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Title: A Body of Divinity, Vol. 2 (of 4)

Author: Thomas Ridgley

Annotator: James P. Wilson

Release date: May 16, 2020 [eBook #62149]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Hulse, David King, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. (This
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A BODY OF DIVINITY, VOL. 2 (OF 4) ***

on

A Body of Divinity

iA BODY OF DIVINITY:
WHEREIN THE DOCTRINES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION ARE EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED.
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF SEVERAL LECTURES ON THE ASSEMBLY’S LARGER CATECHISM.
BY THOMAS RIDGLEY, D. D.
WITH NOTES, ORIGINAL AND SELECTED,
BY JAMES P. WILSON, D. D.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. II.
FIRST AMERICAN, FROM THE THIRD EUROPEAN EDITION.
PHILADELPHIA:
PRINTED BY AND FOR WILLIAM. W. WOODWARD, CORNER OF CHESNUT AND SOUTH
SECOND STREETS.
1815.
iii

THE CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.

Quest. XIV, XV. Of the work of Creation.

CREATION, the word explained Page 5

It was not from eternity 7

This proved from the invention of things 13

By the power and for the glory of God 14

Performed in six days 16

Each day’s work 19

Of instantaneous production 17

The condition and season of the year in which things were created 24

Antiquity of nations vainly boasted of 10

Quest. XVI. Of Angels.

Of their existence 26

Nature and properties 28

Work and employment 30

Worship. Harmony therein, but no Hierarchy 31

How they impart their Ideas to one another 33

Quest. XVII. Of the creation of Man.

Man was created male and female 34

Excellency of his make 40

Origin of the soul, in a note 41

Of God’s image in man 44

No men before Adam 37

Quest. XVIII. Of Providence.

Providence governs all creatures 47

And all their actions ibid

His concern for man 51

How conversant about evil actions 52

Sin over-ruled for God’s glory, and his people’s good 53

Other things over-ruled by providence 59

ivObjections against providence answered 60

Unequal distributions of providence vindicated 61

Quest. XIX. Of God’s providence towards the angels.

How it was conversant about the fall of apostate angels 63

These fell all at once 64

Some angels confirmed in holiness and happiness 66

Ministry of angels 68

Quest. XX. Of God’s providence towards man in innocency.

Of Paradise 70

Man’s secular employment and food therein 72

His dominion over the creatures 74

His spiritual concerns were under the direction of providence 75

Sabbath instituted and the covenant established 76

Representation, in a note 77

Difference between a law and a covenant 78

Adam was under a covenant 82

Objections answered 83

Conditions of that covenant 84

Tree of life a seal of it 86

Of the tree of knowledge 90

Quest. XXI. Of the fall of man.

Our first parents were endued with freedom of will 93

Were left thereunto 94

How they were tempted 96

Satan’s subtilty in the temptation 99

Eve represented by Adam, in a note 103

Aggravations of their sin 105

Its immediate consequences 104

Quest. XXII. All mankind fell in Adam.

Adam a federal head 109

All fell in him, except Christ 112

His sin imputed to his posterity 113

Penal evils which followed 111

Appointment of his headship vindicated 114

Quest. XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI. Of Sin.

Original sin 118

Actual transgressions proceed from it 120

Conveyed by natural generation 132

vOriginal righteousness lost 121

Man’s nature inclined to sin 123

Propensity to sin not put into our nature by God 124

Not harmless even in childhood 125

Origin of moral evil 127

The notion of two first causes exploded ibid

Pre-existence of souls a mere fancy 126

Corruption of nature not by the soul’s traduction 128

Not from imitation ibid

Necessarily ensues on the privation of original righteousness 131

Quest. XXVII. Of man’s misery by the Fall.

Various opinions about the salvation of infants 138

Punishment of original sin increased by actual 141

Sinners liable to God’s wrath and curse 143

Slaves to Satan 144

Sin exists in the intentions, in a note 145

Quest. XXVIII, XXIX. Of the punishment of sin in both worlds.

Of judicial blindness of mind 146

Hardness of heart 149

Sins that lead to it 150

Difference between the hardness found in believers and judicial 152

Of strong delusions 147

A reprobate sense 152

Vile affections 153

Horror of conscience. When judicial 154

Punishment of sin in outward things 155

In the world to come 158

This will be perpetual, in a note 159, 160

Quest. XXX. Of man’s Recovery.

God’s love the only moving cause of it 162

Covenant of grace. Its various periods 166

Opposed to that of innocency 165

Quest. XXXI. The covenant of grace made with Christ, and, in him, with the elect.

Covenant, scriptural sense of the word 168

Between the Father and Son, explained 171

And proved 173

vi Of redemption distinguished by some from the covenant of grace 178

God’s covenant differs from human 170

How he covenants with man 181

How man covenants with him 183

Quest. XXXII. Of the grace manifested in the second covenant.

Conditions of a covenant, how understood 190

Faith is a duty, in a note 193

Meritorious performed by Christ 192

Conditional promises uncertain 191

Interest in Christ, what meant by it 189

Grace glorified, in ordaining, promising, and working faith 197

Other graces promised and connected with salvation 195

Quest. XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV. Of the various dispensations of the covenant of grace.

Christ revealed of old by promises and prophecies 199

Ceremonial law typified Christ and the gospel 201

Types. Cautions about them 203

Rules how to judge of them 205

How the Jews knew their meaning 207

Cocceius’s sentiments about the bondage and darkness of that dispensation 208

Gospel-dispensation, when it began 212

How it excels the Legal 213

Quest. XXXVI, XXXVII. Of the Mediator of the covenant of Grace.

Saints and angels no Mediators 218

Christ the only Mediator 217

Two distinct natures in Christ, but not two Persons 222

His human nature was united to his Person 220

It shall continue so for ever 234

How formed like ours. How not 227

It was formed of the Virgin 229

His body was truly human 224

His soul distinct from his deity 226

He was expected by the Jews 231

Born in the fulness of time 233

What meant thereby 233

viiQuest. XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL. Of the necessity of the Mediator’s having two natures.

Why he should be God 235

Why man 238

Why both God and man 242

Quest. XLI, XLII. Of the Mediator’s name and offices.

Why he was called Jesus 244

Why he was called Christ 245

His offices distinguished, but not divided 252

He was set apart and authorized to execute them 248

He was fitly qualified for them 249

Quest. XLIII. Of Christ’s prophetical office.

He reveals the will of God 253

He was qualified for it 254

He does it in various ages 257

To whom and how he does it 255

Quest. XLIV. Of Christ’s priestly office.

Priesthood of Christ and Aaron compared 280

Typified by Melchisedek 264

Various opinions who Melchisedek was 265

Proved that he was Christ (quære tamen) 267

Objections answered 270

Satisfaction demanded for sin, of what value and kind 275

Of Christ was necessary 273

His active obedience a part of it 283

Least degree of his sufferings not sufficient for it 281

No redemption without price 286

Death of Christ a ransom 290

Confirmation of his doctrine not its principal end 293

Christ died in our stead 290

Objections answered ibid

Modern opinions on the atonement, in a note, 276 to 280, and 292 to 297.

He offered himself

by the Spirit 297

without spot to God 297

Not for all men 301 & 276

but for his sheep and friends 316

and for his church 318 viiiDr. Magee’s Discourses, in a note 298-317

This evidenced

by his love to it 318

his propriety in it 322

and saving it ibid

Objections answered 319

Christ purchased grace and glory 328

Universal redemption,

its consequences 326

Arguments for it considered 327

Texts urged for it explained 343

How the word All, &c. is to be explained 341

Special Redemption,

consistent with the covenant of grace 329

and with preaching the gospel 331

It advances grace more than general does 337

It leads not to despair 331

Whether it be contrary to scripture 338

Christ intercedes not for all 324

Divine expostulations explained 333

How all should repent and believe, though Christ died not for all 335

Sacrifice of Christ sufficient for all, in a note 349

Quest. XLV. Of Christ’s Kingly office.

As respecting his subjects

What they were, before subdued 353

How brought into subjection 354

How their subjection expressed at first 357

Their behaviour and conflicts 358

How Christ deals with them 361

As respecting his enemies 362

He governed the church before and since his incarnation 364

This office executed by him in glory 365

Of the Millennium.

Various opinions about it 366

Some have gross Ideas of it 370

What shall precede or attend it 368

Gospel shall then be more spread 373

How this doctrine to be treated 367

In what respects it is to be allowed 368

Some prophecies of the call of the Jews not yet fulfilled 376

Why Christ shall not reign visibly in his human nature 379

Temple-service not to be revived 381

Gospel-ordinances shall be continued 382

ixFirst resurrection; how understood by some 383

Its literal sense debated 384

General conflagration 387

New heavens and new earth 388

Resurrection of the church sometimes taken mystically 389

1000 years how understood by some 391

These not yet begun ibid

Mediatorial kingdom of Christ eternal 392

1 Cor. xv. ver. 24, 25, 28. explained 393

Quest. XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII. Of Christ’s Humiliation.

This shewn in his birth and infancy 398

In his parentage 399

In the place of his birth and abode 400

In the sinless infirmities of his life 422

In his being made under the law 401

In his being exposed to indignities 402

Temptations endured by him 404

General remarks on them 406

The time and place thereof 405

His first temptation 410

His second temptation 412

Its matter explained 416

His third temptation 417

What to be observed therein 419

Temptations were mental, in a note 420

Quest. XLIX, L. Of Christ’s humiliation before and after his death.

Christ betrayed by Judas 424

Forsaken by his disciples 425

Denied by Peter 426

Scorned by the world ibid

Reviled by many 428

Inferences ibid

Prosecuted by the Jews 429

Condemned by Pilate ibid

Tormented by his persecutors 431

Bore the wrath of God ibid

Death of the cross cruel and painful 433

Shameful, servile, and cursed 434

Christ buried with respect by his friends 437

Was under the power of death till the third day 438

Of his descent into hell 440

xHow the Papists understand it 441

1 Pet. iii. 18. explained, in a note 442

Quest. LI, LII. Of Christ’s Resurrection and Exaltation.

Resurrection of Christ proved 444

By credible witnesses 448

They were men of integrity 449

By the conduct of his enemies 450

By miracles 451

Properties of his risen body 452

Christ raised the third day 453

Reasons of it 454

Was not three whole days and nights in the grave 455

Socinians’ account of Christ’s resurrection 457

Christ’s own and his peoples’ concern in his resurrection 458

Quest. LIII, LIV. Of Christ’s Ascension.

It was real and visible 464

Its necessity and design 468

Its distance from the time of his resurrection 461

How this interval was employed 463

Matter of his conversation with his disciples 464

Remarks on what preceded it 460

He ascended from mount Olivet 467

Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God 471

Quest. LV. Of Christ’s Intercession.

Necessity of it 473

His fitness for it 474

Manner of it 477

How it differs from our prayers 476

What procured by it 479

How to be improved ibid

Quest. LVI. Of Christ’s coming to judge the world.

The time of his appearance 481

The glory that shall attend it 482

Quest. LVII, LVIII, LIX. Of the benefits of redemption, and the application thereof.

Benefits procured by Christ 486

These applied by the Holy Ghost 487

To all for whom they were purchased (vide 349) 488

xiQuest. LX. Of the disadvantages of those who never hear the gospel.

State of the Heathen considered 491

No salvation without the gospel—tamen quære 492

Nor without faith in Christ—tamen quære ibid

Deists; falseness of their hope set forth 494

False grounds of hope in others 496

Salvation in none but Christ 498

This proved 499

Objections answered 502

Christ the Saviour only of his Body the church 508

Quest. LXI, LXII, LXIII, LXIV. Of the Church, visible and invisible.

Church, the word how used, (515 in a note) 510

Places of worship so termed 511

Their first erection 512

Its distinction into visible and invisible 516

Invisible church described 519

This farther explained and defended 520

Visible church described 521

In what respects it is one 522

In what respects it is not one ibid

Its concern for the children of its members 526

Jewish church, its establishment ibid

Its government 527

How they promoted religion in their synagogues 529

Their Proseuchæ, or places appointed for prayer 530

A particular gospel-church described 536

Its matter 539

Its form or bond of union 540

Its subjection to Christ to be professed 542

How this to be made visible 543

Its power of admission 541

The reformed churches differ about this ibid

Terms of communion fixed by Christ ibid

Its power of exclusion 544

Causes of exclusion 545

The way of proceeding therein 547

With what temper this should be done 549

What meant by being delivered to Satan 550

and for what end 551

The first preaching and success of the gospel 532

Conduct of the Apostles in planting gospel-churches 534 xiiChurch-communion proved

from the law of nature 538

from scripture ibid

Government of churches by their officers 552

Αποστολος, Επισκοπος, Διακονος, in a note, ibid

The office of a Pastor, Bishop, or Elder 555

Bishops and Elders the same 556

Jerom’s account of the increase of the power of Bishops, in a note 558

Pastors chosen by the church 561

Χειροτονεω, in a note 563

How to be set apart ibid

How their office to be discharged 565

Whether a Teacher be a distinct officer 566

Synods, the abuse and advantage of them 566

Parishes, why churches were so called by ancient writers 567

The office of a Deacon 570

Officers of the church, in a note 571

Privileges of the visible church 572

It is under Christ’s special care 574

Wherein this consists 575

It is under Christ’s special government 576

In what respects 577

It enjoys communion of saints ibid

It has the ordinary means of grace 578

5

THE WORK OF CREATION.

Quest. XIV., XV.

Quest. XIV. How doth God execute his decrees?

Answ. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible fore-knowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will.

Quest. XV. What is the work of creation?

Answ. The work of creation is that, wherein God did, in the beginning, by the word of his power, make, of nothing, the world, and all things therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.

Having considered God’s eternal purpose, as respecting whatever shall come to pass, which is generally called an internal, or immanent act of the divine will, we are now to consider those works which are produced by him, in pursuance thereof. It is inconsistent with the idea of an infinitely perfect Being, to suppose, that any of his decrees shall not take effect, Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Num. xxiii. 19. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure, Isa. xlvi. 10. This is a necessary consequence, from the immutability of his will, as well as from the end which he has designed to attain, to wit, the advancement of his own glory; and therefore, if he should not execute his decrees, he would lose that revenue of glory, which he designed to bring to himself thereby, which it cannot be supposed that he would do; and accordingly we are to consider his power as exerted, in order to the accomplishment of his purpose. This is said to have been done either in the first production of all things, which is called, The work of creation, or in his upholding and governing all things, 6which is his providence; both which are to be particularly considered. And,

I. We are to speak concerning the work of creation, and so to enquire what we are to understand by creation, and to consider it as a work peculiar to God.

II. That this work was not performed from eternity, but in the beginning of time.

III. How he is said to create all things by the word of his power.

IV. The end for which he made them, namely, for himself, or for his own glory.

V. The time in which he made them. And,

VI. The quality or condition thereof, as all things are said to have been made very good.

I. As to the meaning of the word creation; it is the application thereof to the things made, or some circumstances attending this action, that determine the sense of it. The Hebrew and Greek words[1], by which it is expressed, are sometimes used to signify the natural production of things: Thus it is said, in Psal. cii. 18. The people that shall be created, speaking of the generation to come, shall praise the Lord; and elsewhere, in Ezek. xxi. 30. says God, I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, that is, where thou wast born, in the land of thy nativity. And sometimes it is applied to signify the dispensations of providence, which, though they are the wonderful effects of divine power, yet are taken in a sense different from the first production of all things: thus it is said, in Isa. xlv. 7. I form the light, and create darkness; which metaphorical expressions are explained in the following words, I make peace, and create evil.

And, on the other hand, sometimes God’s creating is expressed by his making all things; which word, in its common acceptation, is taken for the natural production of things; though, in this instance, it is used for the production of things which are supernatural: thus it is said, in John i. 3. All things were made by him; and elsewhere, in Psal. xxxiii. 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all by the host of them by the breath of his mouth. Therefore it is by the application of these words, to the things produced, that we are more especially to judge of the sense of them. Accordingly, when God is said to create, or make the heavens and earth, or to bring things into being, which before did not exist, this is the most proper sense of the word creation; and in this sense we take it, in the head we are entering upon. It is the production of all things out of nothing, by his almighty word; and this is generally called immediate 7creation, which was the first display of divine power, a work with which time began; so we are to understand those words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, Gen. i. 1. that is, that first matter out of which all things were formed, which has been neither increased nor diminished ever since, nor can be, whatever alterations there may be made in things, without supposing an act of the divine will to annihilate any part thereof, which we have no ground to do.

Again, it is sometimes taken for God’s bringing things into that form, in which they are, which is generally called a mediate creation, as in the account we have of it in the first chapter of Genesis; in which God is said, out of that matter which he created at first, to create the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all living creatures that move therein, after their respective kinds, which no finite wisdom, or power, could have done. The work was supernatural, and so differs from the natural production of things by creatures, inasmuch as they can produce nothing, but out of other things, that have in themselves a tendency, according to the fixed laws of nature, to be made, that which is designed to be produced out of them; as when a plant, or a tree, is produced out of a seed, or when the form, or shape of things is altered by the skill of men, where there is a tendency in the things themselves, in a natural way, to answer the end designed by them that made them, in which respect they are said to make, but not create those things; so that creation is a work peculiar to God, from which all creatures are excluded. Accordingly, it is a glory which God often appropriates to himself in scripture: thus he is called, by way of eminence, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Isa. xl. 28. and he speaks, concerning himself, with an unparalleled magnificence of expression, I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded, Isa. xlv. 12. and he is said to have done this, exclusively of all others: thus he says, I am the Lord, that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself, Isa. xliv. 24. And, indeed, it cannot be otherwise, since it is a work of infinite power, and therefore too great for any finite being, who can act no otherwise, but in proportion to the circumscribed limits of its own power; and being, at best, but a natural agent, it cannot produce any thing supernatural. From whence it may be inferred, that no creature was an instrument made use of, by God, in the production of all things; or that infinite power could not be exerted by a finite medium: but this has been already considered, under a foregoing answer.

II. We are now to consider that this work of creation was not performed from eternity, but in the beginning of time. This 8we assert against some of the heathen philosophers, who have, in their writings, defended the eternity of the world[2], being induced hereunto by those low conceptions, which they had of the power of God, as supposing, that because all creatures, or natural agents, must have some materials to work upon, so that as this proposition is true, with respect to them, that nothing can be made out of nothing, they conclude, that it is also applicable to God. And this absurd opinion has been imbibed by some, who have pretended to the Christian name; it was maintained by Hermogenes, about the middle of the second century, and, with a great deal of spirit and argument, opposed by Tertullian; and, among other things, that father observes, that philosophy, in some respects, had paved the way to heresy[3]; and probably the apostle Paul was apprehensive that it would do so; or that they, who were bred up in the schools of the philosophers, would, as it is plain they often did, adapt their notions in divinity, to those which they had before learned therein, of which this is a flagrant instance; and therefore he says, Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy, and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, Col. ii. 8. and they, who have defended this notion, have been divided in their sentiments about it. Some suppose, in general, that matter was eternal, but not brought into that form, in which it now is, till God, by his almighty power, produced that change in it, and so altered the form of things. Others suppose, that the world was in a form, not much unlike to what it now is, from eternity, and that there were eternal successive ages, and generations of men, and a constant alteration of things. Some parts of the world, at one time, destroyed by deluges, or fire, or earthquakes, and other parts at another time; and so there was a kind of succession of generation and corruption; former worlds lost and buried in ruins, and all the monuments of their antiquity perished with them, and new ones arising in their stead. This they assert, as a blind to their ungrounded opinion, and as an answer to that reasonable demand which might be made; If the world was eternal, how comes it to pass that we know nothing of what was done in it, in those ages, which went before that which we reckon the first beginning of time?

As for the school-men, though they have not any of them given directly into this notion, which is so notoriously contrary 9to scripture, yet some of them have very much confounded and puzzled the minds of men with their metaphysical subtilties about this matter; as some of them have pretended to maintain, that, though God did not actually create any thing before that beginning of time, which is mentioned in scripture, yet he might, had he pleased, have produced things from eternity[4], because he had, from eternity, infinite power, and a sovereign will; therefore this power might have been deduced into act, and so there might have been an eternal production of things; for to suppose, that infinite power cannot exert itself, is contrary to the idea of its being infinite. And to suppose that God was infinitely good, from eternity, implies, that he might have communicated being to creatures from eternity, in which his goodness would have exerted itself. And they farther argue, that it is certain, that God might have created the world sooner than he did; so that, instead of its having continued in being, that number of years, which it has done, it might have existed any other unlimited number of years; or since, by an act of his will, it has existed so many thousand years, as it appears to have done, from scripture, it might, had he pleased, have existed any other number of years, though we suppose it never so large, and consequently that it might have existed from eternity. But what is this, but to darken truth, by words without knowledge? or to measure the perfections of God, by the line or standard of finite things? it is to conceive of the eternity of God, as though it were successive. Therefore, though we do not deny but that God could have created the world any number of years that a finite mind can describe, sooner than he did; yet this would not be to create it from eternity, since that exceeds all bounds. We do not deny but that the divine power might have been deduced into an act, or created the world before he did; yet to say that he could create it from eternity, is contrary to the nature of things; for it is to suppose, that an infinite duration might be communicated to a finite being, or that God might make a creature equal, in duration, with himself; which, as it contains the greatest absurdity, so the impossibility of the thing does not, in the least, argue any defect of power in him.

From whence we may infer, the vanity, and bold presumption, of measuring the power of God by the line of the creature; and the great advantage which we receive from divine revelation, which sets this matter in a clear light, by which it appears, that nothing existed before time but God; this is agreeable to the highest reason, and the divine perfections. To suppose, that a creature existed from eternity, implies a contradiction; for to be a creature, is to be produced by the power of a creator, who is God, and this is inconsistent with its existing 10from eternity; for that is to suppose that it had a being before it was brought into being.

Moreover, since to exist from eternity, is to have an infinite, or unlimited duration, it will follow from thence, that if the first matter, out of which all things were formed, was infinite in its duration, it must have all other perfections; particularly, it must be self-existent, and have in it nothing that is finite, for infinite and finite perfections are inconsistent with each other; and, if so, then it must not consist of any parts, or be devisible, as all material things are: besides, if the world was eternal, it could not be measured by successive duration, inasmuch as there is no term, or point, from whence this succession may be computed, for that is inconsistent with eternity; and if its duration was once unmeasured, or not computed by succession, how came it afterwards to be successive, as the duration of all material beings is?

Again, to suppose matter to be co-eternal with God, is to suppose it to be equal with him, for whatever has one divine perfection, must have all; so that this is contrary to those natural ideas, which we have of the divine perfections, and contains such absurdities, as have not the least colour of reason to support them.

But it more evidently appears, from scripture, that the world was made in the beginning of time, and therefore did not exist from eternity; since therein we read, that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, Gen. i. 1. and elsewhere, Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands, Heb. i. 10. Now since we are not to confound time and eternity together, or to say, that that which was created in the beginning, was without beginning, that is, from eternity, it is evident that no creature was eternal.

Thus having considered the impossibility of the existence of finite things, from eternity, we may here take occasion to vindicate the account we have in scripture, concerning the world’s having been created between five and six thousand years since, from the objections of those who suppose, that the antiquity thereof exceeds the scripture-account by many ages. Those that follow the LXX translation of the Old Testament, in their chronological account of time, suppose the world to be between fourteen and fifteen hundred years older than we have ground to conclude it is, according to the account we have thereof in the Hebrew text. This we cannot but think to be a mistake, and has led many of the fathers into the same error[5], who, 11through their unacquaintedness with the Hebrew language, excepting Jerom and Origen, hardly used any but this translation[6].

But this we shall pass over, and proceed to consider the account that some give of the antiquity of the world, which is a great deal remote, from what we have in scripture, though this is principally to be found in the writings of those who were altogether unacquainted with it. Thus the Egyptians, according to the report of some ancient historians, pretended, that they had chronicles of the reigns of their kings for many thousand years longer than we have ground to conclude the world has stood[7]. And the Chaldeans exceed them in the accounts they give of some things contained in their history; and the Chinese pretend to exceed them by many thousand years, but these accounts are fabulous and ungrounded[8][9]. And inasmuch as they are confuted, and exposed by many of the heathen themselves, as ridiculous and absurd boasts, rather than authentic accounts, no one 12who has the least degree of modesty, can oppose them to the account we have, in scripture, of the time that the world has continued, which is no more than between five or six thousand years.

And that the world cannot be of greater antiquity than this may be proved, from the account which we have of the first original of nations, and the inventors of things in scripture, and other writings. It is not reasonable to suppose, that men lived in the world many thousand years, without the knowledge of those things, that were necessary for the improvement of their minds, and others that were conducive to the good of human society, as well as subservient to the conveniencies of life; but this they must have done, who are supposed to have lived before these things were known in the world.

As to what concerns the original of nations, which spread themselves over the earth after the universal deluge, we have an account of it in Gen. x. and, in particular, of the first rise of the Assyrian monarchy, which was erected by Nimrod, who is supposed to be the same that other writers call Belus. This monarchy was continued, either under the name of the Assyrian, or Babylonian, till Cyrus’s time, and no writers pretend that there was any before it: and, according to the scripture account hereof, it was erected above seventeen hundred years after the creation of the world; whereas, if the world had been so old, as some pretend it is, or had exceeded the scripture account of the age and duration thereof, we should certainly have had some relation of the civil affairs of kingdoms and nations, in those foregoing ages, to be depended on, but of this, history is altogether silent; for we suppose the account that the Egyptians give of their Dynasties, and the reigns of their gods and kings, in those foregoing ages, are, as was before observed, ungrounded and fabulous.

As to what respects the inventors of things, which are necessary in human life, we have some hints of this in scripture. As we have an account in scripture, Gen. iv. 20-22. of the first that made any considerable improvement in the art of husbandry, and in the management of cattle, and of the first instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, by which means those tools were framed, which are necessary for the making those things that are useful in life; and also of the first inventor of music, who is called, The father of all such as handle the harp and organ, which was in that space of time, which intervened between the creation and the deluge; and, after this we read of the first plantation of vineyards, and the farther improvement thereof by making wine, by Noah, Gen. ix. 20, 21. which the world seems to have known nothing of before. And it is more than probable, that the art of navigation was not known, till Noah, by divine direction, framed the ark, which gave the 13first hint to this useful invention; and this art was not, for many ages, so much improved, as it is in our day. The mariner’s needle, and the variation of the compass, or the method of sailing by observation of the heavenly bodies, seem to have been altogether unknown by those mariners, in whose ship the apostle Paul sailed, Acts xxvii. for want of which, they exposed themselves to suffer shipwreck, hoping, thereby, to save their lives.

And, as to what concerns those inventions, that are necessary for the improvement of knowledge; it does not appear that writing was known till Moses’ time; and, after this, the use of letters was brought into Greece by Cadmus. And therefore it is no wonder, when historians give some dark hints of things done before this, being unacquainted with scripture-history, that they are at a loss, and pretend not to give an account of things done before the deluge[10]. Shall we suppose, that there were so many ages, as some pretend in which men lived, and yet no account given of things done therein, transmitted to posterity, by those who assert it? Therefore there can be no ground to conclude, that the world has stood longer than the scripture account thereof[11]. We pass by the invention of the art of printing, which has not been known in the world above three hundred years; and the many improvements that have been made in philosophy, mathematicks, medicine, anatomy, chymistry, and mechanicks, in the last age; and can we suppose that there are so many thousand ages passed without any of these improvements? And to this we may add the origin 14of idolatry, in them who worshipped men, whom they called gods, namely, such as had been useful while they lived among those that worshipped them, or had been of great note, or power, in the world, or who were the first inventors of things: this being known, and the time in which they lived, mentioned, by some writers among the heathen, which is much later than the first age of the world, is a farther evidence of this truth, that it has not stood so many years as some pretend.

If it be objected, that there has been a kind of circulation, or revolution of things with respect to men’s knowing, and afterwards losing and then regaining the knowledge of some of those arts, which we suppose to have been first discovered in in later ages, so that they might have been known in the world many ages before:

This is to assert, without pretending to give any proof thereof; and nothing can be inferred from a mere possibility of things, which no one, who has the least degree of judgment, will ever acquiesce in; especially the memory of some things could never have been universally erased out of the minds of men, by any devastations that might be supposed to have been made in the world. Therefore, to conclude this argument, nothing can be reasonably objected against the account we have in scripture, of the creation of the world at first, and of its having continued that number of years, and no longer, which we believe it to have done, from those sacred writings, which contain the only authentic records thereof, and have sufficient authority to put to silence all those fabulous conjectures, or vain and groundless boasts, that pretend to contradict it.

III. God is said to have created all things by the word of his power; thus the Psalmist says, By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth, Psal. xxxiii. 6. Some, indeed, understand this, and several other scriptures, in which God is said to create all things by his word, as implying, that God the Father made all things by the Son, his personal Word: but, though this be a great truth, and it be expressly said, All things were made by him, John i. 3. as has been considered under a foregoing answer[12], whereby the divinity of Christ was proved; yet here we speak of creation, as an effect of that power, which is a perfection of the divine nature. And whereas it is called the word of his power, it signifies, that God produced all things by an act of his power and sovereign will; so that how difficult soever the work was in itself, as infinitely superior to finite power, yet it argues, that it was performed by God without any manner of difficulty, and therefore it was as easy to him as a thought, or an act of willing is to any creature; accordingly it is said, 15He spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast, Psal. xxxiii. 9. As nothing could resist his will, or hinder his purpose from taking effect, so all things were equally possible to him. In this respect, creation differs from the natural production of things, which, though they be the effects of power, yet nothing is produced by a powerful word, or, as it were, commanded into being, but that which is the effect of almighty power, as the creation of all things is said to be.

IV. The end for which God made all things, was his own glory; or, as it is said, He made all things for himself, Prov. xvi. 4. that is, that he might demonstrate his eternal power and Godhead, and all those divine perfections, which shine forth in this illustrious work, and so might receive a revenue of glory, as the result thereof. Not that he was under any natural necessity to do this, or would have been less happy and glorious in himself, than he was from all eternity, if he had not given being to any thing. We are far from supposing, that there is any addition made hereby to his essential glory; this appears from the independence of his divine perfections: As they are not derived from the creature, so they cannot receive any additional improvement from him, no more than the lustre of the sun is increased by its being beheld by our eyes; nor does it sustain any real diminution thereof, when its brightness is obscured by the interposure of any thing that hides it from us. God did not make the world that his power or wisdom might be improved hereby; but that he might be admired and adored, or that his relative glory might be advanced by us, which would be the highest advantage to us. This was the great end for which he made all things; and it is very agreeable to the scope and design of scripture in general, which puts us upon giving him the glory due to his name, as being induced hereunto by all the displays thereof in his works.

Therefore it is a very unbecoming way of speaking, and tends very much to detract from the divine perfections, to say as a judicious writer[13] represents some objecting, “As though God were not so selfish, and desirous of glory, as to make the world, and all creatures therein, only for his own honour, and to be praised by men.” And another writer[14] speaks his own sense of this matter, in words no less shocking. He says, indeed, “That God cannot really suffer any diminution of his own by our dislike, or is advanced in honour by our approbation of his dispensations;” which, as it respects his essential glory, is an undoubted truth; but yet he speaks, in other respects, of the glory of God, by which, it is plain, he means that which is generally called his relative, or manifestative glory, 16in a very unbecoming manner, when he says; “That God, being infinitely perfect, must be infinitely happy within himself, and so can design no self-end without himself; therefore what other end can he be supposed to aim at in these things, but our good? It is therefore a vain imagination, that the great design of any of God’s actions, his glorious works and dispensations, should be thus to be admired, or applauded, by his worthless creatures, that he may gain esteem, or a good word, from such vile creatures as we are. We take too much upon us, if we imagine that the all-wise God can be concerned, whether such blind creatures, as we are, approve or disapprove of his proceedings; and we think too meanly of, and detract from his great Majesty, if we conceive he can be delighted with our applause, or aim at reputation from us in his glorious design, that therefore such as we should think well of him, or have due apprehensions of those attributes, by the acknowledgment of which we are said to glorify him.” This is, at once, to divest him of all that glory, which he designed from his works; but far be it from us to approve of any such modes of speaking. Therefore we must conclude, that though God did not make any thing with a design to render himself more glorious than he was, from all eternity, yet it was, that his creatures should behold and improve the displays of his divine perfections, and so render himself the object of desire and delight, that religious worship might be excited hereby, and that we might ascribe to him the glory that is due to his name.

We might also observe, that God created all things by his power, that he might take occasion to set forth the glory of all his other perfections, in his works of providence and grace, and particularly in the work of our redemption, all which suppose the creature brought into being; and so his first work made way for all others, which are, or shall be performed by him in time, or throughout the ages of eternity.

V. We are now to consider the space of time, in which God created all things, namely, in six days. This could not have been determined by the light of nature, and therefore must be concluded to be a doctrine of pure revelation; as also the account we have, in Gen. i. of the order in which things were brought to perfection, or the work of each day. Here we cannot but take notice of the opinion of some, who suppose, that the world was created in an instant, as thinking, that this is more agreeable to the idea of creation, and more plainly distinguishes it from the natural production of things, which are brought to perfection by degrees, and not in a moment, as they suppose this work was. This opinion has been advanced by some ancient writers; and whereas it seems directly to contradict 17that account which is given thereof by Moses, they suppose that the distribution of the work of creation, into that of six days, is only designed to lead us into the knowledge of the distinct parts thereof, whereby they may be better conceived of, as though they had been made in such an order, one after another; but this is to make the scripture speak what men please to have it, without any regard had to the genuine sense and import of the words thereof. Had it only been asserted, that the first matter, out of which all things were formed, had been created in an instant; that is not only agreeable to the work of creation, but to the literal sense of the text; for it is said to be created in the beginning, that is, in the first point of time; or if it had only been said, that God could have brought all things to perfection in an instant, we would not have denied it; but to assert that he did so, we cannot but think an ill-grounded sense of a plain part of scripture. That which induces them to give into this opinion is, because they think that this redounds to the glory of God, and seems most agreeable to a supernatural production of things, and to those expressions, by which the work of creation is represented; as in the scripture before-mentioned in which it is said, God spake, and it was done; that which was produced by a word’s speaking, is performed in an instant. And they suppose, that this is agreeable to the account which we have of that change which shall pass on the bodies of those who shall be found alive at the last day, that it shall be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Cor. xv. 52. and to some other miracles and supernatural productions, which have been instantaneous. But all this is not sufficient to support an opinion, which cannot be defended any otherwise, than by supposing that the express words of scripture must be understood in an allegorical sense.

There is therefore another account given of this matter, by some divines, of very considerable worth and judgment,[15] which, as they apprehend, contains a concession of as much as need be demanded in favour of the instantaneous production of things, as most agreeable to the idea of creation, and yet does not militate against the sense of the account given thereof, in Gen. i. and that is, that the distinct parts of the creation were each of them produced in a moment. As for instance, in the work of the first day, there was the first matter of all things produced in one moment; and, after that, in the same day, light was produced, in another moment, agreeable to those words, Let there be light, and there was light; and, in another moment, there was a division of the light from the darkness, and so the work of the first day was finished. And, in the other days, where the works were various, there were distinct 18acts of the divine will, or words of command given concerning their production, which immediately ensued hereupon; and there was, in several instances, an interval between the production of one thing and another, which belonged to the same day’s work; particularly, in the sixth day, there was first a word of command given, by which beasts and creeping things were formed, and then another word given forth, by which man was created, when, indeed, there was an approbation of the former part of this day’s work, in ver. 26. God says, That it was good, before the general approbation, expressed in ver. 31. in the end of the day, was given, when God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.

There is nothing, in this opinion, (the main reason and foundation whereof has been before observed) that can be much disliked, neither is it very material whether it be defended or opposed; and therefore, I think, they speak with the greatest prudence, as well as temper who reckon this among the number of those questions, which are generally called problematical, that is, such as may be either affirmed or denied, without any great danger of departing from the faith;[16] and, indeed, I cannot see that the reasons assigned, which induce persons to adhere to either side of the question, with so much warmth, as to be impatient of contradiction, are sufficiently conclusive.

The main objection brought against their opinion, who plead for an instantaneous production of things in each day, is, that for God to bring the work of each day to perfection in a moment, and, after that, not to begin the work of the next day, till the respective day began, infers God’s resting each day from his work; whereas, he is not said to rest till the whole creation was brought to perfection. But I cannot see this to be a just consequence, or sufficient to overthrow this opinion; since God’s resting from his work, when the whole was finished, principally intends his not producing any new species of creatures, and not barely his ceasing to produce what he had made; for such a rest as this might as well be applied to his finishing the work of each day, though he took up the whole space of a day therein, as if he had finished it in a moment.

And, on the other hand, when it is objected against the common opinion relating to God’s bringing the work of each day to perfection by degrees, so as to take up the space of a day in doing it, that it is not agreeable to the idea of creation. This is no just way of reasoning, nor sufficient to overthrow it; since we generally conclude, that God’s upholding providence, which some call, as it were, a continued creation, is no less an instance of divine and supernatural power, than his producing them at first: but this is not performed in an instant; nevertheless; 19it is said to be done, as the apostle speaks, in Heb. i. 3. By the word of his power. Besides, there are some parts of the creation, which, from the nature of the thing, could hardly be produced in an instant, particularly those works which were performed by motion, which cannot be instantaneous; as the dividing the light from the darkness, the gathering the waters together into one place, so that the dry land should appear; and if this took up more than a moment, why may it not be supposed to take up the space of a day? So that, upon the whole, we may conclude, that though it is certain that spirits, such as angels, or the souls of our first parents, could not be otherwise created, than in an instant, inasmuch as they are immaterial, and so do not consist of parts successively formed; yet none ought to determine, with too great peremptoriness, that other works, performed in the six days, must each of them be performed in an instant, or else the work could not properly be called a creation; and therefore the commonly received opinion seems as probable as any other, that has hitherto been advanced, as it is equally, if not more agreeable, to the express words of scripture.

Here we shall give a brief account of the work of the six days, as it is contained in the first chapter of Genesis; in the first day, the first matter out of which all things were produced, was created out of nothing, which is described as being without form, that is, not in that form which God designed to bring it into; whereas, in other respects, matter cannot be without all manner of form, or those dimensions that are essential to it, and, as it was created without form, so without motion; so that as God is the Creator of all things, he is the first mover. Nevertheless, I am far from thinking, that all God did, in the creation of things, was by putting every thing in motion, and that this brought all the parts of the creation into their respective form. As an artificer may be said to frame a machine, which, by its motion, will produce other things, which he designed to make by the help thereof, without giving himself any farther trouble; so they suppose, that, by those laws of motion, which God impressed upon matter at first, one part of the creation brought another into the various forms, which they attained afterwards.[17] And the first thing that was produced, which was a farther part of the six days work, was light; concerning this, many have advanced their own ill-grounded conjectures. 20There are some writers, among the Papists, who have supposed that it was a quality, without a subject,[18] which is an obscure and indefensible way of speaking. Others have thought, that hereby we are to understand the angels; but this is to strain the sense of words too far, by having recourse to a metaphor, which is inconsistent with what immediately follows, that God divided the light from the darkness. But it seems most probable that nothing else is intended hereby, but those lucid bodies, which, on the fourth day, were collected into the sun and fixed stars.

To this let me add, that it is more than probable that God, on the first day, created the highest heaven, which is sometimes called his throne, together with the angels, the glorious inhabitants thereof. It is true, Moses, in his history of the creation, is silent as to this matter, unless it may be inferred from those words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; though, as has been before observed, something else seems principally to be intended thereby: nevertheless, we have sufficient ground to conclude, that they were created in the beginning of time, and consequently in the first day, from what is said elsewhere, that when God laid the foundations of the earth, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job xxxviii. 4, 7. where the angels are represented as celebrating and adoring those divine perfections, which were glorified in the beginning of the work of creation; therefore they were, at that time, brought into being.

On the second day, God divided that part of the world, which is above, from that which is below, by an extended space, which is styled the firmament, and otherwise called heaven, though distinguished from the highest heaven, or the heaven of heavens; and it is farther observed, that hereby the waters that are above, are separated from those which are below, that is, the clouds from the sea, and other waters, that are in the bowels of the earth.

