« AnteriorContinuar »
goodness, no hope of his savour in Christ, where iS his purity and holiness? Nay, it is he that hath this hope, that purisies himself, as he is pure. I know not what experience you have, Sirs, but some of us know, that when our fouls are most comforted and enlarged with the saith of God's savour through Christ, and with the hope of his goodness, then we have most heart to the duties; and when through unbelies, we havj harsh thoughts of God, as an angry judge, then we have no heart to duties and religious exercises: and I persuade myself, this is the experience of the saints in ail ages.
But that this moral influence, which dying to the law, or covenant of works, hath upon living to God, or holiness and sanctisication, may be surther evident: let us consider, how the law to the believer, having now lost its legal or old covenant form, and being put into a gorpel-form, and changed from the law of works into a covenant of grace, or the law in the hand of Christ 5 how, I say, every part of it now constrains the believer to obedience and sanctisication, in a most loving manner. The gospel-law, or the law of grace, that now he is under, is a chariot paved with love. The law, in the hand of Christ, hath now another sace, even a smiling sace, in all the commands, promises, threatening", and in the whole form thereof.
(1.) The commands of the law, in .the hand of Christ, have lost their old covenant-form, and are sull of love. The command of the law of works is, Do, and Live; but in the hand of Christ, it is, Live, and Do: the command of the law of works, is, Do, or else be damned: but the law in the hand of Christ, is, I have delivered thee from hell, theresore Do: the command of the law of works is, Do in thy own strength; but the law in the hand of Christ is, " I am thy strength; My strength shall be persected in thy weakness," theresore Do. The command is materially the same, but the form is different: the command of the law of works is, Do persectly, that you may have eternal lise; but now, in the hand of Christ, the form is, I have given thee
* .... . -\- ,
eternal lise in me, and by my doing; and theresor* db as persectly as you can, through my grace, till you come to a state of persection. The command, I say, is the same materially; for 1 do not join with these* who insinuate, as is here less obedience were required than under the law of works: though less be accepted in these who have a persect obedience in their Head* yet no less is required, though not in the old covenant-form. And as the command is materially thtf same, so the authority enjoining obedience is originally the same, yet vastly distinct j in that the command of the law is the command of God out of Christ* ah ab« folute God and Judge; but now* under grace, it is the comrtiand of a God in Christ, a Father in him: and lure l am, that the authority of the commanding God is not lessened, or lost, that the command is now in the hand of Christ: Christ is God, co equal and co-essential with the' Father; and as God's authority to judge is not lost* or lessened, iil that all judgment is committed to the Son; so his authority to command* is not lost or lessened, in that the law is in the hand of Christ: nay, it is not lessened, but it is sweetened* and made amiable* lovely, and desirable to the believer, constraining him to obedience, in that the law is in the hand of his Head* his Lord* and his God.—J Tiie end that he hath in commanding, and that they should have in obeying, is slow distinct, and different from what took place under the law of works: the end that ne hath in' commanding, is not to lay a heavy yoke of duties on their necks, to be bom by their own strength; nor, though performed by his strength, to be a righteousness for their justisication, or a condition of lise; but only to shew his holy nature* that he will not have a lawless people; to shew his great grace* that condescends to seek our service; to grace and beautisy his people, their chies happiness consisting in a.consirmity to his will; that his people may get good* which is necessarily joined to duties, and connected thereto by the promises j that he may have something to commend his people for; and that he may, withont » compliment, have ground to say , " Well done,, gtiod
: yot.iL "*a4 and saithsul servants:" and that by them he may have matter of condemnation against the rest of the world, who walk not in his commandments. In a word, he commands, that his sovereignty may be kept up, and the sense thereof, in the hearts of his people; and that, by his word of command, he may, as many times he doth, convey strength to do what he calls to; and in case of short-coming, to force them out of themselves, under a sense of weakness and iinsulness, into Jesus Christ, the end of the law, for strength to sanctisy, as well as for righteousness to justisy. For these, and such like ends, does the Lord command.—And then the end that they should have in obeying, is not to satisfy conscience, nor to satisfy justice, to purchase heaven, or the like; but to glorisy God, to edisy our neighbour, and to testisy our gratitude to God, and Christ, that hath delivered us from the law, as a covenant.
