« PreviousContinue »
to this, there are two things I would inention, which this doctrine doth presuppose,
1. In that some are the children of promise by grace, it supposes that all are children of wrath by nature, Eph. ii. 3. Because of the breach and violation of the law of works in Adam, we forfeited the promise of life, and incurred the threatening of death, according to the tenor of the covenant, “ Do and live," and if thou do not, thou shalt die : and being children of disobedience, we are children of the curse, and not of the promise ; for, " Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, written in the book of the law to do them,” Gal. ii. 10. There is the sad state wherein all Adam's natural offfjring are fince the fall : we are Ishmaelites; children of the bond-woman; born after the flesh; under the curse; and in bondage to fin, Satan, death, and hell; aliens to the common-wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, Eph. ii. 12. It is true, there was a promise of life in the covenant of works, under which we are by nature; but it being upon condition of our perfect and personal obedience, now imposible, it can give no relief to the awakened conscience, but leaves all, whose eyes are open, to everlasting despair, if they get not a view of the covenant, and better promise. Therefore,
2. In that some are the children of promise, it fupposes that surely there is another promise, according to which God proposes to deal with some of the children of men; a promise, not built upon the filly foundation of any mere man's personal obedience, but a promise established on a better foundation, and standing fast in another Head; and it is called a promise of life in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. i. 1. And that not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, ver. 9. compared with Tit. i. 2. Not according to the tenor of the covenant of works; for, while finners look to that covenant, nothing is to be seen there but consuming fire; nothing to be heard but thunder and threatenings; nothing to be expected but death and vengeance; therefore man is under no dispensation
but that of a terrible threatening, till the promise in Christ appear. There is a fourfold capacity wherein man hath had to do with God.
(1.) As a commanding God; men, even as creatures, being obliged to yield obedience to the great Creator's law and commandment, which was engraven on their hearts, in the original make and constitution of our first parents, when they dropt out of his creating hand.
(2.) As a covenanting God; I mean, in the covenant of works, which God entered into with man, as a covenant of life and death, upon his doing or not doing what God commanded.
(3.) As a threatening Cod, upon the violation of that covenant; and this is the capacity wherein all mankind have to do with God; they that fee God out of Christ with their eyes open, while they are in a natural state, can see him no other ways than arrayed with threatenings and wrath, until he please to disco. ver himself.
(4.) As a promising God, upon a better foundation than the first covenant, even his promise in Jesus Christ, before the world bega..--Now, there is no dealing with God for eternal life and falvation, unless he few himself to be God in a promise.
Having premised these things, I come now to speak a little concerning the promise, whereof believers are the children. And, in general, the promise is the same with the covenant of grace, in opposition to the covenant of works: or, the promise is the same with the gospel, in opposition to the law; hence the promife and the gospel are made one and the fanie thing in this epistle, Gal. iii. 8.; and hence the promise and the law are set in opposition to one another, verse 18. But more particularly, for opening up the promise, whereof believers are children ; we may conlider, concerning the promise, 1. The Subject, or Author of it. 2. The matter of it. 3. The nature of it, 4. The object of it.
Ift, The Subject of this promise, or whose promise it is.' And,
1. It is the promise of God, even God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; therefore called the promise of God, Gal. iii. 21. Indeed all the divine perfections are engaged for the accomplishment thereof, that our faith and hope might be in God. God the Father is the great author, the grand contriver, and original fountain of the covenant; “ In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,” Titus i. 2. And the great promise of the covenant is called the promise of the Father, Acts i. 4. And hence the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is said to bless us with all spiritual bleffings, Eph. i. 3.
2. It is the promise of Christ; he also is the promiser; and therefore, when he left his people, and went out of this world, he cpened his mouth to them in manifold promises, John xv, xvi, xvii. chapters. And hence also he invites finners to himself, by the encouragement of a promise ; " Come to me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,'' Matth. xi. 23.