As for that conjecture of some, taken from hence, and especially from what the Psalmist says, Praise him ye waters that are above the heavens, Psal. cxlviii. 4. that there is a vast collection of super-celestial waters, which have no communication with those that are contained in the clouds; this seems to be an ungrounded opinion, not well agreeing with those principles of natural philosophy, which are received in this present age; though maintained by some of the ancient fathers, as principally founded on the sense in which they understand this text; neither do they give a tolerable account of the design 21of providence in collecting and fixing them there[19]. Therefore nothing seems to be intended, in that text, but the waters that are contained in the clouds as it is said, He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, Job xxvi. 8. and, indeed, the Hebrew words seem not to be justly translated[20]; for they ought to be rendered, Ye waters that are from above in the firmament, not above the heavens, but the earth, or a considerable distance from it, in the firmament, as the clouds are.

On the third day, the sea and rivers were divided from the earth, and the dry land appeared, and the earth brought forth herbs, grass, trees, and plants, with which it is so richly stored, which in a natural way, it has produced ever since.

On the fourth day, the sun, moon and stars were made, to enlighten, and, by their influence, as it were, to enliven the world, and so render it a beautiful place, which would otherwise have been a dismal and uncomfortable dungeon; and that hereby the four seasons of the year might be continued in their respective courses, and their due measures set to them: thus it is said, these heavenly bodies were appointed for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years, Gen. i. 14.

This has occasioned some to enquire, whether any countenance is hereby given to judicial astrology, or whether the heavenly bodies have any influence on the conduct of human life, which some ancient and modern writers have defended, not without advancing many absurdities, derogatory to the glory of providence, as well as contrary to the nature of second causes, and their respective effects; and, when the moral actions of intelligent creatures are said to be pointed at, or directed by the stars, this is contrary to the laws of human nature, or the nature of man, as a free agent; therefore, whatever be the sense of these words of scripture, it is certain, they give no countenance to this presumptuous and ungrounded practice. But this we shall take occasion to oppose, under a following answer, 22when we consider judicial astrology, as forbidden in the first commandment[21]. Therefore, all that we shall add, at present, is, that when the heavenly bodies are said to be appointed for times and seasons, &c. nothing is intended thereby, but that they distinguish the times and seasons of the year; or, it may be, in a natural way, have some present and immediate influence on the bodies of men, and some other creatures below them.

There is also another question, which generally occurs when persons treat of this subject, namely, whether there are not distinct worlds of men, or other creatures, who inhabit some of those celestial bodies, which, by late observations, are supposed to be fitted to receive them. This has been maintained by Keplar, bishop Wilkins, and other ingenious writers; and that which has principally led them to assert it, is, because some of them are, as is almost universally allowed, not only bigger than this earth, but they seem to consist of matter, not much unlike to it, and therefore are no less fit to entertain distinct worlds of intelligent creatures. And they farther add, in defence of this argument, that it cannot reasonably be supposed that there should be such a vast collection of matter, created with no other design, but to add to the small degree of light, which the planets, the moon excepted, afford to this lower world. As for any other advantage that they are of to it, any farther than as they are objects, to set forth the wisdom and power of God, this cannot be determined by us; therefore they conclude, that they were formed for the end above mentioned. And some carry their conjectures beyond this, and suppose, that as every one of the fixed stars are bodies, which shine as the sun does, with their own un-borrowed light, and are vastly larger, that therefore there is some other use designed thereby, besides that which this world receives from them, namely, to give light to some worlds of creatures, that are altogether unknown to us. According to this supposition, there are not only more worlds than ours, but multitudes of them, in proportion to the number of the stars, which are inhabited either by men, or some other species of intelligent creatures, which tends exceedingly, in their opinion, to advance the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the great Creator.

The only thing that I shall say, concerning this modern hypothesis, is, that as, on the one hand, the common method of opposition to it, is not, in all respects, sufficient to overthrow the argument in general, especially when men pretend not to determine what kinds of intelligent creatures inhabit these worlds, and when they are not too peremptory in their assertions about this matter; so, on the other hand, when this argument is defended with that warmth, as though it were a necessary 23and important article of faith, and some not only assert the possibility, or, at least, the probability of the truth thereof, but speak with as much assurance of it, as though it were founded on scripture; and when they conclude that they are inhabited by men, and pretend to describe, not only the form of some of these worlds, but give such an account of the inhabitants thereof, as though they had learned it from one who came down from thence[22]; in this respect, they expose the argument, which they pretend to defend, to contempt, and render it justly exceptionable. But, if men do not exceed those due bounds of modesty, which should always attend such disquisitions, and distinguish things that are only probable, from those that are demonstratively certain, and reckon this no other than an ingenious speculation, which may be affirmed, or denied, in common with some other astronomical, or philosophical problems, without considering it, as affecting any article of natural or revealed religion, I would not oppose the argument in general, how much soever I would do the particular explication thereof, as above mentioned: but, when this is brought in, as a matter of debate, in the theologick schools, and disputed with as much warmth, as though it were next to an heresy to deny it, I cannot but express as much dislike thereof, as any have done, who give into the commonly received opinion relating to this matter.

On the fifth day, another sort of creatures, endowed with sense, as well as life and motion, were produced, partly out of the waters, and partly out of the earth, that was mixed with them, namely, the fish that were designed to live in the waters, and the winged fowl, which were to fly above them[23].

On the sixth day, all sorts of beasts, and creeping things, with which the earth is plentifully furnished, were produced out of it. And whereas there are two words used to set forth the different species of living creatures, as contra-distinguished from creeping things, namely, the cattle and the beasts of the earth, it is generally supposed to imply the different sorts of beasts, such as are tame or wild, though wild beasts were not, at first, so injurious to mankind as now they are.

In the latter part of the day, when this lower world was 24brought to perfection, and furnished with every thing necessary for his entertainment, man, for whose sake it was made, was created out of the dust of the ground; which will be more particularly considered in a following answer[24].

God having thus produced all things in this order and method, as we have an account thereof in scripture, he fixed, or established the course or laws of nature, whereby the various species of living creatures might be propagated, throughout all succeeding ages, without the interposure of his supernatural power, in a continued creation of them; and, after this, he rested from his work, when he had brought all things to perfection.

Thus having considered the creation, as a work of six days, it may farther be enquired, whether it can be determined, with any degree of probability, in what time, or season[25] of the year all things were created. Some are of opinion, that it was in the spring, because, at that time, the face of the earth is renewed every year, and all things begin to grow and flourish[26]. And some of the fathers have assigned this, as a reason of it; because the Son of God, the second Adam, suffered, and rose from the dead, whereby the world was, as it were, renewed, at the same time of the year. But this argument is of no weight.

Therefore the most probable opinion is, that the world was created at that season of the year, which generally brings all things to perfection; when the fruits of the earth are fully ripe, and the harvest ready to be gathered in, which is about autumn, the earth being then stored with plenty of all things, for the support of man and beast. It is not, indeed, very material, whether this can be determined or no, nevertheless this seems the more probable opinion, inasmuch as the beginning of the civil year was fixed at that time. Accordingly, the feast of ingathering, which was at this season of the year, is said, in Exod. xxiii. 16. to be in the end of the year; therefore, as one year ended, the other began, at this time, and so continued, till, by a special providence, the beginning of the year was altered, in commemoration of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt. And, from that time, there was a known distinction among the Jews, between their beginning of the civil and the ecclesiastical year; the former of which was the same as it had been from the beginning of the world, and answers to our month September; from whence it is more than probable, that the world was created at that season of the year. We now proceed,

VI. To consider, the quality, or condition, in which God 25created all things, which were, at first, pronounced by him very good, Gen. i. 31. It is certain, nothing imperfect can come out of the hand of God, and the goodness of things is their perfection. Every thing that was made, was made exactly agreeable to the idea, or platform thereof, that was laid in the divine mind. All things were good, that is perfect, in their kind, and therefore, there was not the least blemish in the work. Every thing was beatiful, as it was the effect of infinite wisdom, as well as almighty power. Whatever blemishes there are now in the creation, which are the consequence of the curse that sin has brought upon it, these were not in it at first, for that would have been a reflection on the author of it.

And there is another thing, in which the goodness of those things did consist, namely, as they were adapted to shew forth the glory of God in an objective way, whereby intelligent creatures might, as in a glass, behold the infinite perfections of the divine nature, which shine forth therein.

If any enquire, whether God could have made things more perfect than he did? it might easily be replied to this, that he never acted to the utmost of his power, the perfections of creatures were limited by his will; nevertheless, if any persons pretend to find any flaw, or defect of wisdom in the creation of all things, this is no other than a proud and ignorant cavil, which men, through the corruption of their nature, are disposed to make against the great Creator of all things, who regard not the subserviency of things to answer the most valuable ends, and advance his glory, who, in wisdom has made them all.

In this respect, the inferior parts of the creation were good; but, if we consider the intelligent part thereof, angels and men, they were good, in a higher sense. As there was no moral blemish in the creation, nor propensity, or inclination to sin, so these were endowed with such a kind of goodness, whereby they were fitted to glorify God, in a way agreeable to their superior natures, and behold and improve those displays of the divine perfections, which were visible in all his other works; which leads us farther to consider what is said concerning them, as the most excellent part of the creation.

Quest. XVI.

Quest. XVI. How did God create angels?

Answ. God created all the angels, spirits, immortal, holy, excelling in knowledge, mighty in power, to execute his commandments, and to praise his name, yet subject to change.

There are two species of intelligent creatures, to wit, angels and men. The former of these are more excellent; and we are in this answer, led to speak concerning their nature, 26and the glorious works which they are engaged in: But let it be premised, that this is a doctrine that we could have known little or nothing of, by the light of nature. We might, indeed, from thence, have learned, that God has created some spiritual substances, such as the souls of men; and we might argue, from his power, that he could create other spirits, of different natures and powers, and that some of them might be without bodies, as the angels are; yet we could not have certainly determined that there is such a distinct order of creatures, without divine revelation, since they do not appear to, or visibly converse with us; and whatever impressions may, at any time, be made on our spirits, by good or bad angels, in a way of suggestion, yet this could not have been so evidently distinguished from the working of our own fancy or imagination, were we not assisted in our conceptions about this matter, by what we find in scripture, relating thereunto. Accordingly, it is from thence that the doctrine, which we are entering upon, is principally to be derived; and we shall consider it, as the subject-matter of this answer, in seven heads.

I. There is something supposed, namely, that there are such creatures as angels. This appears, from the account we have of them in the beginning of the creation of all things, The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job xxxviii. 7. which can be no other than a metaphorical description of them. They are called the morning stars, as they exceed other creatures, as much in glory, as the stars do the lower parts of the creation. It would be a very absurd method of expounding scripture to take this in a literal sense, not only because the stars in the firmament do not appear to have been then created, but principally because these are represented, as engaged in a work peculiar to intelligent creatures; and they are called, the sons of God, as they were produced by him, and created in his image; whereas men, who are sometimes so called, were not created. They are elsewhere called spirits, Psal. civ. 4. to distinguish them from material beings; and a flame of fire, to denote their agility and fervency, in executing the divine commands. It is plain, the Psalmist hereby intends the angels; and therefore the words are not to be translated, as some do, who maketh the winds his angels, and the flame of fire his ministers, as denoting his making use of those creatures who act without design to fulfil his pleasure; because the apostle, to the Hebrews, chap. i. 7. expressly applies it to them, and renders the text in the same sense as it is in our translation. They are elsewhere styled, Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, Coloss. i. 16. to denote their being advanced to the highest dignity, and employed in the most honourable services. And that it is not men that the apostle here 27speaks of, is evident, because he distinguishes the intelligent parts of the creation into visible and invisible; the visible he speaks of in the following words, ver. 18. in which Christ is said to be the Head of the body, the church; therefore here he speaks of invisible creatures advanced to these honours, and consequently he means hereby the angels.

Moreover it appears, that there are holy angels, because there are fallen angels, who are called in scripture, devils; this is so evident, that it needs no proof; the many sins committed by their instigation, and the distress and misery which mankind is subject to, by their means, gives occasion to their being called, The rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. vi. 12. And, because of their malicious opposition to the interest of Christ therein, spiritual wickedness in high places. Now it appears, from the apostle Jude’s account of them, that they once were holy; and they could not be otherwise, because they are creatures, and nothing impure can proceed out of the hand of God, and, while they were holy, they had their residence in heaven: This they lost, and are said not to have kept their first estate, but left their own habitation, being thrust out of it, as a punishment due to their rebellion, and to be reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, Jude, ver. 6. Now it is plain, from scripture, that it is only a part of the angels that left their first estate; the rest are called holy angels, and their number is very great. Thus they are described, as an innumerable company, Heb. xii. 22. This is necessary to be observed against the ancient, or modern Sadducees, who deny that there are either angels, or spirits, whether good or bad.

II. We farther observe, that the angels are described, as to their nature, as incorporeal, and therefore called spirits. It is but a little, indeed, that we can know concerning the nature of spirits, in this present state; and the first ideas that we have concerning them, are taken from the nature of our souls, as, in some respects, agreeing with that of angels. Accordingly, being spirits, they have a power of thinking, understanding, willing, chusing, or refusing, and are the subjects of moral government, being under a law, and capable of moral good or evil, happiness or misery.

Moreover, they have a power of moving, influencing, or acting upon material beings, even as the soul moves and influences the body, to which it is united. This we understand concerning the nature and power of angels, as spirits, by comparing them with the nature of the soul; though there is this difference between them, that the souls of men are made to be united to bodies, and to act by and upon them, whereas angels are designed to exist and act without bodies; nevertheless, by 28the works, which are often, in scripture ascribed to them, it appears that they have a power to act upon material beings. As for the conjecture of some of the fathers,[27] that these spirits are united to some bodies, though more fine and subtil than our’s are, and accordingly invisible to us, we cannot but think it a groundless conceit; and therefore to assert it, is only to pretend to be wise above what is written, and to give too great a loose to our own fancies, without any solid argument.

III. It follows, from their being spirits, and incorporeal, that they are immortal, or incorruptible, since nothing is subject to death, or dissolution, but what is compounded of parts; for death is a dissolution of the composition of those parts, that were before united together; but this is proper to bodies. A spirit, indeed, might be annihilated; for the same power that brought it out of nothing, can reduce it again to nothing. But, since God has determined that they shall exist for ever, we must conclude that they are immortal, not only from the constitution of their nature, but by the will of God.

IV. Besides the excellency of their nature, as spirits, they have other super-added endowments; of which, three are mentioned in this answer.

1. They were all created holy; and, indeed, it could not be otherwise, since nothing impure could come out of the hands of a God of infinite purity. Creatures make themselves sinners, they were not made so by him; for, if they were, how could he abhor sin, and punish it, as contrary to his holiness; nor could he have approved of all his works, as very good, when he had finished them, as he did, Gen. i. 31. if he had created any of the angels in a state of enmity, opposition to, or rebellion against him.

2. They excel in knowledge, or in wisdom, which is the greatest beauty or advancement of knowledge. Accordingly, the highest instance of wisdom in men, is compared to the wisdom of an angel. Thus the woman of Tekoa, when extolling David’s wisdom, though with an hyperbolical strain of compliment, compares it to that of an angel of God, 2 Sam. xiv. 20. which proves that it was a generally received opinion, that angels exceeded other creatures in wisdom.

3. They are said to be mighty in power: thus the Psalmist speaks of them, as excelling in strength, Psal. ciii. 20. and the apostle Paul, when speaking of Christ’s being revealed from heaven, in his second coming, says, that it shall be with his mighty angels, 2 Thess. i. 7. And, since power is to be judged of by its effects, the great things, which they are sometimes represented, as having done in fulfilling their ministry, in defence 29of the church, or in overthrowing its enemies, is a certain evidence of the greatness of their power. Thus we read of the whole Assyrian host, consisting of an hundred and fourscore and five thousand men, being destroyed in one night; not by the united power of an host of angels, but by one of them. The angel of the Lord did it; but this will more evidently appear, when, under a following head, we speak of the ministry of angels.

V. These natural, or super-added endowments, how great soever they are, comparatively with those of other creatures, are subject to certain limitations: their perfections are derived, and therefore are finite. It is true, they are holy, or without any sinful impurity; yet even their holiness falls infinitely short of God’s, and therefore it is said concerning him, Thou only art holy, Rev. xv. 4. and elsewhere, Job xv. 15. speaking concerning the angels, who are, by a metonymy, called the heavens, it is said, they are not clean in his sight, that is, their holiness, though it be perfect in its kind, is but finite, and therefore infinitely below his, who is infinitely holy.

Moreover, though they are said, as has been before observed, to excel in knowledge, we must, notwithstanding, conclude, that they do not know all things; and therefore their wisdom, when compared with God’s, deserves no better a character than that of folly, Job iv. 18. His angels he charged with folly. There are many things, which they are expressly said not to know, or to have but an imperfect knowledge of, or to receive the ideas they have of them by degrees: thus they know not the time of Christ’s second coming, Matt. xxiv. 36. and they are represented as enquiring into the great mystery of man’s redemption, or as desiring to look into it, 1 Pet. i. 12.

And to this let me add, that they do not know the hearts of men, at least not in such a way as God is said to search the heart, for that is represented as a branch of the divine glory, Jer. xvii. 10. 2 Chron. vi. 30. And, besides this, it may be farther observed, that they do not know future contingencies, unless it be by such a kind of knowledge, as amounts to little more than conjecture; or, if they attain to a more certain knowledge thereof, it is by divine revelation. For God appropriates this to himself, a glory, from which all creatures are excluded; therefore he says, Shew the things that are to come, that is, future contingencies, that we may know that ye are gods, Isa. xli. 23. which implies, that this is more than what can be said of any finite mind, even that of an angel.

As to the way of their knowing things, it is generally supposed, by divines, that they know them not in a way of intuition, as God does, who is said to know all things in himself, by an underived knowledge; but whatever they know, is either 30communicated to them, by immediate divine revelation, or else is attained in a discursive way, as inferring one thing from another; in which respect, the knowledge of the best of creatures appears to be but finite, and infinitely below that which is divine.

Again, though they are said to be mighty in power, yet it is with this limitation, that they are not omnipotent. There are some things, which are the effects of divine power, that angels are excluded from, as being too great for them; accordingly they were not employed in creating any part of the world, nor do they uphold it; for as it is a glory peculiar to God, to be the Creator of the ends of the earth, so he, exclusively of all others, is said to uphold all things by the word of his power.

And to this we may add, that we have no ground to conclude, that they are employed in the hand of providence, to maintain that constant and regular motion, that there is in the celestial bodies, as some of the ancient philosophers[28] have seemed to assert; for this is the immediate work of God, without the agency of any creature subservient thereunto.

Again, to this let me add, that how great soever their power is, they cannot change the heart of man, take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh; or implant that principle of spiritual life and grace in the souls of men, whereby they are said to be made partakers of a divine nature, or created in Christ Jesus unto good works; for that is ascribed to the exceeding greatness of the divine power, and it is a peculiar glory belonging to the Holy Spirit, whereby believers are said to be born from above; this therefore is too great for the power of angels to effect.

VI. We have an account of the work or employment of angels; it is said, they execute the commands of God, and praise his name. The former of these will be more particularly considered, under a following answer,[29] when we are led to speak of their being employed by God, at his pleasure, in the administration of his power, mercy and justice; and therefore we shall now consider them as engaged in the noble and delightful work of praise; they praise his name. For this end they were created; and, being perfectly holy and happy, they are fitted for, and in the highest degree, devoted to this service. This work was begun by them as soon as ever they had a being: they sang together, and celebrated his praise in the beginning of the creation, Job xxxviii. 7.

31And when the Redeemer first came into this lower world, and thereby a work, more glorious than that of creation, was begun by him, they celebrated his birth with a triumphant song; as it is said, that with the angel that brought the tidings thereof to the shepherds, there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will towards men, Luke ii. 14. Whether all the hosts of heaven were present at that solemnity, we know not; but there is sufficient ground to conclude, from the harmony that there is in the work and worship of the heavenly inhabitants, that they all celebrated his incarnation with their praises; and this was a part of that worship, which, upon this great occasion, they gave, by a divine warrant, to him, who was then brought into this lower world, Heb. i. 6.

Moreover, they praise God for particular mercies vouchsafed to the church, and for the success of the gospel in the conversion of sinners thereby; on which occasion, they express their joy as our Saviour observes, though it be but one sinner that repenteth, Luke xv. 7, 10. And,

Lastly, They are represented, as joining in worship with the saints in heaven; for which reason the apostle, speaking concerning the communion that there is between the upper and the lower world, as well as the union between the saints departed, and the angels, in this work of praise, says, Ye are come unto the innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, Heb. xii. 22, 23. and they are also represented as joining with all others, which are before the throne, the number of whom is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, Rev. v. 11, 12.

This is a branch of that social worship, which they are engaged in; and since we cannot suppose that it is performed without harmony, otherwise it wants a very considerable circumstance, necessary to render it beautiful, and becoming a state of perfection, we must conclude, that there is the greatest order among these heavenly ministers; but whether they are to be considered, as having a government, or hierarchy, among themselves, so that one is superior in office and dignity to others; or whether they have a kind of dominion over one another; or whether some are made partakers of privileges, that others are deprived of; this we pretend not to determine, since scripture is silent as to this matter. And what some have laid down, as though it were deduced from it, is altogether inconclusive; and therefore they, who express themselves so peremptorily on this subject, as though they had received it by 32divine inspiration, or were told it by some, who have been conversant among them in heaven, must be reckoned among them, whom the apostle speaks of, who intrude into those things which they have not seen, vainly puft up by their fleshly mind, Colos. ii. 18.

The Papists are very fond of this notion, as being agreeable to that unscriptural hierarchy, which they establish in the church here on earth, which they pretend to be, in some respects, founded upon it, instead of better arguments to support it[30]. All the countenance which they pretend to be given to it, in scripture, is taken from the various characters, by which they are described, as cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, angels, arch-angels, all which expressions they suppose to signify various ranks and orders among them; and when they speak of three classes, or degrees of dignity, and office, under which they are distributed, and that some of those characters are reduced to one, and others to another of them, this is nothing else but to impose their own chimerical fancies, as matters of faith; and when they speak of some of them, as being of a superior order, and admitted to greater honours than the rest, whom they compare to ministers of state, who always attend the throne of princes, or stand in their presence; and others that are employed in particular services for the good of the church, and are conversant in this lower world: This is a distinction which the scripture says nothing of; for they all behold the face of God in heaven, and are in his immediate presence; and they are all likewise called ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them which shall be the heirs of salvation.

The great oracle which they have recourse to, where the scripture is silent, is a spurious writing, that goes under the name of Dionysius, the Areopagite, concerning the celestial hierarchy[31]; which contains not only many things fabulous, but unworthy of him, who was converted at Athens by the apostle 33Paul’s ministry, Acts xvii. 34. as well as disagreeable to the sentiments of the church in the age in which he lived; therefore, passing by this vain and trifling conjecture, all that we can assert, concerning this matter, is, that there is a beautiful order among the angels, though not of this kind; and this appears very much in that social worship, which is performed by them.

And this leads us to enquire how they communicate their ideas to each other, though destitute of organs of speech, like those that men have. That they do, some way or other, impart their minds to one another, is sufficiently evident, otherwise we cannot see how they could join together, or agree in that worship, which is performed by them, and those united hallelujahs, with which they praise God, and so answer the end of their creation. That they converse together is evident, since they are represented as doing so, in several places of scripture: thus the prophet speaks of the angel that talked with him; he went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, Zech. ii. 3. and elsewhere it is said, concerning them, that one cried to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory, Isa. vi. 3. and the apostle John speaks of an angel ascending from the east, who cried with a loud voice to four other angels, Rev. vii. 2, 3. who were performing a part of their ministry here on earth, and giving them a charge relating thereto; and elsewhere he again represents one angel as speaking to another, and crying with a loud voice, &c. chap. xix. 17. In some of these instances, if the voices uttered by them were real, this may be accounted for, by supposing that they assumed bodies for the same purpose, and so communicated their minds to each other, in a way not much unlike to what is done by man. But this is not their ordinary way of conversing with each other: notwithstanding, we may, from hence, infer, and from many other scriptures, that might be brought to the same purpose, that there is some way or other by which they communicate their thoughts to one another. How this is done, is hard to determine; whether it be barely by an act of willing, that others should know what they desire to impart to them or by what other methods it is performed; it is the safest way for us, and it would be no disparagement were we the wisest men on earth to acknowledge our ignorance of it, rather than to attempt to determine a thing so much out of our reach, in this imperfect state, in which we know so little of the nature or properties of spirits, especially those that are without bodies. It is therefore sufficient for us to conclude, that they converse together, when joined in social worship; but how they do this, is altogether unknown to us.

VII. Notwithstanding all the advantages which the angels had from those natural endowments, with which they were created, 34yet it is farther observed, that they were subject to change. Absolute and independent immutability is an attribute peculiar to God; so that whatever immutability creatures have, it is by his will and power. Some of the angels, who were created holy, were not only subject to change, but they kept not their first estate, Jude, ver. 6. and, from being the sons of God, became enemies and rebels; which is an evident proof of the natural mutability of creatures, if not confirmed in a natural state of holiness and happiness; and we have ground to conclude, from hence, that the rest might have fallen, as well as they, had they not been favoured with the grace of confirmation, which rendered their state of blessedness unchangeable. But this will be farther considered, under a following answer[32].

Quest. XVII.

Quest. XVII. How did God create man?

Answ. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man; endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls, made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, with dominion over the creatures, yet subject to fall.

In this answer it is observed,

I. That man was created after all other creatures. There was a sort of climax, or gradation in the work of creation; and that the wisdom and power of God might be more admired herein, he proceeded from things that were less to those that were more perfect. Man, who is the most excellent creature in this lower world, was framed the last, inasmuch as God designed hereby not only to give a specimen of his power, wisdom, and goodness, but that the glory of those perfections, which shine forth in all his other works, might be adored and magnified by him, as a creature fitted for that purpose. And his being created after all other things, is not only an instance of the bounty and goodness of God, in that the world, which was designed to be the place of his abode, should be stored with all those provisions that were necessary for his entertainment and delight; but that he might hereby be induced to give him the glory that was due to his name, and all other creatures, that were formed before him, might be objects leading him to it.

II. As to what concerns the difference of sex, it is farther observed, that man was made male and female. Adam was 35first formed, concerning whom we read, which is an humbling consideration, that his body was formed of the dust of the ground, from whence he took his name. This God puts him in mind of, after his fall, when he says, Dust thou art, Gen. iii. 19. And the best of men have sometimes expressed the low thoughts they have of themselves, by acknowledging this as the first original of the human nature. Thus Abraham, when standing in the presence of God, says, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes, Gen. xviii. 27. And this character is considered, as universally belonging to mankind, when it is said, Then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was, Eccles. xii. 7.

As for the woman, it is said, she was formed of the rib of the man. The reason of her formation is particularly assigned, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help-meet for him, Gen. iii. 18. There was a garden planted for his delight, and the beasts of the earth brought, and given, to him, as his property; and his sovereignty over them was expressed by his giving names to every living creature: But these were not fitted to be his companions, though designed for his use. He was, notwithstanding, alone; therefore God, designing him a greater degree of happiness, formed one that might be a partner with him, in all the enjoyments of this life, that hereby he might experience the blessings of a social life; and that, according to the laws of nature, by this means the world might be inhabited, and its Creator glorified, by a numerous seed, that should descend from him.

From Adam’s being first formed, the apostle infers his preeminence of sex, 1 Tim. ii. 11-13. compared with 1 Cor. xi. 8, 9. though not of nature; the woman being, in that respect, designed to be a sharer with him in his present condition, and future expectation. From her being formed of a rib, or, as some understand it, out of the side of man, some curious, or over-nice observations have been made, which it is needless to mention. The account, which the scripture gives of it, is, that her being part of himself, argued the nearness of relation, and unalienable affection, which ought to be between man and wife, as Adam observed, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, Gen. ii. 23, 24. and our Saviour, as referring to the same thing, says, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, Matth. xix. 5.

III. The next thing that may be observed, is, that these were the first parents of all mankind; for the apostle expressly calls Adam the first man, 1 Cor. xv. 45. And this is very agreeable to the account which Moses gives of his creation, on the sixth day, from the beginning of time. This is a truth so generally 36received, that it seems almost needless to insist any farther on the proof thereof. The very heathen, that knew not who the first man was, nor where, or when, he was created, did, notwithstanding, allow, in general, that there was one, from whom all descended; therefore, when the apostle Paul argued with them, that God had made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, Acts xvii. 26. none of them pretended to deny it. And, none who own the divine authority of scripture, ever questioned the account which Moses gives hereof, till a bold writer, about the middle of the last century, published a book, in which he advanced a new and fabulous notion; that there was a world of men who lived before Adam was created[33], and that these were all heathen; and that Moses speaks of their creation, as what was many ages before Adam, in Gen. i. and of Adam’s in chap. ii. whom he supposes to have been created in some part of the world, which was then uninhabited, where he was designed to live, and to be the father of the church, which was to descend from him; and, being so far remote from the rest of mankind, he knew not that there was any other men besides himself, till his family increased, and some of them apostatized from the faith; and, in particular, Cain, and his descendents went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt among them. And whereas Adam is called, by the apostle Paul, the first man, he supposes that he is styled so only as contra-distinguished from Christ, who is called the second man, designing thereby to compare the person, whom he supposes to have been the head of the Jewish church, with him who is the head of the Christian church. And he insists largely on, and perverts that scripture, in Rom. v. 13. where it is said, Until the law, sin was in the world; as though the sense of it were, that there was a sinful generation of men in the world, before God erected his church, and gave laws to it, when he created Adam, as the head and father thereof; whereas the apostle there speaks of sin’s prevailing in the world before the law was given by Moses; and as for the historical account of the creation of man in scripture, it is plain that Moses speaks of the creation of man in general, male and female, Gen. i. 27. and, in chap. ii. gives a particular account of the same thing, and speaks of the manner of the formation of Adam and Eve. Besides, when God had created Adam, it is expressly said, in Gen. 37ii. 5. that there was not a man to till the ground, therefore there was no other man living, which is directly contrary to this chimerical opinion. And, if there had been a world of men before Adam, what occasion was there for him to be created out of the dust of the ground? He might have been the father of the church, and yet descended from one that was then in being, in a natural way; or, if God designed that he should live at a distance from the rest of the world, he might have called him from the place of his abode, as he afterwards did Abraham, without exerting power in creating him; and he might have ordered him to have taken a wife out of the world, without creating a woman for that purpose.

It would be too great a digression, nor would it answer any valuable end, for me to take notice of every particular argument brought in defence of this notion: but though the book we speak of, be not much known in the world, yet the notion is defended and propagated by many Atheists and Deists, who design hereby to bring the scripture-history and religion in general into contempt; therefore I am obliged, in opposition to them, to answer an objection or two.

Object. 1. If Adam was the first man, and his employment was tilling the ground, where had he those instruments of husbandry, that were necessary, in order thereto, and other things, to subserve the various occasions of life?

Answ. This may easily be answered, by supposing that he had a sufficiency of wisdom to find out every thing that was needful for his use and service, whatever improvement might be made in manual arts, by future ages; but this objection, though mentioned amongst the rest, is not much insisted on. Therefore,

Object. 2. There is another objection, which some think a little more plausible, taken from what is contained in Gen. iv. where we read of Cain’s killing his brother Abel, which was a little before the hundred and thirtieth year of the world, as appears, by comparing chap. v. 3. with chap. iv. 25, in which it is said, Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat Seth; upon which occasion, his wife acknowledges it as a mercy, that God had appointed her another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. Now, if we observe the consequence of this murder; how Cain, as it is said, in chap. iv. 16. went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod; and, in ver. 17. that he built a city, and called the name of it after the name of his son, Enoch; from whence they infer, that, in a little above an hundred and thirty years after the world was created, there were several colonies settled in places remote from the land of Eden, where Adam, and his posterity, dwelt; and the inhabitants of those countries were of a different religion 38from him, otherwise Cain’s living among them would not be styled, his going out from the presence of the Lord. And it is not said, that Cain peopled that land, but he went there, that is, dwelt, amongst the inhabitants thereof; and it must be by their assistance that he built this city, inasmuch as it is probable that the art of building, at this time, was hardly known by our first parents, and their descendants; but they lived, separate from the world, in tents, and worshipped God in that way, which they received by divine revelation, being but few in number, while other parts of the world might be as much peopled as they are, at this day.

Answ. But to this it may be answered that as this chimerical opinion sets aside; or perverts the scripture-account of things, so the absurdity of it may be easily manifested. And,

1. If they suppose that the number of Adam’s posterity were small, and inconsiderable, when Cain slew his brother, and built the city before-mentioned, this will appear to be an ungrounded conjecture, if the blessing, which God conferred on man in his first creation, of increasing, multiplying, and replenishing the earth, Gen. i. 28. took place, as it doubtless did, and that in an uncommon degree, the necessity of things requiring it; therefore it is not absurd to suppose, that, at least, as many children were generally born at a birth, and in as early an age of the mother’s life, as have been, or are, in any uncommon instances in latter ages. It is also very probable, that the time of child-bearing continued many years longer than it now doth, in proportion to the number of years, in which the life of man exceeded the present standard thereof; and if the age of man was extended to eight or nine hundred years, we may conclude that there were but few that died young. If these things be taken for granted, which seem not, in the least, improbable, any one, who is curious in his enquiries about this matter, and desires to know what a number of people might be born in one hundred and thirty years, will find it will be so great, that they might spread themselves through many countries, far distant from the place where Adam dwelt; and therefore there is no need to suppose, that those, with whom Cain dwelt in the land of Nod, were persons that lived before Adam was created. But, that this may more abundantly appear, let it be farther considered,

2. That though we read of Cain’s going out from the presence of the Lord, and his dwelling in the land of Nod, and building a city, immediately after the account of Abel’s death, and therefore it is taken for granted, that this was done soon after, that is, about the hundred and thirtieth year of the world; yet there is no account that this was done immediately, or some few years after, in scripture, which contains the 39history of the life of Cain, in a few verses, without any chronological account of the time, when these things were said to be done by him, and therefore it seems probable, that this was done some hundreds of years after Cain slew Abel; so that we need not enquire what a number of persons might be in the world in one hundred and thirty years, but in seven or eight hundred years, and then the world might be almost as full of people, as it is now at present, and then the greatest part of the world might be also degenerate, and strangers to the true religion; so that Cain might easily be said to go out of the presence of the Lord, and choose to live with those that were apostates from him, and served other gods; therefore no advantage is gained against the scripture-history by those, who in contempt of it, defend this ill-grounded opinion.

Thus we have considered man, as created male and female, and our first parents, as the common stock, or root, from whence all descended; we shall now take a view of the constitution, or frame of the human nature, and consider,

IV. The two constituent parts of man, namely, the soul and body. With respect to the former of these, he is, as it were allied to angels, or, to use the scripture-expression, made a little lower than them, Psal. viii. 5. As to the other, which is his inferior part, to wit, the body, he is of the earth, earthy, and set upon a level with the lower parts of the creation. And here we shall,

1. Consider the body of man, inasmuch as it was first formed before the soul; and according to the course and laws of nature, it is first fashioned in the womb, and then the soul is united to it, when it is organized, and fitted for its reception: There are many things very wonderful in the structure of human bodies, which might well give occasion to the inspired writer to say, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Psal. cxxxix. 14. This is a subject that would afford us much matter to enlarge on, and from thence, to take occasion to admire the wisdom and goodness of God in this part of his work.

Many things might be observed from the shape, and erect posture thereof, and the several conveniences that arise from thence, and how we are hereby instructed that we were not born to look downwards to the earth, but up to heaven, from whence our chief happiness is derived. We might here consider the various parts of the body, whereof none are superfluous or redundant, and their convenient situation for their respective uses; the harmony and contexture thereof, and the subserviency of one part to another; and particularly, how it is so ordered by the wisdom of the Creator, that those parts, which are most necessary for the preservation of life, which, if hurt, would occasion immediate death, are placed most inward, 40that they might be sufficiently defended from all external injuries that might befal them; and also the disposition of those parts, that are the organs of sense, and their contexture, whereby they are fitted to exert themselves, in such a way, as is most proper to answer the ends thereof. We might also consider the temperature of the body, whereby its health and vigour is maintained; and that vast variety that there is in the countenances, and voices of men, in which there is hardly an exact similitude in any two persons in the world; and the wise end designed by God herein, for the advantage of mankind in general; these things might have been particularly insisted on, and have afforded many useful observations; but to enlarge on this head, as it deserves, would be to divert too much from our present design; and it will be very difficult for any one to treat on this subject with more advantage than it has been done by several learned and judicious writers, being set in a much clearer light than it has been in former ages, by those improvements, which have been lately made in anatomy; and it is insisted on so particularly, and with such demonstrative evidence, by them, that I shall rather choose to refer the reader to those writings, in which it is contained, than insist on it[34].

All that I shall farther observe is, that there is something wonderful in that natural heat that is continued in the bodies of men, for so many years together, and in the motion of the heart, the circulation of the blood and juices, the continual supply of animal spirits, and their subserviency to muscular motion: these things, and many other of the like nature, are all wonderful in the bodies of men.

If it be objected, that there are other creatures, who, in some respects, excel men, as to what concern their bodies, and the powers thereof; as the vulture, and many other creatures, in quickness of sight and hearing; the dog in the sense of smelling, and many others excel them in strength and swiftness; and some inanimate creatures, as the sun, and other heavenly bodies, in beauty.

To this it may be answered: That the bodies of men must be allowed to have a superior excellency, if considered as united to their souls, and rendered more capable of glorifying God, and enjoying that happiness, which no creatures, below them, are capable of. It is true, man is not endowed with such quickness of sense, strength of body, and swiftness of motion, as many other creatures are; some of which endowments tend to the preservation of their own lives: others are conducive to the advantage of man, who has every thing, in 41the frame of his nature, necessary to his happiness, agreeable to his present station of life, for his glorifying God, and answering higher ends than other creatures were made for; so that if we judge of the excellencies of the human nature, we must conceive of man, more especially as to that more noble part of which he consists. Accordingly,

2. We shall consider him as having[35] a rational and immortal soul, which not only gives a relative excellency to the body, to which it is united, and, by its union therewith, preserves it from corruption, but uses the various organs thereof, to put forth actions, which are under the conduct of reason; and that which renders it still more excellent, is, that it is capable of being conversant about objects abstracted from matter, and of knowing and enjoying God. And whatsoever obstructions it may meet with from the temperament of the body, to which it is united, or what uneasiness soever it may be exposed to from its sympathy therewith; yet none of those things, which tend to destroy the body, or separate it from the soul, can affect the soul so far, as to take away its power of acting, but when separate from it, it remains immortal, and is capable of farther improvements, and a greater degree of happiness.

We might here proceed to prove the immortality of the soul; but that we shall have occasion more particularly to do, under a following answer[36], when we consider the souls of believers, 42as made perfect in holiness, and thereby fitted for, and afterwards received into heaven, having escaped the grave, (in which the body is to be detained until the resurrection) which is the consequence of its immortality. And therefore we proceed,

V. To consider another excellency of the human nature, as man was made after the image of God. To be made a little lower than the angels, as he is represented by the Psalmist, in Psal. viii. 5. is a very great honour conferred on him: But what can be said greater of him, than that he was made after the image of God? However, though this be a scripture-expression, denoting the highest excellency and privilege, yet it is to be explained consistently with that infinite distance that there is between God and the creature. This glorious character, put upon him does not argue him to partake of any divine perfection; nor is it inconsistent with the nothingness of the best of finite beings, when compared with God; for whatever likeness there is in man to him, there is, at the same time, an infinite dissimilitude, or disproportion, as was before observed, when we considered the difference between those divine attributes, which are called incommunicable, from others, which some call communicable.

