« PreviousContinue »
"how can ye, being evil, speak good things?" whereas it is easy even for hypocrites to speak good things. In like manner, when it is said in the present passage he cannot sin, the meaning is, that he cannot easily fall into sin, and therefore cannot easily depart from the faith. The same divines have displayed equal sagacity and research in their explanation of the reason assigned by the apostle, for his seed remaineth in him; where they show that to remain in him means the same as to be in him. So John xiv. 7. "he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Thus also in the fourteenth verse of the very chapter under consideration; he that loveth not his brother, abideth in death; that is, so long as he does not love his brother; for in any other sense it would be impossible for a man to escape death who had ever been guilty of not loving his brother. Whosoever therefore is born of God cannot sin, because his seed remaineth, or is in him; it is in him as long as he does not himself quench it, for even the Spirit can be quenched; it remains in him, moreover, as long as he himself remains in love.
Those, however, who do not persevere in the faith, are in ordinary cases to be accounted unregenerate and devoid of genuine belief: seeing that God who keeps us is faithful, and that he has given believers so many pledges of salvation, namely, election, regeneration, justification, adoption, union and fellowship with him conjointly with Christ and the Spirit, who is the earnest and seal of the covenant: seeing also that the work of glorification is in them already begun. Prov. xxiv. 16. "a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again, but the wicked shall fall into mischief.' Matt. xxv. 3.
they that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them." Luke viii. 13. "these have no root." 2 Pet. ii. 22. “the dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.' 1 John ii. 19. "they went out from us."
Or perhaps they are to be considered as apostates from the faith, in that sense of faith in which it is the object, not the cause of belief. 1 Tim. iv. 1. "the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." Gal. v. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace."
ever this may be, it is our duty to entreat God with constant prayer, in the words of the apostle, . 2 Thess. i. 11. "that our God would count us worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith. with power."
Thus far of the beginnings of glorification. As its perfection is not attainable in the present life, this part of the subject will be reserved for the concluding chapter of the present book.
CHAP. XXVI.-OF THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE; INCLUDING THE LAW OF GOD.
THE nature and process of renovation, so far as it is developed in this life, have been considered. We are now to trace its manifestation and exhibition in the covenant of Grace.
THE COVENANT OF GRACE itself, on the part of God, is first declared Gen. iii. 15. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel;" compared with Rom. xvi. 20. "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." 1 John iii. 8. " for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." On the part of man its existence may be considered as implied from the earliest period at which it is recorded that mankind worshipped God.
THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE consists in its exhibition and its ratification. Both existed under the law, and both continue under the gospel.
Even under the law the existence of a Redeemer and the necessity of redemption are perceptible, though obscurely and indistinctly. Heb. ix. 8, &c. "the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing;" which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances (or righteousness of the flesh), imposed on them until the time of reformation. Under
the gospel both the Redeemer and the truth of his redemption are more explicitly understood. John i. 17. "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
THE LAW OF GOD is either written or unwritten.
The unwritten law is no other than that law of nature given originally to Adam, and of which a certain remnant, or imperfect illumination, still dwells in the hearts of all mankind; which, in the regenerate, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is daily tending towards a renewal of its primitive brightness. Rom. i. 19. "God hath showed it unto them." v. 32. "who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." ii. 14. 15. "the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts."
Hence the law is often used for heavenly doctrine in the abstract, or the will of God, as declared under both covenants. Jer. xxxi. 33. "I will put my law in their inward parts." John x. 34. " is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" though the passage alluded to is found in the Psalms, not in the law properly so called.
The manifestation of this gratuitous covenant under the law was partly anterior to, and partly coincident with, Moses.
Even before Moses the law was already in part delivered, although not in a written form. Gen. iv. 3. 4. " Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah." v. 26. "then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah." vii. 1. 2. "thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation: of every clean beast," &c. viii. 20, 21, &c. "Noah builded an altar unto Jehovah." 2 Pet. ii. 5. "Noah, a preacher of righteousness." The same is said of the other patriarchs before Moses. Gen. xii. 4, 5. xiii. 18. xxv. 22. xxviii. 18. Ceremonial purification is likewise mentioned, xxxv. 2. "be clean and change your garments." Compare v. 14. Exod. xvii. 5.
