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saulting me; I have committed grievous sins which darken my glory, and damp my comfort; Amnon commits incest with his sister; Absalom rebels against his father ; I am driven from my throne and city; my whole family is wofully broken, discomposed, and shattered : well, but I have a well-ordered covenant in the midst of all disorders. When I am driven from mine own house, I am not sure that ever I shall return to it, but this covenant is sure; my outward condition is uncertain, but the best mercies of this blessed covenant are so solid and substantial, that I am satisfied therewith; if God deny me the temporal mercies therein contained, yet if I have the spiritual mercies thereof, that is enough for me," for it is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow;" that is, though his blessing upon my house be not as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after the rain, to multiply my family, making it either numerous or wealthy, potent or magnificent; yet I have all that I look for, and that which gives me content, I have these sweet and sure mercies of this blessed covenant.
For the more distinct and profitable handling of this important subject, I shall, in the doctrinal part, discuss these four particulars, or principle points, and endeavour to shew,
1. What are the mercies of the covenant ? 2. In what respects they are said to be made sure ? 3. By what ways and means they are ensured to us ? 4. How they are said to be made sure in Christ.
MERCIES OF THE COVENANT.
I. I MIGHT prepare the way for a consideration of covenant mercies, by declaring what a covenant is, and give some description of this new covenant, and distinctions about it; but I shall rather wave this, because it has been done so extensively already by so many able hands. Only for our present purpose, take notice, that in all contracts or covenants, even in any ordinary conveyance, there are four things very considerable, and indeed, essentially requisite. *
1. There are the parties covenanting.
4. The grant made, or the privilege to be enjoyed, upon the conditions, and consideration, called in our writings, the habendum, or the thing that we must have and hold.
Now all these are either expressly or implicitly held forth in one Scripture, which is, Heb. viii. 10.
(1.) There are the parties covenanting, God, and the house of Israel: “ This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel." +
(2.) Here is a consideration evidently implied in these words, “after those days,” that is, after those days of types, shadows, and prophecies, “ in the fulness of time, the Messiah shall come, who is the substance, who will satisfy divine justice, and make an atonement."
(3.) Here is the condition of the covenant, plainly • Mr. Herle's Christian Wisdom, chap. 4, page 227. + Heb. viii. 10.
expressed in these words, “ I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts," that is, I will give that which I require, I will put within them a principle of grace that they may love me, believe in me, repent of sin, and obey the gospel.
(4.) Here is the grant, or good, to be enjoyed, which is the end and result of all the former, namely, “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people,” that is, whatsoever I am, or have, or can do, who am omnipotent, shall be employed for their good ; or whatsoever they would choose a God for, or desire to be in a God, that will I be to them with whom I contract this covenant, and I will own them as my peculiar people.
Now the mercies of the covenant consist in these four particulars, epecially in the last.
I shall a little open these, that we may the better find out the mercies wrapt up in the covenant of grace.
1. The parties that enter into this covenant, are God and man.
Oh the infinite distance and vast disproportion! quantus quantillo ? Heaven makes a match with earth, the great Creator with a mortal creature, the glorious King with a silly beggar! Is not this a rich mercy ? Shall the cedar in Lebanon contract a league not only with the contemptible shrub, but with the pricking, worthless thistle ? shall the sun of righteousness convey beams of love to such poor worms, yea, to such offensive dunghills ? shall the beauty of holiness be confederate with sorry man, who is but a lump of vanity or mass of impurity ? Yet, thus it is, and this is transcendent mercy; there is mercy in a covenant: God might have dealt with man in a way of absolute sovereignty, and done with him even as he pleased, without giving us any account of his matters ; but he treats with man in a rational way, as above the level of other creatures. God takes man up to parley and treat with him, as though he were his equal, “ what is man that thou art thus mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?”* This mutual stipulation is infinite condescension on God's part, and advancement on man's. Man, only man, of all the creatures, is the subject of this covenant; angels had no need of it_devils had no hope from it—brute creatures were not capable of it-only man, and fallen man, hath an interest in it, and benefit by it. Oh the mercy there is in a covenant of reconciliation ! Even after man had become bankrupt, spent a fair estate, broken his engagements, and brought himself into a desperate case, that still God should forget what was past, enter into a new and better covenant, entrust him with a new stock, and also lay help, not upon foolish man's weak shoulders, but upon one that is mighty to save! Oh rich, O transcendent love! this leads us to the second thing in this covenant.
2. The consideration interposed; that is, Jesus Christ, and he is eminently the gift of God,+ such a gift as never came out of the hands of God, and was never received by the hands of mortal man, a rich and enriching gift, a gift proceeding from love;
; “ God so loved the world, that he gave his son,” John iii. 16. Christ is several ways a gift.
(1.) Nobis, to us, 1 Cor. i. 30, “who of God is made unto us wisdom.”
(2.) Pro nobis, for us, Gal. ii. 20, “ who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
(3.) Pre nobis, before us, as an example, copy and pattern, as he suffered for us, so he left us an example, 1 Pet. ii. 21. * Psal. viii. 4.
+ John iv. 10
(4.) In nobis, in us, “ so Christ is said to dwell in our hearts by faith,” Eph. iii. 17. Thus Christ is given to believers by sanctification, and inhabitation of his Spirit.
Now, it is in the second way principally wherein Christ was the consideration interposed, or his blood the price paid in this new covenant, namely, as he is given for us, a valuable consideration to pacify wrath and satisfy justice. Thus is Jesus Christ the lutron, or price of our redemption; “ we are bought with a price,” i Cor. vi. 20, such a price as never was paid. Men pay money to purchase great possessions, “but we were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold,” but with blood, yea, “with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. Without shedding of blood there could be no remission, yet the blood of bulls or goats could never take away sin;* nay, the blood of all the men upon earth could never wash away the guilt of the least sin; no, no, it must be the blood of the immaculate Lamb, the blood of God, Acts xx. 28, so called from the union of the two natures, and communication of idioms or properties : and this is the price paid; the Father found out a ransom, and our dear Saviour gave himself a ransom ut certainly this is a transcendent mercy
of the new covenant. I agitate not those nice controversies, whether God could not have pardoned and saved man without the consideration of Christ's undertaking ? or how God in justice can charge guilt and inflict punishment upon an innocent person? this I am sure, is God's way of saving souls, and we must not dispute, but believe, that Jesus Christ is the mediator of the covenant, and the price of our redemption, as God-man; and this is the marrow of the rich mercy and deep mystery contained in the gospel. * Heb. ix. 22, 12.
+ 1 Tim. ii. 6.