OF THE MANIFESTATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
I AM now come to the dawn of grace to fallen man, to the breakings forth and application of the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it to the spiritual seed of Christ among the posterity of Adam.
I have considered the covenant of grace, as it was a compact in eternity, and now I shall consider the administration of that covenant in the several periods of time, from the beginning of the world to the end of it. The Covenant of Grace is but one and the same in all ages, of which Christ is the substance. The patriarchs before the flood and after, before the law of Moses and under it, before the coming of Christ, and all the saints since, are saved in one and the same way, even by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that is the grace of the covenant, exhibited at different times, and in divers manners. Though the covenant is but one, there are different administrations of it; particularly two, one before the coming of Christ, and the other after it; which lay the foundation for the distinction of the first and second, the old and the new covenant, observed by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, chap. viii. 7, 8,13—ix. 1,15. The one we commonly call the Old Testament-dispensation, and the other the New Testament-dispensation; for which there seems to be some foundation in 2 Cor. iii. 6, 14. Heb. is. 15. these two covenants, or rather the two administrations of the same covenant, are allegorically represented by two women, H igar and S irah, :he bond-wo man and the free, Gal. iv. 22—26. which fitly describes the nature and difference of them. Before 1 proceed any farther, I shall just point out the agreement and disagreement of those two administrations of the covenant of grace.
I. The agreement there is between them.—1. They agree IQ the tfficient cause, God: / have made a covenant, Psal. lxxxix. 3, 34. whenever any exhibition of this covenant was made to any of the patriarchs, as to Abraham, David, &c. it is ascribed to G'id, Gen. xvii. 2. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. the new administration of it, runs in this form, / will make a new covenant, &?t•;. Heb. viii. 8.-2. In the moving cause, the sovereign mercy and free grace of God, and therefore it is called, the mercy promised to the fathers in his holy covenant, Luke i. 72.—3. In the Mediator, who is Christ; there is but one Mediator of the covenant of grace, let it be considered under what disp n ation it will; signified by the expiatory sacrifices, under the law; the Shiloh, the peaceable One, and the PeaceM iker, the living Redeemer of Job, and of all believers under the Old Testament. There is but one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus ; and he is the Mediator of the new covenant, 1 1'im. ii. 5.—?4. In the subjects of these covenants, or administrations of covenants of grace, the elect of God, to whom the blessings of it are applied, Eph. i. 3, 4.— 5. In the blessings of it ; they are the same under both administrations. Salvation and redemption by Christ is the great blessing held forth and enjoyed under the one as under the other. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Heb. ix. 15. Justification, Isai. xlv. 24, 25. Forgiveness of sin, Psal. xxxii. 1, 5. Regeneration, Deut. xxx. 6. Eternal life were made known in the writings, of the Old Testament, as well as in those of the New, Job six. 26, 27. John v. 39. In a word, they and we eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual drinV, 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.
II. In some things there is a disagreement between these two administrations of the covenant of Grace.—1. Under the first administration saints looked forward to Christ that was to come ; under the second and new administration, believers look backwards to Christ as being come.—2. There is a greater clearness and evidence of things under the one than under the other; the law was only a shadow ; whereas, believers under the present dispensation, with open face, with faces unveiled, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, 2 Cor. iii. 13,18. then it was night, now broad day.—3. There is more of a spirit of liberty, and less of bondage, under the one, than under the other; saints under the one differed little from servants, but under the other are Christ's freemen.—i. There is a larger, and more plentiful effusion of the Spirit, and of his gifts and graces. Gract/, in all its fulness, and truth in all its clearness and evidence, are come by Jesus Christ, John i. 17. —5. The latter administration of the covenant extends to more persons than the former. The Gentiles were strangers to the covenants of promise, but now the blessing of Abraham is come upon them, Eph. ii. 12—6. The present administration of the covenant of grace, will continue to the end of the world; it will never give way to, nor he succeeded by another.—7. The ordinances of them are different. The first covenant had ordinances of divine service ; but those were at best but typical and shadowy, other ordinances now take place, Heb. ix. 1, 10. and xii.27.—8. Though the promises and blessings of grace under both administrations are the same, yet they are differently exhibited ; under the former dispensation, not only more darkly and obscurely, but by earthly things, as by the land of Canaan ; but under the latter, more clearly, more spiritually, unclogged of all conditions, and so called better promises; God having provided for new testament saints, some better thing, at least held forth in a better manner; that old testament saints might not be made perfect without them, Heb. vii. 22.—viii. 6. and si. 40.
OF THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVE. NANT OF GRACE IN THE PATRIARCHAL 8TATE.
I Shall begin with the adminstration of it under the first testament, as reaching from the fall of Adam to the coming of Christ.