If it be enquired, wherein the image of God in man consists? It would be preposterous and absurd, to the last degree, to suppose that this has any respect to the lineaments of the body; for there is a direct opposition rather than similitude, between the spirituality of the divine nature, and the bodies of men. And, indeed, it would have been needless to have mentioned this, had not some given occasion for it, by perverting the sense of those scriptures, in which God is represented, in a metaphorical way, in condescension to our common mode of speaking, as though he had a body, or bodily parts; from whence they have inferred, that he assumed a body, at first, as a model, according to which he would frame that of man; which is not only absurd, but blasphemous, and carries it own confutation in it.

There are others, who suppose that man was made after the image of Christ’s human nature, which, though it doth not altogether contain so vile a suggestion as the former, yet it is groundless and absurd, inasmuch as Christ was made after the likeness of man, as to what concerns his human nature, Phil. ii. 7. and man, in that respect, was not made after his image.

And to this let me add, that when the scripture speaks of man, as made after the image of God, it plainly gives us ground to distinguish between it and that glory which is peculiar to Christ, who is said not only to be made after his image, but to be the image of the invisible God, Col. i. 15. and the express 43image of his person, Heb. i. 3. and therefore that there is, in this respect, such a similitude between the Father and Son, as cannot, in any sense be applied to the likeness, which is said to be between God and the creature.

Moreover, when we speak of man, as made after the image of God, as consisting in some finite perfections communicated to him, we must carefully fence against the least supposition, as though man were made partaker of any of the divine perfections. It is true, the apostle speaks concerning believers, as being made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. for the understanding of which we must take heed, that we do not pervert the mind of the Holy Ghost herein; for nothing is intended by this expression, in which the image of God is set forth, but a sanctified nature, or, as I would rather choose to render it, a divine nature, derived from, and, in some respects, conformed to him but yet infinitely below him.

This image of God in man, in this answer, is said to consist particularly in three things.

1. In knowledge. This is what we generally call the natural image of God in man, which he is endowed with, as an intelligent creature; not that the degree of knowledge, which the best of men are capable of, contains in it any thing properly divine as to its formal nature; for there is a greater disproportion between the infinite knowledge of the divine mind, and that of a finite creature, than there is between the ocean and a drop of water: But it signifies, that as God has a comprehensive knowledge of all things, man has the knowledge of some things, agreeable to his finite capacity, communicated to him; and thus we are to understand the apostle’s words, when he speaks of man’s being renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him, Col. iii. 10.

2. It consists in righteousness and holiness. This some call the moral image of God in man; or, especially if we consider it as restored in sanctification, it may more properly be called his supernatural image, and it consists in the rectitude of the human nature, as opposed to that sinful deformity and blemish, which renders fallen man unlike to him. Therefore we must consider him, at first, as made upright, Eccles. vii. 29. so that there was not the least tincture, or taint of sin, in his nature, or any disposition, or inclination to it; but all the powers and faculties of the soul were disposed to answer the ends of its creation, and thereby to glorify God.

And to this some add, that the image of God, in man, consisted in blessedness; so that as God is infinitely blessed in the enjoyment of his own perfections, man was, in his way and measure, blessed, in possessing and enjoying those perfections, which he received from God. But, though this be true, yet I 44would rather choose to keep close to the scripture mode of speaking, which represents the image of God in man, as consisting in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. iv. 24.

Man, being thus made after the image of God, is farther said in this answer, to have the law of God written in his heart, and, power to fulfil it. Herein God first made, and then dealt with him as a reasonable creature, the subject of moral government; and, that this law might be perfectly understood, it was written on his heart, that hereby he might have a natural knowledge of the rule of his obedience, and might, with as little difficulty, be apprised of his duty to God, as he was of any thing that he knew, as an intelligent creature.

And inasmuch as he was indispensably obliged to yield obedience to this law, and the consequence of violating it would be his ruin, God, as a just and gracious Sovereign, gave him ability to fulfil it; so that he might not, without his own fault, by a necessity of nature, rebel against him, and so plunge himself into inevitable misery.

3. It is farther observed, that the image of God, in man, consisted in man’s dominion over the creatures. This is expressly revealed in scripture, when God says, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, Gen. i. 26. and the Psalmist describes this dominion in other words, though not much differing, as to the general import thereof, when he says, Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen; yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas, Psal. viii. 6-8. This dominion consisted in the right which he had to use and dispose of the inferior creatures, for his comfort and delight, and to serve him, in all things necessary, for the glorifying his Creator, though he had no right, nor inclination, in his state of integrity, to abuse them, as fallen man does, in various instances.

VI. The last thing observed in this answer, is that notwithstanding the advantageous circumstances, in which man was created, yet he was subject to fall; by which we are not to understand that he was forced or compelled to fall, through any necessity of nature; for that would have been inconsistent with the liberty of his will to what was good, or that rectitude of nature, whereby he was not only fitted to perform perfect obedience, but to avoid every thing that has a tendency to render him guilty before God, and thereby to ruin him.

As for the devil, he had no power to force the will; nor 45could he lay any snare to entangle and destroy man, but what he had wisdom enough, had he improved his faculties as he ought, to have avoided: But, notwithstanding all this, it is evident that he was subject to fall, for that appears by the event; so that, though he had no disposition to sin in his nature, for God could not create a person in such a state, since that would render him the author of sin, yet he did not determine to prevent it; though this, as will be hereafter considered, was a privilege which man would have attained to, according to the tenor of the covenant he was under, had he performed the conditions thereof, and so would have been confirmed in holiness and happiness; but this, it is certain, he was not at first, because he fell: But of this, more under a following answer.

Quest. XVIII.

Quest. XVIII. What are God’s works of Providence?

Answ. God’s works of Providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.

In speaking to this answer, we must consider what we are to understand by providence in general. It supposes a creature brought into being; and consists in God’s doing every thing that is necessary for the continuance thereof, and in his ordering and over-ruling second causes, to produce their respective effects, under the direction of his infinite wisdom, and the influence of his almighty power. It is owing to this that all things do not sink into nothing, or that every thing has what it wants to render it fit to answer the end designed in the creation thereof. Pursuant to this general description of providence, it may be considered as consisting of two branches, namely, God’s upholding, or preserving, all creatures; and enabling them to act by his divine concourse or influence: and his governing or ordering them, and all their actions, for his own glory.

I. That God upholds all things. This he is expressly said to do, by the word of his power, Heb. i. 3. and it may be farther evinced, if we consider that God alone is independent, and self-sufficient, therefore the idea of a creature implies in it dependence; that which depended on God for its being, must depend on him for the continuance thereof. If any creature, in this lower world, could preserve itself, then surely this might be said of man, the most excellent part thereof; But it is certain, that man cannot preserve himself; for if he could, he would not be subject to those decays of nature, or those daily infirmities, which all are liable 46unto; and he would, doubtless preserve himself from dying, for that is agreeable to the dictates of nature, which would, were it possible for him to do it, prevent itself from being dissolved. And if man could preserve himself in being, he might, and doubtless, would, by his own skill, maintain himself in a prosperous condition in this world, and always lead a happy life, since this is what nature cannot but desire: But, inasmuch as all are liable to the afflictions and miseries of this present state, it plainly argues that they are unavoidable, and consequently that there is a providence that maintains men, and all other creatures, in that state in which they are.

In considering the upholding providence of God, we must observe, that it is either immediate, or mediate. The former of these consists in his exerting that power, by which we live, move, and act, which is sometimes called the divine manutenency; and this cannot be exerted by a finite medium, any more than that power that brought all things into being.

But besides this, God is said, according to the fixed laws of nature, to preserve his creatures by the instrumentality of second causes. Thus life is maintained by the air in which we breathe, and the food, by which we are nourished; and every thing that tends to our comfort in life, is communicated to us by second causes, under the influence and direction of providence, to which it is as much to be ascribed, as though it were brought about without means: thus Jacob considers God, as giving him bread to eat, and raiment to put on, Gen. xxviii. 20. whatever diligence or industry was used by him to attain them; and God is elsewhere said to give food to all flesh; Psal. cxxxvi. 25. and, concerning brute creatures, it is said, These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season; that thou givest them, they gather; thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good, Psal. civ. 27, 28.

II. God governs all things by his providence, so that nothing happens by chance to him. This appears from those admirable displays of wisdom, which come under our daily observation, in the government of the world. Many things are ordered to subserve such ends, as are attained by them without their own knowledge; as the sun and other heavenly bodies which are a common blessing to this lower world; so the rain, the air, vapours, minerals, beasts, vegetables, and all other creatures, below men, answer their respective ends, without their own design, and not by the will or management of any intelligent creature therefore it must be by the direction of providence.

That there is a providence, that governs the world, is so obvious a truth, that it has been denied by none, but the most stupid part of mankind, who wholly abandoned themselves to sensuality and libertinism, and hardly owned that there is a 47God, or such things as moral good or evil; and these scarce deserve the name of men.[37] All others, I say, have owned a providence, as what is the necessary consequence of the belief of a God, and therefore it is a doctrine founded in the very nature of man; so that the heathen who have had no other light than that affords, have expressed their belief of it, and have compared the divine Being to a pilot, who sits at the helm and steers the ship; or to one that guides the chariot where he pleases; or to a general, that marshals and gives directions to the soldiers under his command: or to a king, that sits on the throne, and gives laws to all his subjects. Accordingly, the apostle Paul, when arguing with the Athenians, from principles which they maintained, takes it for granted, as what would not be contested by them, that there was a providence, when he says, In him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts xvii. 28. And, indeed, this truth appears to have been universally believed, in the world, by men of all religions, whether true, or false. As it is the foundation of all true worship; so, that worship, which was performed by the heathen as derived partly from the light of nature, and partly from tradition; and those prayers, that were directed to God, and altars erected for his service, all argue their belief, not only of God, but of a providence; so that this doctrine is agreeable to the light of nature, as well as plainly evinced from scripture.

III. The providence of God extends itself to all the actions of creatures. That this may appear, let it be considered; that there are innumerable effects produced by, what we call, second causes; this is allowed by all. Moreover, every second cause implies, that there is a first cause, that guides and directs it. Now no creature is the first cause of any action, for that is peculiar 48to God, therefore all creatures act under his influence, that is, by his providence. If it is in God, not only that we live, but move, and act, then there is no motion, or action in the world, whether in things with, or without life, but is under the influence of providence. Therefore we shall proceed to consider the providence of God, as conversant about all things, the least as well as the greatest, and about things that are agreeable, or contrary to the laws of nature, and particularly how it is conversant about the actions of intelligent creatures, such as angels and men.

1. The greatest things are not above, nor the least and most inconsiderable below the care and influence of providence, and consequently it must extend itself to all things. The most excellent of finite beings are but creatures, and therefore they are dependent upon God, as much as the least: thus it is said, He doth according to his will, in the army of heaven, as well as among the inhabitants of the earth, Dan. iv. 35. Sometimes we read of the providence of God, as conversant about the most glorious parts of the frame of nature: it is by his influence that the sun appears to perform its regular motions; he hath fixed it in the heavens, as in a tabernacle appointed for it. And those creatures that are most formidable to men, as the leviathan, which is represented as the fiercest of all creatures, who abide in the sea, and the lion of all the beasts of the forest; these are described as subject to his providence, and receiving their provisions from it, Job xli. Psal. civ. 21. and the inconsiderable sparrow doth not fall to the ground without it, Matt. x. 29, 30. and the very hairs of our head are all numbered; which is a proverbial expression, to denote the particular concern of providence, as conversant about the most minute actions of life.

2. The providence of God is conversant about those things which come to pass, either agreeably, or contrary, to the fixed laws of nature, the whole frame whereof is held together by him: the successive returns of seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, day and night, are all ordered by him, Gen. viii. 22. the elements and meteors are subject to his appointment; Fire and hail, snow and vapour, and stormy wind, fulfil his word, Psal. cxlviii. 8. He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven, to make the weight for the winds, and he weigheth the waters by measure; when he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, Job xxviii. 24-26.

And as for effects, that are above, or contrary to the course of nature, these are subject to, and ordered by, his providence. It was contrary to the course of nature for the ravens, which are birds of prey, to bring provisions to mankind, yet these were ordered to bring a supply of food to the prophet, Elijah, 491 Kings xvii. 4. And the lions, who knew no difference between Daniel and his persecutors, and were naturally inclined to devour one, as well as the other, were obliged to make a distinction between them, and not to hurt the one, but immediately to devour the other, Dan. vi. 22, 24. And a whale was provided, by providence, to receive and bring the prophet Jonah to land, when cast into the sea, chap. i. 17. So the fire had no power over Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, when thrown into it, but immediately consumed those who were ordered to cast them in, Dan. iii. 22, 27.

3. We shall consider providence, as conversant about intelligent creatures, and more particularly man, the most excellent creature in this lower world. He is, as it were, the peculiar care, and darling of providence; as it has rendered him capable of enjoying the blessings of both worlds, fitted him to glorify God actively, as well as objectively, and governs him in a way suited to his nature, and as one who is designed for greater things, than other creatures below him are capable of. Here we shall consider the providence of God, as ordering the state and condition of men in this world, and then speak, more particularly of it, as conversant about the moral actions of men, considered as good or bad.

First, To consider the providence of God, as it respects the state and condition of man in this life; and, in particular, what respects not only his natural, but religious interests.

(1.) There is a peculiar care of providence extended towards us, in our birth and infancy. The Psalmist acknowledges this, when he says. Thou art he that took me out of the womb; thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts; I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou art my God from my mother’s belly, Psal. xxii. 9, 10. Providence has provided the breast, and the most proper food contained therein, for the nourishment of the infant, at its first coming into the world; and it has put those tender bowels into the parents, to whose immediate care they are committed, that, without any arguments, or persuasive motives thereunto, besides what nature suggests, they cannot, unless divested of all humanity, and becoming worse than brutes, neglect and expose it to harm. Thus the prophet says, Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Isa. xlix. 15. Therefore, be the parents never so poor, there is something in nature that inclines them rather to suffer themselves, than that the helpless infant should be exposed to suffer through their neglect; which is a peculiar instance of the care of providence. To this we may add, the time, and place in which we were born, or live; the circumstances of our parents, as to what concerns the world, especially if they are such 50who are religious themselves, and earnestly desire that their children may become so, and endeavour to promote their spiritual, as well as their temporal welfare. These are all instances of the care of providence.

(2.) We shall now consider the concern of providence for man in his childhood, and advancing years. This discovers itself in furnishing us with natural capacities to receive instruction, which are daily improved, as we grow in years; and, though every one has not an equal degree of parts, fitting him for some station in life, that others are qualified for, yet most are endowed with that degree thereof, as may fit them for the station of life, in which they are placed, so that they may glorify God some way or other, in their generation.

(3.) We shall consider the care of providence, respecting various other ages and conditions of life. It is this that fixes the bounds of our habitation, determines and over-rules the advantages or disadvantages of conversation; the secular callings, or employments, which we are engaged in, together with the issue and success thereof. Again, health and sickness, riches and poverty, the favour or frowns of men; the term of life, whether long or short, all these are under the direction of providence: One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow. And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure, Job xxi. 23-25. Likewise, as to what respects the injurious treatment we meet with from men; providence is so far concerned about it, as that it sometimes permits it for the trial of our graces; and at other times averts the evil designed against us, by softening their tempers, allaying their resentments; as in the instance of what respected Laban’s and Esau’s behaviour towards Jacob; or else finds some way to deliver us from the evil intended against us.

(4.) We shall now consider the providence of God, as respecting, more especially, the spiritual concerns of his people. There are some kind foot-steps thereof, that have a more immediate subserviency to their conversion; particularly, their being placed under the means of grace, either bringing the gospel to them, or ordering their abode where it is preached, and that in such a way, as is most adapted to awaken, instruct, convert, or reprove, as means conducive to that great end. Moreover, it is very remarkable in casting our lot, where we may contract friendship and intimacy with those, whose conversation and example may be made of use to us, for our conviction, imitation, and conversion.

And to this let me add, that sometimes there is a peculiar hand of providence, in sending afflictions, which are sanctified, and rendered means of grace, and have a tendency to awaken 51men out of their carnal security. This is one way whereby God speaks to man, to withdraw him from his purpose, and hide pride from him, Job xxxiii. 14, 17, 19. Sometimes God makes his exemplary judgments, that are abroad in the world, effectual to warn others to flee from the wrath to come. And as for the preaching of the gospel, there is a peculiar hand of providence, sometimes in giving a suitable word, in which case God often over-rules the thoughts and studies of his ministers; so that they are, as it were, directed without their own forethought relating to this event, to insist on such a subject, that God designs to make instrumental for the conversion of souls. This he sets home on the consciences of men, keeps it fixed on the imagination of the thoughts of their hearts, and enables them to improve it to his glory in the conduct of their lives.

Secondly, We shall proceed to consider the providence of God, as conversant about the actions of men. If other creatures are dependent on him, in acting, as well as existing, then certainly man must not be exempted from this dependence. There are several scriptures which speak of intelligent creatures, as under the influence of providence. Thus it is said, The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will, Prov, xxi. 1. and elsewhere the prophet says, O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, Jer. x. 23. that is, he cannot manage himself in the conduct of life, either as an intelligent creature, or as a believer, without supposing the natural or spiritual influence of divine providence.

Now these actions are considered as moral, and so agreeable or contrary to the divine law, in which different respects they are, either good or bad.

(1.) We shall consider the providence of God, as conversant about the good actions of men; and it is so, not only by upholding the powers and faculties of the soul, in acting, or in giving a law, which is the rule thereof; nor is it only conversant about them, in an objective way, or by moral suasion, as affording rational arguments or inducements thereunto, but as implanting and exciting that principle, by which we act; especially, as it respects the work of grace in the souls of men, which is what we call the gracious dispensation of providence, exercised towards men, not barely as intelligent creatures, but as believers. But this we shall not insist on at present, because we shall be led to speak to it under some following answers, which more particularly set forth the grace of God as displayed in the gospel. We are now to consider the actions of men in a more general view; which, when we style them good, it is only as containing in them a less degree of conformity to the 52divine law; but refer the consideration of the goodness of actions, as under the influence of special grace, to its proper place. All that we shall observe at present is, that every thing that is good, in the actions of intelligent creatures, is under the direction and influence of providence. This does not carry the least appearance of a reflection on the divine perfections, while we suppose God to be the Governor of intelligent creatures, acting as such; and therefore, I presume, it will not be much contested, by any who allow a providence in general. But,

(2.) We shall proceed to consider the providence of God, as conversant about evil actions. This is a subject which contains in it a very great difficulty; for we must use the utmost caution, lest we advance any thing that may argue him to be the author of sin; and yet we are not to suppose that the providence of God is to be wholly excluded from those actions that are sinful; for there is certainly some meaning in such scriptures as these, when God says, concerning Pharaoh, I will harden his heart, Exod. iv. 21. and, Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him; for the Lord thy God hardened his heart, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, Deut. ii. 30. and elsewhere it is said, concerning Shimei, The Lord said unto him curse David, 2 Sam. xvi. 10. and, concerning Joseph’s brethren, who sold him into Egypt, it is said, It was not you that sent me hither, but God, Gen. xlv. 8. and concerning the false prophets that deceived Ahab, it is said, The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, 1 Kings xxii. 22. These, and such-like scriptures, are not to be expunged out of the Bible, but explained in a way consistent with the divine perfections; and nothing can be inferred from them, if this be not, that the providence of God is some way conversant about those actions that are sinful; but yet it is not in such a way, as either argues him to be the author or approver of sin.[38] Accordingly I would choose to express myself, concerning this matter, to this effect: That the providence of God is conversant about those actions, to which sin is annexed, rather than that it is conversant about sin itself, or the obliquity, or sinfulness thereof. Now, that we may understand this matter, we must distinguish between what is natural, and what is sinful in an action; the former is from God; the latter, from ourselves. This is often illustrated by such similitudes as these. The motion of a bowl is from the hand that throws it; but the irregularity of the motion is from the bias that turns it aside. So the motion of a horse is excited by the whip, or spur of the rider; but if it goes lame, the defect, or halting that it has in its motion, proceeds from an inward indisposition in the horse, and not from the rider. Others illustrate it by a similitude, taken from the sun’s 53drawing forth vapours from the earth, by that heat, which has a tendency to exhale them; but the stench that attends what is exhaled from a dunghill, is not from the sun, but from the nature of the subject from whence it is drawn forth. So the providence of God enables sinners to act in a natural way; but the sinfulness, irregularity, or moral defects, that attend those actions, is from the corruption of our own nature: or, to speak more plainly, the man that blasphemes, could not think, or utter his blasphemy, without the concurrence of the common providence of God, which enables him to think or speak. These are natural actions; but that the thoughts, or tongue, should be set against God, or goodness, that is from the depravity of our nature.

Again, to kill, or take away the life of a man, is, in some respects, a natural action, as it cannot be done without thought, or strength to execute what we design. These are the gifts of providence, and, in this respect God concurs to the action. Thus Joab could not have killed Abner, or Amasa, if he had not had a natural power to use the instrument, with which he did it. This was from God; but the malice, that prompted him to abuse these gifts of providence, and his hypocritical subtilty, and that dissimulation, or disguise of friendship, which gave him an opportunity to execute his bloody design, was from the wickedness of his own heart.

Thus having considered, that the providence of God may be conversant about that which is natural in a sinful action, without reflecting dishonour on him, as the author of sin; we shall now proceed to consider, in what manner it is conversant about such actions, by which we may better understand the sense of those scriptures, which were but now referred to; and, I hope, nothing therein will be accounted derogatory to the divine glory, when we observe,

1. That the providence of God may be conversant, in an objective way, about those actions to which sin is annexed, without his being the author, or approver of it. Sin would not be committed, in many instances, if there were not some objects presented, which give occasion thereunto. The object that presents itself may be from God, when the sin, which is occasioned thereby, is from the corruption of our nature. Thus Joseph’s brethren would not have thought of killing, or selling him into Egypt, at least, when they did, if he had not obeyed his father’s command, in going to deliver his message, and see how it fared with them. Providence ordered his going to enquire of their welfare, and hereby the object was presented to them, which their own corrupt nature inclined them to abuse; so that, as soon as they saw him, they entered into a conspiracy against him. In the former of these respects, in which the providence 54of God was thus objectively conversant about this action, God is said to have sent Joseph into Egypt; though every circumstance, that was vile and sinful therein, was from themselves.

Again, in the instance before mentioned, of Shimei’s cursing David: Providence was conversant about this action, so far, as it ordered that David should come by at that time when Shimei was there, otherwise he would not have cursed him; and when it is said, in the scripture but now mentioned, The Lord said unto Shimei, Curse David; the meaning is this; the Lord hath brought me into so low a condition, that the vilest persons, who, before this time, were afraid to open their mouths against me, now take occasion to give vent to their malicious reproaches, as Shimei did; the providence of God was conversant about this action, in an objective way. Now, what it is so conversant about, that, according to the scripture-mode of speaking, God is said to do; as when the man-slayer killed one, through inadvertency, who was presented as an object to him, God is said hereby to deliver him into his hand, Exod. xxi. 13. yet in all sinful actions, God’s presenting the object, does not render him the author of that sin, which is to be ascribed to the corruption of nature, that took occasion to exert itself by the sight of it. This will farther appear, if we consider,

(1.) That such an object might have been presented, and the sinful action not have ensued hereupon: thus the wedge of gold, and the Babylonish garment, were no temptation to other Israelites, who saw them among the spoils of Jericho, as well as Achan, though they were so to him, through the covetousness of his own temper, and the corruption of his nature, that discovered itself, and internally moved him to this sinful action.

(2.) Such objects are not presented by providence, as designing hereby to ensnare, or draw persons to sin, though God knows that they will take occasion to sin thereby; but there are other ends of their being presented, which may be illustrated by a particular instance. God knows, that if the gospel be preached, some will take occasion to reproach it: He orders, notwithstanding, that it shall be preached; not that men might take occasion to do this, but that those, whom he has ordained to eternal life might be converted by it. So our Saviour appeared publickly at the feast of the passover, though he knew that the Jews would put him to death; the end of his going to Jerusalem was not that he might draw forth their corruption, but that he might finish the work, which he came into the world about: He was at that time engaged in his Father’s work, but they performed that which they were prompted to do, by satan and their own wicked hearts.

2. When the providence of God is said to be conversant 55about sin, it is in suffering or permitting it, not in suggesting, or tempting to it; for no one ought to say, as the apostle James expresses it, When he is tempted, that he is tempted of God; for God cannot tempt any man; but, when he is tempted, he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed, chap. i. 13, 14. But, so far as the providence of God denies restraining grace, from whence corrupt nature takes occasion to break forth, it is conversant about sin occasionally, not effectually; as when the banks, or flood-gates, that keep the waters within their due bounds, are broken down, by the owner thereof, who does not think fit to repair them, the waters will, according to the course of nature, overflow the country; or if the hedge, or inclosure, that secures the standing corn, be taken away, the beasts, by a propensity of nature, will tread it down, and devour it; so if that which would have a tendency to restrain, or prevent sin, be taken away, it will be committed; and the providence of God may do this, either in a way of sovereignty, or as a punishment for former sins committed, without being charged as the author of sin. It is not the same, in this case, as when men do not prevent sin in others, when it is in their power to do it, since they are under an obligation hereunto: But God is under no obligation to extend this privilege unto sinful men; and sometimes he suffers that wrath, which he will not restrain, to break forth as having a design, some way or other, to glorify himself thereby; as the Psalmist says, Surely, the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain, Psal. lxxvi. 10.

3. The providence of God may be said to be concerned about sin, in over-ruling it for his own glory, and his people’s good: In the former instances, it discovers itself, before the sin was committed; but, in this, it is consequent thereunto. This is a wonderful instance of his wisdom, in that, since the sinner obstinately resolves to rebel against him, this shall not tend to lessen, but to illustrate some of his perfections: Thus he over-ruled the wicked action of Joseph’s brethren, in their selling him into Egypt, to preserve their lives, in the time of famine; accordingly he says, God has sent me before you to preserve life, Gen. xlv. 5. And the vilest action that ever was committed in the world, namely, the crucifying the Lord of glory, was over-ruled, for the saving his people from their sins; and sometimes we read of God’s punishing the obstinacy and rebellion of men, by giving courage and success to their enemies against them: Thus Nebuchadnezzar’s success in arms against the Jews, was ordered by the providence of God, to punish their idolatry; first, by carrying the greatest part of them captive, and then, when pursuing those who contrary to God’s order, fled into Egypt, by destroying or carrying them captive likewise; and, 56in doing this, he is called God’s servant, Jer. xliii. 10. not as though he had any religious regard to the honour and command of God herein; but his design was only to enlarge his dominions, by depriving others of their natural rights; yet God over-ruled this, for the setting forth the glory of his vindictive justice, against a sinful people. And Cyrus, on the other hand, was raised up to be Israel’s deliverer from captivity. His success in war, which God designed should be subservient thereunto, is styled, His girding him, Isa. xlv. 1, 5. and God promises, that he would loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates: And all this was done with a design that he should give liberty to his people; though Cyrus had no more religion, nor real regard to the interest of God in the world, than other kings, who design little else but the satisfying their own ambition; for it is expressly said, Thou hast not known me. God did not approve of that corruption, which might give the first occasion to the war, or that injustice that might appear in it: but, notwithstanding, he over-ruled it, to answer the ends of his own glory.

In considering the over-ruling providence of God, in order to the bringing about the ends designed, let it be farther observed; that there are some things which seem to have a more direct tendency thereunto, agreeably to the nature of those second causes, which he makes use of, whereby he gives us occasion to expect the event that will ensue: and, on the other hand, he sometimes brings about some great and valuable ends by those means, which at first view, have no apparent tendency thereunto; but they are over-ruled without, or contrary to the design of second causes, wherein the admirable wisdom of providence discovers itself. Thus those things, which, in all appearance, seem to threaten our ruin, are ordered to subserve our future happiness, though, at present, altogether unexpected. When there was such a dark gloom cast on the world, by the first entrance of sin into it, who would have thought that this should be over-ruled by providence, to give occasion to the display of those divine perfections, which are glorified in the work of our redemption? I do not, indeed, like the expression of an ancient writer, who calls it, Happy sin! that gave occasion to man’s salvation; but I would rather say, How admirable was the providence of God, which over-ruled the vilest action to answer so great an end, and brought so much good out of that, which, in itself, was so great an evil!

We might here give some particular instances of the dispensations of providence, by which God brings good out of evil, in considering those lengths which he hath suffered some men to run in sin, whom he designed, notwithstanding, effectually to call and save; of which the apostle Paul was a very remarkable 57instance, who considers this as an expedient, whereby God designed to shew forth all long-suffering as a pattern to them, that should hereafter believe on Christ to life eternal; and that men might take encouragement, from hence, to conclude, that Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners, 1 Tim. i. 15, 16. And the injurious treatment which God’s people have met with from their enemies, has sometimes been over-ruled for their good. Thus Ishmael’s mocking, or, as the apostle calls it, persecuting Isaac; and, as is more than probable, not only reproaching him, but the religion which he professed, was over-ruled, by providence, for Isaac’s good, when Ishmael was separated from him, which set him out of danger of being led aside by his bad example, as well as delivered him from that uneasiness, which his opposition to him would have occasioned: and it was most agreeable to his future circumstances, whom God designed not only to be the heir of the family, but the propagator of religion in it.

Again, Pharaoh’s cruelty, and the methods used to prevent the increasing of the children of Israel in Egypt, was over-ruled by the providence of God, so that they seemed, after this, to be the more immediate care thereof; and it is more particularly remarked in scripture, as an instance of the kind hand of providence towards them, that the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied, and grew, Exod. i. 12.

Again, the inhuman and barbarous cruelty of Simeon and Levi, in slaying the Shechemites, Gen. xxxiv. 25. brought on them a curse; and accordingly their father pronounced it, and tells them, that God would divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel, Gen. xlix. 7. which, in particular, had its accomplishment in Levi’s having no distinct inheritance, except those cities that were appointed to them, out of every tribe; but this dividing and scattering them throughout the whole country, was over-ruled by the providence of God, for the good of his people in general; so that this tribe, which God had ordained, to teach Jacob his judgments, and Israel his law, Deut. xxxiii. 10. might, through the nearness of their habitation, be conveniently situated among them to answer that end.

We might farther observe, that Saul’s unreasonable jealousy and fury, with which he persecuted David, was over-ruled, by providence, for his good; as, in his exile, he had a greater degree of communion with God, than at other times, and, as is more than probable, was inspired to pen the greater number of his Psalms, and was, as it were, trained up for the crown in this school of affliction, and so, more fitted to govern Israel, when God designed to put it on his head.

To this let me add one instance more, and that is, God’s suffering the persecuting rage of the Jews to vent itself against 58the apostles, when the gospel was first preached by them, which was over-ruled by providence for their scattering, and this for the farther spread thereof, wherever they came; and the apostle Paul observes, that his bonds in Christ were not only manifest in all the palace; and in all other places, but they were made conducive to the furtherance of the gospel, Phil. i. 12, 13. And as for that contention that was between him and Barnabas, at another time, in which each of them shewed that they were but men, subject to like passions and infirmities with others, this seems to have been occasioned by a small and inconsiderable circumstance, yet it rose to such a height, that they departed one from the other, Acts xv. 36-40. Each seemed to be over-much tenacious of his own humour; but providence suffered the corruption of these excellent men to discover itself, and their separation to ensue, that by this means, their ministry might be rendered more extensive, and double service be done to the interest of Christ in different parts of the world.

We might descend to instances of later date, and consider how God suffered the church of Rome to arrive to the greatest pitch of ignorance, superstition, and idolatry; and wholly to forsake the faith of the gospel, so as to establish the doctrine of merit, and human satisfactions; and its leaders to be so profanely absurd, as to expose pardons and indulgencies to public sale; this, providence was over-ruled, for the bringing about the glorious Reformation in Germany. And if it be added, that pride, lust, and covetousness, paved the way for it here in England; this is no blemish to the Reformation, as the Papists pretend, but a display of the over-ruling providence of God, that brought it about by this means.

I might enlarge on this subject, in considering the providence of God as bringing about wonderful and unexpected changes in the civil affairs of kingdoms and nations, remarkably bringing down some who made the greatest figure in the world, and putting a glory on others raised up out of their ruins; and how all political affairs have been rendered subservient to answer the ends of the divine glory, with respect to the church in the world, and the deliverances which God has wrought in various ages for it, when it was, in all appearance, upon the brink of ruin, of which we have not only many instances in scripture, but almost every age of the world has given us undeniable proofs of this matter. We might also consider the methods which God has often taken in bringing about his people’s deliverance, when, to the eye of reason, it seemed almost impossible, and that, either by dispiriting their enemies, or removing them out of the way, as the Psalmist expresses himself, The stout-hearted are spoiled; they have slept their 59sleep, and none of the men of might have found their hands, Psal. lxxvi. 5. or else by finding them some other work to do for their own safety and defence. Thus when Saul was pursuing David, in the wilderness of Maon, and had compassed him, and his men round about to take them, there came a messenger to him, saying, Haste thee and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land, 1 Sam. xxiii. 26, 27. And sometimes he softens their spirits, by a secret and immediate touch of providence working a change in their natural temper and disposition. Thus he provided for Jacob’s escape from that death that was designed by his brother Esau. And if God intends that they shall fall by the hand of their persecutors, he gives them courage and resolution, together with the exercise of all those graces, which are necessary to support them under, and carry them through the difficulties that they are to undergo. But these things are so largely insisted on, by those who have written professedly on the doctrine of providence,[39] that more need not be added on this subject. I shall therefore only consider an objection, or two, that is generally brought against it, by those who pretend to acknowlege that there is a God, but deny his providence.

Object. 1. It is objected against the concern of the providence of God, with respect to the smallest things in this world, that they are unworthy of his notice, below his care, and therefore not the objects thereof.

Answ. If it was not unbecoming his power, to bring the smallest things into being, or to preserve them from sinking into nothing, then they cannot be excluded from being the objects of his providence. If we consider the whole frame of nature; it cannot be denied, but that some things have a tendency to answer the general design of providence, in a more evident degree than others, and there are many things, the use whereof cannot be particularly assigned by us, otherwise than as they contain a small part of the frame of nature. But to say, that any part thereof is altogether useless, or excluded from being the object of providence, is a reflection on God, as the God of nature. And therefore we must conclude, that all things are some way or other, subject to his providence; and that this is so far from being a dishonour to him, that it redounds to his glory.

Object. 2. It is farther objected, by those who are disposed to cavil at, and find fault with the divine dispensations; that they are not just and equal, because we oftentimes see the righteous afflicted, and the wicked prosper in the world; which is to reproach, if not wholly to deny the doctrine of providence. This is not only done by wicked men, but believers themselves 60have sometimes been under a temptation, through the prevalency of corrupt nature, to bring their objections against the equity of providence. Thus the Psalmist says; But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men, Psal. lxxiii. 2-5. These are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches: But as for himself, he says, Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency; for all the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning, ver. 12-14. and the prophet Jeremiah, when pleading with God concerning his judgments, though he owns, in general, that he was righteous, yet says he, Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root; they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit; thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins, Jer. xii. 1, 2. He could hardly reconcile the general idea which he had of God’s justice, with the seeming inequality of the dispensations of his providence; so the prophet Habakkuk, though he owns that God was of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that he cannot look upon iniquity, yet he seems to complain in the following words, Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue, when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? Hab. i. 13. And Job seems to speak very unbecomingly, when he says, Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress? that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands? and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Job. x. 3. So that, as the wicked boldly deny a providence, or, at least, reproach it; others, of a far better character, have, through the prevalency of their unbelief, seemed to detract from the glory thereof.

Answ. To this it may be replied, in general, in the apostle’s words, Nay but, O man, who art thou, that repliest against God? Rom. ix. 20. Is there no deference to be paid to his sovereignty, who has a right to do what he will with his own? Is his justice to be impeached, and tryed at our bar? Or his wisdom to be measured by our short-sighted discerning of things, who cannot see the end from the beginning of his dispensations? It is true, good men have been sometimes tempted to question the equity of the distributions of providence, as in the instances but now mentioned; unless we suppose, that the prophets Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Job, rather speak the sense of the world, than their own sentiments of things, and desire that God would clear up some dark providences, that wicked men might not 61bring their objections against them; but it may be doubted, whether this be the sense of those scriptures or no. And as for the Psalmist, in the other scripture, it is plain, that he expresses the weakness of his own faith, which was sometimes almost overset; but, at other times, God condescends to resolve his doubts, and bring him into a better frame, as appears by some following verses. But, that we may give a more particular reply to this objection, let it be considered,

1. That the unequal distribution of things is so far from being a disparagement to any government, that it eminently sets forth the beauty, wisdom, and excellency thereof, and is, in some respects necessary. As it is not fit that every subject should be advanced to the same honour, or that the favour of a prince should be dispensed alike to all; so it sets forth the beauty of providence, as God is the Governor of the world, that some should more eminently appear to be the objects of his favour than others.

2. The wicked, whose condition is supposed, by those who bring this objection, to be more happy than that of the righteous, will not appear, if things were duly weighed, to be so happy, as they are pretended to be, if we consider the evils that they are exposed to at present, some of which are the immediate result and consequence of sin, whereby they are, as it were, tortured and distracted with contrary lusts and passions, which militate against the dictates of human nature, and render the pleasures of sin less desirable in themselves: But, when we consider those tormenting reflections, which they sometimes have, after the commission thereof, these are altogether inconsistent with peace or happiness, much more if we consider the end thereof, as it leads to everlasting destruction: thus it is said, Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways, Prov. xiv. 13, 14. Therefore, the good man would not change conditions with him, how destitute soever he may be of those riches, honours, or sensual pleasures, which the other reckons his portion; A little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many wicked, Psal. xxxvii. 26.

3. As for the good man, who is supposed to be in an afflicted condition in this life, we are not, from thence, to conclude him, in all respects, unhappy, for we are to judge of his state by the end thereof. He that looks upon Lazarus, as full of sores, and destitute of many of the conveniences of life, may reckon him unhappy at present, when compared with the condition of the rich man, who is represented in the parable, as clothed with purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day: but if we consider him, when leaving the world, as carried by angels, into Abraham’s bosom, and the other plunged 62into an abyss of misery; no one will see reason to charge the providence of God with any neglect of him, or conclude him to be really miserable, because of his condition in this present life. Moreover, if we consider the righteous in his most disadvantageous circumstances, as to what respects his outward condition; we must, notwithstanding, regard him, as an object of divine love, and made partaker of those graces, and inward comforts, which are more than a balance for all his outward troubles; and therefore we may say of him, as the apostle does of himself, though he be unknown, that is obscure, and, as it were, disowned by the world, yet he is well known, that is, approved and beloved of God; does he live an afflicted and dying life? yet he has a better life, that is maintained by him: Is he chastened? yet he is not killed: Is he sorrowful? yet he always rejoiceth: Is he poor? yet he maketh many rich; has he nothing, as to outward things? yet he possesseth all things, as he is an heir of eternal life, 2 Cor. vi. 9, 10.

Quest. XIX.

Quest. XIX. What is God’s providence towards the angels?

Answ. God, by his providence, permitted some of the angels, wilfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins to his own glory, and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all at his pleasure, in the administration of his power, mercy, and justice.

It was observed, in a foregoing answer, that God created all the angels holy; but, in this, some of them are described as fallen, while the rest retained their first integrity. And the providence of God is considered, as conversant about this matter, in different respects. Accordingly it is said,

I. That God, by his providence, permitted some of the angels to fall. This appears, by the event, because there are some wicked and impure spirits, sunk down into the depths of misery, from that state in which they were created, as the consequence of their rebellion against God.

And inasmuch as it is observed, that it was only a part of the angels that fell, we may infer from thence; that the dispensation of providence, towards the angels, was different from that which mankind was subject to, when first created, in that one of them was not constituted the head and representative of the rest, in whom they were all to stand or fall; but the happiness or misery of every one of them was to be the result of his own personal conduct. As their persisting in obedience to God was necessary to their establishment in holiness and happiness, so the least instance of rebellion against him, would 63bring inevitable ruin, upon them. Now that which is observed concerning a part of them, is, that they fell into sin and damnation: thus the apostle says, in 2 Pet. ii. 4. God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell.

