Images de page

rejecting the Gospel, believe not on Christ. As therefore, unbelief, or the rejecting the Gospel, is a sin against the law which is the only perfect rule of all virtue (it can be called a sin against the Gospel, only objectively) so every threataning of the curse rnd of wrath against unbelievers, and the despisers of the Gospel, must come from, and be reduced to the law, but then it is to the law as now subservient to the covenant of grace.

XXIII. In the discourses of the Prophets, Christ and his Apostles, there is a certain mixture of various doctrines, which, indeed, are closely connected, and mutually subservient; each of which ought to be reduced to their proper heads; so that the promises of grace be referred to the Gospel, all injunctions of duty, and all threatenings against transgressors, to the law.


Of the Oneness of the Covenant of Grace, as to its Sub


1. IT is a matter of the greatest moment, that we learn distinctly to consider the covenant of grace, either as it is in its substance or essence, as they call it, or as it is in divers ways proposed by God, with respect to circumstantials, under different economies. If we view the substance of the covenant, it is but only one, nor is it possible it should be otherwise. There is no other way worthy of God, in which salvation can be bestowed on sinners, but that discovered in the Gospel. Whence the apostle, Gal. i. 7. has beautifully said, which is not another. And that Testament, which was consecrated by the blood of Christ, he calls everlasting, Heb. xii. 20. because it was settled from eternity, published immediately upon the fall of the first man, constantly handed by the ancients, more fully explained by Christ himself and his apostles, and is to continue throughout all ages, and, in virtue of which, believers shall inherit eternal happiness. But if we attend to the circumstances of the covenant, it was dispensed at sundry times and in divers manners, under various economies, for the manifestation of the manifold wisdom of God. In considering this, we are first to discourse on those general things, which appertain to the substance of the covenant, and have continued in every age: and then explain the different economies, or dispensations, and the new accessions made to each, which we will first do in a general and concise


manner, in this and the following chapter; then gradually descend to the more special considerations.

II. We therefore maintain, agreeable to the sacred writings, that to all the Elect, living in any period of time, 1st, One and the same eternal life was promised. 2dly, That Jesus Christ was held forth as the one and the same author and bestower of salvation. 3dly, That they could not become partakers of it any other way, but by a true and lively faith in him. If we demonstrate these three things, none can any longer doubt, but that the covenant of grace must be, as to its substance, only one from the beginning. For, if the salvation be the same, and the author of it the same, the manner of communion with him the same, it is certain the covenant itself cannot be more than one. `

III. The Scriptures so plainly declare, that eternal life was promised to the elect from the beginning, that it is astonishing any Christians could venture to deny it; who indeed are much blinder than the Jews themselves, of whom our Lord testifies, John v. 39. Ye do search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and that they were neither rash nor erroneous, in thinking that the promises of eternal life, and the manner of enjoying them, were contained in the Scriptures they had, we prove by the most cogent arguments. 1st, Because, not only the Lord Jesus, does not charge them, in this respect, with the least error, but makes use of that as a reason to recommend to then the search of the Scriptures. But it is very inconsistent with the great sincerity of the Lord Jesus, and the divine dignity of the Scriptures, to recommend them by arguments not genuine, or to recommend their value and usefulness from Jewish forgeries. Nay had the Jews falsely persuaded themselves, that the promises of eternal life were contained in the Old Testament records, our Lord ought not, by any concession, to have cherished that mistake, which would have hindered them from acknowledging the excellence of his doctrine, and consequently the divinity of his person but rather to have exclaimed against them; "in vain do you search the Scriptures, in hopes of finding eternal life in them; attend rather to me and my doctrine, who am the first who came into the world as a preacher of eternal life.” But every one may see, how inconsistent this was from the, design of the Lord Jesus. 2dly, To this we add, that Paul's hope was founded on the law and the Prophets, as well as the expectation of the Jews, Acts xxiv. 14, 15. "believing all things, which are written in the law and the Prophets and have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow,


that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. He testifies, that the Jews expected a resurrection of the dead: he professes the same belief and hope with them: and that he did not do so out of a vain presumption, but from a faith resting on the law and the Prophets, which they also, in their manner, carefully read, and from which they had derived the same expectation with him. 3dly, The Jews were so far from judging amiss in this respect, that on the contrary, the Lord Jesus reproved the Sadducees, as ignorant of the Scriptures, because from them they had not learn ed life eternal, and the resurrection, Mat. xxii. 29.

IV. But let us argue from the very books of the Old Testament: and first, after the example of our Lord, who, Mat. xxii. 31. 32. speaks to this purpose; "but as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read, that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead but of the living." This inference appeared so evident to the multitude, that they were astonished at his doctrine, and the Sadducees were put to silence, ver. 33. 34. And indeed, if the words of Moses, quoted by Christ, be accurately weighed, the evidence of this argument will easily appear to the attentive reader.