I. The period from Adam to Noah. And those in this period to whom the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it were" manifested and applied, were, Our first parents themselves, Adam and Eve, and that both by .words and actions. By words, and these spoken not directly to them, nor by way of promise to them ; but to the serpent, Gen. iii. 15. Though these words are short and obscure, yet they contain some of the principal articles of faith and doctrines of the gospel. The grace of the covenant, and the blessings of it, were manifested and applied to our first parents, by certain actions and things done ; as by the Lord God making coats of skin, which were emblems of the robe of righteousness ; and those coats being made of the skins of slain beasts, very probably slain for sacrifice, may have respect to the sacrifice of Christ. The cherubim, and flaming sword, placed at the East of the garden of Eden, to keep the way of the tree of life ; shewed that God in succeeding ages, would raise us a set of prophets, under the old-testament, and apostles and ministers of the gospel under the new-testament, who should hold forth the word of light and life; and should shew to men the way unto the tree of life. Abel the Son of Adam, is the next person to whom an exhibition of the covenant, and of the grace of it, was made. A hint was given in the serpent's curse, that there would be two seeds in the world, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman ; this distinction took place in the first two men that were bora into the world. Abel is called righteous Abel, not by his own righteousness, but by the righteousness of faith ; By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice, Wc. Heb. xi. 4. His sacrifice was a more excellent one; not only as to its kind, being a lamb, typical of the Lamb of God ; but as to the manner in which it was offered, by faith. The envy of his brother towards him, was a type of the envy of the Jews, who were in some sense the brethren of Christ. Abel was a type of Christ also in his intercession; for as he being dead, yet speaketh, so Christ though he be dead, ever lives to make intercession. Seth, the other seed appointed in the room of Abel, whom Cain slew, is not to be overlooked ; since the appointment of him was of grace, and to fill up the place or righteous Abel, as an effect of divine grace, and the displays of it, Men began to call upon the name of the Lord, Gen. iv. 20. Being more numerous, families joined together, and set up public worship: they called themselves the sons of God, in distiction from the sons of men, the irreligious, profane and idolatrous. Enoch is the only person in this period besides, who is taken notice of for the grace of God bestowed on him; though, no doubt, there were thousands also who were made partakers of it. He had a testimony that he pleased God ; enjoyed much communion with him, and was even favoured with a spirit of prophecy ; he foretold a future judgment, and the coming of Christ to it. As Abel was a type of Christ in his low estate, in his sufferings and death, Enoch was a type of him in his ascension to heaven; for God translated him from earth to heaven; so Christ when he had finished his work, ascended to his God.
II. The next period of time in which an exhibition of the covenant of grace was made, is that from Noah to Abraham. and Noah is the principal person taken notice of in it. i. In his person, both in his private and public capacity. He found grace in the eyes of the Lord ; he was an heir, Heb. xi. 7. by the faith of Christ. He was a preacher while he was preparing the ark, here on earth, but without success, 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. 2. There was a display of the grace of God in the ark which " Noah was directed to make ; which may be considered either as an emblem of the church of God ; or else as a type of Christ, the cover and shelter from the storm of divine wrath.
3. The sacrifice of Noiih, after he came out of the ark, was typical of ihe sacrifice of Christ, both with respect to the matter of it, clean c rcatures ; and also with respect to the acceptance of it ; God smelted a sweet savour, Eph. v. 2. 4. The covenant made with Noah, though it was not the special covenant of grace, being made with him and all his posterity, and even with all creatures ; yet as it was a covenant of preservation, it was a covenant of kindness and goodness in a temporal way. The rain-bow, the token of it, shewed it to be a covenant of peace. 5. Noah's blessing of Shem is not to be omitted; Blessed be the Lord God of Shem ! in w hich is a disp'av of covenant-grace, which always runs in this stile, Iioill be their God. Noah foretold spiritual blessings of grace which should be enjoyed by bis postetity in future time ; God shall enlarge faphet,andhe ihall duellin the tents of Shem, Gen. ix. 2G, 27. The above prophecy has been iulfilkd, and will be more completly in the latter day.
