Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Christ; and offereth his mercy to all, and entreateth them to accept it, and will condemn none of them but those that finally reject it. “ All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation ; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God;" 2 Cor. v. 18—20. So that it is at once the belief of the Father as reconciled, and the Son as the Reconciler, and that according to the tenor of the common conditional covenant, which is the first assenting part of saving faith.

8. This same covenant which revealeth God as thus far reconciled by Christ, doth offer him to be further actually and fully reconciled, and to justify and glorify us, that is, to forgive, accept, and love us perfectly for ever. And it offereth us Christ to be our actual Head and Mediator, to procure and give us all this mercy, by communicating the benefits which he hath purchased according to covenantterms : so that as before the Father and the Son were revealed to our assent together; so here they are offered to the will together.

9. In this offer, God is offered as the end, and Christ as Mediator is offered as the means; therefore the act of the will to God, which is here required, is simple love of complacency (with subjection, which is a consent to obey), but the act of the will to Christ, is called choice or consent, though there be in it'amor medii,' the love of that means for its aptitude as to the end.

10. This love of God as the end and consent to Christ as the means, being not acts of the intellect, but of the will, cannot be the first acts of faith, but do presuppose the first assenting acts.

11. But the assenting act of faith, doth cause these acts of the will to God and the Mediator. Because we believe the truth and goodness, we consent and love.

12. Both these acts of the will are caused by assent at one time, without the least distance.

13. But here is a difference in order of nature, because we will God as the end, and for himself, and therefore first

in the natural order of intention; and we will Christ as the means for that end, and therefore but secondarily. Though in the intellects, apprehension and assent, there be no such difference; because in the truth, which is the understanding's object, there is no difference, but only in the goodness which is the will's object : and as goodness itself is apprehended by the understanding, .ut verè bonum,' there is only an objective difference of dignity.

14. Therefore as the Gospel revelation cometh to us in a way of offer, promise and covenant, so our faith must act in a way of acceptance and covenanting with God and the Redeemer and Sanctifier. And the sacrament of baptism is the solemnizing of this covenant on both parts. And till our hearts do consent to the baptismal covenant of grace, we are not believers in a saving sense.

15. There is no distance of time between the assent of faith, and the first true degree of love and consent: (though an unsound assent may go long before; yet sound assent doth immediately produce love and consent;) and though a clear and full resolved degree of consent may be some time afterward : and therefore the soul may not at the first degree so well understand itself, as to be ready for an open covenanting

16. This being the true order of the work of faith and love, the case now lieth plain before those that can observe things distinctly, and take not up with confused knowledge (and no other are fit to meddle with such cases); viz. that the knowing or assenting acts of faith in God as reconciled (so far) and in Christ as the Reconciler, so far as to give out the offer or covenant of grace, are both at once, and both go before the acts of the will, as the cause before the immediate effect; and that this assent first in order of nature (but at once in time) causeth the will to love God as our end, and to consent to, and choose Christ in heart covenant as the means, and so in our covenant we give up ourselves to both : and that this repentance and love to God, which are both one work called conversion, or turning from the creature to God, the one ás denominated from the

terminus à quo,’ (viz. repentance) the other from the ‘terminus ad quem,' (viz. love) are twisted at once with true saving faith.' And that Christ as the means used by God is our first Teacher, and bringeth us to assent: and then that

sent ;

assent bringeth us to take God for our end, and Christ for the means of our actual justification and glory; so that Christ is not by faith chosen and used by us under the notion of a Mediator or means to our first act of love and con

but is a means to that of the Father's choosing only ; but is in that first consent chosen by us for the standing means of our justification and glory, and of all our following exercise and increase of love to God, and our sanctification; so that it is only the assenting act of faith, and not the electing act, which is the efficient caụse of our very first act of love to God, and of our first degree of sanctification; and thus it is that faith is called the seed and mother grace: but it is not that saving faith which is our Christianity, and the condition of justification and of glory, till it come up to a covenant-consent of heart, and take in the aforesaid acts of repentance and love to God as our God and ultimate end.

