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many religious promises to God, and many promises somo way relating to the covenant of grace, that are not themselves the promises of that covenant ; nor is there any thing of the nature of covenanting in the case, because although they should actually fulfil their promises, God is not obliged by promise to them. If a natural man promises to do all that it is possible for a natural man to do in religion, and fulfils his promises, God is not obliged, by any covenant that he has entered into with man, to perform any thing at all for him, respecting his saying benefits. And therefore he that promises these things only, enters into no covenant with God ; because the very notion of entering into covenant with any being, is entering into a mutual agreement, doing or engaging that which, if done, the other party becomes engaged on his part. The New Testament informs us but of one covenant God enters into with mankind through Christ, and that is the covenant of grace ; in which God obliges himself to nothing in us that is exclusive of unseigned faith, and the spiritual duties that attend it: Therefore if a natural man makes ever so many vows, that he will perform all external duties, and will pray for help to do spiritual duties, and for an ability and will to comply with the covenant of grace, from such principles as he has, he does not lay hold of God's covenant, nor properly enter into any covenant with God : For we have no opportunity to covenant with God in any other covenant, than that which he has rerealed ; he becomes a covenant party in no other covenant. It is true, every natural man that lives under the gospel, is obliged to comply with the terms of the covenant of grace ; and if he promises to do it, his promise may increase his obligation, though he flattered God with his mouth, and lied to him with his tongue, as the children of Israel did in promising. But it will not thence follow, that they ought knowingly to make a lying promise, or that ministers and churches should countenance them in so doing.
Indeed there is no natural man but what deceives himself, if he thinks he is truly willing to perform external obedience to God, universally and perseveringly through the various trials of life that he may expect. And therefore in promising it, he is either very deceitful, or is like the foolish deceived man that undertook to build when he had not wherewith to finish. And if it be known by the church, before whom he promises to build and finish, that at the same time he does not pretend to have an heart to finish, his promise is worthy of no credit or regard from them, and can make nothing visible to them but his presumption.
A great confirmation of what has been said under this head of covenanting, is that text, Psal. I. 16. “ But unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do, to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take any covenant in thy mouth ?” This term, the wicked, in the more general use of it in scripture, is applied in that extent as to include all ungodly or graceless persons, all that are under the reigning power of sin, and are the objects of God's anger, or exposed to his eternal vengeance ; as might easily be made to appear by a particular enumeration of texts all over the Bible. All such are in scripture called, “ workers of iniquity, the children of the wicked one," Matth, xiii. 38. All such are said to be of the devil, 1 John ii. 8. And to be the children of the devil, verse 10. The righteous and the wicked are in a multitude of places in scripture put in opposition ; and they are evidently opposed one to the other, and distinguished one from another in scripture, as saints and sinners, holy and unholy, those that fear God and those that fear him not, those that love him and those that hate him, All mankind are in scripture divided by these distinctions, and the Bible knows of no neuters or third sort. Indeed those who are really wicked, may be visibly righteous, righteous in profession and outward appearance : But a sort of men who have no saving grace, that yet are not really wicked men, are a sort of men of human invention, that the scripture is entirely ignorant of. It is reasonable to suppose, that by wicked men here, in this psalm, is meant all that hate instruction, and reject God's word (Psal. I. 17.) and not merely such wicked men as are guilty of those particular crimes mentioned, ver. 17.....20, stealing, adultery, fraud, and backbiting. Though only some particular ways of wicked ness are mentioned, yet we are not to understand that all oth
ers are excluded ; yea the words, in the conclusion of the pa. ragraph, are expressly applied to all that forget God in such a manner as to expose themselves to be torn in pieces by his wrath in hell, ver. 22. « Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." We can no more justly argue, that because some gross sins are here specified, that no sinners are meant but such as live in those or other gross sins, than we can argue from Rev. xxii. 14, 15, that none shall be shut out of heaven but only those who have lived in the gross sins there mentioned ; « Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city : For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Nothing is more common in scripture, than in the descriptions it gives, both of the godly and ungodly, together with their general character, to insert into the description some particular excellent practices of the one which grace tends to, and some certain gross sins of the other which there is a foundation for in the reigning corruption in their hearts. So, lying is mentioned as part of the character of all natural men, Psal. lviii. 