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began, Tit. i. 2. And to whom could it be then made immediately and primarily, but to Chrift the head of the covenant?
Laftly, Thefe promises contain a part of the reward made over in the covenant to Jefus Chrift, who for the joy that was fet before him, endured the cross, Heb. xii. 2. A great part of which joy lay here; He Shall fee his feed-the travel of his foul, Ifa. liii. 10. 11. All of these promifes were the price of his blood to him, the purchase of his obedience and death: therefore called the new teftament in his bloo!. To whom could the reward be chiefly promifed, but to him who performing the condition, wrought the work? Unto him therefore it was of debt, namely, in virtue of the promise, which made it due to him upon his performing of the condition. The bleffings of the covenant which came on the elect, are certainly to be confidered as a reward to Chrift, as well as a free gift to them. And confidering them in the first of these views, there is no more abfurdity in the promise of the new hearts being made to Chrift, than in a physician's making a promife to a father to cure his lame child, when he hath given him fecurity for his fees; in which cafe, the child cannot look on the promises made to himfelf at all, but fecondarily through his father, who was the party-contractor.
This is a point of confiderable weight, and ferves both to inform our mind, and direct our practice; for the following inferences from it are native.
(1.) The promises of the covenant are not made to the believer's good works; but to Chrift's works, and to the working believer in him. Unto the believer they are abfolutely free, and not of debt; and therefore are not made to his work; for to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt. Rom. iv. 4. There is indeed a comely order of the promises, whereby the promises of purity of heart to the elect, goes
goes before the promise of their seeing God in heaven; the promife of humiliation, before that of lifting up: thereupon it is declared in the adminiftration of the covenant, that the pure in heart fhall fee God: that they who humble themselves, fhall be lifted up: and thus godliness hath promife of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. iv. 8. But the foundation of all these promises, whether of things that are our duty, or our privilege, what they all depend upon as their proper condition, is the obedience of Chrift allenarly; they being all made to him in the first place, the latter as well as the former.
(2.) The firft grace whereby the dead elect are quickened, and made to believe and unite with Christ, is conveyed to them in the channel of a promise, as well as the grace following faith: Ezek. xxxvi. 27, I will put my spirit within you. For although in their natural eftate they are not capable of a believing pleading of the promise; nor have they, at that time, a perfonal faving intereft in the promises: yet the Lord Jefus knoweth them that are his, and for whom the promises were made to him; and having the adminiftration of the covenant in his own hand, he cannot fail of feeing to the accomplishing of them, in the appointed time. Howbeit they, being dead in trefpaffes and fins, cannot confult their own intereft; yet he having the chief intereft in the prômifes, will not neglect his own caufe, but will fee them exactly accomplished.
(3.) The way to be perfonally and favingly interefted in the promises, for time and eternity is to unite with Chrift by faith: for all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, 2 Cor. i. 20. Would ye fain know how the great and precious promises may become yours? Why, they are all his; they are all made to him. Take him and they are yours; even as he who marries the heirefs, hath a
right to her portion, and all the bills and bonds wherein any of it is contained.
(4.) When through deadnefs and darkness of fpirit, whether arifing from fome confcience-wafting guilt, or otherwife, your faith of the promife is failed, and you cannot again faften your grip upon it, becaufe you can fee no good in you; embrace Chrift again, and the promife in him, notwithstanding of your feen and felt finfulness, and utter unworthinefs; and by no means ftand off from the promife until you be in better cafe: but fay with the Pfalmift, Iniquities prevail against me; as for our tranfgreffions, thou shalt purge them away, Pfal. Ixv. 3. For as the goodness in you was not the ground of the promife; fo the evil in you doth not overturn it, and make it of none effect. The foundation of the promife ftands fure in Chrift, whatever alterations the frame and cafe of a believer's fpirit do undergo. It is established as the moon, (Pfalm Ixxxix. 37.), which is ftill the fame in itfelf, notwithstanding of the variety of its appearances to our fight, one while waxing, at another time waneing.
