Page images

For this end, let these passages of scripture, among many others, serve to make the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ appear ; or, to make the greatness of the sin of refusing of the covenant of grace offered to us, in the offering of Christ unto us appear, let the fair offer of grace be looked upon as it is made, Isa. lv. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me, (saith the Lord :) hear, and your soul shall live ; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. That is, If ye will believe me, and be reconciled to me, I will, by covenant, give unto you Christ, and all saving graces in him : repeated Acts xiii. 34.

Again, consider, that this general offer in substance is equivalent to a special offer made to every one in particular; as appeareth by the apostle's making use of it, Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The reason of which offer is given, John iii. 16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Seeing then this great salvation is offered in the Lord Jesus, whosoever believeth not in him, but looks for happi. ness some other way, what doth he else but observe lying vanities, and forsake his own mercy, which he might have had in Christ? Jonah ii. 8, 9. What doth he else but blaspheme God in his heart? as it is said, 1 John v. 10, 11. He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life : and this life is in his Son. And that no sin against the law is like unto this sin, Christ testifies, John xv. 22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, thcy had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin. This may convince a man of the greatness of this sin of not believing in Christ. For convincing a man of righteousness to be had only by faith in

Jesus Christ, consider how, Rom. x. 3, 4.

It is said, that the Jews, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God, (and so they perished.) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. And Acts xiii. 39. By Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. And i John 1. 7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

For convincing a man of judgment, if a man embrace this righteousness, consider 1 John iji. 8. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. And Heb. ix. 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

But if a man embrace not this righteousness, his doom is pronounced, John ii. 18. 19. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light. .

llence let the penitent, desiring to believe, reason thus :

" What doth suffice to convince all the elect in the world of the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ, or refusing to flee to "him for relief from sins done against the law, and from wrath due “thereto; and what sufficeth to convince them that righteousness "and eternal life is to be had by faith in Jesus Christ, or by consent“ing to the covenant of grace in him; and what sufficeth to convince "them of judgment to be exercised by Christ, for destroying the works of the devil in a man, and sanctifying and saving all that believe "in him, may suffice to convince me also :

“But what the Spirit hath said, in these or other like scriptures, “sufficeth to convince the elect world of the foresaid sin, and righte"ousness, and judgment :

“ Therefore what the Spirit hath said, in these and other like "scriptures, serveth to convince me thereof also."

Whereupon let the penitent desiring to believe take with him words, and say heartily to the Lord, seeing thou sayest, Seek ye my face; my soul answereth unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Í have hearkened unto the offer of an everlasting covenant of all saying mercies to be had in Christ, and I do heartily embrace thy offer. Lord, let it be a bargain ; Lord, I believe ; help my unbelief: Behold, I give myself to thee, to serve thee in all things for ever; and I hope thy right hand shall save me : the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever ; forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Thus may a man be made an unfeigned believer in Christ. For strengthening the man's faith who hath agreed unto the cove

nant of grace.

BECAUSE many true believers are weak, and do much doubt if ever they shall be sure of the soundness of their own faith and effectual calling, or made certain of their justification and salvation, when they see that many, who profess faith, are found to deceive themselves ; let us see how every believer may be made strong in the faith, and sure of his own election and salvation upon solid grounds, by sure warrants, and true evidences of faith. To this end, among many other scriptures, take these following.

1. For laying solid grounds of Faith, consider 2 Peter i. 10. Wherefore the rather', brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure : for if ye do these things ye shall never fall.

In which words, the apostle teacheth us these four things, for help and direction how to be made strong in the faith.

1. That such as believe in Christ Jesus, and are fled to him for relief from sin and wrath, albeit they be weak in the faith, yet they are indeed children of the same Father with the apostles ; for so he accounteth of them, while he calleth them brethren.

2. That albeit we be not sure, for the time, of our effectual calling and election, yet we may be made sure of both, if we use diligence : for this he presupposeth, saying, “Give diligence to make your calling “and election sure.”

