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THE USE OF THE LAW.


Evan. Yea, indeed he does; and if you make any question of it, I pray you,

consider further, that one asking our Saviour, which is the "great commandment

in the law?" he answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This," says he, "is the first and great

commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as

thyself," (Matt 22:37-39).


Whereupon, says a famous spiritual expositor, "God will have the whole heart";

all the powers of our souls must be bent towards him, he will have himself to be

acknowledged and reckoned as our sovereign and supreme good; our love to him

must be perfect and absolute: he requires, that there be not found in us the least

thought, inclination, or appetite of anything which may displease him; and that we

direct all our actions to this very end, that he alone may be glorified by us; and

that for the love we bear unto God, we must do well unto our neighbour,

according to the commandments of God. Consider, also, I pray you, that it is

said, (Deut 27:26, Gal 3:10), "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things

which are written in the book of the law to do them." Now, if you do consider

these things well, you shall perceive that the Lord requires that every man do

keep all the ten commandments perfectly, according as I have expounded them,

and concludes all those under the curse that do not so keep them.


Nom. Surely, sir, you did mistake in saying that the Lord requires that every man

do keep all the ten commandments perfectly; for I suppose you would have said,

the Lord requires that every man do endeavour to keep them perfectly.


Evan. No, neighbour Nomologista, I did not mistake, for I say it again, that the

Lord requires of every man perfect obedience to all the ten commandments, and

concludes all those under the curse that do not yield it; for it is not said, Cursed is

every man that does not endeavour to continue in all things, but "Cursed is every

one that continueth not in all things," &c.


Nom. But, sir, do you think that any man continues in all things, as you have

expounded them?


Evan. No, no; it is impossible that any man should.


Nom. And, sir, what is it to be under the curse?


Evan. To be under the curse, as Luther and Perkins do well agree, is to be under

sin, the wrath of God, and everlasting death.


Nom. But, sir, I pray you, how can this stand with the justice of God, to require

man to do that which is impossible, and yet to conclude him under the curse for

not doing it?


Evan. You shall perceive that it does well stand with the justice of God, to deal so

with man, if you do consider, that this law of God, or these ten commandments,

which we have now expounded, are, as Ursinus' Catechism truly says, "A

doctrine agreeing with the eternal and immortal wisdom and justice that is in

God"; wherein, says Calvin, "God hath so painted out his own nature, that it doth

in a manner express the very image of God." And we read, (Gen 1:27), that man

at the first was created in the image or likeness of God; whence it must needs

follow that this law was written in his heart, that is to say, God did engrave in

man's heart such wisdom and knowledge of his will and works, and such integrity

in his soul, and such a fitness in all the powers thereof, that his mind was able to

conceive, and his heart was able to desire, and his body was able to put in

execution, anything that was acceptable to God; so that in very deed he was able

to keep all the ten commandments perfectly.


And, therefore, though God do require of man impossible things, yet is he not

unjust, neither does he injure us in so doing, because he commanded them when

they were possible, and though we have now lost our ability of performance, yet

it being by our voluntary falling from the state of innocence in which we were at

first created, God has not lost his right of requiring that of us which he once gave

us.


Nom. But, sir, you know it was our first parents only that did fall away from God

in eating the forbidden fruit, and none of their posterity; how then can it be truly

said, that we have lost that power through our own default?


Evan. For answer to this, I pray you consider, that Adam, by God's appointment,

was not to stand or fall as a single person only, but as a common public person,

representing all mankind which were to come of him; and therefore, as in case of

he had been obedient, and not eaten the forbidden fruit, he had retained and kept

that power which he had by creation, as well for all mankind, as for himself; even

so by his disobedience in eating that forbidden fruit, he was disrobed of God's

image, and so lost that power, as well for all mankind as for himself.


Nom. Why then, sir, it should seem that all mankind are under sin, wrath, and

eternal death!


Evan. Yea, indeed by nature they are so, "For we know," says the apostle, "that

whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth

may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," (Rom 3:19);

and again, says he, "We have proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all

under sin," (Rom 3:9). And in another place he says, "We were by nature children

of wrath as well as others," (Eph 2:3); and, lastly, he says, "So death passed upon

all men, for that all have sinned," (Rom 5:12).


Nom. But, sir, I pray you, tell me whether you think that any regenerate man

keeps the commandments perfectly, according as you have expounded them.


Evan. No, not the most sanctified man in the world.


Nom. Why then, sir, it should seem, that not only natural men, but regenerate

men also, are under the curse of the law. For if every one that keepeth not the

law perfectly be concluded under the curse, and if regenerate men do not keep

the law perfectly, then they also must needs be under the curse.