III. The next period of time in which an exhbition was made of the covenant, and of the grace of it is that from Abraham to Moses. Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness, Gen. xv. 6. not the act of faith, but the object of it, what he believed in, the Lord and his righteousness ; for what was imputed to him, is imputed to all that believe in Christ, Rom. iv. 2, &c. To which may be added, that the gospel was preached to Abraham; the good news of his spiritual seed, those that walk in the steps of his faith, whether Jews or Gentiles, being blessed with all spiritual blessings in the Messiah, who should spring from him, Gal. iii. 8. But what more especially deserve attention, are the several appearances of God unto Abraham, and the manifestations of the covenant of grace then made unto him. The first appearance was at the time of his call from his idolatrous country and kindred, Gen. xii. !—3. The next appearance of God to him I shall takf notice of, for I propose not to consider every one, U that which is recorded ii. Gc.•'.xv. 1. where in a vision God said unto him, lam thy shield and thy exceeding great reward. Another appearance of God to Abraham was, when he was ninety nine years of age, Gen. xvii. 1. when he said to him, As for me, beheld my covenant is with thee, and thou shall be a father of many nations. Once more, the Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mam re ; and admitted him to stand before him, and commune with him. All which shewed him to be a friend of God, and interested in the covenant of his grace, Gen. xviii. 3. At the time of the offering up of his son Isaac, he appeared to him, and made a farther manifestation of the covenant of grace in that important article ; In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, Gen. xxii. 14—18. Not to omit the interview Abraham had with Melchizedek : It may be our Lord has respect to this interview, when he says, Abraham saw my day, and wax glad; saw hint in the promise, and saw him in this type, John viii. 56. Isaac, the Son of Abraham, is the next instance of covenant-grace in this period of time; the same covenant of grace that was exhibited to Abraham, was manifested to Isaac in the same words, Gen. xxvi. 3, 4. who was himself an eminent type of Christ, the promised Seed. Though Isaac died not, yet he was reckone by Abraham as dead; who accounted that God was able to ra'se him from the dead ; from whence also he received him in a figure, Heb. xi. 19. a ram caught in a thicket being shewn him, and which he offered in his room. Jacob, the son ef Isaac, is another j instance in whom there was a display of covenant-grace, in the period of time between Abraham and Moses. He and Esau were brothers, twins, and if either Esau had the precedence ; yet before their birth it was notified to Rebekah, that the elder should serve the younger, Gen. xxv. 23. which the apostle makes use of to illustrate and exemplify the grace of God in election, Rom. ix. 11. &?c. The same covenant of grace that was manifested to Abraham and Isaac, was repeated and made known to Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 13. Christ also was represented to him by a ladder whose top reached to heaven, John i. 51. The Messiah was prophesied of by him, under the name of Shiloh. Within this period
of time, about the time the children of Israel were in Egypt,
and before the times of Moses, lived Job, and his three friends,
who, though rhey were not of Israel, but of the race of Esau,
yet the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it wert kno• n
to them, as a pledge and earnest of what would be done in af-
ter times. How many articles of faith, and doctrines of grace,
are contained in those words of his; I know that my Redeemer
live'h ! &c. How gloriously does Llihu speak of the great
Redeemer as the Messenger of the covenant, the uncreated
Angel, Christ. And as a ransom found in council and cove-
nant ; a proper Person to give his life a ransom for men, Job.
OF THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVE-
NANT OF GRACE UNDER THE MOSAIC
t Shall now consider it as exhibited in Moses's time, and onto the times of David and the prophets ; and shall begin,
I. With Mosts, who was a great man of God ; Had ye believed Moses, says Christ to the Jews, ye would have believed nit, for he wrote *f tr.e, John v. 46. Moses was an eminent type of Christ in whom the grace of Christ, and of the covenant was eminently displayed. The aposde in Heb. in. runs the parallel between Moses and Christ. As a mediator, Dt ut V. 5. a prophet | Bee Deut. xviii. 15. Matt. xvii. 5. a priest, Exod. xxix. 1. a king and a lawgiver, Deut. xxxiii. 4, 5. and a deliverer or redeemer of the people of Israel, out of that state of bondage in which they were in Egvpt, Acts vii. 35. Thert were many things done by him, and under him, and in his time, which exhibited and shewed forth the covenant of grace, and the things contained in it. Ii may be sufficient to instance in three or four of them, which were pro-tempore, or of longer continuance, and were either stated ordinances, or extraordinary works of providence, which typified spiritual things. 'I he Passover, which was instituted at the time of Is* ratls going out of i-g) pt, was kept by faith; not only of deliv
erance from Egyptian bondage, but in the faith of a future redemption and salvation by Christ; hence he is called Christ our passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. The Manna was another type of Christ; that was typical bread, Christ is the true bread; hence Christ speaking of the manna, and ot himself, says, My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven, John vi. 32. meaning himself, the truth of the type; the manua was only a shadow, Christ ia the substance, the solid and substantial food, sigaified by it,. and therefore is called the hidden Manna, which every believer in Christ has a right to eat of, and does ; so the old and new testament saints, all eat of the same spiritual meat, 1 Cor. x. 3. The water out of the rock the Israelites drank of in the wilderness, was another emblem and representative of Christ and his grace; hence called spiritual drink, and the rock a spiritual rock; and that rock was Christ, 1 Cor. z. 4. The brazen serpent was another figure of Christ and his grace. The Israelites being smitten with fiery serpents, of which many died ; Moses was ordered by the Lord to make a fiery serpent of brass, and set it on a pole, that whoever was bitten might look unto it and live ; which was done accordingly, and the promised effect followed, Numb. %%u 6—9. Our Lord takes notice of this very significant type himself, and applies it to himself, John iii. 14. Pesides Moses, there were others in his time, in whom the grace of the covenant was remarkably displayed and manifested; particularly Aaron his brother, called the saint of the Lord, the holy one, with whom were the Urim and Thummim, Deut. xxxiii. 8. atype of Christ, in whom all lights and perfections are. J shua, the successor of Moses, was also a type of Christ, and in him the grace of Christ, and the covenant was evidently displayed. Their names agree, both signify a Saviour; Joshua is called Jesus, Heb. ir. 8. Christ, our spiritual Joshua, gives spiritual rest here, and eternal rest hereafter. The scarlet thread which Rahab the harlot was ordered by the spies in the times of Joshua, to bind at her window, was an emblem of the blood of Christ, by which are peace pardon, righteousness, and saL vation for the chief of sinners ; for Gentile sinners, as well as Jews. There were after,appearances of Christ to others, in this period of time, as to Manoah and his wife, who declared to them his name was File, a Wonder, or Wonderful, t which is one of the names of Christ, Isai. ix. 6. and to Gideon, Samuel, and others, I shall take no further notice of.
OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE AS MANIFESTED FROM THE TIMES OF DAVID TO THE COMING OF CHRIST.
I Shall next consider it as more clearly in the times of David, and by succeeding prophets, to the coming of Christ. I. With David, who was a prophet, and by whom the Spirit of God spake concerning Christ, and the covenant of grace made with him, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2, &c. Not only the covenant of royalty, concerning the succession of the kingdom of Israel in his family ; but the special covenant of grace, in which his own salvation lay ; a covenant ordered in all things and sure, and an everlasting one, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. He was an eminent type of Christ, who is therefore often called by his name, Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. Hos. iii. 5. In his person, in the comeliness of it; in his character and employment, as a shepherd ; in his offices, of prophet and king; in his afflictions and per. setutions ; and in his wars and victories. Great light and knowledge he had of things respecting Christ and his grace, as the Book of Psalms, written by him, under divine inspiration, abundantly shews..
II. Solomon, the Son of David, and his successor in the kingdom, had not only the covenant of royalty established with him, but the special covenant of grace was made with him, or made known unto him ; / will lie his Fathtr, and he shall be my Son, 2 Sam. vii. 14. He was both a preacher and a king of Israel; and, no doubt, a good man, notwithstanding his fall; his prayer at the dedication of the temple shews it; as well as his being the amanuensis of the holy Spirit, in various writings: an eminent type he was of Christ, who is therefore called Solomon, Cant. iii. 7. The Book of Canticles, written by Solomon, is a rich display of the glories and excellencies of Christ, of his great love to his church, and of the covenant-blessings of grace bestowed upon her. Pass we on now,
III. To the prophets who lived in the succeeding reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah ; as Isaiah, Jeremiah, &c. These—i. Speak much of the covenant of grace as a covenant of life and peace, Mai. ii. 5. Isai. liv. 10. as an everlasting one, Isai. lv. 3. and liv. 10. of the persons who engaged and entered into it. n. The prophets in this period of time speak very plainly of the blessings of the covenant of grace, even more plainly and fully than heretofore.—1. Of the blessing of pardon of sin through Christ. They speak of it as belonging to God, and him only, even every act of it, and as flowing from his mercy; on which account there is none like unto him, Mic. vii. 18. and of his being abundant in it, Isai. i. 18. they speak of it as founded upon the sufferings of Christ, and redemption, reconciliation, atonement, and satisfaction procured thereby, Zech. iii. 9. Isai. xliv. 22.—2. The blessing of justification by the righteousness of Christ; which, though a doctrine more clearly revealed under the gospel-dispensation, yet is witnessed by the law and prophets, Rom. iii. 21, 22. Dan. ix. 24.—3. The blessing of adoption is another covenant-blessing, spoken of by the prophets, Jer. iii. 19. and xxxi. 20. And though the saints under the former dispensation for the most part had not such a measure of the spirit of adoption, as under the New Testament, yet some of them had a strong assurance of their interest in God, as their Father: Doubtless thou art our Father, Isai. Ixiii. 16.—4. Salvation, spiritual and eternal, in general, is the great blessing of the covenant of grace, and this the prophets enquired after, and diligently searched into and spoke of; of the author of it, Isai. xlix. 6. the nature of it, Isai. xlv. 17, 22. and the time when it should be wrought out, 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. Hi. There are various things relating to Christ, his person, office, and, grace, which are copiously and frequently spoken of by the prophets in this period of time ; as his incarnation, tt w a h,ld is born, Isai. ix. 6. The place of his birth, Mic. v. 2. some things following it, Jer. xxxi. 15. Hos. xi. 1. his state of humiliation, sufferings, and death, which are particularly described in Isai. liii. his being sold for thirty pieces ol silver by one of his disciples, forsaken by them all, and his side pierced with a spear, Zech. xi. 12, 13. xii. 10. and xiii. 7. The prophets also speak of the time of his coming and of his sufferings ; Daniel fixes the exact time of them, from a date given, Dan. ix. 24, 26. So true it is what our Lord says, that the kzv and the prophets were until John; which finishes the Old Testament.dispensation, and the old administration of the covenant of grace.
