By WILSON THOMPSON,
of the Gospel, of the Baptist Church;
"The Law was given by Moses, but grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ."
THE doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ in its various branches, is held by all good men necessarily connected with the present comfort and future happiness of mankind. We should therefore make use of every laudable exertion, to propogate and explain it, to the weakest capacity of human beings. But from a sense of the importance of the work, and my own inadequacy, I have hitherto defered the undertaking, and should not now, offer the following sheets to the public, was it not for some circumstances that appear to make it a duty incumbent on me in particular: and it may be proper for me to mention some of these circumstances here.
First, reports have gone abroad, that I was an Arian, a Universalist, an Antimonian, &c. Those reports have given some sorrow to a number of my Christian friends at a distance; and I feel it my duty to unbosom myself to them. Secondly, the earnest request of a number of my brethren, who have seen some of my manuscript writings, (which I had pened at various times, for my own satisfaction, without, any design to publish them,) and thought they would be usefull to the Christian public. â€“ These things with a sense of the situation of a number of my fellow men, whose minds have been so bewildered, by the flood of error that is sweeping over our land; that they have been exposed to and carried away with the awful delusions of the day.
These reasons with a wish to assist my brethren in understanding simple gospel truth, and thereby discharge a duty which I owe to the cause of God. But when I consent to publish this little book; I do it without the flattering hopes of gaining applause or popularity, from any sect of Christians or the public; for my education is so small, that was I to attempt to embellish my work with a fine stile, or grammatical precision, I should not be competent; and as I do not aim to tickle the itching ear, or gratify the eye of the public, or measure arms with the scholar; but to inform the mind of the humble inquirer after truth, which has always been persecuted, and remains unpopular; I therefore expect to share a part in its common fate, as my reward for this performance; but myself alone am accountable for it. And as to the doctrine it contains, I am well assured that the scriptures will defend it. â€“ The Reader will easily perceive, that I have merely glanced over each subject which I have taken up; but I hope from the few remarks under each head, my meaning can be gathered, and the readers mind be furnished with a useful key, to open many passages of scripture, which would otherwise appear paradoxical and misterious: but with it, all is easy to him that hath wisdom, and right to him that hath understanding.
And if the truth of God should more abound through this little book, unto his glory; although the deluded multitude, should manifest their indignation against it, I shall have no cause to repent, so I say, go little book and in your poor and homely garb, face the polite world and speak for the cause of truth; publish the glories of a Saviour, point to the victories won by sovereign grace, and direct the sin sick soul to the life-giving medicine, ministered by the good physician in the absolute promises of the unconditional gospel of salvation.
ALL gospel truth, is calculated to reveal God to man, in his nature, and works of providence and grace. In this work we shall therefore speak;
of the truth of the being of God.
Secondly, show that there is but one God.
Thirdly, hint at his Majesty, and the obligation all the world is under to worship him; for what he is, and for his creating and preserving goodness.
1. The truth of the being of God, is abundantly proved, by the things that are made; which declare his eternal power and God head. This terraqueous globe, with all its variety of animate and inanimate productions, afford sufficient evidence to prove to every unbiased mind, not only the being, but also the power and wisdom of the great architect. Let your eyes turn to the heavens, behold the sun, moon and stars; then ask your reason, if these are the works of chance. Follow the astronomer, while he persues those orbs through the hemisphere, then ask yourself; if chance can produce such order, or fulfill such regular revolutions; than contemplate within yourselves, and ask, am I the work of chance? does any man live by chance, or die by chance? No, reason forbids the conclusion; and stands convinced of the being, power, wisdom and eternity of God: but how to think, or speak of God, or how to understand him in his existence, perfections, or grace, is too unsearchable for reason; here it must stop; and stand as a humble inquirer, to receive instruction from revelation; for without this, reason must be for ever confused to find out what God is like; and with thousands of the heathen, we might be led to suppose, he is like the sun, the stars, the leck or onion, man, or gold; and so be led to worship some of those creatures: this is the best, that reason can teach, without revelation. For a proof of this, contrast the ideas of the heathen, respecting the supreme being, with the ideas of those that are blest with the book of revelation; seeing then, that reason must receive, and revelation is all that can instruct in this matter; let us hear what the scripture saith of this mystery; for there God speaks of himself, explaining his nature and grace; saying in Ex 34:5. And the Lord passed by before him, (Moses) and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Nu 14:18. The Lord is long suffering and of great mercy. In the sacred scriptures, God reveals his being in the most convincing language, by his inspired servants, as in Ps 90:2, Before the mountains were brought fourth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. Ps 93:2. Thy throne is established of old, thou art from everlasting. Isa 44:6. we have the words of God as follows: thus saith the Lord the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, I AM the first, and I AM the last; and beside me there is no God; Isa 57:15. For thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity. Here the convinced Nebuchadnezar, saying; Da 4:34; I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. See Da 12:7; Re 4:10 and Re 10:6; 15:7; Heb 1:12. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine holy one. Thus while we attend to revelation, as our instructor, God is made known, as one who is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders in the earth. This brings us to the second particular, to shew that there is but one God.
2. Men curious in their inquiries, ask to know, how many Godâ€™s there are; we answer; there are lords many and gods many, (such as reason have invented and heathens do worship,) but to us (who are taught by revelation,) there is but one only true and living God; and this the following passages, abundantly prove; See Am 4:13. For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what are his thoughts, and maketh morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of hosts is his name. Ex 34:14. For thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Ps 82:8. That men may know, that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. De 6:4. Here O Israel, the Lord our God is but one Lord. Isa 44:8. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no God; I know not any; Isa 45:21-22. There is no God else besides me, a just God and a Saviour, there is none besides me; look unto me, and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else. 1Co 8:6. There is none other God but one; to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him. If the above scriptures do prove any thing, they all go to prove that there is one, and but one only true and living God. And we shall now attempt to shew that God is an undivided, uncompounded spirit, without personal form or parts; and for this purpose we call in the following witnesses. 2Co 3:17. Now, the Lord is that spirit; and where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty; thus we learn that God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth; thus where the spirit of the Lord is mentioned in scripture, we are to understand no other; then the same God in his spiritual operations, this is evident from Peters words to Annias; Ac 5:3-4. Why hath Satan filled thin heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? thou hast not lied unto men but unto God. That the Holy Ghost is the true God, appears again in the case of Maryâ€™s conception, recorded Lu 4:35. And the angel answered and said unto her, the Holy Ghost shall overshadow thee; therefore also, that the holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the son of God. When God is declared to be every where present, it is under the name spirit, as in Ps 139:7. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? When God gave spiritual gifts to men, though the gifts were diverse, yet they were all by the same spirit, thus we have seen that there is a God, that there is but one God, and that he is a spirit. That God is undivided and uncompounded, is evident from those scriptures, already mentioned; and many more that might be called in, if we deemed it necessary, such as, Mr 12:29. And Jesus answered him the first of all the commandments is, hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: Mr 12:30. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart; &c. Mr 12:32. And the scribes said unto him, well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God, and there is none other but he; the 34th verse (Mr 12:34) inform us, that the scribes answered discretely. De 4:39. Know therefore, this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon earth beneath; there is none else, and as this will be treated upon more largely in another place, we shall pass on to notice, the majest of God, and the obligation all the world is under to worship him.
3. The Majesty of God is taught in the scriptures as follows; see Jg 21:25,25. Thine O Lord, is the greatness and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth, is thine, thine is the kingdom O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all; both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all. Ne 9:32. Our God the great the mighty and the terrible God. Job 37:22. with God is terrible majesty, Ps 29:3-4. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is full of majesty. A display of the majesty of God is recorded in Ps 18:7-15. The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth, devoured, coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, came down and darkness was under his feet, and he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place: his pavilion round about him, were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies: At the brightness that was before him, his thick clouds passed, hail-stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail-stones and coals of fire. Yea he sent out his arrows, and scattered them: Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.
Thus the Majesty of the one undivided God, is illustrated in the scriptures of truth, as one that is worthy of the praise of all other beings, or things; but man is not only under obligations to praise God, for what he is in the majesty of his sovereign character, but for discriminating benefits, bestowed upon him, in his creation, and endowments in Edom, and for the long suffering of God toward him; in and since the fall. David called for fire and trees, and all things animate and inanimate, to praise God, but in the ardor of his spirit, when addressing man, he says; O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men; if life is a blessing, God ought to be praised, for he is the giver and supporter of it; if superiority above the beasts that perish, is a privilege; if language to communicate our thoughts to each other is a favour; God ought to be praised for it; for he has bestowed this favour on us; in a word, if reasonable faculties, or a rational mind are blessings vouchsafed to us, it demands us to worship the doner, of all those blessings. And when we recount all the favours of God to man, how great are our obligations to worship him; let us contrast ourselves with the meanest brute, or worm, and then ask; why was I superior to them? Look back to creation, and see ten thousands of living creatures spoken into being by the word of God, but man alone bears the image of his creator, to him alone the right of subduing the earth is given; and shall man who is thus distinguished by his creator, not feel himself under obligations, to worship a God, so good, so kind. â€“
we should praise thee dearest Lord,
Behold my heart and see;
And turn each cursed idol out,
That dares to rival thee.
Let each reader reflect, with thankful heart, on the high estate in which he was created, and ask himself, if it is not rational to say; thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Here we see man made of the dust of the ground, no better dust, than that, out of which the beasts were made, but, behold, he is made in honour, he is made upright, he was wisdom to converse with his creator, and to give names to all the rest that were created; we all conclude, that man in his creation, ought to have worshiped God. But alas! man is fallen, and has become poor and miserable; a child of wrath, an enemy to God, and unreconciled to his law, &c. But does this remove his obligation to worship God? no, by this he is indisposed, but this can make no relaxation in his obligations, so far from it, that it shows his obligations in a clearer light than before; for though he has proved rebellious on his part, yet God is the same and instead of striking the rebel dead, according to the demerit of his crime, which he might have expected; and which according to the magnitude of his crime, he did deserve, yet God is sparing us in the world, and blessing us with ten thousand blessings every day; and are we not under obligations to praise him, for his preserving mercy? Or shall we try to plead an exemption on account of our indisposition occasioned by our sin? no, rather may we mourn over our rebelion against God, and feel ourselves under the strongest obligations to worship him, and join with the poet while he sings.
may we loose these worthless tongues,
When they refuse thy praise.
We should not only feel ourselves under obligations to worship God, but we should esteem it our greatest privilege, and should take pleasure in it, for the angels own this as their sweet and delightful work; and the spirits of just men made perfect, claim this as their highest employment, and while the man is called to participate, in an employment which fills heaven with delight, shall he find no pleasure in it? or, shall we think of being happy in heaven, while the praise of God affords us no pleasure below, we might as well promise ourselves happiness in tasting gall, as of happiness in heaven, while the praise of God affords us no pleasure; but if this is the joy of our spirits on earth, which makes us long for better qualifications to perform this pleasurable work, it unites our hearts while we sing.
praise my maker with my breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers,
My days of praise shall neâ€™r be past,
While life and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures.â€ﾝ
Thus we have briefly shewed, that there is but one God and that he is an uncompounded spirit; and that all the world is under the strongest obligation to worship him, and now we shall close this chapter, by making some enquiry into the reason, why men do not praise God. â€“ First, because man is an enemy to God; and therefore does not love his praise; but loves sin, and rolls it as a sweet morsel under his tongue, and so has unqualified himself to praise God with delight, until his enmity is slain, and he reconciled to God, and brought to feel interested in the glory of the divine character. Secondly, because man is dead, and does not feel his obligation to God, but hates him, and loves death; and prefers a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding and hands to sleep. Thirdly, because man is blind, and deaf; and his whole mind, and conscience, and will depraved; and in order to his ever being prepared for the worship of God, he must be quickened and made alive, and the love of God must be shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost; his eyes must be opened to see the glory of God, in the face of Jesus; his ears must be unstopt to the voice of the Son of God; or the word of life which we preach, he must be renewed in the spirit of his mind, his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience; and his will subdued to the government of Christ: then, and not till then, will he feel his obligation to praise God, but this being done by the spirit, we love his praise, and are thus prepared to be happy in heaven, which we never could have been, without this change; O that this happy change, may be wrought in your soul, reader, if you are not the subject of it; for without it you are wretched; but with it you are blest.
As we have treated on the being of God in the foregoing discourse, we shall devote this, to the divine nature of Jesus Christ; and attempt to prove that his divinity, is not another, but the same God described in the foregoing.
The divine nature of Christ has long been a subject of dispute; in the christian world, some have become warm advocates on the one side, and some on the other, arguments have been used on both sides, and when those were found too weak to convince, or to unite the parties, persecution and the sword, or fire and fagot, were used in order to supply the place of more weighty arguments. Thus the church of Rome and the Arians contended with each other, but after all, the case is not decided, in the mind of the public, America hath not had its fertile soil stained with the martyrs blood, in this debate; but the church of Christ; even in America, has suffered greatly, on account of division of sentiment on this subject, within thirty years past; some pieces have been published, on both sides of the question; and perhaps they have both run to an extreme, in some things; for I have discovered that the Trinitarians, have uniformly endeavoured to prove, three persons distinct in the Godhead; and that each person is truly and properly God. In this point they have failed, and ever must fail. The Arians on this account charge them with worshiping a family of Gods, and are emboldened in denying to acknowledge, or worship any God but the Father. In this part of our work, we shall pay no attention, to any former opinions of men or parties, but endeavour to follow the scripture, as our only rule , and from it argue the case, against errors on every side of truth, as the case may require and truth demand.
We shall attempt to prove that the divine nature of Christ is very
Secondly, That he is not distinct from the Father, but he is the Father.
Thirdly, Show that there is no other God worthy to be worshiped but the God in Christ.
1. We are not to attempt to prove, that the divine nature of Christ is very God.
That the divine nature of Christ, is very God; is evident from the following passages, Mt 1:23. Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted is God with us; 1Ti 3:6. God was manifest in the flesh, Isa 9:6-7. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace; of the increase of his government, and peace, there shall be no end. Heb 1:8. Unto the Son he saith, thy throne O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Those passages are so express to our purpose, that we think it unnecessary to transcribe any more here; for our point is settled, without any comment or illustration; for were we to write a ream of paper, we could do no more, than prove that the divine nature of Christ is God. And this the above passages emphatically declare to be a fact beyond controversy. So we shall proceed, to the second thing proposed, which is to show that the divine nature of Christ, is not distinct from the Father, but is the Father.
2. But for proof of this, that God in Christ is the Father, here the following witnesses, in addition to these quoted in the first head of this discourse, in which we have clearly seen that the divine nature of Christ is God; but he is not another than the Father, but is the Father; See De 32:39. See how that I, even I, am he and there is no God with me, I kill, and I make alive, I wound and I heal, neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand, Re 1:8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Col 1:16-17. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth visible and invisible, whither they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things and by him all things consist; thus the scripture abounds with proof, that the whole Godhead dwelt in Christ bodily; and when we speak of the divinity of Christ, we mean no other than the one undivided God, that was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. For he that will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images, when he bringeth his first begotten into the world, saith and let all the angels of God worship him. He is called the only wise God our Saviour; the just God and the Saviour; the true God and eternal life; now if there is any other God, than the God in Christ, he is not a true God, nor a wise God, nor a just God, nor a Saviour; for the above witnesses testifies that the God in Christ is the only potentate the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God our Saviour, so we feel fully justifiable in saying with Paul; Jesus Christ my Lord; and with Thomas, my Lord and my God: for if we like Philip wish to see the Father, Jesus is saying have I been so long with you and hast thou not seen me, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father, believest thou not, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me. I and the Father are one.
Thus we might fill a volume with texts of scriptures that unquestionably prove, that the God in Christ, was none other than the Father. But as in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word should be established; and we have already brought in more than twice that number: we shall pass on to the third thing proposed.
