« AnteriorContinuar »
As a King, he is a law-giver, (Ifa. xxxiii. 22.) and has appointed an external government, discipline and censors, to controut the unruly, and to keep his professed subjects in order, to be exercised by officers of his own appointment, Matth. xviii. 17, 18. 1 Cor. xii. 28. 1 Tim. v. 17. Heb. xiii. 17. But these are the great eye-fores of the carnal world, who love finful-liberty, and therefore they cry out, “ Let us break their bands afunder, and' East
away their cords from us,' " Plal. ii. 3. Hence this work is found to be, in a special manner, a striving against the stream of corrupe nature, which, for the most part, puts such a face on the church, as if there were no Kiog in Ifrael, every one doing. that which is “ right in his own eyes?".
Evid. 3. However natural men may be brought to feign fubmillion to the King of faints, yet lutts always retain the throne and dominion in their hearts, and they are serving divers lufts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. None but these in whom Christ
is formed do really put the crown on his head, and receive the _kingdom of Christ within them. His crown is " the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals." Who are they, whom the power of grace has not subdued, that will allow him to set up, and to put down, in their fouis, as he will? Nay, as for others, any lord small fooner get the rule over them, than the Lord of glory: they kiadly entert ain his ene. mies, and will never absolutly resign themselves to his government, till conquered in a day of power. Thus ye may that the natural man is an coemy to Jesus Christ in all his offices." But O! how hard is it to convince men in this point! They are very loih to take with it. And in a special. manner, the enmity of the heart against Chriít in his priestly office, feems to be hid from the view of most of the hearers of the gospel. Yet there appears to he a peculiar malignity in corrupt nature, against that office of his. It may be observed that the Socinians, thele enemies of our blessed Lord, allow him to be properly a Prophet, and a King; but deny him to be properly a Prieste And this is agreeable enough to the corruption of our nature; for under the covenant of works, the Lord was known as a Prophet or Teacher, and also as a King or Ruler ; but noi at all as a Priest : fo man knows nothing of the mystery of Christ, as the way to the Father, till it be revealed to him; And when it is revealed, the Will riseth up against it ; for corrupt nature lies Cross to the mystery of Christ, and the great contrivance of salvation, through a crucified Saviour, revealed in the gofpel. For clearing of which weighty truth, let thele four things be considered.
FIRST, The foul's falling in with the grand device of falvation by Jesus Christ, and setting the matters of salvation on that footing before the Lord, is declared by the Scriptures of truth, to be an undoubted mark of a real saint, who is happy here, and shall be happy hereafter, Matth. xi. 6." And blessed is hé, whosoever shall not be offended in me,” I Cor. xxiii. 24 we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishnefs : but unto them which are called, boch Jews and Greeks, Christ, the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God.” Philip, iii. 3. . For we are the circum. cision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Now how could this be, if nature could comply with that grand device?
Secondly, Corrupt nature is the very reverse of the gospel contrivance. In the gospel, God promiseth Jesus Christ as the great means of re-uniting man to himself: he has named him as the Mediator, one « in whom he is well pleased," and will have
none but him, Marth. xvii. 5. But nature « will have none of him," Pfal. lxxxi. II. God appointed the place of meeting for the reconciliation, namely, the flesh of Chrift; accordingly, God was in Christ, (2 Cor. v. 29.) as the tabernacle of meeting, to make up the peace with finners, but natural men, though they should die for ever, will not come thither, John v. 40.
will not come to me, that yo might have life.” In the way of the gospel, the finner must stand before the Lord in an imputed righrecusness: but corrupt nature is for an inherent righteousness : and therefore, so far natural men follow after righteousness, they follow after the law of righteousness, Rom. ix. 31, 32. and not after the Lord our righteousness. Nature is always for building up itself, and 20 have some grounds for boasting : but the great design of the Gospel, is to exalt grace, to depress nature, and exclude boasting, Rom, iii. 27. The fun of our natural religion is, to do good from and for ourselves, John v. 44. The sum of the Gospel religion is, to deny ourselves, and to do good from and for Christ, - Philip. i. 21.
Thirdly, Every thing in nature is against believing in Jesus Christ
. What beauty can the blind man discern in a crucified Saviour, for which he is to be desired? How can the Will, Caturally impotent, yea, and averse so good, make choice of himn? Well may the foul then say to him in the day of the fpirirual siege, as the Jebufites said to David in another case, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou halt nor
come in hither," 2 Sam. v, 6. ,The way of nature is to go into one's self for all ; according to the fundamental maxim of unfanctified morality,—That a man Mould trust in himself:which according to the doctrine of faith, is mere foolishness; for so it is determined, Prov. xviii. 26. “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool," Now faith is the foul's going out of itself for all : and this nature, on the other hand, determines to be foolishness, i Cor. i. 18, 23. Wherefore there is need of the working of mighty power, to cause finners to believe, Eph. i. 19. Ifa. liii. i. We fee promises of welcome to finners, in the Gospel.covenant, are ample, large, and free, 'clogged with, no conditions, Ifa. lv. I. Rev. xxii, 17. If shey cannot believe bis bare word, he has giveo them his oath upon it, Ezek. xxxiii. II. And for their greater assurances, he has appended seals to his sworn covenant, namely, the holy Sacraments. So that op more could be demanded of the most faithless person in the world to make us believe him, than the Lord hath condescended to give us, to make us: believe himself. This plainly speaks nature to be against believing, and these who flee to Christ for refuge, to have need of strong confolation, (Heb. vi. 18.) to blame their strong doubts, and propenlity to unbelief. Farther also, it may be observed, how, in the word sent to a secure, graceless generation, their objections are answered afore-hand; and words of grace are heaped one upon another, as ye may read, Isa. Iv. 7, 8, 9. Joel ii. 13. Why? Because the Lord knows, that when these fecure finners are throughly awakened, doubts, fears, and carnal reasooings againt believing, will be going within their breasts, as thick as dust in a house, raised by sweeping a dry floor.