Their sin, or fall, was wilful; they commenced an open war against their Creator. Herein that enmity to God, and goodness, took its first rise, which has, ever since, been expressed by them, in various instances. Their sin appears to have been wilful, inasmuch as it was committed against the greatest degree of light, for all the angels are described as excelling in knowledge; and that subtility, which is knowledge abused, and depraved with sin, that discovers itself in the fallen angels, argues, that their knowledge, before they fell, was very great, and therefore their rebellion was aggravated in proportion thereunto.

Moreover, they sinned without a tempter, especially those who first took up arms against God. Whether others, by their instigation, might not be induced to sin, we know not[40]: But this is certain, that this rebellion was begun without a tempter; for there were no fallen creatures to present a temptation, nor any corruption in their natures that internally drew them aside from God; and therefore their sin might well be styled wilful.

And it may be observed, that the consequence hereof was their irrecoverable ruin. This respects the event of their fall; or that God designed, for ever, to leave them in that sinful and miserable state into which they hereby brought themselves. He might, indeed, have recovered them, as well as sinful man, had he pleased; but he has provided no mediator, no surety, to give satisfaction for them. The blessed Jesus is expressly said, not to have taken their nature upon him, thereby to signify that their condition was irretrievable, and their misery to be eternal.

Now it is farther observed, that the providence of God was conversant about their sin and fall, in the same sense in which as it has been before observed, it is conversant about sin in general; which is consistent with his holiness, as well as other perfections, namely, in permitting, limiting, and ordering it, and all their other sins, to his own glory.

1. He permitted it. To permit, is not to prevent a sin; and to say that God did not prevent their fall, is to assert a truth which none ever denied, or thought necessary to be proved.

2. It is farther observed, that the providence of God sets bounds and limits to their sin; as it does to the waves of the sea, when he says, Hitherto shall ye go, and no farther. How destructive to mankind would the malice of fallen angels be, 64were it not restrained? What would not Satan attempt against us, had he an unlimited power? We have a remarkable instance of this in the case of Job. Satan first accused him as a time-serving hypocrite; a mercenary professor, one that did not fear God for nought, in chap. i, 9. and how desirous was he that providence would give him up to his will, and take away the hedge of its safe protection? But God would not do this; nevertheless, so far as Satan was suffered, he poured in a confluence of evils upon him, but could proceed no farther. First, he was suffered to plunder him of his substance, and take away his children, by a violent death; but was so restrained, that, upon himself, he was not to put forth his hand, in ver. 12. Afterwards, he was permitted to touch his person; and then we read of his smiting him with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown, in chap. ii. 7. But yet he was not suffered to take away his life. And, after this the devil’s malice still growing stronger against him, he endeavours to weaken his faith, to drive him into despair, and to rob him of that inward peace, which might have given some allay to his other troubles; but yet he is not suffered to destroy his graces, or hurry him into a total apostacy from God. What would not fallen angels attempt against mankind, were not their sin limited by the providence of God!

3. God’s providence ordered, or over-ruled, the fall of angels, and all other sins consequent hereupon, to his own glory. Their power, indeed, is great, though limited, as appears by the innumerable instances of those who have been not only tempted, but overthrown, and ruined by them. It may truly be said of them, that they have cast down many wounded; yea many strong men have been slain by them. Nevertheless, God over-rules this for his own glory; for from hence he takes occasion to try his people’s graces, to give them an humbling sense of the corruption of their nature, and of their inability, to stand in the hour of temptation, without his immediate assistance, and puts them upon imploring help from him, with great importunity; as the apostle Paul did, 2 Cor. xii. 7-9. when the messenger of Satan was suffered to buffet him, and God took occasion, at the same time, to display that grace, which was sufficient for him, and that strength, that was made perfect in weakness, and, in the end, to bruise Satan under his feet, and to make him more than a conqueror over him.

Having thus considered some of the angels, as sinning and falling, it might farther be enquired; whether these all fell at once? And here I cannot but take notice of a very absurd and groundless conjecture of some of the fathers, and others, who of late, have been too much inclined to give into it, namely, that though some of them sinned from the beginning, and 65these were the occasion of the sin of our first parents, as all allow; yet, after this, others, who were appointed to minister to men, were unfaithful in the discharge of their office, and became partners with them in sin; accordingly they understand that scripture, in which it is said, The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose, Gen. vi. 2. as though it were meant of angels;[41] whereas nothing is intended thereby but some of the posterity of Seth, who were, before this, professors of the true religion.

There are, indeed, some, of late, who have given into this notion, and strain the sense of that text, in Jude, ver. 6, 7. in which it is said, that the angels, which kept not their first estate, &c. even as Sodom and Gomorrah, giving themselves over to fornication, are set forth, for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; the meaning of which they suppose to be this; that, even as the Sodomites were guilty of fornication, and were destroyed, by fire from heaven, for it, so some of the angels were sent down to hell for the same sin: But it is plain the apostle does not here compare the angels and the Sodomites together, as guilty of the same kind of sin, but as both are condemned to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, and are set forth as warnings to presumptuous sinners. Therefore nothing more need be added under this head; it is enough to say, that this opinion is contrary to the spirituality of the nature of angels; though there are some ancient writers, who, to give countenance 66thereunto, have supposed that the angelic spirits were either united to some bodies, or that they assumed them for this purpose; but this is equally absurd, and without any countenance from scripture. Thus concerning the providence of God, as exercised towards the angels that fell. We proceed,

II. To consider providence, as conversant about the rest of the angels, who retained their integrity. Concerning these it is said,

1. That God established them in holiness and happiness. These two privileges are always connected together. It is not said, that they were brought into such a state, or, like man, recovered out of a fallen state, for they are considered, as sinless, or holy angels; nor is it supposed their holiness was increased, since that would be inconsistent with its having been perfect before: That privilege therefore, which providence conferred on them, was the confirming, or establishing them in that state, in which they were created; which bears some resemblance to that privilege, which man would have enjoyed, had he retained his integrity, as he would not only have continued to be holy and happy, so long as he remained innocent; but he would have been so confirmed in it, that his fall would have been prevented: But of this, more in its proper place. The angels, I say, had something like this, which we call the grace of confirmation.

Some have enquired whether this was the result of their yielding perfect obedience for a time, while remaining in a state of probation, pursuant to some covenant, not much unlike that which God made with innocent man; and whether this privilege was the consequence of their fulfilling the condition thereof. But this is to enter too far into things out of our reach; nor is it much for our edification to determine it, though some have asserted, without proving it, while others have supposed them to have been confirmed, when first created, and that herein there was an instance of discriminating grace among the angels; so that they, who fell, were left to the mutability of their wills, whereas they, who stood, had, at the same time, the grace of confirmation.

I might here have been more particular, in considering what this privilege imports, and how it renders the fall of those who are confirmed impossible, and therefore it is a very considerable addition to their happiness: But since we shall have occasion to speak of the grace of confirmation, which man was given to expect in the first covenant under a following answer, and the privileges that would have attended it, had he stood, we shall add no more on that subject in this place; but proceed to prove, that the angels are established and confirmed in holiness and happiness.

This may, in some measure, be argued, from their being 67called elect angels, 1. Tim. v. 21. If election, when applied to men, imports the purpose of God, to confer everlasting blessedness on those who are the objects thereof, and so not only implies that they shall be saved, but that their salvation shall be eternal; why may it not, when applied to angels, infer the eternity of their holiness and happiness, and consequently their being established therein?

Again, this may be also argued, from their coming with Christ, when he shall appear to judge the world; and the joining the saints and angels together in one assembly in heaven: therefore, if the happiness of the one be eternal, that of the other must be so likewise. It is also said, expressly of the angels, that they always behold the face of God. And, when we read of the destruction of the church’s enemies, the angels are represented as observers of God’s righteous judgments; and then it is added, that the punishment inflicted on those, who shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, shall be eternal, and this eternal punishment will be in the presence of the holy angels, Rev. xiv. 10, 11. If therefore the duration of the holiness and happiness of the angels, be equal to that of the misery of God’s implacable enemies, as both are said to be eternal, this evidently proves that the angels are established in holiness and happiness.

2. It is farther observed, that God employs all the angels, at his pleasure, in the administration of his power, mercy, and justice. This leads us to speak concerning the ministry of angels, which is either extraordinary, or ordinary. Most of the instances which we have thereof, especially in the Old Testament, were performed in an extraordinary manner, and sometimes attended with their appearance in a human form, assumed for that purpose: This may be briefly considered; and then we shall enquire, whether, though their ministry be not visible, or attended with those circumstances, as it formerly was, there are not some other instances, in which the providence of God now employs them for the good of his church. As to the former of these, we read that God has sometimes sent them to supply his servants with necessary food, when destitute thereof, and there was no ordinary way for their procuring it: Thus an angel brought a cake, and a cruse of water, to Elijah, when he was on his journey to Horeb, the mount of God, 1. Kings xix. 5-8. And when Abraham’s servant was travelling to Mesopotamia, to bring a wife from thence for Isaac, Abraham tells him, that God would send his angel before him, Gen. xxi. 7. and so make his journey prosperous.

Again, the angels have sometimes been sent to defend God’s people, and to assure them of safety, when exposed to danger: Thus, when Jacob was returning from Laban to his own country, and was apprehensive of the danger that he was exposed 68to, from the resentment of his brother Esau, it is said, that the angels of God met him; and, when he saw them, he said, This is God’s host, Gen. xxxii. 1, 2. And when the prophet Elijah was encompassed about by the Syrian army, sent on purpose to take him, he was defended by an host of angels appearing under the emblem of horses and chariots of fire round about him, 2 Kings vi. 15-17. Others, when persecuted, and, as it were, delivered over to death, have been preserved, by the ministry of angels, as Daniel was, when cast into the lion’s den, Dan. vi. 22. Others have been released from their chains, and the prison doors opened by them; as Peter, and the rest of the apostles were, Acts xii. 17. compared with chap. v. 19.

Again, sometimes they have been employed to deliver messages, and give the prophets an extraordinary intimation of future events; as the angel Gabriel did to Daniel, Dan. viii. 16. And an angel was sent to Zacharias, to foretel the birth of his son, John the Baptist, Luke i. 13.

Moreover, the angels of God have sometimes been employed to give a check to his enemies, when they have attempted any thing against his church: Thus the angel met Balaam in the way, when he was riding to seek inchantments against Israel, his way being perverse before God, Numb. xxii. 32. And another angel was sent, as a minister of God’s justice, in bringing the pestilence on Israel, for David’s numbering the people, who appeared with his hand stretched out upon Jerusalem to destroy it, 2 Sam. xxiv. 16. and afterwards withdrew his hand, when God told him, It is enough, and that it repented him of the evil. And to this we may add, that the angels shall be employed, at last, in gathering together the elect, from the four winds, that they may appear before Christ’s tribunal. These, and many other instances to the like purpose, are mentioned, in scripture, to set forth the extraordinary ministry of angels.

There are also other instances, in which, though miracles are ceased, the angels are employed to perform some works in the hand of providence for God’s people: Thus there are some promises, which seem to be applied to the church in all ages, of blessings, which should be conferred by their ministry; as when it is said, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways; they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone, Psal. xci. 11, 12. which scripture, though it may have a particular reference to their ministry to our Saviour, yet it seems to be applicable also to his people; and that promise, The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them, Psal. xxxiv. 7. is applicable to them in all ages, as well as that in which it is said, concerning the ministry of angels to infants, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven, Matt. xviii. 10.

69Moreover, the ministry of angels to dying saints, who are, according to what our Saviour says in the parable, carried, by them, into Abraham’s bosom, Luke xvi. 22. is universally true of all saints. And it is expressly said, with a peculiar application to the gospel-dispensation, that the angels are all ministring spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, Heb. i. 14. so that though their ministry, as to many circumstances thereof, differ from what it was of old, there being nothing miraculous now attending it, as formerly there was; yet it remains an undoubted truth, that they are, and have been, in all ages, made use of, by the providence of God, in the administration of his power, mercy, and justice.

I shall conclude this head with a few cautions relating to this matter, as this doctrine is not to be laid down without certain restrictions, or limitations; therefore,

1. We must take heed, notwithstanding what has been said concerning the ministry of angels, that we don’t take occasion hereby to set aside the immediate influence, or concern of the providence of God, for his church; for whatever may be ascribed to angels, as second causes, our principal regard must be to him, whose ministers they are; neither are we to entertain the least thought, as though God had committed the government of the world, or the church, to them; which the apostle expressly denies, when he says, Unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, Heb. ii. 5. therefore,

2. The praise and glory of all their ministry is not to be ascribed to them, but to him, who makes use of them; nor are we to pretend, at all times, to determine, that this or that particular dispensation of providence is by the immediate hand of God, and another by the ministry of angels; since it is enough for us to say, that, though God does not need their assistance, yet he sometimes sets forth the sovereignty of his providence, and evinces his right to employ all his creatures at his pleasure, as well as gives an additional instance of his care of his churches, by employing them in extraordinary services for their good; though we cannot, at all times, distinguish between what is done by the immediate hand of God, and other things performed by their ministry.

3. Whatever we assert, concerning the ministry of angels, we must take heed that we do not regard them as objects of divine worship, or exercise that dependence on, or give that glory to them, which is due to God alone. Nor are we to suppose, that God employs them in those works that are the effects of his supernatural or almighty power, in which he deals with the hearts of his people, in a way more immediately conducive to their conversion and salvation.

70

Quest XX.

Quest. XX. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate wherein he was created?

Answ. The providence of God toward man, in the estate wherein he was created, was, the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth, putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help, affording him communion with himself, instituting the Sabbath, entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; of which, the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

In this answer, we have an account of the providence of God, as respecting the outward, and the spiritual, concerns of man.

I. As to what respects his outward estate, we have an account,

1. Of God’s fixing the place of his abode, which was to be in paradise, a very large and most delightful garden, of God’s own planting, an epitome of all the beauties of nature, which, as it were, presented to his view the whole world in miniature; so that herein he might, without travelling many miles, behold the most beautiful land-skip which the world afforded, and partake of all the fruits, with which it was stored. The whole world, indeed, was given him for a possession; but this was, as it were, a store-house of its choicest fruits, and the peculiar seat of his residence.

We find the word paradise used, in scripture, sometimes to signify a delightful garden, and sometimes it is taken, in a metaphorical sense, to signify heaven, Luke xxiii. 43. 2 Cor. xii. 4. Rev. ii. 7. by which application thereof, we may conclude, that this earthly paradise, in which man was placed, was a kind of type of the heavenly blessedness, which, had he retained his integrity, he would have been possessed of, and which they, who are saved by Christ, shall be brought to.

Here we may take notice of the conjectures of some ancient and modern writers concerning it, more especially as to what respects that part of the world wherein it was situate; and whether it is now in being, or to be found in any part of it, at this day. Many have given great scope to their conception about the situation of paradise, and some conjectures are so absurd, that they hardly deserve to be mentioned. As,

(1.) Some have thought that it was situate in some place, superior to, and remote from this globe of the earth, in which we live; but they have not the least shadow of reason for this supposition, and nothing can be more contrary to the account we have thereof in scripture.

71(2.) Others fancy, that there was really no such place, but that the whole account we have thereof, in Gen. ii. is allegorical; thus Origen, Philo, and some modern writers: but no one can justly suppose this, who duly weighs the historical account we have of it, in scripture, with that sobriety and impartiality that he ought; for, according to this method of reasoning, we may turn any thing into an allegory, and so never come to any determinate sense of scripture, but what the wild fancies of men suggest.

(3.) Others have supposed, that the whole world was one great garden, or paradise, and that when man was placed therein, it was so described, to signify the beauties of nature, before they were lost, by the curse consequent on sin: But this cannot be true, because God first made man, and then planted this garden, and afterwards put him into it; Gen. ii. 8. and after the fall, he drove him out of it, chap. iii. 24. But, passing by these groundless conjectures, something may be determined, with more certainty, concerning the situation thereof, and more agreeable to scripture; therefore,

(4.) It was situate in Mesopotamia, near Babylon, to the north-east end of the land of Canaan. This appears,

1st, From the country adjacent to it, which is called Eden, out of which the river that watered it is said to proceed, chap. ii. 10. This country was afterwards known by the same name, and is elsewhere reckoned among those that the king of Assyria had conquered, Isa. xxxvii. 12.

2dly, Two of the rivers, that proceeded from Eden, which watered paradise, were well known in after-ages, viz. Hiddekel, or Tigris, and Euphrates, especially the latter, of which we often read in scripture; and it is certain they were in Mesopotamia; therefore the garden of Eden was there. And, as it was the finest plantation in the world, this was one of the most pleasant climates therein, not situate too far northward, so as to be frozen up in winter; nor too near the equator south-ward, so as to be scorched with excessive heat in summer; this was the place of man’s residence at first.[42]

But if any are so curious in their enquiries, as to desire to know the particular spot of ground in which it was; that is not to be determined. For though the place where paradise was, must still be in being, as much as any other part of the world; yet there are no remains of it, that can give any satisfaction to the curiosity of men, with relation thereunto; for it is certain, that it was soon destroyed as a garden, partly by the flaming sword, or stream of fire, which was designed to guard the way of the tree of life, that man might no more come to it; and 72thereby to signify, that it ceased to be an ordinance, for his faith concerning the way in which eternal life was to be obtained. And it is more than probable, that this stream of fire, which is called a flaming sword, destroyed, or burnt up, this garden; and, besides this, the curse of God, by which the earth brought forth briars and thorns, affected this, as well as other parts of the world; so that, by reason thereof, and for want of culture, it soon lost its beauty, and so could not well be distinguished from the barren wilderness. And to this let me add, that since the flood, the face of the earth is so altered, that it is a vain thing for travellers to search for any traces thereof, or to pretend to determine, within a few miles, the place where it was.

Having considered the place of man’s abode, to wit, paradise, we have,

2. An account of his secular employment therein. He was appointed to dress, or manure it; from whence we may take occasion to observe, that a secular employment is not inconsistent with perfect holiness, or a person’s enjoying communion with God, and that blessedness which arises from it: but, on the other hand, it may be reckoned an advantage, inasmuch as it is a preservative against idleness, and those temptations that oftentimes attend it. Notwithstanding, though man was employed in this work, it was performed without that labour, fatigue, and uneasiness, which now attends it, or those disappointments, and perplexities, which men are now exposed to, whose secular callings are a relief against poverty, and a necessary means for their comfortable subsistence in the world, which had not man fell, would not have been attended with those inconveniences that now they are, as the consequence of that curse, which sin brought with it; as it is said, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, Gen. iii. 19.

3. We have a farther account of the provision that providence made for man’s subsistence; the great variety of fruits, which the earth produced, were given him for food, the tree of knowledge of good and evil only excepted. From whence we may observe, the difference between the condition of man in paradise, and that of the saints in heaven, in which the bodies of men shall be supported, without food, when changed and adapted to such a way of living, as is inconsistent with this present state; which seems to be the meaning of that expression of the apostle, Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them, 1 Cor. vi. 13.

Here we may take occasion to enquire, whether the fruits of the earth were the only food which man lived on, not only before the fall, but in several following ages? or, whether flesh was eaten before the flood? It seems most agreeable to the dictates of nature, to suppose, that he would never have found 73out such an expedient, as killing the beasts, and eating their flesh to subsist him, had he not received an express direction to do it from God, which rendered it a duty. And we have a particular intimation of this grant given to Noah, after the deluge, when God says, Every moving thing that liveth, namely, every clean beast, shall be meat for you, Gen. ix. 3. from whence some conclude, that there was no flesh eaten before this; and that the distinction, which we read of, concerning clean and unclean beasts, which Noah brought with him into the ark, respected either such as were fit or unfit for sacrifice; or the clean beasts were such as God afterwards designed for food; and therefore there is a kind of prolepsis in their being called clean at that time.

The principal reason that induces some to suppose this, is, because we read, in the scripture but now mentioned, that when God directed Noah, and his posterity, to eat flesh, and considered this as a peculiar gift of providence, he said, Even as the green herb have I given you all things; that is, as when I created man at first, I gave him every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, that it should be to him for meat; but now have I given you all things, Gen. i. 29. that is, have made a considerable addition to your food by giving you a liberty to feed on flesh; where the manner of expression seems to intimate, that, in this respect, man’s food differed from what it was before. This conjecture, for that is the most that I can call it, seems, to me, to have equal, if not greater, probability in it, than the contrary, which is the commonly received opinion relating hereunto; and, if it be true, then we may observe, if we compare the food, by which man subsisted, with the length of his life, in the first ages of the world, that the most simple diet is the most wholesome; when men become slaves to their appetites, and pamper themselves with variety of meats, they do, as it were, dig their own graves, and render their lives shorter, than they would be, according to the common course of nature.

If it be objected to this, that man’s not feeding on flesh, was such a diminution of his happiness, that it seems inconsistent with a state of innocency. To this it may be answered, that for man to feed on what the earth produced, was no mortification or unhappiness, to him; especially if it were, by a peculiar blessing of providence, adapted to, as well as designed for his nourishment, as being his only food; in which case none of those consequences would ensue, which would now attend a person’s being wholly confined thereto. If this way of living was so far from destroying, or weakening the constitution of men, that it tended, by the peculiar blessing of God, not only 74to nourish, but to maintain health, and was medicinal, as well as nourishing, and so conducive to long life; and if the fruits of the earth, before that alteration, which they might probably sustain by the deluge, or, at least, before the curse of God was brought upon the earth by man’s sin, differed vastly from what they now are, both as to the pleasantness of their taste, and their virtue to nourish; if these things are supposed, it cannot be reckoned any degree of unhappiness, though man, at this time, might have no other food, but what the earth produced: But this I reckon among the number of those probable conjectures, concerning which it is not very material to determine, whether they are true or false.

4. God gave man dominion over all creatures in this world, or, as it is expressed, he put them under his feet, Psal. viii. 6. which not only argues a superiority of nature, but a propriety in, and liberty to use them, to the glory of God, and his own advantage. No creature was in itself a snare to him, or a necessary occasion of sin; for as the creature at first, to use the Apostles phrase, was not liable to the bondage of corruption, so it was not subject to vanity, Rom. viii. 20, 21. by an inclination that he had in his nature to abuse it. And as for those creatures which are now formidable to man, as the lion, the tyger, &c. these, as it is more than probable, had not that fierceness in their nature, before the fall of man, and the curse consequent thereupon, so that our first parents could make as much use of them, and had them as much under their command, as we have the tamest creatures. And it is not improbable, that they did not prey upon, and devour one another, as now they do, since providence provided the produce of the earth for their food, Gen. i. 30. and therefore, by a natural instinct, they sought it only from thence; so that the beasts devouring one another, as well as their being injurious to man, is a standing mark of the curse of God, which was consequent on sin.

We read of a time in which the church is given to expect, that the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent’s meat; they shall not hurt, nor destroy, in all God’s holy mountain, Isa. lxv. 25. which, if it shall be literally accomplished, is an intimation that it was so at first, as it contains a prediction of the restoring of this part of nature, in some respects, to its first estate. But, supposing it only to be a metaphorical description of the church’s happy state in future ages; the prophet’s using this metaphor, argues the possibility of the thing’s being literally true, and that it is a consequence of man’s fallen state that it is not so now, therefore it is probable, that it was otherwise at first. Such conjectures as these may be excused, if we don’t pretend 75them to be articles of faith, nor think it worth our while to contend with those who deny them.

5. It is farther observed, that God ordained marriage for man’s help, and that not only in what concerns the conveniences of this life, but as a means to promote his spiritual welfare, as such a nearness of relation lays the strongest obligations to it; and also that the world might be increased, without any sinful expedient conducive thereunto; and herein there was a standing precedent to be observed by mankind, in all succeeding ages, that hereby the unlawfulness of polygamy, and other violations of the seventh commandment, might evidently appear[43].

II. We proceed to consider the providence of God, as conversant about man’s spiritual concerns, and that in three respects, namely, in granting him communion with himself, in instituting the Sabbath, and entering into a covenant of life with him.

1. Man, in the estate in which he was created, was favoured with communion with God: This supposes a state of friendship, and is opposed to estrangement, separation, or alienation from him; and, as the result hereof,

(1.) God was pleased to manifest his glory to him, and that not only in an objective way, or barely by giving him a conviction, that he is a God of infinite perfection, which a person may have, who is destitute of communion with him: but he displayed his perfections in such a manner to him, so as to let him see his interest therein, and that, as long as he retained his integrity, they were engaged to make him happy.

(2.) This communion was attended with access to God, without fear, and a great delight in his presence; for man, being without guilt, was not afraid to draw nigh to God; and, being without spot, as made after his image, he had no shame, or confusion of face, when standing before him, as a holy, sin-hating God.

(3.) It consisted in his being made partaker of those divine influences, whereby he was excited to put forth acts of holy obedience to, and love and delight in him, which were a spring and fountain of spiritual joy.

Nevertheless, though this communion was perfect in its kind, as agreeable to the state in which he was at first, yet it was not so perfect, as to degree, as it would have been, had he continued in his integrity, till he was possessed of those blessings, which would have been the consequence thereof; for then the soul would have been more enlarged, and made receptive of greater degrees of communion, which he would have enjoyed in heaven. He was, indeed, at first, in a holy and happy state, yet he 76was not in heaven, and, though he enjoyed God, it was in ordinances, and not in an immediate way, and accordingly it was necessary for him constantly to address himself to him, for the maintenance of that spiritual life, which he had received, together with his being; and this was not inconsistent with a state of innocency, any more than the maintenance of our natural lives, by the use of proper food, is inconsistent with health, or argues an infirm, or sickly constitution, or any need of medicine to recover it; yet our lives would be more confirmed, and, if we may so express it, less precarious, if God had ordained that they should have been supported without these means.

This may serve to illustrate the difference that there is between the happiness that the saints enjoy, in God’s immediate presence in heaven, and that which is expected, as the result of our daily access to him, in ordinances, wherein we hope for some farther degree of communion with him; the former of these man would have attended to, had he stood; the latter contained in it, that state in which he was in innocency: but inasmuch as there can be no communion with God, but what has a proportionable degree of delight and pleasure attending it; this our first parents may be said to have experienced, which contributed to the happiness of that state in which they were, though this joy was not so complete, as that is which they are possessed of, who have not only an assurance of the impossibility of losing that communion, which they have with God at present, but are arrived to a state of perfect blessedness.

2. God sanctified and instituted the Sabbath for man’s more immediate access to him, and, that he might express his gratitude for the blessings he was made partaker of, and might have a recess from that secular employment, which, as was before observed, he was engaged in. This was therefore a great privilege; and, indeed, the Sabbath was a pledge, or shadow, of an everlasting Sabbath, which he would have enjoyed in heaven, had he not forfeited, and lost it, by his fall. But we shall have occasion to speak more particularly to this head under the fourth commandment;[44] and therefore all that we shall add, at present, is, that the Sabbath was instituted as a day of rest for man, even while he remained in a state of innocency. This appears from its being blessed and sanctified, upon the occasion of God’s resting from his work of creation; therefore it was, at that time, set apart to be observed by him.

Object. 1. It is objected, that it might then be sanctified with this view, that man should observe it after his fall, or, in particular, at that time when the observation of it was enjoined.

Answ. To this it may be replied, that there never was any ordinance instituted, but what was designed to be observed by 77man, immediately after the institution thereof. Now the sanctification of the Sabbath imports as much as its institution, or setting apart for a holy use; therefore we cannot but suppose, that God designed that it should be observed by man in innocency.

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that it is inconsistent with the happy state, in which man was created, for God to appoint a day of rest for him, to be then observed; for rest supposes labour, and therefore is more agreeable to that state into which he brought himself by sin, when, by the sweat of his brow, he was to eat bread.

Answ. Though it is true, man, in innocency, was not exposed to that uneasiness and fatigue that attended his employment after his fall, neither was the work he was engaged in a burthen to him, so as that he needed a day of rest to give him ease, in that respect; yet a cessation from a secular employment, attended with a more immediate access to God in his holy institutions, wherein he might hope for a greater degree of communion with him, was not inconsistent with that degree of holiness and happiness, in which he was created, which, as was before observed, was short of the heavenly blessedness; so that, though heaven is a state, in which the saints enjoy an everlasting Sabbath, it does not follow that man, how happy soever he was in paradise, was so far favoured therein, as that a day of rest was inconsistent with that state.

3. We shall proceed to enquire how the providence of God had a more immediate reference to the spiritual or eternal happiness of man, in that he entered into a covenant of life with him, under which head we are to consider the personal concerns of our first parents therein.[45]

78(1.) The dispensation they were under was that of a covenant. This is allowed by most, who acknowledge the imputation of Adam’s sin, and the universal corruption of nature, as consequent thereupon. And some call it, a covenant of innocency, inasmuch as it was made with man while he was in a state of innocency; others call it, a covenant of works, because perfect obedience was enjoined, as the condition of it, and so it is opposed to the covenant of grace, as there was no provision made therein for any display of grace, as there is in that covenant which we are now under; but, in this answer, it is called the covenant of life, as having respect to the blessings promised therein.

It may seem indifferent to some, whether it ought to be termed a covenant, or a law of innocency; and, indeed, we would not contend about the use of a word, if many did not design, by what they say, concerning its being a law, and not properly a covenant, to prepare the way for the denial of the imputation of Adam’s sin; or did not, at the same time, consider him as no other than the natural head of his posterity, which, if it were to be allowed, would effectually overthrow the doctrine of original sin, as contained in some following answers. Therefore we must endeavour to prove that man was not barely under a law, but a covenant of works; and, that we may proceed with more clearness, we shall premise some things, in general, concerning the difference between a law and a covenant.

79A law is the revealed will of a sovereign, in which a debt of obedience is demanded, and a punishment threatened, in proportion to the nature of the offence, in case of disobedience. And here we must consider, that as a subject is bound to obey a law; so he cannot justly be deprived of that which he has a natural right to, but in case of disobedience; therefore obedience to a law gives him a right to impunity, but nothing more than this; whereas a covenant gives a person a right, upon his fulfilling the conditions thereof, to all those privileges, which are stipulated, or promised therein. This may be illustrated, by considering it as applied to human forms of government, in which it is supposed that every subject is possessed of some things, which he has a natural or political right to, which he cannot justly be deprived of, unless he forfeit them by violating the law, which, as a subject, he was obliged to obey; therefore, though his obedience give him a right to impunity, or to the undisturbed possession of his life and estate, yet this does not entitle him to any privilege, which he had no natural right to. A king is not obliged to advance a subject to great honours, because he has not forfeited his life and estate by rebellion: but in case he had promised him, as an act of favour, that he would confer such honours upon him, upon condition of his yielding obedience in some particular instances, then he would have a right to them, not as yielding obedience to a law, but as fulfilling the conditions of a covenant.

This may be farther illustrated, by considering the case of Mephibosheth. He had a natural and legal right to his life and estate, which descended to him from his father Jonathan, because he behaved himself peaceably, and had not rebelled against David; but this did not entitle him to those special favours which David conferred upon him, such as eating bread at his table continually, 2 Sam. ix. 13. for those were the result of a covenant between David and Jonathan; in which David promised, that he would shew kindness to his house after him. Now, to apply this to our present case, if we consider our first parents only as under a law, their perfect obedience to it, it is true, would have given them a right to impunity, since punishment supposes a crime; therefore God could not, consistently with his perfections, have punished them, had they not rebelled against him. I do not say, that God could not, in consistency with his perfections, have taken away the blessings that he conferred upon them, as creatures, in a way of sovereignty, but this he could not do as a judge; so that man would have been entirely exempted from punishment, as long as he had stood. But this would not, in the least, have entitled him to any superadded happiness, unless there had been a promise made, which gave him ground to expect it, in case he yielded 80obedience; and if there were, then that dispensation, which before contained the form of a law, having this circumstance added to it, would afterwards contain the form of a covenant, and so give him a right to that super-added happiness promised therein, according to the tenor of that covenant. Therefore, if we can prove (which we shall endeavour to do, before we dismiss this subject) not only that man was obliged to yield perfect obedience, as being under a law; but that he was given to expect a super-added happiness, consisting either in the grace of confirmation in his present state, or in the heavenly blessedness; then it will follow, that he would have had a right to it, in case of yielding that obedience, according to the tenor of this dispensation, as containing in it the nature of a covenant.

This I apprehend to be the just difference between a law and a covenant, as applicable to this present argument, and consequently must conclude, that the dispensation man was under, contained both the ideas of a law and a covenant: his relation to God, as a creature, obliged him to yield perfect obedience to the divine will, as containing the form of a law; and this perfect obedience, had it been performed, would have given him a right to the heavenly blessedness, by virtue of that promise, which God was pleased to give to man in this dispensation, as it contained in it the nature of a covenant. And this will farther appear, when we consider,

(2.) The blessing promised in this covenant, namely, life. This, in scripture, is used sometimes to signify temporal, and, at other times, spiritual and eternal blessings: we have both these senses joined together in the apostle’s words, where we read of the life that now is, and that which is to come, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Moreover, sometimes life and blessing, or blessedness, are put together, and opposed to death, as containing in it all the ingredients of evil, Deut. xxx. 19. in which scripture, when Moses exhorts them to choose life, he doth not barely intend a natural life, or outward blessings, for these there is no one but chooses, whereas many are hardly persuaded to make choice of spiritual life.

In this head we are upon, we consider life, as including in it, both spiritual and eternal blessedness; so it is to be understood, when our Saviour says, Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; Matt. vii. 14. and elsewhere, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, chap. xix. 17. We must therefore conclude, that Adam having such a promise as this made to him, upon condition of perfect obedience, he was given to expect some privileges, which he was not then possessed of, which included in them the enjoyment of the heavenly blessedness; therefore this dispensation, that he was under, may well be called a covenant of life.

81But, since this is so necessary a subject to be insisted on, we shall offer some arguments to prove it. Some have thought that it might be proved from Hos. vi. 7. which they choose to render, They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant; from whence they conclude, that Adam was under a covenant; and so they suppose that the word Adam is taken for the proper name of our first parent, as it is probable it is elsewhere, viz. when Job says, If I covered my transgressions, as Adam, Job xxxi. 33. alluding to those trifling excuses which Adam made, to palliate his sin, immediately after his fall, Gen. iii. 12. And there are some expositors who conclude, that this is no improbable sense of this text:[46] yet I would not lay much stress on it; because the words may be rendered as they are in our translation, They, like men, &c. q. d. according to the custom of vain man, they have transgressed the covenant; or, they are no better than the rest of mankind, who are disposed to break covenant with God. In the same sense the apostle uses the words, when reproving the Corinthians, he says, Are ye not carnal, and walk as men, 1 Cor. iii. 3.

Therefore, passing this by, let us enquire, whether it may not, in some measure, be proved from that scripture, which is often brought for this purpose, In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, Gen. ii. 17. from whence it is argued, that, if man had retained his integrity, he would have been made partaker of the heavenly blessedness. Many, indeed, are so far from thinking this an argument to prove this matter, that they bring it as an objection against it, as though God had given man hereby to understand, that he was not, pursuant to the nature of a covenant, to expect any farther degree of happiness than what he was already possessed of; but, agreeably to the sanction of a law, death was to be inflicted, in case of disobedience; and life, that is, the state in which he was created, should be continued, as long as he retained his integrity. As when a legislator threatens his subjects with death, in case they are guilty of rebellion, nothing can be inferred from thence, but that, if they do not rebel, they shall be continued in the quiet possession of what they had a natural right to, as subjects, and not that they should be advanced to a higher degree of dignity. This sense of the text, indeed, enervates the force of the argument, taken from it, to prove, that man was under a covenant. But yet I would not wholly give it up, as containing in it nothing to support the argument we are defending. For this threatening was denounced, not only to signify God’s will to punish sin, or the certain event that should follow upon 82it, but as a motive to obedience; and therefore it includes in it a promise of life, in case he retained his integrity.

The question therefore is; what is meant by this life? or, whether it has any respect to the heavenly blessedness? In answer to which, I see no reason to conclude but that it has; since that is so often understood by the word life in scripture: thus it is said, Hear and your soul shall live, Isa. lv. 3. and, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, Matt. xix. 17, and in many other places; therefore why should not life, in this place, be taken in the same sense? So, on the other hand, when death is threatened, in several scriptures it implies a privation of the heavenly blessedness, and not barely a loss of those blessings, which we are actually possessed of.

Moreover, Adam could not but know God to be the Fountain of blessedness, otherwise he would have been very defective in knowledge; and, when he looked into himself, he would find that he was capable of a greater degree of blessedness, than he did at present enjoy, and (which was yet more) he had a desire thereof implanted in his very nature. Now what can be inferred from hence, but that he would conclude that God, who gave him these enlarged desires, after some farther degree of happiness arising from communion with him, would give him to expect it, in case he retained that holiness, which was implanted in his nature?

But, that it may farther appear that our first parents were given to expect a greater degree of happiness, and consequently that the dispensation, that they were under, was properly federal, let it be considered; that the advantages which Christ came into the world to procure for his people, which are promised to them, in the second covenant, are, for substance,[47] the same with those which man would have enjoyed, had he not fallen; for he came to seek and to save that which was lost, and to procure the recovery of forfeited blessings. But Christ came into the world to purchase eternal life for them; therefore this would have been enjoyed, if there had been no need of purchasing it, viz. if man had retained his integrity.

The apostle, speaking of the end of Christ’s coming into the world, observes, Gal. iii. 13, 14. not only, that it was to redeem us from the curse, or the condemning sentence of the law, but that his redeemed ones might be made partakers of the blessing of Abraham, which was a very comprehensive one, including in it, that God would be his God, his shield, and exceeding great reward, Gen. xvii. 7. compared with chap. xv. 831. and the same apostle elsewhere speaks of Christ’s having redeemed them that were under the law, that is, the curse of the violated law, or covenant, that we might receive the adoption of sons, Gal. iv. 4, 5. that is, that we might be made partakers of all the privileges of God’s children, which certainly include in them eternal life.

Again, there is another scripture that farther supports this argument, taken from Rom. viii. 3, 4. What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and, for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us; which is as though he should say, according to the tenor of the first covenant, eternal life was not to be expected, since it was become weak, or could not give it, because man could not yield perfect obedience, which was the condition thereof: But God’s sending his own Son to perform this obedience for us, was an expedient for our attaining that life, which we could not otherwise have enjoyed. This seems to be the general scope and design of the apostle in this text; and it is agreeable to the sense of many other scriptures, that speak of the advantages that believers attain by Christ’s death, as compared with the disadvantages which man sustained by Adam’s fall; therefore it follows, that, had Adam stood, he, and all his posterity, would have attained eternal life.

Thus we have endeavoured to prove, that God entered into covenant with Adam, inasmuch as he was given to expect, that, if he had yielded perfect obedience, he should have been possessed of the heavenly blessedness. But supposing this be not allowed of, and the arguments brought to prove it are reckoned inconclusive, it would be sufficient to our present purpose, and would argue the dispensation that Adam was under to be that of a covenant, if God had only promised him the grace of confirmation, and not to transplant him from the earthly to the heavenly paradise; for such a privilege as this, which would have rendered his fall impossible, would have contained so advantageous a circumstance attending the state in which he was, as would have plainly proved the dispensation he was under to be federal. Therefore, before we dismiss this head, we shall endeavour to make that appear, and consider,

1. That to be confirmed in a state of holiness and happiness, was necessary to render that state of blessedness, in which he was created compleat; for whatever advantages he was possessed of, it would have been a great allay to them to consider, that it was possible for him to lose them, or through any act of inadvertency, in complying with a temptation to fall, and ruin himself for ever. If the saints in heaven, who are advanced 84to a greater degree of blessedness, were not confirmed in it; if it was possible for them to lose, or fall from it, it would render their joy incomplete; much more would the happiness of Adam have been so, if he had been to have continued for ever; without this privilege.

