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law was executed on them. To root the rancour and malice out of the minds of men which by this means were nourished and fomented in them, our Saviour lets them know that notwithstanding that procedure of the magistrate by the law, yet indeed all private revenges were forbidden and all readiness to contend with others, which he amplifieth in the proposal of some particular cases; and all this by virtue of a rule which himself affirms to be contained in the law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” verses 38–42, pressing also lending and giving, as works of charity, whereunto a blessing is so often pronounced in the Old Testament.
5. His last instance is in the matter of love, concerning which the Pharisees had given out this note, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy;" for whereas there were certain nations whom God had appointed to utter destruction at his people's first coming into Canaan, he commanded them to show them no mercy, but utterly to destroy them, Deut. vii. 2. This the wretched hypocrites laid hold of to make up a rule and law for private men to walk by in reference to them whom they accounted their enemies, in express contradiction to the command of God, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5, Lev. xix. 18. Wherefore our blessed Saviour vindicates the sense of the law from this cursed tradition also, and renews the precept of loving and doing good to our enemies, verses 43-47. So that in none of the instances mentioned is there the least evidence of what was proposed to be confirmed by them,-namely, that our Saviour gave a new law, in that he did partly perfect, partly correct the law of Moses, --seeing he did only vindicate the sense and meaning of the law, in sundry precepts thereof, from the false glosses and traditions of the scribes and Pharisees, invented and imposed on their disciples to be a cloak to their hypocrisy and wickedness. And this also may fully suffice to remove what on this account is delivered by the Racovian Catechism. But on this foundation Mr B. proceeds:
Q. You have made it appear plainly that the law of faith or the new covenant, whereof Christ was the mediator, is better than the law of works or the old covenant, whereof Moses was the mediutor, in respect of precepts; is it also better in respect of promises? A. Heb. viii. 6, vii. 19.
This is indeed a comfortable passage! for the better understanding whereof I shall single out the several noble propositions that are insinuated therein, and evidently contained in the words of it; as, —
1. Christ was the mediator of the law of faith, the new law, in the same sense as Moses was mediator of the old law, the law of works.
2. Christ's addition of precepts and promises to the law of Moses is the law of faith, or the new covenant.
3. The people or church of the Jews lived under the old covenant, or the law of works, whereof Moses, not Christ, was the mediator.
4. The difference between the old and the new covenant lies in this, that the new hath more precepts of obedience and more promises than the old.
And now, truly, he that thinks that this man understands either the old covenant or the new, either Moses or Christ, either faith or works, shall have liberty from me to enjoy his opinion, for I have not more to add to convince him of his mistake than what the man himself bath here delivered.
For my part, I have much other work to do, occasioned by Mr B., and therefore I shall not here divert to the consideration of the two covenants and their difference, with the twofold administration of the covenant of grace, both before and after Christ's coming in the flesh; but I shall content myself with some brief animadversions upon the forementioned propositions and proceed :
1. In what sense Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, I shall, God assisting, at large declare, when I come to treat of his death and satisfaction, and shall not here prevent myself in any thing of what must then and there be delivered.
2. That there are precepts and promises attending the new covenant is granted; but that it consists in any addition of precepts to the Mosaical law, carried on in the same tenor with it, with other promises, is a figment directly destructive of the whole gospel and the mediation of the Son of God. By this means, the whole undertaking of Jesus Christ to lay down his life a ransom for us, our justification by his blood, his being of God made righteousness to us, the free pardon of our sins and acceptation with God by and for him, as he is the end of the law for righteousness; all communication of effectual grace to work in us new obedience, the giving of a new, clean heart, with the law of God written in it by the Spirit; in a word, the whole promise made to Abraham, the whole new covenant, is excluded from the covenant, and men left yet in their sins. The covenant of works was, “Do this, and live;" and the tenor of the law, “ If a man do the things thereof, he shall live thereby,—that is, if a man by his own strength perform and fulfil the righteousness that the law requires, he shall have eternal life thereby. covenant,” saith the apostle, “God hath disannulled, because no man could be saved by it,” Heb. vii. 18. “The law thereof, through sin, was become weak and insufficient as to any such end and purpose,” Rom. viii. 3. What, then, doth God substitute in room thereof? Why, a new covenant, that hath more precepts added to the old, with all those of the old continued that respected moral obedience! But is this a remedy? is not this rather a new burden? If the law could not save us before, because it was impossible, through sin, that we should perfectly accomplish it, and therefore “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified,” is it a likely way to relieve us by
making an addition of more precepts to them which before we could not observe? But that, through the righteous hand of God, the interest of men's immortal souls is come to be concerned therein, I should think the time exceedingly lavished that is spent in this discourse. “Let him that is ignorant be ignorant still," were a sufficient
And this that hath been said may suffice to the fourth particular also.
3. That Moses was a mediator of a covenant of works, properly and formally so called, and that the church of the Jews lived under a covenant of works, is a no less pernicious figment than the former. The covenant of works was, “ Do this, and live;”—“.On perfect obedience you shall have life.” Mercy and pardon of sins were utter strangers to that covenant; and therefore by it the Holy Ghost tells us that no man could be saved. The church of old had the promises of Christ, Rom. ix. 4, Gen. iii. 15, xii. 3; were justified by faith, Gen. xv. 6, Rom. iv., Gal. ii.; obtained mercy for their sins, and were justified in the Lord, Isa. xlv. 24, 25; had the Spirit for conversion, regeneration, and sanctification, Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26; expected and obtained salvation by Jesus Christ;—things as remote from the covenant of works as the east is from the west.