Evan. The conclusion of your argument is not true; for if by regenerate men you

mean true believers, then they have fulfilled the law perfectly in Christ, or rather

Christ has perfectly fulfilled the law in them, and was made a curse for them, and

so has redeemed them from the curse of the law, as you may see, (Gal 3:13).


Nom. Well, sir, now do I understand you, and have ever been of your judgment

in that point, for I have ever concluded this, that either a man himself, or Christ

for him, must keep the law perfectly, or else God will not accept of him, and

therefore have I endeavoured to do the best I could to keep the law perfectly, and

wherein I have failed and come short, I have believed that Christ has done it for

me.


Evan. The apostle says, (Gal 3:10), "So many as are of the works of the law, are

under the curse." And truly, neighbour Nomologista, if I may speak it without

offence, I fear me you are still of the works of the law, and therefore still under

the curse.


Nom. Why, sir, I pray you, what is it to be of the works of the law?


Evan. To be of the works of the law, is for a man to look for, or hope to be

justified or accepted in the sight of God, for his own obedience to the law.


Nom. But surely, sir, I never did so; for though by reason of my being ignorant of

what is required and forbidden in every commandment, I had a conceit that I

came very near the perfect fulfilling of the law, yet I never thought I did do all

things that are contained therein; and therefore I never looked for, nor hoped that

God would accept me for mine own obedience, without Christ's being joined with

it.


Evan. Then it seems that you did conceive, that your obedience and Christ's

obedience must be joined together, and so God would accept you for that.


Nom. Yea, indeed, sir, there has been my hope, and indeed there is still my hope.


Evan. Aye, but neighbour Nomologista, as I told my neighbour Neophytus and

others not long since, so I tell you now, that as the justice of God requires a

perfect obedience, so does it require that this perfect obedience be a personal

obedience, that is, it must be the obedience of one person only. The obedience of

two must not be put together to make up a perfect obedience: and indeed, to say

as the thing is, God will have none to have a hand in the justification and salvation

of any man, but Christ only; for, says the apostle Peter, (Acts 4:12), "Neither is

there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given

among men whereby we may be saved." Believe it then, I beseech you, that

Christ Jesus will either be a whole Saviour, or no Saviour; he will either save you

alone, or not save you at all.


Nom. But, sir, if man's obedience to the law do not help to procure his

justification and acceptance with God, then why did God give the law to the

Israelites upon Mount Sinai, and why is it read and expounded by you that are

ministers? I would gladly know of what use it is.


Evan. The apostle says, (Gal 3:19), "That the law was added because of

transgression." That is, as Luther expounds it, "That transgressions might increase

and be more known, and seen"; or as Perkins expounds it, "For the revealing of

sin, and the punishment thereof; for by the law comes the knowledge of sin," as

the same apostle says, (Rom 3:20); and therefore when the children of Israel

conceived that they were righteous, and could keep all God's commandments

perfectly, as it is manifested by their saying, (Exo 19:8), "All that the Lord

commandeth we will do, and be obedient," the Lord gave them this law, to the

intent they might see how far short they came of yielding that obedience which is

therein required, and so, consequently, how sinful they were. And just so did our

Saviour also deal with the young expounder of the law, (Matt 19:16), who, it

seems, was sick of the same disease, "Good Master," says he, "what shall I do

that I may inherit eternal life?" "He does not," says Calvin, "simply ask, which

way, or by what means he should come to eternal life, but what good he should

do to get it." Whereby it appears, that he was a proud justiciary, one that swelled

in fleshly opinion that he could keep the law, and be saved by it; therefore he is

worthily sent to the law to work himself weary, and to see his need to come to

Christ for remedy.


Now then, if you would know of what use the law is, why first let me tell you, it

is of special use to all such as have a conceit that they themselves can do anything

for the procuring of their own justification and acceptation in the sight of God; to

let them see, as in a glass, that in that case they can do nothing. And, therefore,

seeing that you yourself have such a conceit, I beseech you, labour to make that

use of it, that so you may be hereby quite driven out of yourself unto Jesus

Christ.


Nom. Believe me, sir, I should be glad I could make such a good use of it, and,

therefore, I pray you, give me some directions how I may do it.


Evan. Why, first of all, I would desire you to consider, that in regard that all

mankind were at first created in such an estate as I have declared unto you, the

law and justice of God requires that the man who undertakes, by his obedience,

to procure his justification and acceptation in the sight of God, either in whole, or

in part, be as completely furnished with the habit of righteousness and true

holiness, and as free from all corruption of nature, as Adam was in the state of

innocency, that so there may not be the least corruption mingled with any of

those good actions which he does, nor the least motion of heart or inclination of

will towards any of those evil actions which he does not do.


