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Nazianzen, and the other champions of Christian religion against gentilism) yet he rather chooseth thus to answer,That that authority, which the faith he so much derided, was built upon, came to the soul with more self-evidence, and invincible demonstration, than all the disputes of reason or learning of philosophy could create. Though therefore it were to the Jews an offence, as contrary to the honour of their law,—and to the Greeks foolishness, as contrary to the pride of their reason; yet to those that were perfect, it was a hidden and mysterious wisdom, able to convince the gainsayers, to convert sinners, to comfort mourners, to give wisdom to the simple, and to guide a man in all his ways with spiritual prudence. For, whatever the prejudice of the world may be, there is no man a wiser man, nor more able to bring about those ends which his heart is justly set upon, than he who, being acquainted with God in Christ by the gospel, hath the Father of Wisdom, the treasurer of wisdom, the spirit of wisdom, and the law of wisdom, to furnish him therewithal. It is not for want of sufficiency in the gospel, but for want of more intimate acquaintance and knowledge thereof in us, that the children of this world are more wise in their generation, than the children of light.
Secondly, Another glorious end and effect of the gospel, is to be a ministration of righteousness, a publication of a pardon to the world,-and that so general, that there is not one exception therein of any other sin, than only of the contempt of the pardon itself. And in this respect likewise, the gospel exceeds in glory. "If the ministration of condemnation" (saith the apostle)" be glory, much more doth the administration of righteousness exceed in glory d." It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence; and the Lord proclaimeth his glory to Moses, in "that he would forgive iniquity, transgression and sin," that is, multitudes of sins, and sins of all degrees. And thus the Lord magnifies his mercy and thoughts towards sinners, above all the ways and thoughts of men, even as the heavens are higher than the earth, because "he can abundantly pardon," or multiply forgivenesses
c Βούλεται γὰρ ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος μὴ ἐξεῖναι διαστατεῖν τοῖς ὑπὸ τῶν θεοφόρων ἀνδρῶν εἰρημένοις· αλλ ̓ ἀπόδειξιν εἶναι τοῦ λόγου, τὸ ἐκείνων ἀξιόπιστον, πάσης δυνάμεως λογικῆς καὶ ἀντιλογικῆς ἰσχυρότερον. Greg. Νaz. 16. d2 Cor. iii. 9. • Exod. xxxiv. 7.
upon those who forsake their ways, and turn to him. And therefore justifying faith, whereby we rely upon the power of God to forgive and subdue our sins, is said to "give glory to God:" Abraham staggered not at the promise through unbelief, but being strong in faith, he gave "glory to God," namely, the glory of his power and fidelity". "Ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them," saith the Lord to Moses and Aaron", "because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel :" that is, to give me the glory of my power and truth (for to 'sanctify the Lord of Hosts,' signifies to glorify his power, by fearing him more than men, and by relying on him against the power and confederacies of meni? And therefore in the same argument touching the happiness of the saints, if they suffer for righteousness' sake, or be reproached for the name of Christ, St. Peter useth in one place sanctifying of the Lord' in our hearts, and in another, 'glorifying of him,' as terms equivalent; and therefore unbelief is said to make God a liar'; that is, to dishonour him, and to rob him of the glory of his truth; and despair", to rob God of his mercy, and to make the guilt of sin greater than the power of God. And therefore murmurers and unbelievers are said "to speak against God, and to grieve him, to tempt, to limit him"," that is, to call in question the glory of his power and truth. Herein then consisteth another glorious effect of the gospel of Christ, that, being a ministration of righteousness, it is a glass of that power, truth, mercy, and fidelity of God, which by faith we rest upon, for the forgiveness and subduing of sin.
Thirdly, Another glorious end of the gospel is to be a ministration and a law of life. "If the ministration of death" (saith the apostle)" were glorious, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? The law alone by itself is towards sinners but a dead letter; only the rule, according unto which a man ought to walk, not any principle enabling him to walk. If Moses alone should speak unto men, he could only tell them what they ought to do; he could in no wise enable them to do it. Nay, farther, the law hath occasionally, from the of man, a malignant
f Isai. lv. 7, 8, 9. 8 Rom iv. 20, 21. viii. 12, 13. k1 Pet. iii. 14, 15. 1 Pet. iv. 14. iv. 13. n Psalm lxxviii. 18. xix. 40, 41.
b Numb. xx. 12.