LASTLY, Corrupt nature is bent towards the way of the Law, or Covenant of Works; and every natural man, so far as he fers himself to feek after salvation, is engaged in that way; and he will not quit it, till beat from it by divine
Now the way
of faivation by works, and that of free grace in Jeius Christ, are inconsistent, Rom. xi. 6. " And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise,
grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work. Gal. ii. 13.
And the law is not of FAITH; but the man that DOTÉ :hem, fall live in them.” Wherefore if the will of man naturally incline to the way of salyation by the Law ; fic lies cross.10 the Gospel contrivance. And that such is the natural bent of our hearts, will appear, if these following things be coa dered,
1. The law was Adam's covenant, and he knew no other, as he was the head and representative of all mankind, that were brought into it with him, and left under it by hin, tho" without strength to perform the condition thereof. Herice, this covenant is ingrained in our nature and tho', we have lost our faiher's 'Itrength; yet we still incline to the way he was set upon as our head and representative in that covenant ; that is, by doing to live. This is our natural religion, and the principle which men naturally take for granted, Matth. xix. 16." What good things shall I DO, that I may have eternal life ;'*,
2. Consider the opposition that has always been made in the world against the doctrine of free grace in Jesus Christ, by men setting up for the way of works; thereby discovering the natural tendency of the heart. It is manifest, that the great defign of the gospel-contrivance is to exalt the free grace of God in Jesus Chrift, Rom. ix. 16. “ Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace." See Eph. i. 6. and chap, ii. 7. 9. ALL gospel truths center in Christ : so that to learn the truth, is to learn Christ, Eph. iv, 20. And to be truly taught, is to be taught as the truth is in Jesus, ver. 21. All dispensations of favour from heaven, whether to nations or particular persons, have still had something about them proclaiming a freedom of grace ; as in the very first-feparation made by the divine favour, Cain, the elder brother, is rejected; and Abel, the younger accepted. This shines through the whole history of the Bible : but as true as it is, this has been the point principally opposed by
corrupt nature. One may well say, that of all errors in religion, lince Christ, the Seed of the Woman, was preached, this of Works, in opposition to Free-grace in him, was the first that lived; and it is likely to be the last that dies. There have been vast numbers of errors, which sprung up one after another, whereof, at lengih, the world became alhamed and weary, fo that they died out : But this has continued from Cain, the first author of this heresy, unto this day; and never wanted some that clave to it, even in the times of greatest light. I do pot, without ground, call Cain the author of it : When Abel brought the sacrifice of atonement, a bloody offering, of the firstlings of his flock, (like the Publican, fmiting on his breast, and saying, "God be merciful to me à finner ;') Cain advanced with his thank offering, of the first-fruit of the ground, (Gen. iv. 3, 4.) like the proud Pharisee, with his “ God, I thank thee. For, what was the cause of Cain's wrath, and of his murdering Abel? Was it not that he was accepted of God for his work ?H
Gen. iv. 4, 5.
" And wherefore New he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous,'' (1. John iii. 22.) that is, dont in faith, and accepted, when his were done without faith, and therefore rejected, as the Apostle teacherh, Heb. xi. And so he wrote his indignation against juftification and accept ance with God through Faith, in opposition to Works, in the blood of his brother, to convey it down to pofterity. And fioce that time, the unbloody facrifice has often fwimmed in the blood of those that rejected it. The promise made to Abraham, of-tlie Seed in which all nations should be blessed, was so overclouded among his pofterity in Eygpt, that the generality of then law no need of that way of obtaining the blessing, till God himself confuted their error, by a fiery law from mount Sigai, which was added because of transgrellions, till the Seed Should come,” Gal. iii. 1). I need not in filt to tell
how Moses and the prophets had ftill much ado to lead the people off the conceit of their own righteousness. The ix. chapter of Deuteronomy is entirely spent on that purpose. They were very gross in that point in our Saviour's time ; in the time of the Apostles, when the doctrine of Free-grace was most clearly preached, that error lifted up it's head in face of clearest light ; witness the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians. And linte that time, it has not been wanting.; Popery being the common fink of former heresies, and this the heart and life of that delufion. And finally, it may be ob'erved, that always as the church declined from her purity otherwise, the doctrine of Free grace was obscured proportionably.
3. Such is the natural propensity of man's heart to the way of the law, in opposition to Christ, thai, as the tainted vessel turns the taste of the purest liquor put into it, so the natural man furns the very gospel into law; and transforms the cove. gant of Grace in!o a Covenant of works. The Ceremonial Law was to the Jews a real Gospel, which held blood, death and translation of guilt before their eyes continually, as the only way of salvation : yet their very table, (i. e. their altar, with the several ordinances pertaining therto, Mali i. 12.) was "a fare unto them,”? Rom. ii. 9. while they used it to make up the defects in their obedience to the Moral Law, and cleaved to it fo, as to reject him, whom the altar and facrifice pointed them to, as the substance of all: even as Hagar, whose it was only to serve, was by their father brought into her mistress's bed ; rot without a mystery in the purpose of God, 6. For these are the tyo Covenants," Gal. iv. 24. Thus is the doctrine of the gospel