3. To shew that there is no other God worthy to be worshipped but the God in Christ.
The foregoing scriptures abundantly demonstrate, that there is but one God and he in Christ, and as we are commanded to have no other Godâ€™s before him, then it is impossible for us to worship any other God without being guilty of a breach of this commandment, and of gross idolatry in so doing. But I am aware of an objection here, from such as would wish to establish the idea, of three distinct persons, in the Godhead; and that we may be rightly understood on this subject, I shall be very particular, and use great plainess of speech, believing that he dividing of the Godhead in to three distinct persons, is unwarrantable from scripture, and it is a mischievous tradition of men, which only is calculated to invelope the truth, and perplex the mind of men, and if we might judge, the most effectual way to make the world abound with Arians, and infidels; for if there are three distinct persons truly and properly God, there must be as certainly, three true and proper Gods, distinct from each other, as three persons distinct from each other; or if there are three distinct persons and each of them truly and properly God, they must be each independent of the other, is not this the same as to say, there are three independent Godâ€™s, one in each distinct person. I have seen a good deal of fruitless labour from the press, endeavouring to prove three distinct persons in the Godhead, but it never was, nor never will be proved by scripture; and while we spend our time about words, and persons, and try to prove three distinct persons in the Godhead, by deductions from scripture and implied evidence, we weaken our own side, and give the Arian room to charge us with worshiping three Gods; one in each of the three distinct persons, but I can read nothing in the scripture about those persons; I can read of the glory of God in the face of Jesus, of God manifest in the flesh, and of Christ, who is the brightness of his Fathers glory, and is the express image of his person; and wherever person is mentioned in scripture with refference to God, there is evidently an allusion to the person of Christ, and so it is not persons as of many, but of one which is Christ. The idea of three distinct persons in the Godhead like all the other Popish traditions, is calculated to perplex the mind and introduce, different grades of worship; sometimes worship the person of the father, and this is the highest and greatest solemnity; sometimes prostrate themselves before the persons of the Son, and plead with him to invoke the father in their behalf; and sometimes bow to the Holy Spirit, and we think this is the most likely way, that the worship of saints, relicks and images of the persons of God was introduced; thus they have represented the person of the father as almost concealed in glory, the person of the Son, like a man, and the person of the Holy Ghost like a dove; are these the representations of the Godhead? or, is it not rather changeing the glory, of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible man, or fowls of the air. The three distinct persons in one undivided God is an unreconcilable assertion; to say that there is but one God, and yet that there are three persons distinct, and each of them truly and properly God; must make a paradoxical appearance to every thinking person, but in order to prove three distinct persons in the Godhead, this text is urged. There are three that bare record in heaven, the Father, the word, and the Holy Ghost, but does this say one word about persons in the Godhead? or does it not undeniably teach that these three are one? now if the three that bare record in heaven, are persons; then the three being one is also person; then it stands thus, there are three persons, that bare record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three persons, are but one person; but to avoid this perplexity, some would venture to add and read or explain it thus, these three persons are one God; and thus reading, adding, and explaining, (or rather confusing) it conclude their point was proved, but when we cast off all prepossesion, and here the text speak for itself; it is plain: the Father is a name by which we understand God as being the first cause of all created things; and the Word is a name by which he manifest himself in any of his works, or appears in the person, or flesh of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost is a name by which God speaks of himself as an invisible spirit; and thus God in creating the world bears record in heaven, that it is for his glory, they are and were created; God manifest in the flesh bears record of what creation was intended for and makes a display of his glory; and the same God under the name spirit; revealed the heavenly record to holy men of old who wrote the scriptures by inspiration of God, and thus God under the name Father, Word, and Holy Ghost, bears a three fold testimony, but is the same God, for these three are one. Now, reader, if you still believe, in three distinct persons in the Godhead, you must of course believe that each of these contain a third part of the godhead, and that the whole godhead is a compound of those three persons, uniting themselves together and making one compounded God, or else believe; that there are three distinct Gods, one in each distinct person and that they all act in such complete unison, that they are one in agreement of design and operation but I conclude, that by seeing this defect, in the Trinitarian plan of reasoning, have caused some to embrace the Arian plan; others Swedenborgâ€™s opinion, and is a strong temptation to deism, on the one hand, or to the worshiping of a plurality of Godâ€™s on the other; but when this thirding of the Godhead, and compounding the three persons into one is left out of sight, we behold the glory of the incorruptible God as with open face, and admire the riches of his mercy and grace, while we hear him declaring himself our Saviour under the three names in which he bears record in heaven, saying under the character of the Father, I am the just God and Saviour; under the character of the Word, there is no other name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved; and under the character of the Holy Ghost, he hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; being born of the spirit, we are born of God, and God is our Father, we are born again of an incorruptible seed by the word of God, thus the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, is the same God, by which we are saved and born again, and that which is but one, let no man put asunder. Thus we have seen, that God is not divided, and it naturally follows, there is no other God worthy to be worshiped, than the God in Christ and that his name; which is above every name, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and of things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And may we all both writer and reader, be united in this record that God hath given of the Father; this record given by the Holy Ghost, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; and now I close this discourse, by asking the question, what think ye of Christ whose Son is he.Some take him a creature to be,
We cannot read the Bible, without being convinced that Christ did exist in a nature, inferior to the Father, both before the world and since; and as we have seen in the foregoing discourse, that his divine nature was no other than the Fathers; we shall in this discourse shew wherein his inferiority did consist, and in order to be plain on this subject, we shall first speak of the soul or spirit of Christ, and secondly of his body or flesh.
1. Of the spirit or soul of Christ I understand that part of him which was brought forth before all worlds, and which was the medium of operation in creation, and the treasury in which grace was given us, before the world began; in which God chose his people, and gave them great and precious promises before the world was. But this doctrine of the Bible as all the rest of Gospel truth, found its enemies and even has been denied, a place in the Bible, or the sacred pages have been so much perverted by many that they have tried to turn this treasury with all its fullness out of gospel doors: but blessed be God he has given it such a permanent standing in the scriptures, that it will show itself in almost every page. But as error makes it necessary to illustrate truth we shall be a little more particular on this point, and so to the word and to the testimony. Eph 3:8,13. in the eighth verse, Paul seems much humbled under a sense of the work unto which he is called and says; unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. Here the apostle speaks of God as creating all things and of Jesus Christ as that by which he did create all things; here we read of the mystery hid in God and of the unsearchable riches of Christ, now surely the riches of Christ are the mystery hid in God, then if the mystery hid in God is the unsearchable riches of Christ, by whom God created all things; then Christ must have been in existence, when God created all things by him, and as this cannot be said in truth of the flesh of Christ, and to assert it of his divine nature, would argue two Gods, and the one creating all things by the other, which we do not believe; therefore we must believe that it was spoken of the soul or spirit of Christ in which the unsearchable riches of Gods wisdom and grace did concentrate before all worlds; and were ordained to our glory, but now is made manifest by the appearing of Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel; and hath sent Paul to preach among the Gentiles, the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory; Eph 3:10, to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God; Eph 3:11, according to his eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Heb 1:2. Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. This passage speaks of God and Christ, as being distinct from each other, and of God as being superior to Christ, God as the creator of the worlds and Christ as that by which he did create, God as the appointer of an heir, and Christ as being appointed heir of all things, now this will not apply to the flesh of Christ which did not then exist, nor to the divine nature of Christ, which was all the all creating God, and if this was applied to the divinity of Christ, it would not only argue two Gods, but would prove, that the Father was greater then the divine nature of Christ, as the appointer of an heir; is greater then the appointed heir; which is the very point that the Arians and Deists would wish to establish. But to apply it to the soul or spirit of Christ is easy; for this soul or spirit, was in the bosom of the Father before all worlds; and thus was appointed heir of all things; thus he heired the world, and as a consequence it cannot be destroyed until he is done with it, he heired a kingdom and will glorify it. &c. No one that takes the scripture for his guide, can deny but what Christ did pre-exist creation in a nature as much distinct from the Father, & as much inferior to him, as he was when he was here in the world; but some conclude he only existed in Godâ€™s decree, and not actually; but Abraham and all others pre-existed creation in Godâ€™s decree; but Christ says before Abraham was, I am, which does not mean decreatively but actually; Abraham and all Gods elect were in his decree before the world was; but were not brought forth until long since the world was, but Christ was brought forth before all worlds; the body of Christ existed in Godâ€™s decree before the creation, but was not brought forth until about 1821 years ago; but others would apply all those scriptures which speak of Christ as existing before the world to him as God, or to his divine nature; but if there applying them rightly, we should have sufficient witnesses to prove, not only that his divine nature was distinct from the Father; and consequently two Gods; but the divinity of the Son, or the God in Christ was inferior to the Father; who brought him forth, set him up, appointed him heir, and made the worlds by him, &c. When we hear it said in Heb 10:5-6,7. wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me, in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come in the volume of the Book it is written of me to do thy will, O God. In this passage we all agree Christ is to be understood as the speaker, but it was not his divine nature, unless there were two Gods, one speaking to another, and telling him, that he had come to do his will, which is not truth according to the Bible record that God hath given of himself, saying there is no God besides me; I know not any. Nor was the speaker in the text the body of Christ, but that for which God had prepared a body, for the speaker to assume when he came into the world; hence it appears that the speaker of the text must have been the soul or spirit of Christ for which a body was prepared of God; and as the children were partakers of flesh and blood he also took part of the same.
But why do you call the pre-existent part of Christ his soul or spirit? â€“ My reasons for calling it so are First, because I read of no other constituent parts of Christ then soul or spirit, and body or flesh, except the Godhead that dwelt in him, and as the speaker in the last mentioned text; and many other similar ones, will neither apply to the God-head nor flesh of Christ; they do most cordially apply to the soul or spirit of Christ. My second reason is, because I read of his taking on him a body or flesh, but I never read of his taking on him a soul or spirit; I therefore believe that the soul or spirit, was that part of him, which was with the Father before all worlds, for which a body was prepared, in Godâ€™s purpose of wisdom. And my third reason is because I read of Christ, existing distinct from, and inferior to the Father, before the world, and as nobody ever believed that the flesh of Christ did exist before the world, and as I do not believe that the divinity of Christ was either distinct from, or inferior to the Father, I cannot see how the scripture can be understood in any other way. And my fourth and last reason that I shall mention here is, because the soul or spirit is the man, both in scripture and common usage, for instance, see in the case of Paul; I knew a man, whether in body or out of the body I cannot tell. And Jesus said unto the thief on the cross this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. And in common conversation, speaking of the death of a person; we say the man is gone to the eternal world, while his body is yet with us, and friends weeping around it: the soul can live without the body, but not the body without the soul; these are my reasons; for calling the pre-existent part of Christ his soul or spirit. You will observe that whenever the scriptures speak of Christ distinct from God, they speak of him as being inferior to him, both before the world and since; except when the writers were proving that he was the true God, or speaking of his divine nature. Thus where Solomon in Pr 8:22-31 is personating Christ; the whole passage goes to prove, that he did pre-exist creation, in a nature distinct from, and inferior to the Father; the whole passage reads thus, the Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth nor the fields nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there, when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: When he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: When he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now is it possible that any man is ingenious enough, to explain away the true sense of this whole passage, where the speaker under the personal pronoun, me, says the Lord possessed me, in the beginning of his way, before his works of old: Does he mean the Lord possessed the divine nature of Christ then we are to understand it as though it had read thus; the Lord possessed the Lord, in the beginning &c; and yet there is but one Lord and his name one, or, are we to understand that the flesh of Christ was the speaker, and the Lord possessed that flesh before his works of old; then the flesh of Christ must have been brought forth before the earth was, or the fountains abounded with water, &c. not in Gods decree but actually capable of rejoicing before God, and having his delights with the sons of men; this cannot be said in truth, of the flesh of Christ, for this speaker, afterwards took on him a body of flesh; so that we see that it can neither be the divine nature of Christ, which was never brought forth nor set up by any, but was the self-existent and independent God, and therefore could not address another being, as the speaker in the above text does. Again if the speaker in this text, was the divine nature of Christ, and that divine nature was God; then this is a flat contradiction to that testimony which God bears; saying there is no God with me; for the speaker says, then I was with him, &c. Every rational man that reads and weighs the passage in his own mind, must be convinced that Solomon did not design to personate the God in Christ, nor the flesh of Christ in this passage; but if any should still think, that the speaker was either his Godhead, or flesh, I would ask how, or by whom, was the Godhead set up? how, or by whom, was it brought forth? how was it inferior to the Father, or so distinct from him, as to speak as the speaker in the above text does? or if his body or flesh was the speaker, I would ask, was his body or flesh brought forth before creation? was it rejoicing then before God and having its delights with the sons of men &c. Again when we read of God the Father, or the Godhead of Christ, or the body of Christ, it is always expressed in the masculine gender but the speaker in the above text, is distinguished by the feminine gender; this is a grammatical error if God is intended, or if the flesh or body of Christ is intended; but if the soul of Christ is intended it is proper. â€“ According to Harrison on gender, virtue and vice with their species; the soul, the earth, &c. are feminine according to Murry on gender, those again are made feminine; which are conspicuous for the attributes of diety; containing or bringing forth, or which are peculiarly beautiful or amiable. Thus the soul or spirit is properly called; she standeth and puteth forth her voice, &c. Thus the soul of Christ is the receptacle of all the Fathers purposes, promises and grace, and bringing them forth to us, is properly under a figurative expression, classed in the feminine. So we see this whole passage is only applicable to the pre-existent soul or spirit of Christ which was brought forth before all worlds; and in whom all the elect were chosen; in whom grace was given them, before the world was made in whom all the promises of God, are yea and Amen. Thus the whole passage is rendered easy, and he that reads may run. See Ge 1:26. And God said, let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth. Ge 2:7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. In the former passage it is said, let us make man in our image, or in the image of us both and give him dominion, &c.
It is said in the latter; that, after man was formed of the dust of the ground, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul, thus man was created in the image of both the us, mentioned in the former text, in the image of God; because he was governor over the lower creation, to replenish and subdue the earth: and in the image of the soul of Christ; because he became a living soul: And as Adam was constituted the head and representative of all his posterity, and their happiness and innocence were lodged in him, and their standing or falling depended entirely on him; he was a beautiful figure of him that was to come, or of the pre-existent soul of Christ, who was constituted head or representative of all his posterity; in whom all grace and spiritual blessings were lodged for them; and their happiness depended altogether on him. Ge 3:22. And the Lord God said; behold the man is become as one of us; to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. From this verse we learn, that man became like one of the us mentioned in the text, by eating the forbidden fruit; but surely no one can conclude that man by sinning, made himself more like God, or the divine nature of Christ, nor yet more like the harmless and undefiled body of Christ, but it did make him like the pre-existent soul of Christ, which was exposed to agony and pain, as the head of his church, is consequence of the sin of them, in this very act of Adam, mark it well; it does not say man became like us; but like one of us.
He was make like us, but has become like one of us; we might weary our readers with hundreds of scriptures to prove this plain truth such as what and if ye shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before. He that descended is the same also that ascended, I came down from heaven, neither came I of myself but the Father sent me. I proceeded and came fourth from the Father. I pray for the same glory I had with thee before the world was; he that was rich for our sakes became poor that we through his poverty might be rich. In a word all those passages which speak of Christ as laying aside his glory which he had with the Father, and coming into this world, or of being in a more impoverished condition here, than he was before the world in my opinion are incapable of any rational or scriptural explanation without it is in this way; for the Godhead never became poor, that never proceeded and came from the Father; it could be said of that, that it did not come to do its own will, but of him that sent it: neither could it be said of the flesh of Christ, that it had the same glory with the Father, before the world was, that it has since the resurrection of Christ, from the dead, that it was rich and became poor &c. But to apply all those passages to the pre-existent soul or spirit of Christ is easy, for that existed before all worlds, and was the honoured medium of operation; rejoicing always before God, rich in bliss and beautified in spotless glory, but when the time rolled on that it must assume the body prepared for it to suffer in and with; it lays aside the glory that it had, enters this world in a body of flesh, or is attended by Gabriel, to the virgins chamber, prepared to receive that body that God had prepared for it according to his promise made to Abraham, and revealed to the holy prophets, who shewed before of the coming of the just one. But now he becomes poor, soon we find him in the oxâ€™s manger, because there was no room for them in the inn, soon his supposed father must flee his county, to save the young childs life from the merciless hands of his enemies; his visage is more marred then any of the sons of men; he is more impoverished then the foxes or the birds of the air; he gives his back to the smiter, and his cheek to them that spit upon him. On that awful, that tremendous night, the agonies of this soul (that had pre-existed all the worlds, but is now in the body that was prepared for it) was so pungeant, so insupportable, that it cause the body that it was in to sweat as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground, and to cry my soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death. This was poverty indeed; this was laying aside the glory he had with the Father; and thus all those scriptures are easy to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Some may think, that I mean to convey an idea that this pre-existent soul, in assuming the body prepared for it, left the Godhead out; but if they will examine the second discourse in this work, they will be convinced that I mean no such thing. So we pass to the second thing proposed, which is to speak of his body or flesh.
