Page images
PDF
EPUB

our

sent forth his apostles and disciples, to proclaim the offers of life to the world, and settle the churches in a holy order, when they had gathered them, and to ordain such ministers to succeed them, as might carry on his work to the end of the world; Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. And thus he is the faithful Lawgiver to the church.

(11.) When he had abode thus forty days on earth, he ascended up into heaven, while his disciples stood by, and gazed after him; (Acts i. 9, 10.) and there hath taken possession in our nature, advancing it to the Father's right hand in glory, which was by sin depressed so low in misery. And so he is gone to prepare a place for us, leaving us a certain word of promise that he “ will come again, and take us to himself, that where he is, there we may be also ;" John xiv. 2,3. And as life now is hid there with Christ in God, so when he shall appear, we shall appear with him in glory;" Col. iii. 3,4.

(12.) Being ascended, he manifested his power and his truth in sending down the Holy Ghost upon his disciples, enabling them to do such works as he had done, and such as were necessary to convince the unbelieving world, and to conquer the opposing wisdom and power of the flesh; enabling them to speak in variety of languages, which they had never before learned; as also to understand and powerfully preach the mysteries of the Gospel, to confirm their doctrine by miracles, healing the lame, the blind, the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead, and conquering the resistance of principalities and powers, in seeming weakness, and in a contemptible garb. Not to speak now of the sanctifying work of the same Spirit, on them and on the rest of the church.

(13.) Lastly, In this glory Christ intercedeth for us, and is our High-priest in the heavens with God, living for ever, , procuring and conveying to us the mercies which we need upon the account of his sacrifice; ruling his church, and preserving them ; succeeding his cause and servants; restraining and subduing his enemies and ours; and will perfect his work at the day of his coming to judgment. So much of the works of Christ,

4. The fourth point to be understood concerning our redemption, is, The nature and worth of the benefits that are procured for us. Which though you may gather much from what is said, and the full handling of them would be a lar

[ocr errors]

gér work than is suitable to my present ends, yet such a brief recital I shall here give you, as my ends require.

In general, we have all from Jesus the Mediator that is worth the having; even all the blessings of this present life, and of the life to come. As we lost our right to all by sin, so we have our restored right by Christ alone, who came to destroy sin, and its effects. Had not he interposed, we might have had materially life, and natural faculties, and other things which now are mercies; but not as mercies, but as the requisites to our deserved punishment : even as the devils have their being and natural perfections to sustain them in their sufferings. Nature itself, so far as good, and all natural blessings are now of grace: and that not only of grace as they were to Adam, which was mercy without proper merit; but of Gospel grace procured by Christ, which is mercy contrary to merit. It is no sounder doctrine to say, that God doth without the merit of his Son bestow our common forfeited mercies, either on the elect or others, than that he giveth us his saving grace without it. As all things are delivered into the hands of Christ; (John xiii. 3.) so none can receive any good but from his hands. To give mercies to men that forfeit them, and deserve misery, is so far to pardon their sin; for to remit the sin, is to remit the punishment. But the Scripture is not acquainted with any pardon of sin, but what is on the account of the merits of Christ. They that deny this mercy of God, in giving even to the ungodly-such a measure of forgiveness, do speak against the daily and hourly experience of all the world ; and therefore need no other confutation.

More particularly, (1.) Christ having taken the human nature into union with the Divine, our nature is thereby inconceivably advanced, and brought nigh to God.

(2.) Having fulfilled the law and offered himself a sacrifice for sin, God's justice, and wisdom, and holiness, and goodness, are admirably demonstrated : and this sacrifice is both satisfactory and meritorious on our behalf; Heb. i. 3. 2 Cor. v. 19. Heb. ix. 26. x. 12.

(3.) The world, and the devil, and death, and the grave, are conquered by him, in preparation to our conquest.

(4.) The Lord Jesus himself being risen, and justified, hath received all power in heaven and in earth ; Matt. xxviii. 19. And is enabled to do all things that are necessary for

[ocr errors]

his further ends. As the Redeemer he is become Lord of ourselves, and of all we have ; and he is made the Sovereign Ruler of all, having full power to relax the law that cursed, and to deal with the world on terms of

grace. (5.) Accordingly he hath kept off the stroke of the rigorous justice of God, and hindered the strict execution of the law of works, and giveth still abundance of forfeited mercies to the sinful world, keeping them from deserved torments, while he is treating them on terms of life.

(6.) He hath made a universal deed of gift, of Christ and life to all the world, on condition that they will but accept the offer; 1 John v. 10–12. John i. 11, 12. iii. 16-19. In this testament, or promise, or act of oblivion, the sins of all the world are conditionally pardoned, and they are conditionally justified and reconciled to God.

