Page images


eternal, and promising him, in case of continued obedience, life in its utmost extent. But, alas ! man being in honour did not continue à night, but foully revolted from the obedience and allegiance he owed to his mighty Creator and bountiful Sovereign. Thus his misery was originally, owing to the breaking of the covenant of works; and in that dismal state he and all his descendants had remained for ever, if God, in the wonderful deprhs of his amazing love and grace, had not from all eternity devised a method of recovery, by entering into a covenant with his own Son as se. cond Adam, head and representative of those destinated by sovereign pleasure to be heirs of salvation. Thus fallen man's recovery, from the first to the last step thereof, is entirely owing to the fulfilling of that covenant entered into betwixt the Father and the Son from eternal ages, and in it the whole mystery of our salvation lies. And this covenant I shall endeavour, through divine assistance, briefly to open up unto you, from the texts now read.

In the verse preceding the first text, there is mention made of a building of mercy, which presupposes miserable ruins,

and denotes that this building is intended for the benefit of • an elect world ruined by Adam's fall. Free grace

and love set on foot this building for them, every stone in which, from the lowest to the highest, is mercy to them: from top to bottom, from the foundation-stone to the top-stone, all is free and rich mercy to them. And the ground of this glorious building is God's covenant with his chosen, I have made a covenant with my chosen. In which and the second text four things are to be considered.

1. The foundation on which the building of mercy stands: a covenant, a divine covenant, a sure covenant. The first building for man's happiness, was a building of goodness, bounty, and liberality; but not of mercy, for man was not in misery when it was reared up: it was founded on a cove

which he prepared for the press in his lifetime, though it was not published till 1734, two years after his death. In this abridgement there are several references made to that book, where the particulars discoursed of are amplified and more largely illustrated; and to prevent the immoderate extention of this work, of two places, viz. in the promissory part of the covenant and the characters Christ sustains as Administrator thereof, no abridgement is made, but the reader referred to the printed treatise. It is supposed, that the reader, in perusing this part of the work, will consult the treatise itsey, at the several places referred to. It is proper also to take notice, that several particulars in this discourse, particularly in the introduction and in the application are not to be found in the said treatise, and are here given verbatim from the MSS. without any alteration.


nant too, the covenant of works made with the first Adam, This building soon fell in ruins; for being made with man, liable to change, his foot slipt, the covenant was broken, and the building tumbled down in an instant; there was no more safe dwelling there for Adam or his race, though most of them are still seeking shelter about the ruins of this first building, and will not come to the building of mercy. But this covenant is another, and of a different nature; the covenant of eternal life and salvation for poor sinners, the spiritual seed of the head of the covenant, to be given them in the way of free grace and mercy, and in which they are freed from the curse of the law and the wrath of God. The revelation and offer of this covenant unto the sons of men is called the gospel, announcing the glad tidings of life and salvation to ruined sinners.

2. The parties contractors in this covenant, I and my cho sen, the last Adam. Both heaven and earth were concerned in this covenant; for it was a covenant of peace between them, at variance through sin. And accordingly the interests of both are consulted by the parties contractors.

(1.) On heaven's side is God himself, the party proposer, I have made a covenant with my chosen. Though he was the party offended, yet the motion for a covenant comes from him. The Father of Mercies beholding a lost world, his bowels of mercy yearn towards the objects that his sovereign pleasure pitches upon; and that meroy seeks a vent for itself, that it may be shown to the miserable. But justice stands in the way of its egress, unless a method be found to satisfy its claim, in order to pave a passage for the free efflux of mercy. Then saith the Father The first covenant will not answer the purpose; another expedient must be fallen

upon. The lost creatures cannot contract for themselves; and if another undertake not for them, they must perish; they cannot ehuse an undertaker for themselves, I will chuse one for them, and I will make the covenant with my chosen,'

2. On man's side is God's chosen, or chosen One, for the word of God is singular, the son the last Adam, Who else as fit to be undertaker on man's side; who else could have been the Father's choice for this vast undertaking. No an gel nor man was capable for it but the mighty One, ver, 19 whom the Father points out to us as his chosen, Isa. xlii. 1.


