Imatges de pàgina
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I. 1. And, first, “ The righteousness which is of the law, saith, The man which doth these things, shall live by them.” Constantly and perfectly observe all these things to do them, and then thou shalt live for ever. This Law, or Covenant, (usually called, The Covenant of Works) given by God to man in Paradise, required an obedience, perfect in all its parts, entire and wanting nothing, as the condition of eternal continuance in the holiness and happiness wherein he was created.

2. It required, That man should fulfil all righteousness, inward and outward, negative and positive: That he should not only abstain from every idle word; and avoid every evil work, but should keep every affection, every desire, every thought, in obedience to the Will of God. That he should continue holy, as he who had created him, was holy, both in heart, and in all manner of conversation; that he should be pure in neart, even as God is pure; perfect as his Father in heaven was perfect : That he should love the Lord his God, with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength; that he should love every soul which God hath made, even as God had loved him : that, by this universal benevolence, he should dwell in God, (who is love) and God in him : that he should serve the Lord his God with all his strength, and in all things singly aim at his glory.

3. These were the things which the righteousness of the law required, that he who did them, might live thereby. But it farther required, That this entire obedience to God, this inward and outward holiness, this conformity both of heart and life to his will, should be perfect in degree. No abatea ment, no allowance could possibly be made, for falling short in any degree, as to any jot or tittle, either of the outward or the inward Law. If every commandment, relating to outward things, was obeyed, yet that was not sufficient, unless every one was obeyed with all the strength, in the highest measure, and most perfect manner. Nor did it answer the demand of this Covenant, to loye God with every power

and faculty, unless he were loved with the full capacity of each, with the whole possibility of the soul.

4. One thing more was indispensably required by the righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obedience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should be perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any intermission, from the moment wherein God created man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting.

5. The righteousness then, which is of the Law, speaketh on this wise: “ Thou, O man of God, stand fast in love, in the image of God, wherein thou art made. If thou wilt remain in life, keep the commandments, which are now written in thy heart. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Love as thyself, every soul that he hath made. Desire nothing but God. Aim at God in every thought, in every word and work. Swerve not in one motion of body or soul, from him, thy mark, and the prize of thy high calling. And let all that is in thee, praise his holy name, every power and faculty of thy soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at every moment of thine existence. and thou shalt live :” thy light shall shine, thy love shall flame more and more, till thou art received up into the house of God, in the heavens, to reign with him for ever and

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ever.”

6. “ But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise : Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into hea. ven, that is, to bring down Christ from above,” (as though it were some impossible task, which God required thee previously to perform, in order to thine acceptance :) “Or, who shall descend into the deep, that is, to bring up Christ from the dead ;” (as though that were still remaining to be done, for the sake of which, thou wert to be accepted.) “ But what saith it? The word,” according to the tenor of which, thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal, “ is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that is, the word of Faith, which we preach :" the new covenant which God bath now established with sinful man, through Christ Jesus.

7. “ By the Righteousness which is of Faith," is meant, that condition of Justification, (and in consequence, of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end,) which was given by God, to fallen man, through the merits, and mediation of his only begotten Son. This was in part revealed to Adam, soon after his fall, being contained in the original promise, made to him, and his seed, concerning the Seed of the Woman, who should “ bruise the Serpent's head,” Gen. iii. 12. It was a little more clearly revealed to Abraham, by the Angel of God, from heaven, saying, “ By myself bave. I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," Gen. xxii. 15, 18. It was yet more fully made known to Moses, to David, and to the Prophets, that followed : and through them, to many of the people of God, in their respective generations. But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it; and very few understood it clearly. Still life and immortality were not so brought to light to the Jews of old, as they are now unto us by the gospel. 8. Now this covenant saith not to sinful man,

« Perform unsinning obedience, and live.” If this were the term, he would have no more benefit by all which Christ bath done and suffered for him, than if he were required, in order to life, to “ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above ;” or, to “ descend into the deep,” into the invisible world, and “ bring up Christ from the dead.” It doth not require any impossibility to be done, (although to mere man, what it requires would be impossible ; but not to man assisted by the Spirit of God :) this were only to mock human weakness. Indeed, strictly speaking, the Covenant of Grace doth not require us, to do any thing at all, as absolutely and indispensably necessary, in order to our justification : but only, to believe in him, who, for the sake of his Son, and the propitiation which he hath made, “justifieth the ungodly, that worketh not,” and imputes his faith to him for righteousness. Even so Abraham believed in the

Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness,” Gen xv. 6. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith,”-that he might be the father of all them that believe,—that righteousness might be imputed unto them also, Rom. iv. 11. 66 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it; [i. e. Faith] was imputed to him. But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed,” to whom Faith shall be imputed for righteousness, shall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God, “ if we believe on him, who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead : who was delivered (to death] for our offences, and was raised again for our Justification:" Rom. iv. 23, 24, 25. For the assurance of the remission of our sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.

9. What saith then the covenant of forgivenesss, of unmerited love, of pardoning mercy ? “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In the day thou believest, thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favour of God; and in his pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved from the curse, and from the wrath of God. Thou shalt be quickened from the death of sin, into the life of righteousness. And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt never taste the second death ; but having suffered with thy Lord, shalt also live, and reign with him for ever and ever.

10. Now this word is nigh thee." This condition of life, is plain, easy, always at hand. “It is in thy mouth, and in thy heart," through the operation of the Spirit of God. The moment thou believest in thine heart” in him, whom God “bath raised from the dead," and “confessest with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus," as thy Lord and thy God, thou shalt be saved from condemnation, from the guilt and punishment of thy former sins, and shalt have power to serve God in true holiness, all the remaining days of thy life.

11. What is the difference then between the “righteousness which is of the Law," and the “ righteousness which is of Faith ?" Between the first Covenant, or the Covenant VOL. VII.

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of Works, and the second, the Covenant of Grace? The essential, unchangeable difference is this : the one supposes him to whom it is given, to be already holy and happy, created in the image and enjoying the favour of God; and prescribes the condition whereon he might continue therein, in love and joy, life and immortality. The other supposes him to whom it is given, to be now unboly and unhappy ; fallen short of the glorious image of God, having the wrath of God abiding on him, and hastening, through sin, whereby his soul is dead, to bodily death, and death everlasting. And to man in this state, it prescribes the condition, whereon he may regain the pearl he has lost : may recover the favour and the image of God; may retrieve the life of God in his soul, and be restored to the knowledge and the love of God, which is the beginning of life eternal.

12. Again, the Covenant of Works, in order to man's continuance in the favour of God, in his knowledge and love, in holiness and happiness, required of perfect man, a perfect and uninterrupted obedience to every point of the law of God. Whereas, the Covenant of Grace, in order to man's recovery of the favour and the life of God, requires only faith; living faith in him, who, through God, justifies him that “ obeyed not.”

13, Yet, again. The Covenant of Works required of Adam and all his children, to “pay the price themselves," in consideration of which they were to receive all the future blessings of God. But, in the Covenant of Grace, seeing we have nothing to pay, God “ frankly forgives us all :" provided only, that we believe in him, who hath“ paid the price for us ;” who hath given himself a “ Propitiation for our sins, for the sins of the whole world.”

14. Thus the first Covenant required what is now afar off from all the children of men ; namely, unsinning obedience, which is far from those who are conceived and born in sin.” Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand; as though it should say, Thou art sin! God is love! Thou by sin art fallen short of the glory of God; yet there is mercy with him. Bring then all thy sins to the pardoning

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