« PrécédentContinuer »
holiness is so much the established law of God's house, that the whole family, being priviliged with access to the most holy place, are under the strongest obligation to be the most holy people ? Then,
1. Hence fee, that God's house is not a lawless house, and believers in Christ are not without law to God, but under the law to Christ; as the apostle expresses it. The doctrine of grace is no doctrine of licentioufness: though many reproach gospel-doctrine with a flourish of words, in their harangues on morality, under pretence of put- . ting honour upon the law, while yet they neither underitand law nor gospel, but milerably confound and blend them together. Do we make void the law through faith? Are we lawless Antinomians *, because we declare the · freedom of the house from the law of works ? Alas! many, in their ignorant zeal for this law, discover their little acquaintance with the law of the house.
2. Hence see, that if universal holiness be the law of the house, because of the universal access there is to the holy place; then, how few appear to be of the houshold of God in our day, which is a day of univerfal unholiness, ụniversal wickedness, universal profanity and impiety. Oh! how few in our day go in to the most holy place, since few appear to be a most holy people! Where there is no access to the most holy place, there is no holiness : where little access, little holiness.
3. Hence fee the difference betwixt the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, in respect of the place that holiness hath in the one and the other. The former being, Do and live ; therein duty opens the door to privilege, and man behoved first to be holy, before he could be admitted to the holy place : but the latter being, Live' and do, therein privilege opens the door to duty, and men must first have access to the holy place, before they can be a holy people ; for they must first come to Christ, or to God in Christ, which is the holy
It was formerly noticed, Vol. I. p. 232. Vol. II. p. 304. 395. Vol. In. P. 44, that a legal turn of mind, and strain of preaohing was much upon the increase in Scotland : and the patrons and promoters hereof, boldly accused and virul lampooned the champions for, and defenders of, the doctrine grace, as enemies to the law, and friends to licenciousness.
of holies, and from hence bring all their holiness. That is one of the reasons why gospel-ministers preach to much upon gospel-privileges, and upon faith in Christ entering into the holy place, because this faith works by love, and is the root of all true holiness; for, when faith looks into the most holy place, there it sees the law hidden in the ark, Jesus Christ, and safely kept there; and the believer finds, that, by lying in the warm bofom of Christ, it is turned into a law of love.
4. Hence fee, That it is not safe to be without the church of God: for, as it is the house where God dwells, and it is best dwelling where God dwells ; fo there is access to the most holy place to be found there, upon the top of the mount, and the whole limit thereof round about. As long as God dwells in a church, and gives evidence of his presence in these ordinances, let us bless him for the day of small things, and wait upon him, who yet hides himself, in many respects, from the house of Jacob. Let us pity those who are without the church: for, Without are dogs, and they can have no view of the holy place; and, Where no vision is, the people perish. And pity these who are only within the outer walls of the church, in the outer court, and never got grace to enter into the most holy place; and also these who have been within, and have gone out, and separate from the church ; I mean, even separatists from the church of Scotland, fome upon a kind of Independent footing, and others affecting novelties, betaking themselves to English popish ceremonies, and new modes of worship. At the same time, many true friends to Presbytery are on the very borders of separating from this established church, upon a disgust at the defections of the day; and it is to be lamented, that many stumbling-blocks have been laid in peoples way: and it is sure, when a particular church, like Romish Babylon, comes to be wholly corrupt, then that rule for separation will hold, Come out from among them, my people. This was what justified our glorious Reformation from Popery. In this case, it is not a sinful separating from the church of God, but a dutiful separating from the chapel of the devil. And I own, that as matters stand at present in the church
of Scotland, we seem to be on the very brink of a schism: but, whatever tenderness I desire to show to weak consciences, in many circumstances, I have never as yet, feen ground to preach separation *, whatever ground I see to testify against the corruptions and defections of the day, I hope God hath not yet left the house; he is yet to be found in these galleries of his house, the ordinances of his worship. Mean time, I have a concern particularly for these that are mourning over the defections and defilements of the house, and keeping the cleanest rooms they can find therein, and whose lot is to have officers obtruded upon them, and have not the gospel, but the law, or mere moral harangues, preached to them; and I desire to pray they may be directed to their duty in an evil day. This leads me to
A word of lamentation, which is the next use I would make of the doctrine. Even on a communion day, when we are holding communion in the house of God, we may lament the disorders and irregularities therein, contrary to the law of the house. Surely the house of God in our day is a ruinous house, and needs to be repaired and reformed. If this be the law of the house, that every member, every part, every room of the house be most holy; then furely the law of the house is broken and violate in our day; for we may see the reverse of this law, even unholiness, upon the top of the mountain,
Our Author, at this time, was not so clear for withdrawing from the present Judicatories, as he afierwards came to be. And, indeed, all the habile methods had scarcely as yet been uled within doors, by Representations, Pe. titions, Remonstrances, Expoftulations, and Protestations : but when all thele were used to no valuable purpose, and a deaf ear lent to them ; nay, sentences inflicted for so doing, he law just ground to withdraw from the present corupt Judicatories, while carrying on a course of defection ; but never did separate from the church of Scotland in her Constitution. We have his full sentiments on this head, in his Secession from the Judicatories, about five years after this : in which, after stating the nature and grounds of his Secesiion, we have these
“ So that, (tays our Author, adopting the sentiments of an eminent Light in this churcb) here is no leparation from the church of Scotland, ei" ther in her doctrine, worship, discipline, or government; but rather a cleav
ing more closely thereto, by departing or going forth from her backNidings " and defections, as we are commanded by the Lord, and from fome Judicato. "ries, because of these ; and only a negative, passive, and conditional with.
