Images de page

for ever one with him as he and his Father are one. And therefore a new convert is said to be espoused to Christ". For in the first act of faith, the match is made for eternity. And the whole Church, being but one mystical body, is called the bride, the lamb's wife 4. And, if the church is the lamb's wife, then the church is God's daughter; God's child; and every true believer is a child of God. As it is written, as many as received him, to them gave he power, or a right, to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Wherefore they are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And thus by faith we are united to Christ, and so interested in him and in all blessings through him. And this is the reason that believers, in the constant language of the New Testament, are said to be in Christ. But Christ is God's beloved Son; and so we are accepted in the beloved h. And after our persons are accepted, then also our spiritual sacrifices, all our religious duties and holy exercises, in which we present ourselves to God, as a living sacrifice, are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ *. And thus we are justified by faith, not as an holy act, recommending us to God; but as an uniting act, uniting us to Christ. Just as a married wife, being one in law with her husband, is consequently interested in his estate. Not because her marrying her husband was an act of virtue; but because her marriage made her one with him.

[ocr errors]

St. Paul dearly loves, in his writings, to illustrate Gospel-truths by Jewish types; that people, their law, and almost all God's dispensations towards them, being designed by God to be shadows of good things to come. The earthly Canaan was a type of the heavenly; and Isaac, the promised son, was a type of Christ, the promised seed. And as the Israelites were entitled to the earthly Canaan, not by law, but by promise, the promise made to Abraham in Gen. xii. in which God made a grant of all that country to him, and to his seed; so it was not any

b John xvii. 21.

e John i. 12.

A Eph. i. 6.

c 2 Cor. xi. 2.
Gal. iii. 26.

i Rom. xii. 1.

d Rev: xxi. 9. g Rom. viii. 17.

k1 Pet. ii. 5.

goodness in Abraham's seed, but only their relation to Abraham, that gave them a title to that good land. If they were Abraham's seed, they were heirs according to the promise. The law, which was given 430 years after, not being designed to disannul their former title, or to appoint any new terms.(Rom. iv. 14. Gal. iii. 16, 17, 18.) Even so it is in this case, says the apostle, Our title to the heavenly Canaan is not by law, not by any goodness in us, but if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (ver. 29.) For the promise was to Abraham and to his seed; not to steds, as of many; but as of one to thy seed, which is Christ. (ver. 16.) And so Christ was appointed heir of all things. (Heb. i. 2.) Now therefore, if we are Christ's, i. e. if we are in Christ, by faith, we are joint heirs with him. And so our title to the heavenly Canaan results, not from any goodness in us; but only from our relation to Christ. Therefore faith justifies us, not as an holy act, recommending us to God; but as an uniting act, uniting us to Christ. Just as a descendant of Abraham was entitled to the earthly Caanan by birth; not because it was a virtue to be born of Jewish parents, but only because by this means he was a child of Abraham; and so an heir according to promise.

[ocr errors]

And thus we are saved by grace through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast1. Not in the least degree, or in any respect, for any goodness in us, considered merely as in our selves, that there might not be the least ground of boasting; but that all the glory might be given to free grace through Jesus Christ. Arminians and Neonomians suppose it is in some degree for some goodness in us; and so take some of the glory to themselves, and give the rest to Christ and free grace. Socinians suppose they are justified wholly for their own goodness; and so take the whole glory to themselves. For they consider Christ on the cross, not as a sacrifice of atonement; but only as a martyr. But St. Paul gives quite all the glory to Christ and free grace. And the reason is, because the very best man on earth, afresh merits eternal damnation every hour, according to law, and strict justice; and all his goodness does not make the very least amends. So m Eph. i. 6.

/ Eph. ii. 8, 9.

the law, which is a school-master, by divine appointment teacheth. O, learn this! and then you will understand the doctrine of justification by faith, and know why St. Paul, after all his attainments, so earnestly desired to be found in Christ". 3. From what has been said, we may see "what views and dispositions are absolutely necessary, in order to a sinner's understandingly and consistently exercising faith in Christ, to the end he may be justified through him. He must havé a view of himself as he is, compared with the law; and of his state, as it is, according to law: and heartily approve the law, as being strictly just.

As when the children of Israel were about to enter into the land of Canaan, which was a type of heaven, the law was by Moses repeated in the plains of Moab; and just as they took possession of the holy land, they were obliged to signify their hearty approbation of the whole law in its utmost rigour, by answering AMEN, twelve times going, as the Levites denounced the curse; so, before a sinner can come to Christ, and be through him entitled to the heavenly Canaan, the commandment must come, be set home on his conscience, that sin may revive, and his guilty state appear, and all his hopes grounded on his own goodness die. Nor can he consistently apply to Christ, the great atonement, unless from his heart he approves the law by which he stands condemned, as strictly just.