2. That Christ did assume a body or flesh is certain from the following scriptures. He bear our sins in his own body on the tree. The children being partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same. A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have, Thus we see that he had a body of flesh and bones; and it was his own body which was prepared for him; and in this body he, bare our sins; and his body also was wounded for our sins, and bruised for our transgressions, and by his stripes are we healed: and as this point is agreed to, by all the christian world, as far as we know; we shall conclude this discourse by a brief improvement of this, and the two foregoing discourses, and first: - we have seen that there is one and but one God, and that all the world are under obligations to worship him, if he is called the Father, we should praise him as our creator, from whom all blessings flow; if he is called the Word of God manifest in the flesh, we should worship him as such; and all our worship should be in spirit and in truth. Christian reader is not this your chief desire, and are you not saying; O for more engagedness to praise God; O for a better frame of mind, a deeper sense of my obligation to him; O for a heavenly gale to waft my affections away from earthly things; and lodge them substantially upon my God and Saviour. O that I had more light, that I could see more clearly the glory of God, in the face of Jesus, and to be transformed more into his likeness, - And again, secondly, we have seen, that this all creating God condescended to come in the flesh, to exhibit his unparalleled glory on earth, and to make himself known as a God merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth; forgiving transgressions, iniquity and sin.O for this, love let rocks and hills.
3. We have seen that God, in order to secure the eternal happiness of his church, did bring forth, set up and ordain the soul of Jesus Christ; as the great deposit of all his people, and his purposes, promises and grace; and thus all fullness of grace and spiritual blessings dwelt in him, and they (his church) were secured in him, so that after Adam fell; Christ the heir, could enter his plea for his people, and claim his legal inheritance; or the right of a legatee; and the world must be spared, until he gets his portion; thus they are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world; and in the fullness of time this heir comes forward, clothed with legal right to claim his portion, and redeem it: and as they were under the law and in the flesh, he took part of the same, and was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law; assumed a body prepared for him, to meet the law of God in, and bare the unsheathed sword of divine justice, and tread the wine press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. Thus we see the eternal wisdom of God concerted the mysteriously glorious plan of salvation, in Christ before the world began; and so connected the highest display of his glory, with the salvation of the church; that the display of the one, effected the other: so that when the soul of Christ appears in the body of Christ, and the whole Godhead dwells in him, the inumerable number of the heavenly host is heard, saying, glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men. Shall the angels cause their notes to swell so as to be heard on earth when they see that the exhibition of the glory of God is connected with peace on earth and good will toward men. And shall we, my brethren, shall we not feel our souls inflamed with love, and fired with zeal, to glorify God in our bodies and spirits which are his.Come dearest Lord descend and dwell,
This subject has long been a bone of contention amongst divines, the Armenian authors have generally been on the negative side and the Calvinists on the affirmative, the former confusing the system of grace, and leaving all to uncertainty to turn upon conditions to be performed by the creature, and the latter confusing the deity into three distinct persons, the one hireing the other do the work of redemption, and promising to reward him for his trouble: so the bargain is made, or the covenant contract, and compact entered into; and the trading parties in the Godhead strike hands and close their bargain. O truth how art thou abused; how hast thy glory been beclouded by the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. O error, thou art on every side of truth, with thy bewildering craftsmen, to bewitch the people with sorcery on the one side, or to attempt to buy the Holy Ghost with money (or works) on the other; so we may say strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it. O Lord help the writer and the reader, to mark thy steps, and keep the road!
In treating on this covenant we shall attempt; first, to show what we do not believe, and secondly. â€“ To show what we do believe.
1. We do not believe that there ever was a contract made between the Father and the Son, or the first and second persons in the trinity; for as we have clearly shown in the second discourse of this work, there were no such persons in the Godhead; or thirding out in the Deity; but if it must be thought that there was such a covenant or bargain made; and if two of the three persons in the Godhead made the bargain; then if ever the second person fulfilled his part of the contract he must have died, then one third of the Godhead was dead, and the other two-thirds clear of pain; one third is making satisfaction; another third receiving satisfaction; and another third pleased to look at the two bargaining thirds, fulfilling their contract with each other. O shocking tradition, how long will thou exalt thyself, how long ere thou shalt return to the mother of harlots, from whence thou hast sprung, and with all her other base begotten offsprings be destroyed with the spirit of the Lords mouth and consumed with the brightness of his coming. Again the idea of a covenant under the notion of a bargain made between the Father and the Son, or the divine nature of Christ pre-supposes that God did not from eternity know, what would be the terms upon which man should be redeemed; or else if the Father knew, the divine nature of Christ was not knowing to it: or otherwise if it was known to both Father and Son; or if God the first contracting party, knew that God the second contracting party, would bargain with him, and come into this world and die for man; yet this was no way obligatory on the one, or the other before the bargain was made; or else the party or parties already bound could not be at liberty either to propose or object to any part of the covenant; so our expositors of the covenant generally tell us that the Father and the Son was each independent of the other, that they were under no prior obligations to each other; but that after man fell by transgression; the Father proposed to the Son, if he would come into the world and die for rebellious man, that he would reward him well for his trouble: the Son after making his reply, at length agrees to the terms, and the covenant is made; the bargain prosecuted, and the parties strike hands and bind themselves to each other; does this look like having but one God? when there are two so distinct as to bargain with each other, and one die to fulfill his part of the covenant; and the other reward him for his services. But if you will read Bostonâ€™s view of the covenant you will see much of this sort of language, and I never have seen any author on the covenant, that holds the divine nature of the Son to be one of the contracting parties; but what have unavoidably fallen into those inconsistencies; some of them, seeing that this was untenable ground, have endeavoured to remedy it, by telling us that it was not the divine nature of Christ that made this bargain; but the pre-existing soul of Christ was the second contracting party, this indeed looks more reasonable, for this could be done without dividing the Godhead, or punishing the divine nature of Christ. But this was not equal to the Father, considered as being distinct from the divine nature, and therefore was not upon equal footing to make such a covenant; for it was Godâ€™s servant must do his will, is already bound as the head of his church, and therefore can have no part in making such a covenant. Seeing the difficulties that must inevitably follow in establishing such a contract and finding that there is not one text in the bible to prove, nor favour the idea of such a bargain or contract, as this; I believe that this contract was more likely made between antichrist and the Pope of Rome, than between two distinct persons in the trinity: our writers inform us that this was an eternal contract, that is a contradiction in terms, for it is the same as to say, a contract that never was made; or a contract that never was a contract, but others fix a date to this contract or bargain, and say it was made soon after the fall of man, then it was not eternal but was made in time, that it was invented in time, I believe, but that the persons of the trinity invented it I do not believe, for I believe it to be the invention of man, and no more than human tradition. Although the reformers made a valuable leap from the chaos of error, yet who will say that they brought no errors with them; we are convinced that their errors were not a few, nor could we have expected them to have been less than they were, except they had been infallible men, but we have a more sure word of prophesy, to which we would do well to give heed, again our writers on this bargain tell us that the covenants made with the Father, viz. Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Moses and others, were figures of the covenant of grace made between the Father and the Son, then we will briefly notice those covenants, and we shall clearly see that the idea of a bargain is entirely excluded from all those covenants.
1. The covenant (as some call it) made with Adam, we have recorded Ge 2:16-17. â€“ And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Now is there any thing in this, that looks like a bargain between two contracting parties, or is it not a law given to Adam, without asking him one question on the subject, or Adam ever saying one word pro. or con. But God as a sovereign gives this law to Adam as his subject; first tells him what he may do; of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: secondly, what he may not do; but not eat of it. Thirdly, the penalty is annexed; for in the day that thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt sure die. Thus we see that the idea of a bargain is entirely excluded from this covenant, or rather this law, for a law it is in all its features; and if it is a figure of the covenant of grace or redemption; then that covenant was not a bargain between two contracting parties.
2. The covenant with Noah we have recorded Ge 9:1-18; the first seven verses, inform us that God blessed Noah and his sons, telling them what they might do in multiplying and replenishing the earth, that their fear should be upon the beasts; forbids the shedding of mans blood, and tells them to be fruitful: from the 8th. To the 18th. we learn that God spake unto Noah, and to his sons, saying, I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you of the fowl; of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth: he then tells them that the bow shall be in the cloud for a token of his covenant which he had established between him and all flesh that is upon the earth. â€“ Now Noah, his sons, or any of the beasts, had not one word to say in this covenant; nothing favouring the notion of a contract between two contracting parties, is found in it: but it evidently is nothing more nor less then an exhibition of Godâ€™s determination, never to destroy the earth with a flood of water; then if this was a figure of the covenant of redemption, the notion of a contract between two contracting parties is altogether defeated, and not even the shadow of any such bargain to be found in this covenant with Noah.
3. The covenant with Abraham is recorded Ge 13:1-2,3. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get the out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fatherâ€™s house unto a land that I will shew thee; and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Here again Abram is as silent as was Adam and Noah; we hear him say not one word in the case: then the idea of a bargain is lost from this covenant also. â€“ The covenant of circumcision with Abram, was 24 years afterwards, when he was ninety-nine years old; and is recorded, Ge 17. â€“ First, the Lord declares his sovereignty, saying, I am the Almighty God. â€“ Secondly, commands him how to walk before him. â€“ Thirdly, tells him what the covenant is, how it was to be observed, and what was the token of it. â€“ Fourthly, what the penalties are if he does not keep it; and what the blessings of the covenant were; but, Abraham so far from being a party contracting in this covenant, that, so soon as God spoke to him, and told him, that he would make his covenant between them; Abram fell on his face to hear; not to bargain, and God declared to him what the covenant was; and when Abram found that it respected his seed through Sarah; he speaks, not like a party contracting; but like a humble suppliant, saying; O that Ishmael might live before the Lord. â€“ So we clearly see that if this was a figure of the covenant of redemption the notion of a contract or bargain is not found in it.
4. The covenant made with David is recorded, 2Sa 7. And David calls it a covenant made with him, see Ps 89:3-4. I have made a covenant with my chosen; I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations: those two verses comprehend the whole sum of the covenant contained in the
2Sa 7 & Ex 20, and repeated by Moses to all Israel, De 5. But Moses is no party contractor, but when all was done according to Gods commandments; Moses calls it the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you this day: then it was Godâ€™s injunction on Israel, sent to them by the hand of Moses, and not a contract made between two equal parties. So we clearly see that if all, or either of those covenants be figures of the covenant of redemption, the idea of two contracting parties making a bargain is entirely excluded by those figures. Thus we have briefly shewn, what we do not believe respecting this covenant of redemption.
Secondly, we shall now proceed to shew what we do believe respecting this covenant; and in order to be plain on this subject, we shall attempt to get the proper meaning of the word covenant, before we proceed any farther; and for this we refer the reader to Mr. Campbellâ€™s debate, in the appendix page 157., the author tells us, the words berith, in the Hebrew language; diatheke, in the Greek; foedus in the Latin; and covenant in the English, all represent the same idea. Then he proceeds to give us the signification of each of those words and says, berith primarily signifies a purification sacrifice, a choosing, or friendly parting; and is the word uniformly used in the old testament for covenant; diatheke signifies a dispensation, appointment, testament, covenant or dispensation, and is translated into the Latin by foedus testamentum dispositio: covenant signifies from its etymology, to come together to agree; or a coming together, an agreement: because sacrifice and a friendly parting were the circumstances of covenant transactions, berith became metaphorically a suitable name for such transactions. And because there was something appointed, dispensed, guaranteed or established in such interviews. Diatheke became a proper expression of the transaction; and because the parties agreed and parted in a friendly manner, the term covenant became a suitable name for it, because of its being the usual name for the will, disposition, or arrangement of the testators effects, which is rendered valid by his death. The term dispensation, so much in use; is also a very suitable term says Parkhurst; and with him I perfectly agree, for a constitution or dispensation is as expressive of the received sense of the term diatheke, as any word in our language. Mr. Campbell informs us, that Mr. Brownâ€™s diffinition of a covenant is not correctly true as applied to the divine covenants; a covenant saith (Mr. Brown) is an agreement between different parties on certain terms. This is that erroneous opinion saith Mr. Campbell, which Mr. Parkhurst in his Dictionary mentions under the word diatheke; that has built upon, rendering this word covenant so general; as if polluted guilty man could covenant or contract with God, for his salvation, or had any thing else to do in this matter, but humbly to submit and except of Godâ€™s dispensation of purification and salvation through the all atoning sacrifice of the real berith or purifier Jesus Christ.
Thus we have seen that the origin and diffinition of the word covenant does not necessarily imply a bargain between two contracting parties, but does properly mean, a choosing, disposition, appointment, testament, &c.
This definition agrees with the manner in which the word covenant is used in the scriptures as we have seen in the first head of this discourse, thus the covenant with Adam was Gods appointment to him, I call this a covenant after the common custom of writers, but I do not think it is called so in the scripture. So the covenant with Noah was a sovereign act of God alone originating in himself and the appointment made known to Noah as the Father of the world. The covenants with Abraham were also the disposition of God, made known to him at different times, and respecting different things. â€“ 1. the covenant confirme of God in Christ, was Gods appointment; with respect to Christs being born of Abrahams line and made known to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law, when Abraham was about seventy-five years old. The covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham about twenty-five or thirty years afterwards, when Abraham was about an hundred years old; and was designed to distinguish Abrahams family; until the first covenant should be fulfilled; that is God having appointed Abrahams family as the one in which Christ should be born; afterwards appoints circumcision as a mark to distinguish that family from all others, until he was born; thus the covenants with Abraham were Gods purposes or appointments made known to him. So also the covenant with Moses was Gods appointment, or the law for the government of Israel made know to Moses; and by him forwarded to the nation of the circumcised in order to organize them still further, and to distinguish them, to them about four hundred and thirty years after the promise, called the covenant confirmed of God in Christ was made known to Abraham, and about four hundred years after the covenant with David was also an appointment of God, with respect to the throne of David being established, and his seed to set on it, and build a house for the Lord: And so are all the covenants in scripture where God is said to have made the covenant, plainly an appointment or dispensation, which he gave to the people. So we see the law: the gospel, and the work of regeneration, &c. are all called covenants because they are all Gods sovereign appointments and purposes, which he purposed in himself and makes known to his creatures as he pleases.
Thus we have seen the meaning of the word covenant, as given by Mr. Campbell and Parkhurst, and that the covenants mentioned in scripture agree with the definition which we have given of the word. So that if we should agree with the great transaction of God respecting the salvation of his people was handed down to us under the word covenant; the idea of a contract between two contracting parties is not necessarily implied in it: or if we should grant to our writers on this contract what they ask for, that is, that the covenant with Noah, Abraham, &c. were figures of the covenant of redemption; even then the idea of a contract is excluded from it: but there is not one text in all the bible; that calls the appointment or counsel of God, respecting the salvation of the church by the same covenant, the dispensation of the gospel is called by this name, but the eternal counsel of God in our election, is never called in scripture a covenant, but is called his determinate counsel and foreknowledge, which he purposed in Christ before the world was, great and precious promises given us in Christ before the foundation of the world, &c. The Baptists have always thought and that justly too; that they had a right to victory over all the pedoe-Baptists, in the case of baptism, because the latter were never able to shew one text to authorize their practice; then we have the same right to victory in this case; for the contenders for a covenant made between the Father and the Son, before the world was, have never been able to shew one text to authorize them to call that act of God a covenant, and never will, until peodoe-Baptists find one to authorize them to call sprinkling baptism. And not wishing to be wise above what is written, we will drop the word covenant and content ourselves with the words of the Holy Ghosts selecting, and attempt to show what we do believe, concerning the redemption of the church; we do not refuse to use or accept of the word covenant, because it does not suit our scheme, for as we have seen already, the word covenant excludes the idea of a contract between two-contracting parties; and when properly understood answers us as well as any other word, but when we read of our standing in Christ before the world, the word covenant is not once used to express it by: but the words chosen us in Christ before the world, according to his eternal purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world, &c. These and similar words, are used by the Holy Ghost, and as we have seen how greatly the truth has been abused by substituting the word covenant, and then construing it under the notion of a contract, we think it for the better to use scripture language on all those occasions and flee from every appearance of evil, which the substitution of the word covenant opened a door for the enemy, to introduce amongst us; but when we come to the Bible as inquirers after truth we do not meet with bewildering accounts of contracting persona in the Godhead, and of a bargain being made between two of them, before the world began, and so have our minds confused worse than before; but we come and receive the simple plain truth concerning the interest we have in the grace of God, and when we read that he hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, that the people of God are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, &c. we are at once (if we give credit to the Bible) convinced of election, and are made to drink into the same spirit with Paul, and say blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.
