« PredošláPokračovať »
der. We have also observed the first entrance of sin into the world, with all those miseries that attended it; and we are now led to speak of that inestimable display of divine love and
grace, which appears in our salvation, which is considered more generally in this answer; wherein there is,
I. Something supposed, namely, that if God had left man in the state into which he brought himself by sin, he would have perished for ever. He was not only in danger of ruin and destruction, but sunk into it. He was like a brand in the fire, that would soon have been consumed, had he not been plucked out of it. His state was not only miserable, but hopeless, inasmuch as he could not think of any expedient how he might recover himself. He was guilty, and no creature could make atonement for him ; separated from the comfortable presence of God, whose terrors made him afraid, and whose hand was heavy upon him; neither could he apply himself to any one, who would interpose or appear in his behalf, whereby he might be restored to the enjoyment of those privileges, which he had forfeited and lost. What tongue can express, or heart be suitably affected with the misery of this condition! And this would have been our deplorable case for ever, had we been left of God in our fallen state. But we have, in the gospel, a door of salvation opened, or glad tidings proclaimed therein, to those who were sunk as low as hell, which is the only spring and hope of comfort, to those who are afflicted with a sense of their sin and misery. Accordingly, it is farther observed,
II. That God will not leave all mankind to perish in that state, but designed to deliver his elect out of it, and bring them into a state of salvation. That God designed not to leave mankind in this miserable condition, appears from the discovery he has made of the way of salvation which was contained in that promise, which God gave to our first parents, respecting the seed of the woman, who was to break the serpent's head; or the Saviour's being manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil; and all the promises contained in the gospel, are, as it were, a farther improvement on it, or a continued declaration of God's purpose relating to the salvation of his people. The work of redemption wrought out by Christ, as God incarnate, was a wonderful discovery of this great truth, that God had a design to recover and save lost sinners; and all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, by whom the redemption purchased by Christ, is applied, and that joy and peace, which they have in believing, which are, as it were, the first fruits of eternal life, these are all a convincing proof that God determined not to leave man to perish in his fallen state. And to this we may add, that even the malice and rage of Satan, and all the endeavours used by him, to defeat this design, and the glorious victory which God enables his people to obtain over him, who are made more than conquerors through him that loved them; these are so many convincing proofs, that God designed not to leave man, in his ruined condition, but to make known to him the way of salvation; first, to make him meet for it, and then to bring him to the possession of it.
Salvation is an inestimable privilege, containing in it all the ingredients of blessedness, such as are adapted to the condition of miserable sinners; and it is a very comprehensive one ; which will appear, if we consider what we are hereby delivered from, and what we are possessed of. There is a great variety of blessings contained in the former of these ; as, we are saved from sin, namely, from the guilt thereof in justification, and from the dominion thereof in sanctification, and from that bondage we were liable to, whereby we were in perpetual dread of the wrath of God, desiring to fly from his presence, and naturally inclined to yield ourselves subjects and slaves to his greatest enemy: all these we are delivered from. And there are many positive blessings and privileges, which we are made partakers of; such as, grace and peace begun here, and perfected in glory hereafter; and these are not only such as exceed our highest desert, but tend to make us completely and eternally happy. Here we are to consider,
1. The subjects of this privilege. Salvation is not extended to all miserable creatures; for, fallen angels, who were the first that rebelled against God, were left to perish, without hope of salvation, being reserved for ever in chains under darkness. And as for fallen man, how extensive soever the proclamation of salvation in the gospel is, as it is now preached to all nations, and all who sit under the sound thereof, are commanded and encouraged to press after it; yet this privilege is applied only to those who were ordained to eternal life. The purpose of God, relating hereunto, and the application thereof, are joined together in that golden chain of salvation, Whom he predestinated, then he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified, Rom. viii. 30. But this has been more particularly considered elsewhere*.
2. Here is the only moving cause, or reason, why God bestows this great salvation, or why he has designed to bring any of the sons of men to it; and that is his mere love and mercy. Salvation, whether considered in its first rise, in God's eternal purpose, or in the execution thereof in the work of conversion and sanctification, as well as in the completing of it in glorification, is ascribed to the sovereign grace and mercy of God, Are we Chosen in Christ to be holy, or predestinated to the adoption of children by him ? this is said to be to the praise of
Sez. Vol. I Page 482.
the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 4–6. And the apostle elsewhere, when resolving this great privilege of salvation, in all the branches of it, namely, regeneration, renovation, and justification, into the same original cause and ground thereof, to wit, the kindness, love, and grace of God, excludes all those works of righteousness which we have done, from being the inducement, or moving cause leading to it, Tit. iii. 47. so that it was the grace of God that laid the foundation stone, and it is that that brings the work to perfection.
To make this farther appear, let it be considered, that salvation must either be of grace, or of debt; either the result of God's free favour to us, or it must proceed from some obligation, which he is laid under by us, to confer this privilege upon us. Now it is certain, that it cannot take its rise from any obligation that we can lay on him; for whatever difference there is between the best of saints and the worst of sinners, it is from God, and not from the sinner himself. We have nothing but what we first received from him, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things, Rom. xi. 35, 36.