3. That we must not be discouraged, when we see many seeming believers prove rotten branches, and make defection; but we must the rather take the better heed to ourselves : “ Wherefore the rather, “ brethren, (saith he,) give all diligence."

4. That the way to be sure both of our effectual calling and election, is to make sure work of our faith, by laying the grounds of it solidly, and bringing forth the fruits of our faith in new obedience constantly:

“For if ye do these things, (saith he,) ye shall never fall;" understanding by these things, what he had said of sound faith, Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, and what he had said of the bringing out of the fruits of faith, Ver. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

To this same purpose, consider Rom. viii. 1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. V. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. V. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and för sin condemned sin in the flesh; V. 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Wherein the apostle teacheth us these four things, for laying of the ground of faith solidly:

1. That every one is a true believer, who, in the sense of his sin, and fear of God's wrath, doth flee for full relief from both unto Jesus Christ alone, as the only Mediator and all-sufficient Redeemer of men; and, being fled to Christ, doth strive against his own flesh, or corrupt inclination of nature, and studieth to follow the rule of God's Spirit, set down in his word : for the man, whom the apostle doth here bless as a true believer, is a man in Christ Jesus, "who doth not “ walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

2. That all such persons as are fled to Christ, and do strive against sin, howsoever they may be possibly exercised under the sense of wrath, and fear of condemnation, yet they are in no danger ; for " there is no condemnation (saith he) to them that are in Christ Jesus, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

3. That albeit the apostle himself, (brought in here for example's cause,) and all other true believers in Christ, be by nature under the law of sin and death, or under the covenant of works, (called the law of sin and death, because it bindeth sin and death upon us, till Christ set us free ;) yet the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the covenant of grace. (so called, because it doth enable and quicken a man to a spiritual life through Christ,) doth set the apostle, and all true believers, free from the covenant of works, or the law of sin and death; so that every man may say with him, " The law of the Spirit “ of life," or the covenant of grace, “hath made me free from the law of sin and death,” or covenant of works.

4. That the fountain and first ground, from whence our freedom from the curse of the law doth flow, is the covenant of redemption, passed betwixt God and God the Son as incarnate, wherein Christ takes the curse of the law upon him for sin, that the believer, who could not otherwise be delivered from the covenant of works, mayle delivered from it. And this doctrine the apostle holdeth forth in these four branches : (1.) That it was utterly impossible for the law, or the covenant of works, to bring righteousness and life to a sinner, because it was weak. (2.) That this weakness and inability of the law, or covenant of works, is not the fault of the law, but the fault of sinful flesh, which is neither able to pay the penalty of sin, nor to give perfect obedience to the law, (presuppose bygone sins were forgiven :) “ The law was weak (saith he) through the flesh.” (3.) That The righteousness and salvation of sinners, which was impossible to be brought about by the law, is brought to pass by sending God's own Son, Jesus Christ, in the flesh, in whose flesh sin is condemned and punished, for making satisfaction in the behalf of the elect, that they might be set free. (4.) That by his means the law loseth nothing, because the righteousness of the law is best fulfilled this way; first, by Christ's giving perfect active obedience in our name unto it in all things; next, by his paying in our name the penalty due to our sins in his death ; and, lastly, by his working of sanctiti. cation in us, who are true believers, who strive to give new obedience unto the law, and “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

WARRANTS TO BELIEVE. por building our confidence upon this solid ground, these four T Warrants and special Motives to believe in Christ may serve. The first whereof is God's hearty invitation, holden forth, Isa. lv. 1,

2, 3, 4, 5.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money : come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Ver. 2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Ver. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Ver. 4. Behold, 1 have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people, &c.

IIere (after setting down the precious ransom of our redemption by the sufferings of Christ, and the rich blessings purchased to us thereby, in the two former chapters) the Lord, in this chapter,

J. Maketh open offer of Christ and his grace, by proclamation of a free and gracious market of righteousness and salvation, to be had through Christ to every soul, without exception, that truly desires to be saved from sin and wrath : “Ho, every one that thirsteth," saith he.

