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but by degrees; so in his intercession, which respecteth the same persons and things with his oblation, he puts in for our deliverance from all sins and the power of them, but so and in such a manner as the nature of our present condition, whilst we are in via, and the condition of the covenant whereinto God hath graciously taken us, do require.
Through the goodness of God, we have now brought this first part to an end. They who are in any measure acquainted in what straits, under what pressing employments and urgent avocations, and in what space of time, this offering was provided for the sanctuary of God, will accept it in Him, whose it is, and from whom it was received.
THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE DOCTRINE.
The improvement of the doctrine of perseverance in reference to the obedience and
consolation of the saints—Why its tendency to the promoting of their obedience is first handled, before their consolation-Five previous observations concerning gospel truths in general--1. That all are to be received with equal reverence—2. That the end of them all is to work the soul into a conformity to God-Proved by several scriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17; Tit. i. 1, etc.—3. Some truths have a more immediate tendency hereunto than others have, 2 Cor. v. 14—4. Most weight is to be laid by believers upon such 5. Men are not themselves to determine what truths have most in them of this tendency, etc. --Gospel obedience, what it is, and why so called—Its nature-1. In the matter of it, which is all and only the will of God—2. In the form of it, which is considered-(1.) In the principle setting it on work, faith(2.) In the manner of doing it, eyeing both precepts and promises—(3.) The end aimed at in it, the glory of God as a rewarder, Heb. xi. 6; Rom. iv. 4—The principle in us whence it proceeds, which is the new man, the Spirit, proved, Eph. ïïi. 16-19, etc.—What kind of motives conduce most to the carrying on of this obedience, namely, such as most cherish this new man, which they do most that discover most of the love of God and his good-will in Christ-. Such as these are alone useful to mortification and the subduing of the contrary principle of flesh, which hinders our obedience, proved, Tit. ii. 11, 12 ; Rom. vi.—What persons the improvement of this doctrine concerns ; only true believers, who will not abuse it-How this doctrine of perseverance conduces so eminently to the carrying on of gospel obedience in the hearts of these true believers. By removing discouragements-(1.) Perplexing fears, which impair their faith; (2.) Hard thoughts of God, which weaken their love : without which two, faith and love, no gospel obedience performed -2. Unspeakable obligations to live to God hence put upon the souls of the saints—Objections concerning the abuse of this truth to presumption and carelessness discussed, examined at large, and removed— The mortification of the flesh, wherein it consists, how it is performed— The influence of the doc. trine of the saints' perseverance thereinto-Dread and terror of hell not the means of mortification, at large proved by showing quite another means of mortifying the flesh, namely, the Spirit of Christ, Rom. viii. 13; applying the cross and death of Christ, chap. vi. 6, 6–3. This doctrine is useful to promote gospel
obedience, in that it tends directly to increase and strengthen faith and love both towards God and towards our Lord Jesus Christ-How it strengthens their love to God, namely, by discovering his love to them in three eminent properties of it, freedom, constancy, fruitfulness—How it strengthens their love to Jesus Christ, namely, by discovering his love to them in two eminent acts of it, his oblation and his intercession—4. This doctrine conduces, etc., by giving gospel obedience its proper place and due order—5. By closing in with the ends of gospel ordinances, particularly the ministry, one eminent end whereof is to perfect the saints, Eph. iv. 12, 13, which is done by discovering to them the whole will of God, both precepts on the one hand, and promises, exhortations, threatenings, on the other_That of the promises more particularly and more largely insisted on.
THAT which remains to complete our intendment, as to that part of the work which now draws towards a close, is the importment of that doctrine so long insisted on (having in some measure vindicated and cleared up the truth of it) as to the effectual influence it hath into the obedience and consolation of them that are concerned therein; and this I shall do in the order that I have named, giving the preeminence unto their obedience, which, more immediately respecting the glory of God and the honour of the gospel, is to be preferred before their consolation. Yea, though God should never afford his
. saints any drop of that consolation which we affirm to stream from the truth discussed, yet it is honour unspeakable for them that he is pleased to admit them and enable them to do him service in this life, and it will be their infinite consolation that they have done so, to eternity.