Secondly, I would desire you to consider, that neither you nor any man else,

whilst you live upon the earth, shall be so furnished with perfect righteousness

and true holiness, nor so free from all corruptions of nature, as Adam was in the

state of innocency; so that no good action which you do shall be free from having

some corruption mingled with it: nor any evil action which you do not do, free

from some motion of heart or inclination of will towards it; and that therefore you

can do nothing towards the procuring of your justification and acceptation in the

sight of God; the which the prophet David well considering, cries out, (Psa 143:2)

"Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord! for in thy sight shall not man

living be justified." Yea, and this made the apostle cry out, "Oh wretched man

that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death"! (Rom 7:24). Yea,

and this made him desire 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).


Nom. But, sir, I am persuaded there be some good actions which I do, that are

free from having any corruption at all mixed with them; and some evil actions

which I do not do, towards the which I have no motion of heart, or inclination of

will at all.


Evan. Surely, neighbour Nomologista, you do not truly know yourself, for I am

confident, that any man who truly knows himself, sees such secret corruptions of

heart in every duty he performs, as causes him unfeignedly to confess, that

whatever good action he does, it is but a polluted stream of a more corrupt

fountain. And whatsoever you or any man else do conceive of yourselves, it is

most certain, that whatsoever sin is forbidden in the word, or has been practised

in the world, that sin every man carries in his bosom, for all have equally sinned

in Adam, and therefore original lust is equally in all.


Nom. Sir, I can hardly be persuaded to this.


Evan. Well, neighbour Nomologista, I cannot so well tell how it is with you, but

for mine own part, I tell you truly, I find my knowledge corrupted and defiled

with ignorance and blindness, and my faith corrupted and defiled with doubting

and distrust, and my love to God very much corrupted and defiled with sinful

self-love and love to the world; and my joy in God much corrupted and defiled

with carnal joy; and my godly sorrow very much corrupted and defiled with

worldly sorrow.


And I find my prayers, my hearing, my reading, my receiving the sacrament, and

such like duties, very much corrupted and defiled with dullness, drowsiness,

sleepiness, wandering, and worldly thoughts, and the like.


And I find my sanctifying of the Lord's name very much corrupted and defiled,

by thinking and speaking lightly and irreverently of his titles; and by thinking, if

not by speaking, grudgingly against some acts of his providence.


And I find my sanctifying of the Lord's day very much corrupted and defiled, by

sleeping too long in the morning, and by worldly thoughts and words, if not by

worldly works.


And I find that all the duties that I have performed, either towards my superiors

or inferiors, have been corrupted and defiled, either with too much indulgence, or

with too much severity, or with base fears, or base hopes, or some self-end and

by-respect.


And I find that all my duties that I have performed, either for the preservation of

mine own or other's life, chastity, goods, or good name, have been very much

corrupted and defiled, either with a desire of mine own praise, own profit here, or

to escape hell, and to obtain heaven hereafter; so that I see no good action which

I have ever done free from having some corruption mixed with it.


And as for motion of heart, and inclination of will towards that evil which I have

not done, it is also manifest, for though I have not been guilty of idolatry, either in

making or worshipping of images, yet have I not been free from carnal

imaginations of God in the time of his worship nor from will-worship.


And though I have not been so guilty of profaning the name of the Lord after

such a gross manner as some others have been, yet have I not been free from an

inclination of heart, and disposition of will thereunto; for I have both thought and

spoken irreverently both of his titles, attributes, word, and works, yea, and many

times do so to this day.


And though I do not now so grossly profane the Lord's day, as it may be others

have done, and do still, yet have I formerly done it grossly, yea, and do still, find

an inward disposition of heart, and inclination of will, both to omit those duties

which tend to the sanctifying of it, and to do those worldly actions which tend to

the profanation of it.


And though when I was a child and young, I did not so grossly dishonour and

disobey my parents and other superiors, as some others did, yet I had an

inclination of heart and disposition of will thereunto, as it was manifest by my

stubbornness, and by not yielding of willing obedience to their commands nor

submitting patiently to their reproofs and corrections.


And though it may be, I have done more of my duty to my inferiors than some

others have done, yet have I found an inclination of heart, and a disposition of

will, many times to omit those duties which I have performed, so that I have as it

were, been fain to constrain myself to do that which I have done.


