« PreviousContinue »
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 and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every
ben liever a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings.
III. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemp tion, 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 hiinself a sacrifice once for them all, and to ina tercede 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 ?st ihat are called to be inexcusa
able. Mat. xxii. 14. Many are called. 1. THE outward means and ordinances, for making men
partakers of the covenant of grace, are so wisely dispensed, as the elect shall be infallibly 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 do confess their sin, accept of Christ offered, and submit themselves to his ordinances, he will have both theni-and their children received into the honour and privileges of the covenant of grace. By the sacraments, God will have the covenant 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 administration: Forthe 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 chased 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, and gloriously 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. Mat. xxii. 14. Many
are called, but few are chosen. 1. BY these outward ordinances, as our Lord makes the
reprobate inexcusable, so, in the power of his Spirit, he applies unto the elect, effectually, all saving graces purchased to them in the covenant of redemption, and maketh a change in their persons. In particular, 1. He doth convert or regenerate them, by giving spiritual life to them, in opening their understandings, renewing their wills, affections, and faculties, for giving spiritual obedience to his commands. 2. He gives them saving faith, by making them, in the sense of deserved condemnation, to give their consent heartily to the covenant of grace, and to embrace Jesus Christ unfeignedly. 3. He gives them repentance, by making them, with godly sorrow, in the hatred of sin, and love of righteousness, turn from all iniquity to the service of God. And, 4. He sanctifies them, by making them go on and persevere in faith and spiritual obedience to the law of God, manifested by fruitfulness in all duties, and doing good works, as God offereth occasion.
II. Together with this inward change of their persons, God changes also their state: for, so soon as they are brought by faith into the covenant of grace, 1. He justifies them, by imputing unto them that perfect obedience which Christ gave to the law, and the satisfaction also which upon
Christ gave unto justice in their name. 2. He reconciles them, and makes them friends to God, who were before enemies to God. 3. He adopts them, that they shall be no more children of Satan, but children of God, enriched with all spiritual privileges of his sons. And, last of all, after their warfare in this life is ended, he perfects the holiness and blessedness, first of their souls at their death, and then both of their souls and their bodies, being joyfully joined together again in the resurrection, at the day of his glorious coming to judgment, when all the wicked shall be sent away to hell, with Satan whom they have served : but Christ's own chosen and re
deemed ones, true believers, students of holiness, shall remain with himself for ever, in the state of glorification.
PRACTICAL USE OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE, Contained in Scripture, and holden forth briefly in the foresaid
CONFESSION of Faith and CATECHISMS. THE chief general use of Christian doctrine is, to con
vince a man of sin, and of righteousness, and of judg. ment, John xvi. 8. partly by the law or covenant of works, that he may be humbled and become penitent; and partly by the gospel or covenant of grace, that he may be come an unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ, and be strengthened in his faith upon solid grounds and warrants
, and give evidence of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and so be saved.
The sum of the covenant of works, or of the law, is this: “ If thou do all that is commanded, and not fail in
any point, thou shalt be saved: but if thou fail, thou « shalt die." Rom. x. 5. Gal. iii. 10, 12.
The sum of the gospel, or covenant of grace and reconciliation, is this: “ If thou flee from deserved wrath to the “ true Redeemer Jesus Christ, (who is able to save to the “ uttermost all that come to God through him,) thou shalt “ not perish, but have eternal life." Rom. x. 8, 9, 11. For convincing a man of sin, of righteousness
, and of judgment by the law, or covenant of works, let these scriptures, among many more, be made use of. I. For convincing a man of sin by the law, consider
Jer. xvii. 9, 10. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Here the Lord teacheth these two things: 1. That the
fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual sinning against God, is in the heart, which comprehendeth the
mind, will, affections, and all the powers of the soul, as they are corrupted and defiled with original sin; the mind being not only ignorant and incapable of saving truth, but also full
of error and enmity against God; and the will and affections The being obstinately disobedient unto all God's directions, and
bent toward that only which is evil: “ The heart (saith he) the fist " is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
yea, and unsearchably wicked, so that no man can know it; and Gen. vi. 5. Every imagination of the thoughts of " man's heart is only evil continually," saith the Lord, whose testimony we must trust in this and all other matters; and experience also may teach us, that, till God make us deny ourselves, we never look to God in any thing, but fleshly self-interest alone doth rule us, and move all the wheels of our actions.
2. That the Lord bringeth our original sin, or wicked in
clination, with all the actual fruits thereof, unto reckonthe be ing before his judgment-seat; “ For he searcheth the
“ heart, and trieth the reins, to give every man according " to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
Hence let every man reason thus : “What God and my guilty conscience beareth witness “ of, I am convinced that it is true:
“ But God and my-guilty conscience beareth witness, " that my heart is deceitful above all things, and despe“ rately wicked; and that all the imaginations of my heart, by nature, are only evil continually: “ Therefore I am convinced that this is true."
Thus a man may be convinced of sin by the law. II. For convincing a man of righteousness by the law, consider Gal. iii. 10. many
as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Here the apostle teacheth us three things : 1. That, by reason of our natural sinfulness, the impossibi. lity of any man's being justified by the works of the law is