« AnteriorContinuar »
made of nothing,” lest he should be forced to acknow. ledge the infiniteness of God's power, which he denied, and of Christ's divine nature, by whom he made the worlds. * But we, on the contrary, do confidently believe, that when the majesty of God was wronged by the sin of man, and when it behoved man to make satisfaction to justice, or never be freed from the sentence of condemnation, or obtain reconciliation ; this being beyond the power of a finite creature-Christ, God-man did interpose himself in our stead to be a sacrifice for us to satisfy justice, and bring in everlasting righteousness, which satisfaction is accepted of God the Father, and imputed to the sincere believer. This is the sum of the gospel, and clearly held forth therein to all that are not wilfully blind. In Isa. liii. 6, it is said, “ the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and saith the apostle, “ he became sin for us,” † that is, in our room or stead; hence he is called “a surety” on paying our debt, and “ a ransom,” and his death is called “a propitiation, an expiatory sacrifice, by enduring the curse for us, and washing us from our sins in his own blood, and purchasing his church with his own blood,” that is, the blood of God-man. † But the Scripture is full of testimonies, and the subject I have been so largely insisting upon in the doctrinal part abundantly evinces, that Jesus Christ as mediator of the new covenant doth ensure the mercies of it to all the heirs of promise by his meritorious undertaking, which I have abundantly proved ; and the Socinians denying this, do also deny the merit and excellency of Christ's obedience and death, and his divine nature, and so deserve not to be ranked among the number
* Heb. i. 2.
1 Heb. vii. 22. Acts xx. 28.
+ 2 Cor. v. 21. Job xxxiii. 24. Gal. iii. 13, 14.
Rev. i. 5.
of Christians. The Lord preserve us from those black and destructive ways of error and heresy, and imbue our hearts with a thorough sense and experience of these “sure mercies of David ;" for all Dagons will fall before this ark of the covenant, and the clear understanding of this doctrine will rectify many mistakes; the right conceiving, and unfeigned embracing of these new covenant mercies, is the greatest help to a sound mind, and sincere heart which are great preservatives against error and apostacy,
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID CONSIDERED AS
II. This subject may be regarded as contributing instruction, since we may be informed relative to sundry very necessary truths, and directed in several duties from the consideration of these “sure mercies of David," and the previously described way of making them sure.
1. It instructs concerning the great difference betwixt the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Divines use to make several distinctions betwixt them. But indeed this is the main, that the former was dependent on an inherent righteousness, the other on one imputed ; in the first, man was to perform personal, perfect, and perpetual righteousness—in this second, our surety and great mediator undertakes it for us, and it is applied to us by faith, which is now become the evangelical condition, in the room of the legal condition of complete obedience; so that was settled betwixt God and man immediately, this through an interposing mediator, Gal. iii. 19; the former was soon broken, because though man was upright, yet he was mutable, and that we feel to our cost; but Jesus Christ the great mediator of this new covenant is “ the Lord Jehovah, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, able to save to the uttermost; he is God and changeth not, therefore we are not consumed, and therefore are souls saved.” Hence saith the apostle, Heb. viii. 6, “ He (that is, Jesus Christ) hath obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant which was established upon better promises.” Indeed the excellency of the covenant doth chiefly arise from the excellency of the mediator of it, and the manner of its confirmation, which is Christ, God-man by his active and passive obedience, who is frequently called our mediator. * Although that place in the Hebrews doth rather respect the form of administering the covenant than the matter, and it is a comparison betwixt the dispensation to the fathers under the law, and the dispensation in gospel times; for they had the same covenant of grace, though under shadows and types, that we enjoy in substance and performance, yet by consequence it holds forth the precedency of our gospel covenant above, and beyond the legal covenant which was made with Adam.
That I may a little further unfold this, there are two things illustriously shining in this gospel covenant : first, the grace and love of God; secondly, the wisdom of God.
(1.) Consider the infinite mercy, favour and compas
* Heb. vii. 22. ix. 15. xii. 24. Tim. ii. 8. Verum hæc Apostoli comparatio ad formam potius quam ad materiam referenda.-Calv. in loc.
sion, the tenderness, love and condescension of the great God in renewing the covenant which man had broken. I confess there are many curious questions asked concerning these two covenants, such as these : Could not God as well have secured the conditions of the first covenant, by assisting Adam with grace to perform them, and persevere therein ? and again, Why might not the first covenant have been spared, and this second have answered the purpose of both ? But what is man that he should find fault with God's pleasure ? Yet we might answer all these with the assertion and admiration of God's infinite wisdom and mercy. His glorious attributes all aid one another-mercy employs power, power supports truth, truth seconds justice, and they do all employ wisdom, and wisdom doth order all to his glory. If there had not been a first covenant, there had not been a trial of man's obedience; if it had been kept, God's wisdom had not appeared in repairing the breach, nor his love in sending his Son, nor his justice and power in triumphing over Satan's malice, and gaining advantage thereby. Besides, if there had been no first covenant violated, there could not have been such a glorious display of free grace in the reconciliation betwixt God and man, which implies both a covenant and a breach. O the mercy of God in Christ ! it is wonderful, stupendous mercy that God was willing to hold any correspondence with man in a covenant way, who had broken with him before. Yet free grace would not any more trust sorry man that had been a bankrupt, with a stock in his own hands : yea, God staid not till man sought out for this surety, but prevented him with free grace. We read that when Augustus made a proclamation, that whoever would bring him the head of Carocotta the Spanish pirate, should have a rich reward ; Carocotta hearing
of it came and presented his head to the emperor, and challenged the reward: but when man had fallen he runs away, endeavours to hide himself, yet love pursues and overtakes him, and contracts with guilty Adam, a better, and unthought of, unsought for covenant. Parmenio's large letter to Alexander against Olympias, was all answered with one tear of a mother : but where is there any one tear to bewail or make amends for man's horrid crime? no, not a word to procure favour; free grace did all to bring traitors into a league. God's heart was full ; . he could not hold but call he must, and seek and run to fetch home apostate man, that profligate rebel, who durst not shew his face, or ask forgiveness : but the Lord of life and glory, the King of heaven is ready to forgive, and to give the glorious things of heaven to them that inquired not after them.
(2.) Here behold such a display of wisdom, as “never eye beheld, ear heard, or heart conceived;" the apostle calls it “ the manifold wisdom of God.” I cannot here stand to open all the parts thereof that fall within the reach of a finite view; I shall only endeavour to unfold one of its branches, by explaining this strange paradox, namely, how it could be possible, since God himself is immutable—since the moral law, which is an obligation of the creature to obedience, is irrevocableand since man hath now broken it, and death and wrath have been threatened thereupon. I ask, whence does it come to pass that the malediction and condemnation are not executed ? no, nor perfect obedience exacted, as the nature of the law requires ? The direct and proper force of the law is obedience, the secondary and conditional effect of it, is a binding over to the curse upon supposition of disobedience; but we see the law doth neither, and yet the Scripture testifies of the