2. lle inviteth all sinners, that for any reason stand at a distance from God, to come and take from him riches of grace, running in Christ as a river, to wash away sin, and to slocken wrath: “Come " ye to the water's," saith he.

3. Lest any should stand aback in the sense of his own sinfulness or unworthiness, and inability to do any good, the Lord calleth upon such persons in special, saying, “ He that hath no money, come.”

4. Ile craveth no more of his merchant, but that he be pleased with the wares offered, which are grace, and more grace; and that be heartily consent unto, and embrace this offer of grace, that so he may close a bargain, and a formal covenant with God; “Come, buy

without money, (saith he,) come, eat:" that is, consent to have, and ake unto you all saving graces ; make the wares your own, possess hem, and make use of all blessings in Christ; whatsoever maketh or your spiritual life and comfort, use and enjoy it freely, without aying any thing for it : “Come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price,” saith he.

5. Because the Lord knoweth how much we are inclined to seek ighteousness and life by our own performances and satisfaction, to

have righteousness and life as it were by the way of works, and how loath we are to embrace Christ Jesus, and to take life by way of free grace through Jesus Christ, upon the terms whereupon it is offered to us ; therefore the Lord lovingly calls us off this our crooked and unhappy way with a gentle and timeous admonition, giving us to understand, that we shall but lose our labour in this our way: “ Wherefore do ye spend your money (saith he) for that which is not “ bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?”

6. The Lord promiseth to us solid satisfaction in the way of betaking ourselves unto the grace of Christ, even true contentment, and fulness of spiritual pleasure, saying, “ Hearken diligently unto me, “and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in “fatness.”

7. Because faith cometh by hearing, he calleth for audience unto the explication of the offer, and calleth for believing of, and listening unto the truth, which is able to beget the application of saving faith, and to draw the soul to trust in God: “Incline your ear, and come “unto me,” saith he. To which end, the Lord promises, that this offer being received, shall quicken the dead sinner ; and that, upon the welcoming of this offer, he will close the covenant of grace with the man that shall consent unto it, even an indissolvable covenant of perpetual reconciliation and peace : “Hearken, and your soul shall “live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” Which covenant, he declareth, shall be in substance the assignation, and the making over, of all the saving graces which David (who is Jesus Christ, Acts xiii. 34.) hath bought for us in the covenant of redemption: “I will make a covenant with you, (saith he,) even the sure “mercies of David.” By sure mercies, he means saving graces, such as are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Iloly Ghost, adoption, sanctification, and glorification, and whatsoever belongs to godliness and life eternal.

8. To confirm and assure us of the real grant of these saving mercies, and to persuade us of the reality of the covenant betwixt Gou and the believer of this word, the Father hath made a fourfold gift of his eternal and only begotten Son:

First, To be incarnate and born for our sake, of the seed of David his type ; for which cause he is called here, and acts xiii. 34. DAVID, the true and everlasting King of Israel. This is the great gift of God to man, John iv. 10. And here, I have given him to be David, or born of David, to the people.

Secondly, He hath made a gift of Christ to be a witness to the people, both of the sure and saving mercies granted to the redeemed in the covenant of redemption ; and also of the Father's willingness and purpose to apply them, and to make them fast in the covenant of reconciliation made with such as embrace the offer: “I have given “him (saith the Lord here) to be a witness to the people.” And truly he is a sufficient witness in this matter in many respects : 1st, Because he is one of the blessed Trinity, and party-contractor for us, in the covenant of redemption, before the world was. 2dly, He is by office, as Mediator, the Messenger of the covenant, and hath gotten commission to reveal it. 3dly, He began actually to reveal it in paradise, where he promised, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. 4thly, He set forth his own death and .

« PreviousContinue »