2. If he had not had ground to expect the grace of confirmation in holiness and happiness, upon his yielding perfect obedience, then this perfect obedience, could not, in any respect, in propriety of speaking, be said to have been conditional, unless you suppose it a condition of the blessings which he was then possessed of; which seems not so agreeable to the idea contained in the word condition, which is considered as a motive to excite obedience, taken from some blessing, which would be consequent thereupon. But, if this be not allowed to have sufficient weight in it, let me add,

3. That it is agreeable to, and tends very much to advance the glory of the divine goodness, for God not to leave an innocent creature in a state of perpetual uncertainty, as to the continuance of his holiness and happiness; which he would have done, had he not promised him the grace of confirmation, whereby he would, by his immediate interposure, have prevented every thing that might have occasioned his fall.

4. This may be farther argued, from the method of God’s dealing with other sinless creatures, whom he designed to make completely blessed, and so monuments of his abundant goodness. Thus he dealt with the holy angels, and thus he will deal with his saints, in another world; the former are, the other shall be, when arrived there, confirmed in holiness and happiness; and why should we suppose, that the goodness of God should be less glorified towards man at first, had he retained his integrity? Moreover, this will farther appear, if we consider,

5. That the dispensation of providence, which Adam was under, seems to carry in it the nature of a state of probation. If he was a probationer, it must either be for the heavenly glory, or, at least, for a farther degree of happiness, containing in it this grace of confirmation, which is the least that can be supposed, if there were any promise given him; and, if all other dispensations of providence, towards man, contain so many great and precious promises in them, as it is certain they do; can we suppose that man, in his state of innocency, had no promise given him? And, if he had, then I cannot but conclude, that God entered into covenant with him, which was the thing to be proved.

Object. 1. The apostle, in some of the scriptures but now referred to, calls the dispensation, that Adam was under, a law; therefore we have no ground to call it a covenant.

85Answ. It is true, it is often called a law; but let it be considered, that it had two ideas included in it, which are not opposite to, or inconsistent with each other, namely, that of a law, and a covenant. As man was under a natural and indispensable obligation to yield perfect obedience, and was liable to eternal death, in case of disobedience, it had in it the form and sanction of a law; and this is not inconsistent with any thing that has been before suggested, in which we have endeavoured to maintain, that, besides this, there was something added to it that contained the nature of a covenant, which is all that we pretend to prove; and therefore the dispensation may justly take its denomination from one or the other idea, provided, when one is mentioned, the other be not excluded. If we call it a law, it was such a law, as had a promise of super-added blessedness annexed to it; or if we, on the other hand, call it a covenant, it had, notwithstanding, the obligation of a law, since it was made with a subject, who was bound, without regard to his arbitrary choice in this matter, to fulfil the demands thereof.

Object. 2. It is farther objected, against what has been said concerning man’s having a promise of the heavenly blessedness given him, upon condition of obedience, that this is a privilege peculiarly adapted to the gospel-dispensation; and that our Saviour was the first that made it known to the world, as the apostle says, that life and immortality is brought to light through the gospel, and made manifest, by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. i. 10. and therefore it was not made known by the law, and consequently there was no promise thereof made to Adam in innocency; and the apostle says elsewhere, that the way into the holiest of all, that is, into heaven, was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing, till Christ came, who obtained eternal redemption for us, Heb. ix. 8, 11, 12. From whence they argue, that we have no reason to conclude that Adam had any promise, or expectation, founded thereon, of the heavenly blessedness; and consequently the argument taken from thence to prove, that the dispensation he was under, was that of a covenant, is not conclusive.

Answ. It seems very strange, that any should infer, from the scriptures mentioned in the objection, that eternal life was altogether unknown in the world till Christ came into it, inasmuch as the meaning of those scriptures is plainly this: in the former of them, when the apostle speaks of life and immortality as brought to light by the gospel, nothing else can be intended, but that this is more fully revealed by the gospel, than it was before; or, that Christ revealed this as a purchased possession, in which respect it could not be revealed before. And, if this be opposed to the revelation given to Adam of life and 86immortality, in the first covenant; it may be notwithstanding, distinguished from it: for though the heavenly blessedness was contained therein: yet it was not considered, as including in it the idea of salvation, as it does to us when revealed in the gospel.

As to the latter of those scriptures, concerning the way into the holiest of all, that is, into heaven, not being made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing, the meaning thereof is, that the way of our redemption, by Jesus Christ, was not so clearly revealed, or with those circumstances of glory under the ceremonial law, as it is by the gospel; or, at least, whatever discoveries were made thereof, yet the promises had not their full accomplishment, till Christ came and erected the gospel-dispensation; this, therefore, doth not, in the least, militate against the argument we are maintaining. Thus concerning the blessing promised in this covenant, namely, life, by which it farther appears to be a federal dispensation.

(3.) We are now to consider the condition of man’s obtaining this blessing, which, as it is expressed in this answer, was personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.

1. He was obliged to perform obedience, which was agreeable to his character, as a subject, and thereby to own the sovereignty of his Creator, and Lawgiver, and the equity of his law, and his right to govern him, according to it, which obligation was natural, necessary, and indispensible.

2. This obedience was to be personal, that is, not performed by any other in his behalf, and imputed to him, as his obedience was to be imputed to all his posterity; and therefore, in that respect, it would not have been personal, as applied to them; but as the obedience of Christ is imputed to us in the second covenant.

3. It was to be perfect, without the least defect, and that both in heart and life. He was obliged to do every thing that God required, as well as abstain from every thing that he forbade him; therefore we are not to suppose, that it was only his eating the forbidden fruit that would ruin him, though that was the particular sin by which he fell; since his doing any other thing, that was in itself sinful, or his neglecting any thing that was required, would equally have occasioned his fall.

But since we are considering man’s obligation to yield obedience to the divine law, it follows from hence, that it was necessary that there should be an intimation given of the rule, or matter of his obedience, and consequently that the law of God should be made known to him; for it is absolutely necessary, not only that a law should be enacted, but promulgated, before the subject is bound to obey it. Now the law of God was made known to man two ways, agreeable to the twofold distinction thereof.

871st, The law of nature was written on his heart, in which the wisdom of God did as much discover itself, as in the subject matter of this law. In this respect, the whole law of nature might be said to be made known to him at once; the knowledge of which was communicated to him, with the powers and faculties of his soul, and was, as it were, instamped on his nature; so that he might as well plead, that he was not an intelligent creature, as that he was destitute of the knowledge of this law.

2dly, As there were, besides this, several other positive laws, that man was obliged to yield obedience to, though these could not, properly speaking, be said to be written on his heart; yet he had the knowledge hereof communicated to him. Whether this was done all at once, or at various times, it is not for us to determine; however, this we must conclude, that these positive laws could not be known in a way of reasoning, as the law of nature might. But, since we have sufficient ground to conclude, that God was pleased, in different ways and times, to communicate his mind and will to man, we are not to suppose that he was destitute of the knowledge of all those positive laws, that he was obliged to obey.

What the number of these laws was, we know not; but, as there have been, in all ages, various positive laws relating to instituted worship, doubtless, Adam had many such laws revealed to him though not mentioned in scripture. This I cannot but observe, because some persons use such modes of speaking about this matter, as though there were no other positive law, that man was obliged to obey but that of his not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or, together with it, that which related to the observation of the sabbath.[48]

4. The obedience, which man was to perform, was to be perpetual; by which we are not to understand, that it was to be performed to eternity, under the notion of a condition of the covenant, though it certainly was, as this covenant contained in it the obligation of a law. The reason of this is very obvious; for, when any thing is performed, as a condition of obtaining a subsequent blessing it is supposed that this blessing is not to be conferred till the condition is performed. But that is inconsistent with the eternal duration of this obedience, on the performance whereof the heavenly blessedness was to be conferred; and therefore, though divines often use the word perpetual, when treating on this subject, it must be understood with this limitation, that man was to obey, without any interruption or defect, so long as he remained in a state of probation; and this obedience had a peculiar reference to the dispensation, as it was federal: but, when this state of trial was over, 88and the blessing, promised on this condition, conferred, then, though the same obedience was to be performed to eternity, it would not be considered as the condition of a covenant, but as the obligation of a law. And this leads us to enquire,

Whether we may not, with some degree of probability, without being guilty of a sinful curiosity, determine any thing relating to the time of man’s continuance in a state of trial, before the blessing promised, at least, that part of it, which consisted in the grace of confirmation, would have been conferred upon him. Though I would not enter into any subject that is over-curious, or pretend to determine that which is altogether uncertain, yet, I think this is not to be reckoned so, especially if we be not too peremptory, or exceed the bounds of modesty, in what respects this matter. All that I shall say, concerning it, is, that it seems very probable that our first parents would have continued no longer in this state of probation, but would have attained the grace of confirmation, which is a considerable circumstance in the blessing promised in this covenant, as soon as they had children arrived to an age capable of obeying, or sinning, themselves, which, how long that would have been, it is a vain thing to pretend to determine.

The reason why divines suppose, that Adam’s state of probation would have continued no longer, is, because these children must then either be supposed to have been confirmed in that state of holiness and happiness, in which they were or not. If they had been confirmed therein, then they would have attained the blessings of this covenant, before Adam had fulfilled the condition thereof. If they had not been confirmed, then it was possible for them to have fallen, and yet for him to have stood; and so his performing the condition of the covenant, would not have procured the blessing thereof for them, which is contrary to the tenor thereof. When our first parents would have been removed from paradise to heaven, and so have attained the perfection of the blessings contained in this covenant, it would be a vain, presumptuous, and unprofitable thing to enquire into.

(4.) The last thing observed, in this answer, is what some call the seals annexed to this covenant, as an ordinance designed to confirm their faith therein; and these were the two trees mentioned in Gen. ii. of which the tree of life was more properly called a seal, than the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

1. Concerning the tree of life, several things may be observed,

1st, It was a single tree, not a species of trees, bearing one sort of fruit, as some suppose: This is evident, because it is expressly said, that it was planted in the midst of the garden, Gen. ii. 9.

2dly, The fruit thereof is said, in the same scripture, to be 89pleasant to the sight, and good for food, as well as that of other trees, which were ordained for the same purpose. It is a vain thing to enquire what sort of fruit it was; and it is better to confess our ignorance hereof, than to pretend to be wise above what is written.

3dly, It is called the tree of life. Some suppose, that the principal, if not the only reason, of its being so called, was, because it was ordained to preserve man’s natural life, or prevent any decay of nature; or to restore it, if it were in the least impaired, to its former vigour. And accordingly they suppose, that, though man was made immortal, yet some things might have happened to him, which would have had a tendency to impair his health, in some degree, and weaken and destroy the temperament of his body, by which means death would gradually, according to the course of nature, be brought upon him: But, as a relief against this, he had a remedy always at hand; for the fruit of this tree, by a medicinal virtue, would effectually restore him to his former state of health, as much as meat, drink, and rest, have a natural virtue to repair the fatigues, and supply the necessities of nature, in those who have the most healthful constitution, which would, notwithstanding, be destroyed, without the use thereof. But, though there be somewhat of spirit and ingenuity in this supposition; yet why may we not suppose, that the use of any other food might have the same effect, which would be always ready at hand, whenever he had occasion for it, or wherever he resided?

Therefore I cannot but conclude, that the principal, if not the only reason, of the tree of life’s being so called, was because it was, by God’s appointment, a sacramental sign and ordinance for the faith of our first parents, that, if they retained their integrity, they might be assured of the blessed event thereof, to wit, eternal life, of which this was, as it is called in this answer, a pledge; and it contained in it the same idea, for substance, as other sacraments do, namely, as it was designed not to confer, but to signify the blessing promised, and as a farther means to encourage their expectation thereof: Thus our first parents were to eat of the fruit of this tree, agreeably to the nature of other sacramental signs, with this view, that hereby the thing signified might be brought to their remembrance, and they might take occasion, at the same time, to rely on God’s promise, relating to the blessing which they expected; and they might be as much assured, that they should attain eternal life, in case they persisted in their obedience, as they were, that God had given them this tree, and liberty to eat thereof, with the expectation of this blessing signified thereby.

Now, to make it appear, that it was designed as a sacramental sign of eternal life, which was promised in this covenant, 90we may consider those allusions to it in the New Testament, whereby the heavenly glory is set forth: thus it is said, To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, Rev. ii. 7. and elsewhere, Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, chap. xxii. 14. It seems very plain, that this respects, in those scriptures, the heavenly glory, which is called the New Jerusalem; or it has a particular application to that state of the church, When God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, chap. xxi. 4. and it is mentioned immediately after, Christ’s coming quickly, and his rewards being with him, chap. xxii. 12. and there are several other passages, which might be easily observed, which agree only with the heavenly state. Therefore, since this glory is thus described, why may we not suppose, that the heavenly state was signified by this tree to Adam, in paradise?

And, that this may farther appear, let it be considered, that nothing is more common, in scripture, than for the Holy Ghost to represent the thing signified by the sign: Thus sanctification, which was one thing signified by circumcision, is called, The circumcision made without hands, Coloss. ii. 11. and regeneration, which is signified by baptism, is called, our being born of water, John iii. 5. and Christ, whose death was signified by the passover, is called, Our Passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. Many other instances, of the like nature, might be produced; therefore, since the heavenly glory is represented by the tree of life, why may we not suppose, that the reason of its being so called, was, because it was ordained, at first, to be a sacramental sign or pledge of eternal life, which our first parents were given to expect, according to the tenor of that covenant, which they were under?

Object. 1. It is objected, by some, that sacramental signs, ceremonies, or types, were only adapted to that dispensation, which the church of the Jews were under, and therefore were not agreeable to that state in which man was at first.

Answ. The ceremonial law, it is true, was not known, nor did it take place, while man was in a state of innocency; nor was it God’s ordinary way to instruct him then by signs; yet it is not inconsistent with that state, for God to ordain one or two signs, as ordinances, for the faith of our first parents, the signification whereof was adapted to the state, in which they were, any more than our Saviour’s instituting two significant ordinances under the gospel, viz. baptism, and the Lord’s supper, as having relation to the blessings expected therein, is inconsistent with this present dispensation, in which we have nothing to do with the ceremonial law, any more than our first 91parents had. And all this argues nothing more, than that God may, if he pleases, in any state of the church, instruct them in those things, which their faith should be conversant about, in what way he pleases.

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that the tree of life was not designed to be a sacramental sign of the covenant, which our first parents were under, but rather, as was before observed, an expedient, to render them immortal in a natural way, inasmuch as when man was fallen, yet the tree of life had still the same virtue: Accordingly it is said, Lest he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth out of the garden of Eden; and he drove out the man: and placed cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life, Gen. iii. 22, 23, 24. And some extend this objection so far, as that they suppose man did not eat of the tree of life before he fell, which, had he done, he would by virtue of his eating of it, have lived for ever, notwithstanding his sin: or if, as soon as he had fallen, he had had that happy thought, and so had eaten of it, he might, even then, have prevented death; and therefore God drove him out of paradise, that he might not eat of it, that so the curse, consequent upon his fall, might take effect.

Answ. The absurdity of this objection, and the method of reasoning made use of to support it, will appear, if we consider, that there was something more lost by man’s fall, besides immortality, which no fruit, produced by any tree, could restore to him. And, besides, man was then liable to that curse, which was denounced, by which he was under an indispensable necessity of returning to the dust, from whence he was taken; and therefore the tree of life could not make this threatening of no effect, though man had eaten of it, after his fall: But, since the whole force of the objection depends on the sense they put on the text before-mentioned, agreeable thereunto, the only reply that we need give to it is, by considering what is the true and proper sense thereof.

When it is said, God drove out the man, lest he should eat of the tree of life, and live for ever; the meaning thereof is, as though he should say, Lest the poor deceived creature, who is now become blind, ignorant, and exposed to error, should eat of this tree, and think to live for ever, as he did before the fall, therefore he shall be driven out of paradise. This was, in some respect, an act of kindness to him, to prevent a mistake, which might have been of a pernicious tendency, in turning him aside from seeking salvation in the promised seed. Besides, when the thing signified, by this tree, was not to be obtained that way, in which it was before, it ceased to be a sacramental sign; and 92therefore, as he had no right to it, so it would have been no less than a profanation to make a religious use of it, in his fallen state.

2. The other tree, which we read of, whereof our first parents were forbidden to eat, upon pain of death, is called, The tree of knowledge, of good and evil. Though the fruit of this tree was, in itself, proper for food, as well as that of any other; yet God forbade man to eat of it, out of his mere sovereignty, and that he might hereby let him know, that he enjoyed nothing but by his grant, and that he must abstain from things apparently good, if he require it. It is a vain thing to pretend to determine what sort of fruit this tree produced: it is indeed, a commonly received opinion, that it was an apple tree, or some species thereof; but, though I will not determine this to be a vulgar error, yet I cannot but think it a groundless conjecture[49]; and therefore I would rather profess my ignorance as to this matter.

As to the reason of its being called the tree of knowledge, of good and evil; some have given great scope to their imaginations, in advancing groundless conjectures: thus the Jewish historian[50], and, after him, several rabbinical writers, have supposed, that it was thus described, as there was an internal virtue in the fruit thereof, to brighten the minds of men, and, in a natural way, make them wise. And Socinus, and some of his brethren, have so far improved upon this absurd supposition, that they have supposed, that our first parents, before they ate of this tree, had not much more knowledge than infants have, which they found on the literal sense they give of that scripture, which represents them as not knowing that they were naked[51]. But enough of these absurdities, which carry in them their own confutation. I cannot but think, it is called the tree 93of knowledge, of good and evil, to signify, that as man before knew, by experience, what it was to enjoy that good which God had conferred upon him, the consequence of his eating thereof would be his having an experimental knowledge of evil.

All that I shall add, concerning this prohibition, which God gave to our first parents, is, that, as to the matter of it, it was one of those laws, which are founded in God’s arbitrary will, and therefore the thing was rendered sinful, only by its being forbidden; nevertheless, man’s disobedience to it rendered him no less guilty, than if he had transgressed any of the laws of nature.

Moreover, it was a very small thing for him to have yielded obedience to this law, which was designed as a trial of his readiness, to perform universal obedience in all the instances thereof. It was not so difficult a duty, as that which God afterwards commanded Abraham to perform, when he bade him offer up his son; neither was he under a necessity of eating thereof, since he had such a liberal provision of all things for his sustenance and delight; and therefore his sin, in not complying herewith, was the more aggravated. Besides, he was expressly cautioned against it, and told, that in the day that he eat of it, he should die; whereby God, foreseeing that he would disobey this command, determined to leave him without excuse. This was that transgression by which he fell, and brought on the world all the miseries that have ensued thereon.

Quest XXI.

Quest. XXI. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?

Answ. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God, in eating the forbidden fruit, and thereby fell from the state of innocency, wherein they were created.

In this answer,

I. There is something supposed, namely, that our first parents were endued with a freedom of will. This is a property belonging to man, as a reasonable creature; so that we may as well separate understanding from the mind, as liberty from the will, especially when it is conversant about things within its own sphere, and, most of all, when we consider man in a state of perfection, as to all the powers and faculties of his soul, as he was before the fall. Now, that we may understand what this freedom of will was, let it be considered, that it consisted in a power, which man had, of choosing, or embracing, what 94appeared, agreeably to the dictates of his understanding, to be good, or refusing and avoiding what was evil, and that without any constraint or force, laid upon him, to act contrary to the dictates thereof; and it also supposes a power to act pursuant to what the will chooses, otherwise it could not secure the happiness that it desires, or avoid the evil that it detests, and then its liberty would be little more than a name, without the thing contained in it.

Moreover, since the thing that the will chooses, is supposed to be agreeable to the dictates of the understanding, it follows, that if there be an error in judgment, or a destructive, or unlawful object presents itself, under the notion of good, though it be really evil, the will is, notwithstanding, said to act freely, in choosing or embracing it, in which respect it is free to evil, as well as to good.

To apply this to our present purpose, we must suppose man, in his state of innocency, to have been without any defect in his understanding, and therefore that he could not, when making a right use of the powers and faculties of his soul, call evil good, or good evil. Nevertheless, through inadvertency, the mind might be imposed on, and that which was evil might be represented under the appearance of good, and accordingly the will determine itself to choose or embrace it; for this is not inconsistent with liberty, since it might have been avoided by the right improvement of his natural powers, and therefore he was not constrained or forced to sin.

Now it appears, that our first parents had this freedom of will, or power to retain their integrity, from their being under an indispensible obligation to yield perfect obedience, and liable to punishment for the least defect thereof. This therefore, supposes the thing not to be in itself impossible, or the punishment ensuing unavoidable. Therefore it follows, that they had a power to stand; or, which is all one, a liberty of will, to choose that which was conducive to their happiness.

This might also be argued from the difference that there is between a man’s innocent and fallen state. Nothing is more evident, than that man, as fallen, is, by a necessity of nature, inclined to sin; and accordingly he is styled, a servant of sin, John viii. 34. or a slave to it, entirely under its dominion: but it was otherwise with him before his fall, when, according to the constitution of his nature, he was equally inclined to what is good, and furnished with every thing that was necessary to his yielding that obedience, which was demanded of him.

II. It is farther observed, that our first parents were left to the freedom of their own will. This implies, that God did not design, especially, while they were in this state of probation, to afford them that immediate help, by the interposition of 95his providence, which would have effectually prevented their compliance with any temptation to sin; for that would have rendered their fall impossible, and would have been a granting them the blessing of confirmation, before the condition thereof was fulfilled. God could easily have prevented Satan’s entrance into paradise; as he does his coming again into heaven, to give disturbance to, or lay snares for any of the inhabitants thereof; or, though he suffered him to assault our first parents, he might, by the interposition of his grace, have prevented that inadvertency, by which they gave the first occasion to his victory over them. There was no need for God to implant a new principle of grace in their souls; for, by the right use of the liberty of their own wills, they might have defended themselves against the temptation; and had he given them a present intimation of their danger, or especially excited those habits of grace, which were implanted in their souls, at that time, when there was most need thereof, their sinful compliance with Satan’s temptation would have been prevented: but this God was not obliged to do; and accordingly he is said to leave them to the freedom of their own wills. And this does not render him the author of their sin, or bring them under a natural necessity of falling, inasmuch as he had before furnished them with sufficiency of strength to stand. Man was not like an infant, or a person enfeebled, by some bodily distemper, who has no ability to support himself, and therefore, if not upheld by another, must necessarily fall: but he was like a strong man, who, by taking heed to his steps, may prevent his falling, without the assistance of others. He had no propensity in nature to sin, whereby he stood in need of preventing grace; and God, in thus leaving him to himself, dealt with him in a way agreeable to the condition in which he was. He did not force, or incline him to sin, but left him to the mutability of his own will, according to the tenor of the dispensation which he was under.

III. It is farther observed, that there was an assault made on our first parents by Satan, not by violence, but by temptation; the consequence whereof was, that, by sinful compliance therewith, they fell from their state of innocency. It appears very evident, from scripture, that they were deceived, or beguiled, as Eve says, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat, Gen. iii. 13. And the apostle Paul speaks concerning it to the same effect; The woman being deceived, was in the transgression, 1 Tim. ii. 14. in which scripture, though it be said, in the foregoing words, that Adam was not deceived, probably nothing more than this is intended, that the man was not first deceived, or not immediately deceived, by the serpent, but by his wife; though, indeed, some give another turn to that expression, and suppose that Adam sinned knowingly, being content to plunge 96himself into the depths of misery, in complaisance to her, in her sorrows:[52] But we rather think, that the apostle does not speak of Adam’s not being deceived, but rather of his not being first deceived, or first in the transgression.

Now this deception or temptation, was from the devil, who, because of his subtilty, is called, That old serpent, Rev. xii. 9. chap. xx. 2. and he is said to make use of wiles, Eph. vi. 11. that is, various methods of deceit in suiting his temptations, so that men may be ensnared by them; which leads us to consider,

IV. The methods he took to deceive our first parents, as we have a particular account thereof, and of their compliance therewith, in Gen. iii. 1-6. in which we shall take occasion to observe who the tempter was; and the way and manner how he assaulted them.

There are two extremes of opinion, which some run into, which are equally to be avoided. On the one hand, some suppose that it was a beast, or natural serpent, that was the tempter, and that the devil had no hand in the temptation; whereas others suppose that there was no serpent made use of, but that the devil did all without it, and that he is styled a serpent, in that scripture, from his subtilty. This we call another extreme of opinion, and, indeed, the truth lies in a medium between them both; therefore we must suppose, that there was really a natural serpent, a beast so called, made use of, as an instrument, by the devil, by which he managed the temptation, and accordingly that he possessed and spake by it, which is the most common opinion, and agrees best with the account given of it in the above-mentioned scripture; and it is also consistent with what our Saviour says of him, when describing him as a murderer from the beginning, John viii. 44.

That it was not only, or principally, the natural serpent that tempted our first parents, will appear, if we consider,

(1.) That, though the serpent, indeed, is said to be more subtile than all the beasts of the field, yet it never was endowed with speech,[53] and therefore could not, unless actuated by a spirit, hold a discourse with Eve, as he is said to have done.

(2.) Brute creatures cannot reason, or argue, as the serpent did; for, whatever appearance of reason there may be in them, 97it would be a very hard matter to prove that they are capable of digesting their ideas into a chain of reasoning, or inferring consequences from premises, as the serpent did; much less are they capable of reasoning about divine subjects, who know nothing of God, or the nature of moral good or evil, as the serpent that tempted Eve must be supposed to have done. But though the serpent was not the principal agent herein, yet it was made use of by the devil; and therefore the whole history, which we have thereof in the place before-mentioned, is not an allegorical account of what Satan did, as some suppose, without any regard to the part that the serpent bore therein.

This appears from the curse denounced against the serpent, Because thou hast done this, saith God, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life, Gen. iii. 14. which is only applicable to the beast so called, and this we see evidently fulfilled at this day. Some, from hence, infer, not, I think, without reason, that the serpent, before this, went erect; whereas afterwards, as containing the visible mark of the curse, it is said to go on its belly. This part of the curse therefore respected the natural serpent only; whereas that contained in the following words, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel, ver. 15. respects the devil, that actuated, or spake by it; though I am not insensible that some Jewish writers, and others, who would exempt the devil from having any hand in the temptation, and throw all the blame on the brute creature, the natural serpent, give a very jejune and empty sense of this text, as though it were to be taken altogether, according to the letter thereof, as importing, that there should be a war between man and the serpent, that so he might be revenged on him, which should never cease till he had slain him, or had bruised his head. But it seems very plain, that as the former verse respects the instrument made use of, viz. the natural serpent, so this respects the devil, and contains a prediction, that his malice should be defeated, and his power destroyed, by our Saviour, who is here promised, and described as the seed of the woman. From all which we are bound to conclude, that the devil making use of the serpent, was the tempter, by whom our first parents were seduced, and led astray from God, to the ruin of themselves, and all their posterity.

There are several things that may be observed in the method Satan took in managing this temptation, by which he seduced and overcame our first parents, of which we have an account in the scripture before-mentioned.

1. He concealed his character as a fallen spirit, and pretended 98himself to be in circumstances not unlike to those in which our first parents were, at least in this, that he seemed to pay a deference to the great God, so far as to allow that he had a right to give laws to his creatures; and it is more than probable that this was done immediately after his fall, and that our first parents knew nothing of this instance of rebellion in heaven, and did not, in the least, suppose that there were any creatures who were enemies to God, or were using endeavours to render them so. Had the devil given Eve an historical narration of his sin and fall, and begun his temptation with open blasphemy, or reproach cast on God, whom he had rebelled, against, he could not but apprehend that our first parents would have treated him with the utmost abhorrence, and fled from him as an open enemy; but he conceals his enmity to God, while he pretends friendship to them, which was a great instance of subtilty; inasmuch as an enemy is never more formidable, that when he puts on a specious pretence of religion, or conceals his vile character as an enemy to God, and at the same time, pretends a great deal of friendship to those whom he designs to ruin.

2. As he tempted our first parents soon after his own fall, which shews his restless malice against God and goodness; so it was not long after their creation, in which he shewed his subtilty, not barely, as some suppose, because he was apprehensive, that the longer man stood, the more his habits of grace would be strengthened, and so it would be more difficult for the temptation to take effect. But that which seems to be the principal reason, was, either because he was apprehensive that man might soon have an intimation given him, that there were some fallen spirits, who were laying snares for his ruin, and therefore he would have been more guarded against him; or principally because he did not know but that man might soon be confirmed in this state of holiness and happiness; for how long God would continue him in a state of probation, was not revealed, and the devil knew very well that, upon his obtaining the grace of confirmation, after he had yielded obedience for a time, all his temptations would prove ineffectual; therefore he applied himself to his work with the greatest expedition.

3. He assaulted Eve when she was alone. This, indeed, is not expressly mentioned in scripture; but yet it seems very probable, inasmuch as he directed his discourse to, and held a conference with her, and not with Adam, which doubtless, he would have done, had he been present; and then it could hardly have been said, as the apostle does in the scripture before-mentioned, that the woman was first in the transgression, and that she was first deceived by the serpent; and, indeed, had he 99been with her, though she might have been first in eating the forbidden fruit; yet he would have sinned, as being a partaker with her therein, by suffering her to comply with the temptation, and not warning her of her danger, or endeavouring to detect the devil’s sophistry, and restrain her from compliance therewith. As the law deems every one to be principals in traiterous conspiracies against a prince, it they are only present, provided they do not use those proper means which they ought to prevent it; accordingly if Adam had been with Eve, he would have sinned with her, before he received the forbidden fruit from her hand; which we do not find him charged with; therefore she was alone, on which account the devil took her at the greatest disadvantage; for, as the wise man well observes, Two are better than one; for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, Eccles. iv. 9, 10.

4. The instrument Satan made use of, was, as was before observed, the serpent: Probably he was not suffered to take a human shape; or, if he had, that would not so well have answered his end, since it would have tended to amuse and surprise our first parents, and have put them upon enquiries who he was, and whence he came, for they knew that there were no human creatures formed but themselves. If he had made use of an inanimate creature, it would have been more surprising to hear it speak and reason about the providence of God; and if he had not assumed, any visible shape, he could not have managed the temptation with that success; for there was no corrupt nature in our first parents to work upon, as there is in us. Therefore some are ready to conclude, that no temptation can be offered to an innocent creature, in an internal way, by the devil; therefore it must be presented to the senses, and consequently it was necessary that he should assume some shape, and particularly that of some brute creature, that he might more effectually carry on his temptation. And it was expedient to answer his design, that he should not make use of any brute creature, that is naturally more stupid, and therefore less fit for his purpose; accordingly he made use of the serpent, concerning which it is observed, that it is more subtil than any beast of the field; and, as some suppose, it was, at first, a very beautiful creature, however odious it is to mankind at present, and that it had a bright shining skin curiously painted with variety of colours, which, when the sun shone upon it, cast a bright reflection of all the colours of the rainbow. But passing this by, as what is uncertain;

5. It is probable that the devil took that opportunity to discourse with Eve about the tree of knowledge, when she was standing by, or at least, not far from it, that so he might prevail 100with her to comply with the temptation in haste; whereas, if he had given her room for too much deliberation, it might have prevented his design from taking effect: If she had been at some distance from the tree, she would have had time to consider what she was going about; she did not want understanding to detect the fallacy, had she duly weighed matters, and therefore would hardly have complied with the temptation. Again, that she was, at least, within sight of the tree appears from hence, that the serpent takes occasion, from the beholding of it, to discourse about it, and commend it; and, while he was speaking about it to her, she saw that it was pleasant to the eye, and good for food.

6. As to what respects the matter of the temptation, we may observe, that the devil did not immediately tempt her to blaspheme God, to proclaim open war against him, or to break one of the commandments of the moral law; but to violate a positive law, which, though heinous in its own nature, as it was a practical disowning or denying the sovereignty of God, and had many other aggravations attending it; yet the breach of positive laws, founded on God’s arbitrary will, are generally reckoned less aggravated, or we are inclined to entertain the temptation thereunto with less abhorrence than when we are tempted to break one of the moral laws, which are founded on the nature of God. Had he tempted her to deny that there was a God, or that there was any worship due to him; or had it been to have murdered her husband, or to commit any other crime, which is in itself shocking to human nature, he would have had less ground to conclude that his temptation would have taken effect.

And here we may observe, that he proceeded, in a gradual way, from less to greater insinuations, brought against God.

(1.) He does not immediately and directly, in his first onset, bring a charge against God, or his providence, but pretends ignorance, and speaks as one that wanted information, when he says, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden, q. d. Here is a garden well stored with fruit, the trees whereof are designed for your food; are there any of which you are prohibited to eat? This question occasions her reply; The woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it; neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. Some think, that her sin began here, and that she misrepresents the divine prohibition, for she was not forbid to touch it; it is only said, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, Gen. ii. 17. But I cannot see that this was any other than a just inference from the prohibition itself, as every thing is to be avoided that may 101prove an occasion of sin, as well as the sin itself. Others suppose, that there is a degree of unbelief contained in that expression, Lest ye die[54]; which may be rendered, Lest peradventure ye die, as implying, that it was possible for God to dispense with his threatning, and so death would not certainly ensue; whereas God had expressly said, In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. But passing by this, as an uncertain conjecture, let us farther consider,

(2.) After this, Satan proceeds from questioning, as though he desired information, to a direct and explicit confronting the divine threatning, endeavouring to persuade her, that God would not be just to his word, when he says, Ye shall not surely die. He then proceeds yet farther, to cast an open reproach on the great God, when he says, God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. Here we may observe,

1st, That he prefaces this reproach in a most vile and wicked manner, with an appeal to God for a confirmation of what he was about falsely to suggest, God doth know, &c.

2dly, He puts her in mind, that there were some creatures above her, with an intent to excite in her pride and envy: and it is as though he had said; notwithstanding your dominion over the creatures in this lower world, there are other creatures above you; for so our translation renders the words, gods, meaning the angels. And Satan farther suggests, that these excel man, as in many other things, so particularly in knowledge, thereby tempting her to be discontented with her present condition; and, since knowledge is the highest of all natural excellencies, he tempts her hereby to desire a greater degree thereof, than God had allotted her, especially in her present state, and so to desire to be equal to the angels in knowledge; which might seem to her a plausible suggestion, since knowledge is a desirable perfection. He does not commend the knowledge of fallen angels, or persuade her to desire to be like those who are the greatest favourites of God. From whence it may be observed, that it is a sin to desire many things that are in themselves excellent, provided it be the will of God that we should not enjoy them.

But it may be observed, that a different sense may be given of the Hebrew word, which we translate gods: for it may as well be rendered, Ye shall be like God, that is, Ye shall have a greater degree of the image of God; particularly that part of it that consists in knowledge. But however plausible this suggestion might seem to be, she ought not to have desired this privilege, 102if God did not design to give it, especially before the condition of the covenant she was under was performed; much less ought she to have ventured to have sinned against God to obtain it.

3dly, Satan farther suggests, that her eating of the tree of knowledge would be a means to attain this greater degree of knowledge; therefore he says, In the day you eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, &c. We cannot suppose, that he thought her so stupid as to conclude that there was a natural virtue in the fruit of this tree, to produce this effect; for none can reasonably suppose that there is a natural connexion between eating and increasing in knowledge. Therefore we may suppose, that he pretends that the eating thereof was God’s ordinance for the attaining of knowledge; so that, as the tree of life was a sacramental ordinance, to signify man’s attaining eternal life, this tree was an ordinance for her attaining knowledge; and therefore that God’s design in prohibiting her from eating of it, was, that she should be kept in ignorance, in comparison with what she might attain to by eating of it: Vile and blasphemous insinuation! to suggest, not only that God envied her a privilege, which would have been so highly advantageous, but that the sinful violation of his law was an ordinance to obtain it.

It is farther supposed, by some, though not mentioned in scripture, that Satan, to make his temptation more effectual, took and ate of the tree himself, and pretended, as an argument to persuade her to do likewise, that it was by this means, that he, being a serpent, and as such on a level with other animals of the same species, had arrived to the faculty of talking and reasoning, so that now he had attained a kind of equality with man; therefore if she eat of the same fruit, she might easily suppose she should attain to be equal with angels. By these temptations, Eve was prevailed on, and so we read, that she took of the fruit thereof and did eat; it may be, the fruit was plucked off by the serpent, and held out to her, and she, with a trembling hand, received it from him, and thereby fell from her state of innocency.

Having considered the fall of Eve, who was the first in the transgression, we are now to speak of the fall of Adam: This is expressed more concisely in the fore-mentioned chapter, ver. 6. She gave also unto her husband, and he did eat. We are not to suppose that she gave him this fruit to eat, without his consent to take it; or that she did not preface this action with something not recorded in scripture: but it is most probable that she reported to him what had passed between her and the serpent, and prevailed on him by the same arguments which she was overcome by; so that Adam’s fall was, in some respect, owing to the devil, though Eve was the more immediate instrument thereof. And to this we may add, that, besides her 103alleging the arguments which the serpent had used to seduce her, it is more than probable she continued eating herself, and commending the pleasantness of the taste thereof, above all other fruits, as it might seem to her, when fallen, to be much more pleasant than really it was; for forbidden fruit is sweet to corrupt nature. And besides, we may suppose, that, through a bold presumption, and the blindness of her mind, and the hardness of her heart, which immediately ensued on her fall, she might insinuate to her husband, that what the serpent had suggested was really true; for as he had said, Ye shall not surely die, so now, though she had eaten thereof, she was yet alive; and therefore that he might eat thereof, without fearing any evil consequence that would attend it: by this means he was prevailed upon, and hereby the ruin of mankind was completed. Thus concerning their sin and fall.

V. We shall now consider what followed thereupon, as contained in that farther account we have of it, in Gen. iii. 7, &c. And here we may observe,

1. That they immediately betray and discover their fallen state, inasmuch as they, who before knew not what shame or fear meant, now experienced these consequences inseparable from sin: They knew that they were naked, and accordingly they were ashamed;[55] and had a sense of guilt in their consciences, and therefore were afraid. This appears, in that:

1042. God calls them to an account for what they had done, and they, through fear, hide themselves from his presence; which shews how soon ignorance followed after the fall. How unreasonable was it to think that they could hide themselves from God? since there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves, Job xxxiv. 22.

3. God expostulates with each of them, and they make excuses; the man lays the blame upon his wife, ver. 12. The woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat; which contains a charge against God himself, as throwing the blame on his providence, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me. And here was an instance of a breach of affection between him and his wife: as sin occasions breaches in families, and, an alienation of affection in the nearest relations, he complains of her, as the cause of his ruin, as though he had not been active in this matter himself.

The woman, on the other hand, lays the whole blame on the serpent, ver. 13. The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. There was, indeed, a deception or beguiling; for, as has been already observed, an innocent creature can hardly sin, but through inadvertency, as not apprehending the subtilty of the temptation, though a fallen creature sins presumptuously, and with deliberation; however, she should not have laid the whole blame on the serpent, for she had wisdom enough to have detected the fallacy, and rectitude of nature sufficient to have preserved her from compliance with the temptation, if she had improved those endowments which God gave her at first.

We shall now consider the aggravations of the sin of our first parents. It contained in it many other sins. Some have taken pains to shew how they broke all the Ten Commandments, in particular instances: But, passing that by, it is certain, that 105they broke most of them, and those both of the first and second table; and it may truly be said, that, by losing their innocency, and corrupting, defiling, and depraving their nature, and rendering themselves weak, and unable to perform obedience to any command, as they ought, they were virtually guilty of the breach of them all, as the apostle says, Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all, James ii. 10. But, more particularly, there were several sins contained in this complicated crime; as,

(1.) A vain curiosity to know more than what was consistent with their present condition, or, at least, a desire of increasing in knowledge in an unlawful way.

(2.) Discontentment with their present condition; though without the least shadow of reason leading to it.

(3.) Pride and ambition, to be like the angels, or like God, in those things, in which it was unlawful to desire it: it may be, they might desire to be like him in independency, absolute sovereignty, &c. which carries in it downright Atheism, for a creature to desire thus to be like to him.

(4.) There was an instance of profaneness, in supposing that this tree was God’s ordinance, for the attaining of knowledge, and accounting that, which was in itself sinful, a means to procure a greater degree of happiness.

