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3. In a covenant are contained its conditions ; what God requires of us, without which we can have no benefit by the covenant. These also are to be reckoned as mercies of the covenant on God's part as well as duties on ours, for they are secured and effected in us, as well as commanded and required by God. Luther makes this to be the main difference betwixt the two covenants; the covenant of works requires obedience, but gives no strength; but the covenant of grace engageth the grace of God for the performance of the conditions ; hence it is, that what the law commandeth, the gospel promiseth ; * what God requireth, Christ procureth ; what justice demandeth, our dear Saviour purchaseth and worketh by his Spirit in the heart. Faith is the great gospel condition, whereby Christ with all his benefits becomes ours, but faith is the gift of God, and “none can come to Christ, except the Father draw him.”—John vi. 44. Alas, it is as impossible to believe in Christ as to keep the moral law, from principles of corrupted nature; our state had been sad, and forlorn still, if God had not undertaken to work the faith which he requireth; † it is only the arm of omnipotence that can draw the soul to Christ; Jesus is the only author and finisher of our faith ; # there is an exceeding greatness of his power with respect to all them that believe, put forth to create an act of saving faith, || all they that have felt it, can testify that this is a rich mercy; and this is one of the mercies of the covenant.
More particularly there are four important things promised in the covenant of grace, which are covenant mercies.
* Quod lex imperat, gratia impetrat. Evangelium dat quod lex exigit.---Aug. de Spir. et Litera. + Duce Deo venitur ad Deum,
# Heb. xii. 2. || Eph. i. 19.
(1.) Saving illumination. Jer. xxxi. 34, “ They shall all know me, saith the Lord.” By nature we are blind and blockish creatures, but the new covenant brings light and sight to the ignorant and erring sinner, and ( what a mercy it is to know God and Christ, sin and misery, duty and felicity—to know Scripture truths and gospel mysteries, our own hearts and the sweetness of grace, heaven and the way thither! Certainly, such saving knowledge is worth a world; truly, such light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eye of the soul to behold the sun of righteousness, and the beauty of heaven; what blind Bartimeus would not own it as a rich mercy to have his eyes opened ? and is it not a blessed thing to be translated out of Egyptian darkness into this marvellous light? O happy are the eyes that are anointed with the new covenant eye-salve, that behold celestial objects through this divine glass of faith, and become faithful guides in the progress of a holy life!
(2.) Genuine humiliation. This is another covenant mercy, Ezek. xi. 19, “ I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh.” A broken heart is instead of many sacrifices ; a hard heart is the greatest judgment, and a soft heart the greatest mercy ; repentance is God's gift bound up in the covenant of grace. Our dear and blessed Redeemer is exalted as well to be a Prince that he may give repentance, as to be a Saviour to give unto us remission of sins. O what a mercy is the spirit of repentance ! they that have this godly sorrow shall never need to sorrow for it—such a repentance needs not to be repented of; “ Blessed are they that mourn for sin, for they shall be comforted; happy such as sow in tears, for they shall reap in joy !". Certainly a converted sinner looks on a penitent disposition as a rich mercy ; one
penitent tear is an orient pearl, of more worth than the whole creation; a bleeding heart is a blessed sight in the eyes of God and man—it lays the Christian under the promise of the covenant, and prepares him for remission of sins and the sweetest consolation.
(3.) Another covenant mercy which respects the condition is sanctification of heart; Ezek. xxxvi. 25, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean.” This is the mercy that David is so importunate for, “ create in me a clean heart,” no less than creation will effect it; putting off the old man,and putting on the new in a sound regeneration, is a miraculous mercy. O what would a poor soul give for dominion over some particular corruptions, and power to resist temptations! why here it is, this mercy of mortification, which is also a Christian's duty, is unfolded in this blessed gospel covenant, so that sin shall not have dominion over them that are under this covenant of grace. A Christian can do more to mortify sin, and crucify the flesh than another man. Every word of God hath a cleansing virtue; “now you are clean,” saith Christ, “ through the word that I have spoken to you;” but the promises of the covenant have a direct and immediate tendency to cleansing, 2 Cor. vii. 1, “ having these promises,” that is, of the forementioned covenant, “ let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, both of flesh and spirit.” It is only gospel grace that can make us evangelically holy; and holiness is the image of God, the beauty of the soul, the duty of a Christian, and the mercy of the covenant.