Thus we have shewn what we do not believe concerning the covenant of redemption, that we do not believe that it was a contract between two persons in the Godhead, nor between the Father and the human soul of Christ, nor any think like a bargain at all, and have also assigned our reasons for not believing so: and secondly, we have shewn that the word covenant means a will or testament, an appointment, disposition or dispensation, and have compared this diffinition with the word as used in scripture which proves our diffinition to be correct, so that if the word covenant is retained, yet the idea of a bargain is entirely excluded from it. Again we have hinted at the evils which have been introduced amongst us by calling the purpose of God in our election a covenant, and then explaining a covenant to mean a contract and then dividing the Godhead into three persons in order to get the contracting parties in the covenant. Those things being very far from innocent, and as far from truth, and only calculated to perplex the mind of the inquirer after thru, we therefore think best to drop the word covenant when we are conversing of things before the world, seeing the Holy Ghost hath never used it in that place, and thus we have hinted at Godâ€™s eternal purpose in the election of his church in Christ before all worlds; and as we purpose to treat more particularly on this subject in the next discourse we shall close the present by giving a few words of advise on reading the scripture.
Christian brethren we live in a land of plenty, and under a government that allows us the privilege of free investigation, but have we not cause to mourn when we find that our minds are so powerfully biased by tradition that we so often read the scripture in order to find something to strengthen our prejudices rather than remove them, but could we once lay aside all our prepossessions and come to the scriptures to learn of God what we must believe, and how we should serve him acceptably. May this be the happy lot of the writer and reader of this little book; we should endeavor to come as dependent on the Bible for instruction as we are on God for salvation, and remember that error gets more powerful in old age, but never gets any better, and where it has been long entertained by great and good men, it becomes ingenious enough to hold them up to view, and say see what a train of good men have entertained me; I must be good or they would not have had me with them, for sure they knew much more than you do, thus error imposes upon us and tries to prevent us from believing for ourselves, and persuade us to pin our faith to other mens sleves, and it may have been whispering in your ears some of the those things, since you have been reading this discourse on the covenant, for it does not feel willing to give up the ghost, and have no more of an honorable burying than an unlearned and unpopular phamphlet, while so many learned and popular volumes stand ready to prolong its life and embalm its body: but if we would know the truth; we should know that the word of God is true, and every man a liar, and if they depart from the Bible, we are guilty if we follow them, or if they teach for doctrine the traditions of men we should search the scriptures daily to see whether these things be so. Thus may we all come for instruction to the good word of God, and by it under the influence of the holy spirit be made wise unto salvation, to know God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent whom to know is life eternal.
The doctrine of atonement has been as much abused by men, as any point or subject that ever was delivered to man from the scriptures of truth: but as we do not aim at controversy, we shall simply attempt to show what we understand by the atonement, and who are interested in it; and in order to do this we shall persue the following method. First, show what we understand by the atonement. Secondly, who are interested in it. And thirdly, how their justification is affected by it.
1. We are to show what we understand by the atonement; the word atone according to Walker, means to agree, to answer for, to expiate, satisfy, appease. Atonement signifies agreement concord, expiation, satisfaction, thus the atonement performed by Christ, was his answering for us, and making satisfaction, and thereby expiating our guilt, by atoning for our crimes: to this diffinition of the word, the scripture most cordially agrees: see 1Co 5:7. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 1Pe 3:18. For Christ hath once suffered for sons, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. Ro 5:10-11. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Thus we see that the apostle understood the word as we do; but although all agree in the meaning of the word, yet there is a very great difference in the manner of illustrating this doctrine; and great division of sentiment, and a very material difference in understanding it; insomuch that one author tells us, that the atonement means reconciliation; and that reconciliation is effected, not by Christ dying to make satisfaction for our sins, nor bearing the penalty of the law as our representative; but by the power of sympathy, or by our reflecting on his sufferings, as an example for us to follow, we become reconciled to God, and so what we call the new birth, he calls the atonement: See Stones Second Address. Others say the atonement is Christs procuring or purchasing, some easy terms of salvation for us, and also purchasing all our blessings, both command special, and that by dying for original sin, he removed original guilt and placed mankind, in a state of probation, with power to fulfill certain conditions, and thereby secure their salvation; or reject those terms and be lost. Others tell us that both of these are wrong, for the atonement is Christ dying to pacify the Father, and by sprinkling his rich blood upon the burning throne, calmed the Fathers frowning face and turned the wrath to grace, and reconciled the father to the elect, and procured all temporal blessings for the none elect; thus while they are disputing on this subject, Mr. Fuller in his gospel its own Witness, undertakes to reconcile the disputants by informing us that the atonement was effected by Christs bearing a partial punishment for sin; not so as to fulfil the letter of the law, but to preserve the spirit of it, so far that the malignity of sin might be exposed, and God might forgive it, without appearing to act contrary to moral government; but still we have to think for ourselves, and differ very much from all those good men; for we believe, that the work of atonement was effected, not by Christs appearing to do what he did not do; that is appearing to fulfil the law; and not fulfiling it, according to Mr. Fuller, but by fulfiling to a jot and title, magnifying and making it honourable; not by purchasing blessings temporal or spiritual for us, but by dying for our sins according to the scriptures; not to affect our tender passions with human sympathy according to Mr. Stone, but to remove the curse being made a curse for us. Not to change the disposition of the Father towards us, by turning his wrath to grace, but by bearing our sins in his own body in the tree: Not to purchase some easy terms of salvation for us, and place us in a state of probation, but to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; not original sin only but of many offences, unto justification of life; not a partial or conditional justification, but justifying us from all things from which we could not be justifyed by the law of Moses. Thus the atonement of Christ evendently is his suffering all that punishment which our sins, both original and practical did or could demerit, and thereby satisfying the just penalty of Gods law which we had violated, and by being wounded for our sins, and bruised for our transgressions, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and thus the righteous servant of God justified many be bearing their iniquity. The atonement did not purchase any spiritual blessings for the elect of God, for he that spared not his own son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things; neither did the atonement purchase the favour, grace or love of God; but was the strongest evidence, that he had given us grace in Christ before the foundation of the world, neither did the atonement purchase heaven for us but acquited the church from all condemnation, so that after regeneration they shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world: neither did the atonement make God love the church, but was the greatest commendation of the love of God, for greater love hath no man then this, that a man should lay down his life for his friend, but God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Neither did the atonement purchase any temporal blessings for the world; for the earth and the fullness of it is the Lordâ€™s, and he gives or withholds as he pleases. He sends rain on the just and the unjust, as his favours bestowed to the world in creation; not as favours purchased by the atonement; neither did the atonement purchase the gifts or graces of the spirit, but freed the church from under the ministration of condemnation and death, and placed them under grace, and thus prepared the way for the spirit of grace to bestow its gifts and graces upon them, which it could not have done, while they were under the curse; without rendering them as miserable as Adam must have been if he had have eaten of the tree of life, after he had become guilty by eating of the tree of knowledge. Neither did the atonement purchase any thing for the world or the church either temporal, spiritual or eternal: but he purchased the church by his own blood; not that he purchased the church from the Father, but purchased it, or redeemed it from under the law, by his blood which answered every penal demand that the law could have against it; and by thus paying to the law its full price or demand, they (his people) are no more under the law, but under grace. Thus we have shewn what we understand by the atonement; and shall proceed to shown in the second place, who are interested in the atonement.
2. Those and only those are interested in the atonement that were united to Christ, before all worlds, for the atonement could effect none else; for justice would not allow of Christs suffering for sin, without union to the sinner; nor could we be justified by the blood of Christ without union with him, but as this union is disputed by many good men, and we think mostly on account of not understanding it. I shall endeavour to treat on this subject as plain as possible, and shew the indispensable necessity of such union in order to our being interested in the atonement by Jesus Christ; or being saved by him, upon the principles of equity. My present design is to render with as much plainness of speech as possible, the reason of my ideas intending thereby to prove at once the necessity and utility of this union; all our hopes of salvation are built upon this assertion, God is good; and that we may rightly conceive of him as being good; it is as necessary to see him justice, holiness, and truth, as mercy and love; for all those is necessary to meet in one, to constitute real goodness, but where is the justice of laying our sins on Christ if we were not so united to him, as to make it just. I am sure no one would call that judge either just, or good, that would place the crime of the guilty, to the account of the innocent; and punish him for it; but it hath pleased the Lord to lay the iniquity of us all on him, and he was wounded for our sins, and bruised for our transgressions; but is there any more justice in wounding Christ for our sins without union, than there would be in hanging one man, because another had committed murder? but if Christ and those for whom he suffered, was united as head and members; then the justice of the act does clearly appear, when the head of the body suffers with and for his members, then we cannot conceive of God as being good nor just in the imputation of our sins to Christ, without the consideration of union, if we call God holy, and yet say that he punished his own beloved son, for crimes that he never had done, nor was in any sense united to those that had committed them; must we not of course think them holy men that sacrifice their innocent sons to molock? If Christ died for our sins and was not united to us, it was contrary to truth, which declares that they are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, then the truth stands unimpeached, for he and them make but one; he the head and they the members.
Thus we see the necessity of union between Christ and those for whom he made atonement. Again, if Christ had volunteered himself to die for us, it could not have done us any good without union because it would not have done us any good without union because it would not have removed our guilt, any more, then an innocent personâ€™s being hanged unjustly would remove the guilt of the highway robber. If I am guilty of a capital crime, I remain guilty, if all the innocent men in the state of Ohio should volunteer to suffer in my stead, then if Christ died that God might be just in justifying; he must have been united to the church, before he suffered for them; or else the act of punishing Christ for their sins, is so far from having any appearance of justice in it; that was an earthly king to be guilty of such an act with his son, it would almost cause the blood to run cold in our veins, and every heart would rise up against the cruel act of the unequaled tyrant in human shape.
But ought we not to feel a double shock when we hear men trying to place this crime to Godâ€™s account; O my soul come thou not into this awful dilemma.
The christian world in general is willing to agree, that Christ and his people are united after faith, but not before; then it becomes our duty to examine when this union took place; and what the cementing bond of this union is. First, we sill examine if faith is this bond of union. Secondly, If Gods breathing into man the breath of life is this union; and Thirdly, attempt to shew what this bond is, and hint at is antiquity and strength; and shew how it clothed Christ with the right to make an atonement.
1. We are now to examine if faith is this bond of union; faith is a grace of the spirit that has to do with that union; but so far from being the bond or cement of it, that if we were not united before faith acted, it could never act; for it is an evidence of things not seen; but it could not be an evidence of union with Christ, unless such union had existed previous to the evidence of faith; an evidence is that which witnesses to a fact, but it never can create a fact, but the fact must first be a fact, and then the evidence can bear testimony to that fact; so by faith we know the world was made; that is, by the evidence of faith we know it. Whether faith is considered as retrospective or prospective it acts on facts; if it evidences that there is a heaven, it is a fact, and was so long before faith could have given an evidence of it. So respecting this union, faith is an evidence of it, but it must have been a fact before faith could be an evidence of it; and thus if ever faith is spoken of in scripture as having any thing to do in this union it is because it apprehends it, and bears witness of it.
Again faith has no uniting quality in it, but simply evidences to the truth; and is therefore called a belief of the truth; but if it has any uniting quality in it, it must unite us as much to bad men, as to good ones; as much to the world as to saints; and as much to the devil as to God; for it bears evidence to the truth of the one as certainly as to the other; and is a belief of the one, as much as of the other; so it is our happiness that faith cannot unit us to any thing but can apprehend union where it is; and division where it is. Thus we have seen that faith is not, nor cannot be the bond of union.
2. We are to inquire if Gods breathing into man the breath of life is the bond of union between Christ and his church: although this is much more reasonable than the other, yet this is equally false; for we find this union existed before creation, for in thy book all my members were written, then they were united with him as members, and their names written in the lambs book of life slain from the foundation of the world.
3. We shall now hasten to show what this bond of union is, & hint its antiquity and strength; and show how it clothed Christ with the right to make the atonement. â€“ The bond of union between Christ and his church is love; and this cementing bond unites the church to both the human and divine nature of Christ, or the pre-existing soul of Christ and God in it; for God says yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and Christ says, thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me, and thou lovest me before the world was, but this uniting bond not only existed between God and his people, but between the soul of Christ and the church, for he loved the church, and gave himself for it; love is very dissimilar to faith; first, it has an uniting quality in it; it unites husband and wife, it never can be without union, for union is its very nature; it is that uniting bond that cements together all that it encloses; secondly, it differs from faith, for when faith evidences the truth of the being of wicked men and devils, love does not unite us to them because God is love and if God is love we are lost when we go to hint the antiquity of this union; we can only say it is as old as God, for God is love; but love must have an object or it ceases to be; for I cannot love, and love nothing; love is that endearing or uniting perfection of God, which could only exist, so long as the object beloved existed; nor could God be love before the object was beloved, neither can love be controlled, for it brings forth, produces, or sets up its own object, that is, must necessarily have an object, in order to is own existence; and as God is self-existent and independent, his existence as love, brought forth its object, which was the soul of Christ will all his people in it, and the very existence of God as king could only be because he had subjects for a king without a kingdom, is no king at all; so love without an object is no love at all. So we see that in order to our speaking of God as being love, or his existing as love, there must be an object beloved, and in order to his being a king there must be subjects, and thus the pre-existent soul of Christ, was the object of the love of God and his people in it were the subjects of his kingdom, and Christ was the medium of operation through whom God exercises his authority in the government of his kingdom; for in the pre-existing soul of Christ, the subjects of this kingdom were chosen, before the world, when we speak or read of a choice being made in Christ before the world, we re not to understand, that God was looking through Adams posterity, and picking out one here, and another there, and writing their names in the book of life, and refusing the rest, for they were chosen in Christ before the world and not in Adam; for he did not exist before creation; and the choice was not an act that took place, or was planed some time after the existence of God, either before the world or since, but was a consequence of, and inseparable from the existence of God as king, and this kingdom was organized in the pre-existent soul of Christ; in whom all blessings, purposes, promises and grace of God were given them, or in whom the whole design of God toward them was expressed and all this not by an act of God, but as a thing inseparable from the being of God, under the name love, mercy, king, sovereign, lord or any other name he bears, in which his superiority is implied, thus you see, that our union to God, or the divine nature of Christ is a consequence of Godâ€™s being love, and while God remains to be love our union must of necessity continue, without any addition or dimunition, unless God increases or diminishes. And our being chosen in Christ is a consequence of Gods being a king, and our being interested in those blessings and graces in Christ, is a consequence of the nature and design of God, which never can be seperated from him, unless he becomes dispossessed of his nature. This is the nature of our union with Christ, and this the bond of it, and to this agrees the scripture of truth. And thus we see all the elect of God were chosen and blest, with all spiritual blessings in Christ, and thus the human soul of Christ was pregnant with all the subject, blessings, & graces, of Gods kingdom; and as the only active representative, it acts for them all, having them all in it. Thus the union between Christ and his church is taught in the scripture, I in them, and thou in me; We are members of his body of his flesh and of his bones; whether on member suffer all the members suffer with it; for as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular; He is the head of the body the church: the head over all things to his church; which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth al in all. Ye are complete in him; we being many are one body in Christ, and members one of another. For: both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.
