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eternal life. It is the only ground of hope for a sinner, in his sight; and, as such, we are called upon, in Scripture, to renounce every other dependence, to give up all hope of life from that legal dispensation, or covenant of works, under which we are by nature, and heartily to close with this BETTER COVENANT, that we may be saved according to the gracious tenor of it. It is, therefore, a matter of indispensable necessity to every man, that he be intimately acquainted with its proper character and provisions. A misapprehension of these, through wilful neglect, or prejudice of a carnal and self-righteous spirit, must inevitably issue in the most tremendous consequences. And yet, it is to be feared, very many, who live under the sound of the gospel, are in gross darkness, as to its real nature and value.
Confused or unsettled views of the same blessed “covenant of peace,” in Christ Jesus, are but too common among the people of God,- those who have a real interest in its unspeakable blessings. Many, even of them, have but a very indistinct and inadequate perception of its grace, and live altogether below their privileges. The consequence is, they are continually liable to be distressed, in various ways, by their subtle adversary, who well
knows how to take advantage of their ignorance,
“ That they
vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
These living waters of the wells of salvation can alone refresh and fertilize the soul, and enable it to bring forth the abundant “fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God,” To preach (as we must preach) the need of holiness in the believer, and to rest the attainment of it upon any other grounds than a sense of free salvation, (not procured by holiness, but bestowed as the means thereto,) is like crying to the wretched prisoner in a dungeon,-Be free-while we take not off his chains. Tell him of salvation as the gift of God in Christ Jesus, (1 John v. 11,) “not by works of righteousness which he has done, but according to God's mercy,” (Tit. iii. 5,) and the man has encouragements and motives which he never had before. Before, he was to purchase life by holiness, and the task was hopeless. Now, he is to enjoy by it a life freely given him in Christ. He
sees the light of day: he feels the beams of the Sun of righteousness : and he would as soon abide among the dead, as go back to that darkness, and the deeds of it, in which once he lived even as others. This unutterable love of God, to one so undeserving, constrains even his hard heart to love again : and “ this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments."
Considerations of this nature led me, in the autumn of last year, to bring the subject of the covenant of grace, fully, before the flock to whom I minister, in a course of sermons, to which the present volume owes its existence.
My original intention was simply to have printed the course, in compliance with the wishes of several who heard it. But, in preparing the volume for publication, or, rather, when the work was already in the press, I was induced to enlarge upon the subject of each discourse, from a desire of making it somewhat more complete than the limits of a sermon will permit. With what success this has been done, must be left to the judgment of others. The change of plan has cost me no little labour, and occasioned an unlooked-for delay. I shall be thankful, if the addition of matter make as much amends to the reader, as the preparation of it has yielded pleasure and
profit to myself. The title of Sermons is dropped ; as the discourses, with the exception of the first and third, (the former of which was in the press before my change of plan was matured,) are more than double their original dimensions. I have, however, preserved the arrangement usual in sermons, and the form of popular address, in order to give them a more lively character than belongs to systematic discussion.
The discourse on Philipp. ii. 12, 13, is not strictly connected with the subject of the covenant: but the points which it embraces are of the utmost importance, and such as the mind is naturally led to, from a consideration of the grace of the gospel, on the one hand, and of its practical obligations, on the other.
Both these are remarkably combined in this passage, which occurred in the second lesson for the Sunday following that on which the last sermon on the covenant was delivered. An examination of it appeared, therefore, to be peculiarly appropriate, as a conclusion of the whole subject. For this reason the consideration of it is introduced here.
Some apology may perhaps be necessary for an occasional reference to the originals of the Old and New Testament. I believe I have not made it, except where it has seemed to throw light upon