drawing ; not importing any resolution never to join with, them in any cir. “cumstance, but a present refusing to follow the declining part of the church, “ while carrying on these defe&tions, and a choosing rather to stand still and s cleave to that pari, thongh fmaller, that is endeavouring to retain and main. “ tain a covenanted Reformation."
and the whole limit thereof round about. Behold, this is the sad state of the house : and, since you cannot be duly concerned with knowing the circumstances of it, I shall hint a little at the visible defects of the visible part of the house among us.
1. Oh! where is personal holiness (to begin at home) among the visible memembers of the house! The law of faith, or the covenant of grace, proclaiming access to the most holy place, is the law of the house; and yet, alas! how little faith is in the house! how litile believing or entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus! The law of love, or moral law, as a rule of obedience, is the law of the house; but, Oh! how little love to God or man iffuing from that faith! Does not iniquity abound, and the love of many wax cold? There is little to be seen of faith's working by love, but much to be feen of hatred working by unbelief. It is the law of that house, that we love one another; but, behold, how many are devouring one - another, through malice, envy, pride, and contention! It is the law of the house, more parti. cularly, that we have no other god but the most holy God, that we perform no other worship, but most holy worship; that we reverence his name, as the most holy name; that we fanctify his Sabbath, for a most holy rest all the day. It is the law of the house, that we be most holy in every relative capacity and station; that we be, accord. ing to our place, holy magistrates, holy ministers, holy parents, holy children, holy masters, holy fervants. It is the law of the house, that there be no murder, in thought, word, or deed: no whoredom, in thought, word, or deed; no falfe witnesses, no covetous heart in the house ; nothing but the most holy place, and the most holy people : but, ah! where is the spirit of holi. nefs ? Where is the exercises of holy graces, holy faith, holy love, holy penitency? Where is holy preaching, holy hearing, holy singing, holy praying, holy communicating, holy walking? I suppose, when matters are thoroughly canvassed, and seriously considered, there is little to be found among us, but unholy thoughts, unholy words, unholy actions; and little holy lamenting over our unholiness. Again,
2. If we look to the public, may we not find matter of lamentation? While it is the law of the house of the God of heaven, that nothing be done therein but accorcing to the will of the God of heaven; yet many things are done contrary to his will.-It is the law of the house, that the house be kept in repair, and do not ly wasle ; but, behold the walls are broken down, and the carved work demolished. It is the law of the house, that none be reckoned members of the family but these that are a holy nation,' a royal priesthood, a fpiritual people, 1 Pet. ii. 9.; at least, with reference to the visible church, that they have a visible and credible profession: it is not these that have worldly lordships, lairdships, and heritages, that have, upon this account, any title to be the members of Christ's spiritual house and kingdom ; for, his kingdom is not of this world ; his house is distinct therefrom : such may be members of God's house, but not as they are lords, lairds, heritors, gentles, nobles ; fome such may be called of God into his house, but, “ Not many noble, not many great men are called,” 1 Cor. i. 26. Not many stocked with worldly riches, or worldly wisdom : yet such, under the name of heritors, if they be but Protestants in profession, though they were Pagans in practice, feem, in our day, to be declared members of God's spiritual house. But, notwithstanding, it is the law of the house of God, Acts i. 23. 26. vi. 3. xiv. 23. as' Xsipotovýtaviss, the original word here demon. strates, that only the true member of the family, wherein every member is a master, a king, and a priest tolis God, should chufe out from among them, by common fuffrage, the servants and officers of the house. And, indeed, it is the law of every house, that no fervant be obtruded upon them by foreigners, against the mind of the house, or against the will of the family; much more is it the law of God's house, that neither prince, patron, nor heritor, as denominate only from their temporal estate, should have power over God's fpiritual house, in chufing and electing of their fpiritual servants and officers, to the excluding of the voice and vote of the proper members of the family: yet this law of the house is manifestly violated by fome Vol. V. + X