We think if unnecessary to repeat any more scripture here, for the above texts are a specimen of the Bible on this subject; so we have seen what the bond of union is; and have hinted the antiquity and strength of it, and shall now shew how it clothes Christ with the right of making the atonement, we have seen the necessity of this union with God, in the pre-existent soul of Christ brought forth and set up, as the certain effect of the being of God under the idea, of love or the authority of a king, or of God under either of those characters; and so Christ existed then as properly the head of the church, or kingdom of God, while they were all in him, as Adam did exist head of the human family when they all were in him. And as the creation of Adam gave him the right to represent his posterity in Eden before God, because they were naturally related to him; being united in him; so Christ had the right of representing his posterity, by virtue of union with them which as a consequence of Godâ€™s existence, and ever since God a king his people or subjects were his portion; and ever since God was love, Christ with his church in him, was set up as the object of that love, and ever since the Lord was God, that holy nation, whose God the Lord is, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritence have been blessed. Now we have seen that according to the nature and constitution of things, Christ was always united to his church as their head and representative, and thus he has the right of making the atonement for them, and they can be benefited by it; in this way the just of God appears, in the imputation of Christ righteousness to the church, just in the same point of view that Adams sin or guilt, was imputed or entailed to his posterity. So Gods independent existence, consequently brought forth his own medium of operation, for the government of his kingdom, clothed Christ with the right of redemption; and in him our happiness was inseparably connected with an exhibition of the glory of God, so that the highest display of his glory is in effecting our happiness; thus all the works of God in creation and providence, as well as in grace, are for the accomplishment of his purposes in displaying his glory in the government of his kingdom, and the whole gospel, is only an exhibition of his eternal design or purpose; thus the very being of God secures the church in Christ; in whom they must always remain while God remains a king, for they are his subjects; and the human soul of Christ is their representative, in whom the whole platform of government is treasured and in whom God is prepared to make every display of himself, that he ever designed to make. So when God displayed his power in creating a world, it was by Jesus Christ; when he displayed his glory in redemption, it was by the same Christ; & when he shall display his glory in judging the world in righteousness it will be by the same Jesus Christ; and in a word, all we do know, or ever shall know of God, is in and by Jesus Christ; and as creation was a work of God, preparatory to the display of his glory; the earth became of course the theatre upon which the display should be made; and as the church or kingdom of God was the object of that display, it naturally required that Adam as a figure, of him, by whom that great display should be made, should be the highest part of creation.
And as the display of Gods glory, was to be made by Christ, who contained all his people in him; it was proper that all the posterity of the figure should be contained in him; and as all the spiritual blessings of Gods kingdom were in Christ, so all the temporal blessings of the world must be in the figure, and as the whole rule of the government of his kingdom was in Christ; so the whole rule of the government of the world must be in the figure: thus Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for he was the most exalted part of the creation, had all his posterity in him, so all temporal blessings were his; of all the trees of the garden thou mayest freely eat; and the rule that should govern the world was contained in the law given to Adam and all the human family in him, but afterwards when the woman was seperated from the man in person, but remaining bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, she was deceived and was in the transgression, and gave to her husband, and he not being deceived willingly partook of it, knowing the consequence that would follow; and as the woman united to him, bone of his bone and flesh, of his flesh, had eaten of the forbidden fruit, he must eat or be seperated from her and so he did eat. What a beautiful figure is Adam of Christ, Adam was created with the woman in him; - Adam was the head of the woman; - Christ was the head of the church. Adam had the law & temporal blessings of the woman given to her in him: Christ had the law of love and all the spiritual blessings of the church, given to the church in him. â€“ Adam received the forbidden fruit from the woman after she had eaten: - Christ received the consequence of the transgression of the church after they had sinned. â€“ Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Adam loved his wife and said for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they two shall be one flesh: Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, which was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Thus the head of the woman is the man and the head of the church is Christ. And here in creation we have a beautiful figure of the union between Christ and the church; which gives him the right of redemption; and shows the justice of our sins being laid on Christ. Again when God makes a display of his glory in giving the law we see a plain figure of the relationship in the case of redemption; if one of the Hebrews became poor and was sold; a kinsman was allowed to have the right of redemption. And in the fullness of time when God makes that great display of himself; which all the other displays were preparatory too; the substance of the figures in the former displays comes forward, with the glory of God shining in his face, and the whole Godhead dwelling in him bodily; publishes the eternal counsel or disposition of God, declares himself united to them as their head and husband, and acts the part of a kinsman in redemption. Thus we have seen that the union between Christ and his church clothed him with the right to make the atonement; and now we shall show how their justification is effected by the atonement of Christ.
Justification is a law term, and is the reverse of condemnation; to justify is to declare one to be just, or innocent; thus God justifies the church. Legal justification can only take place where there is no guilt or lawful charge to condemn; and thus God justifies because Christ has died; that is Christ has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, who was the head of the church, and thereby clears them as his members from guilt; and thus God is just when he justifies them, and in the very same sense the church was justified, for their sins were placed to Christs account as their head and representative and thus he was as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world, ever since Christ was brought fourth the head and representative of his church, he has been accountable as such to God for all the acts of those he did represent, and though their sins could not stain him with impurity, yet as he is their head and they in him, their sins must be charged to him, and the punishment due to their sins must be inflicted on him. Therefore the sword of justice must slumber until the head of the church comes to satisfy its demands, and then awake against him, instead of the sheep; for all we like sheep have gone astray we have every one turned into our own way; but the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all, and in the very same sense that Christ was accountable for the church; the church was justified in him.
But when Christ came into this world to make the atonement, he came with his people in him, as they always had been, and in this sense they may be said to suffer in him, to die in him, to rise in him and to be glorified in him, and to have their seats in heavenly places in him, for as he is, so are we in him; for whether one of the members suffer, all the members suffer with it, or whether one member be honored all the members rejoice with it. Thus we have seen that the nature and being of God hath joined Christ and his church together, and let no man attempt to put them asunder, but thus united they stand, and Christ as their head is constitutionally the only one that can make the atonement, and he can atone for none but such as are constitutionally the members of his body, or Gods kingdom, nor will justice allow of one other sin being laid to his charge, nor of one of the sins of his people being laid to the charge of any other but him; thus there is an indispensable necessity for Christ to make the atonement, and all his members were in him when he did make the atonement, and his dying is the same by virtue of this union, as if they all had died; for the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead; & that he died for all, that henceforth we that live, should not live unto ourselves, but unto him that died for us, and rose again. Thus we have become dead to the law by the body of Christ, crucified with Christ: thus Christs being united to the church as their head and dying as such; they in him have been represented in death, under the penalty of the law, and in him every charge of the law is fulfiled completely; and they are as clear from guilt in him, as if they never had committed one sin, and are justified by the atoning blood of Christ: for justice demands their justification; and who can lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect? for it is God that justifieith; who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died. Thus we see that Christs dying for the elect clears them from every possible charge so that no one can condemn, for God who cannot look on sin with any degree of allowance justifies them freely from all things not in part only but from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. Thus the atonement completely justified the whole elect church or kingdom of God which was in Christ, when the atonement was made, and so when he died for us according to the scriptures and we in him; he never could have arisen from the dead while one sin stood charged to him on our account, or against the church in him but he having (by the atonement) obtained for us the forgivness (or discharge) of all our sins, he rises again from the dead, with his church in him as saith the scriptures, thy dead body shall live, my dead body shall arise after two days will he revive us; in the third he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight. Thus as our justification was completed by Christ; dying for our sins; so our justification is demonstrated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and so it is said, he died for our sins and rose again for our justification. And so Christ ascends to heaven with all his people in him, as completely clear of sin, as they were before sin entered the world, so we see that justification is a consequence of the atonement, and the atonement could only justify the church, for none others were united to him; but they by virtue of union with Christ, are justified, as truly justified by his fulfilling the law as Adamâ€™s family or posterity by virtue of union with him became condemned by his transgression of the law. Thus we see the sum of what we have said on this subject, stated by the apostle as follows, whom he did foreknow them he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the first born among many brethren; and whom he did predestinate them he also called, and to whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified; all is done, all is in the past tense; justified and glorified, as well as predestinated, and this can only be true of us in Christ, and in him it is true; for in him we have our predestination, calling, justification, and glorification, all in him and not in ourselves; nor shall we ever be justified in ourselves, if we had the faith of all the apostles & prophets, for faith can do no more in our justification, than in our union with Christ, that it can only evidence the truth of that which was a truth before it did evidence it, so faith never could have apprehended our justification, or have brought us one evidence of it, had our justification not been a truth before, for faith to apprehend and bear evidence too; thus we have seen that union between Christ and his church; clothed him with the right of redemption, and that by the atonement all the subjects of the kingdom of God are justified from all things. And now we shall close this discourse, by showing where justification places the church.
First, - it places her clear from the curse of the law, therefore she cannot be condemned with the world. Secondly, - it puts away all her sins and therefore she cannot die eternally, for she is justified into life. Thirdly, - it places her in a situation that regeneration will be a blessing to her and within the bounds of the spirits regenerating work, or in the field of its labour, for the spirit of God does not go to work outside of his kingdom, it does not give the blessings of Gods kingdom, to the subjects of another kingdom, nor are the subjects of Gods kingdom prepared to receive regeneration, until they are justified; for it would be a curse to them instead of a blessing, for then they would be born of the spirit and yet under the law, and under the curse, and they would be spiritual and the atonement could not effect them, that is, they would be born of the spirit and so would be spirit; and the atonement could do them no more good than it could do the fallen angels; but this is sufficiently guarded against, and I think this is clearly taught where the flaming sword was placed, to guard the way of the tree of life, lest man should eat of it, while he was under the sentence of death and so live forever, for if the tree of knowledge was a sign or figure of the law, and the tree of life, was a figure or sign of the gospel, then the eating of the former, made the fruit of the latter dangerous; so while we are under the curse of the law, regeneration which is the fruit of the spirit of the Gospel, would be also dangerous; and until the flaming sword is quenched in the atoning blood and is stamped with the signature of Almighty God, from end to end, saying I am well pleased for his righteousness sake; we cannot be regenerated by the spirit; but when we are justified by the blood of Christ, we are prepared to receive regeneration; so I say justification places the church within the bounds of the spirits regenerating work, or in the field of its labour. But justification does not fit the church for heaven, or to enjoy God, it only clears her from guilt, because the atonement of Christ has satisfied the demands of the law in her behalf; but it effects no change in her, and therefore she must be regenerated and born again, for as I said before, so say I now, justification is a law term, and that righteousness which justifies must be according to the law, but all the graces of the spirit, belong to the ministration of the gospel, and cannot come under the curse of the law, therefore, they must follow after justification, that is, they can come to those and to those only, who are free from under the curse of the law; thus justification places the church in readiness for regeneration and faith, with all the graces of the spirit, and it (the spirit) bestows its blessings on all those, that are thus prepared to receive them.
And now reader has it bestowed them on you? perhaps you are disputing with this doctrine, because it saps the foundation of vain glorious boasting, and human pride, defeats self righteousness and exalts the Saviour, but pause for a moment, and ask yourself, am I a subject of the spirits operation; if I am not, alas for me! I have no sufficient evidence of an interest in the atonement, whether this doctrine be true or not; but if I am a subject of its operation, I have the best evidence of my interest in the atonement, and of my justification by it; and am compelled by infinite goodness, to sing with wonder and joy;O to grace how great a debtor,
As we have seen in the foregoing discourse, how the atonement affected the justification of the church, we shall attempt in this discourse to show, how the spirit in its work, follows the atonement and prepares the justified for heaven, for as the very being and nature of love effected our union with Christ, and this union gave him the right of making the atonement and the church the right of being justified by it, so the atonement by clearing the church from under the ministration of condemnation and death, places the church under grace, or the ministration of the spirit; and the work of the spirit prepares them for the enjoyment of God and heaven.
First, in speaking on this subject we shall show the state of man before regeneration. â€“ Secondly, What he may experience, and not be under the work of the spirit. â€“ Thirdly, what is the work of the spirit, and what are the evidences of it.
1. We are to show the state of man before regeneration. Before regeneration man is dead in trespasses and in sin, children of wrath, enemies to God, hateful and hating one another, all gone out of the way, none doing good, no not one; vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts are darkened, they call darkness light, and light darkness, they have no fear of God before their eyes; the way of peace they have not known, and this is the state of all Adamâ€™s offspring without distinction of elect or none elect, for all that were in Adam, when he represented his whole posterity, fell with him into the same state, for by the disobedience of one man judgment came upon all men unto condemnation; and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, for all have sinned; that is all have sinned in that one manâ€™s sin; and so death passed through him upon all his seed; this was the state of all Adamâ€™s race; when he sinned they sinned, when he fell they fell; when he became exposed to death they became exposed to death; not a spiritual death as some say, but a natural one that is, man being a compound of soul and body, or consisting of both soul and body, was exposed to death and as the soul could never be destroyed by death, it must suffer the pains of death eternally, and thus a natural death, must constitute an eternal death, or eternal dying, and in this exposed state all mankind stand until regeneration takes place, for it has long been proved, that all are under sin, and in this situation, they hate the light, because it shows their evil deeds; and love darkness because it gives them opportunity to work the works of darkness; it is over them as a covering, for darkness hath covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; this is the sate of all men in Adam the first, and in themselves as sinners in Adams sin. Thus the elect are both condemned and justified at the same time, condemned in, with, and by Adam the first; but justified in, with, and by Adam the second, for as condemnation unto death came by the first Adam, so the free gift unto justification of life came by the second Adam, and as all that were in the first Adam fell under condemnation in him, as their head and representative, so all that were in Christ the second Adam were justified in him, as their head and representative; and so by nature they are children of wrath even as others, but being given to Christ they are his, and so heirs according to the promise. Thus we have shewn the state of man before regeneration, all condemned under the law by virtue of relationship with the first Adam; and all the elect justified by the blood of Christ by virtue of relation with him the second Adam.
2. We shall now proceed to show what men may experience and not be under the work of the spirit of grace. He may feel all that weight of guilt which the law of God charges upon him; and yet not be a subject of the spirits operation, for the law is the ministration of condemnation and death. When the law was given, the people of Israel were awfully alarmed, with the terriffic sight, the mountain covered with fire and smoke, the shafts of death flying, so that if so much as a beast touched the mountain it was stoned, or thrust through with a dart, and the people were sore affraid, yet not under the work of the spirit, for they could unite in making a golden calf to worship. Men may experience very severe and bitter sensations under the sentence of the law, and mourn with aching and heavy hearts, under the ministration of condemnation and death, and all be like the mourning of the murderer that is condemned to be hanged for his crime; he mourns for the miseries that he is exposed to, and not for the heinous nature of his crime; this sort of mourning has self-love for its parent, the thundering of the law has affrighted it; the fears of hell terrify it; and the thoughts of death and judgment fill it with dismay; so when Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment, Felix trembled. This sort of conviction leads men to act like Esau, who has sold his birth right; but when he saw that he was cut off thereby, he sought for a place of repentance in Isaac, but found none though he sought it carefully with tears; so men under this kind of conviction set about to seek for some place of repentance in God, by which the law of condemnation may be repealed, and its sentence revoked, and if they can imagine that they have prevailed on God to love them, and revoke the sentence of the law, upon conditions of what they have done, and what they now promise faithfully to do, they may conclude that they are christians, and upon their faithfully performing those conditions, all will be well with them; and thus they may have as much zeal for God as Israel had and no more according to knowledge than was theirs; in a word, if the fears of hell bears the greates weight on the mind, we do not believe it to be the work of the spirit, or if our comforts are conditional, and depend on any thing done by us, or any of our faithful performances in future life, we do not believe it to be the work of the spirit; neither have we any right to believe, any thing to be the work of the spirit, but that which teacheth in the truth, and as we cannot pretend to show all the impressions that men may pass through, and not be under the work of the spirit; we shall in the third place proceed to speak of the impressions of those who are under the work of the spirit positively.