3. It is the promise of the Spirit; hence he is called the Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13. both because he is promised, and because he is the promiser : and what are all the promises of the new covenant, but the language of the Holy Ghost, the voice of the Spirit, the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son, whose voice we are called to hear ? And hence in the epilogue of all the epistles to the seven churches of Asia, Rev. ii. and iii. chapters; the conclusory promises are all backed with this advertisement, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit faith to the churches.” And again,
4. It is the promise of God in Christ, by the Holy Ghost. That it is the promise of God in Christ, is plain from Gal. iii. 17. where it is called the covenant confirmed of God in Christ; and 2 Tim. i. 1.“ The promise of life, which is Christ Jesus ;' and given us in Christ, verse 9.; yea, 2 Cor. i. 20.“ All the promises of God are in him Amen:” they have all their establishment and ratification in his blood : hence that joyful found and glad tidings, 2 Cor. v. 19. " God was in Christ
reconciling the world to himself, and not imputing their trespasses to them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation, bearing that he hath made him to be fin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Again, that it is the promise of God in Christ, by the Holy Ghott, is plain, not only from his being the third person existing in the Godhead, and proceeding from the Father and the Son; but also from his office in the work of redemption, which is to make the powerful application thereof, as the great Teacher and Remembrancer, for bringing home the promise to the hearts of his people appointed unto life ;
The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name; he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatfoever I have said unto you,” John xiv. 26. Again, " He snall convince the world of fin, righteousness, and judgment : He fall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and thew it unto you,” John svi. 8. 14.-So much for the fubject, the Author of the promise, or whose promise it is.
2dly, Let us consider a little the matter of the promise, whereof believers are the children ; what is the good contained in God's promise. And,
1. God himself is the great matter of the promise, as well as the author of it; as he is the promiser, fo he is the thing promised, Ezek. xxxvi. 28. compared with Jer. xxxi. 33. and Heb. viii. 10." I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” It is the greatest promise in all the Bible, and contains the most inesinable and invaluable treasure in heaven and carth. O what a great matter is here! God himself giving over himself, and a true propriety in himself, to every soul that will receive him, and fay Amen, by a faith of divine operation : even as the liusband gives himfelf up to his wife in marriage, fo does God to the believer ; “ I will betrothe thee to me for ever, in truth, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness.” Where-ever the covenant of grace, the covenant of promise is repeated in seripture, that is always the burden of the song,
،، I I
" I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” O what excellent matter is here! Eternity diving into this deep, will never reach the bottom of it. Again,
2. Christ himself is the great matter of the promise: as God promises himself, so he promises his Son ; Christ is the great promise, the great sum, centre, and substance of the covenant ; yea, the all, the sum-total of it: “ I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth,” Ifa. xlii. 6. and xlix. 9. It is he, that is made of God to us, wisdom, righteousness, fanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor.i. 30. He is called the mercy promised, Luke i. 72. The gofpel promises are nothing else but that opening up of the unsearchable riches of Christ, where there is more precious treasure than ever can be told by all the arithmetic of nien and angels to eternity. The first promise that ever was made after the fall, was a promise of Christ, * The feed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent ;” and all the rest of the promises of the new Covenant, are fireams flowing from that spring- God never designed to save any man by a covenant of works, but he designed to take occasion by man's fall.to glorify his grace; therefore, no sooner does sin come, and a curse with it, than grace comes in, and a promise with it: fo foon as Adam is arraigned before God for fin, the womb of the promise is open, and it is a promise of Christ, which, in all the after-promises, is made always gradually more and more clear; and ever since God drew up the fluice of the promise, it hath been running to this day, and it is flowing to this day, while the promise of Christ, as the Lord our righteousness and firength, is sct before us as the ground of our faith and hope.
3. The Spirit himself is also the great matter of the promise, or the good things promised ; “ I will put my Spirit within you,” says God, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. “ I will send the Comforter,” says Christ, John xvi. 7. So that, as God promises himself, and promises his Chrift; fo God and Christ promise the Spirit: the Spirit in his misfion and motions is here promised, in his influ