(5.) The true way to plead the promifes, is to come to God in the name of Chrift, and plead the fulfilling of them to us for his fake: John xvi. 23. Whatfoever ye fhall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Matth. xxi. 22. Believing, ye fhall receive. Dan. ix. 17. O our God caufe thy face to fhine upon thy fanctuary that is defolate, for the Lord's fake. To afk in Chrift's name believing, is to prefent one's felf before the Lord, as a member of Chrift, joined and cleaving unto him offered unto us in the gofpel; and for the fake of the Head, te implore the free favour of the promife, relying on his merit for obtaining it. This is the import of that paffage, Gen. xii. 3. as it relates to Chrift, In thee fball all families of the earth (to wit, that fhall be bleffed) be bleffed; or rather, as the original word pro
perly fignifies, be made to kneel, namely to receive the bleffing; all that are blessed, being bleffed in Chrift, Ephi. 3. Compare Philip. ii. 10. This is the method in which God difpenfeth the favours of his promife; 2 Sam. vii. 21. For thy word's fake, and according to thine own heart, haft thou done all these great things. Compare 1 Chron. xvii. 19. For thy fervant's fake, and according to thine own heart, haft thou done all this greatness; i. e. for the fake of the Word, thy fervant, the Meffias: for as both these paffages are a narration of the very fame thing, there is no manner of difference at all between them in the original, fave that where the one hath thy word, the other hath thy fervant.
(6.) Believers may hereby ftrengthen their faith of the accomplishment of the promises to them.. Whatever easy work fome have, in maintaining their prefumptuous. hopes of the mercy of God to eternal life; while, not feeing the heinous nature of their fin, they build their hopes on fomething in their felves, rather than upon the free promife of the covenant in Chrift Jefus; yet unto the serious godly, no fmall difficulty of believing doth arife, from the joint view of the greatnefs and precioufnefs of the promifes, and the greatness of their fins, and of their unworthiness. Hence they are ready to fay, Can ever fuch promises be made out to fuch a one as I am? And truly there is nothing in them that can furnish an answer to this grave cafe. But here is a fatisfying anfwer to it; The promises are all of them made to Chrift chiefly, even to him who purchased them with his blood; and juftice requires that they be performed to him; and being performed to him, they must needs have their effect on all his members, for whom, becaufe in themselves unworthy, he merited them.. So the foul may fay, However unwor thy I am, yet he is worthy for whom God should do this.
2. The promises having their immediate effect on the elect, are made to themfelves fecondarily, in and through Chrift. As he hath the fundamental and chief intereft in them, fo they have a derived intereft in them through him. There was from eternity a legal union between Chrift and them in the covenant; whereby their debt became his, and the promifes made to him became theirs. As, upon one hand, the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, Ifa. liii. 6.; fo, on the other hand grace was given in Chrift Jefus, before the world began, 2 Tim. i. 9. In time there is a real myftical union made between him and them, upon his taking poffeffion of them by his Spirit, and dwelling in them by faith. The former conftituted a right for them unto the promises, in Chrift the head; the letter vefts them with a right thereto, in their own perfons, through him; as being actual members of his body, In refpect of the one, eternal life is faid to be promifed, and grace faid to be given us, before the world began, Tit. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 9. in refpect of the other, believers are called the heirs of the promife, Heb. iv. 17; partakers of his promife in Chrift, Eph. iii. 6, and the promife is given to them that believe, Gal. iii. 22. Thus it appears that these promifes are made to Christ's spiritual feed, as well as to himfelf; though primarily to him as the reprefentative, on whom the fulfilling the condition was laid; and but fecondarily to them as the reprefented, who were to, receive, the benefit. And hence arifeth another difference, namely, that properly and ftrictly, fpeaking, the promifes were conditional to Chrift, but they are abfolute and free to us; even as the promife of life in the first covenant, which was conditional to Adam, would have been abfolute to his natural feed, the condition once being fulfilled. Thus Chrift's merit, and the free grace of God, meet together in the covenant: justice is fully fatisfied, and grace runs free