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Barrenness, Adversity and Anguilh, Crosses and Disappointments, to avenge their Violation and Contempt of it. Blessings and Curses, temporal and present AH; Of little value (in comparison) to Men, who carry immortal Souls about them; and answering to those sender Considerations we treat with Servants for; A little Wages paid down in Hand; A tolerable Subsistence from Hand to Mouth ; but nothing of a Settlement : Corrections, that follow immediately upon the Fault, and a Discipline suitable to the Sordidness of Their Temper, which looks no farther, than present Smart, and present Profit. It is made good especially, by that Terror and perpetual Confternation of Mind, necessarily consequent upon a Law, Rigorous in exacting Works, without adininiftring Ability to perform them; Sufficient to inform Men of their Guilt, but not providing Remedies against it; Threatning Death to Transgressions, (as the Condition of corrupt Nature then stood) not to be avoided, and not giving any comfortable Prospect of a Deliverance: As Slaves are contained in their Duty, by the Scourge held over them, or made to labour in sight of the Gibbet. Upon all which Accounts it is, that St. Paul most emphatically expresses the Advantage of being freed from such a Law, by saying, that we bave not, in this new Covenant, received the Spirit of Bondage again unto Fear.
The Gospel, quite contrary, treats us as Free-men and Sons. It imposeth upon us nothing unfit for Men of generous Descent and liberal Education. It requires perfect and substantial Holiness. Virtues of intrinsick Worth, answerable to the Dignity of Human Nature, such as adorn, exalt, and perfect it: Rests not in the outward Act, but carries these Virtues into our most secret Parts ; Enjoins Purity of Heart, Uprightness of Intention ; secures our Innocence, by tearing up Wickednefs by the Roots ; Makes us of a Piece throughout,and
Rom. viii. 15.
sets us above the little trickish Arts of Dissimulation and Constraint. These Virtues it enforces with the noblest Rewards ; An Eternity of Joys; Joysworthy of, and agreeable to, an intelligent and ininortal Spirit ; The Pleasures of Knowledge, and Goodness, and Love ; the Knowledge and Love of God, and every desirable Object: A Recompence worth our waiting for, worth all we can do or endure to obtain it, because the Recompence of Sons; Not our Hire but our Portion ; A glorious Inheritance, an everlasting Settlement. And, Lastly, It inspires such tender and filial Affection, such a becoming Sense of Gratitude, such assured Hope of being accepted in the Beloved, and considered when we do well ; such firm Persuasion of Pardon, and kind Allowances, when we fail, and do amiss; such Dependence upon Grace and Strength seconding our Endeavours to do better; as fill and support us with inward Complacencies, sweeten all our Duty, take off the Edge of all our Sufferings, and render the so reasonable Service of so good a Father, Freedom, perfeet Freedom.
Secondly, It is necessary, for a right understanding the Apostle, to be rightly informed in what respect the Law of Moses and the Gospel are said to be Two Covenants. Strictly speaking, as the Church of God, so likewise the Covenant of God with that Church, hath, ever since the Fall of our first Parents, been One and the Same. The Terms whereof, on God's part, are, Forgiveness of Sins, restoring Mankind to Holinessand Immortality, for the sake of his Son, and a View of His Sacrifice and Death for them: On Man's part, Belief in that Son, Dependance upon that Sacrifice, Repentance for past Offences, and sincere Obedience for the future. Thus did this (truly called the Second) Covenant, repair the Breaches of that First, which promised Immortality to unsinning Obedience : Made with Adam in the time of his Innocence, but broken by Him, and impossible to be discharged by any Other Man ;
Gal. iii. 17.
1 Pet. i. 11.
1 Pet. iii. 20.
Heb. xiii. 8.
since all, descending from Him, (after His Criine) par take in His Frailty and Corruption.