(2.) The promises of the law, in the hand of Christ, have lost their old covenant-form, and are sull of love. The law of works promises eternal lise, as a reward of pur doing, or obedience; and here the reward is a reward of debt: but the law, in the hand of Christ, promises a reward of grace to gospel-obedience, especially as it is an evidence of union to him, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen. Eternal lise was promised in the covenant of redemption to Christ, upon his persect obedience, who paid that debt, when he came under the law of works for us; and now, eternal lise being obtained to the believer in Christ, as the reward of Christ's obedience to the death, there is no other reward of debt that now takes place.—Rewards of grace are now come in sashion, and this encourages the believer to live unto God, that in the way of gospel-obedience, there is a gracious promise of sweet communion and sellowship with God; "He that loves me, and keeps my commandments; I will love him, and manisest myself to him, and my Father will love him," John xiv. 21. Here there is a satherly promise of God's savour and samiliarity with him; yea there is a promise of heaven itfelf, in the way of gospel-obedience, t ..1 * * ~ **" and and sanctissication: a right to heaven is purchased by the blood of Christ, and the believer is the young heir of glory; bat his possession of heaven is suspended till he be sit for it; till he do some business for his Father, and be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. This is sweet encouragement the believer hath, to live unto God.
(3.) The threatenings of the law, in the hand of Christ, have lost their old covenant-form, quality, and »ature, and are now turned to threatenings out of love: there is no such threatening now to the believer, If thou do not, thou shalt die. The penalty of the law of works is condemnation and eternal death, which the believer hath no cause to sear, being dead to the law; 110 more than a living wise needs to sear the threatening of her dead husband: "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ. He that believes in him, shall never die." Believers are under no threatening of eternal wrath, because under grace. It is a high expression that blessed Rutherford hath to this purpose, "The gospel, says he, forbids nothing under pain of "damnation to a justisied believer, more than to Jesus "Christ."—Though the sins of believers deserve hell, , and the intrinsic demerit of sin is still the same; [yea, I think the sins of believers being against so much love, and so many mercies, they deserve a thousand hells, where others deserve one yet, being dead to the law, he hath no vindictive wrath to sear, the blood of Christ having quenched the sire of God's wrath, Rom. v. 9. " While we were sinners, Christ died for us; and much more now being justisied by his blood, we are saved from wrath through him;" and sure he is not to sear that which God calls him to believe he is saved from: his slavish sear, theresore, is from unbelies, and weakens his hands in duties. But now the law, in the hand of Christ, hath threatnings and punishments, but they are satherly and loving; a short view of them you may read, Psalm lxxxix. 30,—35. "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments: is they break my statutes, and keep not my
U 2 Coracommandments,; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor fuffer my faithsulness to sail: my covenant will I not break.—Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David." q. d. Though I will not send them to hell, nor deprive them of heaven, no more than I will break my great oath to my eternal Son; yet, like a sather, I will chastise them; I will correct them for their saults; I will squeeze them in the mortar of affliction, and press out the corrupt juice of old Adam that is in them; yea, I will hide my sace; I will deny them that communion and sellowship with me that (sometimes they had, and give them terror instead of comfort, and bitterness instead of sweetness. A silial sear of these satherly chastisements will do more to influence the believer to holiness, and obedience, than all the unbelieving scars of hell and wrath can do: sear, least he want that sweetness of God's presence, which sometimes he hath had, will make him say to his sins and lusts, as the sig-tree in Jotham's parable, "Shall I leave my sweetness, and be king over you?" O! shall I leave all the sweetness that I have enjoyed with God, and take on with base lusts and idols! And hence, when the believer hath gone aside and backshdden, what is it that brings him back to God? He sinds the Lord breaking him many ways, and he reflects, through grace, upon this sometimes. O! how am I deprived of these sweet interviews that once I enjoyed ?" Theresore I will go and return to my sirst Husband, for then it was better with me than now." Yea, his freedom from lawthreatnings, and being only under satherly correction, when he sees this, it breaks his heart, and melts it more than all the sire of hell could do.—The slavish sear of vindictive wrath discourages him, weakens his hands in duties, and makes him run away from God: but the silial sear of God's satherly wrath, which is kindly, is a motive of love that encourages him to his duty. Which of these motives think you will work up the believer to most obedience? viz. This legal one, O! my wrathsul Tudge will send me to hell, is I do so and so; or this