For the making our way clear to the demonstration of that influence which the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints hath into their obedience and close walking with God, and so to manifest what weight is to be laid upon it on that consideration, I shall give some previous observations, which may direct and give us light in our passage, both concerning gospel truths, gospel obedience, and gospel motives thereunto. I hope it will not be thought amiss if I look a little backward, to fortify and clear this part of our progress, there being no concernment of our doctrine that is more clamoured (against] by the adversaries of it; nor can any respect of it or any truth of God more causelessly meet with such entertainment, as I hope will abundantly, in the progress of our business, be evinced to the consciences of all who know indeed what it is to walk before God in a course of gospel obedience, and who have their communion with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. For the first :
1. Every truth revealed from God is to be received not only with faith and love, but with equal reverence to any that is revealed, though we are not able to discern such an immediate tendency unto usefulness in our communion with him as in some others we may. The formal reason whereinto our faith, love, and reverence unto the word of God is resolved is that it is His. Now, this is common to the whole, for he is the author of every part and portion alike; and though perhaps we may want some part of it at a less fatal price than some other, yet to reject any one tittle or jot of it, as that which is revealed of God, is a sufficient demonstration that no one jot or tittle of it is received as it ought. Upon whatever this title and inscription is, Verbum Jehovæ, there must we stoop and bow down our souls before it, and captivate our understandings to the obedience of faith. Whatsoever, then, may hereafter be spoken concerning the usefulness of the truth under consideration, and the comparative regard which, in respect of others, ought on that account to be had thereunto, doth not in the least exalt it, as it is in itself, in respect of the faith and reverence due thereunto, above any other truth whatsoever that is in Scripture revealed.
2. That next to the revelation of God, his will and his grace, the grand immediate tendency of the whole Scripture is to work them to whom the revelation is made into a conformity to himself, and to mould them into his own image. “All Scripture,” the apostle tells us, 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, "is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Hereunto all Scripture tends, and is useful and profitable for this end. And the gospel is called “the truth that is according to godliness," Tit. i. 1; as “the end of the law is charity out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned,” 1 Tim. i. 5. That which in respect of the prime Author of it is aóyos 80ữ, “the word of God," 1 Thess. ii. 13; and in respect of the principal matter of it is ó nóyos ó ToŨ ora upoữ, “ the word of the cross," 1 Cor. i. 18; in respect of its end and tendency towards us is dóyos ευσεβείας, SÜGECsías, “the word,” or truth," that is according to godliness.” The
" word is that revealed will of God, which is our sanctification, 1 Thess. iv. 3, and the instrument whereby he works our holiness, according to that prayer of our Saviour, “Sanctify them by thy truth: thy word is truth,” John xvii. 17. And that which, when we are cast into the mould of our obedience, is in some measure wrought, Rom. vi. 17, the substance also or matter being written in our hearts, is the grace and holiness promised unto us in the covenant, Jer. xxxi. 33. And that this is the improvement which ought to be made by believers of every gospel truth, or rather, that it hath an efficacy to this purpose, the apostle tells us, 2 Cor. iii. 18, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory.to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” By apprehensions of the glorious truths discovered in the glass or mirror of the gospel, we are changed and moulded into the frame and image therein discovered by the power of the Spirit, effectually accom
panying the word in the dispensation thereof. And unless this be done, whatsoever we may pretend, we have not received any truth of the gospel as it is in Jesus, in the power of it: Eph. iv. 20-24, “Ye have not,” saith the apostle, “so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Whatsoever men may profess, if we have learned the truth as it is in Jesus, it will have these effects in us, even universal relinquishment (as to sincerity) of all ungodliness, and a thorough change, both as to principles and practices, unto holiness and to righteousness, which the gospel teaches us; which. if we have not learned, we have not yet learned it “as it is in Jesus." Tit. ii. 11, 12, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