3. We are to show what is the work of the spirit, and what are the evidences of it. The work of the spirit is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us; and surely as we are blind, our eyes must be opened, ere we can see those things; and if the blessings of the spirit, are spiritual blessings, we must be spiritual in order to our seeing them, or receiving them, for the natural man understandeth not the things of the spirit, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; but when our eyes are opened by the spirit, we see what is a truth respecting ourselves, that is, we see that we are rebels against God, and that we are not fit to be in heaven; we see that God is the fountain of real happiness; but our sins have separated between us and him: - we see the justice of the law in condemning us for our sins, but although we know that hell is the just demerit of our rebellion, yet that punishment is but a small part of our distress, when compared with the weight of our minds for being rebels against God, a sense of being averse to God, an enemy to him, and unqualified for his service, possessing a heart full of evil, a mind prone to wander from God, full of wicked and presumptuous thoughts, and an uncontrollable enmity against God that rises in spite of the endeavours of the creature; these are the things which bear the heaviest on the mind under the work of the spirit, while the subject of this work, is lead to feel something of the weight of his own corruption, and see something of the glory of God, he is compelled to give up all hopes of being saved by any works of righteousness of his own, either as meritorious or conditional, for when he would do good evil is present with him, and he cries, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death; now he needs no one to tell him, that he is hlpless, for he knows it for himself, here he feels himself condemned in every thing that he attempts, and like the Publican, stands at a great distance, and smiting on the breast, as if he meant, O that this hard, this rebellious, this unrelenting heart was broken into tenderness and love, he cries, God be merciful to me a sinner; for no power but thine can slay this enmity, and I am unworthy, I have no claim on thee, for I am a sinner; have mercy on me, for I cannot help myself, nor recommend myself to thee, but of necessity I am compelled to acknowledge that the fountain of rebellion is in my breast and as a pensioner on thy clemency to cry, God be merciful to me a sinner, thus he is convinced of his standing in himself as one of the depraved children of the first Adam. He is convinced of the impossibility of ever being saved by his own works or of every fulfilling any conditions upon which to be accepted of God, and thus he is prepared to receive grace for grace, and nothing else but grace; and when the spirit hath fully convinced the creature of his own inability to help himself, and has cut him off from all his false hopes and every refuge of lies; then it reveals to him the second Adam, as his representative, with his fullness of grace. It gives him faith which evidences to his justification, by the blood of Christ; leads him to understand the gospel plan of salvation, through the mediation of Jesus Christ; Thus they are convinced of the truth as it respects their standing in themselves as sinners, condemned by virtue of the sin of the first Adam, and them in him, and also of their standing in Christ the second Adam, and their justified state in him, and this is their state ever afterwards; they always feel condemned in themselves, and feel the opposition of a depraved nature lusting against the spirit, and bringing them into captivity to sin which is in their members, but looking to Christ, who is made of God unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
This change wrought by the spirit, is called regeneration because it is begetting them unto a divine nature. The first work of the spirit on the heart is regeneration, or the implanting of that incorruptible seed with cleaves to holiness, and so it is sometimes called quickened, because this is a living seed, that causes the motions of life to appear, and this is always followed by the new birth which is effected when the soul is enabled to view Christ by faith, and lay hold of the comfort contained in the gospel, and so they are said to be born again, not of corruptable seed, but of an incorruptable seed, by the word of God. Born of the spirit they are spirit; they live on spiritual food; and they serve God in the newness of the spirit; but this divine nature does not destroy the old man, but is the forming of Christ in you the hope of glory; now there is two in one, the old man and the new, or flesh and spirit, and these being contrary the one from the other, maintain a constant warfare, as long as animal life continues; but the spirit is certain of victory, and must conquer the world, for the greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Some have thought that this work of the spirit, emulates against our views of justification, but we think it is a strong proof of it; for when they felt themselves condemned under the sentence of the law it was by comparing themselves with the law, without having any knowledge of Christ as the end of the law, in their behalf; and faith makes no alteration here, for let Paul or the greatest saint in the world compare themselves with the law, without a mediator, and they are as much condemned as even in themselves, and must acknowledge the law is holy, but I am carnal sold under sin, but when they can look to Christ, they can see their justification al complete in him not by a new act of God for their justification, nor by any act of faith effecting their justification, nor by any recent act of the spirit, securing their justification, but by the blood of Christ which was offered in the atonement, answering every demand of the law in their behalf, and thereby removing the curse from them. Now faith is so far from justifying us that it affords us the strongest evidence that we are justified by the blood of Christ; and thus true faith is an evidence of justification in the very sense that we have spoken of it, and the work of ht spirit, is to take of the things of Christ, and shew them unto us, and when his righteousness is shown unto us we rejoice to it; but it was as complete before we saw it as since; so when faith evidences our justification, we rejoice in it, but it was as complete before faith bore evidence to it, as it is since, or else the evidence of faith could not have been true; for we must agree that whatever bears testimony to a thing that is not true, before it gives its testimony; must bear false witness; so if our faith does not witness that our justification was a truth before we believed, it is a false faith, that is, if our justification was not a truth, before, faith gave any evidence of it, then faith must have given a false evidence and of course, must be a false faith; so we see that the work of the spirit, is to reveal to us the truth, as it respects our standing in the first and second Adam, condemned in the first, and justified in the second lost in the first, but saved in the second Adam, condemned in the first, and justified in the second, lost in the first, but saved in the second, enemies to God by the first, but reconciled by the second, under the law by the first, but under grace by the second, and being partakers of the depraved nature by the first the spirit makes us partakers of the divine nature through the second, and thus we are both flesh and spirit. And now we shall close this discourse by offering some evidences to prove this work or rather to prove ourselves to be the subjects of the work of the spirit, The apostle shows us love, as an evidence; we love him because he first loved us; here love to God is an evidence that we are and have been loved of God; but how shall we know whether we love God or not. He that loves God will love his brother; for if we love not our brother whom we have seen, how shall we love God whom we have not seen; thus love is an evidence both to ourselves for our comfort, and to others respecting us; for by this shall ye know that ye have passed from death unto life because ye love the brethren; and by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples when ye have love for one another; thus love is an evidence of the work of the spirit. Again faith is an evidence of this work; for it is one of the spirits gifts, & always one of its attendants; therefore it witnesses that the spirit has been teaching us to know the truth; but sometimes our faith is weak, and we see so much evil in our own nature, so much darkness in our own minds, such a natural aversion to good, and such a strong propensity to evil, we are constrained to cry, surely if I was born of the spirit, I should not be so full of sin, and imperfections; here the man is trying to find something good in himself, but he cannot; and there is a good reason for it; for in me, that is, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing: and to know this truth is one good evidence of a gracious work: and so we may say, that one of the strongest evidences, of our being under the work of the spirit, causes us to doubt it the most; that is, seeing the evil of our own corrupt nature, is one strong evidence of our being under the light of the spirit getting a sight of those corruptions still remaining in us in all their strength, make us think surely I have been deceived; for I am the very same rebel that I have always been: but these trials are peculiar to the subjects of the spiritâ€™s work; and these are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness; and they shall be filled.
Studious reader; in this little book you have seen truth exhibited in six short discourses; and now we close the whole with this address, in which we purpose to collect together the leading ideas of each, and shew their concord in the system of our salvation by grace. In the first discourse we have shewed that there is but one God, and that all creation is under obligation to worship him, on account of the majesty of his character and glory, and for the favors bestowed on them in creation and providence.
In the second discourse we have shewed that this God was manifest in the flesh of Jesus Christ, and was the same object of worship and possessed the same majesty that he did before he was manifest in the flesh.
In the third discourse we have shewed, that the human soul of Christ pre-existed creation, as the medium of operation by which God created the worlds, and was the deposit, in which was treasured up all Gods children; with all their graces and all the purposes, promises and spiritual blessings the church should ever stand in need of.
In the fourth discourse, we have shewed that the notion of a covenant under the idea of a bargain is erroneous, and that it is not used in scripture to express Godâ€™s determination in our salvation; but that the purpose of God is used in stead thereof, and is the most proper for us to use.
In the fifth discourse, we have shewed what the atonement is, who was interested in it, how they were interested in it, and how their justification was affected by it.
In the sixth discourse we have shewed what the work of the spirit is, and what are the evidences of it; and now we have collected the leading ideas of each discourse, and shall shew their concord in the system of our salvation by grace. We are taught there is one God, and there is none other but he, and that he is love; he must therefore love something, and he did love Christ; for the very nature of love requires an object, and the very being of love brings forth and sets up its object: thus the soul of Christ was brought forth, and set up as a consequence of Gods being love: but the object of love was not Christ to the exclusion of the church, but Christ with his church in him; he the head and they the members: this is abundantly taught in the scriptures; for when God is spoken of as being from everlasting, there is no dates to express it by; but it is declared to be before creation, as in Ps 90:2: Before the mountains were brought forth or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. So when Christ is spoken of as the head of his church, and the object of Godâ€™s love, it is expressed by the same mode of expression, as in Mic 5:2. Out of thee Bethlehem Ephrata shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting; and in the 8th, of Proverbs, I was set up from everlastiing or ever the earth was, and thus we are taught, that the very nature and being of God from everlasting, set up his own medium of operation from everlasting, whose goings forth as the head of Israel or the church, was from everlasting; as such he represented them before the world was, for he had his delights with them. Thus Christ could say, thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me; Christ and the church are but one, as it is said my beloved is but one; but one elect; he the husband and she the bride, the lambâ€™s wife in him, as Adams wife was in him when they were created; but one beloved; yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love; and again, we love him because he first loved us. â€“ God did not love his people, because of any thing good he foresaw in them, but because his nature was love; Christ and they in him, were necessarily and constitutionally the object of his love; they were the subjects of his kingdom as a natural consequence of his being a king; for the same assemblage of things that constitutes a king, constitutes the subjects of a kingdom, and fixes the bounds of his special dominion; this bound was the human soul of Christ, in which all the subjects of his kingdom were constituted and encircled; and the very being of a king and subjects, implies his right of government, his medium of operation in government, the privilege of the subjects of his government; and the appointment of a king naturally produces all those consequences of his being a king; and although God was a king without appointment, his own independent existance invested him with the right of government, so his own existance brought forth his own medium of operation in government , which was Christ with all the subjects of his kingdom in him; he active and they passive; and thus in him the disposition of God is expressed towards them: all their grace or the favor of their king, is here given them; here the kingâ€™s great and precious promises for the subjects comfort and confidence are given; here the kingâ€™s great and precious promises for the subjects comfort and confidence are given; here the whole Godhead, undivided dwells, and there is no way to come to this king but by this medium, Christ; no way for God the king, to exhibit his glory to his subjects, but through the same medium; no way to commend his love to them but by the same medium; and thus Christ is a mediator between God and man: not the divine nature of Christ, but the man Christ Jesus, or the human soul of Christ, which we have before proved was and is the man, in scripture and in common use; here we see that Godâ€™s kingdom was organized in heaven, before creation, so was not of this world; here was the eternal purpose of God, and the appointment, choosing and predestinating of his people, that we have spoken of in examining the word covenant; thus after the kingdom, with all its subjects and government was completely organized and established in Christ, who stands the active head of the whole kingdom, and in whom are treasured up all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; when God for his own glory created the worlds it was by Jesus Christ; and when he created man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, man became a living soul, and ruler over the rest of creation, and was in the image of God and the figure of him that was to come. In this image or figure we are taught what creation was designed for, that is, we are taught by the authority given to Adam, in the image of God to rule over the earth, &c. that the earth is designed as the place where the government of God, in whose image Adam was created, should be exercised; and Adam being created with all his posterity in him, and the law being given to Adamâ€™s family, and their privileges all given them in him who was a figure of Christ, teaches us that Christ of whom Adam was a figure, was the one active head, in whom all his seed or Gods kingdom was constituted; and that all the law or privileges of Gods kingdom was given them in him; and the woman being created in the man, and receiving the same name (and he called their name Adam) with him, and continuing in him until all the commands, privileges, prohibitions and penalties were delivered to him, and then being separated in person, but remaining still bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, we are to be taught by this figure, that the kingdom of God or his church was organized in Christ, and remained in him, until all their rules of government with their privileges, grace and spiritual blessings, were given them in him; and when they were separated in person, or put forth in Adam, they still remain members of Christâ€™s body, of his flesh and of his bones; and by Eveâ€™s being deceived, and eating the forbidden fruit, and giving it to her husband and he partaking of it from her hand, not being deceived; we are to learn that the church was deceived by the subtilty of Satan and fell in to sin, and under the curse of the law, but that Christ was not deceived, but received sin from the hand of the church; not that he sinned but that he received sin from them, or bore their sins which were set to his account as the head of the church; and as the whole race that was in Adam, was affected by his receiving the fruit from his bride; so we are taught that all that was in Christ, was affected by his receiving sin from his bride; for as Adam by eating the fruit from the hand of Eve, sunk all those that were in him under the penalty of the law, and the power of sin: so Christ by being made sin for us, raises all those that were in him, and makes them the righteousness of God in him; and so when God created the world by Christ for his own glory, he gives us the head piece of creation, as a figure of Christ, by whom he would display his glory on the earth; and when man had fell, from the state of honour in which he was created, and become exposed to death, God let the serpent know, that as he had commenced a subtile warfare upon his kingdom, put forth in the woman, as a figure of the church, he would put enmity between the womanâ€™s seed and the serpentâ€™s seed, and that her seed should bruise the serpentâ€™s head, and he should bruise his heel: this was a declaration of war, between the two kingdoms; for the serpent or the king of the bottomless pit, has become an aggressor by tempting and beguiling the woman; so God declares open war with him, and lets him know, that the medium of his operation should come in the seed of the woman, and bruise the serpentâ€™s head and thereby gain a complete victory over him. Here was some intimation of deliverance by Christ: this was expressed again to Abraham saying, in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed: this work was shadowed out in the ceremonial law or the Levitical priesthood: but wonder O heavens! the weeks of Daniel are expired; the God of glory, with his treasury of blessings for his kingdom, comes down to receive a body of flesh prepared for him to assume, and to publish the rules for the government of his kingdom, make known the medium of conveyance from heaven to earth; exhibit to view his eternal purpose, reveal the glory of his grace in the face of Jesus who opens Godâ€™s treasury on earth to furnish his captivated subjects with all spiritual blessings, and engages in the battle, and by death destroys him that had the power of death, that is the devil; bruises the serpents head, dies unto sin, vanquishes death and takes away its sting; he bore the curse of the law, magnified and made it honorable, and thereby completed and justification of all his church, and rising he evidenced their justification, and brought light and immortality to light through the gospel; he establishes his kingdom on earth, under the same constitutional government under which it was organized in heaven before all worlds; then he assends to where he was before with all his people complete in him, but in themselves they remain depraved, fallen sinners; but in him justified and saved; but when Christ had ascended up where he was before, the king of this kingdom inspired some of the subjects, to write his will and testament, in which the great purposes and promises of God, with all his spiritual blessings are guaranteed to his subjects; hence the gospel contained in the New Testament, is an exhibition of Godâ€™s disposition towards his people, which were in Christ when his kingdom was first organized; but when his kingdom was established on earth it was exhibited in the New Testament for their instruction and comfort here on earth: now the blood of Christ, as the blood of the testator is that which makes the will of force, and places the heirs to the heavenly legacies on fair footing to receive the spiritual blessings, being free from the law by the atonement, and placed under the dispensation or ministration of grace, men of like passions with ourselves are raised; up and qualified by the spirit, to open the will of our heavenly father and the rules of his heavenly kingdom, and point the heirs to the incorruptable inheritance and enforce the law of love; this is called gospel because it is glad tidings of great joy; it presents Jesus Christ as the way to the father; points to his blood, as that by which our justification is completed; commends the love of God, the king to his subjects, and under its ministration, the subjects are brought by divine influence, to mourn on account of their disaffection to their king; thus the goodness of God leadeth to repentance, the divine nature is given them, and they are reconciled to God under the ministry of their minds, Christ in them the hope of glory; they are born again of an incorruptable seed by the word of God: and being born of the spirit they are spirit; they being his people, are made willing in the day of his power; the bond of union is revealed to them, which is love; not that we loved God, but the he loved us and sent his son to die for our sins; they love him because he first loved them, and can say to each other with pleasing wonder, behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God. Thus the heirs of promise or the subjects of Godâ€™s kingdom are prepared to return to heaven again, where they were first organized a kingdom; and having part in Christâ€™s resurrection being risen with him, they shall all be raised in bodies like our saviourâ€™s glorious body, when the last display that God designs to make of himself on earth shall be made. Then the earth shall have answered the purpose for which it was made, and may be consumed in flames; while Apolionâ€™s armies must retreat from the judgment hall of our king; filled with horror and dismay, under an irrecoverable defeat to roll under the ponderous weight of their own enmity and rebellion, while the law of God which they despised, will now be executed upon them with all its curses. But the subjects of the kingdom of God, will enter into the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world, there to enjoy the presence and smiles of their king eternally. Thus we have shewn that the kingdom that was organized in heaven before the world, in Christ, shall be all gathered to heaven again, to enjoy eternal glory in Christ, by whom every display of Godâ€™s glory has been made in the government of his kingdom; so we have seen the six foregoing discourses are all in concord, linking together in the system of our salvation by grace. First we have seen that there is but one God and that he is love in his nature and a king in his office; this his nature and official character, set up the human soul of Christ and the church in it, as the object of Gods love, and organized them a kingdom before the world, and that the soul of Christ was that in which the whole Godhead dwelt, and in which his kingdom was organized with all its spiritual blessings; that in this way Christ and God and the church are united together. The man Christ is the head of the church; and God is the head of Christ, thus the being of God as love unites Christ and the church, and this union gives Christ the right of redemption, and Christâ€™s redeeming them from under the law, completes their justification, and their justification places them under the ministration of the spirit, and the spirit changes the affections, or implants new ones in them, and prepares them to enjoy God and heaven when they drop off the flesh; thus they enter into the kingdom where they were first organized. This great purpose of grace inclosed the church in Christ before the world; and the world was created as a theatre on which to make a display of it. The Livitical or ceremonial law illustrated it under figures.