OF THE ABROGATION OF THE OLD COVENANT, AND IHE INTRODUCTION OF THE N£W.
When we speak of the Abrogation of the Covenant, this is to be understood not of the covenant of grace, at to the matter and substance of it; but with respect to the form of ihe administration of it only: in order to set this in its true and proper light.
I. Let it be observed that it never was designed that the first administration of the covenant of grace should continue always in that form. i. It was only intended to continue for a certain time, called, The time of rrjormotion Heb. ix. 10. ii. The ancient form of the administration of the covenant of grace, in a course of time, was limited to a certain people in a certain country, worshiping at a certain place and sacrificing on the same altar. The word, worship, and service of God, peculiarly belonged to the Jews, which was their distinguished priviledge above all the nations of the world, Rom. iii. 1, 2. and ix. 4. Now such a state of things was never designed to continue always; Shiloh, the Messiah, was to be set up as an ensign to the Gentiles, and incense to be offered to it m
even place, Isai. xi. 10. Mai. i. 11. The people of all nations cruld never be convened into one country, and worsnip at one place, and sacrifice on one altar. ni. It is expressly foretold that there would be a new covenant, or a new administration of it; in that b a >A, a new covtwnt, be hath made the first old, Helt. viii. 8.—13. Christ's coming into the world to offer up himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people, was virtually saying, that God would have legal sacrifices no longer offered up, and would no nvtre accept of them. And Daniel expressly says, that the Messiah would cause tie sacrifice find the oblation tt cease, Dan. ix. 27. And the Jews themselves say, " that all sacrifices will cease in time to come, and in the time of their vainly expected Messiah, but the sacrifice of praise."
The ark was something very remarkable in the former dispensation ; in it was the Decalogue; it was a token of the divine presence, and a type of Christ. Now of this it is fore* told, that there would be a time when is should be no more, and should not be so much as thought of any more, Jer. iii. 16. The ecclesiastical, as well as civil state of the Jews, was to be shaken and removed; the one is signified by the shaking of the heaven, as the other by the shaking of the earth, in Hag. ii. 6. which the apostle explains of the removing of things fhaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain, Heb. xii. 26, 27. It was foretold that prophecy should be sealed up, finished, and cease, Dan. ix. 24. all the visions and prophecies of the Uld Testament were to have, and had their accomplishment in Christ.
II. There are reasons to be given why the first covenant should and must cease. i. It was a typical covenant; and served to the example and shadow of htavvnly things, Heb. viii. 4. 5.—ix. 23. ii. It was a faulty covenant, and therefore it was proper it should give way to a new and better covenant; For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have *»u%ht for the second, Htb. viii. 7. 8. 1. It did not exhibit Christ present, only in figure, in promise, and in prophecy.— 2. The sacrifices then offered were imperfect; for some sins there were no sacrifices appointed, as for Sabbath-breaking, murder, adultery, Sec. and those that were appointed, could not really take away sin, Heb. ix. 13. 14. 3. There was but a small measure of the gifts and graces bestowed on men under the first covenant: the communication was made, for the most part, only to Israelites, to a remnant, according to the election of grace. 4. It was a state of darkness and obscurity under that covenant; it was like a night-season, in which lamps are lighted, and torches used ; such was the sure word of prophecy; it was like a light or lamp in a dark place.'5. It was a state of bondage; this covenant was signified by Hagar the bond-woman, and by mount Sinai, which gendered to bondage, and answered to Jerusalem, as it was in the apostle's time. Such a number of laws and ordinances being given them, to the breach of which, death was annexed without mercy ; and they so liable to break them, they, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage, Gal. iv. 24, 25. Heb. ii. 15 nt. The rites and ceremonies by which this covenant was greatly administered, are by the apostle called, weak and beggarly elements ; and being weak and unprofitable, there was, therefore, a disannulling of them, Heb. vii. 18, 19. which leads,
III. To the abrogation of the first covenant, or of the administration of it; it is expressed by breaking down the middle wall of partition, Eph. ii. 14—16. by a disannulling of the commandment, Col. ii. 16, 17. by a blotting out the hand writing of ordinances, Col. ii. 14. and by the fleeing away, and disappearance of shadows; to this the church has respect, Cant. ii. 17. Now the abrogation of the first and old covenant, was made gradually; that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away, Heb. viii. 13. It began to decay, and there were some symptoms of a decay of it at the Baby, lonish captivity; and though after a term of years there was a return of the people to their own land, and the temple was rebuilt, and worship restored; yet, the ark, and many other things were wanting; great declensions there were, both in doctrine and worship ; the sect of the Pharisees arose, and set up their own traditions upon a Ir.vel with the written word ; and great confusion was in the priesthood. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, came and proclaimed the near approach of the Messiah ; he declared, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Matt. iii. 2. and directed the people to believe on Christ, who was to come, John i. 29. At the death of Christ, of right, though not in fact, all ceremonies ceased* Through the influence of Judaizing teachers over weak minds, it was thought advisable to continue the use of some of the ceremonies, at least for a time ; after it was known, by Peter and others, that they were no longer in force ; yet the saints were exhorted to stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ had made them free, and not be entangled with the yoke of bondage. Still the carnal Jews continued them, and even sacrifices, until the destruction of Jerusalem, which put an end to them; for according to the law of God, no sacrifice might be offered but at Jerusalem, and upon the altar there ; so that when the city, temple, and altar were destroyed, they ceased to offer any sacrifice, and never have offered any since ; whereby that prophecy is remarkably fulfilled ; The children of lira* el shall abide many days without a sacrifice, Hos. iii. 4. as they have for seventeen hundred years, and still do. This being the case,
IV. The new covenant, or the new administration of the covenant of grace, took place; and as the one was gradually removed, the other was gradually introduced; and this observation will serve to reconcile the different seras fixed by different persons, for the beginning of the new dispensation; some placing it at the birth of Christ, others at the ministry o£ John tl«e Baptist; others at the death of Christ, and his resurrection from the dead; and others at his ascension, and the effusion of the holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; whereas these were so many gradual manifestations of it. The new administration lies in the following things. i. In an exhibition
of Christ as come, and as become the author of eternal salvation ; Th t it a faithful saving, Esfc. 1 Tim. i. 15. It.In a more'clear and extensive ministration of the gospel; it first began to be spoken by Christ in the clearest and fullest manner it possibly could be; and is made known to all T.m'.ons, for the obeditnre of faith, Rom. xv. 25, 26. in In a freedom from bondage and servitude ; from the Vigorous exaction of the law, as a covenant of works; from the yoke of the ceremonial law, and from the judicial laws, as peculiar to the Jews: this is the glorious liberty of the children of Goci iv. In a large communication of the gifts and and graces of ihe Spirit; of extraordinary gifts; of common and ordinary ones, to fu men for the ordinary ministry of the word ; and of the special graces of the Spirit, in a greater degree to saints in common. Though John was greater than the prophets, the least in this kingdom of heaven, or gospel.dissation, is greater than he, Matt. xi. 11. v. In ordinances more spiritual than the ordinances of divine service under the first covenant were, which are called carnal ones ; these are Baptism and the Lord's supper. Now the former administiation of the covenant was carr'ml through the various periods of time from the first exhibition, after the fall of Adam, to the first coming ol Christ; so this second and new administration of the covenant is carried through various successive periods,, under his second coming.
OF THE LAW OF GOt).
The word law is variously used, sometimes for a part of the scriptures only, the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses ; as when it is mentioned in the division of the scriptures by Christ, Luke xxiv. 44. and along with the prophets, as distinct from them, John i. 45. sometimes for all the books of the Old Testament, which in general go by the name of the law, as does the book of Psalms on. that account, as the places quoted out of it, or referred to in it, shew, John x. 34—xii. 34.xv. 25. sometimes it signifies the docuine of the scriptures in general., both legal and evangelical, Psal. xix. 7. and the doctrines of the gospels in particular, even the doctrine of the M ssiah, Isai. ii. 3. and xlii. 4. called in the New Testament the law, or doctrine of faith, Hum. iii. 27. and sometimes it signifies the whole body of laws given from G td by Moses to the children of Israel, as distinct from the g tspel of the grace of God, John i. 17. and which may be distinguished into the laws ceremonial, judicial, and moral.
I. The ceremonial law, of which little need be said, since, much has been observed concerning it already. This law was a shadow of good things to come by Christ.
II. The judicial law, which respects the political state, or civil government of the Jews, and consists of statutes and judgments, according to which the judges in Israel determined all causes brought before them, and passed sentence; in which sentence the people were to acquiesce, Lieut, xvii. 8 -^'H. It may be required, whether the judicial laws, or the laws respecting the Jewish polity, are now in force or not, and to be observed or not ? which may be resolved by distinguishing between them ; there were some that were peculiar to the state of the Jews ; these, with others ceased when the Jewish polity did, and are not bin ling on other nations. Out then there were other judicial laws, "which were founded on the light of nature, on reason, and on justice and equit;, and these remain in full force ; and they must be wise, as well as righteous laws, which were made by God himself, iheir King and Legislator, as they are said to be, L)eut, iv. 6, 8.