And though I have not been guilty of the gross act of murder, yet have I had, and

have still an inclination of heart and disposition of will thereunto, in that I have

been, and am still, many times subject to rash, unadvised, and excessive anger;

yea, I have been and still am divers times wrathful and envious towards others

that offend me.


And though I never was guilty of the foul and gross act of fornication or adultery,

yet have I had an inclination of heart, and disposition of will thereunto, in that I

have not been free from filthy imaginations, unchaste thoughts, and inward

motions and desire to uncleanness.


And though I was never guilty of the gross act of stealing, yet have I had an

inclination of heart, and a disposition of will thereunto, in that I have neither been

free from discontentedness with mine own estate, nor from covetous desire after

that which belongs to another.


And though I never did bear false witness against any man, yet have I had an

inclination of heart and disposition of will thereunto, in that I have not been free

from contemning, despising, and thinking too basely of others; neither have I been

free from evil surmisings, groundless suspicions, and rash judging of others.


And now, neighbour Nomologista, I pray you tell me whether you do think that

some of these corruptions are in you, which you hear are in me.


Nom. Yea, believe me, sir, I must needs confess that some of them are.


Evan. Well, though you have but only one of them in you, yet I pray you

consider, that you do hereby transgress one of the ten commandments; and the

apostle James says, that "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in

one point, he is guilty of all," (James 2:10). And call to mind, I also pray you, that

a curse is denounced against all those that continue not in "all things which are

written in the book of the law to do them." Mind it, I pray you, "that doth not

continue in all things": so that although you could for a time do all that the law

requires, and avoid all that it forbids, and that never so exactly, yet if you do not

continue so doing, but transgress the law once in all your life, and that only in one

thought, you are thereby become subject to the curse, which, as you have heard,

is eternal damnation in hell.


Nay, let me tell you more, although you never yet had transgressed the law in all

your life hitherto, not so much as in the least thought, nor ever should do whilst

you live, yet should you thereby become far short of the perfect fulfilling of the

law, and so consequently of your justification and acceptation in the sight of God.


Nom. That is very strange to me, sir, for what can be required more, or what can

be done more, than yielding of perfect and perpetual obedience?


Evan. That is true indeed; there is no more required, neither can there be more

done; but yet you must understand, that the law does as well require passive

obedience as active, suffering as well as doing; for our common bond entered into

for us all, by God's benefits towards the first man, is by his disobedience become

forfeited, both in respect of himself and all mankind; and, therefore, ever since

the fall of man, the law and justice of God does not only require the payment of

the debt, but also of the forfeiture; there is not only required of him perfect doing,

but also perfect suffering. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the

death," says the Lord, (Gen 2:17). Nay, let me tell you yet more; in order of

justice, the forfeiture ought to be paid before the debt; perfect suffering should go

before perfect doing, because all mankind, by reason of that first and great

transgression, are at odds and enmity with God; they are all of them children of

his wrath, and therefore God, as we may speak with holy reverence, cannot be

reconciled unto any man, before a full satisfaction be made to his justice by a

perfect suffering, (Col 1:21): perfect suffering, then, is required for the reconciling

of man unto God, (Eph 2:3), and setting him in the same condition he was in

before his fall, and perfect doing is required for the keeping of him in that

condition.


Nom. And, sir, is man as unable to pay the forfeiture as he is to pay the debt? I

mean, is he as unable to suffer perfectly, as to do perfectly?


Evan. Yea, indeed, every whit as unable; forasmuch as man's sin in eating of the

forbidden fruit was committed against God, and God is infinite and eternal, and

the offence is always multiplied according to the dignity of the person against

whom it is committed: man's offence must needs be an infinite offence, and the

punishment must needs be proportionable to the fault; therefore an infinite and

eternal punishment is required at man's hands, or else such a temporal

punishment, as is equal and answerable to eternal. Now, eternal punishment man

cannot sustain, because then he should never be delivered—he should ever be

satisfying, and never have satisfied; which satisfaction is such as is the

punishment of the devils and damned men in hell, which never shall have an end.

And for temporal punishment, which should be equivalent to eternal, that cannot

be neither, because the power and vigour of no creature is such that it may

sustain a finite and temporal punishment, equivalent to an infinite and eternal; for

sooner should the creature be wasted, consumed, and brought to nothing, than it

could satisfy the justice of God by this means; wherefore we may certainly

conclude, that no man can satisfy the law and justice of God, either by active or

by passive obedience, and so consequently no man shall be justified and accepted

in the sight of God by his own doings or sufferings.


Nom. Sir, I see it clearly, and am therein fully convinced, and I hope I shall make

that use of it. But, sir, is there no other use to be made of the law than this?