It is true, the administration of the covenant of grace which they lived under was dark, legal, and low, in comparison of that which we now are admitted unto since the coming of Christ in the flesh; but the covenant wherein they walked with God and that wherein we find acceptance is the same, and the justification of Abraham their father the pattern of ours, Rom. iv. 4, 5.
Let us now see what answer Mr B. applies to his query. The first text he mentions is Heb. vii. 6, “ But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” That which the Holy Ghost here affirms is, that the new covenant, whereof Christ is the mediator, is better than the old, and that it hath better promises; which, I suppose, none ever doubted. The covenant is better, seeing that could by no means save us, while by this Christ doth to the uttermost. The promises are better, for it hath innumerable promises of conversion, pardon, and perseverance, which that had not at all; and the promise of eternal life, which that had, is given upon infinitely better and surer terms. But all this is nothing at all to Mr B.'s purpose.
No more is the second place which he mentioneth, Heb. vii. 19, "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.”
Not that by “ the law” in that place the covenant of works is intended, but the legal administration of the covenant of grace. “This," saith the apostle, “ made nothing perfect." Men were kept under VOL XII.
types and shadows; and though they were children of God by adoption, yet in comparison they were kept as servants, being under age, until the fulness of time came, when the bringing in of Jesus Christ, that “better hope," made the administration of grace perfect and complete, Gal. iv. 1-6. Mr B. all along obscures himself under the ambiguous term of “the law," confounding its covenant and subsequent use. As for the covenant use of the law, or as it was the tenor of the covenant of works, the saints of the old testament were no more concerned in it than are we. The subsequent use of it may be considered two ways,-1. As it is purely moral, exacting perfect obedience, and so the use of it is common to them and us; 2. As attended with ceremonial and judicial institutions in the administration of it, and so it was peculiar to them. And this one observation will lead the reader through much of the sophistry of this chapter, whose next question is,
Q. Were those better promises of God touching eternal life and immortality hidden in the dark and not brought to light under the law?
A. “ Jesus Christ hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” 2 Tim. i. 10.
The whole ambiguity of this question - lies in these expressions, “ Hidden in the dark and not brought to light.”. If he intend comparatively, in respect of the clear revelation made of the mind and will of God by Jesus Christ, we grant it. If he mean it absolutely, that there were no promises of life and immortality given under the law, it is absolutely false; for,
1. There are innumerable promises of life and immortality in the Old Testament given to the church under the law. See Heb. xi. 14; Deut. xii. 1, xxx. 6; Ps xvi. 10, 11; Deut. xxxii. 29; Ps. cxxx. 8; Isa. xxv. 8, 9, xlv. 17, xxvi. 19; Jer. xxiii. 6; Ps üi. 12, xxxii. 1, 2, xxxiii. 12.
2. They believed in eternal life, and therefore they had the promise of it; for faith relieth always on the word of promise. Thus did Job, chap. xix. 25-27; and David, Ps. xvii. 15; so did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Heb. xi. 10, 13, 14; yea, and some of them, as a pattern and example, without dying obtained it, as Enoch and Elijah.
3. The covenant of Abraham was that which they lived in and under. But this covenant of Abraham had promises of eternal life, even that God would be his God, dead and alive, Gen. xvii. 1, 7. And that the promises thereof were promises of eternal life, Paul manifests, Rom. iv. 3, Gal. ïïi. 14. But this hath been so abundantly
ii manifested by others that I shall not longer insist upon it. We are come to the last query of this chapter, which is:
Q. Though the promises of the gospel be better than those of the law, yet are they not, as well as those of the law, proposed under conditions of faith and persever
ance therein, of holiness and obedience, of repentance, and suffering for Christ? how speak the Scriptures?
A. John iii. 14–16, 18, 36; Hab. ii. 4; Heb. xi. 6; 2 Tim. ii. 11; Rom. viii. 13; Acts iii. 19; Rev. ii. 5, 16; John v. 14.
Neither will this query long detain us. In the new testament, there being means designed for the attainment of an end,—faith, obedience, and perseverance, for the attainment of salvation and en
, joyment of God through Christ,—the promises of it are of two sorts. Some respect the end, or our whole acceptation with God; some the means, or way whereby we come to be accepted in Christ. The first sort are those insisted on by Mr B., and they are so far conditional as that they declare the firm connection and concatenation of the end and means proposed, so that without them it is not to be attained; but the other, of working faith, and new obedience, and perseverance, are all absolute to the children of the covenant, as I have so fully and largely elsewhere declared that I shall not here repeat any thing there written, nor do I know any necessity of adding any thing thereunto. I thought to have proceeded with the Racovian Catechism also, as in the former part of the discourse; but having made this process, I had notice of an answer to the whole by Arnoldus, the professor of divinity at Franeker; and therefore, that I may not actum agere, nor seem to enter another's labour, I shall not directly and xarà móda, carry on a confutation thereof hereafter, but only divert thereunto as I shall have occasion, yet not omitting any thing of weight therein, as in this chapter I have not, as to the matter under consideration.
Of the kingly office of Jesus Christ, and of the worship that is ascribed and due
Of the nature of the kingly office of Jesus Christ, bis investiture with it, his administration of it, with the efficacy of that power which therein he puts forth, both towards his elect and others, Mr Biddle doth not administer any occasion to discourse. It is acknowledged by him that he was, or at least is, a king, by the designation and appointment of the Father, to whom, as he was mediator, he was subject; that he abides in his rule and dominion as such, and shall do so to the end of the world; and I shall not make any farther inquiry as to these things, unless farther occasion be administered. Upon the account of this authority they say he is God. But whereas it is certain that this authority of his shall cease at the end of the
1 Perseverance of the Saints, vol. xi.