A certain manifestation or shadowing forth of the covenant was exhibited under Moses, first, in the redemption from bondage by the liberation from Egypt under the guidance of Moses; secondly, in the brazen serpent. John iii. 14—16.
The symbols of expiation and redemption, both before and
under Moses, were the sacrifices and the priests, Melchisedec and Aaron with his posterity.3 Heb. viii. 5. "who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things."
THE MOSAIC LAW WAS A WRITTEN CODE CONSISTING OF MANY PRECEPTS, INTENDED FOR THE ISRAELITES ALONE, WITH A PROMISE OF LIFE TO SUCH AS SHOULD KEEP THEM, AND A CURSE ON SUCH AS SHOULD BE DISOBEDIENT; TO THE END THAT THEY, BEING LED THEREBY TO AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND, AND CONSEQUENTLY OF THEIR OWN, MIGHT HAVE RECOURSE TO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE PROMISED SAVIOUR; AND THAT THEY, AND IN PROCESS OF TIME ALL OTHER NATIONS, MIGHT BE LED UNDER THE GOSPEL FROM THE WEAK AND SERVILE RUDIMENTS OF THIS ELEMENTARY INSTITUTION TO THE FULL STRENGTH OF THE NEW CREATURE, AND A MANLY
LIBERTY WORTHY THE SONS OF GOD. Heb. ix. 8, &c. as above.
INTENDED FOR THE ISRAELITES ALONE. Exod. xix. 5, 6. "if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.' Deut. iv. 45. "these are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt." 1 Kings viii. 21. "I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of Jehovah, which he made with our fathers when he brought them out of the land of Egypt." Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. "he sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel: he hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments, they have not known them." This wall of partition between the Gentiles
3 Melchisedec.. incited to do so, first, by the secret providence of God, intending him for a type of Christ and his priesthood The likeliest means to remove Hirelings out of the Church. Prose Works, III. 9.
4 It cannot be unknown by what expressions the holy St. Paul spares not to explain to us the nature and condition of the law, calling those ordinances, which were the chief and essential office of the priests, the elements and rudiments of the world, both weak and beggarly.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty, Prose Works, II. 451.
St. Paul comprehends both kinds alike, that is to say, both ceremony and circumstance under one and the same contemptuous name of 'weak and beggarly rudiments. Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, -II. 539.
and Israelites was at length broken down by the death of Christ, Eph. ii. 14. until which time the Gentiles were aliens from the whole of the covenant, v. 12. "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel." Acts xiv. 16, 17. "who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways: nevertheless he left not himself without witness," &c. xvii. 27, 28, 30. "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 us.... the times of this ignorance God winked at."
WITH A PROMISE OF LIFE; namely, temporal life, as is obvious from the whole of the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus. Lev. xviii. 5. "ye shall keep my statutes, which if a man do, he shall live in them." Deut. vi. 25. “it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before Jehovah our God, as he hath commanded us." Gal. iii. 12. "the law is not of faith; but the man that doeth them shall live in them." Though the law, however, does not promise eternal life, this latter seems to be implied in the language of the prophets. Zech. iii. 7. "I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." Luke x. 25-28. also below, on the resurrection.
A CURSE ON SUCH AS SHOULD BE DISOBEDIENT. Deut. xxvii. 26. "cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them." Gal. iii. 10. “as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them."
ACKNOWLEDGING THE DEPRAVITY. Rom. iii. 20. "by the law is the knowledge of sin." iv. 15. "the law worketh wrath." v. 20. " moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." vii. 4. "when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin which were by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." v. 7-9. "I had not known sin, but by the law- : but sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." 12, 13. "wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just, and good: was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid: but sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good: that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." Gal. iii. 19.