(7.) He hath given apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to proclaim this act of grace to the world, commanding them to go into all the world, and preach this Gospel to every creature, and promise salvation to all that by faith will become his true disciples; Mark xvi. 16. Matt. xxviii. 20.22. So that their promulgation is universal.

(8.) Though his servants have most lamentably neglected their duty, and have not gone abroad in the world, to divulge the Gospel according to his will ; imagining that this work had been proper to the apostles ; and though the nations have sinfully neglected a due inquiry after this blessed light, yet hath he not left himself among them without witness, but hath given theni some dawning of the day, or some moonlight in the reflections of evangelical truth, who have not seen the sun itself. Much mercy they have had notwithstanding their transgressions; and while they served devils, they have been provided for by God,“ in whom they live, and move, and have their being ;" “ doing them good, and giving them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness ;” and this to teach them, “ that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of them;" Acts xiv. 17. xvii. 27,28. “ And that which may be known of God, is manifest among them, for God hath shewed it to them; for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God

head : so that they are without excuse;" Rom. i. 19, 20. By experience they may find, that God dealeth not now in rigor of justice, but on terms of grace, and that sin is not now unpardonable ; and they should know that the "goodness of God leadeth men to repentance ;" Rom. ii. 4.

(9.) As the Gospel conditionally pardoneth all their sins, and offereth them everlasting life, so it containeth the clearest reasons and most effectual motives, to persuade them to accept the offer. It affordeth them most excellent precepts and instructions, and exhortations, and other helps to bring them to a willingness, that salvation may be theirs.

(10.) To which also is added abundance of outward, providential helps, to further the working of the Gospel; as seasonable afflictions and mercies of divers sorts.

(11.) And with these is usually concurrent some inward motions, and assistance of the Holy Ghost; as knocking at the door, where he is not yet let in, and entertained.

(12.) And by their presence in the visible church, even the ungodly have many benefits in the ordinances, and instructions, and examples of the saints. All these (besides a resurrection) are the common effects of general redemption, and not appropriated to the elect.

Besides which there are others that the elect only do receive. As (1.) God is pleased by effectual grace to draw them to his Son, and make the Gospel successful to their conversion, insuperably teaching and changing them by his Spirit, and causing them to repent, and believe in Christ, and to perform the conditions of his forementioned promises. That love that brought the Lord on earth, that clothed him with flesh, that lifted him up upon

doth stream forth in his season into the hearts of his elect, and toucheth them with a changing power, and winneth them to his Father and himself, and droppeth into them those heavenly principles, which will grow up in them to everlasting life.

(2.) Hereupon the soul believing in Christ is united to him, as a member of his body, even of his true catholic church; and Christ is become the Head, the Husband, the Lord, the Saviour of that soul in a special sort. Christ himself is first given to us in these relations; and from him as our Head, his following benefits are conveyed. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life; for this life is in the Son;" 1 John v. 11, 12. He

the cross,

a

is the vine, and we are the branches, and out of him we can do nothing; John xv. 1,2.5. As it was not we that purchased our own salvation, so it is not we, but Christ, that must have the keeping, and dispensing of the purchased benefits. "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell, and that he should be the Head over all things to his church,” that it might by communication become his fullness; Col. i. 19. Ephes.i. 22, 23. He is our treasury, and from him we must have our continual supplies; for “ with him the Father will give us all things ;" Rom. viii. 32. And thus Christ will “ dwell in our hearts by faith ;? Ephes. iii. 17. and set up the kingdom of God within us.

(3.) Hereupon we have the pardon of all our sins ; not only as to the temporal punishment, nor only as to the bestowing of temporal mercies, or common helps of creatures, and providences ; for this is but winking at the days of our ignorance,” (Acts xvii. 30.) in comparison of the pardon which afterward we receive. Nor is it only a conditional, or offered pardon; but it is an actual remission of the eternal, and of all the destructive, punishment. And thus we are justified from all that might be charged on us from the law, and accepted, and used as just by God. There is a kind of forgiveness that was promised to the sacrificers ; Lev. iv. 20. 26. 31. 35. 10. 13. 16. 18. vi. 7. Numb. xv. 28. But as that was upon Christ's account, so it extended not to the pardon of the eternal punishment to any but true believers. He that was oncé crucified, "is exalted by God's right hand, a prince, and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins;” Acts v. 31. “Through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses ;” Acts xiii. 38, 39. When our eyes are open, and we “are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God,” we then “receive remission of our sins ;" Acts xxvi. 18. When we are delivered from the power of darkness, and trauslated into the kingdom of Christ; in him we have then redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins;" Col. i. 13, 14. And blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, to whom the Lord imputeth not sin ;”. Rom. iv, 7.

V.

who shall condemn us? It is God

And now

« PreviousContinue »