V. For, 1st, That expression, to be God to any, in its full import, includes life eternal. For when God becomes the sinner's God he then becomes to him, what he is to himself. But what is he to himself? Doubtless, the fountain of eternal and complete blessedness. When God, out of his grace, gives himself to man, he gives him all things. For himself is all things. Such a man finds in God a shield against every evil, and an exceeding great reward, Gen, xv. 1. And what can he desire more in order to his perfect happiness? Accordingly, the Apostle joins these two, Heb. xi. 16. God to be the God of any one, and to have prepared for them a city. And seeing the gifts of God's grace, especially when he gives himself, are without repentance, Rom. xi. 29. hereby also the eternity of this happiness is established.

VI. 2dly, Moreover, this covenant is not made with the soul, but with the man; and God, not only requires the worship of the soul, but also the submission of the body, as redeemer of both, in order to his being glorified in both: accordingly he appointed a sign of his covenant to be in the body, Gen. xvii. 13. And consequently, when he calls himself the God of the whole man, he promises his salvation not to the soul alone, but to the body also.

VII. 3dly

[ocr errors]

VII. 3dly, These considerations will be more cogent, if we reflect that the words from which our Lord argues, were spoken of the Patriarchs, who had been dead long before, Exod. iii. 6. But as God is not the God of persons who have no existence; it was first evident, that their souls survived, and enjoyed the beatific vision of God; and since, as we have just said, their body also was comprehended in the covenant, it followed, that, at the appointed time, their very body, when raised from the dust, should be re-united to the soul, in order to partake of the same happiness.

VIII. 4thly, To be the God of any one, signifies in the usual stile of Scripture, deliverance from enemies; compare Psa. iii. 7. 8. But death is our greatest and last enemy, 1 Cor. xv. 26. As therefore God delivers those, whose God he is, out of the hand of their enemies, he cannot be the God of those who always remain under the power of death: but all who have him for their God, must, after death is swallowed up, exultingly sing that song of triumph, O death! where is thy victory?

IX. 5thly, It is beyond all controversy, that God promised to those illustrious Patriarchs, when he called himself their God, something highly excellent, and by which they were to be peculiarly distinguished above others, who were not so eminent in the service of God. But they obtained nothing so very distinguishing above other men, in this world, that could equal the greatness of this promise. Many wicked men lived more happily in the land of Canaan, and elsewhere. It follows then, that these things regard concerns of a superior nature, and belong to eternal life in heaven.

X. 6thly and lastly, If we are benefactors to any here, for the sake of another, we will much more do good to him on whose account we do good to them, if it is in our power. But God wants no power. And he declares he will be a benefactor to the posterity, for the sake of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, much more than he is, and will be a benefactor to themselves. But they could not be capable of receiving any good, if they did not exist, nor of the highest benefit, if they were, for ever, to be under the power and dominion of death. It therefore follows, that, when these words were spoken, their souls were in being, and at the time appointed, were to be restored to life, that God, in a distinguishing manner, might be their benefactor. All these things follow from the words of Moses by an easy consequence.

XI. What Volkelius says is to no purpose, when being pinched The authors here, seem plainly to intimate, that to be a God to any, is to be a benefactor.

pinched by this passage, he requires us, lib. 3. c. 11. to produce testimonies, in which this benefit is promised to us [viz. in the old] in as clear and evident terms, as in the New Testament; for he refuses that the passage we are now treating of can on any account be of that number, as appears from this, that, "before Christ explained it, none ever ventured so much as to suspect it contained any such thing. Nor is it credible that the Pharisees, who were very well skilled in the divine law, and who, as it seems frequently and warmly disputed with the Sadducees, about the resurrection of the dead, would have passed over this place in silence, if they had imagined it to contain a testimony to that purpose.

XII. All this is trifling, for, 1st, The question is not, whether the testimonies concerning eternal life are expressed in such plain and clear words in the Old Testament as in the New, which none of us affirm, who own that these economies differ exceedingly in the degrees of their clearness; but whether any testimonies at all concerning eternal life are to be found in the Old Testament; which the Heretics obstinately deny. For Volkelius, at the beginning of the same chapter, says, it appears that that promise (of eternal life) was not at all made in that old covenant. How unfair then is it to require us to produce such plain and clear testimonies?

XIII. 2dly, He is of a different opinion from Christ, in commending the Pharisees for being very skilful in the divine law, for he reproves them, Mat. xxiii. 16. 17. as blind and foolish guides, and charges them with taking away the key of knowledge, Luke xi. 52. and of whom Paul testified, "a vail was upon their heart, that in reading Moses and the Old". Testament, they did not understand," 2 Cor. iii. 14. 15.

XIV. 3dly, And we are little concerned after what manner, or from what topics, they formed their arguments; since it appears, that Christ, which impudence itself will not dare to deny, reasoned judiciously. Nor will our adversary be able, in any manner, to shew, that they never argued from this passage. For who has given us a history of all their disputations.

XV. 4thly, Whatever it be with the Pharisees, certainly Philo, an ancient Jew, seems to have had something like this in his mind; whose words the illustrious Grotius, a name no ways unacceptable to our adversaries, adduces in his commentaries on Mat. xxii. 32. to this purpose: "To say, that God is eternal, is the same, as to say he is one, who bestows grace, not at some certain times only, but incessantly at all times." The celebrated Lightfoot, in his Specilegia in Exodum, sect. 5. has observed, that our Lord's argument would


« PrécédentContinuer »