III. The moral law, which lies chiefly in the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, Exod. xx. 3.—17. and which our Lord has reduced, even both tables of the law, to tw t capital ones, love to God, and love to our neighbour, Matt. xxii. 36—10. as the apostle has reduced the commands of the second table to one, that is, love, which he calls the fulfilling of the law, Rom. xiii. 9, 1CH I shall consider, 1. The author and giver of this law; God was the Author and Maker ol it; Moses the .giver and minister of it from God; it was God
that first spoke the Ten Words, or Commands, to the children of Israel. It was not delivered as a pure covenant of works, though the self-righteous Je\.s turned it into one, and sought for life and righteousness by it; and so it gendered to bondage, and became a killing letter; nor a pure covenant of grace, though it was given as a distinguishing favour to the people of Israel, Deut. iv. 6. 8. Rom. ix. 4. and much mercy and kindness are expressed in it; and it is prefaced with a declaration of the Lord being the God of Israel, who had, of his great goodness brought ihem out of the land of Kg) pt. II. The epithets of this law, or the properties of it, may be next considered ; such as the scriptures expressly give to it; and which will lead into the nature and quality of it: As, 1. That it is perfect. The law of the Lord is perfect. Psal. six. f. which is true of the moral law, by which men come to know whqt is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, Rom. xii. 2, 2. It is spiritual; We know that the law is spiritual, sa)s the apostle, Rom. vii. 14. The law reaches to the-thoughts and intents of the heart, and the affections of the min' 1, and forbids and checks all irregular and inordinate motions in it, and the lusts of it; the assistance of the Spirit of God is necessary to the observance of it; and God in covenant has promised his people, that he will put his spirit •within them, and came them to walk in his statutes, and keep bis judgments, and do them, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. 3. The law is ho!t*; so it is said to be, Rom. vii. 12.; the matter of it, or t what it requires, is holy ; and it directs to live holily, soberly, righteously, and godly, in this evil world. 4, It is also jutt, as well as holy and good, Rom. vii. 12. 5. The law is good; the Author of it is good ; the law is materially good ; and it is also profitably good ; not to God, for when men have done all they can, they are, with respect to God, unprofitable servants, Luke xvii. 10. but to men, Tit. iii. 8. The law is good, if a man use it laivfully, 1 Tim. i. 8. It is used unlawfully when men seek to obtain life and righteousness by it; but it is lawfully used when obeyed in faith, from a principal of love, which leads me to consider, m. The use of the law both to sinners and saints. To sinners. 1. To convince of sin. Sin is a transgression of the law, by which it is known that it is sin, being forbidden by the law ; By the law is the knowledge of sin. 2. To restrain from sin. 3. To condemn and punish for sin; for sinners it is made and against them it lies, to their condemnation, unless justified in Christ, 1 Tim. i. 9, 10. It is of use to saints'. 1. To point out the will of God unto them ; what is to be done by them, and what to be avoided. 2. To be a,rule of life and conversation to them. D.ivid savs, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unts my path, Psal. cxix. 105. 3. It is as a glass; in which a believer, by the light of th' Spirit of God, may see his own face, what manner of man ht is. I have seen an end of all perfection, says David ; thy commandment is exceeding broad. Hence, 4. They are led to prize and value the righteousness of Christ, since by it the Lw is magnified and made honourable. Now, iv. The law of God continues under the present dispensation for ths saiu uses : Christ came not to destroy, but to lulfii it. 1. It does not continue as a covenant of works; for it never was in the power of man since the fall to perform the conditions of such a covenant. 2. Nor does it continue as to the form of administration of it by Moses; it is now no longer in his hands, nor to be considered as such; the whole Mosaic economy is broke to pieces, and at an end. 3. It continues not as a terrifying law to believers, who are not come to mount Sinai, and are under that stormy and terrible dispensation; but they are come to mount Sion, and to all the privileges of a gospel church state. 4. Nor is it a cursing and condemning law to the saints. As sinners and transgressors of it, they are subject to its curses; but Christ has redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them. 5. Yet it continues as a rule of walk and conversation to them, as before observed ; and is to be regarded by them as in the hands of Christ; by whom it is held forth as King and Lawgiver, in his church. B,lievers are not without law to God, but under the law to Chrst, 1 Cor. ix. 21.
OF THE GOSPEL.
Grace and truth, the word of grace and truth, the gospel, came by Jesus Christ, in a cKarcr and fuller manner than it had been made known before. Concerning which the follow.
ing things may he noted :
I. The name and signification of it. The Greek word euangelion, used for it throughout the New Testament, signifies, a good message, good news, glad tidings; such the gospel is; a message of good news from God; such y/us the gospel Christ was anointed to preach, and did prtach, even good tidings, Luke iv. 18 Isai. lxi. 1. and which his ministers bring, whose feet are beautiful upon the mountains, Acts xiii: 32, 33. The Hebrew word used for the tiosp^l, and the preaching of it, signifies good tidings also. When the angel proclaimed the birth of Christ to the shepherds, he is said, to bring gcod tidings of great joy to all people. Luke ii. 10, 11. Our English word gospel,is of a Saxon derivation; in which language, spel signifies speech; and so gospel is either good speech, which carries in it the s;ime idea with the Greek and Hebrew words; or God's speech, which he has spoken by bis Son, by his prophets, and by his ministers.
