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creatures cannot contract for themselves; and if another undertake not for them, they must perish; they cannot chuse 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 angel 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 have made a covenant with 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 evidence that ye are of those in whose name Christ stood consenting to the covenant. This is our making of a covenant mentioned, Psal. l. 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 a 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 cut it 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 betwixt 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 now 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 mercy, Tit. iii. 5. According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of tho 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 bo 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. 37. 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, John xvii. 2. Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.' Hence notwithstanding all the good works of the saints, wrought all their life long, they receive eternal life as freely, and as much a gift, as if they had nothing, Rom. vi. 21. Tho 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 suffering 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 were 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 sinners 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 which 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, Cant. 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 was the stay of the souls of the faithful till Abraham's time: then it was more clearly discovered in the promise given to him, Gen. xxii. 18. In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.' The ceremonial law, and the prophecies of Christ, pointed out very fully. And thus believers under the Old Testament built their faith of mercy on it. And since that time it has been most clearly and fully discovered in the gospel; and so the New Testament church have raised their faith of mercy on it.
There is a
USE I. Behold here the freeness of saving mercy. fountain of mercy opened to sinful creatures; and it was not only provided for them without any merit of theirs, but without so much as any application made by them for it, Rom. xi. 34. A covenant of grace is made betwixt the Father and his own Son as party-contractor on man's side, who doth this for their salvation while they knew nothing about the matter. Here is rich and free grace.
2. It is a vain thing to remain about the ruins of the old building, which stood on the covenant of works, and to expect mercy, life, or salvation there, Gal. ii. 10. Man is not justified by the works of the law. It is evident, that man must have mercy now, else he is ruined for ever, without any possible outgate from his misery. If the building of mercy could have been without a new foundation, why was it laid, and laid so deep? But a new foundation was not laid in vain, but because it was necessary that it should be. Therefore expect no mercy in the way of the first covenant. Mount Sinai shews only thunders and lightnings, the voice of the trumpet waxing louder and louder, and the voice of words, which sinners are not able to bear. There is no voice of mercy and grace but from mount Zion.
3. What a wretched disposition in man's nature is it, to be so much addicted to the way of the covenant of works? God saw that there was no hope for fallen man that way; therefore he made a new covenant to build mercy upon. But fallen man will not see it, but still aims to make a shift for himself that way. Our father Adam was well housed indeed in the first building, if he had managed well; but it was by his sin laid in ruins. Yet his sinful children still abide about these ruins, building cottages to themselves of the ruins, seeking righteousness as it were by the work of the law, Rom. ix. 32. and pretending to repair it for themselves. The Jews were never more addicted to the temple, than mankind naturally is to that building on the first covenant. The Jews, after their temple had been laid in ruins, never to be rebuilt, did notwithstanding, in the days of Julian the apostate, attempt to rebuild it; and ceased not, till by an earthquake which shook the old foundation, and turned all down to the ground, and by fire from heaven which burned all their tools, they were forced to forbear. Thus it fares with men with respect to the building on the old covenant; they will never give it over, nor cry for a Mediator in earnest, till mount Sinai, where they work, be all on fire about them. O the mischief of this practice! They thereby affront the wisdom of God, which found out this new way; they despise the grace, free love, and mercy of it; they trample upon the great salvation brought
about by it, Heb. ii. 3. And withal they fight against their own interest; will not enter by the door that is opened for them, but hang about the door that is closed, and shall never be opened to them, and so perish. Thus they forsake their own mercy,' Jonah ii. 8.
4. Lastly, Quit the old Covenant, then, and take hold of the new, that you may be personally entered into it. This you may do by taking hold of Christ, in the way of believing; for he is given for a covenant of the people, Isa. xlii. 6. So the proposal of the covenant is made to you, Isa. lv. 3. And thus shall ye be lodged in the building of saving mercy; and Mercy shall be built up to you for ever. But if you do not take hold of this covenant, ye are off the foundation of mercy, and can look for none of it. But to proceed in the explication of our texts:
4. The nature of the covenant made betwixt these glorious parties. Concerning which we may gather from the texts,
(1.) The design of it, viz. life, the most valuable interest of mankind. The last Adam was made a quickening spirit, viz. to give life, life in perfection, to dead sinners, dead legally, and dead morally.
(2.) The persons for whom this life was designed, the elect, I have made a covenant with my chosen. Christ is the head elect, or head of the company chosen to life. In one and the same decree, the Father chose Christ to be the head, and them to be the members. Hence we are said to be chosen in him,' Eph. i. 4.
(3.) The representation. As in the first covenant Adam, the party contractor on man's side, was a representative, representing and sustaining the persons of all his natural seed; so in this covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ, the party contractor and undertaker on man's side, is a representative, representing and sustaining the persons of all his spiritual seed. This appears from his being designed the second Adam, who was a type of him, Rom. v. 14. As the first Adam, representing all his seed in the covenant of works, brought sin and death on them; so Christ, representing all his seed in the covenant of grace, brought righteousness and life to them.
(4.) The condition of the covenant laid on the elect's representative, to be performed by him in their name and stead. He was to be the last Adam, to take upon him man's nature, to clothe himself with our flesh, and therein to go through with what the first Adam had stuck in; that is, to fulfil the covenant, by yielding perfect obedience to it, and suffering the penalty thereof in their room.
(5.) The promise of the covenant, to be performed on that condition by the God of truth. This is implied in these words, I have made a covenant with my chosen: i. e. 'I have engaged for such and such benefits, and have bound myself by solemn promise to my cho