The observations of many written mistakes about the order of the work of grace, and the ill and contentious consequents that have followed them, hath made me think that this true and accurate decision of this case is not unuseful or unnecessary.

Direct. 12. The Holy Ghost so far concurred with the eternal word, in our redemption, that he was the perfecting Operator, in the conception, the holiness, the miracles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.'

Of his conception it is said, “For that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost;" Matt. i. 20. And ver. 18. “ She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And of his holy perfection, as it is said, that “he increased in wisdom and stature, and favour with God and men;" Luke ii. 52. (meaning those positive perfections of his human nature which were to grow up with nature itself, and not the supply of any culpable or privative defects) so when he was baptized, the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; Luke iii. 22. And Luke iv. i. it is said, “ Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost,” &c. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, and shall make him quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord,” &c.; Isa. xi. 2. “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him ;" John iii. 34. “ After that he through the

us ;

Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen;" Acts i. 2. “And was declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, (that is, the Holy Spirit) by the resurrection from the dead ;" Rom. i. 4. “ If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God,” &c.; Matt. xii. 28. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal,” &c. ; Luke iv. 18. Isa. lxi. 1.

In all this you see how great the work of the Holy Spirit was upon Christ himself, to fit his human nature for the work of our redemption, and actuate him in it; though it was the word only which was made flesh, and dwelt among

John i. 3.

Direct. 13. ' Christ was thus filled with the Spirit, to be the Head or quickening Spirit to his body : and accordingly to fit each member for its peculiar office: and therefore the Spirit now given is called the Spirit of Christ, as communicated by him.'

If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his ;" Rom. viii. 9. “ This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive;" (John vii. 39.) viz. it is the water of life, which Christ will give them. "The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit;" 1 Cor. xv.45. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father ;” Gal. iv. 6. “ Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ;" Phil. i. 19. See also Ephes. i. 22, 23. iii. 17-19. ii. 18. 22. iv. 3. 12. 16. 1 Cor. xii. &c.

Direct. 14. ' The greatest extraordinary measure of the Spirit, was given by him to his apostles, and the primitive Christians, to be the seal of his own truth and power, and to fit them to found the first churches, and to convince unbelievers, and to deliver his will on record in the Scriptures, infallibly to the church for future times.'

It would be tedious to cite the proofs of this, they are so numerous; take but a few : “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ;' Matt. xxviii. 20. (that is the commission.) “ And these signs shall follow them that believe," &c.; Mark xvi. 17.

• Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” &c.; John xx. 22. “ But the Comforter,

66

the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,

he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you ; ”John xiv. 26. “When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth,” &c.; John xvi. 13. “ 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 ;" Heb. ii. 4.

Direct. 15. And as such gifts of the Spirit were given to the apostles as their office required; so those sanctifying graces, or that spiritual life, light and love, are given by it to all true Christians, which their calling and salvation doth require.'

Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit;" John iii. 5, 6. “ Without holiness none shall see God;" Heb. xii. 14. They that are in the flesh cannot please God: but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his ;" Rom. viii. 8-10. 14. See also ver. 1.3-7, &c. “He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life;" Titus iji. 5–7. But the testimonies of this truth are more numerous than I may recite.

Direct. 16. ‘By all this it appeareth that the Holy Ghost is both Christ's great witness objectively in the world, by which it is that he is owned of God, and proved to be true; and also his Advocate or great Agent in the church, both to indite the Scriptures, and to sanctify souls.' So that no man can be a Christian indeed,

without these three: 1. The objective witness of the Spirit to the truth of Christ. 2. The Gospel taught by the Spirit in the apostles. 3. And the quickening, illuminating and sanctifying work of the Spirit upon their souls.

Direct. 17. ' It is therefore in these respects that we are baptized into the name of the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father and the Son, it being his work to make us thus both

« PreviousContinue »