Evan. Yea, neighbour Nomologista, you must not only labour thereby to see your

own insufficiency to procure your own justification and acceptation in the sight of

God, though that indeed be the chief use that any unjustified person ought to

endeavour to make of it, but you must also endeavour to make it a rule of

direction to you in your life and conversation.


Nom. But, sir, if I cannot by my obedience to the law do anything towards the

procuring of mine own justification, and acceptation in the sight of God, or, which

as I do conceive is all one, if I can do nothing towards the procuring of mine own

eternal salvation, then methinks all that I do should be in vain, for I cannot see

any good I shall get thereby.


Evan. No, neighbour Nomologista, it shall not be in vain; for though you cannot

by your obedience to the law, do any thing towards the procuring of your own

justification or eternal salvation; yea, and though you should never make such a

use of it, as to be thereby driven out of yourself unto Jesus Christ for justification

and eternal salvation, but should be everlastingly condemned; yet, this let me tell

you, the more obedience you yield unto the law, the more easy shall your

condemnation be; for although no man, walk he ever so exactly and strictly

according to the law, shall thereby either escape the torments of hell, or obtain the

joys of heaven, yet the more exactly and strictly any man walks according to the

law, the easier shall his torments be, (Matt 11:22). So that although you by your

obedience to the law cannot obtain the uneasiest place in heaven, yet may you

thereby obtain the most easy place in hell: and therefore your obedience shall not

be in vain. Nay, let me tell you more, although you by your obedience to the law

can neither escape that hell, nor enjoy that heaven that is in the world to come,

yet you may thereby escape that hell, and enjoy that heaven which is to be had in

this present world; for the Lord dealeth so equally and justly with all men, that

every man shall be sure to receive his due at his hands; so that as every man who

is truly justified in the sight of God, by faith in Christ's blood, shall for that

blood's sake be sure of the joys of heaven, though his life may even after his

believing be in many respects unconformable to the law; yet the more

unconformable his life is thereunto, the more crosses and afflictions he shall be

sure to meet withal in this life, (Psa 89:30-32). Even so, though no man that is not

justified by faith in Christ's blood shall either escape the torments of hell, or attain

the joys of heaven, be his life never so conformable to the law, yet the more

conformable his life is thereunto, the less of the miseries and the more of the

blessings of this life he shall have; for it is not to men unjustified, though I

suppose not only to them that the Lord speaketh, (Isa 1:19), saying, "If ye be

willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good things of the land." And does not the

Lord in the fifth commandment promise the blessing of long life to all inferiors

that are obedient to their superiors? And may we not observe, and is it not found

true by experience, that those children who are most careful of doing their duties

to their parents, are commonly more free both from their parents' corrections and

the Lord's corrections; and are likewise blessed with obedient children

themselves, and do also taste of their parents' bounty and the Lord's bounty, as

touching the blessings of this life, more than others that are disobedient? And may

we not observe, and is it not found true by experience, that those servants that are

most faithful and diligent in their places are commonly more free either from the

Lord's or their masters' corrections, and are likewise rewarded with such servants

themselves, and with other temporal blessings both from their masters and from

the Lord, than others that are not so? And may we not observe, and is it not

found true by experience, that those wives that are obedient and subject to their

husbands, are commonly more free from their frowns, checks, and rebukes; at

least they are more blessed with peace of conscience and a good name amongst

men, than others that are not so? And may we not observe, that our mere honest

men, who for the most part live without committing any gross sin against the law,

are commonly more exempted from the sword of the magistrate, and have many

earthly blessings more in abundance than such as are gross sinners? And the

Scribes and Pharisees, who were strict observers of the law, in regard of the

outward man, were no losers by it, "Verily," says our Saviour, "I say unto you,

they have their reward," (Matt 6:2). So that still, you see, your obedience to the

law shall not be in vain; wherefore, I pray you, do your best to keep the ten

commandments as perfectly as you can. But above all, I beseech you, be careful

to consider of that which has been said touching the special use of the law to you,

that so through the powerful working of God's Spirit, it may become an effectual

means to drive you out of yourself unto Jesus Christ.


