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which declares what he will effectually do; the sense of their exposition is, that indeed he will not do so, only he will do that which shall move them, and persuade them to do that thenselves, which he hath promised to do himself, and that whether they ever do so or not. But if any one concerning whom God says that he will write his law in his heart, have it not so written, be it on what account it will, suppose it be that the man will not have it so written, how can the promise be true, that God will write his law in bis heart ? It is a sorry apology to say, that God, in making that promise, did not foresee the obstruction that would arise, or could not remove it when it did so.
2. It is the event, or the effect itself, that is directly promised, and not any such efficacy of means as might be frustrated. For the weakness and imperfection of the first covenant was evidenced hereby, that those with whom it was made continued not in it. Hereon God neglected them, and the covenant became unprofitable, or at least unsuccessful as unto the general end, of continuing the relation between God and them, of his being their God, and they being his people. To redress this evil, and prevent the like for the future, that is, effectually to provide that God and his people may always abide in that blessed covenant relation, he promiseth the things themselves, whereby it might be secured. That which the first covenant could not eflect, that God promised to work in and by the new,
8. It is no where said nor intimated in the Scripture, that the efficacy of the new.covenant, and the accomplishment of the promises of it, should depend on and arise from the suitableness of its precepts unto our reason or natural principles, but it is universally and constantly ascribed unto the efficacy of the Spirit and grace of God, not only enabling us unto obedience, but enduing us with a spiritual, supernatural, vital principle, from which it may proceed.
4. It is true, that our own wills, or the free actings of them, are required in our fuith and obedience; whence it is promised, that we shall be willing in the day of his power. But that our wills are left absolutely herein unto their own liberty and power, without being inclined and determined by that grace of God, is that Pelagianism which hath long attempted the church, but which shall never absolutely prevail.
5. The putting the laws of God in our minds, and the writing of them in our hearts, that we may know him, and fear him always, is promised in the same way and manner, as is the forgiveness of sin, ver. 12. And it is hard to affix such a sense unto that promise, as that God will use such and such means, that our sins may be pardoned, which yet may all of them fail.
6. As this exposition is no way suited unto the words of the text, nor of the context, or scope of the place; so indeed it overthrows the nature of the new covenant, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which comes thereby. For,
Ist, If the effect itself, or the thing mentioned, is not promised, but only the use of means, left unto the liberty of men's wills whether they will comply with them or not, then the very being of the covenant, whether it shall ever have any existence or not, depends absolutely on the wills of men, and so may not be. For it is not the proposal of the terms of the covenant, and the means whereby we may enter into it, that is called the making of this covenant with us, but our real participation of the grace and mercy promised in it. This alone gives a real existence unto the covenant itself, without which it is not a covenant; nor without it, is it properly made with any.
2dly, The Lord Christ would be made hereby the Mediator of an uncertain covenant. For if it depends absolutely on the wills of men, whether they will accept of the terms of it, and comply with it or not, it is uncertain what will be the event, and whether ever any one will do so or not; for the will being not determined by grace, what its actings will be, is altogether uncertain.
3dly, The covenant can hereon in no sense be a testament, which our apostle afterwards proves that it is, and that irrevocably ratified by the death of the testator. For there can, on this supposition, be no certain heir unto whom Christ did bequeath his goods, and the inheritance of mercy, grace and glory. This would make this testament inferior unto that of a wise man, who determines in particular unto whom his goods shall come.
4thly, It takes away that difference between this and the former covenant, which it is the main scope of the apostle to prove; at least, it leaves the difference to consist only in the gradual efficacy of outward means, which is most remote from his purpose. For there were by the old covenant means supplied to induce the people unto constant obedience, and those in their kind powerful. This is pleaded by Moses, in almost the whole book of Deuteronomy. For the scope of all his exhortations unto obedience, is to shew, that God had so instructed them in the knowledge of his will by giving the law, and had accompanied his teachings with so many signal mercies, such effects of his mighty power, goodness and grace, that the covenant, being accompanied with such promises and threatenings, in which life and death, both temporal and eternal, were set before them, their obedience was made so reasonable and necessary, that nothing but profligacy in wickedness could turn them from it. To this purpose are discourses multiplied in that book. And yet, notwithstanding all this, it is added, that God had not circumcised their hearts to fear him and obey him always, as it is here promised. The communication of grace effectual, producing infallibly the good things proposed and promised in the minds and hearts of men, belonged not unto that covenant. If therefore there be no more in the making of the new covenant, but only the adding of more forcible outward means and motives, more suitable unto our reasons, and meet to work on our affections, it differs only in some unassignable degrees from the former. But this is directly contrary unto the promise in the prophet, that it shall not be according unto it, or of the same kind, no more than Christ, the high priest of it, should be a priest after the order of Aaron.
5. It would on this supposition follow, that God might fulfil his promise of putting his laws in the minds of men, and writing them in their hearts, and yet none have the law put into their minds, nor written in their hearts; which things are not reconcileable by any distinction, unto the ordinary reason of mankind.
Wherefore we must grant, that it is the effect, the event in the communicatiou of the things promised, that is ascribed unto this covenant, and not only the use and application of means unto their production. And this will yet further appear in the particular exposition of the several parts of it. But yet before we enter thereon, two objections must be removed, which may in general be laid against our interpretation.
