Page images
[ocr errors]

heart, shall know, “ he believes to righteousness,"
and shall feel and prove in his believing heart, that
he is interested in the covenant of grace, and has a
right to all the blessings and privileges of the sons,
of God contained therein.' The Holy Spirit is sent
down from heaven to be the witness of this, who
so powerfully acts in the name of Jesus, and with
such real and solid happiness and energy, that it is,
equally the same blessed thing to a believer, as if
Christ personally gave him his blood, and said,
“ Drink, for this is the cup of the New Testament
in my blood which was shed for you, for the remis-
sion of your sins.”

Therefore above all things faith is requisite in us, and without which we can 'neither please God, overcome the world, or be justified from sin and the law. It is through faith in Jesus we get that rigliteousness and perfect holiness in Christ, which we never else could have attained to by working; and by this faith we are brought into the possession of our inheritance in Christ, as a child of age comes to his estate, and enters into all his father bequeathed to him at his death. And as an heir does not possess any thing till his father's decease, and not till then is his father's testament or will of force, though signed, witnessed, and sealed: so neither could the glorious things of the kingdom be inherited by us till the death of Christ, through faith in whom we arrive to age, and may seize and enjoy, as our eternal inheritance, his salvation, love, pardon, righteousness, grace, glory, and divine happiness here and

for ever.

Hence it is so often repeated and taught in the scriptures, “The just shall live by faith ; We are justified by faith; By faith ye are saved ;” and all this is done to overturn that principle the pride of hearts has taught us, and which we have got so


deeply rooted in our minds through hearing legal preaching, or dactrines of morality and self-righteousness, that we must be saved by our own good works.

Experience teaches us how hard it is to bring off people from the looking to the Old Covenant, and how nothing less than the Holy Ghost can so glorify Jesus and convince of his righteousness, as to bring a soul to rest there, and make it determine “ to mention his righteousness and his only, and know nothing but him and him crucified.”

The ministers of the gospel camot be too careful to humble the pride of men, and bring down their haughtiness, and set at nought all our goodness and righteousness, which at best is but like filthy rags; nor can they be too bold and positive in asserting, “ that we are saved freely, and not of works but by grace, through faith, and not by the law;" for the time is come when the law must have its glory done away, and vanish and wax old, and Christ the Lord alone must be exalted, and the gospel preached to every creature. * It is a mistake that some religious people inake, in insisting so much about preaching and keeping the law, because of which I will speak freely of this matter.

The law is the covenant of works, which I have shewn before, and was made for the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt, and bad learned to reason heathevishly about God's dealiog inequitably in remembering the sin of the fathers upon the children ; and therefore to stop their mouths, to 'convince them of sin, as well as for other divine reasons, hre entered into a covenant with his people, of which his faithful Moses was the Mediator, and which was sealed with the blood of bulls and goals, and or. dained to continue till the seed, Christ, should come.

[ocr errors]

This law and covenant was then magnified and made honourable, and a regular priesthood appointed to read, teach, and publish this law throughout all the tribes. The tables of this law were laid up in an ark by order of the Lord, and to this all the Jews went


and visited, and heard it read some hundred years. It was delivered also upon mount Sinai, in Arabia, with thunder and lightnings, and with the sound of a trumpet and ministration of angels, and with so much awfulness and terror, that all that heard it fled at the voice of him that spake, and Moses himself confessed, “I do exceedingly fear and quake." All this served to make the authority of it of more weight and importance. But though the law was divine, and a transcript of the mind of God, and was preached with blessing, and the neglecters and despisers of it punished with plagues and heavy judgments, yet God had not designed it to be of long duration; but as it was added to the covenant of mercy and grace revealed to Abraham, because of transgression, so its author graciously designed, when the Lamb should take away the sin of the world and finish transgression, to remove it as if it had not entered, and so let the covenant of grace, again shine and appear to all men in the gospel of Christ.

Jeremiah lived under the law, and was obedient to it like other men of God; but he foresaw, when the Deliverer should come, a wonderful alteration would ensue; therefore he says, “ The days come, saith the Lord, that they shall say no more the ark of the covenant of the Lord, neither shall it come to mind, neither shall they remember it, neither shall they visit it, neither shall that be done,” or magnified any more, Jer. iii. 16.

In his time to have spoken such words must have, endangered his life; for, doubtless, all who heard

him thought, as the latter Jews did when they heard Paul and Stephen say we could not be saved by our' works, “ this man speaketh blasphemous words against the law;" and this must have been one reason why he and all the prophets were so slighted and persecuted in their day, because they spoke of changing the covenant, the law, the priesthood, &c. and saving the world by a better sacrifice, and by a better covenant; for the zealous Jews at no time could hear of this, especially as they knew God had spoken all the words of the law, and commanded it to all their generations for ever. But even in this dark dispensation, when the people were shut up under the law to the faith which was afterwards revealed, there were many who saw they could not be saved by that covenant, and who could find how far short they fell of the righteousness of the law; and these, without doubt, rejoiced to hear of a covenant that could give life and justify from -sin, and such sought and enquired diligently about the salvation, and having seen it afar off, believed, and died in faith, so escaping the curse of the law, and getting clear of those heavy bonds and yokes 56. which they nor their fathers were able to bear."

In like manner David mentions the invalidity and insufficiency of the sacrifices, that could not atone for the breaches of the first covenant, and prays the Lord to wash him, knowing that else he could not be purged by the blood of bulls.

Again he saw the everlasting covenant, and knew God had made it with bim, wherefore he died in peace: -for else, he acknowledged that no man by the law could be justified in God's sight.

Also Jeremiah comforts such as mourned and sighed under the law, by saying, “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of


Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt," Jer. xxxi, 31. Şome other prophets also had hinted at giving the Lord for a " covenant to the people;" and Ezekiel spoke more than once of the covenant of grace, and saving lijs people freely. See Ezek. xvi. to the end.

Thus it went till Jesus Christ died, and rent the vail in twain, unsealing the mystery, and bringing light and eternal life to light by the gospel : and now without the law sin is learned in his death, and the glad news of salvation by, him alone is declared to every creature. Such as pow contend for the preaching of the covenant of works or the doctrine of the law, are ignorant of the gospel, and, like Apollos, they need one to teach them the way of God more perfectly. The death of Christ and his sufferings preach deeper and with better effect thau all laws and commandments, and he who is not reclaimed by the gospel will never be won by the law. If the knowledge of sin came by the law, much more can we know how evil sin is since it cost Jesus his life, and could not be purged away but by the dying of the Son of God; but far, yea far more is found in the New Covenant than in the Old, for that promised life, but this eternal life; that failed because of the weakness of them that were ander it, and so could justify none; but the blood of Jesu's covenant brings grace and truth, pardon of sins, full acquittance of all past debts, power to live godly and righteously in the world, and seals us to be his for evermore,

At our entering into the blessings of this covenant we are instantly freed from the law and its threatenings; nợ condemặation can reach us, because are not under the law but under grace.” Yea haq

[ocr errors]



« EelmineJätka »