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effecting this by a wonderful substitution. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh" (i.e. incapable of effecting, on account of our depraved state,) “God, sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” (i. e. such likeness as was needful for a substitute)" and for sin," (i. e, a sin-offering) "condemned sin in the flesh;" (i. e. made satisfaction to justice, in our nature :) “that the righteousness of the law” (i. e. what the law required, whether moral or ceremonial, as the ground of imputation)
might be fulfilled in us:" by our appropriation of it on the terms proposed for justification. And the proper evidence, the genuine fruit of such privilege, is “walking not after the flesh but after the spirit..
§ 6. Men after the fall, became vain in their imaginations, giving themselves up to sinful indulgencies and idolatry. Hence God raised up witnesses, to testify his abhorrence of their crimes, and their desert of punishment, accompanied with exhibitions of mercy, in virtue of the great atonement to the penitent and believing. The requisitions of the supreme rules of men were inculcated, the sanctions of his goverment were adapted to their circumstances, and preachers of righteousness were invested with
* Rom. viii. 3, 4.
his authority, and “moved by the Holy Ghost,” to proclaim his righteous and gracious will. The settled plan of redemption was gradually revealed, until by the apostles it was set in the light of open day. Now, the whole of that revelation which was intended for the use of future ages, is contained in the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, which a gracious providence has wonderfully "preserved.
7. Though God was under no antecedent obligation in justice, as the equitable Governor, to give mankind a revelation of his will, or to form a plan of redemption; yet, having formed such plan as a gracious Sovereign, it became his wisdom and mercy to announce it. Therefore
God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.”* This great salvation “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord,” but afterwards “ was confirmed by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.”+ And now the gospel of salvation, the message of reconciliation from God to
man, is commanded to be proclaimed “ to all nations” for the obedience of faith.
§ 8. The foundation of the gospel call to evangelical repentance for the remission of sins, and to cordial faith in Christ for justification, is “ Jesus Christ, and him crucified;" “ who was made sin” (i. e. a sin offering) "for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God” (i. e. constituted righteous by the righteousness which God has provided)“ in him” who is “ the Lord our righteousness.” This message of reconciliation, “ to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, without imputing their trespasses unto them,” was the great means of conversion in the apostolic days, and has been ever since. By this, “ God caused them to triumph in every place.” It is a message worthy of God; of sovereign (i. c. arbitrary) grace, in its provision; and of his equitable government, in the manner of dispensing it.
§ 9. Man, in every stage of his existence, being indispensably obliged to obey the call of God, who is incapable of proposing inequitable terms of compliance, requires of every one to whom the message is addressed, unreserved submission; “ to shake off his sins by repentance," with the promise of pardon, and to
“ submit to the righteousness of God” by faith for acceptance: and as mankind are already under the sentence of condemnation for the breach of divine law, both as a covenant and as a rule; by their refusal of the appointed plan of mercy, their condemnation is not only confirmed, but also aggravated. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light."
§ 10. Notwithstanding this general provision, God has not relinquished his right of access to the human heart, “to turn it as rivulets of water." He can make it hunger and thirst after righteousness, and direct it ta himself as the source of its happiness, while the will is left perfectly free in its choice. Though man in his sinful depravity has no claim upon God for any supernatural influence, God must relinquish his essential character of a gracious sovereign, before he can give up his right of influencing the hearts of men, under the direction of infinite wisdom. He is gra- : cious and merciful in proposing conditions so advantageous to the fallen creature; and who shall say to him “ What doest thou?" if he proceed still further with
their hearts, and shine into their minds, and implant in them the spirit of faith? How can he, in this, be unjust to others, while all are under
the same condemnation? Has he not a sovereign (or arbitrary) right to confer his favours on whom he pleases, when all alike are destitute of just claim?
§ 11. If it be urged, that this distinction in favour of some bears hard upon others, I ask, how, and why? There would be some force in the objection, if they were willing to comply with the terms proposed, and God unwilling: but if he is infinitely gracious and sincere in the terms proposed, and urges them with promises «
exceeding great and precious;" if he puts no hindrance of any kind in the
but removes innumerable stumbling-blocks and difficulties; “are not his ways equal, and their ways unequal?” May he not say to them, as he said of old to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the men of Judah, Judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have
done in it? wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?"* No one can question that it was in the right and power of a gracious sovereign, to take away from that people heart of stone, and to give them a heart of flesh"-to "put his fear in their hearts” and
Isa. v. 4.