The prophets shewed before the coming of that just one; but the gospel reveals and publishes the will of God in which is a development of the eternal council.
The God of glory is manifest in the flesh; the heavenly company sing glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will toward men; all the glory of the former dispensation vanishes, by reason of the glory that excelleth: and as Mr. Campbell has well said, it was devised in eternity. Eternal life was promised in relation to it before the world began.
Four thousand years prepared its way and introduced its establishment. All the lights of four thousand years twinkle into insignificance, when the blaze of its splendor burst forth. When its august mediator appeared; the rod of wonders drops from the hand of Moses; the mitre falls from the head of Aaron, and the diadem and scepter departs from the house of David,
When the sacrifice is exhibited, the brazen and the golden alters lose their victims, the golden censor smokes no more and the sons of Levi no longer minister in sacred emblems. When its promises and its laws are unfolded, no thunder bursts on Sinai, no trembling shakes the ground, no fiery law denounces vengeance, but tongues of seraphs whisper peace. When its worship is instituted, the chosen tribes to Jerusalemâ€™s temple go up no more, the worldly sanctuary not now is thronged with unfit crowds; the bellowing herds and bleating flocks with mingled sounds no longer rend the skies. But social prayers and united songs of triumph, rise from hearts smitten with the love of Zion. When its ordinances are instituted, no bloody rights embrws, the administrators hand; no bitter herbs accompany its stored feasts, but from natures wide domain, the choicest elements distinguish its sacred rights; water that purifies and refreshes, bread the staff of life, and wine that cheers the heart of God and man, emblems of Heavenâ€™s best gifts, (Jg 9:13.) the spirit of benevolence which it breathes, knows no artificial bounds, it respects not climes or nations, tribes nor tongues, but embraces in its bosom the frozen Icelander and the sun-burnt Moor. Its spirit is the spirit of love, of sacred awe, and of a sound mind; its zeal is not the infuriate damon of religious parties, that oft has gorged itself on the blood of human sacrifices; nor is it the child of blinded bigotry nor of wild enthusiasm â€“ it is a true regard for the glory of God and the good of man. Its subjects are not the children of one birth, nor those of one particular family, they are twice born, once from above; their nativity and citizenship are in mount Zion alone. They are not subjects by constraint, but volunteers, a people made willing by the power of the highest. Their obedience is the obedience of love, for their king accepts no other; their seal is no external mark impressed by the hands of man, but an impression made not in the flesh, but in the spirit, by the finger of God. The laws by which they are governed are laws inscribed, not upon tables of stone, or on paper only, ministered by human hands, but on the living tables of the heart. The blessings which it conveys are not surveyed by the sun nor measured by time, they transcend the visible creation, they extend beyond the stars, and endure to eternity. The guarantee of them is not the word of man that repents, nor of the son of man that deceives: it is the promise, the oath, and the seal of the eternal, who is faithful to execute and omnipotent to accomplish. Blessed are the people that are in such a case; yea blessed are they whose God the Lord Jehovah is. For they may rest upon the immutable purpose, oath, promise and grace of God that cannot lie, and rejoice evermore, and in every thing give thanks to him who hath given them everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. And now I close this address, praying that grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, may be with all our spirits, establishing us in every good word and work.
Ga 4:2,4. â€œFor these are the two covenants.â€ﾝ
In this chapter the apostle showeth that we are under the law until Christ came, as the heir is under his guardian till he be of age; but when Christ came he freed us from under the law, therefore we are servants no longer to it. Then he mentions their great love to him when he first came amongst them as a minister of the gospel; reproves them for their hankering after the law again; saying, tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? for it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid and the other by a free-woman. But he who was of the bond-woman, was born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; here the apostle shews us, Agar as a figure of the law given on Sinai, and Sarah as a figure of the gospel; for this Agar is mount Sinai, in Arabia and answereth to (or is in the same rank with) Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is from above is free, which is the mother of us all.
In treating on this subject, we shall attempt to shew, first, wherein Agar and her son was a figure of the law and those under it. â€“ Secondly, wherein Sarah and her son was a figure of the gospel and those under it. Thirdly, shew why these are called the two covenants, and Fourthly, contrast those covenants in their design, their ministration, their guarantees &c.
1. We are to shew wherein Agar and her son was a figure of the law and those under it. First the name Agar signifieth a roof, floor, and agrees with Hagar a stranger or that fears. Thus the name denotes the roof or covering of the law, to the Jews in their political and national character; and a floor or platform of government on which they were built; and the stranger that fears, may denote the fear that the giving of the law brought on Israel at Sinai, when they were travelling in a strange land. And again Agar was an Egyptian woman, but bore her son to Abraham in that land that Abrahamâ€™s seed was to inherit according to promise, which may denote the law given to Israel after they came up from Egypt to inherit the land of promise. Again Agar was a bond-maid, to shew that the law could not set any of its subjects free. Again Agar was given to Abraham by Sarah after the promise was made concerning his seed through Sarah but could not prevent the fulfilment of the promise, to denote that the law which was given four hundred and thirty years after the gospel was preached to Abraham, could not make the promise (or gospel) of none effect. Again, Agar with her son was cast out, when Sarah had brought forth her son according to promise, and as Agar was a figure of the law or its dispensation, so her son was a figure of those under it, or of the natural seed of Abraham. First in his name Ishmael with signifies God that hears and denotes the attention God paid to the Jews under the law dispensation. â€“ Again, Ishmael was born after the flesh, and not by promise, to shew that those under the law are born by natural or fleshly birth. â€“ Again, Ishmael was Abrahamâ€™s son, born after the flesh, and may denote the natural offspring of Abraham, which was under the law. Ishmael was not Abrahamâ€™s heir, to shew that it is not those that are born under the law, but those that are born by promise, that are heirs to the blessings found in the gospel. Ishmael persecuted Isaac, to denote that those under the law will persecute those under the gospel. â€“ Again, Ishmael being cast out with his mother soon after Isaacâ€™s birth, may denote those that are under the law, viz, the Jews being cast out and dispersed soon after the gospel dispensation had its birth; and as Ishmael was cast out because he laughed at and persecuted Isaac, so the Jews were cast out because they mocked and persecuted those under the gospel; so Agar and her son is a figure of the law and those under it, or the law dispensation and the Jewish nation under that dispensation: so we proceed to shew.
2. Wherein Sarah and her son were a figures of the gospel and those under it, first she was a figure of the gospel in her name Sarah, which signifies lady, princess, princess of the multitude; and this name was given to her because the blessing of God was upon her, and nations of people should of her, to denote that the gospel was to go amongst all nations, with the blessing of God attending it, and bring forth children in different nations, who are to be born again of an incorruptable seed by the word of God, which by the gospel is preached unto you. â€“ Again, Sarah was Abrahamâ€™s companion and ruler in his house, to shew that the gospel was a companion of God, and a rule in his house, whose house ye are. â€“ Again, Sarah lived in Abrahamâ€™s affections, long before she brought forth any children; so the gospel is the good will of God towards his people; which lived in his affections long before it was manifest in bringing forth children to him. â€“ Again there was a set time for Sarah to bring forth Isaac, so there was a set time for the gospel dispensation to take place. Sarah brought forth a promised seed, to denote that the gospel brings forth a seed of promise, or the heirs according to promise. - Again, Sarah's son was born after Agar's to denote that the gospel dispensation should be after the law, and as Sarah was a figure of the gospel, or its dispensation, so her son was a figure of those under it; or the spiritual seed of Abraham, first in his name Isaac, which signifies laughter, and may denote the joy and gladness experienced by all those born under the ministration of the gospel. Isaac was not born after the flesh, but after the spirit, to denote that those burn under the gospel, are born not of the flesh but of the spirit. Isaac was Abrahamâ€™s heir to denote that those born under the influence of the gospel, are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Isaac was born by promise, to denote that those born under the gospel, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. And as Isaac was persecuted by Ishmael, so it is now: but as then Agar and her son were cast out, and Ishmael could not be hear with Isaac; so the glory of the law disappears, and those under it are cast out, when the superior glory of the gospel breaks forth amongst the Gentiles, and brings forth its heaven born children; and so we see that these things are an allegory, for these are the two covenants. And having thus far traced those figures we proceed to the third thing proposed, which is the shew,
3. Why these are called the two covenants, the margin instead of covenants, renders it testaments, which answers to the definition of the word covenant, as given in the fourth discourse of this work: and in shewing why they are called the two covenants we shall divide them and shew, first, why the law is called a covenant, and secondly, why the gospel is so called.
1. The law is called a covenant, because it was an appointment to Israel for their government as a nation until the gospel took place and was to govern the people through a dispensation of time, and again because, it was delivered in the form of a testament, bequeathing certain blessings on its subjects. This covenant has been very differently handled by writers; but I shall also shew you my opinion. â€“ I believe it to be a constitution, for the nation of Israel, forming them into a distinct nation. But in order to treat more fully on this covenant, we shall shew the manner in which it was introduced. In attending to this we shall begin with the covenant of circumcision, which was established immediately after the birth of Isaac, and was designed to distinguish the natural seed of Abraham, from all the rest of the world, until the promise made to Abraham thirty years before, should be fulfilled. It was called the covenant in their flesh, and was to be placed on them at eight days old in order to prevent them from mingling with the other nations; that thereby, the seed of Abraham might be traced with ease. This covenant was respecting temporal things, such as a mark in the flesh on all the males at eight days old, a numerous offspring, a temporal country for their possession, and an abundance of good things, as the productions of that fruitful land. God would rule over them, and they should enjoy the blessings of a bountiful providence, and victory over their enemies. But all those promises were conditional â€œIf ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land, but the uncircumcised man child hath broken my covenant,â€ﾝ thus the covenant of circumcision was conditional, for it could be broken, and its blessings depended on the willingness and obedience of its subjects. Under this covenant, the descendants of Abraham were distinguished for about four hundred years, while they lived among the other nations of the earth; and sometimes in sore oppression; but they multiplied greatly, so that in the term of four hundred years, they had increased to the number of six hundred thousand men of war, besides women, children, &c. And now the set time being come for them to go to possess their land, Moses being providentially preserved and qualified for that purpose, is sent to them with a rod of wonders, confirms his mission by working miracles, leads the family of Abraham out of the house of bondage, and through the red sea, and â€œin the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For the were departed from Rephidim, and were come the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.â€ﾝ
This being the spot appointed of God, to constitute the circumcised family into a nation, or place them under a national form of government, he separated them from all others, and brought them into this wilderness, and camped them before the mount, and called Moses their leader, and gave him directions, how to place them in order, to receive their rules of government, or national constitution; and after every necessary preparation was made, the law, the national law, or constitutional law, was delivered to Moses, and by him brought to the people on two tables of stone.
These ten commandments, or two tables are their constitution, which they are to live under, and by which they are distinguished from all others, in the land which the Lord their God was leading them to possess according to promise in the covenant of circumcision. Now these ten commandments or two tables is the covenant; for although there were many other laws given at the same time, yet the two tables and they only are called the covenant, see Ex 34:35. â€“ And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. These tables the apostle Heb 9:4. calls the tables of the covenant; then for the safe keeping of the covenant, the tables were deposited in the ark; and on this account it was called the ark of the covenant. This covenant was designed for the same use that the covenant of circumcision was to distinguish Abrahamâ€™s family, as a family; and the covenant from Sinai was to distinguish them as a nation; and the latter may be understood as a larger edition of the former. The covenant of all Israel or the Sinai covenant, was also conditional, beginning with a if, Ex 19:5. â€œNow therefore if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar people unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine.â€ﾝ This covenant was given on mount Sinai; in a display of the awful majesty of God, to impress the minds of Israel with a sense of the greatness of the authority of its author, and the danger of transgressing it. It taught the duty of its subjects, and guaranteed temporal blessings to them on conditions of their performing those duties. Under this covenant or constitution, there were many laws given for their observation, to rule them in the form of their worship, and at length the law respecting the mitre in the house of Aaron, and that respecting the scepter in the house of David. These were each called covenants, because the one constituted the family of Aaron to the priestly office, and the other the house of David to the kingly office, with respect to the first of these covenants, see Ex 40:14-15. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may minister unto me in the priestâ€™s office. And thou shalt bring his sons and cloath them with coats; and thou shalt anoint them as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priestâ€™s office, for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood, throughout their generations; compare with Nu 25:12-13. Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron is thus addressed, â€œbehold saith God, I gave unto him my covenant of peace, and he shall have it and his seed after him; even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood.â€ﾝ â€“ This priesthood is called everlasting, because it continued parallel with the Jewish nation or the national constitution, and as many laws were given under the national constitution or covenant for the nation to observe, so many laws were given under the family constitution or covenant, for the family or priests in their sacred office to observe. â€“ So with respect to the covenant concerning the kingly office in the house of David, see 2Sa 7:12,17. And they thy (Davidâ€™s) days be fulfilled and thou shalt sleep with thy Fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father and he shall be my son; - if he commit iniquity I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; but my mercy shall not depart away from him; as I took it from Saul whom I took away from before thee. And thy house, and thy kingdom shall be established before thee forever, thy throne shall be established before thee forever. David has this covenant in mind, when it is said, I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish and build up thy throne from generation to generation; and the same is referred to, in Jer 33:21. If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season, then shall also my covenant with David, my servant be broken.
The throne of David being established forever in this covenant, is like the Aaronic priesthood; it is to last while the nation of Israel remains a nation under the Sinai form of government. These covenants were both absolute and unconditional and of course could not be broken by any act of either Aaronâ€™s family or Davidâ€™s; neither could they fail so long as the Jewish state continued. But when the kingdom of Israel ceased, and the Jewish form of worship came to an end, and that dispensation was no more, the everlasting priesthood of Aaron and the kingly authority of David, both came to an end with the national constitution out of which they first grew, and the words forever and everlasting as used in these covenants are to denote their lasting as long as the Jewish state and their form of worship lasted. But as we are more particularly concerned with the original covenant or Jewish state constitution, it may be thought that I have made two great a digression; my present business is to shew why the law was called a covenant: and I think from what we have seen it cannot be doubted, but that the word covenant signifies an appointment, a constitution or dispensation. And so the law given at Sinai, being a constitution for the Jewish nation through that dispensation is properly called a covenant. Thus we have shewed why the Sinai law or the two tables are called a covenant; and shall proceed,
Secondly, to shew why the gospel is so called. The gospel is called a covenant for the very same reason that the law is so called, for as the law was a constitution for the natural seed of Abraham their national state under the former dispensation, so the gospel is a constitution for the spiritual seed of Abraham under the present dispensation; and each of those covenants can be traced back to Abraham and no further under the name covenant. The Sinai covenant is a larger edition of the law of circumcision, given to Abraham constituting him the head of the natural Israel or Jewish nation. This covenant was given to Abraham when he was an hundred years old; and enlarged and delivered to his natural posterity as their national constitution at Sinai, four hundred years afterwards, in the fourth generation according to promise; and they lived under it until the coming of Christ, which was about fourteen hundred and ninety-one years. So the gospel is called a covenant, confirmed before of God in Christ, (or with respect to Christ) and the apostle saith, that the law which was four hundred and thirty years afterwards cannot make the promise of none effect. Thus from the giving of the law on Sinai, back to the law of circumcision was four hundred years; and from this back to the promise made to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, was thirty years, which make the length of time that the apostle mentions, which is four hundred and thirty years between the covenant confirmed of God in (respect to) Christ, and the giving of the law. This promise made to Abraham is called a covenant because it constitutes Abraham the father of all the faithful, or head of his spiritual seed; and so the apostle saith, if ye be Christâ€™s then are ye Abrahamâ€™s seed and heirs according to the promise.