[ocr errors]

As the Israelites had no title to the land of Canaan by law, in consequence of their own righteousness, being a stiffnecked people, but only by the promise made to Abraham • so it was fit they should see, and be thoroughly sensible, that God did not do those great things for them for their righteousness. And therefore such a method was by God taken with that generation for the space of forty years, as had the most direct tendency to answer this end P. And so it is, in a resembling manner with sinners, according to God's ordinary way of preparing them for Christ; and a title to eternal life through him. For they were our ensamples, and their history was written for our instruction ¶.

n Phil. iii. 9. o Gal. iii. 18. p Deut. viii. and ix, q 1 Cor. x. 11.

. But inasmuch as, the necessity of a preparatory work is denied by some, and the nature of it is still more misunderstood; therefore let us stop here a few minutes, and see what light the subject we have been upon will pour in upon these. points.


The necessity of preparation for Christ, must, without dis-, pute, be granted; or we shall undermine the Jewish dispensation, which was by God designed for this very purpose. God intended that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine into this benighted world; he intended it, in the days of Moses; but the world was not prepared for it then.. Therefore, first he gives the law, appoints that to be a school-master, and keeps up the school for near two thouyears; to prepare the way for the Gospel-revelation : that it might be the better understood, the more readily believed and embraced. God saw many preparatory lessons needed to be taught, and that the necessity was so great, as that it was best to delay the Gospel-dispensation, and set up a preparatory school, and appoint a preparatory school-master. So that there needs no further proof of the necessity of preparation, in order to faith in Christ; as the Mosaic dispensation takes this for granted, and was chiefly designed to answer this end. For, as if any man should boldly say, that mankind have no need of a Saviour, it would wholly undermine and overthrow the Gospel-revelation; which takes it for granted that mankind do need a Saviour, and just such a Saviour as is provided; so, if any man should boldly say, that


r OBJ. "If every particular sinner needs the law to be his school-master to bring him to Christ, as much as the Jewish nation did, why was the Jewish dispensation ever to be at an end? Why was it not to be perpetual ? ANS. 1. The law of nature, requiring sinless perfection, on pain of eternal damnation, which was the chief part of the law given at Mount Sinai, all the advantages of which new edition, or republication of the law of nature, we still enjoy ; I say, this law of nature, as it was in force previous to the Jewish dispensation, among all nations; so it is still. And by it, all nations ever were, and still are, exposed to the everlasting wrath of God, as the Jews were by their law. Nor is there any escape but by Christ. Now here is a perpetual school-master. Rom i. 18. and iii. 9. 19. Acts iv. 12.

2. But there is now no need to offer the blood of bulls and goats, or constantly to attend to and look upon any other of the Jewish shadows; because Christ the substance is come. Therefore the ceremonial law is to be no longer in force.

nothing is wanting to prepare a sinner for Christ, it would undermine and overthrow the Mosaic dispensation, which takes it for granted, that sinners did need preparation, and just such a preparation as that dispensation was suited to work.

Now, read through the whole law of Moses, with the history interspersed, in those sacred books, of God's dealings with the children of Israel those forty years in the wilderness; and it will appear that the whole is admirably suited to realize the Being and perfections of God; to show us exactly how he looks upon himself, and how he stands affected towards sin. "I AM THE LORD," he says, an hundred times; he speaks it with the majesty of a God, and he shows an infinite regard to his own honour, and expects all to love and worship him, to fear and obey him, on pain of death. If his anger waxes hot, behold! the earth opens her mouth, and swallows up hundreds! Or, the plague rages, to kill thousands in a moment! And if he is pleased to have mercy, and not execute all his wrath, it is like an absolute sovereign over criminals that have no claim.-I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Thus they are in the hands of a sovereign God. Meanwhile, the law teaches that no mortal can, on the account of his own goodness, be approved of God, unless he is perfectly holy in heart and life; and that the least defect merits and exposes to eternal damnation. And yet at the same time, forbids a complaining thought, and obliges to an hearty approbation. Nor could the poor, guilty, helpless Jew, without an hearty approbation of the law, with any consistency, lay his hands on the head of the consecrated animal, and present it to die in his room; and yet, this was the only door of hope: for, without shedding of blood, there was no remission. And now, it is plain what views and dispositions all this, effectually realized to the mind, and set home upon the heart, was suited to work. "It would effectually awaken his conscience, and bring the Jew to feel what he was by nature, and by practice, in the sight of God, and

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »