« AnteriorContinuar »
account himself as glorified by me, for herein is my Father glorified, if ye bring forth much fruit, John xv. 8. Now, what greater glory can possibly be desired, than to glorify my Maker? How can I be more glorified by God, than to have God glorified by me? It is the glory of God to glorify himself; and what higher glory can a creature aspire after, than that which is the infinite glory of its all-glorious Creator ? It is not therefore my duty only, but my glory, to give myself, and whatsoever I am, unto him, to glorify him both in my body and in my spirit, which are his, 1 Cor. vi. 20. to lay out whatsoever I have for him, to honour him with all iny substance, Prov. i.9. and whether I eat or drink, or whatsoever I do, to do all to his glory, 1 Cor. x. 31. Not as if it was possible for God to receive more glory from me now, than he had himself from all eternity. No; he was infinitely glorious then, and it is impossible for him to be more glorious now: all that we can do is duly to acknowledge that glory which he hath in himself, and to manifest it, as we ought, before others; which, though it be no addition to his glory, yet it is the perfection of ours, which he iş pleased to account as his.
As for the grant, therefore, in the covenant of grace, I believe it to be the same on our parts, with that in the covenant of works, i. e. that we Christians are as much bound to obey the commands he lays upon us now, as the Jews under the old covenant were. What difference there is, is wholly and solely on God's part; who, instead of expecting obedience from us, is pleased in this new covenant to give this obedience to us. Instead of saying, Do this and live, he hath in effect said, I will enable you to do this, that so you may live. I will put my laws into your minds, and write them in your hearts ; and I will be to you a God, and you shall be to me a people, Heb. viii. 10. Not, I will, if you will; but, I will, and you shall. Not, if you will do this, you shall live ; but, you shall do this and live. So that God doth not require less from us, but only hath promised more to us in the new, than he did in the old covenant. There we were to perform obedience to God, but it was by our own strength: here, we are to perform the same obedience still, but it is by his strength. Nay, as we have more obligations to obedience upon us now than we had before, by reason of God's expressing more grace and favour to us than formerly he did; so I believe God expects more from us under the new, than he did under the old covenant. In that, he expected the obedience of men ; in this, he expects the obedience of Christians, such as are by faith united unto Christ, and, in Christ, unto himself; and so are to do what they do, not by the strength of man, as before, but by the strength of the eternal God himself; who, as he at first created me for himself, so he hath now purchased me to himself, received me into covenant with him, and promised to enable me with grace to perform that obedience he requires from me; and therefore, he now expects I should lay out myself, even whatsoever I have or am, wholly for him and his glory.
This therefore being the tenor of this covenant of grace, it follows that I am now none of my own, but wholly God's. I am his by creation, and his by redemption, and therefore ought to be his by conversation. Why therefore should I live any longer to myself, who am not mine own, but God's? And why should I grudge to give myself to him, who did not grudge to give himself for me? or rather, why should I steal myself from him, who have already given myself to him? But did I say I have given myself to my God? Alas! it is but the restoring myself to him, whose I was ever since I had a being, and to whom I am still infinitely more engaged, that I can thus cordially engage myself to him ; for, as I am not my own, but his, so the very giving of myself to him is not from myself, but from him. I could not have given myself to him, had he not first given himself to me, and even wrought my mind into this resolution of giving myself to him.
But having thus solemnly, by covenant, given myself to him, how doth it behove me to improve myself for him? My soul is his, my body his, my parts his, my gifts his, my graces his, and whatsoever is mine is his; for without him I could not have been, and therefore could have had nothing. So that I have no more cause to be proud of any thing I have, or am, than a page hath to be proud of his fine clothes, which are not his, but his master's; who bestows all this finery upon him not for his page's honour or credit, but for his own.