(5.) It contained in it unbelief, and a disregard, either to the promise annexed to the covenant given to excite obedience, or the threatening denounced to deter from sin; and, on the other hand, they gave credit to the devil, rather than God.

(6.) There was in it an instance of bold and daring presumption, concluding that all would be well with them, or that they should, notwithstanding, remain happy, though in open rebellion against God, by the violation of his law; concluding, as the serpent suggested, that they should not surely die.

(7.) It was the highest instance of ingratitude, inasmuch as it was committed soon after they had received their being from God, and that honour of having all things in this world put under their feet, and the greatest plenty of provisions, both for their satisfaction and delight, and no tree of the garden prohibited, but only that which they ate of, Gen. ii. 16, 17.

(8.) It was committed against an express warning to the contrary; therefore whatever dispute might arise concerning other things being lawful, or unlawful, there was no question but that this was a sin, because expressly forbidden by God, and a caution given them to abstain from it.

(9.) If we consider them as endowed with a rectitude of nature, and in particular that great degree of knowledge which God gave them: This must be reckoned a sin against the greatest light; so that what inadvertency soever there might 106have been, as to what respects that which first led the way to a sinful compliance: they had a sufficient degree of knowledge to have fenced against the snare, how much soever they pretended themselves to be beguiled and deceived, as an excuse for their sin; and, had they made a right use of their knowledge, they would certainly have avoided it.

(10.) Inasmuch as one of our first parents proved a tempter to the other, and the occasion of his ruin, this contained a notorious instance of that want of conjugal affection and concern for the welfare of each other, which the law of nature, and the relation they stood in to one another, required.

(11.) As our first parents were made after the image of God, this sin contained their casting contempt upon it; for they could not but know that it would despoil them of it. And as eternal blessedness was to be expected if they yielded obedience, this they also contemned, and, as every sinner does, they despised their own souls in so doing.

(12.) As Adam was a public person, the federal head of all his posterity, intrusted with the important affair of their happiness, though he knew that his fall would ruin them, together with himself, there was not only in it a breach of trust, but a rendering himself, by this means, the common destroyer of all mankind; which was a greater reproach to him, than his being their common father was an honour.

We shall conclude with a few inferences from what has been said, concerning the fall of our first parents.

1st, If barely the mutability of man’s will, without any propensity or inclination to sin in his nature, may endanger, though not necessitate, his fall, especially when left to himself, as the result of God’s sovereign will; then how deplorable is the state of fallen man, when left to himself by God in a judicial way, being, at the same time, indisposed for any thing that is good.

2dly, From the action of the devil, in attempting to ruin man, without the least provocation, merely out of malice against God, we may infer the vile and heinous nature of sin, its irreconcilable opposition to God; and also how much they resemble the devil, who endeavour to persuade others to join with them as confederates in iniquity, and thereby to bring them under the same condemnation with themselves: this is contrary to the dictates of human nature, unless considered as vile, degenerate, and depraved by sin.

3dly, How dangerous a thing is it to go in the way of temptation, or to parley with it, and not to resist the first motion that is made to turn us aside from our duty? And what need have we daily to pray, as instructed by our Saviour, that God 107would not, by any occurrence of providence, lead us into temptation!

4thly, We learn, from hence, the progress and great increase of sin: it is like a spreading leprosy, and arises to a great height from small beginnings; so that persons proceed from one degree of wickedness to another, without considering what will be the sad effect and consequence thereof.

Quest. XXII.

Quest. XXII. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?

Answ. The covenant being made with Adam, as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Having shewn, in the foregoing answer how our first parents sinned and fell, we are now led to consider, how their fall affected all their posterity, whom they represented; and accordingly it is said, that the covenant was made with Adam, as a federal head, not for himself only, but all his posterity; so that they sinned in, and fell with him. But, before we enter more particularly on this subject, it may not be improper to enquire, whether this character, of being the head of the covenant, respects only Adam, or both our first parents? I am sensible there are many who think this covenant was made with Adam, as the head of his posterity, exclusive of Eve; so that, as he did not represent her therein, but his seed, she was not, together with him, the representative of mankind; therefore, though the covenant was made with her, and she was equally obliged to perform the conditions thereof, yet she was only to stand or fall for herself, her concern herein being only personal; and therefore it follows, from hence, that when she fell, being first in the transgression, all mankind could not be said to sin and fall in her, as they did in Adam; therefore, if she alone had sinned, she would have perished alone.

And if it be objected hereunto, that she could not then be the mother of innocent children, for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? The reply, which is usually given to this, which is only matter of conjecture, is, that God would have created some other woman, who should have been the mother of a sinless posterity.[56]

The reason why these conclude that the covenant was made only with Adam, is because we never read expressly, in scripture, of its being made with Eve in behalf of her posterity; and particularly it is said, in Gen. ii. 16, 17. that the Lord God 108commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. And it is observed, that this law was given to him before the woman was created; for it said, in the following words, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And, in other scriptures, which treat of this matter, we read of the man’s being the head of the covenant, but not his wife: thus the apostle, in 1 Cor. xv. 45, 47. compares him, whom he styles, the first man, Adam, as the head of this covenant, with Christ, whom he calls, The second man, as the head of the covenant of grace; and elsewhere he says, As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive, ver. 22. and again By one man sin entered into the world, &c. Rom. v. 12. and By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, ver. 19. It is not said by the disobedience of our first parents, but of one of them, to wit, Adam; therefore, from hence, they conclude, that he only was the head of this covenant, and herein the representative of mankind.

But, though I would not be too peremptory in determining this matter, yet, I think, it may be replied to what has been said in defence thereof; that though it is true, it is said, in the scripture, but now mentioned, that God forbade the man to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, before the woman was created, yet she expressly says, that the prohibition respected them both[57], when she tells the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat thereof, lest ye die, Gen. iii. 2, 3. Besides, we read, that Eve had dominion over the creatures, as well as Adam, Gen. i. 26-28. it is true, it is said, that God created man, &c. but by the word man, both our first parents are intended; for it immediately follows, and he blessed them, therefore the woman was not excluded; so that we may apply the apostle’s words, (though used with another view) The man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord, 1 Cor. xi. 11. to this particular dispensation of providence. And there seems to be the same reason for one’s being constituted the federal head of their posterity, as the other, since they were both designed to be the common parents thereof; the tenor of the covenant seems to be the same with respect to them both, and the tree of life was a seal and pledge of blessings, to be conveyed by both.

But to proceed to consider the subject-matter of this answer,

109I. We shall prove, that Adam was a public person, the head of the covenant with whom it was made for himself, and all his posterity. When we speak of him as the head of our posterity, we do not only mean their common parent, for, had there been no other idea contained therein, I cannot see how they could be said to fall in him; for it doth not seem agreeable to the justice of God to punish children for their parents’ sins, unless they make them their own, at least, not with such a punishment that carries in it a separation from his presence, and a liableness to the condemning sentence of the law.

Therefore Adam must be considered as constituted their head, in a federal way, by an act of God’s sovereign will, and so must be regarded as their representative, as well as their common parent; which, if it can be proved, then they may be said to fall with him. For the understanding hereof, we must conclude him to have been the head of the world, even as Christ is the Head of his elect; so that, in the same sense as Christ’s righteousness becomes their’s to wit, by imputation, Adam’s obedience, had he stood, would have been imputed to all his posterity, as his sin is, now he is fallen. This is a doctrine founded on pure revelation: and therefore we must have recourse to scripture, to evince the truth thereof. Accordingly,

1. There are several scriptures in which this doctrine is contained; as that in Rom. v. 14. where the apostle speaks concerning our fall in Adam, whom he calls, the figure[58] of him that was to come. Now, in what was Adam a type of Christ? Not as he was a man, consisting of soul and body; for, in that respect, all that lived before Christ, might as justly be called types of him. Whenever we read of any person, or things, being a type in scripture, there are some peculiar circumstances by which they may be distinguished from all other persons, or things that are not types. Now Adam was distinguished from all other persons, more especially as he was the federal head of all his posterity; and that he was so, appears from what the apostle not only occasionally mentions, but largely insists on, and shews in what respect this was true; and he particularly observes, that as one conveyed death the other was the head, or Prince of Life. These respective things indeed, were directly opposite, therefore the analogy, or resemblance, consisted only in the manner of conveying them; so that as death did not become due to us, in the first instance of our liableness to it, for our own actual sin, but the sin of Adam; that right we have to eternal life, by justification, is not the result of our own obedience, but Christ’s: This is plainly the apostle’s method of reasoning. Now, if Christ was, in this respect 110a federal Head and Representative of his people, then Adam, who is in this, or in nothing, his type, or figure, must be the Head of a covenant, in which his posterity were included.

There is another scripture, by which this may be proved in 1 Cor. xv. 45-59. where the apostle speaks of the first and second Adam; by the latter he means Christ. Now, why should he be called the second man, who lived so many ages after Adam, if he did not design to speak of him, as typified by him, or bearing some resemblance of him? And, in other expressions, he seems to imply as much, and shews how we derive death from Adam, of whom he had been speaking, in the foregoing verses. Accordingly, he says, The first man was of the earth, earthy: and, as is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and we have borne the image of the earthy; so that if Adam was the root and occasion of all the miseries we endure in this world, arising from his violation of the covenant he was under, it plainly proves, that he was therein the head and representative of all his posterity.

For the farther proof of this, we may take occasion to consider the apostle’s method of reasoning, in the scripture but now referred to, By one man sin entered into the world, that is, by the first man, in whom all have sinned, Rom. v. 12. so I would choose to render it rather than as it is in our translation, since this seems to be the most natural sense of the word[59]; and it proves Adam, in whom all sinned, to be their head and representative, and also agrees best with the apostle’s general design, or argument, insisted on, and farther illustrated in the following verses.

Again, the apostle speaks of those penal evils consequent on Adam’s sins, which could not have befallen us, had he not been our federal head and representative; Thus, in ver. 18. By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation[60]. It may be observed, that the apostle, in this text, uses a word, which we translate condemnation[61]; which cannot, with 111any manner of consistency, be taken in any other than a forensick sense; and therefore he argues, from thence, that we are liable to condemnation, by the offence of Adam; which certainly proves the imputation of his offence to us, and consequently he is considered therein as our federal head.

2. This farther appears, in that all mankind are exposed to many miseries, and to death, which are of a penal nature; therefore they must be considered, as the consequence of sin. Now they cannot be the consequence of actual sin, in those, who are miserable and die, as soon as they are born, who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression; therefore this must be the result of his sin, which it could not be, had he not been the federal head of all his posterity.[62]

Object. It is objected to this, that God might, out of his mere sovereignty, ordain that his creatures should be exposed to some degree of misery; and, if this misery be not considered, as the punishment of sin, in infants, then it does not prove the imputation of Adam’s sin to them; and even their death, considered only as a separation of soul and body, may not contain in it a proper idea of punishment, (which consists in the stroke of justice, demanding satisfaction for sin) if it be only reckoned an expedient, or a necessary means for their attaining eternal life. Therefore it doth not follow, that, because we are liable to death, before we have done good or evil, it must necessarily be a punishment due to that sin, which was committed by Adam.

Answ. 1. I will not deny but that God might dispense some lesser degrees of natural evil, to a sinless creature, out of his mere sovereignty; neither will I contend with any, who shall say, that he might, without any dishonour to his perfections, send on him an evil, sensibly great, provided it were not only consistent with his love, but attended with those manifestations and displays thereof, which would more than compensate for it, and, at the same time, not have any tendency to prevent the 112answering the end of his being; yet I may be bold to say, that, from the nature of the thing, God cannot inflict the least degree of punishment on a creature, who is, in all respects guiltless. If therefore these lesser evils are penal, they are the consequence of Adam’s sin.

2. As for death, that must be considered as a penal evil; for, as such, it was first denounced, as a part of the curse, consequent on Adam’s sin; and the apostle says, The wages of sin is death, Rom. vi. 23. and elsewhere he speaks of all men, as dying in Adam, 1 Cor. xv. 22. and therefore his sin is imputed to all mankind; and consequently he was their federal head and representative in the covenant that he was under.

II. They, whose federal head and representative Adam was, are such as descended from him by ordinary generation. The design of this limitation is to signify, that our Saviour is excepted, and consequently that he did not sin or fall in him, inasmuch as he was born of a virgin; therefore, though he had the same human nature with all Adam’s posterity, yet he did not derive it from him, in the same way as they do; and a similitude of nature, or his being a true and proper Man, does not render him a descendant from Adam, in the same way as we are. The formation of his human nature was the effect of miraculous, supernatural, creating power; therefore he was no more liable to Adam’s sin, as being a Man, than a world of men would be, should God create them out of nothing, or out of the dust of the ground, by a mediate creation, which would be no more miraculous, or supernatural, than it was to form the human nature of Christ in the womb of a virgin. Now, as persons, so formed, would not be concerned in Adam’s sin, or fall, whatever similitude there might be of nature; even so our Saviour was not concerned therein.[63]

Moreover, that we might understand that he was not included in this federal transaction with Adam, the apostle opposes him, as the second Man, the federal Head of his elect, or spiritual seed, to Adam, the first man, and head of his natural seed, in that scripture before referred to, ver. 45. And, as an argument, that his extraordinary and miraculous conception exempted him from any concern in Adam’s sin and fall; the angel, that gave the first intimation hereof, when he tells the blessed virgin, his mother, that the Holy Ghost should come upon her, that the power of the highest should over-shadow her, he says, Therefore that Holy Thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called, the Son of God; thereby implies, that, in his first formation, he was holy, and consequently had no concern in the guilt of Adam’s sin, because of the manner of his formation, or conception; and this is certainly a better way to account for his being 113sinless, than to pretend, as the Papists do, that his mother was sinless; which will do no service to their cause, unless they could ascend in a line to our first parents, and so prove, that all our Saviour’s progenitors were immaculate, as well as the virgin; which is more than they pretend to do.

III. It is farther observed, in this answer, that mankind sinned in and fell with Adam in his first transgression, and therefore they had no concern in those sins, which he committed afterwards. This appears from hence, that Adam, as soon as he sinned, lost the honour and prerogative, that was conferred upon him, of being the federal head of his posterity, though he was their natural head, or common father; for the covenant being broken, all the evils, that we were liable to, arising from thence, were devolved upon us, and none of the blessings, contained therein, could be conveyed to us that way, since it was impossible for him, after his fall, to perform sinless obedience, which was the condition of the life promised therein. This doth not arise so much from the nature of the covenant, as from the change that there was in man, with whom it was made. The law, or covenant, would have given life, if man could have yielded perfect obedience; but since his fall rendered that impossible, though the obligation thereof, as a law, distinct from a covenant, and the curse, arising from the sanction thereof, remains still in force against fallen man; yet, as a covenant, in which life was promised, it was, from that time, abrogated; and therefore the apostle speaks of it, as being weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. that is, by reason of Adam’s transgression, and consequently he ceased, from that time, to be the federal head, or means of conveying life to his posterity; therefore those sins that he committed afterwards, were no more imputed to them, to inhance their condemnation, than his repentance, or good works, were imputed for their justification.

IV. Having considered the first transgression of Adam, as imputed to all those who descended from him by ordinary generation, we shall proceed to consider, how this doctrine is opposed, by those who are in the contrary way of thinking.

Object. 1. It is objected, that what is done by one man cannot be imputed to another; for this is contrary to the divine perfections, to the law of nature, and the express words of scripture. It is true, that which is done by us, in our own persons, may be imputed to us, whether it be good or evil. Thus it is said, that Phinehas’s zeal in executing judgment, by which means the plague was stayed, was counted to him for righteousness, Psal. cvi. 30, 31. so was Abraham’s faith, Rom. iv. 9, 23. Accordingly God approved of these their respective good actions, as what denominated them righteous persons, and placed 114them to their account, as bestowing on them some rewards accordingly; so, on the other hand, a man’s own sin may be imputed to him, and he may be dealt with as an offender: But to impute the sin committed by one person to another, is to suppose that he has committed that sin which was really committed by another; in which case, the Judge of all the earth would not do right.

Answ. When we speak of persons being punished for a crime committed by another, as being imputed to them, we understand the word imputation in a forensick sense, and therefore we do not suppose that here is a wrong judgment passed on persons or things, as though the crime were reckoned to have been committed by them; accordingly we do not say, that we committed that sin, which was more immediately committed by Adam. In him it was an actual sin; it is ours, as imputed to us, or as we are punished for it, according to the demerit of the offence, and the tenor of the covenant, in which we were included.

Moreover, it is not contrary to the law of nature, or nations, for the iniquity of some public persons to be punished in many others, so that whole cities and nations have suffered on their account; and as for scripture-instances hereof, we often read of whole families and nations, suffering for the crimes of those, who had been public persons, and exemplary in sinning. Thus Achan coveted the wedge of gold, and, for this, he suffered not alone; but his sons and daughters were stoned, and burned with fire, together with himself, Joshua vii. 24, 25. though we do not expressly read, that they were confederates with him in the crime. And as for the Amalekites, who, without provocation, came out against Israel in the wilderness, God threatens them, that he would have war with them for this, from generation to generation, Exod. xvii. 16. and in pursuance of this threatening, God, imputing the crime of their forefathers to their posterity, some hundreds of years after, ordered Saul to go and utterly destroy them, by slaying both man and woman, infant and suckling, 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. And the sin of Jeroboam was punished in his posterity, according to the threatening denounced, 1 Kings xiv. 10, 11. as was also the sin of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 21, 22. And the church acknowledges, that it was a righteous dispensation of providence for God to bring upon Judah those miseries, which immediately preceded, and followed their being carried captive, when they say, Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquity, Lam. v. 7. and our Saviour speaks to the same purpose, when he tells the Jews, That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar, Matth. xxiii. 35. These instances, and others of 115the like nature, prove that it is no unheard of thing, for one man to suffer for a crime committed by another[64].

But I am sensible the principal thing intended in the objection, when this is supposed to be contrary to scripture, is, that it contradicts the sense of what the prophet says, when he tells the people, that they should not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge; for the soul that sinneth shall die, Ezek. xviii. 2-4. the meaning of which scripture is, that if they were humble and penitent, and did not commit those crimes that their fathers had done, they should not be punished for them, which was a special act of favour, that God would grant them on this supposition; and it is as much as to say, that he would not impute their father’s sins to them, or suffer them to be carried captive, merely because their fathers had deserved this desolating judgment. But this does not, in all respects, agree with the instance before us; for we are considering Adam as the federal head of his posterity, and so their fathers were not to be considered in this, and such like scriptures. Moreover, the objectors will hardly deny, that natural death, and the many evils of this life, are a punishment, in some respects, for the sin of our first parents. Therefore the question is not, whether some degree of punishment may ensue hereupon? but, whether the greatest degree of the punishment of sin in hell, can be said to be the consequence hereof? But this we shall be led more particularly to consider, under a following answer[65].

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that it is not agreeable to the divine perfections, for God to appoint Adam to be the head and representative of all his posterity; so that they must stand, or fall, with respect to their spiritual and eternal concerns in him, inasmuch as this was not done by their own choice and consent, which they were not capable of giving, since they were not existent. The case say they, is the same, as though a king should appoint a representative body of men, and give them a power to enact laws, whereby his subjects should be dispossessed of their estates and properties, which no one can suppose to 116be just; whereas if they had chosen them themselves, they would have no reason to complain of any injustice that was done them, inasmuch as the laws, made by their representatives, are, in effect, their own laws. Therefore, to apply this to the case before us, had all mankind chose Adam to be their representative, or consented to stand or fall in him, there would have been no reason to complain of the dispensation of God’s providence, relating hereunto: but, inasmuch as it was otherwise, it does not seem agreeable to the justice of God, to constitute him the head and representative of all his posterity: so that, by his fall, they should be involved in ruin, and eternal perdition.

Answ. There are various methods taken to answer this objection.

1. Some say little more to it than this: That if Adam had retained his integrity, we should have accepted of, and rejoiced in that life, which he would have procured by his standing; there would then have been no complaint, or finding fault, with the divine dispensation, as though it had been unjust; therefore, since he fell, and brought death into the world, it is reasonable that we should submit, and acknowledge, that all the ways of God are equal. But, though we must all allow that submission to the will of God, in whatever he does, is the creatures duty, yet I cannot think this a sufficient answer to the objection, and therefore would not lay much stress upon it, but proceed to consider what may be farther said in answer to it.

2. Others say, that, since Adam was the common father, and consequently the most honourable of mankind, (our Saviour only excepted, whom he did not represent) therefore it was fit that he should have this honour conferred upon him; so that, had all his posterity been existent, and the choice of a representative been wholly referred to them, the law of nature would have directed to, and pointed out the man, who ought, in this respect, to have the preference to all others. This answer bids fairer, I confess to remove the difficulty than the other, especially if it be added, that God might have given Adam some advantages of nature, above the rest of mankind, besides that relative one, arising from his being their common father; and therefore, that it would have been their interest, as well as their duty, to have chosen him, as being best qualified to perform the work that was devolved upon him.

3. But, since this will not wholly remove the difficulty, it is farther alleged, that God chose him, and therefore we ought to acquiesce in his choice; and, indeed, had all mankind been then existent, supposing them to be in a state of perfect holiness (and we must not suppose the contrary) then they would have acknowledged the equity of this divine dispensation, otherwise they would have actually sinned, and fallen, in rejecting 117and complaining of the will of God. But this will not satisfy those who advance the contrary scheme of doctrine, and deny the imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, who still complain of it, as a very severe dispensation, and conclude, that the sovereignty of God is pleaded for against his other perfections; therefore something farther must be added, in answer to the objection.

We freely allow, that it is not equitable (to use the similitude taken from human forms of government) for a king to appoint a representative, who shall have a power committed to him, to take away the properties, or estates of his subjects: but this does not, in many respects, agree with the matter under our present consideration: nevertheless, if we were to suppose, that these subjects had nothing which they could call their own, separate from the will of the prince, and their properties and estates were not only defended, but given by him, and that upon this tenure, that he reserved to himself a right to dispossess them of them at his pleasure; in this case, he might, without any injustice done them, appoint a representative, by whose conduct they might be forfeited, or retained; and this agrees with our present argument. Accordingly let it be considered, that there were some things which Adam was possessed of in his state of innocency, and others which he was given to expect, had he stood, which he had no natural right to, separate from the divine will; therefore it follows, from hence, that God might, without doing his posterity any injustice, repose this in the hands of a mutable creature, so that it should be retained or lost for them, according as he stood or fell. And this will appear less exceptionable, when we consider the nature of that guilt, which all mankind were brought under, by Adam’s sin, and the loss of original righteousness, as the consequence of his fall; which they, who maintain the other side of the question, generally represent, in such a way, as though we supposed that there were no difference between it, and the guilt contracted, together with the punishment ensuing on actual sins, how great soever they are. But this will be more particularly considered under a following answer,[66] in which we shall endeavour to take a just estimate of the difference between the guilt of Adam’s sin, imputed to us, and that of actual sins committed by us.

Quest. XXIII., XXIV., XXV., XXVI.

Quest. XXIII. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

Answ. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

118Quest. XXIV. What is sin?

Answ. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Quest. XXV. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

Answ. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created; and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called, Original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Quest. XXVI. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?

Answ. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them, in that way, are conceived and born in sin.

Having considered the fall of our first parents, and all mankind being so far concerned therein, as that their sin is imputed to them; we are now led to speak concerning that sin and misery which ensues hereupon. And,

I. This is not barely called a single act of sin, or one particular instance of misery, but a state of sin and misery. Man’s being brought into a state of sin, is sometimes called sin’s reigning, or having dominion over him; and his being brought into a state of misery, is called the reign, or dominion of death; so that as, by various steps, we proceed from one degree of sin unto another, our condemnation is gradually enhanced thereby. This is the subject matter of the first of these answers.

II. We have a brief definition of sin, in which there is something supposed, namely, that there was a law given, and promulgated, as a rule of obedience, to the reasonable creature, without which there could be no sin committed, or guilt contracted; as the apostle saith, Where no law is, there is no transgression, Rom. iv. 15. or, Sin is not imputed, where there is no law, chap. v. 13.

And inasmuch as it is observed, that the subjects, bound by this law, are reasonable creatures; this gives us to understand, that though other creatures be the effect of God’s power, and the objects of his providence, yet they are not the subjects of moral government. They cannot therefore be under a law, inasmuch as they are not capable of understanding their relation to God, as Sovereign, or their obligation to obey him, or the 119meaning of a law, which is the rule thereof. Moreover, we have in this answer, an account of the formal nature of sin.

1. It is considered, either in its negative, or rather privative idea, as containing in it a defect, or want of conformity to the law, a privation of that rectitude of nature, or righteousness that man had at first, or our not performing that which we are bound, by the law of God, to do; and those particular instances of sin, included herein, are called sins of omission.

2. It is described by its positive idea, and so it is called, a transgression of the law, or doing that which is forbidden by it. Thus it is called, by the apostle, The transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4. This we shall not insist on at present, inasmuch as we shall have occasion to enlarge on this head, when we consider the sins forbidden, under each of the ten commandments, and the various aggravations thereof.[67]

III. We are, in the next answer, led to consider the sinfulness of all mankind, as fallen in Adam, or original sin, as derived to, and discovered in us; and this consists more especially in our being guilty of Adam’s first sin, our wanting that righteousness which he was possessed of; and also in the corruption of nature, from whence all actual transgressions proceed.

1. We shall enquire what we are to understand by the guilt of Adam’s first sin. Having before shewn that his disobedience is imputed to his posterity, that which is the result thereof, is, that all the world becomes guilty before God: guilt is an obligation, or liableness to suffer punishment for an offence committed, in proportion to the aggravations thereof. Now, since this guilt was not contracted by us, but imputed to us, we must consider it as the same, in all; or not admitting of any degrees; nevertheless, there is a very great difference between that guilt which is the result of sin imputed to, and that which arises from sin’s being committed by us. They, who do not put a just difference between these two, give occasion to many prejudices against this doctrine, and do not sufficiently vindicate the perfections of God, in his judiciary proceedings in punishing one or the other of them. That we may avoid this inconvenience, let it be considered, that original and actual sins differ more especially in two respects.

(1.) The sin of our first parents, how heinous soever it was in them, as being an actual transgression, attended with the highest aggravations, yet it cannot be said to be our actual sin, or committed by an act of our will; therefore, though the imputation thereof to us, as has been before proved, is righteous, yet it has not those circumstances attending it, as though it had been committed by us. Therefore,

120(2.) The guilt thereof, or the punishment due to it, cannot be so great as the guilt we contract, or the punishment we are liable to, for actual sins, which are committed with the approbation and consent of the will, and as they are against some degree of light and convictions of conscience, and manifold engagements to the contrary: but this does not properly belong to Adam’s sin, as imputed to us; nor is the punishment due to it the same, as though it had been committed by us in our own persons.

But, that we may not be misunderstood, let it be considered, that we are not speaking of the corruption of nature inherent in us. We do not deny, but that the fountain that sends forth all actual sins, or that sin reigning in the heart, is, in various respects, more aggravated, than many others that are committed, which we call actual transgressions, as the corrupt fountain is worse than the streams, or the root than the branch, or the cause than the effect. But when we consider, as at present we do Adam’s sin only, as imputed, and as being antecedent to that corruption of nature, which is the immediate cause of sinful actions; or when we distinguish between original sin, as imputed and inherent, we only understand, by the former, that it cannot expose those who never committed any actual sins, to so great a degree of guilt and punishment, as the sins committed by them are said to expose them to.

And let it be farther observed, that we do not say that there is no punishment due to original sin, as imputed to us; for that would be to suppose that there is no guilt attending it, which is contrary to what we have already proved; but all our design, at present, is, to put a just difference between Adam’s sin, imputed to us, and those that are committed by us. And, indeed, if what we have said under this head, be not true, the state of infants, dying in infancy, under the guilt of Adam’s sin, must be equally deplorable with that of the rest of mankind; therefore, when I find some expressing themselves to this purpose, I cannot wonder that others, who deny this doctrine are offended at it. It is one thing to say, that they are exposed to no punishment at all, which none, that observe the miseries that we are liable to, from our first appearance in the world, to our leaving it, whether sooner or later, can well deny; and another thing to say, that they are exposed to the same punishment for it, as though they had actually committed it; the former we allow; the latter we must take leave to deny lest we should give occasion to any to think that the Judge of all does any thing, which carries in it the least appearance of severity, and injustice. Thus concerning the guilt of Adam’s first sin, imputed to us; which leads us to consider the effects thereof. Accordingly,

1212. Man is said to want that righteousness which he had at first, which is generally called, original righteousness. This is styled, the privative part of original sin, as the corruption of the human nature, and its propensity to all sin, is the positive part thereof. In considering the former of these, or man’s want of original righteousness, we may observe,

(1.) That man has not wholly lost God’s natural image, which he was possessed of, as an intelligent creature, consisting in his being endowed as such with an understanding, capable of some degree of the knowledge of himself and divine things; and a will, in many respects, free, viz. as to what concerns natural things, or some external branches of religion, or things materially good, and in his having executive powers, to act agreeably thereunto; though these are miserably defaced, and come far short of that perfection, which he had in the state in which he was first created. Some have compared this to an old decayed building, which has, by the ruins of time, lost its strength and beauty, though it retains something of the shape and resemblance of what it was before. Thus the powers and faculties of the soul are weakened, but not wholly lost, by the fall. They are like the fruits of the earth, which are shrivelled and withered in winter, and look as though they are dead; or like a man, who has out-lived himself, and has lost the vivacity and sprightliness of his parts, as well as the beauty of his body, which he formerly had.

(2.) Our ability to yield acceptable obedience to God, much more perfect obedience, is wholly lost, as being destitute of a principle of spiritual life and grace, which must, if ever we have it, be implanted in regeneration; so that every one may say with the apostle, In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing, Rom. vii. 18.

(3.) We are destitute of a right to the heavenly blessedness, and all those privileges, that were promised upon condition of our first parents performing perfect obedience, according to the tenor of the covenant made with them in their state of innocency.

This want of original righteousness is the immediate consequence of Adam’s first sin. By original righteousness we understand, either that freedom from guilt, which man had before he sinned, which exempted him from any liableness to condemnation, and afforded him a plea before God for his retaining the blessings he was possessed of; and, had he persisted longer in his integrity, it would have given him a right to a greater degree of happiness: His perfect obedience was his righteousness, in a forensick sense; and the failure thereof, in our first parents, rendered both them and us destitute of it. But, since this is the same with what is expressed in the foregoing words, wherein we are 122denominated guilty of Adam’s first sin, we must consider something else, as intended in this expression, when we are said to want that righteousness wherein he was created.

We have before observed, that, by the fall of our first parents, the image of God in man was defaced: But now, we are to speak of his supernatural image, as what was wholly lost, and therefore all mankind are, by nature, destitute of a principle of grace; upon which account it may be truly said, as the apostle does, There is none righteous; no, not one, Rom. iii. 10. and elsewhere man is called, A transgressor from the womb, Isa. xlviii. 8. and, by nature, not only a child of wrath, but dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. 1. and therefore it is necessary that we be created again to good works, or that a new principle of grace be implanted in regeneration, without which there is no salvation. Our being destitute of this supernatural principle of grace is distinguished from that propensity to sin, or corruption of nature, which is spoken of in the following words of this answer; and therefore, considering it as thus distinguished, and as called, by some, the privative part of original sin; we are led to speak of man in his destitute state, deprived of that which was his glory, and tended to his defence against the assaults of temptation; and of those actual transgressions which are the consequence thereof. This excellent endowment man is said to have lost.

Some divines express themselves with a degree of caution, when treating on this subject; and therefore, though they allow that man has lost this righteousness, yet they will hardly own that God took it away, though it were by a judicial act, as supposing that this would argue him to be the author of sin; and I would not blame the least degree of concern expressed to fence against such a consequence, did it really ensue on our asserting it; yet I cannot but conclude, that the holiness of God may be vindicated, though we should assert, that he deprived him of this righteousness, as a punishment of his sin, or denied him that power to perform perfect obedience, which he conferred on him at first; for there is a vast difference between God’s restoring to him his lost power, to perform that which is truly and supernaturally good in all its circumstances; and the infusing habits of sin into his nature: This, we acknowledge, he could not do, consistently with his holiness, and shall make it farther appear, under a following head. But the other he might do, that is, leave man destitute of a power to walk before him in holiness and righteousness; for, if God had been obliged to have given him this power, then his bestowing it on fallen man, would be rather a debt than a grace, which is contrary to the whole tenor of the gospel. But this leads us to consider the positive part of original sin; therefore,

1233. Man’s sinfulness, as fallen, consists in the corruption of his nature, or a propensity and inclination to all evil, which, as it is observed, is commonly called, original sin, that is, original sin inherent, as distinguished from it, as imputed to us, which has been already considered. That the nature of man is vitiated, corrupted, and prone to all that is bad, is taken for granted by all; and, indeed, he that denies it, must either be very much unacquainted with himself, or hardly retain the common notices which we have of moral good and evil. This is frequently represented, in scripture, as a plague, defilement, or deadly evil, with which his heart is affected; upon which account it is said, that it is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, Jer. xvii. 9. that out of it proceed evil thoughts, and all other abominations of the most heinous nature, Matth. xv. 19. unless prevented by the grace of God.

This propensity of nature to sin discovers itself in the first dawn of our reason; so that we no sooner appear to be men, but we give ground to conclude that we are sinners. Accordingly it is said, The imagination of man’s heart is only evil, and that from his youth,[68] Gen. vi. 5. compared with chap. viii. 21. and he is represented as estranged from the womb, going astray as soon as he is born, speaking lyes, Psal. lvii. 3. which is, notwithstanding, to be understood with this limitation, that we are prone to sin, as soon as we have any dispositions, or inclinations, to any thing; for it cannot be supposed that man is disposed to commit actual sin before he is capable of acting. Some, indeed, have attempted to prove that the soul of a child sins as soon as it is united to the body in the womb, and have 124carried this indefensible conjecture so far, as that they have maintained, that actual sin is committed in the womb. But this is not only destitute of all manner of proof, but it seems so very absurd, that, as few will be convinced by it, so it needs no confutation.

As for this propensity to sin, (whenever it may be said to take place) it is certain, that it is not equal in all; and in this it differs from Adam’s guilt, as imputed to us, and from our want of original righteousness, as the immediate consequence thereof; for these corrupt inclinations appear, from universal experience, as well as the concurrent testimony of scripture, to be of an increasing nature; so that some are more obstinate and hardened in sin than others; and the habits thereof, in many, are compared to the tincture of the Ethiopian, or the leopard’s spots, Jer. xiii. 23. which no human art can take away. We are, indeed, naturally prone to sin at first; but afterwards the leprosy spreads, and the propensity, or inclination to it, increases by repeated acts, or a course of sin. The Psalmist takes notice of this, in a beautiful climax, or gradation; They know not, neither will they understand, they walk in darkness, Psal. lxxxii. 5.

We shall now take occasion to speak something concerning the rise or origin hereof. This is a difficulty which many have attempted to account for and explain, though with as little success as any thing that comes within the compass of our enquiries. Some ancient heretics[69] have thought, that because it could not be from God, who is the author of nothing but what is good, that therefore there are two first causes; one of all good, which is God, and the other of all evil. But this is deservedly exploded, as a most dangerous and absurd notion.

Others seem to assert, that God is the author of it; and, that they may exculpate themselves from making him the author of sin, which is the vilest reproach that can be cast upon him, they add, that he does this in a judicial way, as a punishment for the sin of our first parents, and that it is no reflection on him to suppose, that, as a Judge, he may put this propensity to sin into our nature; so that it is, as it were, concreate with the soul, or derived to us, at the same time that it is formed in, and united to the body: But we cannot, by any means, conclude God to be the author hereof, though it be as a Judge; for that would be to suppose his vindictive justice inconsistent with the spotless purity of his nature. We read, indeed, of God’s giving men up to their own hearts’ lusts, Psal. lxxxi. 11, 12. as a punishment for other sins; but never of his producing in them an inclination to sin, though it be under the notion of a punishment: But this having been proved and illustrated, under a 125foregoing answer, when speaking concerning the providence of God, as conversant about those actions, to which sin is annexed, in a judicial way, we shall pass it over in this place[70].

The Pelagians, and, after them, the Papists, and some among the Remonstrants, being sensible, that this propensity of nature to sin cannot be denied, have taken such a method to account for it, as makes it a very innocent and harmless thing; and, that it may appear agreeable to the notion which they maintain of the innocency of man by nature, they suppose that the first motions, or inclinations of the soul to sin, or, to use their own expression, the first acts of concupiscence are not sinful; and, to support this opinion, they maintain, that nothing can be deemed a sin, but what is committed with the full bent of the will; and therefore when an unlawful object presents itself, how much soever the mind may be pleased with it, yet there is no sin till there is an actual compliance with it; and, for this, they bring that scripture, When lust has conceived, it bringeth forth sin, James i. 15. that is, the second act of concupiscence, or the compliance with the first suggestions to sin, are only denominated sin; and, as a consequence from this supposition, they pretend that these first acts of concupiscence were not inconsistent with a state of innocency; so that when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, Gen. iii. 6. She did not sin till she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and, as a farther consequence deduced from this supposition, they conclude, that that original righteousness, which our first parents had, did not consist so much in a perfect freedom from all suggestions to sin, but it was rather a bridle to restrain them from compliance therewith, which, by not making a right use of, they complied with the motions of concupiscence, and so sinned. And, according to this scheme, that propensity of nature to sin, which we have in our childhood, is an harmless, and innocent thing, and therefore we may suppose it to be from God, without concluding him to be the author of sin. But this is a vile and groundless notion, and such as savours more of Antinomianism, than many doctrines that are so called; and, indeed, it is to call that no sin, which is, as it were, the root and spring of all sin, and to make God the author and approver of that, which he cannot but look on with the utmost detestation, as being contrary to the holiness of his nature; to which nothing farther need be said, since the notion carries the black marks of its own infamy in itself.

There are others who oppose the doctrine of original sin, and pretend to account for the corruption of nature, by supposing that all men sinned for themselves; which is nothing else but 126reviving an old opinion taken from the schools of Plato and Pythagoras, namely, that God created the souls of all men at first, and before they were united to their bodies, at least those that now they have, sinned; and, as a punishment of their crime in that state, they were not only condemned to their respective bodies, but to suffer all the miseries which they are exposed to therein; so that the sin, which they committed in these bodies, is nothing else but the propagation of that, which had its first rise in the acts of the understanding and will, when they first fell into a state of sin. This is so chimerical an opinion, that I would not have mentioned it, had it not been maintained by some, as an expedient, to account for the corruption of nature, by those who deny original sin, and affirmed with that assurance, as though it were founded in scripture; whereas I cannot think it has the least countenance from it. They first take it for granted without sufficient ground that those scriptures, that speak of the pre-existence of Christ in his divine nature, are to be understood concerning the pre-existence of his soul; and from thence they infer, that it is reasonable to suppose, that the souls of other men pre-existed likewise. And they also strain the sense of two or three other scriptures to prove it; as when it is said, that, when God had laid the foundation of the earth, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job xxxviii. 7. where, by the morning stars, they understand, as others do, the angels; and, by the sons of God, they suppose, is meant the souls of men, that were then created, and untainted with sin, and, to give farther countenance to this, they explain what is said in a following verse, ver. 12. agreeably thereunto, where, when God had continued the account which he gives of his having created the world, he says, Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born, or because the number of thy days is great; they render the words, Knowest thou that thou wast then born, and that the number of thy days are many, or they depend upon the translation, which the LXX give of the text, I know that thou wast then born, for the number of thy days is many, that is, that thou wast then existent; for though thou knowest not what thou didst, from that time, till thou camest into the world, yet the number of thy days is great, that is, thou hadst an existence many ages before. How easy a matter it is for persons to strain the sense of some words of scripture, to serve a purpose, contrary to the general scope and design thereof, if they attempt to give countenance thereby to any doctrine of their own invention.

