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the preacher of repentance, Matt. iii. 8. « Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.” And by St. Paul here, Acts xxvi. 20. « Re« pent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” There are works to follow belonging to repentance, as well as sorrow for what is past.
These two, faith and repentance, i. e. believing Jesus to be the Mefliah, and a good life, are the indispensable conditions of the new covenant to be performed by all those who would obtain eternal life. The reasonableness, or rather necessity of which, that we may the better comprehend, we must a little look back to what was said in the beginning. .
Adam being the son of God, and so St. Luke calls him, chap. u. 38. had this part also of the “likeness” and “image” of his father, viz. that he was immortal. But Adam tranfgrefsing the command given him by his heavenly father, incurred the penalty, forfeited that state of immortality, and became mortal. After this, Adam begot children, but they were in his own likeness, after his « own image;" mortal like their father.
God nevertheless, out of his infinite mercy, willing to bestow eternal life on mortal men, sends Jesus Christ into the world; who being conceived in the womb of a virgin (that had not known man) by the immediate power of God, was properly the son of God; according to what the angel declared to his mother, Luke i. 30–35. « The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power
of the Highest Thall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy " thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called THE SON OF . « God.” So that, being the son of God, he was, like his father, « immortal,” as he tells us, John v, 26. “ As the father hath life « in himself, so hath he given to the son to have life in himself."
And that immortality is a part of that “ image,” wherein these (who were the immediate sons of God, so as to have no other father) were made like their fathers appears probable, not only from the places in Genesis concerning Adam, above taken notice of, but seems to me also to be intimated in some expressions concerning Jesus the son of God. In the New Testament, Col. i. 15, he is called “ the image of the invisible God.” « Invisible" seems put in, to obviate any gross imagination, that he (as images used to do) represented God in any corporeal or visible resemblance. And there is farther subjoined, to lead us into the meaning of it, “The « first-born of every creature;” which is farther explained, ver. 18. where he is termed, “ The first-born from the dead :" thereby making out, and shewing himself to be the “ image” of the invisible God; that death hath no power over him : but being the son of God, and not having forfeited that sonship by any transgression, was the heir of eternal life; as Adain should have been, had he continued in his filial duty. In the same sense the apostle seems to use the word “image” in other places, viz. Rom. viii. 29. “ Whom “ he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the “ image of his son, that he might be the first-born among many
. « brethren,
“ brethren.” This “ image,” to which they were conformed, seems to be, « immortality" and eternal life. For it is remarkable, that in both these places St. Paul speaks of the resurrection, and that Christ was “the first-born among many brethren;" he being by birth the son of God, and the others only by adoption, as we fue in this fame chapter, ver. 15–17. “ Ye have received the spirit of " adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, father; the spirit itself bearing
witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God. And “ if children, then heirs; and joint-heirs with Christ: if lo be that “ we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.” And hence we see, that our Saviour vouchsafes to call those, who at the day of judgement are through him entering into eternal life, his “ brethren ;” Matt. xxv. 40. “ Inasmuch as ye have done it unto “ one of the least of these my brethren.” May we not in this find a reason why God so frequently in the New Testament, and so feldoni, if at all, in the Old, is mentioned under the single title of The FATHER ? and therefore our Saviour lays, Matt. xi. “No man know« eth the father save the son, and he to whon sover the son will « reveal him.” God has now a son again in the world, the firstborn of many brethren, who all now, by the spirit of al'option, can say, “ Abba,” father; and we by adoption, being for his lüke made his brethren, and the sons of God, come to share in that inheritance which was his natural right, he being by birth the son of God: which inheritance is eternal life. And again, vei. 23. “ We groan « within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, ine redemption " of our body;" whereby is plainly meant the change of theie frail mortal bodies, into the spiritual immortal bodies at the resurrection; “ When this mortal shall have put on immortality,” I Cor. xv. 54. which in that chapter, ver. 42 - 44, he farther exprefies thus: “So « also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corrupt:on, it « is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour, it is raisid in “ glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power : it is sown a « natural body, it is railed a spiritual body, &c.” To wiich he subjoins, ver. 49. “ As we have borne the image of the carthy" ! (i. e. As we have been mortal, like earthy Adam our fatner, troin whom we are defcended, when he was turned out of paradil.), “ we “ Thall also bear the image of the heavenly;" into whole fonihip and inheritance being adopted, we shall, at the resurrection, receive that “adoption” we expect, “ Even the redemption of our bodies;" and after his “iinage,” which is the “ image." of the father, become imirortal. Hear what he himself fays, Luke xx. 35, 36. « They “ who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the re“ furrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in nar« riage. Neicher can they die any r ore; for they ar'equni mno “ the angels, and are the SONS OF God, b.in the 0.of iciu lurrection.” And he that ihall read St. Paui's argument, its xiii. 32, 33, will find, that the great evidence that tus Wt.e « son of God,” was his resurrection. Then the image o insti. ther appeared in him, when he vilibly cntcred into tho itat: of in
