« PreviousContinue »
neffed their demerit of death; and that therefore they would be very flow to believe the good news from heaven, touching the covenant of peace and for this caufe he would give them one competent to witness the truth thereof; and pitched upon Jefus Chrift for that effect. He was a fon of Adam; fo the more fit to atteft it unto men: he was the eternal Son of God; and therefore not liable to error or mistake in his teftimony: he was an eye-witness to the eternal tranfaction, and fo he could speak in the matter that which he had feen with his Father, John viii. 38. He came down from heaven, where the covenant was made, unto the earth, in favour of which it was made: wherefore he could witness in earth, what he had feen in heaven about it, chap. iii. 31. He that cometh from heaven, is above all. verfe 32. And what he hath feen and heard, that he teftifieth. In him we have a twofold witnefs, which is full evidence in law. He is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, Rev. iii. 14. In him we have the witness of man; in refpect whereof he is the faithful witness and the witness of God; in refpect whereof he is the true witness, even truth itfelf, Compare John viii. 18. I am one that bear witness of myfelf; where Chrift as a divine witnefs, in refpect of his Godhead, is faid to bear witness of himself, as a man appearing in the world, revealing the covenant. And in refpect of both thefe, he is the Amen, whofe witnefs confirms and determines the truth of the matter in law.
3. He is in the fame capacity constitute the interpreter of the covenant, Job xxxiii. 23. to teach it unto men. We are not only flow to believe the covenant, but it is hard for us to understand it. It lies fo far beyond the reach of our natural underftanding, that we cannot understand it in a faving manner, unless the Son of God hath given us an understanding (a fupernatural one) that we may know
him that is true, 1 John v. 20. And whofoever shall fo understand it, must be all taught of God, John vi. 45. that is, of Jefus Chrift, ver. 46. So he is by the Father conftitute interpreter, and great teacher of the mystery of the covenant: and all the children of the covenant must be his difciples, and learn of him.
Now, Chrift's administration of the covenant, as the Prophet thereof, may be taken up in these three things following.
1. His intimating and offering the covenant to finners by his word, for bringing them perfonally into it. This he did from the time of Adam's fall, is now doing, and will do even unto the end of time, that the mystery of God shall be finished. He began the Old Testament difpenfation thereof, in person. Appearing in human fhape, with his own mouth he gave the first notice of the covenant that ever there was in the world, and made the first offer of it in paradife, Gen. iii. 8, 15. He carried it on by prophets and ordinary teachers, whom he commiffionated for that effect, and furnished with gifts for the work. The former of thefe he employed to write in his name, as well as to speak therein, in that matter: and by both he spoke to finners, intimating and offering the covenant unto them, by their means; whether through the word written or fpeken. And thus he managed that work, to the falvation of those who believed, in the patriarchal ages before and after the flood; and all along the time of the Jewish church, from Mofes to the end of that difpenfation. Then he also began the New Testament difpenfation in his own perfon. Having by his incarnation become man, he applied himself to this work. Though he was born king of the Jews, Matth. ii. 2. and many of them would have had him to have mounted their throne, John vi. 15.; yet he chufed rather to appear in the character of a prophet, and betake himself unto the work of the ministry, for to preach the
gofpel, and intimate and offer the covenant to perifhing finners; and so he was a minifter of the circumcifion, Rom. xv. 8. Of him in this capacity particularly, Solomon, that king-preacher, was a type, Eccl. i. I. And this alfo he did, and still doth carry on mediately and by proxy, especially after his afcenfion into heaven; and that partly by his apostles and other extraordinary officers, whom he employed to write, as well as to fpeak, in his name; and partly by ordinary minifters of the gospel, to be continued in the church to the end of the world, Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13. Thus he is now administering the covenant unto us, by putting his written word of the Old and New Teftament in our hands, and fending men in his name to preach the gospel unto us. By these means he fpeaks to finners, intimating and offering them the covenant: and fo he carries on the work, to the falvation of those that believe, and rendering unbelievers inexcufable, 2 Cor. v. 20. Rev. iii. 22. Luke x. 16. Wherefore the offer of the covenant made to us in the gospel, is his offer: and though the word is fent to us by men, they are but his voice in the matter, he is the speaker. Then fee that ye refufe him not that speaketh, Heb. xii. 25.
2. His making the intimation and offer of the covenant effectual to the elect, by the Spirit, 1 Pet. i. 12 By them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the holy Ghost fent down from heaven. The great Prophet of the covenant can effectually teach the most unteachable finners of mankind; caufing light not only to break forth in a dark world, by his word, but in dark hearts, by his Spirit: for the fulnefs of the Spirit of light is in him, and he hath eyefalve for the fpiritually blind, Rev. iii. 18. He knoweth who are his, in whofe name he contracted with the Father, and received the promise of the Spirit: and, fooner or latter, he fo enlightens them, that he rescues them from under the power of their
fpiritual darkness, and renders the administration of the covenant effectual to them, however ineffectual it be to others, Col. i. 13. And this he doth, by bringing his word to them with power, through the efficacy of his Spirit opening their eyes. In the first place, by his Spirit acting upon them, as a Spirit of bondage, he fets home on their confciences, the ho. ly law in the commands and curfe thereof, as of di vine authority, and binding on them in particular. Hereby they are convinced of their fin and mifery, feeing their fin is heinous in the fight of God, and his wrath due to them for their fin: they are filled with remorfe, terror and anxiety; are made to pant for relief, feel an abfolute need of Christ and his righteoufnefs, and defpair of relief by any other way, Acts ii. 37. and xvi. 29, 30. And then, by the fame Spirit acting within them as a Spirit of life, and communicated unto them from himfelf, in the word of the gofpel, he fets home on their hearts and confciences, the glorious gofpel in its free promife of life and falvation to finners through Jefus Chrift, as it ftands in the holy Scriptures; clearing and demonftrating the fame unto them, to be the infallible word of the eternal God, and his word to them in particular: 1 Theff. ii. 13. Te received it not as the word of men, but, (as it is in truth) the word of God. Chap. i. 5. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the holy Ghost, and in much affurance. This demonftration of the Spirit is that which immediately cleareth to them the ground of their believing in `particular; as faith the apoftle, 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. My preaching was-in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power: that your faith fhould not stand in the wif dom of men, but in the power of God. And it is an internal atteftation of the word of the gofpel unto them, diftinct from the clearest external or minifterial atteftation of it; according to the faying of our Saviour,
Saviour, John xv. 26. The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. Verfe 27. And ye alfo fhall bear witness. By the power hereof, getting, by way of fpiritual fight, John vi. 40. a knowledge of Chrift in his tranfcendent glory and excellency, exhibited to them in the free promife of the gofpel, they are infallibly brought to believe. The Spirit thus applying the word of the gofpel to them, they greedily embrace it, and apply it to themfelves by faith; as may be feen in these converts, Acts ii. 38. Then Peter faid unto them, Repent, and be baptifed every one of you in the name of Jefus Chrift, for the remiffion of fins. Ver. 39. For the promife is unto you. Ver. 41. Then they that gladly received his word, were baptized.
3. Lastly, His teaching and inftructing them by his word and Spirit, from thenceforth, as children of the covenant, his own difciples. The whole plan of falvation is laid down in the covenant, being a mystery of the manifold wifdom of God, wherefore there is ftill more and more to be learned: and Chrift is the great Prophet to teach it. And the fecret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will fhew them his covenant, Pfalm xxv. 14. The faints, by reafon of the remains of darkness in their minds while here, are apt to lofe fight of the parties in the covenant: but the great Prophet is to fhew them the Father, and to manifeft himself unto them, by the Spirit. The condition of the covenant, the Mediator's own righteousness, the fole ground of all their hopes, cannot be kept in view, but by means of the light of life from himself. And in his light only can they have a believing view of the promises and privileges of the covenant. The duties of the covenant, whereof the exceeding broad law of the ten commands is the rule, are many: and though they be clear in themselves, yet they are often fo dark and perplexed to us, that we cannot diftinguish between fin and