3. Some truths have a more immediate, direct, and effectual tendency to the promotion of godliness and gospel obedience than others. This the apostle emphatically ascribes as a privilege to that doctrine that reveals the love of Christ unto us: 2 Cor. v. 14, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” Other things effectually persuade, but the love of Christ constrains us to live to him. It hath an importunity with it not to be denied, an efficacy not to be put off or avoided. And what is in the things themselves, as in the love of Christ, that is in its manner, in “the word of truth,” whereby it is revealed,
4. That there is, by all that walk with God, great weight to be laid on those doctrines of truth which directly and effectually tend to the promotion of faith, love, fear, reverence of God, with universal holiness in their hearts and ways; this being that whereunto they are called, and whereby God is glorified, Jesus Christ and the gospel exalted, wherein his kingilom in them consists, on which their own peace in their own bosoms, their usefulness unto others in this world, their being made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, do much depend. If these things be of weight or moment unto them (as surely they are all that is so to believers), then, doubtless, great valuation and dear esteem will be entertained of those helps and assistances which they have, leading and carrying thein on thereunto.
5. That a judgment of what truths and doctrines are peculiarly conducing unto the promotion of piety and godliness is not to be made upon the apprehensions and reasonings of men, wrested with a thousand corruptions and prejudices, full of darkness and vanity, but according to what the Scripture itself holds forth, and the nature
of the things themselves (that is, the evidence and consequence that is between the truth revealed and obedience) doth require. If the testimonies of the sons of men must be admitted in this case, to determine what doctrine is according to godliness, the cry and noise of them will be found so various, discrepant, confused, and directly contradictory to itself, that none will ever thereby be led to establishment. Then Papists will cry out for their merits, penance, vows, purgatory; the Socinians, familists, formalists, all contend, upon the foundation of their own persuasions, as to the tendency to godliness of their abominations. That doctrine which hath no other proof of its truth and worth but that men, some men, profess it tends to godliness and holiness of conversation, I dare say is a lie and vanity, and did never promote any thing but vain, legal, superstitious, counterfeit holiness. Indeed, upon a supposition of its truth, it is of concernment, for the advancement of any doctrine in the esteem and opinion of the saints, to manifest that it leads to godliness; but to prove it to be true because men who perhaps never knew any thing beyond formal, legal, pharisaical holiness all their days, say it tends to the promotion of holiness, is but to obtrude our conceptions upon others that are no way moulded into the frame of them. “That the embracement of such a truth will further us in our obedience and walking with God, therefore value and prize it,” is good arguing; but, “That such a doctrine will further us in a way of godliness, therefore it is a truth," when we may be mistaken both in godliness itself and in the motives to it and furtherances of it, is but a presumption. To commend, then, the truth which we have at large otherwise confirmed to the hearts and consciences of the saints of God, and to lay a foundation for the full removal of those vain and weak exceptions which, on this account, are laid against it, I shall manifest what influences it hath into their obedience, and with what eminent efficacy it prevails upon their souls to “perfect holiness in the fear of God." For the more clear declaration whereof I shall give the reader the sum of it, under the ensuing considerations concerning gospel obedience, and the motives that are proper thereunto.
That which I call gospel obedience, wherein the saints of God are furthered by the belief of the truth we have in hand, is variously expressed in the Scripture. It may in general be described to be a voluntary orderly subjection to the whole will of God. I call it obedience in reference unto the will of God, which is the rule and pattern of it, and whereunto it is in a regular subjection. The psalmist expresses it to the full, both as to the root and fruit: Ps. xl. 8, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”
” The law in the heart gives us to do, and to delight in doing, the will of God. Peter calls it being "holy in all manner of conversation,” 1 Pet. i. 14, 15; Paul, a “cleansing of ourselves from all filthiness