As for those scriptures, which they bring to prove that the Jews were of this opinion, I will not deny the inference from thence, that some of them were, as appears from the report that the disciples gave to our Saviour, when he asked them, Whom 127do men say that I am? They replied, Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets, Matth. xvi. 13, 14. that is, they judged, according to the Pythagorean hypothesis, that the soul of Jeremias, or one of the prophets, dwelt in that body, which he had, and therefore that he was one of them. And there is another scripture, in which our Saviour’s disciples, speaking concerning the blind man, asked him, Did this man sin, or his parents, that he was born blind? John ix. 2. as if he should say: Was it for some sin that this man’s soul committed, before it entered into the body, to which it is united? And was his being born blind a punishment thereof? I say, I will not deny, but that some of the Jews, from hence, may be supposed to have given into this fabulous notion, agreeably to the sentiments of the philosophy, which they had been conversant in. But I will not allow that our Saviour’s not confuting this absurd opinion, is an intimation; (as the defenders thereof generally conclude it to be) that he reckoned it just; but I rather think, that he passed it over, as a vulgar error, not worthy of his confutation. And as for that passage, which they quote, for this purpose, out of the apocryphal book of Wisdom, which is no proof of this matter from Scripture, when one is represented, as saying to this effect, that because he was good, he came into a body undefiled; this only proves, that this was the opinion of some of that trifling generation of men. And, when they speak of it, as what, has been maintained by some of the Fathers, who received the notion from the philosophy above-mentioned, this is also as little to the purpose; and, indeed, all the other arguments that they bring, amount to nothing else but this; that, if the scripture had not given us ground to establish the contrary doctrine, there might have been, at least, a possibility of the truth of this, but to lay this as a foundation, on which they assert the truth thereof, and that with the design above-mentioned, this is nothing else, but for men to substitute their own fancies, without sufficient ground, as matters of faith, and build doctrines upon them, as though they were contained in scripture. I pass by other improvements, which they make on this fabulous notion, which still appear to be more romantic.[71]

There is another attempt to account for the origin of moral evil, without inferring God to be the author of it, which has formerly been advanced by those who deny the imputation of Adam’s sin; and these suppose that the soul is rendered polluted with sin, by reason of its traduction, or propagation, from the soul of the immediate parent; so that, in like manner, as the body is subject to hereditary diseases, the soul is defiled 128with sin, as both one and the other are the consequence of their formation, according to the course of nature, in the likeness of those, from whom they immediately derive their respective beings; and they suppose that a similitude of passions, and natural dispositions in parents and children, is an argument to evince the truth hereof.

But this appears so contrary to the light of nature, and all the principles of philosophy, to suppose, that one spirit can produce another, in a natural way, and so repugnant to the ideas which we have of spirits, as simple beings, or not compounded of parts, as bodies are, that it seems almost to be universally exploded, as being destitute of any tolerable argument to support it, though it was formerly embraced by some of the Fathers.[72] And they, who pretend to account for it, by the similitude of one candle’s lighting another, and yet the flame remaining the same as it was before, have only made use of an unhappy method of illustration, which comes far short of a conclusive argument to their purpose. And as for the likeness of natural dispositions in children to their parents, that does not, in the least prove it; since this arises very much from the temperament of the body, or from the prejudices of education. Therefore this method to account for the origin of moral evil, being not much defended at present, we may pass it over, as a groundless conjecture.

As for Arminius, and his followers, they have very much insisted on a supposition, which they have advanced, that the universal corruption of human nature arises only from imitation. In answer to which, though I will not deny but that the progress and increase of sin, in particular persons, may be very much owing to the pernicious example of others, with whom they are conversant; yet it seems very absurd to assign this, as the first reason thereof; for it may easily be observed, that this corruption of nature, or disposition to sin, is visible in children, before they are capable of being drawn aside, by the influence of bad examples; and indeed, their being corrupted thereby, is rather the effect, than the cause of this first propensity that there is in nature to sin; and it would soon appear, that, if they never saw any thing but what is excellent or worthy to be imitated in those, under whose care they are, they would soon discover themselves, notwithstanding, prone to the contrary vices. And we may as well suppose, that wisdom, or holiness, takes its rise from imitation, in a natural way, as that sin, or folly, does so: But nothing is more common, than 129for children to be very degenerate from their parents. And whatever attempts are used to instil principles of virtue into them, it is nothing else, but striving against the stream of corrupt nature, unless the grace of God interpose, and do that which imitation can never be the cause of.

Therefore we must take some other method to account for this corruption of nature, and at the same time, maintain, that the soul is from God, by immediate creation, which, though it be not so plainly contained in scripture, as other articles of faith are, yet scripture seems not to be wholly silent as to this matter; especially when God says, Behold, all souls are mine, Ezek. xviii. 4. and elsewhere, which is more express to this purpose, God speaks of the souls that he made, or created, Isa. lvii. 16. and the apostle, for this reason, styles him, The Father of spirits, Heb. xii. 9. and that in such a sense, as is opposed to the fathers of the flesh; therefore, taking this for granted, the difficulty which will recur upon us, which we are to account for, is, how can the soul, that comes out of God’s immediate hand, be the subject of moral evil? To assert, that it is created guilty of Adam’s first sin, or under an obligation to suffer that degree of punishment, which is due to it, is not inconsistent with the divine perfections, as will farther appear, when, under a following head, we consider what this punishment is: but to suppose that it is created by God impure, or with an inclination, or propensity to sin, cannot well be reconciled with the holiness of God.

This is what has been acknowledged by most divines, as one of the greatest difficulties that occur in the whole scheme of divinity. Some, with a becoming and religious modesty, have confessed their inability to account for it, and advise us rather to bewail, and strive against it, than to be too inquisitive about the origin and cause of it. And, indeed, this is far better, than either to darken counsel by words, without knowledge, or to advance what we cannot prove; and I would rather chuse to acquiesce in this humble ignorance thereof, than to assert any thing which contains the least insinuation of God’s being the author of it. It is certain, there are many things which we know to be true, though we cannot, at the same time, account for the manner of their being what they are, and are at a loss to determine their first original, or the natural cause thereof: Thus, though we are sure that the body is united to the soul, which acts by it, yet it is very hard to determine by what bands they are united, or how the soul moves the body, as its instrument in acting. Moreover, we know that the particles of matter are united to one another; but it is difficult to determine what is the cause thereof. So if we enquire into the reason of the different colour, or shape of herbs and plants; or why the grass is green, and not white or red; no one would be blamed 130if he should acknowledge himself to be at a loss to account for these, and other things of the like nature. The same may be said, if we should confess that we are at a loss to determine what is the first rise of the propensity of the nature of man to sin: nevertheless, if we keep within the bounds of modesty in our enquiries, and advance nothing contrary to the divine perfections, we may safely, and with some advantage to the doctrine of original sin, say something as to this matter, that hereby we may remove the objections that are brought, by some, against it.

Various ways have been taken, as was before observed, to account for the origin of moral evil, which we cannot acquiesce in, by reason of the many absurdities that attend them; therefore it may be more excusable for me to offer my humble thoughts about this matter, in which, I hope, I shall not much deviate from the sentiments of many, who have judiciously and happily maintained this doctrine.

There is, indeed, one conjecture, which I meet with, in a learned judicious divine, which differs very much from any account which we have of it by any other,[73] namely, that the mother while the child is in the womb, having a sinful thought, impresses it on its soul, whereby it becomes polluted, in the same manner as its body is sometimes marked by the strength of her imagination: but this opinion is so very improbable, that it will hardly gain any proselytes to it; and it only discovers how willing some persons are to solve this difficulty though in an uncommon method, as being apprehensive that others have not sufficiently done it.

But, that we may account for this matter in the most unexceptionable way, which does not in the least, infer God to be the author of sin nor overthrow the doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, we must consider this propensity of nature, or inclination that there is in the souls of men to sin as a corrupt habit, and therefore that it is not infused by God; and consequently though the soul, in its first creation, is guilty, that is, liable to suffer the punishment due to it for Adam’s sin imputed, yet it does not come defiled out of the hands of God; or, as one well expresses it,[74] “We are not to think that 131God put original sin into men’s souls; for how should he punish those souls, which he himself had corrupted? And he adds, that it is a great wickedness to believe that God put into the soul an inclination to sin; though it is true God creates the souls of men destitute of heavenly gifts, and supernatural light, and that justly because Adam lost those gifts for himself and his posterity.”

Another judicious divine[75] expresses himself to this purpose; that, though the soul is created spotless, yet it is destitute of original righteousness, as a punishment of Adam’s first sin; and accordingly he distinguishes between a soul’s being pure, so as the soul of Adam was when it was first created, that is to say, not only sinless, but having habits, or inclinations in its nature, which inclined it to what was good; and its being created with a propensity, or inclination to evil, which he, with good reason denies; and, as a medium between both those extremes, in which the truth lies, observes, that the soul is created, by God, destitute of original righteousness, unable to do what is truly good; and yet, having no positive inclination, or propensity in nature, to what is evil; this is plainly the sense of his words, which I have inserted in the margin.

Now if it be enquired, how this corrupt habit, or inclination to sin, is contracted? the corruption of nature necessarily ensues on the privation of original righteousness. Some have illustrated this by an apt similitude, taken from the travellers wandering out of his way, or taking a wrong path, as occasioned by the darkness of the night, in which, his want of light is the occasion, though not properly the cause of his wandering. Thus man is destitute of original righteousness, or those habits of supernatural grace, which are implanted in regeneration; and what can be the consequence thereof, but that his first actions, as soon as he is capable of doing good or evil, must contain in them nothing less than a sin of omission, or a defect of, and disinclination to, what is good? and, by this means, the soul becomes defiled, or inclined to sin; so that we first suppose it indisposed to what is good, and that this arises from its being destitute of supernatural grace, which it lost by Adam’s fall, 132and that God may deny this grace, without supposing him to be the author of sin; for he was not obliged to continue that to Adam’s posterity, which he forfeited, and lost for them. And that which follows, from hence, is, that the heart of man, by a continuance in sin after it is first tinctured with it, grows worse and worse, and more inclined to it than before. This I cannot better illustrate, than by comparing it to a drop of poison, injected into the veins of a man, which will by degrees corrupt the whole mass of blood.

As to what concerns the body, to which the soul was united, as giving occasion to these corrupt habits being contracted thereby, some have compared this to sweet oil’s being infected by a musty vessel, into which it is put; so the soul, created good, and put into a corrupt body, receives contagion from thence: and this conjunction of the pure soul with a corrupt body, is a just punishment of Adam’s sin. Thus a very learned and excellent divine accounts for this matter;[76] though this similitude does not indeed illustrate this matter in every circumstance, inasmuch as that tincture, which is received from a vessel in a physical way, cannot well agree with the corruption of the soul, which is of a moral nature; but yet I would make this use of it, as to observe what daily experience suggests, namely, that the constitution, or temperament of the body, has a very great influence on the soul, and is an occasion of various inclinations to sin, in which it acts, in an objective way. Therefore when we suppose a soul united to a body, that, according to the frame and constitution of its nature has a tendency to incline it to sin, and this soul is deprived of those supernatural habits, which would have fenced it against this contagion; what can ensue from hence, but that corruption of nature, whereby men are inclined to what is evil? which inclination increases daily, till men arrive to the most rooted habits and dispositions to all that is bad, and are, with more difficulty, reclaimed from it. This leads us to consider,

IV. The conveyance of original sin, from our first parents to their posterity, by natural generation, or how we are said to be born in sin. It is not the sin of our immediate parents that is imputed to us, for they stand in no other relation, but as natural, and not federal heads of their posterity; therefore the meaning of that answer, in which this doctrine is contained, is only this, that original sin is conveyed to us, by our immediate parents, with our being; so that, as we are born men, we are born sinners. Now, that we may consider this in consistency with what has been before laid down nothing can be inferred, from hence, but that the guilt of Adam’s first sin is conveyed to us with our being, and that habitual inclination that we have, 133which we call a propensity of nature to sin, is the consequence hereof; so that what our Saviour says, is a great truth, That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, John iii. 6. or every one that is born of sinful parents, will, as soon as he is capable thereof, be prone to sin. And this leads us to consider,

What is objected against what has been before laid down, in explaining this doctrine as though it were inconsistent with the sense of several scriptures, which speak of sin, as derived from our immediate parents. For the understanding of which, in general, let it be considered, that no sense of any scripture is true, that casts the least reflection on the divine perfections. If we could but prove, that our souls were propagated by our immediate parents, as our bodies are, there would be no difficulty in allowing the sense the objectors give of several scriptures, from whence they attempt to account for the corruption of nature in a different way, since God would not then be the immediate author thereof. But, supposing the soul to be created by God, we must take some other method to account for the sense of some scriptures, which are brought in opposition to the foregoing explication of the origin of moral evil.

The first scripture, which is generally brought against it, is, in Psal. li. 5. Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me; the meaning of which is, I was conceived, and born guilty of sin, with an inability to do what is good, and in such a state, that actual sin would necessarily ensue, as soon as I was capable of committing it, which would bring with it a propensity to all manner of sin. And that David had a sense of guilt, as well as the pollution of nature, is plain, from several verses of this Psalm; especially in ver. 9, 14. It is therefore as though he should say, I was a guilty creature, as soon as I was conceived in the womb; and left of God, and so sin has the ascendant over me. I was conceived a sinner by imputation, under the guilt of Adam’s first sin; and to this I have added much more guilt, and lately that of blood-guiltiness. So that though he is said to have been shapen in iniquity, it does not necessarily follow, that his soul was created with infused habits of sin. Whatever the parents are the cause of, with respect to this corruption and pollution, let it be attributed to them; but far be it from us to say, that God is the cause thereof.

Again, it is said, in Job xiv. 4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? no not one. It is no strain upon the sense of this text, to suppose, that by unclean, he means guilty; and by cleanness, innocency, as opposed to it; for, in most places of this book, it is so taken, that is, in a forensick sense; and therefore, why not in this? And, if so, then it is not at all inconsistent with the above-mentioned explication of this doctrine. 134See chap. xi. 4. I am clean in thine eyes, that is, guiltless; otherwise Zophar’s reply to him would not have been so just, when he saith, God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth; and, in chap. xv. 14. What is man, that he should be clean? and he, that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? where, to be righteous, seems to be exegetical of being clean; and both of them, being taken in a forensick sense, it agrees well with what Job is often reproved for, by his friends, namely, boasting too much of his righteousness, or cleanness: thus he says, in chap. xxxiii. 9. I am clean without transgression, neither is there iniquity in me; that is, I am not so guilty, as to deserve such a punishment, as he inflicts: He findeth occasions against me, &c. Surely, cleanness here is the same with innocence, as opposed to guilt; and, in chap. ix. 30. If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; this plainly implies, that if he should pretend himself guiltless, yet he could not answer the charge which God would bring against him, neither could they come together in judgment, ver. 32. Now, if this be so frequently, if not always, the sense of clean, in other places of this book, why may not we take the sense of these words, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, to be this; that a guilty child is born of a guilty parent, which will be accompanied with uncleanness, and it will be prone to sin, as soon as it is capable thereof?

Another scripture, which we bring to prove original sin, is in Gen. vi. 5. Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man, is only evil continually. Why may not we understand it thus? The imagination of the thoughts are evil, as soon as there are imaginations, or thoughts, though not before. And this rather respects the corruption of nature, than the first rise of it; and so does that parallel scripture; in Gen. viii. 21. The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; q. d. Sin increases with the exercise of reason.

And, in Psal. lviii. 3. The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies. This agrees well enough with what we have said concerning their separation from God, from the womb, from whence arises actual sin; so that they speak lies, as soon as they are capable of it.

There is also another scripture, usually brought to prove original sin, which is to be understood in a sense, not much unlike that which we but now mentioned, viz. Isa. xlviii. 8. Thou wast called a transgressor from the womb. This doth not overthrow what we have said; for a person may be a transgressor, as it were, from the womb, and yet the soul not have a propensity to sin implanted in it by God, in its first creation.

Again, in Gen. v. 3. Adam begat a son in his own likeness, 135that is, a fallen creature, involved in guilt, and liable to the curse, like himself; and that would be like him, in actual sin, when capable of it, born in his image, as having lost the divine image.

Again, in John iii. 6. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. We may understand this, that every one that is born of sinful parents, is a sinner, destitute of the Spirit of God, which is a great truth. But surely our Saviour did not design hereby to signify, that any one is framed by God with a propensity of sin; which is all that we militate against in this head.[77]

V. The last thing to be considered, is, that all actual transgressions proceed from original sin. These are like so many streams that flow from this fountain of corruption; the one discovers to us what we are by nature; the other, what we are by practice; and both afford us matter for repentance, and great humiliation, in the sight of God. But since we shall have occasion to enlarge on that part of this subject, which more especially relates to actual transgressions, with their respective aggravations, in some following answers,[78] we pass it over at present; and shall conclude this head with some practical inferences from what has been said, concerning the corruption of our nature, as being the spring of all actual transgressions.

1. We ought to put a due difference between the first discoveries there are of this corruption of our nature in our infancy, and that which arises from a course, or progress in sin; the latter has certainly greater aggravations in it than the former, and is like a spark of fire, blown up into a flame. Accordingly, 136it is our duty, as the apostle says, to exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any be hardened, that is, lest this corruption of nature be increased, through the deceitfulness of sin, Heb. iii. 13.

2. Let us carefully distinguish between being born innocent, which the Pelagians affirm, and we deny, and being born defiled with sin, and so having a propensity of nature to it, as soon as we have a being; or let us more especially take heed that we do not charge this on God, as though he were the author thereof, as well as of our being, as though it were infused by him, and not acquired by us.

3. Since this corruption of nature so early discovers itself, and abides in us, as long as we are in this world, let us take heed that we do not use means to increase it, by giving way to presumptuous sins; or endeavour to excite or draw it forth, either in ourselves, or others; for this will occasion abundance of actual transgressions.

Thus having considered that guilt which we bring with us into the world, and that corruption of nature, which discovers itself, as soon as we appear to be intelligent creatures, or are capable of any disposition to sin; we proceed to speak concerning the misery and punishment that ensues hereupon.

Quest. XXVII.

Quest. XXVII. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?

Answ. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse, so as we are, by nature, children of wrath, bond-slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

Having considered the doctrine of original sin, as imputed to, and inherent in us, we are now led to speak concerning the miseries that are consequent hereupon, or the punishment that is due to it. And, inasmuch as the former of these is equal in all; and the latter increases, in proportion to that degree of obstinacy, and hardness of heart, which discovers itself in all ages, and conditions of life, and it is attended with greater guilt, as it is more deeply rooted in us, and gains very great strength by actual sin; it is necessary for us to consider the punishment due to original sin, as such, and how it differs from a greater degree thereof, which is due to its increasing guilt. The former of these is not distinguished from the latter, by many who treat on this subject; which gives occasion to some, who deny original sin, to represent it in the most terrible view, as though there were no difference between 137the wrath of God, that infants are exposed to, and that which is inflicted on the most obdurate sinner: but, that we may remove prejudices against this doctrine, and set it in a just light, we shall consider the punishment due to original sin, in both these respects.

I. The punishment due to original sin, as such, namely, in those who are charged with no other guilt, but that of Adam’s first sin. This more especially respects those that die in their infancy, before they are capable of making any addition to it. Concerning these, I cannot but conclude with Augustin, in his defence of original sin against the Pelagians, that the punishment thereof is the most mild of any, and cannot be reckoned so great, as that it might be said of them, that it had been better for them not to have been born.[79]

That this may farther appear, let it be considered, that the punishment due to actual sin, or the corruption of nature increased thereby, is attended with accusations of conscience, inasmuch as the guilt, that is contracted by it, arises from the opposition of the will to God; and the alienation of the affections from him, is oftentimes attended with rebellion, against a great degree of light, and many other aggravations, taken from the engagements which we are under to the contrary, and is persisted in with obstinacy, against all those checks of conscience, and means used to prevent it; and, in proportion to the degree thereof, they, who contract this guilt, are said, as our Saviour speaks of the scribes and Pharisees, to be liable to the greater damnation, Matt. xxiii. 14. and the prophet Jeremiah speaks of some of the greatest opposers of his message, as those who should be destroyed with double destruction, Jer. xvii. 18. This is certainly a greater degree of punishment, than that which is due to original sin, as such; and, with respect to these, there are oftentimes many sad instances of the wrath of God breaking in upon the conscience, as he says by the Psalmist, that he would reprove them, and set their iniquities in order before their eyes, Psal. l. 21. and what our Saviour says elsewhere, concerning the worm that dieth not, Mark ix. 44. is to be applied to them. But this punishment does not belong to those who have no other guilt, but that of Adam’s sin, imputed to them.

If this can be made appear, as, I hope, we shall be able to do, it may have a tendency to remove some prejudices, which many entertain against the doctrine of original sin, who express themselves with such an air of insult, as though they were opposing a doctrine which is contrary to the dictates of human 138nature, as well as represents God, as exercising the greatest severity against those who are chargeable with no other sin than this; and they generally lay hold on some unwary expressions, contributing very little to the defence of this doctrine, which might as well have been spared; for they are no less exceptionable, though prefaced with an apology, for the want of pity, which such like unguarded expressions seem to contain in them, when they say, that their milder thoughts, concerning this matter, will do those infants, who are tormented in hell, no good, as their severer ones can do them no prejudice. We may therefore be allowed to make a farther enquiry into this matter, especially when we consider, that those, who die in infancy, will appear, at the last day, to have been a very considerable part of mankind. And some tender parents have had a due concern of spirit about their future state, and would be very glad, were it possible for them, to have some hopes concerning the happiness thereof.

Various have been the conjectures of divines about it. The Pelagians, and those who verge towards their scheme, have concluded, that they are all saved, as supposing that they are innocent, and not, in the least concerned in Adam’s sin: but this is to set aside the doctrine we are maintaining; and therefore, I cannot think their reasoning, in this respect very conclusive.

Others, who do not deny original sin, suppose, notwithstanding, that the guilt thereof is atoned for, by the blood of Christ. This would be a very agreeable notion, could it be proved; and all that I shall say, in answer to it, is, that it wants confirmation. As for those who suppose, with the Papists, that the guilt of original sin is washed away by baptism, as some of the fathers have also asserted, this has so many absurd consequences attending it, that I need not spend time in opposing it; one of them is, that it makes that, which, at most, is but a sign or ordinance, for our faith, in which we hope for the grace of regeneration to be the natural means of conferring it, which is contrary to the design of all the ordinances, which God has appointed: but, passing by this, which will afford little foundation for hope.

Others have concluded, that all the infants of believing parents, dying in infancy, are saved, as supposing that they are interested in the covenant of grace, in which God promises, that he will be a God to believers, and their seed. This would be a very comfortable thought, to those who have hope concerning their own state. But I cannot find that this argument is sufficiently maintained; since it seems very evident, that all such like promises rather respect the external, than the saving blessings of the covenant of grace.

Others therefore conclude, (as many good and pious Christians have done, that when they have been enabled, by an act 139of faith, in which they have enjoyed some sensible experience of the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit, to give up their infant-seed to Christ, whether it be in baptism, or not) from the frame of their own spirit, and the evidence they have had of the power of God, exciting this act of faith, that God would own that grace which he hath enabled them to exercise, and consequently that he has accepted of this solemn act of dedication of them to him, which has given them comfortable and quieting thoughts about the salvation of their infant-seed. This is not only an excellent method, used by them, but it seems to be as just a way of reasoning about the salvation of those who die in infancy, as any that is generally made use of; and, it may be, David might infer the salvation of his child, when he says, I shall go to him; but he shall not return to me, 2 Sam. xii. 23. from some such method as this. But, since these are uncommon instances of faith, and such as every sincere Christian has not always been found in the exercise of, I would hope, that there are multitudes of infants saved, concerning whom we have no certain ground to determine who they are; and why may not we suppose, that there are many of them, who belong to the election of grace, that are not the seed of believing parents? However, notwithstanding all the pious and kind thoughts, which the conjectures of men suggest, we must be content to leave this, as a secret that belongs to God, and not unto us to know.

Therefore all that I shall attempt, at present, is, to prove, that if all, who die in their infancy, are not saved, yet their condemnation is not like that which is due to actual sin, or those habits thereof, which are contracted by men. And here it must be allowed, pursuant to our former method of reasoning, that, if they are not saved, they have the punishment of loss inflicted on them; for the right to the heavenly blessedness, which Adam forfeited and lost, respected not only himself, but all his posterity. Whether they have any farther degree of punishment inflicted on them, or how far they are liable to the punishment of sense, I dare not pretend to determine. I do not care to conclude, with some of the Remonstrants, such as Episcopius, Curcellæus, and others, that they always remain in an infantine state, or, that they have no more ideas in the other world, than they had in this; for this is to suppose what cannot be proved. Besides, if they always remain in this state, this must be supposed, either to be the consequence of nature, and argued from their want of ideas, while they were in this world, or else it must be by a particular dispensation of providence, respecting some infants in the next, and not all. To suppose the former, is to suppose that none are saved, since remaining in an infantile state, is not salvation; 140for it is beyond dispute, the soul that is saved, whether it went out of the world an infant, or a man is exceedingly enlarged, and rendered receptive of the heavenly blessedness. And if, on the other hand, they suppose, that their remaining in this infantile state, is by a particular dispensation of providence, this, was it true, would be a small punishment, indeed, inflicted on them for Adam’s sin: But we have as little, or less ground to conclude this, than that all infants are saved; and therefore I cannot give into this notion, which, indeed, differs but little from that of the Papists, who suppose them, if dying unbaptized, to remain in a state of insensibility; which is no other, than an ungrounded conjecture. And, as for the account which we have, in some of their writings concerning the place alloted for them, which they call Limbus Infantium, and its situation between heaven and hell, this is no better than a theological romance; and it cannot but be reckoned trifling and ludicrous, and nothing else but an imposing their own fancies, as articles of faith.

I dare not, indeed, allow myself to be too peremptory, or give my thoughts too great a loose on this subject: but, since it is taken for granted by all, who give into the doctrine of original sin, that infants, if not saved, are liable to the punishment of loss, which has been before considered, as the immediate consequence of the imputation of Adam’s sin; yet it doth not appear, to me, that they have such a tormenting sense of the greatness of their loss, as others have who were adult, and had received the knowledge of divine things, which infants are not capable of. These, as it is more than probable, carry the ideas, which they had received of divine things, out of the world with them, which infants cannot be said to do; and therefore, if ever they have the knowledge thereof, and consequently of the glory of the heavenly state, it must be by extraordinary revelation. How far they may be led into this matter, by observing the glorious work, which shall be performed in the most visible manner, in the day of judgment, I pretend not to determine. This, indeed, will give them some apprehensions of the happiness which others are possessed of, and they are excluded from: But even this cannot have so great a tendency to enhanse their misery, as when hardened and presumptuous sinners, who have despised and neglected the means of grace, are said, as our Saviour speaks to the Jews, To see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, and they themselves thrust out, Luke xiii. 28. as intimating, that this will, in a judicial way, be a means to enhanse their misery; and consequently they cannot but have such a tormenting sense thereof, as what will make their loss appear greater, and so 141render them more miserable than infants can be, who never had these means of grace in this world.

But, because it is not safe to be too peremptory as to this matter, all that I shall farther observe is, that whatever conceptions they may have of the happiness, which they are not possessed of, yet they shall not have that part of the punishment of sin, which consists in self-reflection, on the dishonour that they have brought to God or the various aggravations of sin committed, which is a very great degree of the punishment of sin in hell; and therefore, when the wrath of God is said to break in on the consciences of men, whereby, in a judicial way, sins, before committed, are brought to remembrance, and the means of grace, which they have neglected, cannot but occasion the greatest distress and misery, this is certainly a punishment that infants cannot be liable to; and, if the condition of the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon is represented by our Saviour, as more tolerable than that of Capernaum, so in proportion the condemnation of infants, who have no other guilt but that of original sin, will be more tolerable than that of the heathen, inasmuch as they had no natural capacities of doing good or evil. And this is all that I pretend to determine, which amounts to no more than this, that, since punishment must be proportioned to the crime; as they are liable only to the guilt of Adam’s sin, which is much less than being liable to it, with those other transgressions that proceed from it, therefore their punishment must be less than that of any others. This, I think, may safely be asserted: and, if we proceed no farther in our enquiries about this matter, but confess our ignorance of many things relating to the state and capacity of separate souls, it will be more excuseable, than for us to pretend to a greater degree of knowledge, than is consistent with our present state.

II. We shall consider the punishment due to original sin, when attended with many actual sins, proceeding from a nature defiled, and prone to rebel against God. This is greater or less, in proportion to the habits of sin contracted, as will be more particularly considered, when we speak of the aggravations of sin, and its desert of punishment.[80] We shall therefore, at present, speak to it in the method in which it is laid down in this answer.

1. By the fall of our first parents, all mankind lost communion with God. This was enjoyed at first; for God having made man, with faculties capable of this privilege, designed to converse with him; and, indeed, this was one of the blessings promised in the covenant, which he was under, and it was a kind of prelibation of the heavenly state; therefore it follows, 142that the fall of our first parents could not but first expose themselves, and then their posterity, to the loss of this privilege; and, indeed, this was the more immediate result of sin committed, and guilt hereby contracted. It is a reflection on the divine perfections to suppose that God will have communion with sinners, while they remain in a state of rebellion against him; or that he will love and manifest himself to them, and admit them into his presence, as friends and favourites, unless there be a Mediator who engages to repair the injury offered to the holiness and justice of God, and secure the glory of his perfections, in making reconciliation for sin, and thereby bringing them into a state of friendship with God: But this privilege man had no right to, or knowledge of when first he fell, and consequently God and man could not walk together, as not being agreed, Amos iii. 3. God was obliged, in honour, to withdraw from him, and thereby testify his displeasure against sin, as he tells his people, Your iniquities have separated between you and your God; and your sins have hid his face from you, Isa. lix. 2.

This consequence of sin is judicial; and, at the same time, through the corruption of nature, as the result of that enmity against God, which follows on our fallen state, man is farther considered, as not desiring to converse with God: His guilt inclined him to fly from him, as a sin-revenging Judge; and his loss of God’s supernatural image, consisting in holiness of heart and life, rendered him disinclined, yea, averse to this privilege; so that, as he was separate from the presence of God, he desired to have nothing more to do with him, which is the immediate result of his sinful and fallen state.

2. Man, by his fall, was exposed to the divine displeasure, or to the wrath of God, in which respect, as the apostle says, we are, by nature children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. by which we are not to understand, as some do, who deny the guilt and punishment of original sin, that nothing is intended hereby, but that we are inclined to wrath as signifying those depraved and corrupt passions, whereby we are prone to hate God, and holiness, which is his image in man, which is rather the consequence of original sin, and discovers what we are by practice, whereas this text speaks of what we are by nature; and it seems a very great strain and force on the sense of the word, when some understand this mode of speaking, that we are children of wrath only by custom, which according to the proverbial expression is a second nature; or as tho’ it only signified the temper of their minds, or their behaviour towards one another, as giving way to their passions as the apostle says, that they lived in malice and envy, and hated one another, Tit. iii. 3. as though it denoted only the effects of the corruption 143of nature, not their liableness to the wrath of God due to it; whereas it is plain, that the apostle makes use of an hebraism, very frequently occurring in scripture, both in the Old and New Testament; as when a person, that is guilty of a capital crime, and liable to suffer death, is called, A son of death: so our Saviour calls Judas, who was liable to perdition, A son of perdition, John xvii. 12. so here children of wrath are those that were liable to the wrath of God, by which we are to understand that punishment, which is the demerit of sin; not that wrath is a passion in God, as it is in us; but it signifies either his will to punish, or his actual inflicting punishment on them, in proportion to the crimes committed, whereby he designs to glorify his holiness. If this be meant by the punishment due to all mankind, as they come into the world with the guilt of the sin of our first parents, in which respect guilt denotes a liableness to punishment and all punishment contains some degree of wrath; I say, if this be the meaning of their being so by nature, I am far from denying it. For the only thing that I have militated against, is, the supposition, that the punishment due to original sin imputed, bears an equal proportion to that of guilt contracted, whereby the nature of man is rendered more depraved, by a continuance in sin; and therefore I cannot but acquiesce in that explication given hereof by the learned Beza, who is a most strenuous defender of original sin,[81] who, when he speaks of men as children of wrath, by nature, as all mankind are included herein, understands this, not as referring to the human nature, as created by God; but as corrupted by its compliance with the suggestions of Satan; and therefore we suppose, that as the corruption of nature is daily increased, whatever punishment is due to it, at first, there is notwithstanding a greater condemnation, which it is exposed to, as the consequence of sin committed and continued in; and this is described, in scripture, in such a way, as renders it, beyond expression, dreadful; Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath, Psal. xc. 11. or, as the prophet says, Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger, Nah. i. 6.

3. Man, as fallen, is exposed to the curse of God, which is an external declaration of his hatred of sin, and will to punish it, which we sometimes call the condemning sentence of the law, as the apostle says, As many as are of the works of the law, are under a curse as it is written, Cursed is every one that 144continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. so that whatever threatnings there are by which God discovers his infinite hatred of sin, these we are liable to as the consequence of our fallen state; and accordingly, as we were, at first, separate from God, the sin of our nature tends, according to the various aggravations thereof, to make the breach the wider, and our condemnation much greater.

4. By the fall, we became bond-slaves to Satan: thus it is said, that the devil has the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. and sinners are described, as walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2. and he is elsewhere described, as a strong man armed, who keeps the palace, till a stronger than he shall overcome him, and take from him all his armour, Luke xi. 21, 22. The heart of man is the throne in which he reigns, and men are naturally inclined to yield themselves slaves to him, and corrupt nature gives him the greatest advantage against us. None of us can say, as our Saviour did, The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me, John xiv. 30. for we are as ready to comply, as he is to tempt, especially if not prevented by the grace of God, and therefore may well be said to be bond-slaves to him. No age, or condition of life, is exempted from his assaults, and he suits his temptations to our natural tempers, and hereby we are overcome, and more and more enslaved by him; and certainly this must be a state of misery, and that more especially, because such are enemies to Christ, and withdraw themselves from his service, despising his protection, and the rewards he has promised to his faithful servants; and our Saviour says, that we cannot serve two masters, Mat. vi. 24. and so long as we continue bond-slaves to Satan, we contract greater guilt, and the dominion of sin increases therewith; so that to be the servants of Satan, is to be the servants of sin; and we are herein miserable, in that we serve one who intends nothing but our ruin, and is pleased in all steps leading to it, and will be as ready to accuse, torment, and make us more miserable in the end, as he is to solicit or desire our service, or as we can be to obey him. Let us therefore use our utmost endeavours, that we may be free from this bondage and servitude; and accordingly let us consider,

(1.) That Satan has no right to our service. Though he be permitted to rule over the children of disobedience; yet he has no divine grant, or warrant for it, to render it lawful for him to demand it, or us to comply therewith, and he is no other than an usurper, and declared enemy to the king of heaven; and, 145though sinners are suffered to give themselves up to him, this is far from being by divine approbation; therefore,

(2.) Let us professedly renounce, groan under, and endeavour, through the grace of God to withdraw ourselves from his service, whenever we are led captive by him, and not be his willing slaves, to obey him with our free consent, or out of choice, and with pleasure; and, in order hereunto,

(3.) Let us list ourselves into Christ’s service, put ourselves under his protection, and desire his help, against the wiles and fiery darts of the devil.

(4.) Let us improve the proclamation of liberty made in the gospel, and rejoice in it, as the most desirable blessing, If the Son make you free, then shall ye be free indeed, John viii. 36.

The last thing observed in this answer, is, that, as fallen creatures we are justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come; by which we are to understand, not only the consequences of original sin, imputed to, but inherent in us, and increased by that guilt which we daily contract, which exposes the sinner to punishment in both worlds, in proportion to the aggravations thereof. This we are led to speak to, in the two following answers.[82]

146

Quest. XXVIII., XXIX.

Quest. XXVIII. What are the punishments of sin in this world?

Answ. The punishments of sin in this world, are either inward as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments, together with death itself.

Quest. XXIX. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?

Answ. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire for ever.

I. In the former of these answers, we have an account of those punishments which sin exposes men to in this world. These are distinguished as being either inward or outward, personal or relative; of which, those that are styled outward, which more especially respect our condition in the world, as we are liable to many adverse dispensations of providence therein, and are generally reckoned, by sinners, the greatest, as they are most sensible while they groan under the many evils and miseries which befall them, in their bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments, and they end in death, the most formidable of all evils; though, in reality, the punishments of sin, which are styled inward, such as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, &c. how little soever they are regarded by those who fall under them, by reason of that stupidity, which is the natural consequence thereof: yet they are, by far, the greatest and most dreaded by all, who truly fear God, and see things in a just light being duly affected with that which would render them most miserable in the end.

Here we shall consider,

First, Those punishments that are called inward, which respect either the understanding, will, conscience, or affections. Accordingly,

1. We are said to be exposed to blindness of mind: This the apostle describes in a most moving way, when he speaks of the Gentiles, as walking in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, Eph. iv. 17, 18. Ignorance and error are defects of the understanding, whereby it is not able to find out, nor desirous to enquire after the way of truth and peace; and accordingly the apostle says, The way of peace have they not known, 147Rom. iii. 17. and by reason hereof, we are naturally inclined to deny those doctrines, which are of the greatest importance, namely, such as more immediately concern the glory of God, and our own salvation. This ignorance is certainly most dangerous, and cannot be exempted from the charge of sin, much more when we are judicially left to it, as a punishment for other sins committed by us.

2. Another punishment of sin, mentioned in this answer, is strong delusion, which is the consequence of the former. This is taken from the apostle’s words, For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, 2 Thess. ii. 11. the meaning of which is nothing else but this, that God suffers them, who receive not the love of the truth, but take pleasure in unrighteousness, to be deluded, by denying them that spiritual and saving illumination, which would have effectually prevented it. Now, that we may consider what the apostle means by these strong delusions, we may observe, that every error, or mistake in lesser matters of religion, is not intended hereby; for then few or none, would be exempted from this judgment; but it includes in it a person’s entertaining the most abominable absurdities in matters of religion, which are contrary to the divine perfections, and the whole tenor of scripture, and subversive of those truths, which are of the greatest importance; or, when persons pretend to revelations, or are turned away from the truth by giving credit to the amusements of signs, and lying wonders; with which Antichrist is said to come, after the working of Satan; and the consequence hereof is, that they believe a lye, which they suppose to be confirmed hereby.

Errors, in matter of religion, are sometimes invincible and unavoidable, for want of objective light, or scripture-revelation, as in the Heathen, Mahometans, and others, who through the disadvantages and prejudices of education, are estranged from the truth: but even this in some respects, may be said to be judicial; for, though such do not sin against the gospel-light, yet they are guilty of other sins, which justly provoke God to leave them in this state of darkness and ignorance. But the punishment of sin, when God gives men up to this judgment, is more visible in those, who have had the advantages of education, above others, and have had early instructions in the doctrines of the gospel; yet, by degrees, they are turned aside from, and have denied them, and so forsaken the guide of their youth, Prov. ii. 17. These sometimes call those sentiments about religious matters, which once they received, implicit faith, and please themselves with their new schemes of doctrine, looking, as they call it, with pity, or, I might rather say, disdain, on others, who are not disentangled from their fetters, 148or have not shook off the prejudices of education, nor arrived to so free and generous a way of thinking, as they pretend to have done. But how much soever they may glory in it, it is a sad instance of God’s giving them up, in a judicial way, to the vanity and delusion of their minds; and accordingly they believe that to be a truth, which others can prove to be a lie, and which they themselves once thought so. Now this appears to be a punishment of sin, in that the gospel, which once they professed to believe, had not that effect, or tendency, as it ought, to subdue their lusts and corruptions; but they rebelled against the light, and were under the power of presumptuous sins: their understanding, and talents of reasoning, have been enlarged, and, at the same time, the pride and vanity of their minds hath not been subdued, and mortified, by the grace of God; whereupon, they have been given up first to question, then to deny, and afterwards to oppose, and, in the most profane and invidious manner, to ridicule those sacred and important truths, which they once received. This is a sad instance of the punishment of sin; and the use that I would make of it, may be in the following inferences.