3, 4. (Who are there called wicked men, as in Psal. 1.) « The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies : Their poison is like the poison of a serpent," &c. So it is said of the wick. ed, Psal. x. 2, 3, 4, 7. His mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." This the apostle, Rom. iii. cites as a description of all natural men. So it is said of the wicked, Psal. cxl. 3. “ They have sharpened their tongues as a serpent ; adder's poison is under their lips ;" which the same apostle in the same place, also cites as what is said of all natural men. The very same gross sins which are here mentioned in the fiftieth Psalm, are from time to time inserted in Solomon's descriptions of the wicked man, as opposed to the righteous, in the book of Proverbs : Particularly the sins mentioned in the 19th verse of that Psalm, Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit ;" are thus mentioned, as be
longing to the character of the wicked man, Prov. xii. “ The thoughts of the righteous are right ; but the counsels of the wicked are deceit. The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood ; but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.” Nevertheless it is plain, that the wise man in his book, in his distinction of the righteous and the wicked, means the same as godly and ungodly. Only reading the two foregoing chapters will be enough to satisfy any of this. Observe chap. x. 3, 7, 16, 20, 21, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and xi. 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 30, 31, besides innumerable other like texts all over the book. In chap. i. 18, it is said of sinners, « Their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” This the apostle, in Romans iii. 15, cites as belonging to the description of all natural men. So in the description of the wicked, Prov. iv. 14....19, it is said, that “ they sleep not unless they have done mischief; that they drink the wine of violence,” &c. and yet by the wicked there is meant the same with the graceless man ; as appears by the antithesis, there made between him and the “ just or righteous, whose path is as the shining light, which shineth more and more to the perfect day."
As a further evidence that by the wicked in this Psal. 1. 16, is meant the same as the ungodly or graceless, it is to be observed, here is a pretty manifest antithesis, or opposition between the wicked and the saints, that shall be gathered to Christ at the day of judgment, spoken of verse 5. There God speaking of his coming to judgment, says, “ Gather my saints together, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice :" And then, after shewing the insufficiency of the sacrifices of beasts, implying that that is a greater sacrifice by which these saints make a covenant with him, it is added, « But to the wicked” (that are not in the number of my saints] “God doth say, What hast thou to do, to take enant into thy mouth ?" Approving of the covenanting of the former, but disapproving the covenanting of the latter. As to the gathering of God's saints, there spoken, if we consider the foregoing and following verses, it is evidently the same with that gathering of his elect, when Christ comes in the clouds of
heaven, which is spoken of, Matth. xxiv. 30, 31; and with that gathering of the righteous, as his wheat into his barn, at the day of judgment, spoken of Matth. xiii. And therefore there is as much reason to suppose, that by the wicked, which are opposed to them, is meant all graceless persons, as there is so to understand the doers of iniquity, spoken of in that Matth. xiii. as those that are opposed to the righteous, which shall then “ shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, rer. 43. And there is one thing more which still further confirms me in my construction of Psal. 1. 16, which is, That the plain reason here given againsi wicked inen's taking God's covenant into their mouths, holds good with respect to all graceless men, viz. Because they do not comply with, but reject the very covenant, which they with their mouths profess to own and consent to. Ver. 17. “Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee :” As much as to say, “ Thou rejectest and hast a reigning enmity against my statutes, which thou declarest and professest a compliance with.” And this is the spirit and practice of all who live in the sin of unbelief and rejection of Christ ; they live in a way that is altogether inconsistent with the covenant of grace ; for the sum and substance of the condition and engagement of that covenant is what every natural man is under the reigning power of enmity against, and lives in contradiction to. Therefore, I think, it follows, that they who know it is thus with them, have nothing to do to take God's covenant into their mouths ; or, in other words, have no warrant to do this, until it be otherwise with them.
III. The nature of things seems to afford no good reason why the people of Christ should not openly profess a proper respect to him in their hearts, as well as a true notion of him in their heads, or a right opinion of him in their judgments.
I can conceive of nothing reasonably to be supposed the design or end of a public profession of religion, that does not as much require a profession of honor, esteem and friendship of heart towards Christ, as an orthodox opinion about him ; or why the former should not be as much expected and required