3. The making of this covenant between the parties, I hare made a covenant reith my chosen One. The Father and the Son made this covenant betwixt them; the bargain was completed by mutual agreement. The terms were on both hands fixed, and the compact closed between them, before the objects of mercy existed, even as the covenant of works betwixt God and the first Adam was made, before we breathed in God's air. And therefore, by the by, ye would take notice, that in reference to covenanting with God, ye pretend not to make a covenant of your own, setting down such and such terms for life and salvation, which you

will do. All that remains for us in that matter is to take hold of God's covenant, Isa. Ivi. 6. to believe the promise, approve cordially of the covenant, and consent to it for our part as agreed betwixt the Father and the second Adam; so shall ye evi. dence that ye are of those in whose name Christ stood consenting to the covenant. This is our making of a covenant mentioned Psal. 1. 5. that have made a covenant with me by or upon a sacrifice,' viz. by laying their hands, by faith, on the head of the sacrifice, thereupon cut down in their stead; and so transferring the guilt ceremonially on the sacrifice; but really and spiritually approving of the device of salvation by a crucified Saviour, and falling in with it as the method of salvation for them:

The original calls it cutting of a covenant,' or striking à covenant;' being a covenant by sacrifice, confirmed with blood; wherein the party contractor on man's side is both the priest and the sacrifice, the Father's wrath the fire that burnt it; and divine justice the sword that cutit down, Zech. xiii. 7. This is most lively represented, Gen. xv. 9. &c.

Before I go farther in the explication; I will speak a little to this observation, " That the foundation of all saving mercy to lost sinners is the covenant of grace, the covenant be. twixt the Father and the second Adam.' To clear this, consider,

1. It is the foundation of the first saving mercy that a poor sinner meets with; and that is the first grace given to the dead soul, viz. spiritual life, the new heart, the first resurrection, by which the soul is enabled to believe and embrace Jesus Christ, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.' This is saving inercy, Tit. ii. 5. ' According to his mercy he saved us by the

Vol. I.

[ocr errors]

washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.' Upon what bottom can this stone in the building be laid, but on the covenant betwixt the Father and Christ? No doing of the sinner can be pretended here, for life and salvation, since the sinner is really dead spiritually, and can do nothing; but it is a performing of the promise of the covenant to Christ, Eph. ii. 5. •Even when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us together with Christ.'

2. It is the foundation of the middle saving mercies. Look to the soul's actual believing; it is the budding of a promise, a branch of that covenant, Psal. xxii. 29, 31.

None can keep alive his own soul. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness.' Compare John vi. 87. “ All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.' Justification is the fruit that grows upon it, Isa. liii. 11. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.' So is Sanctification; they are sanctified in Christ Jesus, in virtue of that covenant, as they were corrupted and defiled in Adam by virtue of the breach of the first covenant, 1 Cor. i. 2. compare Ezek. xxxvi. 25. 'I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. This is an absolute promise with respect to the sinner. All their obedience itself, and persevering in holy obedience, are fruits of the covenant, ver. 27. 'I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them, Jer. xxxii. 40. I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me;' and so belong to the promise of it, and are no part of the proper condition of it, which must go before partaking of the fruits of it.

3. It is the foundation of the crowning mercy, eternal life in heaven, Tit. i. 2. To whom could this be promised before the world began, but to the Son of God in the eternal compact? So that the sinner comes to be partaker of it in him, as he is of death in Adam, Johin xvii. 2. • Thou hast given him power cyer all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. Hence notwithstanding of all the good works of the saints, wrought all their life long, they receive eternal life as frcely, and as much a gift, as if they had done nothing, Rom. vi. 21. • The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our

Lord.' Hence they who have done most for God, are as deep in the debt of free grace for their crown, as the thief on the cross, who believed in Christ, and then expired. For all is made over to the several persons of the seed, upon one bottom of the covenant, the proper condition of which was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

To confirm it, consider,

1. The justice of God could not admit of mercy to lost sinners, but upon the ground of this covenant; whereby the repairing of the honour of the law by obedience and suf. fering was sufficiently provided for, Psal. xl. 6, 7. The first covenant being broken, the breakers must die without mercy,' Heb. X. 28. unless salvation to them be brought about by another covenant, that shall repair the breach; which could be no other but that made with the chosen One.

2. All saving relation betwixt Christ and us is founded on that covenant. Christ obeyed and died; but what benefit have the fallen angels thereby? They are left hopeless for all that, and must encounter with unatoned justice. Why? Not that Christ's doing and dying was not able to save them; the blood of infinite value can have no bounds set to its sufficiency: but because their names were not in that covenant, it had no relation to them, but to lost sin, ners of Adam's race, Heb. ii. 16,

3. The very design of making that covenant was, that it might be the channel of saving mercy, in whịch the whole rich flood of it might run, for the quickening, purifying, blessing, fructifying, and perfecting of an elect world, lying under the bands of death and the curse by the breach of the first covenant, Psal. Ixxxix. 2. ' Mercy shall be built up for ever; compared with the text, I have made a covenant with my chosen. It was the Father's design; and it was the Son's design, Canț. iii. 10. Men are apt to devise unto themselves other channels of mercy: but this being the only channel designed by infinite wisdom, here the sinful creature will find saving mercy flowing freely, but all other channels he will find quite dry.

4. Lastly, It has been the ground of all the saints expectations and hopes of mercy, in all ages. It was first published in the promise made to Adam, Gen. iii. 15. The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent ;' and that

« PreviousContinue »