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me with their legal sacrifices; these my saints by faith looked beyond the offering to the antitype Jesus Christ, the substance which these shadows represented, they vowed their souls and bodies to me as well as bulls and goats, and took me for their God in all their attendance on me, and I take them as consecrated to me; they stayed not at the outside and circumstantials, but minded the essentials of religion, and truly that is the chief thing in my estimation; my precept was, "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name;"* this was the chief commandment. "I spake not so much to their fathers, concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as obedience to my commands;"† my saints have chiefly minded this, and not left the other undone, and I approve of them, bring them now to me, who have in all their services "engaged their hearts to approach unto me;" these are the worshippers that I seek, "that worship me in spirit and truth;"|| these I purpose to crown with glory; this, this, (I would have you know) is the proper nature, use, and end of ordinances. Sacrifices were never instituted for themselves, but to be signs and seals of the covenant betwixt God and his people, as evidences of their gratitude to me, and means to convince them of their guilt, and liability to death, and so lead them to the Lamb of God, who by his immolation and satisfaction taketh away the sins of the world; and when once in the fulness of time the covenant is confirmed by the blood of Christ, you may expect the abolition of all legal sacrifices.
The doctrines that this text holds forth for our instruction are these:—
Deut. x. 20. | John iv. 23.
+ Jer. vii. 22-24.
Jer. xxx. 21.
1. Doct. That God's people are real saints. lievers are sanctified; the relative change is attended with a real change; 1 Cor. vi. 11, "Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified." There are saints by calling, as the church of Corinth, being sanctified (or dedicated) to God in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,* by way of profession, before men in the judgment of charity; but these are really sanctified, saints before God, real members of Christ, such of whom the apostle speaks, 1 Thess. iii. 13, "To the end he may stablish your hearts, unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints;" those only are properly saints that shall be found to be saints at that solemn day.
2. Doct. God hath special seasons for calling his saints together to him.
(1.) There is a congregating, and gathering of saints to God by saving conversion; Gen. xlix. 10, "To him shall the gathering of the people be." The Gentiles shall be converted, and united all in one body, which is Christ.
(2.) In point of visible communion of saints in the ordinances of God. Thus our Lord gathers his lambs in his arms, brings them by flocks into folds for mutual society with each other, and with God.†
(3.) In times of danger to secure them from evils ready to seize on them; I would have gathered them, saith Christ, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; by conversion first, then for protection.
(4.) There is a great and solemn day of gathering together the whole world; this is emphatically called a gathering together, and particularly this of the saints gathering, 2 Thess. ii. 1, "Now we beseech you ⚫ 1 Cor. i. 2. + Isa. xl. 11. Ezek. xxxiv. 13. Matt. xxiii. 37.
brethern, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him."* O blessed synagogue! O brilliant congregation! That indeed will be
a general assembly, and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven;"† those that sleep in Jesus, our Lord will bring with him, and they that are alive shall be caught up to him in the air, and both shall ever be with the Lord. O solemn day! august meeting! there was never such a meeting, either for quality, or number.
[i.] Their quality. They areall saints, not nominally, but really-not merely by profession, but by principle, practice, and spiritual relation to God; hypocrites shall not crowd in among them, nor appear before him, they are called, and chosen, and faithful, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; the tares will be cast out, and only the wheat gathered into his garner; the bad fish rejected, and only the good put into vessels; there shall enter into that city nothing that defileth, person or thing. || O what a glorious congregation of saints will that be! "They shall all be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."§ O spotless society of holy souls!
[ii.] Their number. As there is a hundred and forty four thousand of the tribes of Israel, there is besides "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues."¶ Daniel saith, "Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him."** It is true, they are now but a little flock compared with the multitude of the wicked
Επισυναγωγῆς ἐπ ̓ ἀυτὸν.
Job xiii. 16. Isa. iv. 3. || Rev. xxi. 27.
Rev. vii. 9.
+ Heb. xii. 23. 1 Thess. iv. 14,17. Matt. iii. 12.
xiii. 41, 48.
§ Rev. xix. 8.
** Dan. vii. 10.
around them, but absolutely considered by themselves they shall be many, when they shall be all congregated that have lived from the beginning to the end of the world; there will be no want of good company, yet there will be room enough for them in that city above.
3. Doct. God deals with man by way of covenant. This hath been his manner with mankind ever since there was man on the face of the earth; when God had created the first man Adam, he entered into covenant with him, which was a covenant of friendship,* and gave him faculties, and ability to perform perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience; but he violating that covenant, God again entered into another covenant called a new covenant, or covenant of reconciliation, contracted betwixt an offended God, and fallen man; these are commonly distinguished into "the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace;" and it may be worth while in a few words, to explain the difference between them, and the rather because, as Luther saith, the whole scripture, and the knowledge of theology depend upon the right distinguishing of law and gospel; and he earnestly admonisheth ministers to study the difference between the two covenants. The work is attended with difficulty, but I find something hinted to my hand in Dr. Ames's Med. Theol. lib. i. chap. 24. pag. 103, which I shall translate and improve.
1. These two covenants differ [genere] in kind, the former covenant being a covenant of friendship, between persons at amity, the infinite Creator, and Adam his perfect creature, to manifest man's dependance on God, and try his obedience; but now the case
Universa scriptura totiusque theologiæ cognitio pendet in rectâ cognitione legis et evangelii.-Luth. Tom. i. lat. 355.
is altered, man is fallen, and hath offended his sovereign. This second covenant is intended to conciliate and establish a new made friendship between these parties at variance; this second covenant sets all at rights between an offended God, and offending man.
2. They differ [fundamento] in the foundation of both; as to the former, though divine decrees did define it, yet there was not such a foundation laid for the first, as there was for the second covenant, for with respect to this covenant of grace or reconciliation, it was founded upon an antecedent covenant, which divines call a covenant of redemption, or a glorious transaction betwixt the Father and the Son, from all eternity, ordering what the Son should be and do on man's behalf, in the human nature, and what assistance and recompense he should receive from the Father; there were mutual promises before the world began, Tit. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 9, 10. The whole gospel covenant is a glorious transcript of this blessed original.
3. They differ [principio] in the principle, or moving cause, for in the former God acts as a wise and righteous governor, who did consult and contrive a way to maintain his government, and keep man in an humble subjection. In this latter, free grace and mercy principally take place, free grace was the motive in God's heart that engaged him to re-enter into this covenant. It is true, in the former there was grace conspicuous, when God condescended to deal so familiarly with his creature, and render himself so amiable, so amicable, and approachable by so mean a creature as man, so much his inferior, yea, and promise a reward to man's obedience, this was kindness; but free grace abounded in the latter, for it is mercy to a creature in misery, the kindness and love [or philanthropy of God our Saviour transcendently shone