Oh, consider, in the first place, what a great number of duties are required and

what a great number of sins are forbidden in every one of the ten

commandments! And in the second place, consider, how many of those duties

you have omitted, and how many of those sins you have committed. And in the

third place, consider, that there has been much corruption mixed with every good

duty which you have done, so that you have sinned in doing that which in itself is

good; and that you have had an inclination of heart and disposition of will to

every sin you have not committed, and so have been guilty of all those sins which

you have not done. And in the fourth place, consider, that the law denounceth a

curse unto every one which continueth not in all things which are written in the

book of the law to do them. And then, in the fifth place, make application of the

curse unto yourself, by saying in your heart, if every one be cursed which

continueth not in all things, then surely I am cursed that have continued in

nothing. And then, in the sixth place, consider, that before you can be delivered

from the curse, the law and justice of God requires that there be a perfect

satisfaction made both by paying the debt and the forfeiture to the very utmost

farthing; perfect doing and perfect suffering are both of them required. And then,

in the last place, consider, that you are so far from being able to make a perfect

satisfaction, that you can do nothing at all towards it, and that therefore, as of

yourself, you are in a most miserable and helpless condition.


Nom. Well, sir, I do now plainly see that I have been deceived, for I verily

thought that the only reason why the Lord gave the law, and why you that are

ministers do show us what is required and forbidden in the law, had been, that all

men might thereby come to see what the mind and will of the Lord is, and be

exhorted, and persuaded to lead their lives thereafter. And I also verily thought

that the more any man did strive and endeavour to reform his life and do

thereafter, the more he procured the love and favour of God towards him, and

the more God would bless him, and do him good, both in this world and in the

world to come; yea, and I also verily thought, that it had been in the man's power

to have come very near the perfect fulfilling of the law, for I never read nor heard

any minister show how impossible it is for any man to keep the law, nor ever

make any mention of any such use of the law, as you have done this day.


Evan. Surely, neighbour Nomologista, these have not only been your thoughts,

but also the thoughts of many other men; for it is natural for every man to think

that he must and can procure God's favour and eternal happiness by his

obedience to the law, at the least to think he can do something towards it; for

naturally men think that the law requires no more but the external act, and that

therefore it is in man's power to keep it perfectly. Is it not an ordinary and

common thing for men when they hear or read that there is more required and

forbidden in the law than they were aware of, to think with themselves, Surely, I

am not right, I have transgressed the law more than I had thought I had done, and

therefore God is more angry with me than I had thought he had been; and

therefore to pacify his anger, and procure his favour towards me, I must repent,

amend, and do better; I must reform my life according to the law, and so by my

future obedience make amends for my former disobedience? And if thereupon

they do attain to any good measure of outward conformity, then they think they

come near the perfect fulfilling of the law; and if it were not that the doctrine of

the Church of England is, that no man can fulfil the law perfectly, and that none

but Papists do say the contrary, they would both think and say they did, or hoped

they should keep all the commandments perfectly. And upon occasions of this

their outward reformation according to the law, they think, yea, and sometimes

say, they are regenerate men and true converts, and that the beginning of this

their reformation was the time of their new birth and conversion unto God. And if

these men do confess themselves to be sinners, it is rather because they hear all

others confess themselves so to be, than out of any true sight and knowledge,

sense, or feeling they have of any inward heart-corruption. And if they do

acknowledge, that a man is not to be justified by the works of the law, but by

faith in Christ, it is rather because they have heard it so preached or because they

have read it so in the Bible, or some other book, than because of any

imperfection which they see in their own works, or any need they see of the

righteousness of Jesus Christ. And if they do see any imperfection in their own

works, and any need of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, then they imagine that

so long as their hearts are upright and sincere, and they do desire and endeavour

to do their best to fulfil the law, God will accept of what they do, and make up

their imperfect obedience with Christ's perfect obedience, and so will justify and

save them; but all this while, their own works must have a hand in their

justification and salvation, and so they are still of the works of the law, and

therefore under the curse. The Lord be merciful both to you and them, and bring

you under the blessing of Abraham!


Nom. Sir, I thank you for your good wishes towards me, and for your great pains

which you have now taken with me and so I will for this time take my leave of

you; only, I could wish, if it might not be too much trouble to you, that you

would be pleased at your leisure, to give me in writing a copy of what you have

this day said concerning the law.


Evan. Well, neighbour Nomologista, though I can hardly spare so much time, yet

because you do desire it, and in hope you may receive good by it, I will, ere long,

find some time to accomplish your desire.


Neo. I pray you, neighbour Nomologista, tarry a little longer, and I will go with

you.


Nom. No, I must needs be gone; I can stay no longer.


Evan. Then fare you well, neighbour Nomologista, and the Lord make you to see

your sins!


Nom. The Lord be with you, sir.


Neo. Well, sir, now I hope you have fully convinced him that he comes far short

of keeping all the commandments perfectly: I hope he will no longer be so well

conceited of his own righteousness as he has formerly been. But now, sir, I pray

you tell me before I depart, whether you would have me to endeavour to make

the same use of the law, which you have advised him to make.