Now this word is variously used ; sometimes it is put for the history of Chi ist's birth, life, and actions ; such are the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Mark begins his history thus: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son $f God, Mark i. 1. Sometimes the gospel is to be taken in a large sense, as including the word and ordinances, Matt, xxvii. 19, 23. Mark xvi. 13, 16. And sometimes strictlv, for the doctrine of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ, Hence, 1. The gospel is called, the go pel of salvation, the word of salvation, and salvation itself, Eph. i. 13. Acts xiii. 26, and xxviii. 28. n. It is called, The gospel of the grace of God, Acts xx.24. because
salvation, from first to last, is all of grace, and not of works, Eph. ii. 8. in. It is ailed, TUe gospel ef peace, the word of reconciliation, thf word preaching peace by Christ, Eph. vi. 15. 2 Cor. v. .9, Aits x. 36. iv. It is called, The goxpel of the kingdom, M.iU. iv. 23. because it treats both of the kingdom ot grace here, and of the kingdom of glory herealter J hn lii. 5. Matt. v. 20.
II. i he author and origin of the gospel.—1. It is not of man, tavs the apostle, I neither received it of men; nor was I taught it, Gal. i. 11, 12. 2. The gospel is from heaven ; it comes from God, Father, Son, and Spirit, from God the Father, and is then fore called the gospel of God; that is, the Father concerning his Son Jesus Christ, Hom. 1—3. It comes also from Christ, the Son of God ; and is called the gospel of his S,,n, Hom. i. 9—-!6.
III. The effects of the gospel when attended with the power and Spirit of God., 1. The regeneration of men, who are said to he born again by the word of God, 1 Pet. i. 23. Hence ministers of the gospel are represented as spir'rual lathers, 1 Cor. iv. 15. 2. It is called the Spirit which giveth life, and is said to be the savour of life unto life, 2 Cor. ii. 16. 3. The gospel is frequently spoken of as light, a great light, a glorious light, Psal. cxix. 130. 4. By it faith in Christ comes; hence among other reasons, it is called the word of faith, Rom, x. 8—17. 5. Itiscalltd the word of righteousness, and the ministration of righteousness, Heb. v. 13. 2 Cor. iii. 9. 6. It affords spiritual food, and is the means of feeding and nourishing souls unto everlasting life, Heb. v. 13,14. 7. Another effect of it in gracious souls is, it yields much spiritual peace and comfort; when Philip preached Christ and his gospel in Samaria, there was great joy in that city, Acts viii. 5—8.
IV. The properties of the gospel 1. It is but one, there
is not another, as the apostle says, Gal. i. 6, 7. 2. It is called from the objects of it, the gospel of the circumcision, and the gospel of the uncircumrision, Gal. ii. 7. 3. It is a glorious gospel; so it is tailed in 2 Cor. iv. 4. it has a glory ih it eXceeding that of the law ; the glory and the person of Christ is held forth in great splendour and brightness. 4. Ic is an everlasting gospel, which is the epithet given it in Rev. xiv. 6.
V. I shall close this chapter with a brief answer to some queries relating to faith, repentance, and good works; as to what they belong, whether to law or gospel, i. Whether faith is a duty of the moral law, or is to be referred to the gospel ? to which it may be answered, that as the law is not of faith, so faith is not of the law. For special faith in Christ as a Saviour, or a believing on him to the saving of the soul, the law knows nothing of, nor does it make it known. n. Whether repentance is a doctrine of the law or of the gospel? the answer to which is, that such who sin, ought to repent of sb; this God has commanded, the law of nature teaches; and so far as this is to be considered as a duty incumbent on men, it belongs to the law, as all duty does ; but repentance which has salvation annexed to it, is, as is faith, a blessing of the covenant of grace ; agrant from God, a 'gift of Christ as a Saviour, 2 Cor. vii. 10. And so is a doctrine of the gospel. The apostle Paul, who was a most evangelical preacher, divides his whole ministry in these two parts; Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts xx. 21. in. Whtther good works belong to the gospel, or to the law ? or rather, whether there are any works that belong to the gospel distinct from the law? to which may be replied, That the gospel taken in a large sense, includes both the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel : but strictly taken, is a pure declaration of grace, a mere promise of salvation by Christ. All duty and good works belong to the law ; promise and grace belong to the gospel; the works of the law, and the grace of the gospel, are always opposed to each other, Rom. iii. 20—28. Eph. ii. 8.