Moreover, this salvation must be conferred, in such a way, as redounds to the glory of him, who is the author of it, whereby all the boasting in the creature is excluded, and therefore it cannot take its rise from any thing done by us; it is not of works, lest any man should boast, Eph. ii. 9. And, indeed, this is contrary to the main design of the gospel, which is, that no flesh should glory in his presence. And the circumstances in which those are, who are said to be the objects of salvation, are such as argue it to be altogether of grace; for, whom did the Son of Man come to seek and to save, but them that were lost? or, to whom was the way of salvation discovered, but to those who were going astray from God, and were neither inclined to return to him, nor apply themselves to any one, who might direct them how to regain his lost favour? And, if they had, it would have been to no purpose; since no creature could make known the way of salvation, any more than apply the blessings contained therein.
Were man only to be considered as a creature, and so not properly the object of salvation, which is no other than a lost sinner; or did he expect nothing else but some effects of common goodness, or the blessings of nature, he could not expect them in a way of merit; for that is contrary to the dependance of the creature on God; therefore the blessings of Providence must be considered as the result of his free favour. And were man in a sinless state, and able to perform perfect obedience, as he was at first, his ability hereunto must be supposed to be an unmerited favour; and accordingly the obedience performed would be no other than a just debt due to God, and therefore far from any
would afford him no plea, from any merit of condignity, for the conferring any privilege, as a reward thereof : this therefore, must be the result of the divine favour.
But, when we consider him as a sinner, he is altogether unable to do what is good ; and therefore, if salvation were entirely to depend on our performing obedience, so that any failure therein would deprive us of it, we should never attain it; for this obedience would be so imperfect, that God could not, in honour, accept of it. But alas! fallen man is
SO disposition, or inclination to perform obedience, that his heart is naturally averse to it; The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. viii. 7. If therefore, such an one is saved, and that in such a way, that God is pleased to love him, and manifest himself to him, it must be a wonderful instance of divine grace, which no one, who has experienced it, can think on, but with admiration, especially when considering how discriminating it is; as one of Christ's disciples said unto him, How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? John xiv. 22.
3. Having considered salvation, as designed for all the elect, we proceed to consider the means of their attaining it; or their being brought into a state of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace. As salvation is ascribed to the grace of God; so it is an instance of condescending goodness, that our faith, relating hereunto, should be confirmed
by such a dispensation, as is generally styled a covenant. Thus David, speaking concerning it, says, He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. This covenant, as to what respects the parties concerned therein, and the manner in which the grace of God is displayed in it, together with the various dispensations, or administrations thereof, is particularly considered under the five following answers. The only thing, that remains to be insisted on in this, is its being called the Second Covenant, as opposed to the covenant of works, which is styled the First. The covenant of works has been considered under a foregoing answer *; and therefore all that I shall observe, concerning it, at present, is, that though life was promised therein, as including all those blessings, which were suited to the state of man in innocency, yet there was no promise of salvation in it, which is the restoring of forfeited blessings, or a recovery from a state of death and ruin. In this respect, the covenant of grace is opposed to it.
Again, though Adam was the head of that covenant, whose obedience, or apostacy, would convey life or death to all his pos
* See Quest. x. Page 70. Anie,
terity, whom he represented, yet he stood not in the relation of a Mediator, or surety, to them, for that was inconsistent with the dispensation he was under, and is applicable to no other co, venant, than that which we are considering, as thus opposed to it.
Moreover, perfect obedience was demanded, as a condition of man's attaining life, and this he was thoroughly furnished to perform ; whereas, in the covenant of grace, if God should insist on our performing perfect obedience, the condition would be in its own nature impossible, and therefore we should here. by rather be excluded from, than brought into a state of salvation; and whatever obedience we are engaged to perform, as expectants of salvation, this is entirely owing to the grace of God, by which we are what we are, as well as attain to the blessings we hope for: Herein the covenant of works, and the covenant of
The next thing that we are to observe, is, that the covenant of grace
is called the Second Covenant; and this leads us to enquire, whether we have any ground, from scripture, to conclude, that there are more covenants than these two; or, at least, whether what we call the Second Covenant, or the covenant of grace, may not be subdivided into two covenants ; since the apostle seems to speak of two covenants made with fallen man, viz. one that was made with the Israelites, given from mount Sinai, which was designed to continue no longer than that dispensation they were under, lasted; and the other is, that which the church has been under, ever since the gospel dispensation was erected, which is to continue to the end of the world. These are described by their respective properties, in an allegorical way, and illustrated by a similitude, taken from two mountains, Sinai and Sion; and two persons, men, tioned in scripture, Agar and Sarah: The former of these is said to gender unto bondage; the latter brings those, who are under it into a state of liberty, Gal. iv. 24. & seq. and one of these covenants is said to be better than the other, and particularly called a new covenant ; the other' is represented as decaying, waxing old, and ready to vanish away, Heb. viii. 6, 8, 13.
Moreover, the apostle seems to speak of more covenants than one, made with the Jewish church; for he says, that to them pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, Rom. ix. 4. &c. and elsewhere, speaking concerning the Gen. tiles, as aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, he adds, that they were also strangers from the covenants of promise, Eph. ii. 12. which seems to argue, that there were more than two covenants with man; one with innocent man ; the other, the gospel-covenant, which we are under; and, besides these, there were other covenants, made with Israel, which seems to carry VOL. II.