(4.) A spiritual conversation. This is also included in the covenant, Ezek. xxxvi. 27, “ I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my commandments and do them.” O what a blessed thing it is to have a heart to love, and fear,
and serve the Lord ! O what a mercy to be enabled to perform holy duties, to walk with God in all ways of well-pleasing, to have the law of God written on the heart, and transcribed in the life ! * yea, to keep God's commands with ease, alacrity, and complacency, not to have them grievous but pleasant to the soul! and thus it is when the Christian acts from an innate principle of grace and holiness. Well, this is the promised and purchased condition of the new covenant; God undertakes to put a new habit into the soul, his fear which is the beginning of wisdom, and principle of obedi
God gives the spirit of prayer, the spirit of power, love, and of a sound mind; † he promiseth to give them one heart and one way, that they may fear him for ever. I O what rich mercies are these!
4. Yet the great mercies of the covenant are behind, under another division, for a covenant, contract, or conveyance contains the habendum, or grant, ensuring advantage to the party covenanting, and that in these words, “ I will be thy God,” this is repeated fifteen or sixteen times in the Scriptures ; this, this is the mercy of the new covenant, the mercy of mercies, the flower, cream and quintessence of all mercies ; God gives himself to the soul by covenant, and what greater or better gift can he bestow ? if he should give us all the world and deny himself, we are miserable beggars ; if he give himself and nothing of the world, we are truly rich; if we have God we have all things, if we want God we want all things. My God is my all, saith the assured believer. It is recorded of Thomas Aquinas, || the great schoolman, that a voice from heaven spake thus to him: “ Thou hast well written Thomas, “
* Jer. xxxi. 33. + 2 Tim. i. 7. # Jer. xxxii. 39.
|| Deus meus est omnia. Bene scripsisti, Thoma, quid petis ? Resp. nil nişi teipsum, Domine.
what desirest thou?” and that he answered thus : “ Nothing, O Lord, but thyself.” This, certainly, is the language of a gracious soul, Lord put me not off with any thing below or besides thyself. What mortal creature durst have presumed to beg of God such a boon, if God had not graciously promised himself in the new covenant? What can the creature desire more? What can it now want when it hath an infinite God? All that God is, hath, or doth, is now employed for the advantage of believers; all his attributes and the good of them, are laid out for the covenanted soul. These words,
my Lord and my God," echoing to their correlatives “I will be thy God,” are wonderfully sweet, as they use to say of the pronoun, mine, that though it be of the least entity, yet it is of the greatest efficacy ; * suppose a man could with one cast of his eye take a view of the perfections of the whole creation, what were all these things to him if he have no interest in them? A clear title to a good thing completes the comfort we have therein. If God were not our God we could have no comfort from thoughts of him. What is God, saith one, if he be not my God ? † if he be not our friend, he will be our enemy, and we had better have the whole creation against us, than God against us; but “ if God be for us, who can be against us?” Now in the covenant of grace God undertakes to be our God, and this is properly that which this text intends, by “ the sure mercies of David :" not in the singular but the plural number, as I conceive, for these two reasons: First, because God is the fountain, spring, and origin of all mercies; “ all my springs are in thee,” saith David. # Hence God is said to be plenteous in mercy, and he is the Father of mercies. All mercies are vir
* Relativa sunt minimæ entitatis, maximæ verò efficaciæ. + Quid est Deus, si non sit meus ?
Psal. lxxxvii. 7.