Evan. No, neighbour Neophytus, I look not upon you as an unbeliever, as I did

upon him, but I look upon you as one who has already been by the law driven out

of yourself unto Jesus Christ; I look upon you as a true believer, and as a person

already justified in the sight of God, by faith in Christ, and so as one who are

neither to question your inheritance in heaven, nor fear your portion in hell. And

therefore I will not persuade you to labour to yield obedience to the law, by telling

you, that the more obedient you are thereunto, the easier torments you shall have

in hell, as I did him; neither would I have you to make application of the curse of

the law

"Oh"! says the Lord, "that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had

walked in my ways! he should soon have fed them with the finest of wheat, and

with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee." Besides, the more

obedience you yield unto the ten commandments, the more glory you will bring to

God, according to that of our Saviour, (John 15:8), "Herein is my Father glorified,

that ye bear much fruit." To conclude, the more obedience you yield unto the ten

commandments, the more good you will do unto others, according to that of the

apostle, (Titus 3:8), "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou

affirm constantly, that they which have believed in Christ might be careful to

maintain good works; these things are good and profitable unto men."


Neo. But, sir, what if I should not purpose, desire, and endeavour to yield

obedience to all the ten commandments, as you say the Lord requires; what then?


Evan. Why, then, although it is true you have no cause to fear that God will

proceed against you, as a wrathful judge proceeds against a malefactor, yet have

you cause to fear that he will proceed against you as a displeased father does

against an offending child; that is to say, although you have no cause to fear that

he will unjustify you, and unson you, and deprive you of your heavenly

inheritance, and inflict the penalty of the law of works upon you, and so condemn

you, for says the apostle, "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ

Jesus," (Rom 8:1); yet have you cause to fear that he will hide his fatherly face,

and withdraw the light of his countenance from you; and that your conscience will

be ever accusing and disquieting of you, which if it do, then will you draw back,

and be afraid to ask anything of God in prayer; for even as a child whose

conscience tells him that he has angered and displeased his father, will be

unwilling to come into his father's presence, especially to ask of him anything that

he wants, even so it will be with you; and besides, you shall be sure to be

whipped and scourged with many bodily and temporal chastisements and

corrections, according to that which is said concerning Jesus Christ and his seed,

even true believers, and justified persons, (Psa 89:31-33), "If his children forsake

my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and walk not in

my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their

iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take

from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail."


Wherefore, neighbour Neophytus, to apply these things a little more closely to

you, and so to conclude, let me exhort you, when you come home, call to mind

and consider of every commandment according as you have heard them this day

expounded, and resolve to endeavour yourself to do thereafter; and always take

notice how and wherein you fall and come short of doing what is required, and of

avoiding what is forbidden; and especially be careful to do this when you are

called to humble yourself before the Lord in fasting and prayer, and upon

occasion of going to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and so shall you

make a right use of the law.


Neo. And, sir, why would you have me more especially to take notice of my sins,

when I am called to humble myself before the Lord in fasting and prayer?


Evan. Because the more sinful you see yourself to be, the more humble will your

heart be; and the more humble your heart is, the more fit you will be to pray, and

the more the Lord will regard your prayers: wherefore, when upon occasion of

some heavy and sore affliction, either felt, or feared to come upon yourself, or

someone sore judgment and calamity either felt, or feared to come upon the

nation or place where you live, the Lord calls you to humble yourself in fasting

and prayer, then do you thereupon take occasion to meditate, and consider

seriously what duties are required, and what sins are forbidden in every one of the

ten commandments, and then consider how many of those duties you have

omitted, and how many of those sins you have committed; consider also the

sinful manner of performing those duties you have performed, and the base and

sinful ends which you have had in the performance of them; consider also how

many sinful corruptions there are in our heart, which break not forth in our life,

and the disposition of heart which you have naturally to every sin which you do

not commit; and then consider, that although the sins which you do now commit

are not a transgression of the law of works, because you are not now under the

law, (Rom 6:14); yet are they a transgression of the law of Christ, because you

still are under that law, (1 Cor 9:31); and though they be not committed against

God as standing in relation to you as a wrathful Judge, yet have they been

committed against him as he stands in relation to you as a merciful loving Father;

and though they subject you not to the wrath of a Judge, nor to the penalty of the

law of works, yet they subject you to the anger and displeasure of a loving

Father, and to the penalty of the law of Christ.