And thus it is with the best of us, in respect of God; he gives men parts, and learning, and riches, and grace, and desires and expects that we should make a due use of them: but to what end ? not to gain honour and esteem to ourselves, to make us proud and haughty; but to give him the honour due to his name, and so employ them as instruments in promoting his glory and service. So that whensoever we do not lay out ourselves to the utmost of our power for hiin, it is downright sacrilege; it is robbing God of that which is more properly his, than any man in the world can call any thing he hath his own.
Having therefore thus wholly surrendered and given up myself to God, so long as it shall please his Majesty to entrust me with myself, to lend me my being in the lower world, or to put any thing else into my hands, as time, health, strength, parts, or the like; I am resolved, by his grace, to lay out all for his glory. A!l the faculties of my soul, as I have given them to him, so will I endeavour to improve them for him; they shall still be at his most noble service; my understanding shall be his, to know him; my will his, to choose him; my affections his, to embrace him; and all the members of my body shall act in subserviency to him.
And thus having given myself to God on earth, I hope God, in a short time, will take me to liimself in heaven; where as I gave myself to him in time he will give himself to me unto all eternity.
I believe, that as God entered into a covenant of grace
with us, so hath he signed this covenant to us by a
double seal, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. As the covenant of works had two sacraments, viz. the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the first signifying and sealing life and happiness to the performance, the other death and misery to the breach of it: so the covenant of grace was likewise sealed with two typical sacraments, Circumcision, and the Passover. The former was annexed at God's first making his covenant with Abraham's person; the other was added at his fulfilling the promises of it to his seed or posterity, which were therefore styled, the promised Seed. But these being only typical of the true and spiritual sacraments that were afterwards to take place upon the coming of the Messiah, there was then, in the
fubness of time, two other sacraments substituted in their stead, viz. Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. And these sacraments were both correspondent to the types by which they were represented.
As to the first, viz. circumcision, whether I consider the time of conferring it, or the end of its institution, I find it exactly answers to the sacrament of baptism in both these respects. For as the children under the Law were to be circumcised in their infancy, at eight days old; so are the children under the Gospel to be baptized in their infancy too. And as the principal thing intended in the rite of circumcision was to initiate or admit the children of the faithful into the Jewish church; so the chief design of baptism now is to admit the children of such as profess themselves Christians into the church of Christ. And for this reason, I believe, that as, under the Old Testament, children had the grant of covenant-privileges and church-membership as really as their parents had ; so this grant was not repealed, as is inti
mated, Acts ii. 39. but farther confirmed in the New Testament, in that the Apostle calls the children of believing parents holy, 1 Cor. vii. 14. which cannot be. understood of a real and inherent, but only of a relative and covenanted holiness, by virtue of which, being born of believing parents, themselves are accounted in the number of believers, and are therefore called holy children under the Gospel, in the same sense that the people of Israel were called a holy people under the Law, Deut. vii. 6. and chap. xiv. 2, 21. as being all within the covenant of grace, which, through the faith of their parents, is thus sealed to them in their baptism.
Not that I think it necessary that all parents should be endued with what we call a saving faith, to entitle their children to these privileges, (for then, none but the children of such who have the Spirit of Christ truly implanted in them would be qualified to partake of the covenant ;) but even such, who, by an outward historical faith, have taken the name of Christ upon them, are by that means in covenant with God, and so accounted holy in respect of their profession, whatever they may be in point of practice. And if they are themselves holy, it follows of course that their children must be so too, they being esteemed as parts of their parents, till made distinct members in the body of Christ; or, at least, till they come to the use of their reason, and the improvement of their natural abilities.
And therefore, though the seal be changed, yet the covenant-privileges, wherewith the parties stipulating unto God were before invested, are no whit altered or diminished; believers' children being as really confederates with their parents in the covenant of grace now, as they were before under the Jewish administration of it. And this seems to be altogether necessary; for otherwise, infants should be invested with privileges under the type, and be deprived of, or excluded from, them, under the more perfect accomplishment of the same covenant in the thing typified; and so, the dispensations