persons," (James 2:1,2), but can make himself equal to them of the lower sort, (Rom 12;16); and when he loves them at all times, even when they are in adversity, as poverty, disgrace, sickness, or otherwise in misery.
The third evidence is, when a man can truly love his enemies,
(Matt 6:14). And that he does, when he can pray heartily for them, and forgive
them their particular trespasses against him; being more grieved for that they have
sinned against God than for that they have wronged him; and when he can forbear
them, and yet could be revenged of them, either by bringing shame and misery
upon them, (1 Peter 3:9, Rom 12:14); and when he strives to overcome their
evil with goodness, being willing to help them, and relieve them in their misery,
and do them any good in soul or body; and, lastly, when he can freely and
willingly acknowledge his enemy's just praise, even as if he were his dearest
Chapter III, Section 15
How to recover lost evidences.
Neo. But, sir, I pray you, let me ask you one question more touching this point; and that is, suppose that hereafter I should see no outward evidences, and question whether I had ever any true inward evidences, and so whether ever I did truly believe or no, what must I do then?
Evan. Indeed it is possible you may come to such a condition;
and therefore you do well to provide beforehand for it. Now then, if ever it shall
please the Lord to give you over to such a condition, first, let me warn you to
take heed of forcing and constraining yourself to yield obedience to God's
commandments, to the end you may so get an evidence of faith again, or a ground to lay
your believing, that you have believed, upon; and so forcibly to hasten your
assurance before the time:348348 This forcing one's self to yield obedience, which the
author warns Christians against, when they have lost sight of their
evidences, and would fain recover them, is by pressing to yield obedience, without
believing, till once by their obedience they have recovered the evidence of their having
faith. To advise a Christian to beware of taking this course, in this case, is
not to favour laxness, but to guard him against beginning his work at the wrong end,
and so labouring in vain; for obeying, indeed, must still spring from believing,
since "without faith it is impossible to please god," (Heb 11:6). And "whatsoever is not of
faith, is sin," (Rom 14:23). The following advice sets the matter in full
light. for although this be not to turn quite back to the
covenant of works, [for that you shall never do,] yet it is to turn aside towards that
covenant, as Abraham did, who, after that he had long waited for the promised seed,
though he was before justified by believing the free promise, yet, for the
more speedy satisfying of his faith, he turned aside to go in to Hagar, who was, as you
have heard, a type of the covenant of works. So that you see, this is not the right
way; but the right way for you, in this case, to get your assurance again, is, when
all other things fail, to look to Christ; that is, go to the word and promise,
and leave off and cease awhile to reason about the truth of your faith; and set your
heart on work to believe, as if you had never yet done it; saying in your heart,
Well, Satan, suppose my faith has not been true hitherto, yet now will I
begin to endeavour after true faith; and therefore, O Lord, here I cast myself upon
thy mercy afresh, for in thee the fatherless find mercy, (Hosea 14:3). Thus, I
say, hold to the word; go not away, but keep you here, and you shall bring forth fruit
with patience,349349Namely, obedience, whereby you shall recover dence.
Chapter III, Section 16
Marks and signs of union with Christ.
Neo. Well, sir, you have fully satisfied me concerning that point: but as I remember, it follows in the same verse, "Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates"? (2 Cor 13:5). Wherefore, I desire to hear how a man may know that Jesus Christ is in him.
Evan. Why, if Christ be in a man, he lives in him: as says the apostle, "I live not but Christ liveth in me."
Neo. But how, then, shall a man know, that Christ lives in him?
Evan. Why, in what man soever Christ lives according to the measure of his faith, he executes his threefold office in him, viz: his prophetical, priestly, and kingly office.
Neo. I desire to hear more of this threefold office of Christ; and therefore, I pray you, sir, tell me, first, how a man may know that Christ executes his prophetical office in him?
Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that there was a covenant made betwixt God and all mankind in Adam; and that it was an equal covenant, and that God's justice must needs enter, 350350Demanding satisfaction. upon the breach of it; and that all mankind, for that cause, were liable to eternal death and damnation; so that if God had condemned all mankind, yet had it but been the sentence of an equal and just judge, seeking rather the execution of his justice, than man's ruin and destruction; and thereupon takes it home, and applies it particularly to himself, (Job 5:27), and so is convinced that he is a miserable, lost, and helpless man; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him, and revealing unto him the covenant of works. And, so far forth as any man hears and knows that God made a covenant with Abraham, and all his believing seed in Jesus Christ, offering him freely to all to whom the sound of the gospel comes, and giving him freely to all that receive him by faith; and so justifies them, and saves them eternally; and thereupon has his heart opened to receive this truth, not as a man takes an object or a theological point into his head, whereby he is only made able to discourse: but as an habitual and practical point, receiving it into his "heart by the faith of the gospel," (Phil 1:27), and applying it to himself, and laying his eternal state upon it; and so setting to his seal, that God is true: I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him and revealing to him the covenant of grace. And so far forth as any man hears and knows, that "this is the will of God, even his sanctification," (1 Thess 4:3), and thereupon concludes, that it is his duty to endeavour after it; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching and revealing his law to him. And this I hope is sufficient for answer to your first question.
Neo. I pray you, sir, in the second place, tell me, how a man may know that Christ executes his priestly office in him?
Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that Christ has given himself, as that only absolute and perfect sacrifice for the sins of believers, (Heb 9:26), and joined them unto himself by faith, and himself unto them by his Spirit, and so made them one with him; and is now "entered into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for them," (Heb 9:24); and hereupon is emboldened to go immediately to 351351That is, even unto. God in prayer, as to a father, and meet him in Christ, and present him with Christ himself, as with a sacrifice without spot or blemish; I say, so far forth as any man does this, Christ executes his priestly office in him.