Whereupon, do you draw near to God by prayer, saying unto him after this

manner:


"O merciful and loving Father! I do acknowledge that the sins which I did commit

before I was a believer, were a transgression of the law of works, because I was

then under that law; yea, and that they were committed against thee, as thou

stoodest in relation to me as a judge, and that therefore thou mightest most justly

have inflicted the curse or penalty of the law of works upon me, and so have cast

me into hell; but seeing that thou hast enabled me to believe the gospel, viz: that

thou hast been pleased to give thine own Son Jesus Christ to undertake for me, to

become my Surety, to take my nature upon him, and to be made under the law,

to redeem me from under the law, (Gal 4:4, 3:13, Rom 5:10); and to be made a

curse for me, to redeem me from the curse, and to reconcile me unto thee by his

death; now I know it stands not with thy justice to proceed against me by virtue

of the law of works, and so cast me into hell. Nevertheless, Father, I know that

the sins which I have committed since I did believe have been a transgression of

the law of Christ, because I am still under that law: yea, and I do acknowledge,

that they have been committed against thee, even against thee, my most gracious,

merciful, and loving Father in Jesus Christ, and that it is therefore meet thou

shouldest express thy fatherly anger and displeasure towards me, for these sins

which thy law has discovered unto me, in bringing this affliction upon me, or this

judgment upon the place or nation wherein I live: howbeit, Father, I , knowing

that thy fatherly anger towards thy children is never mixed with hatred, but

always with love, and that in afflicting of them thou never intendedst any

satisfaction to thine own justice, but their amendment, even the purging out of the

remainder of those sinful corruptions which are still in them, and the conforming

of them to thine own image; I therefore come unto thee this day, to humble

myself before thee, and to call upon thy name, not for any need, or power that I

do conceive I have to satisfy thy justice, or to appease thy eternal wrath, and to

free my soul from hell; for that I do believe Christ has fully done for me already;

but I do it in hopes thereby to pacify thy fatherly anger and displeasure towards

me, and to obtain the removal of this affliction or judgment which I feel or fear;

wherefore I beseech thee to pardon and forgive these my sins, which have been

the procuring cause thereof; yea, I pray thee not only to pardon them, but also to

purge them, that so this may be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin, and

making me partaker of thy holiness; and then, Lord, remove this affliction and

judgment when thy will and pleasure is."


And thus have I showed you the reason why I would have you more especially to

take notice of your sins, when you come to humble yourself before the Lord in

fasting and prayer.


Neo. And, sir, why would you have me to take notice of my sins, upon occasion

of my going to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?


Evan. Because the more sinful you see yourself to be, the more need you will see

yourself to have of Christ; and the more need you see yourself to have of Christ,

the more will you prize him; and the more you prize Christ, the more you will

desire him; and the more you do desire Christ, the more fit and worthy receiver

you will be.


Wherefore, when you are determined to receive the sacrament, then take

occasion to examine yourself as the apostle exhorts you, behold the face of your

soul in the glass of the law, lay your heart and life to that rule, as I directed you

before; then think with yourself and commune with your own heart, saying in

your heart after this manner, "Though I do believe that all these my sins are for

Christ's sake freely and fully pardoned and forgiven, so as that I shall never be

condemned for them, yet do I not so fully and comfortably believe it as I ought,

but am sometimes apt to question it: and besides, though my sins have not

dominion over me, yet I feel them too prevalent in me, and I would fain have

more power and strength against them; I would fain have my graces stronger and

my corruptions weaker; wherefore I, knowing that Christ in the sacrament of the

Lord's Supper, seals up unto me the assurance of the pardon and forgiveness of

all my sins; yea, and knowing that the death and bloodshed of Jesus Christ, which

is there represented, has in it both a pardoning and purging virtue; yea, and

knowing that the more fully I do apprehend Christ by faith, the more strength of

grace, and power against corruptions I shall feel:—wherefore I will go to partake

of that ordinance, in hope that I shall there meet with Jesus Christ, and apprehend

him more fully by faith, and so obtain both more assurances of the pardon of my

sins, and the more power and strength against them"; which the Lord grant you

for Christ's sake. And thus having also showed you the reason why I would have

you more especially to take notice of your sins before you come to receive the

sacrament of the Lord's Supper, I will now take my leave of you, for my other

occasions do call me away.


Neo. Well, sir, I do acknowledge, that you have taken great pains both with my

neighbour and me this day, for the which I do give you many thanks. And yet I

must entreat you to do the like courtesy for me which you promised my

neighbour Nomologista, and that is, at your leisure, to write me out a copy of the

conference we have had this day.


Evan. Well, neighbour Neophytus, I shall think of it, and it may be, accomplish

your desire. And so the God of peace be with you.


Neo. The Lord be with you, sir.


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