mortality. For thus the apostle reasons ; “ We preach to you, u how that the promise which was made to our fathers, God hath u fulfilled the same unto us, in that he hath raised up Jesus again ; “ as it is also written in the second Plalm, Thou art my son, this “ day have I begotten thee.”
This may serve a little to explain the “ immortality" of the sons of God, who are in this, like their father, made after his « image" and likeness. But that our Saviour was so, he himself farther declares, John X. 18. where, speaking of his life, he says, “ No one « taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power « to lay it down), and I have power to take it up again.” Which he could not have had if he had been a mortal man, the son of a man, of the feed of Adam; or else had by any transgression forfeited his life: for “ the wages of sin is death.” And he that hath incurred death for his own transgression, cannot lay down his life for another, as our Saviour profesies he did. For he was the just one, Acts vii. 57. and xii. 14. “ who knew no sin.” 2 Cor. v. 21. « who did no fin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” And thus, “ As by ian came death, so by man came the resurrection of " the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ Thall all be « made alive."
For this laying down his life for others, our Saviour tells us, John X. 17. “ Therefore dous my father love me, because I lay “ down my life, that I might take it again.” And this his obedience and suttering was rewarded with a kingdom, which he tells us, Luke xxii. “ His father had appointed unto him ;” and which, it is evident out of the epiftle to the Hebrews, chap. xii. 2. he had a regard to in his sufferings : « who for the joy that was set before " him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at « the right hand of the throne of God." Which kingdom given him upon this account of his obedience, suffering, and death, he himself takes notice of in these words, John xvii. 1--4. “ Jesus “ lift up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come, so glorify thy fon, that thy son also may glorify thee, As thou hast s given him power over all Aleth, that he thould give eternal life ss to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, " that they inay know thee the only true God, and Jesus the Mer« siah, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on earth: I “ have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” And St, Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, chap. ii. 8-11. “ He hum" bled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of « the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and “ given him a name that is above every name: that at the name « of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things « in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue “ should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Thus God, we fee, designed his son Christ Jesus a kingdom, an everlasting kingdom in heaven. But “ though as in Adam all die, so fo in Chrift shall all be made alive;” and all men shall return to life again at the last day; yet all men having sinned, and thereby “ come short of the glory of God,” as St. Faul aliures us, Rom. M. 23. (i. e. not attaining to the heavenly kingdom of the Mefliah, which is often called the glory of God; as may be seen, Rom. v. 2. and xv. 7. and ii. 7. Matt. xvi. 27. Mark viii. 38. For no one who is unrighteous, i. e. comes short of perfect righteousness, Ihall be admitted into the eternal life of that kingdom; as is declared, 1 Cor. vi. 9. “ The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of “ God”). And death, the wages of fin, being the portion of all those who had transgressed the righteous law of God, the son of God would in vain have come into the world, to lay the foundations of a kingdom, and gather together a select people out of the world, if they being found guilty at their appearance before the judgement-seat of the righteous judge of all men at the last day) initead of entrance into eternal life in the kingdom he had prepared for them, they should receive death, the just reward of fin, which every one of them was guilty of. This second death would have left him no subjects; and instead of those ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, there would not have been one left him to sing praises unto his name, saying, “ Blessing, and “honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that fitteth on the " throne, and unto the lamb for ever and ever.” God, therefore, out of his mercy to mankind, and for the erecting of the kingdom of his son, and furnishing it with subjects out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, proposed to the children of men, that as many of them as would believe jesus his son (whom he sent into the world) to be the Messiah, the promised deliverer, and would receive him for their king and ruler, should have all their pait fins, disobedience, and rebellion forgiven them; and if for the future they lived in a sincere obedience to his law, to the utmost of their power, the fins of human frailty for the time to come, as well as all those of their past lives, should, for his son's sake, because they gave themselves up to him to be his subjects, be forgiven them: and so their faith, which made them be baptized into his name (i. e, enrol themselves in the kingdom of Jesus the Messiah, and profess themselves his subjects, and consequently live by the laws of his kingdom), should be accounted to them for righteoulness; i. e. should supply the defects of a scanty obedience in the fight of God; who, counting this faith to them for righteousness, or complete obedience, did thus justify, or make them juít, and thereby capable of eternal life.