This promise or covenant was confirmed to Abraham in the year of the world two thousand and eighty three, after the flood four hundred and twenty seven years, and four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law on Sinai, and thirty years before the law of circumcision, and is called the gospel preached unto Abraham. This covenant being thirty years before circumcision and four hundred and thirty before the giving of the law and respecting blessings of a spiritual nature, both the other covenants were made after it, and designed to distinguish the natural seed of Abraham, from all others, until this promise should be fulfilled. â€“ Or in other words the covenant of circumcision was designed to distinguish the natural seed of Abraham as his family, and the Sinai covenant as their constitution was designed to distinguish them as a nation, until the promise concerning his spiritual seed should be accomplished, or until the gospel covenant should be published as a constitution for his spiritual seed; and as the law was delivered first, constituting the natural seed into a nation, it is called the first covenant; and as the gospel comes after, it (the law) has become old and ready to vanish away; and the gospel is called new; new, because God hath made the first old; new, because its subjects are spiritual; new, because its blessings are spiritual and will never be exhausted; new because of its dispensation; and as the first covenant was delivered by its mediator Moses who was faithful as a servant in his house, Agar and Ishmael who were Abrahamâ€™s servants, were a figure of it: and Christ the mediator of the new covenant, who was faithful in his house as a son delivered the new covenant to the heirs of promise, so Sarah and her promised son is a figure of it; for these are the two covenants. So we shall proceed to the fourth thing proposed, which his to contrast those covenants, in their design, their ministration, their guarantees, &c.
Fourth, as we have seen already, the design of the first covenant, was to distinguish the natural seed of Abraham from the rest of the world until Christ should be born, but the new covenant was designed to distinguish the spiritual seed of Abraham, from Christâ€™s first to his second coming. The first covenant is designed to teach what are the duties of man to man, and of all men to God. But the new covenant is designed to shew the medium through which any of our duties can be acceptable to God. So in the ministration of these covenants, the first is called the ministration of condemnation and death, but the new covenant is the ministration of righteousness and peace. â€“ The first covenant was ministered from the mount Sinai, that might be touched, and burned with fire amidst blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more (for they could not endure that which was commended. And if so much as a beast touched the mountain it should be stoned or thrust through with a dart: so terrible was the sight, that Moses said I exceedingly fear and quake.) and the affrighted Israelites, repulsed with horror fled back from the thundering mount, while the law reveals the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, without one hint of mercy.
But the new covenant was ministered at mount Calvary or Mount Zion; and falls with gentle strains and soothing accents of love and mercy on the ears of its subjects, proclaiming peace to them that are afar off and to them that are nigh; while the spiritual seed of Abraham allured with its grace and glory, and drawn by loving kindness, with gladened hearts and heavenly prospects, repair to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God; to the heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven; and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
The first covenant was conditional, see Ex 19:5. now therefore if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar people, unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine. Thus the first covenant was conditional, and the natural seed of Abraham continuing to be a peculiar people to God, was upon condition of their obedience in keeping the covenant; but being conditional it was broken; or the Jews continued not in it (Heb 8:9; Jer 31:32.) and therefore were cast forth a as a branch that is withered; and henceforth is good for nothing but to be trodden under foot of men. But the new covenant is unconditional and absolute and therefore cannot be broken; & in this the new covenant is far better than the old; for finding fault with them God saith, behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be my people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying know the Lord; for all shall know me from the least to the greatest; for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now, that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away. Here the apostle sheweth that the first covenant on account of its conditions not being kept by its subjects; they were disregarded of God; and the covenant was decaying and ready to vanish away. For all its promises, guarantees and blessings, were temporal; and attached to its subjects on conditions; and when they failed to perform those conditions, it ceased to promise or bless them, and so of course became old, and useless, (in these respects;) all its blessings were decaying, for want of the fulfilment of its conditions and was ready to vanish away; so the first covenant was not faultless; or else there should have been no place sought for the second; but finding fault with them, he makes a new covenant; not according to the old, faulty, conditional, decaying one; but one that is established on better promises; without a condition; promises that depend on the veracity of God; and not on the obedience of its subjects; promises of eternal life, and a heavenly country; not of a temporal life and the land of Canaan. Great and precious promises which were given them in Christ the mediator of the new covenant before the world began, not these weak, conditional, temporal promises, given to the Israilites in Moses, the mediator of the old covenant at Sinai. The old conditional covenant, with all its temporal blessings vanishes away, when the new one with its unconditional or spiritual blessings, is published by its august mediator. The first is cast out at the appearing of the second; like Agar and her son was at the appearing of Isaac the son of Sarah, which things are an allegory, for these are the two covenants. In the worship or services under the first covenant, all was temporal, see Heb 9:1,10. Then verily the first covenant, had also ordinances of divine services and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shew-bread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the table, which is called the holiest of all; which had the golden censor, and the ark of the covenant, overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaronâ€™s rod that budded and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot speak particularly. Now, when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God; but into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people; the Holy Ghost, this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing; which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, which stood only in meets and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. Thus the apostle teacheth, that all the services under the first covenant were temporal, a worldly sanctuary, a made tabernacle, a golden pot, an imperfect priest, and the blood of beasts, all were temporal which stood in meats and drinks and divers washing more than figures of good things to come, which were imposed on them until the time of reformation and could not make even them who did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience; but the new covenant respects spiritual things, its worshippers are born of the spirit, and when they worship, they worship in spirit and in truth; they have boldness at a throne of grace, when they come together, they come with Psalms & Hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. The first covenant was dedicated to or enjoined on the natural seed of Abraham by blood; for when Moses had spoken every precept to the people according to the laws, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people saying; this is the blood of the covenant which God hath enjoined unto you: but the new covenant was dedicated by the blood of Jesus Christ as of a lamb without spot; Blood that sprinkles the conscience, and cleanses us from dead works to serve the living God; and thus we have shewed the two covenants; the first from Mount Sinai, which promise nothing but temporal blessings and them only upon conditions of the most implicit obedience, for he that offends in one point is guilty of the whole law; then it follows of course, that whatsoever promise is suspended on conditions, belongs to the first covenant, and those that prefer a conditional plan, are such as Paul accuses of desiring to be under the law, for although the law was never delivered unto the Gentiles as a constitution for them, yet the Gentiles as a constitution for them, yet the Gentiles by reading it may see what are its requisitions, and how men must observe it, and what must be the consequences of not keeping it; but alas, how many hundreds there are, that are trying to get the old conditional, faulty decaying covenant renewed again, and imposed upon the Gentiles, but did they but know, that if they were Jews, to whom pertained the giving of the law, and then should they observe every precept in it and enjoy every promise and blessing it contains, they then could only have temporal blessing; for the law cannot give life; for had there been a law given which could have given life, then verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the law was given that the offence might abound. Sin is a transgression of the law, & the law is the strength of sin, that is, a breach of the conditions of the law is sin, and that sin abounds, and the law is the strength of it, saying cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. Now if the natural seed of Abraham could not retain temporal blessing upon a conditional plan, how can we Gentiles expect to obtain spiritual blessings upon a conditional plan. Well might Paul be surprised at this and say; O, foolish Gallatians who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified amongst you; this only would I learn of you, received ye the spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Thus the law being conditional and all its promises conditional; and respecting temporal blessings; and the gospel being unconditional and all its promises unconditional and respecting spiritual blessings, there is a plain line of distinction drawn between the law and gospel, or old and new covenant; and whatever is conditional is after the model of the law, and they who cleave to the conditional plan, are those that desire to be under the church constitution or new covenant; for this line of distinction has been kept up from first to last, for when the gospel was first preached to Abraham, it was unconditional, Ge 12:3. In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed, so when it is spoken in Ge 18:18. And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, see Ac 3:25. Compare Ga 3:8. All these are unconditional promises, and they all belong to the new covenant, which says I will be your God and ye shall be my people. These passages trace the new covenant from the first date of its being, spoken of as a covenant, down to its being published in the beginning of the gospel dispensation, which was about nineteen hundred and twenty-one years, and not one condition in it from the first to the last. Thus we see that all the gospel is absolute; but the old covenant is all conditional.
The first account of it begins with an if, - if ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land, and when delivered to Israel at Sinai, it still begins with the same conditional particle if, if ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, c. So the first covenant began with an if, continued with an if, and vanished away on account of its ifâ€™s not being observed. So we have traced the first covenant as far back as it is called a covenant, which is thirty years after the gospel was preached to Abraham, as it respects circumcision, and four hundred and thirty years, as it respects the constitution of the nation of Israel; and it continued as their constitution until the coming of Christ, which was fourteen hundred and ninety-one years: so we see that the first covenant, was conditional from first to last; then it follows that the conditional plan, belongs to the ministration of the old covenant, and the unconditional plan, belongs to the ministration of the new covenant. Conditions in a covenant imply an uncertainty, and so Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, saying â€œIt may be that I may obtain children by her.â€ﾝ But the promise for Sarah is, at this time will I come, and Sarah shall have her son, and these things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants. And now we may clearly see from the above contrast of the two covenants, that it is an incontrovertable fact, that by the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified before God. The preaching of a conditional salvation, may please the self-righteous Pharisee, that can boast of his abilities, and vainly imagine that he keeps the law, and will gain heaven as a reward for so doing: or the hell-scarred hypocrite, that wishes to do something to get clear of punishment; or the self-righteous sluggard, that would never trouble himself at all about religion, if he did not think that he would receive double pay for all his services. â€“ But it can never either comfort or encourage the truly awakened sinner, that is made acquainted with his own impotency and vileness, and sees that he can do nothing, and knows that he is without strength. We may preach to such a one that salvation is suspended on certain conditions, but the awakened sinner, from sore and painful experience knows, full well that he cannot fulfill the smallest condition, and as long as an if you do so and so, is preached to, and believed by such a one, so long his chains hang about his neck. But when all hopes of salvation are lost, upon any condition to be performed by the creature, great or small, he is constrained to cry, God be merciful to me a sinner, should you tell this man he can believe, and that believing is a condition of his acceptance, he knows better, for he has done his best, and spent all he had, and has got nothing better, but rather grew worse. Here he is taught to know, that he is as helpless as ever any predestinarian preached him to be, and that if his salvation is depending on one single if to be performed by him, he is gone forever. Every condition ministers condemnation and death to him; for although he consents unto the law that it is good, yet he knows that he is carnal, sold under sin, and is ready to say with Paul, â€œfor that which I do I allow not; for I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I. And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death, for sin taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it slew me.â€ﾝ Wherefore, the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinfull! â€“ Now the man is convinced of his lost estate; sin by the commandment becomes exceeding sinful, deceives him, works death in him, and slays him, and so he finds the commandment to be unto death. And this is as far as the old conditional covenant can go; for it never pretended to pardon even the smallest offence, nor to promise spiritual blessings to the most obedient subject under it: much less to the Gentiles, which were not entitled to any of the blessings which it did promise, and so we see that the preaching of a conditional salvation, is using the law unlawfully, perverting the gospel, blending them together, drawing the veil of Moses, over the face of Christ to hid the glory of his grace, and the spiritual blessings of the new, absolute covenant, under the dusky shades of the old conditional one, and thereby making the fulfilment, of the conditions of the old covenant an indispensable prerequisite, enjoined on us, in order to a participation of the promises of the new one: and then attaching the curses of the old one, to the graces of the new, and as its counter part, thunder them against both saints and sinners, Jews and Gentiles, who do not fulfil the conditions of the gospel, (for this mixture of the two covenants is all called gospel by its arbiters,) and thus they build up the self-righteous Pharisee and drive, if possible, the saint and the awakened sinner, into dispair; for they know that they cannot fulfill the conditions and of course dispair of enjoying the promise. â€“ But when the old covenant is placed in its own dispensation, it is good to shew the malignity of sin, and the penalty annexed to it. But the new covenant, alone can reveal the pardoning grace of that God, â€œwho also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter but of the spirit, for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.â€ﾝ So the Apostle contrasts the two covenants, and shews that the new far excels in glory, see 2Co 3. â€œBut if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?â€ﾝ
â€œFor if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. â€“ For if that which was done away, was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech; and not as Moses. which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old Testament (or old covenant) which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart: Nevertheless when it (the old covenant) shall turn to the lord, the veil shall be taken away.â€ﾝ â€“
From this contrast of the old and new covenants, it clearly appears that the former disappeared, at the bursting forth of the superior glory of the latter: and Moses the mediator of the first, puts a veil on his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished. Now Christ is the end of the law for righteousness; the very thing that fulfils every condition of the old covenant; and when it (the old covenant) shall turn to him the veil shall be taken away, and the end of the glory of the old covenant, shall be clearly seen; and we shall all both Jews and Gentiles look into the new covenant or gospel and the veil is taken away and we see the end of the old one, which has vanished away, and the unspeakable glory of the new, beaming in the face of Christ its mediator. We behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord. Thus the new covenant like a glass, reveals the glorious face of its ever living mediator, with eternal life for his sheep, the bread of life for the hungary, the water of life for the thirsty, rest for the weary and heavy laden, a garment of righteousness for the naked, and grace, sovereign, absolute, unconditional, grace for the unworthy. From his lips teems forth the soothing promise, without an if for the disconsolate mourner; and while those blessings are diffusing from his fullness and mourners beholding with joy and gladness, the smiles of his unveiled countenance, his soul is fired with love and filled with peace, while he sees the scepter presented, filled with pardons for rebels, and hears the approbating voice of God, saying; touch and live; while the blood of the new covenant presents his justification, faith lays hold of it and gives evidence to it; and hope anchors the soul both sure and stedfast into that within the veil. Then the fiery Sinaiâ€™s thundering and smoke no more affright, conditions no longer discourage the soul, nor can ever the ministers of the old conditional covenant, with all their sophistry and conning craftiness whereby they lay in wait to deceive, make them satisfied to take the galling yoke of the old covenant on their necks again. For they experience, in the new covenant the rest remaining for the people of God; and those that have ceased from their own works have entered into that rest, and all their duties, have become their choicest privileges, and not conditons of their salvation.
But some will say, if the new covenant or gospel is without conditions, we would never do any good works at all; no christian if he understands himself, will say so; for he has the very principles of obedience implanted in him, and he services God of choice, for it is his meat and drink, to do the will of his heavenly Father, and no other services are acceptable to God. Others will say that if there is no condition in the gospel, there is no encouragement for the seeking and mourning sinner, but sure there can no conditional promise be framed, that is as well calculated to encourage such a one, as that unconditional promise in the new covenant, saying, I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities, will I remember no more. Others suppose that if the gospel has no conditions in it, that they would rest more contented in their situation; but this is both contrary to reason and experience. Suppose a man is on the verge of a precipice, and a lake of liquid fire beneath him; but he believes that he can by an exertion of his own, at his pleasure get away, or fulfil such conditions, as will secure his escape: he may stand and look down for his amusement, and feel quite unconcerned about his situation; and if fifty passengers should tell him expressing great concern for his welfare, that he was in eminent danger of falling down the precipice and of perishing in the flames beneath, but still strengthening him in his own opinion, he could come away whenever he was ready: the man would stay there until he had satisfied his curiosity all their warnings notwithstanding.
But should one solitary passenger inform him that he was exposed to unspeakable danger, and that he could do nothing, much or little to get away from the precipice; and should the man be convinced of the fact now declared, how suddenly would his fears be alarmed and his conduct changed; how ardently would he call for help from every quarter; where any prospect should appear: and if no help was afforded, or no deliverer found, with what an aching heart and broken spirit would he bewail and lament his almost hopeless situation. And so we see in experience, the more we are convinced of our helpless condition, the more we are constrained to cry â€œLord save or I perish.â€ﾝ So we see the new unconditional covenant is far better than the old conditional one. O that we all could see its excellency, and no more attempt to draw our life and comfort, from the conditional breasts of the bond Hagar and like Ishmael be cast out with her, from the presence of the heirs of promise; but may we like Isaac, suck the unconditional breasts of Sarah, that flow according to promise, or the Gospel which are the breasts of consolation, and like new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby, for these things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants.