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The " Sum of Saving Knowledge” was not composed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster: and it has not received the sanction of the Church of Scotland, nor of the Associate Church. It is therefore, not to be considered as forming any part of their publick standards.- It was originally composed by some godly servants of Jesus Christ, with a view to give a summary of the doctrines of the gospel exhibited in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms; and to aid and enforce the practical use of them. And, since it was drawn from these standards, and professed to have this end in view, it was judged not improper that it should accompany them. It was accordingly subjoined; and to this day it has been permitted to retain its place in its ancient form; the attention of these church courts never having been turned towards it.
It is not concealed, that some have thought certain expressions in the • Sun of Saving Knowledge,” inaccurate. The allusion is made to the form of expression in Head II. sect. where the plain reader is not sufficiently instructed to consider the covenant of redemption, and of grace, as one and the same: and to the last half of sect. 5, of the 4th “ warrant to believe ;" where the beLever is said “ to be partly drawn powerfully to believe on the Son of God, by " the sight of life in him, and partly driven, by the fear of God's wrath, to ad. “ here to him," &c. It is not denied, that the valuable doctrine taught in this Summary might have been more happily and accurately expressed. But from the preceding statements, it appears that those churches, who permit it to accompany their publick standards, are not accountable for its expressions. Nor are they under any more obligations to officially review and censure these, than they are to ransack and expunge the inaccurate expressions in the writings of the ancient and modern fathers. They might, however, with the greatest propriety, issue their orders that it should no longer accompany their Confession and Catechismy..
Warrants and Motives to Believe. I. Our woeful condition by nature.
1. God's hearty invitation. II. The remedy provided in Christ Je- | 2. His earnesto request to be reconci
led. III. The means provided in the cove
3. His command, charging all to be
lieve. nant of grace. IV. The blessings conveyed by these || 4. Much assurance of life given to be
Evidences of true Faith. The Use of Saving Knowledge.
1. Conviction of the believer's obliga
tion to keep the moral law. 1. For convincing of sin by the law. 2. Of righteousness by the law.
2. That the believer practise the rules 3. Of judgment by the law.
of godliness and righteousness.
3. That obedience to the law run in the 4. For convincing of sin, righteousness, and judgment, by the gos- || 4. The keeping of strait communion
right channel of faith in Christ. pel.
with Christ the fountain of all grace Of righteousness to be had only by
and good works. faith in Christ.
For strengthening the believer in faith For strengthening a man's faith, &c.
and obedience, by these evidences.
THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE, &c.
The Sum of Saving Knowledge may be taken up in these four heads: 1. The woeful condition wherein all men are by nature, through breaking of the covenant of works. 2. The remedy provided for the elect in Jesus Christ by the covenant of grace. 3. The means appointed to make them partakers of this covenant. 4. The blessings which are effectually conveyed unto the elect by these means. Which four heads are set down, each of them in some few propositions.
Our woeful condition by nature, through breaking the cove
nant of works. Hos. xiii. 9. O Israel, thou hast destroy
ed thyself. 1. НЕ almighty
, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in the one and the same undivided Godhead, equally infinite in all perfections, did, before time, most wisely decree, for his own glory, whatsoever cometh to pass in time; and doth most holily and infallibly execute all his decrees, without being partaker of the sin of any creature.
II. This God, in six days, made all things of nothing, very good in their own kind : in special, he made all the angels holy; and he made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their heart. Which law they were naturally bound to obey, under pain of death ; but God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them, to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience; withal threatening death in case they should fail. This is the covenant of works.
III. Both angels and men were subject to the change of their own free-will, as experience proved, (God having reserved to himself the incommunicable property of being naturally unchangeable :) for many angels of their own accord fell by sin from their first estate, and became devils. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, one of these devils speaking in a serpent, did break the covenant of works, in eating the forbidden fruit ; whtreby they, and their posterity, being in their loins, as branches in the root, and comprehended in the same covenant with them, became not only liable to eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God; yea, did become by nature enemies to God, and to all spiritual good, and inclined only to evil continually. This is our original sin, the bitter root of all our actual transgres. sions, in thought, word and deed.
The remedy provided in Jesus Christ for the elect by the
covenant of grace. Hos. xiii. 9, O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself ; but in me is thine help.
LBEIT man, having brought himself into this woe-*
fui condition, be neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory
of his rich grace, hath revealed in his word a way to save sinners, viz. by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption, made and agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in the council of the Trinity, before the world began
II. The sum of the covenant of redemption is this : God having freely chosen unto life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, unto God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, unto personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even unto the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase unto them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading thereunto, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross : But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits unto the elect; and that he doth by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace apd reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings.
III. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits thereof in the covenant of grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King: made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and to persuade them to believe and obey the same ; made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him ; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.
HEAD III. The outward means appointed to make the elect partakers of
this covenant, and all the rest that are called to be inexeusable. Matt. xxii. 14. Many are called.
1. HE outward means and ordinances, for making men
partakers of the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as the elect shall be infalliby converted and saved by them; and the reprobate, among whom they are, not to be justly stumbled. The means are especially these four. 1. The word of God. 2. The sacraments. 3. Kirk-government. 4. Prayer. In the word of God preached by sent messengers, the Lord makes offer of grace to all sinners, upon condition of faith in Jesus Christ; and whosoever da confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and submit themselves to his ordinances, he will have both them and their children received into the honour and privileges of the covenant of grace. By the sacraments, God will have the coves nant sealed for confirming the bargain on the foresaid condition. By kirk-government, he will have them hedged in, and helped forward unto the keeping of the covenant. And by prayer, he will have his own glorious grace, promised in the covenant, to be daily drawn forth, acknowledged, and employed. All which means are followed, either really, or in profession only, according to the quality of the covenanters, as they are true or counterfeit believers.
II. The covenant of grace, set down in the Old Testament before Christ came, and in the New since he came, is one and the same in substance, albeit different in outward admi. nistration : For the covenant in the Old Testament, being sealed with the sacraments of circumcision and the paschal lamb, did set forth Christ's death to come, and the benefits purchased thereby, under the shadow of bloody sacrifices, and sundry ceremonies: but since Christ came, the covenant being sealed by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, doth clearly hold forth Christ already crucified before our eyes, victorious over death and the grave, riously ruling heaven and earth, for the good of his own people.
The blessings which are effectually conveyed by these means
to the Lord's elect, or chosen ones. Matt. xxii. 14. Many are called, but few are chosen.
Y these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the reprobate inexcusable, 80, in the power of his Spirit,