Neo. But sir, would you have a believer to go immediately unto God? How then does Christ make intercession for us at God's right hand, as the apostle says he does? (Rom 8:34)
Evan. It is true indeed, Christ, as a public person, representing all believers, appears before God his Father; and willeth according to both his natures, and desires as he is a man, that God would, for his satisfaction's sake, grant unto them whatsoever "they ask according to his will." But yet you must go immediately to God in prayer for all that. 352352But you yourself were not to come near unto him, nay, we must "come unto God by Christ," (Heb 7:25).
You must not pitch your prayers upon Christ, and terminate them there, as if he were to take them, and present them to his Father; but the very presenting place of your prayers must be God himself in Christ. Neither must you conceive, as though Christ the Son were more willing to grant your request than God the Father, for whatsoever Christ willeth, the same also the Father, being well pleased with him, willeth. In Christ, therefore, I say, and no where else, must you expect to have your petitions granted; and as in Christ and no place else, so for Christ's sake, and nothing else. And therefore I beseech you to beware you forget not Christ when you go unto the Father to beg anything you desire, either for yourself or others; especially when you desire to have any pardon for sin, you are not to think, that when you join with your prayers, fasting, weeping, and afflicting of yourself, that for so doing you shall prevail with God to hear you, and grant your petitions; no, no, you must meet God in Christ, and present him with his sufferings; your eye, your mind, and all your confidence, must be therein; and in that be as confident as possible you can; yea, expostulate the matter, as it were, with God the Father, and say, "Lo; here is the person that has well deserved it; here is the person that wills and desires it; in whom thou hast said thou art well pleased; yea, here is the person that has paid the debt, and discharged the bond for all my sins; and, therefore, O Lord! now it stands with thy justice to forgive me." And thus, if you do, why, then you may be assured that Christ executes his priestly office in you.
Neo. I pray you, sir, in the third place, show me how a man may know that Christ executes his kingly office in him?
Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows "that all power is given unto Christ, both in heaven and on earth," (Matt 28:18); both to vanquish and to overcome all the lusts and corruptions of believers, and to write his law in their hearts; and hereupon takes occasions to go unto Christ for the doing of both in him; I say, so far forth as he does this, why Christ executes his kingly office in him.
Neo. Why then, sir, it seems that the place where Christ executes his kingly office, is in the hearts of believers?
Evan. It is true indeed; for Christ's kingdom is not temporal or secular over the natural lives or civil negotiations of men; but his kingdom is spiritual and heavenly, over the souls of men, to awe and over-rule the hearts, to captivate the affections, to bring into obedience the thoughts, and to subdue and pull down strong holds. For when our father Adam transgressed, he and we, all of us, forsook God, and chose the devil for our lord and king; so that every mother's child of us is, by nature, under the government of Satan; and he rules over us, till Christ come into our hearts, and dispossess him; according to the saying of Christ himself, (Luke 11:21,22), "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace": that is, says Calvin, Satan holds them that are in subjection to him in such bonds and quiet possession, that he rules over them without resistance; but when Christ comes to dwell in any man's heart by faith; according to the measure of faith, he dispossesses him, and seats himself in the heart, and roots out, and pulls down all that withstands his government there; and, as a valiant captain, he stands upon his guard, and enables the soul to gather together all its forces and powers, to resist and withstand all its and his enemies, and so set itself in good earnest against them, when they at any time offer to return again; and he doth especially enable the soul to resist, and set itself against the principal enemy, even that which does most oppose Christ in his government; so that whatsoever lust or corruption is in a believer's heart or soul as most predominant, Christ enables him to take that into his mind, and to have most revengeful thoughts against it, and to make complaints to him against it, and to desire power and strength from him against it, and all because it most withstands the government of Christ, and is the rankest traitor to Christ; so that he uses all the means he can to bring it before the judgment-seat of Christ, and there he calls for justice against it, saying, "O Lord Jesus Christ, here is a rebel and a traitor, that does withstand thy government in me, wherefore, I pray thee, come and execute thy kingly office in me, and subdue it; yea, vanquish and overcome it." Whereupon Christ gives the same answer that he gave to the centurion, "Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee," 353353Namely, believed the promise of sanctification, (Eze 36:27, Micah 7:19), which belief brings always along with it the use of the means, that are of divine institution, for that end. (Matt 8:13).
And as Christ doth thus suppress all other governors but himself in the hart of a believer, so doth he raze out and deface all other laws, and writes his own there, according to his promise, (Jer 31:33), and makes them pliable and willing to do and suffer his will; and that because it is his will. So that the mind and will of Christ, laid down in his word, and manifested in his works, is not only the rule of a believer's obedience, but also the reason of it, as I once heard a godly minister say in the pulpit; so that he does not only do that which is Christ's will, but he does it because it is his will.
Oh that man, which hath the law of Christ written in his heart!
according to the measure of it, he reads, he hears, he prays, he receives the
sacrament, he keeps the Lord's day holy, he exhorts, he instructs, he confers, and
does all the duties that belong to him in his general calling, because he knows it
is the mind and will of Christ he should do so! yea, he patiently suffers, and
willingly undergoes afflictions for the cause of Christ, because he knows it is the
will of Christ; yea, such a man does not only yield obedience, and perform the duties
of the first table of the law, by virtue of Christ's command, but of the
second also. Oh that husband, parent, master, or magistrate, that has the law of
Christ written in his heart! he does his duty to his wife, child, servant, or subject,
willingly and uprightly, because Christ requires it and commands it. And so
that wife, child, servant, or subject, that has the law of Christ written in his
or her heart, they do their duties to husband, parent, master, or governor, freely and
cheerfully, because their Lord Christ commands it. Now, then, if you find
these things in your heart, you may conclude that Christ rules and reigns there,
as Lord and King.
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