11 John v. 10.
• 2 Cor. iii. 6, 7, 8.
property in it, to irritate and exasperate lust the more,
Fourthly, It is a glorious gospel in the judicature thereof. The Spirit in the gospel doth convince, not of righteousness only, but of judgement' too; that is, the Spirit shall erect a throne in the hearts of men, shall pull down the prince of this world, and dispossess him; shall enable men's own hearts to proceed like upright judges, with truth and with victory' (which are two of the principal honours of judgement) against their own lusts, to censure, to condemn, to crucify them, though before they were as dear as their own members; to throw all their idols away as menstruous rags, and to judge' and revenge" themselves. Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols *?—In that day, saith the Lord, every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin3. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: after that
℗ Quod operum lex minando imperat, hoc fidei lex credendo imperat.-Lege operum dicit Deus, Fac quod jubeo;' lege fidei dicitur Deo, 'Da quod jubes. Aug. tom. 3, lib. de Spiritu et Litera, cap. 13. 19. q 2 Cor. iii. 3, 18. r John xvi. 11. Isai. xlii. 3. • Matth. xii. 20. t 1 Cor. xi. 31. 2 Cor. vii. 11. Hosea xiv. 8. y Isai. xxxi. 7.
I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, 1 smote upon my thigh."-Thus the government of the gospel in the heart, makes a man severe to sentence every sin, to hang up his Haman, his favourite lusts, to give up himself to the obedience of Christ, and to have his conversation", his trading, his treasure, his privileges, his freedom, his fellowship in heaven, as being now constituted under the gracious and peaceable government of a heavenly prince.
Fifthly, It is a glorious gospel, in that it was to be a continuing ministration, and an immortal seed. "If that which was done away," saith the apostle, "was glorious, much more that which remaineth, is glorious "." Now the gospel is able to preserve a man blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus: it will not suffer a man to be shaken, nor overturned by all the powers of darkness: there is strength enough in it to repel, and wisdom to answer, all the temptations and assaults of the enemies of our salvation. If the world set upon us with any temptations on the right hand or on the left, with disgraces, persecutions, discomforts, exprobrations, Lo, this was the man who made God his help, and would needs be more excellent than his neighbours; the gospel furnisheth us with sure promises and sure mercies. This is answer sufficient against all the discouragements of the world, "I know whom I have believed; I know that he hath overcome the world; I know that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, until the last day; and, in the mean time, the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world;" that is, "we are at an equal point of distance and defiance, the world contemns me, and I am as careless of the world." If with pleasures, honours, and gilded baits to draw us away from God, faith in the gospel easily overcometh the world: for it giveth both the promises and first-fruits of such treasures, as are infinitely more precious and massy, than all the world can afford: the very reproaches of Christ (how much more his promises, how infinitely more his performances at the last?) are far greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. The daily sacrifice of a godly life, and the daily feast of a quiet conscience, put more sweetness into the afflictions of Christ, than is in
2 Jer. xxxi. 19. a Phil. iii. 20. b 2 Cor. iii. 11.
all the profits, pleasures, or preferments of the world, being made bitter with the guilt of sin. If Satan, or our own reasonings stand up against the kingdom of Christ in us, the gospel is a storehouse, which can furnish us with armory of all sorts to repel them. Faith can quench fiery darts; the weapons of the Spirit can captivate the very thoughts of the heart unto the obedience of Christ; no weapon which is formed against it, can prosper; and every tongue which riseth up against it in judgement, it shall condemn; it is a staff which can carry a man over any Jordan, and can support and comfort him in any shadow of death. This is the honour of the Word, that it doth not only 'sanctify' men, but 'preserve' their holiness in them. If it were not for the treasure of the Word in the heart, every little thing would easily turn a man out of his way, and make him revolt from Christ again. How easily would afflictions make us mistrust God's affection to us, and so change our's unto him, (for this is certain, his love to us is the original of our love to him) make us murmur, repine, struggle, fret under his hand,-if, in the gospel, we did not look upon them as the gentle corrections of a Father, who loves us, as the pruning and harrowing of our souls, that they may bring forth more fruit? "Except thy law had been my delight, I should have perished in mine affliction:" My affliction would have destroyed me, and made me perish from the right way, if it had not been tempered and sanctified by thy Word.-It wrought so with that wicked king of Israel; "Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait upon the Lord any longer? what profit is there to walk humbly before him," or to afflict our souls before him, who will not see nor take knowledge of it, but continue to be our enemy still?-But the gospel teacheth a man's heart to rest in God; assureth it that there is hope in Israel, and balm in Gilead; that they which believe, should not make haste to limit, or to misconstrue God, but wait for his salvation, which will ever come in that due time, wherein it shall be both most acceptable and most beautiful. Again; how easily would temptations overturn the faith of men, if it were not daily supported by the Word! What is the
• Psalm cxix. 92. d 2 Kings vi. 33.
e Mal. iii. 14. Isai. lviii. 3.