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they may hasten their ruin ; it is the father's care and kindness to chide and correct his son, and it is as needful as food and raiment. A child of God would rather be scourged to God, than allured from him in the paths most agreeable to human nature. This covenant mercy doth change the nature of affliction, and make every thing to work for the soul's greatest advantage; this bitter potion is a useful, healing medicine; this stinging serpent is turned into a harmless, nay, helpful rod, with which the Lord works wonders of mercy upon and for his covenanted people.
But time would fail me to enumerate the large catalogue of covenant mercies. From this fountain, stream to believers those choice mercies of reconciliation with God, filiation, the spirit of adoption, free admission to the throne of grace, acceptance of their persons, hearing of their prayers, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, communion of saints, the benefits of Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension, intercession, an interest in all the promises, Christ's purchase, the Spirit's aid and comforts, freedom from the wrath of God, the curse of the law and eternal death, and lastly, an interest in, and at death a full possession of, the inheritance of the saints in light. These and such like are the mercies of the covenant; in a word, all the goodness that is in God, and all that can be considered as real blessings in the world, are to be accounted as the “sure mercies of David.
THE MANNER: IN WHICH COVENANT MERCIES
ARE MADE SURE.
II. It may be observed that there are some things absolutely and unchangeably sure, as to their own nature by an intrinsecal necessity; thus God's essence is immutable; with him there is no variableness nor shadow of change: though the heavens perish yet he endures, “he is still the same and his years have no end,” Psal. cii. 24–27. thus God alone is the certain and unmoveable centre of the whole creation; he is the rock of ages, originally, infinitely, and independently sure, and so is nothing besides; other things are sure jure positivo, not of themselves, but by the virtue of God's appointment and designation, invariable, irrevocable, so as shall not be altered, or otherways ordered ; for instance there is no new way contrived to save lost man; thus the scriptures are sure for ever, “O Lord thy word is settled in heaven,"* and our Saviour saith, “till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled;" + and in this way is the covenant of grace sure, not because of any intrinsecal necessity, resulting from its nature, but free to be or not to be as the infinite God sees good; as a covenant it depends merely on God's free-grace for making it, he might have forborne entering into this new covenant, and have dealt with man as with the lapsed angels; or he might have reserved to himself a power of revocation, to have called in his patent, and shut up his office of mercy, but now God hath fixed this as the only and everlasting way of * Psalm cxix. 89.
+ Matt. y. 18.
salvation : thus this covenant is as sure as that the world shall no more be totally drowned with water; yea, as sure as the standing of the lasting mountains and hills : yet further, as sure as the ordinances of the sun by day, and the moon and stars by night; nay, once more it is as possible that the heavens should be measured by the short span of a mortal, or the foundations of the earth searched out, as for the great and unchangeable God to violate this gospel covenant with his dear Israel. Read this fully in Isa. liv. 6—10. Jer. xxxi. 35–37.
But yet more particularly, this covenant and these mercies of it, may be made sure two ways to believers ; namely,
1. Infallibly, so as not to miss of them, and 2. Immutably, so as never to lose them.
1. These mercies of the covenant are sure infallibly, that is, the number of elect souls set apart by the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth to eternal happiness through our Lord Jesus Christ, shall have interest in and possession of the fore-mentioned mercies of David. That God hath chosen some to life as the end, and through Christ as the way of attaining that end is clear in Scripture; Ephes. i. 4. “ According as he hath chosen us in him—and ver. 5. having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself;" and 1 Thess. v. 9. “ for God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ :” electing and redeeming love are of the same latitude and extent; whom God the Father in his counsels regarded, God the Son atoned for upon the bitter cross; "and those that are ordained to eternal life believe,” Acts xiii. 48, which text, saith Calvin, teacheth that saving faith depends upon God's eternal election; hence also faith is called “the faith of God's elect,” Tit. i, 1. because it peculiarly distinguisheth them, for all men have not faith. Besides, God hath placed man's salvation upon the sure foundation of his own free grace, on purpose to make these things firm and sure to believers, so that their unworthiness shall not hinder the certain execution of his eternal decrees, Rom iv. 16, “therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed,” that is, that the covenant with all the mercies of it might be made good to all the heirs of promise; “ the election, hath obtained it, but the rest are blinded,” Rom. xi. 7; hence, saith the apostle, 2 Tim. ii. 19, “ The foundation of God standeth sure, the Lord knoweth them that are his : he knows his sheep even before they know themselves, according to his purpose of grace before the foundation of the world. * Hence also, God would not have the enjoyment of these mercies to depend upon man's sorry, mutable, and inconstant will, nor upon any works wrought by man, as the whole strain and tenor of the gospel holds forth : and indeed, if the whole stress lay on man's free will, it would bring us back to a covenant of works; and if it were possible for any man to attain such mercies, he would be the determining cause of his own salvation,—and then what need of any Redeemer ? Besides, it might so fall out, that these mercies might be applied to none; for, conditio nihil pònit in esse, that which is not effectual without a contingent condition upon which it depends, that is to say, the particular movement of this man's will, and so of another's towards God, being in his own choice, is doubtful and uncertain, and so must needs
Dico, novit Dominus qui sunt ejus, ipsæ oves aliquando seipsas nesciunt, sed pastor novit eas, secundum electionem ovium ante constitutionem mundi.--Aug. in Joh. x.
be the privileges which depend upon that condition : therefore, they that make these mercies possibly every one's, make them certainly no one's. The truth is, God hath not left the enjoyment of these covenant mercies to the choice or refusal of the fickle or inconstant will of the creature at his pleasure; but though he doth not violence to this faculty, but from its being unwilling makes it willing, God himself by his Holy Spirit hath engaged to bring souls home by converting grace certainly and infallibly, though sweetly and suitably to the nature of a rational creature. Hence effectual calling, which is introductory to these mercies, is not left at rovers, may-bes, or hap-hazard, but it is put beyond all peradventure ; so that there is a must and shall annexed to it. “ Other sheep I have—them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.”. John x. 16. “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me."-John vi. 37. The God of heaven hath engaged himseif for it, and he is a God of truth to make good his word; he also possesses infinite power, he works and who can let it : “ He worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.”—Eph. i. 11. All that God the Father hath given to Christ, the Son hath undertaken to bring to glory by his mediatorial administration: these mercies, then, are sure infallibly, the heir of glory shall partake of them.
2. They are sure immutably; not any that do partake of these mercies shall ever lose them—they shall never be deprived of them. There are indeed some common gifts of the Spirit that God may revoke and take away, as the gifts that Saul had ; but these gifts of grace and this effectual calling are without repentance, Rom. xi. 29: he will never repent of, nor retract these
* Vide sis Ames. Coron. ad Coll. Hag, adversus Remons. Artic. prim. de Electione, cap. 4. p. 15. &c.