The Foundation then of all the Comfort resulting from this Covenant, is the Redemption of the World by the Death of Christ. The Promises made to Abraham and the Patriarch, were confirmed in Chrift; The Spirit speaking by the Prophets was the Spirit of Christ; Nay, even before the Flood, it was Christ, that preached to the old World, while the Ark was preparing in the days of Noah. In this respect principally it seems to be, that the Author to the Hebrews ftiles him Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. So that these Covenants (the Law, and the Gospel) are not Two, with respect to the Substance and principal Intent of them; but only in regard of the different Administration, and the Terms upon which it pleased God, at certain Periods, to apply and confer that General Promise of Salvation. The Promises of the Gospel indeed, and the Covenant of it, are declared better than That of the Law; as they are propounded with greater Clearness, confirmed with stronger Evidence, and are in part already accomplished. For this hath brought that Life and Immortality to light, of which Mankind before had but dark and doubtful Expectations. This hath taughtus in express Terins, what the Law taught in Shadows and Types ; with an Obscurity, under which carnal Minds (who, because they best like, are not disposed to look beyond, the Temporal) seldom discerned the Spiritual and Heavenly Blessings to be understood. It changes the Object of our Faith, from a Messiah to come, to one already come. But still the Messiah is the Salvation, still the Joys of Heaven the Reward, still Virtue, and Piety, and Faith, the Conditions of attaining it : Whether the simpler Worship of the Patriarchs, or the Rites of the Mofaical Law, or the Faith and Sacraments of the
Gospel Gospel disburdened of those Rites, were the Method, which Almighty God, in his Wisdom, saw fit, each in their proper
Season, to prescribe, as a necessary Qualification for them at that time. The short is this: That, altho' for wise Reasons, God hath changed the Instances, in which he would be served, as to the outward Testimonies of our Belief in, and Love and Reverence for him: and, in this Sense, the Law and the Gospel are Two Covenants : Yet that Faith, and Love, and Reverence, were always indispensible Duties of Religion on Our part of the Covenant: As the Remission of Sins by Jesus Christ, and a Blessed Inmortality, always continued the same on His
And thus the Law and Gospel, which, as
which, as to their difference in Modes and Circumstances, were perfectly distinct; Yet, in Effect, and as to the Effentials of Obedience and moral Virtue, the Reward aimed at, and the Ground of their Hopes, were One and the Same Covenant.
3. The Last Particular, duly attended to, will help us rightly to interpret those many disparaging and seemingly hard, Reflections, cast upon the Law by St. Paul, in the Management of his Controversy against Them, who still stood peremptory for the Necessity of observing it. Now these are not meant of the Moral Law, which wasa Branch of Natural, and still remains part of the Christian, Religion : Nor of the Cerenionial Law, so far as any of the Rites enjoined there, were understood to typify, and to be accepted for the Relation they bore to, Christ; For in this Sense that Law too belonged to the Gospel. But they are all intended of that Ritual Law, as altogether separate from, and independent on the Gospel. In this Sense the Jews took it, who deny'd altogether, and persecuted, the Faith of Jesus. So allowing Salvation to be owing, in no degree to Him, but altogether to the Law. In this the Judaizing Chriftians took it also, who allowed Faith in Jesus Christ to be a partial Cause of Salvation, but not sufficient
and effectual, without the Works of the Law. Both these Errors this Apostle opposes; By proving Jesus Christ, against the Jews, and Jesus Christ alone against the Judaizing Chriftians, to be the Author and efficient Cause, and Repentance and Faith in him the conditional Cause, of our Salvation. He shews, that the Law thus taken, was not capable of justifying the Observers of it at any time; but that at this time it added to their Guilt. The Former, because all its Efficacy depended upon a Kepresentation of Christ to come ; The Latter, because the continuing to observe it as necessary, was a constructive Denial, at least a Disparagement, of Christ already come. And thus it is (when set in Contradistinction from, and Opposition to, the Gospel and Faith,) and not otherwise, that the Law and Works are exposed, not only, as not justifying, but even killing those, who repose their Confidence in them.
II. The Other remarkable Circumstance, which offers it self to our Consideration, concerning the Two Sons of Abraham, relates to the manner of their Birth, and is contained in those Words, Ver. 23. But He, who was of the Bond-woman, was born after the Flesh; but He, of the Free-woman, was by Promise. In the Production of Ishmael there was only the same common Providence, which concurs with, and gives Success to, Natural Causes, in ordinary Generations. A Mother in the Vigor of her Age, and a Father not yet absolutely decayed, required no more.
But in that of Isaac every thing was miraculous. For a Mother dead, to all these Purposes, and (to use this Apo- Heb. xi. 12. ftle's Expression elsewhere) a Father as good as dead, to become fruitful, was an Effect altogether above, and out of the Power of, Nature. This argued an immediate Operation of Omnipotence ; and 'tis urged as a noble Instance of Faith, to believe the Promise of God. And Isaac is therefore called the Child of Promise, because foretold as the chosen Seed,
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