« PreviousContinue »
came dead to it, dying to it in his death on the cross; fo that the holiness and righteoufnefs of the man Christ did thereafter no more run in the channel in which it had run before, namely, from the womb to his grave; that is to fay, it was no more, and shall be no more for ever, obedience performed to the law for life and falvation; thefe having been compleatly gained and fecured by the obedience he gave it from the womb to the grave. Wherefore, my brethren, if ye are his, ye alfo are become dead to the law by the body of Chrift, which became dead to it on the cross, Rom. vii. 4. As ye will not be Libertines in your life and practice, being dead to fin and the world with Chrift; fo ye will not be Legalifts in your life and practice neither, being alfo dead with him to the law as a covenant of works. Your obedience will run in another channel than it did before your union with Chrift, even in the channel of the gofpel. Ye will ferve in newness of spirit, in faith and love. The frowns of a merciful Father will be a terror to you to fright you from fin; love and gratitude will prompt you to obedience. The grieving of the Spirit of a Saviour will be a fpring of forrow to you; and his atoning blood and perfect righteousness will be the fpring-head of all your comfort before the Lord; your good works but streams thereof, as they evidence your faving intereft in these, are accepted through them, and glorify God your Saviour. Ye will not continue to ferve in the oldnefs of the letter, as before; at what time the law was the fpring of all the obedience ye performed; fear of the punishment of hell for your fins, and hope of the reward of heaven's happiness for your duties, being the weights that made you go, though for all them you often stopped: your forrows springing from your ill works, under the influence of the law allenarly; and your comforts from your good works, under the fame influence; ye being alive to
the law, and dead to Chrift. Rom. vii. 6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should ferve in newnefs of fpirit, and not in the oldness of the latter. If by faith you wholly rely on Chrift's righteoufnefs, the holiness of his nature, the righteousness of his life, and his fatisfaction for fin, how is it poffible but ye must be dead to the law? for the law is not of faith, Gal. iii. 12. But if you perform your obedience for life and falvation, looking for acceptance with God on the account of your works, you go in a way directly oppofite to the way of faith, and either altogether reject Christ's fatisfying of the law, or else impute imperfection unto his payment of the bond. And Chrift is become of no effect unto you, whofoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace, Gal. v. 4.
Thus far of the first part of the covenant, namely, the conditionary part.
The SECOND Part of the Covenant, namely, the PROMISSORY Part.
N every covenant, whether it be a proper or improper covenant, there is a promile. And in a proper covenant, the promiffory part anfwers to the conditionary part, being an obligation which the party-covenanter to whom the condition is performed, comes under for fome benefit to be bestowed in view of the performance of the condition. This is the promife of a proper covenant, binding on him who makes it, providing the party contracting with him do his part. In every fuch cafe, where the thing is lawful and poffible, it binds in point of truth and faithfulness, by virtue of compact: in fome cafes it binds alfo, in point of remunerative justice: to wit, where the condition performed is properly equivalent to the benefit promised.
The covenant of grace, made between God and Chrift as the head and reprefentative of his fpiritual feed, is a proper covenant. And in it there is a promifery part, answering to the conditionary part already explained; and it is God's part of the covenant, as the other was the Mediator's. Thereby God hath obliged himfelf, to make the benefits therein condefcended on forthcoming, upon the confideration of the performing of the condition. And forafmuch as the condition performed by Chrift, was ftrictly meritorious of the benefits promifed; the pro mifes are binding and firm, not only in refpect of the truth and faithfulness, but alfo of the juftice of God.
Of what weight and importance the promiffory part of the covenant is, will appear by the following confiderations.
1. The covenant hath its name from this part of it, being called the covenants of promife, Eph. ii. 12. Covenants, becaufe, tho' ftill in itfelf but one cove nant, yet from its firft promulgation in paradife, it was often renewed, as to Abraham, Jacob, the Ifraelites, in the wilderness, and to David: and as oft as it was renewed, it was renewed in a promife. The first covenant had a promise of life, yet is not it called a covenant of promife: on the contrary, the law or that covenant, is oppofed to the promife; though not in its ufe, yet in its nature, Gal. iii. 18. If the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promife. For the law's promife of life was fufpended on the condition of works, to be performed by mem themfelves whereas in the fecond covenant, life and falvation are promifed to finners freely, for Chrift's fake, without refpect to any work of theirs as the condition thereof.
2. The covenant is defcribed to us, by the holy Ghoft, as a cluster of free promifes of grace and glory to poor finners, in which no mention is made
of any condition; Heb. viii. 10. This is the covenant -I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they fhall be to me a people. Ver. 11. And they fhall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, faying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the leaft to the greatest. Ver. 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their fins and their iniquities will I remember no more. These promises with their condition, having been propofed to, and accepted by Chrift as fecond Adam, and the condition performed by him; the covenant comes natively, in the gospel, to be fet before us in him, to be by us received and embraced in and through Chrift, by faith. Thus the promises are the covenant by way of eminency; even God's covenant, wherein he hath bound himself to perform his part. as the Mediator hath already performed his. And in this fenfe, indeed, the covenant of grace is not conditional, but confifts of abfolute promises; that is, promifes become abfolute, through the condition thereof actually performed already; but being confidered in its full latitude, and in respect of Christ, the covenant, and all the promises thereof, are properly and ftrictly conditional.
3. The promises of the covenant are the purchase of the blood of Christ: the fruit of his fulfilling all righteousness, in his birth, life, and death. As the curfe came by the demerit of Adam's fin; fo the promifes are owing to the merit of Chrift's righteoufnefs; they are the new teftament in his blood, 1 Cor. xi. 25. From the promife of the bread and water, (Ifa. xxxiii. 16.), to the promise of a feat with him on his throne, (Rev. iii. 21.), they are all the purchase of his meritorious obedience even to the death. Juftly are they called exceeding precious promifes, 2 Pet. i. 4. as being the price of his blood. Of what unfpeakable weight and importance muft they be, that coft fuch
fuch a price, between the Father and his own Son! 4. The great defign and end of the covenant is accomplished in the performing of the promiffory part thereof; and that is, the glory of God, and the falvation of finners. The great glory to God, and grace to finners, fpringing up from the whole of the covenant, meet together here, namely, in the accom-plishment of the promifes, as all the rivers meet together in the fea. The promises were the great thing the parties contractors had in view, when they entered into the covenant: it was room for them the Father fought by his propofal of the covenant; and that was what the Son intended to purchase, by his fulfilling the condition. The condition of the cove nant is the foundation of the promises: the promises the glorious fuperftructure reared upon that coftly foundation. The administration of the covenant, is fubfervient to the accomplishment of the promises. The condition of the covenant was performed on earth, in the space of about thirty three years; the promises have been a performing more than five thousand years on earth, and will be a performing in heaven, through the ages of eternity.
5. The happiness and comfort of all the elect, for time and eternity, depends upon the promises of the covenant. What keeps unconverted elect perfons from dying in that state, and fo dropping down to hell, but the promise of the covenant? What makes grace overtake them, when they are fleeing from it, but the promife? What preferves grace in them, like a fpark of fire in an ocean, that it is not extinguifhed, but the promife? And what is their fecurity and comfort in the face of death, but the fame promife? 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
6. The glory of the man Christ, as Mediator, depends on the promise of the covenant. This was the fecurity, in the faith of which he lived on earth, about the space of thirty-three years in a very low condition