1st Obj. This covenant is promised as that which is future, to be brought in at a certain time, after those days, as hath been declared. But it is certain, that the things here mentioned, the grace and mercy expressed, were really communicated unto many, both before and after the giving of the law, long ere this covenant was made. For all who truly believed and feared God, had these things effected in them by grace; wherefore their effectual communication cannot be esteemed a property of this covenant, which was to be made afterwards.
Answ. This objection was sufficiently prevented, in what we have already discoursed concerning the efficacy of the grace of this covenant before itself was solemnly consummated. For all things of this nature that belong unto it, do arise and spring from the mediation of Christ, or his interposition on the behalf of sinners. Wherefore this took place from the giving of the first promise, the administration of the grace of this covenant did therein and then take its date. Howbeit, the Lord Christ had not yet done that whereby it was solemnly to be confirmed, and that whereon all the virtue of it did depend. Wherefore this covenant is promised now to be made, not in opposition unto what grace and mercy were derived from it both before and under the law, nor as unto the first administration of grace from the mediator of it; but in opposition unto the covenant of Sinai, and with respect unto its outward solemn confirmation. 2d Obj. If the things themselves are promised in the cover nant, then all those with whom this covenant is made, must be really and effectually made partakers of them. But this is not , 80 ; they are not all actually sanctified, pardoned and saved, which are the things here promised.
Answ. The making of this covenant may be considered two ways. 1. As unto the preparation and proposition of its ternis and conditions. 2. As unto the internal stipulation between God and the souls of men. In this sense alone, God is properJy said to make this covenant with any. The preparation and proposition of laws is not the making of the covenant. And therefore all with whom this covenant is made, are effectually sanctified, justified and saved.
Secondly, These things being premised, as it was necessary they should be, unto the right understanding of the mind of the Holy Ghost, I shall proceed unto the particular parts of the covenant, as here expressed ; namely, in the blessed properties and effects of it, whereby it is distinguished from the former.
The two first expressions are of the same nature and tenden. cy, 'I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts.' In general it is the reparation of our nature, by the restoration of the image of God in us, that is, our sanctification, which is promised in these words. And there are two things in the words both doubly expressed.
1. The subject wrought upon, which is the mind and the heart.
2. The manner of producing the effect mentioned in them, and that is by putting and writing. And,
3. The things by these means so communicated, which is the laws of God.
1. The subject spoken of, is the mind and heart. When the apostle treats of the depravation and corruption of our nature, he placeth them, ! The dicevoix, and tv th xapdim, Eph. iv. 18. that is, • the mind and the heart.' These are, in the Scripture, the seat of natural corruption, the residence of the principle of alienation from the life of God, which is in us. Wherefore the renovation of our natures consists in the rectifying and curing of them, in the furnishing them with contrary principles of faith, love, and adherence unto God. And we may observe, that,
Obs. VI. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in the new covenant, in its being, existence, and healing efficacy, is as large and extensive to repair our natures, as sin is, in its residence and power, to deprave them. This is the difference about the extent of the new covenant, and the grace of it. Some would have it to extend unto all persons in its tender, and in a conditional proposition, but not unto all things, as unto its efficacy in the reparation of our natures. Others assert, that it extends unto all the effects of sin in the removal of them, and the cure of our natures thereby; but that as to persons, it is rcally extend
ed unto none, but to those in whom these effects are produced, whatever be its outward administration, which was also always limited : unto this opinion I do subscribe.
First, The first thing mentioned is the mind, as the diavosuv, 277, the apostle renders by drevosa, “the inward part.' The mind is the most secret inward part or power of the soul. And the prophet expresseth it by the inward part,' because it is the only safe and useful repository of the laws of God. When they are there laid up, we shall not lose them, neither men nor devils can take them from us. And he also declares, wherein the excellency of covenant obedience doth consist. It is not in the conformity of our outward actions unto the law, though this also be required therein; but it principally lieth in the inward parts, where God searcheth for, and regardeth truth in sincerity, Psal. li. 6. Wherefore diavosa is the mind and understanding,' whose natural depravation is the spring and principle of all disobedience, the cure whereof is here promised in the first place. In the outward administration of the means of grace, ihe affections, and, if I may so speak, the more outward part of the soul, are usually first affected and wrought upon. But the first real effect of the internal promised grace of the covenant, is on the mind, the most spiritual and inward part of the soul. This in the New Testament is expressed by the renovation of the mind, Rom. xii. 1. Eph. iv. 23. And the opening of the eyes of our understandings, Eph. i. 17, 18.; God shining into our hearts, to give us the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. Hereby the enmity against God, the vanity, darkness and alienation from the life of God, which the mind naturally is possessed and filled withal, are taken away and removed; of the nature of which work I have treated at large elsewhere. For the law of God in the mind, is the saving knowledge of the mind and will of God, whereof the law is the revelation communicated unto it, and implanted in it.
2. The way whereby God in the covenant of grace thus works on the mind, is expressed by dades; so the apostle renders ond, and I will give.' ' Andes, giving,' may by an enallage be put for wow, I will give. So is it expressed in the next clause, triveaw, in the future tense, I will write.' The word in the prophet is, • I will give;' we render it, ' I will put. But there are two things intimated in the word. 1st, The freedom of the grace promised: it is a mere grant, gift, or donation of grace. 2d, The efficacy of it. That which is given of God unto any is received by them, otherwise it is no gift. And this Jatter is well expressed by the word used by us, I will put, which expresseth an actual communication, and not a fruitless tender. This the apostle renders emphatically, didos; that is, sipes, this is that which I do, am doing in this covenant;' nameVol. VI.