Now, that this is the faith for which God of his free grace jula cifies sinful man (for “ it is God alone that justiseth,” Rom. viii, 33. Rom. iii, 26.), we have already shewed, by observing through all the history of our Saviour and the apostles, recorded in the evangelifts, and in the Acts, what he and his apostles preached and proposed to be believed. We fhall shew now, that, besides believing him to be the Messiah their king, it was farther required, that those who would have the privilege, advantage, and deliverance of his
kingdom, should enter themselves into it; and by baptism being made denisons, and folemnly incorporated into that kingdom, live as became subjects obedient to the laws of it. For if they believed him to be the Meffiah their kiny, but would not obey his laws, and would not have him to reign over them, they were but the great. r rebels; and God would not justify them for a faith that did but increase their guilt, and oppose diametrically the kingdom at design of the Meilish; “ who gave himself for us, that he might “ redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar “ people, zealous of good works,” Titus ii. 14. And therefore St. Paul tells the Galatians, That that which availeth is faith ; but « faith working by love." And that “ faith” without “ works,” i. e. the works of lincere obedience to the law and will of Christ, is not fufficient for our justification, St. James Thews at large, chap. ii.
Neither indeed could it be otherwise; for life, eternal life, being the reward of justice or righteousness only, appointed by the righteous God (who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity) to those only who had no taint or infection of fin upon them, it is imporfible that he should justify those who had no regard to justice at all, whatever they believed. This would have been to encourage iniquity, contrary to the purity of his nature, and to have condemned that eternal law of right, which is holy, just, and good: of which no one precept or rule is abrogated or repealed; nor indeed can be, whilft God is an holy, just, and righteous God, and man a rational creature. The duties of that law arising from the constitution of his very nature, are of eternal obligation; nor can it be taken away, or dispensed with, without changing the nature of things, or overturning the measure of right and wrong, and thereby introducing and authorising irregularity, confusion, and disorder in the world. Christ's coming into the world was not for such an end as that; but, on the contrary, to reform the corrupt state of degenerate man, and out of those who would mend their lives, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, erect a new kingdom.
This is the law of that kingdom, as well as of all mankind; and that law by which all men shall be judged at the last day. Only those who have believed Jefus to be the Messiah, and have taken him to be their king, with a sincere endeavour after righteousness, in obeying his lav, Thall have their past fins not imputed to them; and ihall have that faith taken instead of obedience, where frailty and weakness made them tranfgrefs, and sin prevailed after converlion in those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (or perfect obedience), and do not allow themselves in acts of disobedience and rebellion, against the laws of that kingdom they are entered into.
He did not expect, it is true, a perfect obedience, void of all slips and falls; he knew our make, and the weakness of our confitutions too well, and was sent with a supply for that defect. Befides, perfect obedience was the righteculneis of the law of works ; and then the reward would be of debt, and not of grace: and to