(1.) That we ought not to be content with a bare speculative knowledge of divine truths, but should endeavour to improve them, to promote practical godliness, as they have a tendency to do in all those, who, as the apostle saith, have so learned Christ, as that they have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21.

(2.) We ought not to content ourselves with an implicit faith, or believe the doctrines of the gospel, merely because they have been received by wise and good men, in former or later ages, but should be able to render a reason of the faith and hope that is in us, as built upon clear scripture evidence; so, on the other hand, we must take heed that we do not despise the many testimonies which God’s people have given to the truth, or forsake the footsteps of the flock, as though God had left his servants to delusions, or groundless doctrines, and there were no light in the world, or the church, till those, who have studiously endeavoured to overthrow the faith delivered to, and maintained by the saints, brought in that which they, with vain-boasting, call new light, into it.

(3.) Let us strive against the pride of our understanding, which oftentimes tempts us to disbelieve any doctrine which we cannot fully account for, by our shallow methods of reasoning, as though we were the only men that knew any thing; and, as Job says, Wisdom must die with us, Job xii. 2.

(4.) If we are in doubt concerning any important truth, let us apply ourselves, by faith and prayer, to Christ, the great prophet of his church, who has promised his Spirit to lead his 149people into all necessary truth, to establish them in, and to keep them from being turned aside from it, by every wind of doctrine, through the management and sophistry of those who lie in wait to deceive. And to this we may add, that we ought to bless God for, and to make a right use of the labours of others, who have not only been led into the knowledge of the gospel themselves, but have taken a great deal of pains, and that with good success, to establish the faith of others therein.

(5.) If we have attained to a settled knowledge of the truth, and, more especially, if we have been blessed with a spiritual and practical discerning thereof, let us bless God for it, and endeavour to improve it to the best purposes, which will be a preservative against this sore judgment of being given up to the blindness of our minds, or strong delusions, and thereby to forsake our first faith.

3. Another punishment of sin, which more especially respects the will, is hardness of heart, and a reprobate sense, when men are given up to the perverseness and obstinacy of their natures, so that they are fixedly resolved to continue in sin, whatever be the consequence thereof, when they cannot bear reproof for, and refuse to be reclaimed from it, whatever methods are used in order thereunto. Thus the prophet speaks, concerning a people, which had had forewarnings by sore judgments, and were, at that time, under sad rebukes of providence; yet God says, concerning them, They will not hearken unto me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted, Ezek. iii. 7. and the apostle speaks of some, who have their consciences seared with a hot iron, 1 Tim. iv. 2. and others, who are described, as sinning wilfully, Heb. v. 26. that is, resolutely, being head-strong, and determined to persist therein; and are as the man described in Job, Who stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty; he runneth upon him, even upon his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers, Job xv. 25. Thus corrupt nature expresses its enmity and opposition to God; and, as sinners are suffered to go on in this way, it may well be reckoned a punishment of sin, or an instance of God’s judicial hand against them for it. This hardness of heart is sometimes compared to a stone, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. or a rock, Jer. xxiii. 19. or an adamant, which is hardly broken with a hammer, Zech. vii. 12. or an iron sinew, and their brow is said to be as brass, Isa. xlviii. 4. and sometimes they are compared to a swift dromedary, traversing her ways; or the wild ass, used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure, Jer. ii. 23, 24. and the bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, Jer. xxxi. 18. or to the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ears; that will not hearken to the voice of the charmers, charming never so wisely, Psal. lviii. 4, 5. This stupidity of 150the heart of man is so great, that it inclines him to go on in a course of rebellion against God, and, at the same time, to conclude all things to be well; whereas, this is the most dangerous symptom, and a visible instance of God’s judicial hand, as a punishment of sin in this life. There are several instances, in which this hardness of heart discovers itself; as,

(1.) When men are not afraid of God’s judgments threatened, nor regard the warnings given thereof before-hand, or when they refuse to humble themselves under them, as God says to Pharaoh, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? Exod. x. 3.

(2.) When they stifle, and do not regard those convictions of conscience, which they sometimes have; and, though they know that what they do is sinful, and displeasing to God, yet they break through all those fences, which should have prevented their committing it, as the apostle speaks of some, Who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things, are worthy death; not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them, Rom. i. 32.

(3.) Men may be said to be hardened in sin, when they do not mourn for, or repent of it, after they have committed it: but, on the other hand, endeavour to conceal, extenuate, and plead for it, rather than to forsake it. And here we may take occasion to enquire,

[1.] What are those sins which more especially lead to this judgment of hardness of heart. These are,

1st, A neglect of ordinances, such as the word preached, as though we counted it an indifferent matter, whether we wait at wisdom’s gate, or no, or make a visible profession of subjection to Christ, and desire of communion with him herein; and particularly when we live in the constant neglect of secret prayer: thus the hardened sinner is described, when it is said, Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God, Job xv. 4.

2dly, Another sin leading to it, is, a person’s delighting in, or associating himself with such companions, as are empty and vain, express an enmity to the power of godliness, and frequently make things sacred, the subject of their wit and ridicule, choosing such for his bosom-friends, who cannot bear to converse about divine things, but rather depreciate, or cast contempt upon them; such an one is called, A companion of fools, and is opposed to those that walk with wise men, who shall be wise, Prov. xiii. 20. and there is no method which will have a more direct tendency to harden the heart, or root out any of the remains of serious religion, than this.

3dly, A shunning faithful reproof, or concluding those our enemies, who are, in this respect, our best friends. He that cannot bear to be told of his crimes, by others, will, in a little 151while, cease to be a reprover to himself, and hereby will be exposed to this judgment of hardness of heart.

4thly, Our venturing on the occasions of sin, or committing it presumptuously, without considering the heinous aggravations thereof, or the danger that will ensue to us thereby; these things will certainly bring on us a very great degree of hardness of heart.

But, since there are some who are afraid of falling under this judgment, and are ready to complain, that the hardness, which they find in their own hearts, is of a judicial nature; this leads us to enquire,

[2.] What is the difference between that hardness of heart, which believers often complain of, and judicial hardness, which is considered, in this answer, as a punishment of sin. There is nothing that a believer more complains of, than the hardness and impenitency of his heart, its lukewarmness and stupidity under the ordinances; and there is nothing that he more desires, than to have this redressed, and is sometimes not without a degree of fear, lest he should be given up to judicial hardness; and therefore, to prevent discouragements of this nature, let it be considered,

(1.) That judicial hardness is very seldom perceived, and never lamented; a broken and a contrite heart is the least thing that such desire: But it is otherwise with believers; for, as it is said of Hezekiah, that he was humbled for the pride of his heart, 2 Chron. xxxii. 26. so all they, who have the truth of grace, and none but such, are exceedingly grieved for the hardness of their heart, which is an argument that it is not judicial, how much soever it be, in common with every sin, the result of the corruption of nature, and the imperfection of this present state.

(2.) Judicial hardness is perpetual; or, if ever there be any remorse, or relenting, or the soul is distressed, by reason of its guilt, or the prevalency of sin, it is only at such times when he is under some outward afflictions, or filled with a dread of the wrath of God; and, as this wears off, or abates, his stupidity returns as much, or more, than ever: Thus it was with Pharaoh, when he was affrighted with the mighty thundering and hail, with which he was plagued, he sent for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked, Exod. ix. 27. but, when the plague was removed, it is said, that he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart. But it is otherwise with a believer; for sometimes, when no adverse dispensations, with respect to his outward circumstances in the world, trouble him, yet he is full of complaints, and greatly afflicted, that his heart is no more affected in holy duties, or inflamed with love to God, or zeal for his glory, or 152that he cannot delight in him as he would, or obtain a compleat victory over in-dwelling sin, which is his constant burden; and, whenever he has a degree of tenderness, or brokenness of heart, under a sense of sin, it is not barely the fear that he has of the wrath of God, as a sin-revenging judge, or the dreadful consequences of sin committed, that occasion it, but a due sense of that ingratitude and disingenuity, which there is in every act of rebellion against him, who has laid them under such inexpressible obligations to obedience.

(3.) Judicial hardness is attended with a total neglect of all holy duties, more especially those that are secret; but that hardness of heart which a believer complains of, though it occasions his going on very uncomfortably in duty, yet it rather puts him upon, than drives him from it.

(4.) When a person is judicially hardened, he makes use of indirect and unwarrantable methods to maintain that false peace, which he thinks himself happy in the enjoyment of; that, which he betakes himself to, deserves no better character than a refuge of lies; and the peace he rejoices in, deserves no better a name than stupidity: but a believer, when complaining of the hardness of his heart, cannot take up with any thing short of Christ, and his righteousness; and it is his presence that gives him peace; and he always desires that faith may accompany his repentance, that so, whenever he mourns for sin, the comfortable sense of his interest in him, may afford him a solid and lasting peace, which is vastly different from that stupidity and hardness of heart, which is a punishment of sin.

There is another expression in this answer, which denotes little more than a greater degree of judicial hardness, when it is styled, A reprobate sense, or, as the apostle calls it, A reprobate mind, Rom. i. 28. which God is said to have given them up to, who did not like to retain him in their knowledge; the meaning of which is, that persons, by a course of sin, render their hearts so hard, their wills so obstinate and depraved, as well as their understandings so dark and defiled, that they hardly retain those notices of good and evil, which are enstamped on the nature of man, and, at some times, have a tendency to check for, and restrain from sin, till they are entirely lost, and extinguished by the prevalency of corrupt nature, and a continued course of presumptuous sins; and, as the result hereof, they extenuate and excuse the greatest abominations: Thus Ephraim is represented, as saying, In all my labours, they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin, Hos. xii. 8. whereas God says in a following verse, that they provoked him to anger most bitterly, ver. 14. and, after this, they entertain favourable thoughts of the vilest actions, as some are represented doing, Who call evil good, and 153good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, Isa. v. 20.

4. The next spiritual judgment mentioned in this answer, as a punishment for sin, is a person’s being given up to vile affections. This God is said to have done, to those whom the apostle describes, as giving themselves over to the committing of those sins, which are contrary to nature, Rom. i. 26. such as all men generally abhor, who do not abandon themselves to the most notorious crimes: This is a contracting that guilt, which is repugnant to those natural ideas of virtue and vice, which even an unregenerate man, who has not arrived to this degree of impiety, cannot but abhor. These are such as are not to be named among Christians, or thought of, without the utmost regret, and an afflictive sense of the degeneracy of human nature.

5. The last thing mentioned in this answer, in which the inward punishment of sin, in this life, consists, is, Horror of conscience. Under the foregoing instances of spiritual judgments, conscience seemed to be asleep, but now it is awakened, and that by the immediate hand of God, and this is attended with a dread of his wrath falling upon it: horror and despair are the result hereof; The arrows of the Almighty are within him, the poison whereof drinketh up his spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against him, Job vi. 4. and, Terrors take hold on him as waters; a tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth; and, as a storm, hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him, and not spare; he would fain flee out of his hand, chap. xxvii. 20-22.

This differs from those doubts and fears, which are common to believers, inasmuch as it is attended with despair, and a dreadful view of God, as a God to whom vengeance belongeth, and is attended, as the apostle says, with a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries, Heb. x. 27. Before this, he took a great deal of pains to stifle convictions of conscience, but now he would fain do it, but cannot; which is a sad instance of the wrath of God pouring forth gall and wormwood into it, when he says, to use the prophet’s words, Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee, Jer. ii. 19.

But, now we are speaking concerning horror of conscience, we must take heed, lest we give occasion to doubting believers, who are under great distress of soul, through a sense of sin, to apply what has been said, to themselves, for their farther discouragement, and conclude, that this is a judicial act of God, and a certain evidence, that they have not the truth of grace: Therefore we may observe, that there is a difference between this horror of conscience, which we have been describing, and 154that distress of soul, which believers are often liable to, in three respects.

(1.) The former, under horror of conscience, flee from God, as from an enemy, and desire only to be delivered from his wrath, and not from sin, the occasion of it; whereas the believer desires nothing so much, as that his iniquity, which is the occasion of it, may be subdued and forgiven, and that he may have that communion with God which he is destitute of; and, in order thereunto, he constantly desires to draw nigh to him in ordinances, and, if he cannot enjoy him he mourns after him: Thus the Psalmist complaineth, as one in the utmost degree of distress, Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves, Psal. lxxxviii. 7. yet he says, Unto thee have I cried, O Lord, and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee, ver. 13.

(2.) The one reproaches God, and entertains unworthy thoughts of him, as though he were severe, cruel, and unjust to him; whereas the other, with an humble and penitent frame of spirit, complains only of himself, acknowledges that there is no unrighteousness with God, and lays all the blame to his own iniquity.

(3.) Horror of conscience, when it is judicial, seldom continues any longer, than while a person is under some outward afflictive dispensation of providence, under which sin is increased, and the removal thereof leaves him as stupid as he was before: whereas it is otherwise with a believer; for the removal of God’s afflicting hand, as to outward troubles, will not afford him any remedy against his fears, unless sin be mortified, and God is pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon him, and give him joy and peace in believing.

Secondly, Having considered the inward punishments of sin in this life we are now to speak something concerning those, which, in this answer, are styled outward, of which some are the immediate consequence of the first entrance of sin into the world, and others are increased by the frequent commission thereof; the former includes in it the curse of God upon the creature for our sakes, and our liableness to death; the latter respects those various other evils that befal us, of which some are personal, and others relative; accordingly, many evils are said to befal us, in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments.

1. The curse of God was denounced against the creatures, immediately after man’s apostasy from him: This is, in part, contained in the threatning, Cursed be the ground for thy sake. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground, Gen. iii. 17-19. and it is very elegantly described by the apostle, who speaks of[83] the creature as subject to vanity, not willingly 155but by reason of him, who hath subjected the same in hope;[84] and of the whole creation’s groaning and travelling in pain together until now, Rom. viii. 20-22. the general scope and design whereof seems to be this, that it retains the visible marks of the curse of God, which followed upon man’s sin. This I rather think to be the sense thereof, than to suppose, as some do, that the creature, here spoken of, is the Gentile world, and the vanity, which they were subject to, that idolatry which they were universally addicted to; for that does not seem to agree with what the apostle says, when he supposes that their subjection to this vanity was not willingly, neither can it well be called the bondage of corruption. But if, on the other hand, we take it for that part of the creation, which was more immediately designed for the use of man, being abused, and so subject to that vanity, which is the consequence of his fall, this agrees very well with its being not willingly; for he is speaking here of creatures not endowed with understanding and will, yet abused by those that are, and therefore their subjection to man’s vanity, is not so much from themselves, as from man’s sin; and then he speaks of the liableness of all these things to corruption, as the world is decaying and growing toward a dissolution. How far this curse of God, on the creature, extended itself, whether only to this lower world, or to the heavenly bodies themselves, such as the sun, moon, and stars, I pretend not to determine; for I desire not to extend my conjectures beyond the line of scripture, which speaks of the earth, as cursed for man’s sake; and how far the other parts of nature, are liable to corruption, or inclined towards a dissolution, it is hard to say. All that I shall add, on this head, is, that, when this is called a punishment, which is consequent on man’s sin, it more especially respects man, who is the only subject of punishment in this world: inanimate creatures are the matter, in which he is punished, but he alone is the subject thereof.

2. There are other evils that befal us, in which we are more immediately concerned, and these are either personal or relative; and, accordingly,

(1.) We are liable to bodily diseases, which are a continual weakness, or decay of nature; and afterwards to death, which is the dissolution of the frame thereof. All the pains and disorders of nature, whereby our health is impaired, and our passage, through this world, rendered uneasy, are the consequence of our sinful and fallen state, and, in that respect, are sometimes styled, a punishment of sin: thus, when our Saviour healed the man that was sick of the palsy, he intimates, that his sickness was the consequence of sin, by the mode of expression used, Thy sins are forgiven thee, Mat. ix. 2. and the Psalmist speaks 156of God’s pardoning the iniquities of his people, and healing all their diseases, Psal. ciii. 3. at the same time; in this respect, they are styled, in a more large sense, a punishment of sin: but, when they have a mixture of the wrath of God in them, and are not rendered subservient to our good, nor included among those dispensations, which are called fatherly chastisements, as they are not in those that are in an unjustified state, they are, in a more proper sense, punishments of sin. Thus the diseases that God brought on the Egyptians, are reckoned among the plagues of Egypt, and so were a visible instance of the vindictive justice of God. The same thing may be said of death, which is the dissolution of the frame of nature, which is a consequence of sin, in all, and in the most proper sense, a punishment of sin, in those, who are liable not only to the stroke, but the sting of death, and thereby are brought under the power of the second death.

(2.) There are many evils that befal us in our names, when we meet with reproaches and injurious treatment, as to what concerns our character in the world, from those who act as though their tongues were their own, and they were not accountable to God, for those slanders and revilings, which they load us with. We are, in this case, very ready to complain of the injustice done us, by their endeavouring to deprive us of that, which is equally valuable with our lives: but we ought to consider, that sin is the cause of all this, and God’s suffering them thus to treat us, and thereby to hinder our usefulness in the world, must be reckoned a punishment of sin.

(3.) There are other evils that befal us in our secular concerns, namely, our estates and employments in the world, which are entirely at the disposal of providence, which renders us rich, or poor, succeeds, or blasts, our lawful undertakings. This God may do, out of his mere sovereignty, without giving an account of his matters to any one. But yet, when we meet with nothing but disappointments, or want of success in business, and whatever diligence, or industry, we use, appears to be to no purpose, and adverse providences, like a torrent, sweep away all that we have in the world, and poverty comes upon us, like an armed man, this is to be reckoned no other than a punishment of sin.

(4.) There are other evils, which we are exposed to, in our relations, by which we understand, the wickedness of those who are nearly related to us, or the steps they take to ruin themselves, and cast a blemish on the whole family to which they belong. The bonds of nature, and that affection, which is the result thereof, render this very afflictive: and especially when they, who are related to us, attempt any thing against us to our prejudice, this is a circumstance that sharpeneth the edge of the affliction. And, as it is a sin in them, which is contrary 157to the dictates of nature; so sometimes we may reckon it a punishment which we are liable to, as the consequence of our sin in general. But, if we have occasion to reflect on our former conversation, as not having filled up every relation with those respective duties, that it engages to; if we have been undutiful to our parents, or unfaithful servants to our masters, or broke the bonds of civil society, by betraying or deserting our friends, and setting aside all those obligations which they have laid us under; this oftentimes exposes us to afflictive evils of the like nature, whereby the affliction we meet with in others, appears to be a punishment of our own sin. Thus concerning the punishment of sin in this life; from whence we may make the following remarks.

1. Whatever evils we are exposed to in this world, we ought to be very earnest with God, that he would not give us up to spiritual judgments. The punishments of sin, which are outward, may be alleviated and sweetened with a sense of God’s love, and made subservient to our spiritual and eternal advantage. But blindness of mind, hardness of heart, and those other evils, which tend to vitiate and defile the soul, which have in them the formal nature of punishment, these are to be dreaded like hell; and, as we are to be importunate with God to prevent them, so we ought to watch against those sins that lead to them; and therefore let us take heed of being insensible, or stupid, under any afflictive evils, as neglecting to hear the voice of God, who speaks by them, or refusing to receive instruction by correction.

2. Let us not be too much dejected, or sink under those outward afflictive providences, which we are liable to; for, though they be the consequence of sin, yet, if we have ground to conclude, by faith, that our sins are forgiven, they are not to be reckoned the stroke of justice, demanding satisfaction, and resolving never to remove its hand from us, till we are consumed thereby; since believers often experience, what the prophet prays for, that God in wrath remembers mercy, Hab. iii. 2.

3. Let us take heed that we do not ascribe afflictive providences to chance, or content ourselves with a bare reflection on them, as the common lot of man in this world, who is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards: For, this we may do, and not be humbled for that sin, which they are designed to bring to remembrance, as they are to be reckoned a punishment thereof.

4. Let us not murmur, or quarrel with God, as though he dealt hardly with us, in sending afflictive evils; but rather let us bless him, how heavy soever they appear to be, that they are not extreme, but mitigated, and have in them a great mixture of mercy. Thus God says, concerning the evils that he had brought upon Israel, that in measure he would debate with 158them, who stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind: and by this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, Isa. xxvii. 8, 9. and, by this means, God not only afflicts us less than our iniquities deserve, but brings good to us thereby in the end. If the guilt of sin is taken away, we have ground to conclude, that all these things shall work together for good, as he has promised they shall, to those that love him. This leads us to consider,

II. The punishment of sin in the world to come. Though the wrath of God be revealed, in many instances, in a very terrible manner, as a punishment of sin in this life, yet there is a punishment unspeakably greater, which sinners are liable to, in the world to come. That this may appear, let us consider the following propositions.

1. That the soul exists after its separation from the body by death; which is evident, from the immateriality thereof, and its being of a different nature from the body. This was known and proved by the light of nature; so that the very heathen, who had no other light than that to guide them, discover some knowledge of it. But this is more plain from scripture; as when it is said, Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, Matt. x. 28.

2. The soul thus existing, though separate from its body, must be supposed to retain those powers and capacities it had, while united to it, which are proper to it, as a spirit, and particularly as the subject of moral government; and those powers and capacities may also be supposed to be in it in a greater degree, when dislodged from the body, which is a great hindrance to it in its actings, as every one sensibly experiences; therefore it follows,

3. That it cannot but be happy, or miserable, in another world; for there is no middle state between these two. This is farther evident from what was observed in the last proposition, concerning the continuance and increase of its powers and faculties, whereby it is rendered more capable thereof, than it is now.

4. If it goes out of this world, under the weight and guilt of sin upon it, it must retain that guilt, because there is no sacrifice for sin, extending itself to that world; no mediator, no gospel, or means of grace; no promises of, or way to obtain forgiveness; therefore,

5. Wicked men, whose sins are not forgiven in this world, are the subjects of punishment in the other.

6. This punishment cannot be castigatory, or paternal, or consistent with the special love of God, or, for their advantage, as the punishments of the sins of believers are in this world, since it is always expressed as the stroke of vindictive justice, demanding satisfaction for sins committed.

1597. Some are happy in a future state, namely, those who are justified; for, whom he justified, them he also glorified, Rom. viii. 30. But this is not the privilege of all; therefore they who are not justified, or whose sins are not pardoned, are the subjects of the punishment of sin in the world to come. This is a very awful subject, and should be duly improved, to awaken our fears, and put us upon using those means, which God has ordained to escape it. But I shall not, in this place, enlarge upon it, since it is particularly insisted on under another answer,[85] and therefore I shall only observe, that, as sin is objectively infinite, as being against an infinite God, it deserves eternal punishment. And therefore all the punishments inflicted on sinners, in this world are not proportioned to it; and consequently there are vials of wrath, reserved in store, to be poured on those, who wilfully and obstinately persist in their rebellion against God, and the punishment will be agreeable to the nature of the crime; so that as sin is a separation of the heart and affections from God, and contains in it a disinclination to converse with him, as well as unmeetness for it, the punishment thereof will consist in a separation from his comfortable presence, and that is to be separated from the fountain of blessedness, which must render the soul beyond expression, miserable. This is generally called a punishment of loss; and there is besides it, a punishment of sense, expressed by those grievous torments, which are to be endured in soul and body; the soul, in a moral sense, may be said to be capable of pain, as it has an afflictive sensation of those miseries which it endures; and the body is so in a natural sense, which, as it has been a partner with the soul in sinning, must likewise be so in suffering. And this farther appears inasmuch as the body endures several pains and evils, as punishments of sin in this life, which shall be continued, and increased in another. This is usually expressed by that punishment, which is most terrible, namely, of fire; and the place in which it is inflicted, is hell, and the duration thereof is to eternity. But of these things elsewhere.[86]

160

Quest. XXX.

Quest. XXX. Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?

Answ. God will not leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called, the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy, delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them to an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.

Hitherto we have considered man as made upright, and having many blessings in possession, and more in expectation, according to the tenor of the covenant he was under. 161We have also observed the first entrance of sin into the world, with all those miseries that attended it; and we are now led to speak of that inestimable display of divine love and grace, which appears in our salvation, which is considered more generally in this answer; wherein there is,

I. Something supposed, namely, that if God had left man in the state into which he brought himself by sin, he would have perished for ever. He was not only in danger of ruin and destruction, but sunk into it. He was like a brand in the fire, that would soon have been consumed, had he not been plucked out of it. His state was not only miserable, but hopeless, inasmuch as he could not think of any expedient how he might recover himself. He was guilty, and no creature could make atonement for him; separated from the comfortable presence of God, whose terrors made him afraid, and whose hand was heavy upon him; neither could he apply himself to any one, who would interpose or appear in his behalf, whereby he might be restored to the enjoyment of those privileges, which he had forfeited and lost. What tongue can express, or heart be suitably affected with the misery of this condition! And this would have been our deplorable case for ever, had we been left of God in our fallen state. But we have, in the gospel, a door of salvation opened, or glad tidings proclaimed therein, to those who were sunk as low as hell, which is the only spring and hope of comfort, to those who are afflicted with a sense of their sin and misery. Accordingly, it is farther observed,

II. That God will not leave all mankind to perish in that state, but designed to deliver his elect out of it, and bring them into a state of salvation. That God designed not to leave mankind in this miserable condition, appears from the discovery he has made of the way of salvation which was contained in that promise, which God gave to our first parents, respecting the seed of the woman, who was to break the serpent’s head; or the Saviour’s being manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil; and all the promises contained in the gospel, are, as it were, a farther improvement on it, or a continued declaration of God’s purpose relating to the salvation of his people. The work of redemption wrought out by Christ, as God incarnate, was a wonderful discovery of this great truth, that God had a design to recover and save lost sinners; and all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, by whom the redemption purchased by Christ, is applied, and that joy and peace, which they have in believing, which are, as it were, the first fruits of eternal life, these are all a convincing proof that God determined not to leave man to perish in his fallen state. And to this we may add, that even the malice and rage of Satan, and all the endeavours used by him, to defeat this design, and the 162glorious victory which God enables his people to obtain over him, who are made more than conquerors through him that loved them; these are so many convincing proofs, that God designed not to leave man, in his ruined condition, but to make known to him the way of salvation; first, to make him meet for it, and then to bring him to the possession of it.

Salvation is an inestimable privilege, containing in it all the ingredients of blessedness, such as are adapted to the condition of miserable sinners; and it is a very comprehensive one; which will appear, if we consider what we are hereby delivered from, and what we are possessed of. There is a great variety of blessings contained in the former of these; as, we are saved from sin, namely, from the guilt thereof in justification, and from the dominion thereof in sanctification, and from that bondage we were liable to, whereby we were in perpetual dread of the wrath of God, desiring to fly from his presence, and naturally inclined to yield ourselves subjects and slaves to his greatest enemy: all these we are delivered from. And there are many positive blessings and privileges, which we are made partakers of; such as, grace and peace begun here, and perfected in glory hereafter; and these are not only such as exceed our highest desert, but tend to make us completely and eternally happy. Here we are to consider,

1. The subjects of this privilege. Salvation is not extended to all miserable creatures; for, fallen angels, who were the first that rebelled against God, were left to perish, without hope of salvation, being reserved for ever in chains under darkness. And as for fallen man, how extensive soever the proclamation of salvation in the gospel is, as it is now preached to all nations, and all who sit under the sound thereof, are commanded and encouraged to press after it; yet this privilege is applied only to those who were ordained to eternal life. The purpose of God, relating hereunto, and the application thereof, are joined together in that golden chain of salvation, Whom he predestinated, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified, Rom. viii. 30. But this has been more particularly considered elsewhere[87].

2. Here is the only moving cause, or reason, why God bestows this great salvation, or why he has designed to bring any of the sons of men to it; and that is his mere love and mercy. Salvation, whether considered in its first rise, in God’s eternal purpose, or in the execution thereof in the work of conversion and sanctification, as well as in the completing of it in glorification, is ascribed to the sovereign grace and mercy of God. Are we Chosen in Christ to be holy, or predestinated to the adoption of children by him? this is said to be to the praise of 163the glory of his grace, Eph. i. 4-6. And the apostle elsewhere, when resolving this great privilege of salvation, in all the branches of it, namely, regeneration, renovation, and justification, into the same original cause and ground thereof, to wit, the kindness, love, and grace of God, excludes all those works of righteousness which we have done, from being the inducement, or moving cause leading to it, Tit. iii. 4-7. so that it was the grace of God that laid the foundation stone, and it is that that brings the work to perfection.

To make this farther appear, let it be considered, that salvation must either be of grace, or of debt; either the result of God’s free favour to us, or it must proceed from some obligation, which he is laid under by us, to confer this privilege upon us. Now it is certain, that it cannot take its rise from any obligation that we can lay on him; for whatever difference there is between the best of saints and the worst of sinners, it is from God, and not from the sinner himself. We have nothing but what we first received from him, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things, Rom. xi. 35, 36.

Moreover, this salvation must be conferred, in such a way, as redounds to the glory of him, who is the author of it, whereby all the boasting in the creature is excluded, and therefore it cannot take its rise from any thing done by us; it is not of works, lest any man should boast, Eph. ii. 9. And, indeed, this is contrary to the main design of the gospel, which is, that no flesh should glory in his presence. And the circumstances in which those are, who are said to be the objects of salvation, are such as argue it to be altogether of grace; for, whom did the Son of Man come to seek and to save, but them that were lost? or, to whom was the way of salvation discovered, but to those who were going astray from God, and were neither inclined to return to him, nor apply themselves to any one, who might direct them how to regain his lost favour? And, if they had, it would have been to no purpose; since no creature could make known the way of salvation, any more than apply the blessings contained therein.

Were man only to be considered as a creature, and so not properly the object of salvation, which is no other than a lost sinner; or did he expect nothing else but some effects of common goodness, or the blessings of nature, he could not expect them in a way of merit; for that is contrary to the dependance of the creature on God; therefore the blessings of Providence must be considered as the result of his free favour. And were man in a sinless state, and able to perform perfect obedience, as he was at first, his ability hereunto must be supposed to be an unmerited favour; and accordingly the obedience performed would be no other than a just debt due to God, and therefore 164would afford him no plea, from any merit of condignity, for the conferring any privilege, as a reward thereof: this therefore, must be the result of the divine favour.

But, when we consider him as a sinner, he is altogether unable to do what is good; and therefore, if salvation were entirely to depend on our performing obedience, so that any failure therein would deprive us of it, we should never attain it; for this obedience would be so imperfect, that God could not, in honour, accept of it. But alas! fallen man is so far from any disposition, or inclination to perform obedience, that his heart is naturally averse to it; The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. viii. 7. If therefore, such an one is saved, and that in such a way, that God is pleased to love him, and manifest himself to him, it must be a wonderful instance of divine grace, which no one, who has experienced it, can think on, but with admiration, especially when considering how discriminating it is; as one of Christ’s disciples said unto him, How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? John xiv. 22.

3. Having considered salvation, as designed for all the elect, we proceed to consider the means of their attaining it; or their being brought into a state of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace. As salvation is ascribed to the grace of God; so it is an instance of condescending goodness, that our faith, relating hereunto, should be confirmed by such a dispensation, as is generally styled a covenant. Thus David, speaking concerning it, says, He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. This covenant, as to what respects the parties concerned therein, and the manner in which the grace of God is displayed in it, together with the various dispensations, or administrations thereof, is particularly considered under the five following answers. The only thing, that remains to be insisted on in this, is its being called the Second Covenant, as opposed to the covenant of works, which is styled the First. The covenant of works has been considered under a foregoing answer[88]; and therefore all that I shall observe, concerning it, at present, is, that though life was promised therein, as including all those blessings, which were suited to the state of man in innocency, yet there was no promise of salvation in it, which is the restoring of forfeited blessings, or a recovery from a state of death and ruin. In this respect, the covenant of grace is opposed to it.

Again, though Adam was the head of that covenant, whose obedience, or apostacy, would convey life or death to all his posterity, 165whom he represented, yet he stood not in the relation of a Mediator, or surety, to them, for that was inconsistent with the dispensation he was under, and is applicable to no other covenant, than that which we are considering, as thus opposed to it.

Moreover, perfect obedience was demanded, as a condition of man’s attaining life, and this he was thoroughly furnished to perform; whereas, in the covenant of grace, if God should insist on our performing perfect obedience, the condition would be in its own nature impossible, and therefore we should hereby rather be excluded from, than brought into a state of salvation; and whatever obedience we are engaged to perform, as expectants of salvation, this is entirely owing to the grace of God, by which we are what we are, as well as attain to the blessings we hope for: Herein the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, differ.

The next thing that we are to observe, is, that the covenant of grace is called the Second Covenant; and this leads us to enquire, whether we have any ground, from scripture, to conclude, that there are more covenants than these two; or, at least, whether what we call the Second Covenant, or the covenant of grace, may not be subdivided into two covenants; since the apostle seems to speak of two covenants made with fallen man, viz. one that was made with the Israelites, given from mount Sinai, which was designed to continue no longer than that dispensation they were under, lasted; and the other is, that which the church has been under, ever since the gospel dispensation was erected, which is to continue to the end of the world. These are described by their respective properties, in an allegorical way, and illustrated by a similitude, taken from two mountains, Sinai and Sion; and two persons, mentioned in scripture, Agar and Sarah: The former of these is said to gender unto bondage; the latter brings those, who are under it into a state of liberty, Gal. iv. 24. & seq. and one of these covenants is said to be better than the other, and particularly called a new covenant; the other is represented as decaying, waxing old, and ready to vanish away, Heb. viii. 6, 8, 13.

Moreover, the apostle seems to speak of more covenants than one, made with the Jewish church; for he says, that to them pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, Rom. ix. 4. &c. and elsewhere, speaking concerning the Gentiles, as aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, he adds, that they were also strangers from the covenants of promise, Eph. ii. 12. which seems to argue, that there were more than two covenants with man; one with innocent man; the other, the gospel-covenant, which we are under; and, besides these, there were other covenants, made with Israel, which seems to carry 166in it the appearance of an objection, to what was before observed, that there was, in reality, but two covenants, and that whenever we read of any covenant in scripture, it is reducible to one of them.

This may, without much difficulty, be accounted for, consistently therewith, if we consider the sense of those scriptures above mentioned.

First, As to those scriptures, that seem to speak of two distinct covenants, made with fallen man, to wit, one with the Israelites, the other, that which we are under, they really intend nothing more than two different dispensations of the covenant of grace; in which sense we are to understand the apostle, when he speaks of the two covenants, the Old and the New, the First and the Second: the covenant is the same, though the dispensation of the grace of God therein, or the way of revealing it to men, differs. But this will be more particularly insisted on in those following answers, which respect the various administrations of grace, under the Old and New Testament; therefore we proceed,

Secondly, To enquire into the meaning of those other scriptures, before-mentioned, which seem to speak of more covenants than one, which the Jewish nation was under. By the covenants there mentioned, the apostle seems to refer to some different times, or periods of the church, before our Saviour’s incarnation, of which some divines take notice of four; in each of which, there was something new and distinct from the rest, in the dispensation of divine providence towards the church. The first of these took its rise from the promise which God gave to man, as soon as he fell, relating to that salvation, which was to be brought about, in its proper time, by the seed of the woman. The second period of the church began after the flood, when God is said to have revealed his covenant to Noah, which he established between him and all flesh upon the earth, Gen. ix. 17. A third remarkable period, or change of affairs in the church, was, when God called Abraham out of an idolatrous country, to sojourn in the land of promise, as in a strange country, at which time he established his covenant with him, promising to be a God to him, and his seed, and instituting circumcision as a token thereof, Gen. xvii. 7-11. upon which occasion, this particular dispensation thereof is called, The covenant of circumcision, Acts vii. 8. The fourth and last dispensation, or period, which more especially respected the seed of Abraham, as increased to a great nation, is what we read of, soon after they were delivered from the Egyptian bondage, when God was pleased to separate that nation, as a peculiar people to himself, and sent Moses from mount Sinai, where he appeared to them, to demand their explicit consent 167to be his people; upon which occasion, when they had promised, that all that the Lord had said, they would do and be obedient, and a public and solemn sacrifice was offered, and the people sprinkled with the blood thereof, it is said, They saw God, and did eat and drink, as a farther sign and ratification of this dispensation of the covenant, Exod. xxiv. 1-11. and afterwards many statutes and ordinances were given them, containing those laws, which God required of them, as a covenant people; and this continued till the gospel-dispensation, which succeeded it, was erected. This seems to be the meaning of what the apostle speaks, in the scriptures before cited, when he says, that the church of the Jews had the covenants, as intending nothing else thereby, but the dispensation of the covenant of grace, as subdivided into several periods, during the various ages of the church, from the fall of Adam to our recovery by Christ. Therefore, though those dispensations were various, yet whatever God has transacted with man, in a federal way, may be considered under two general heads; the first called the covenant of works; the other, the covenant of grace; the latter of which is to be farther considered, under the following answers.

Quest. XXXI.

Quest. XXXI. With whom was the covenant of grace made?

Answ. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam; and in him, with all the elect, as his seed.

As the covenant of grace is opposed to that which was made with Adam, as the head of mankind, so it is considered in this answer, as made with the second Adam, and, in him, with all his elect, who are described, by the Psalmist, as a seed that should serve him, which should be accounted to the Lord for a generation, Psal. xxii. 30. and the prophet Isaiah, speaking of them, says, He shall see his seed, Isa. liii. 10. In explaining this answer, we shall consider,

I. What we are to understand by a covenant in general, and more particularly how it is to be understood, as used in scripture. The word commonly used in the Old Testament,[89] to signify a covenant, being taken in several senses, may be better understood, by the application thereof, in those places, where we find it, than by enquiring into the sense of the root, from whence it is derived. Sometimes, indeed, it signifies such a compact between two parties, as agrees with our common acceptation of the word, especially when applied to transactions between man and man; as in the covenant between Abraham, and those neighbouring princes, that were confederate 168with him, where the same word is used, in Gen. xiv. 13, and in the covenant between Isaac and Abimelech, mentioned in Gen. xxvi. 28, 29. and in that between Jonathan and David, in 1 Sam. xx. 16, 17. in all which instances there was mutual stipulation, and re-stipulation, as there is in human covenants; and, for this reason, some apply those ideas to the word, when it is used to signify God’s entering into covenant with man.

But there is another acceptation thereof when God is represented as making a covenant with man which is more agreeable to the divine perfections, and that infinite distance there is between him and us; therefore we find in several places of scripture, that when God is said to make a covenant there is an intimation of some blessings which he would bestow upon his people, without any idea of stipulation, or re-stipulation, annexed to it: thus we read, in Jer. xxxiii. 20. of God’s covenant of the day and night, or that there should be day and night in their season; and, in Gen. xi. 9, 10, 11. of God’s establishing his covenant with Noah, and his seed, and every living creature, that all flesh should not be cut off any more, by the waters of a flood. And, in Ezek. xxxiv. 25. when God promises to cause evil beasts to cease out of the land, and that his people should dwell safely in the wilderness, and that he would confer several other blessings upon them, mentioned in the following verses; this is called, his making with them a covenant of peace. And, when God promises spiritual blessings to his people, in Isa. lix. 21. he says, This is my covenant with them; my Spirit that is upon thee, and the words that I have put into thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth, and for ever.

Moreover, sometimes the Hebrew word, which we translate covenant, is used to signify a statute, or ordinance, which God has established, or appointed, in his church: thus, in Numb. xviii. 19. when God ordained, that Aaron and his sons should have the heave-offerings of the holy things, he says, These have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, to be a statute for ever, and adds, in the words immediately following, It is a covenant of salt for ever, before the Lord.

And as for the word used in the New Testament,[90] by which the LXX generally translate the Hebrew word, before-mentioned, in the Old Testament, this signifies the same thing; so that both the words imply little more than a divine establishment or ordinance, in which God gives his people ground to expect promised blessings, in such a way, as redounds most to his own glory; and at the same time, they, who are expectants 169thereof, are not exempted from an obligation to perform those duties, which this grace obliges them to, and which will be an evidence of their right to them.

And I cannot but farther observe, that among other acceptations of the word, especially as used by the apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, in chap. ix. 15-18. it signifies a Testament; which word some who treat on this subject, rather choose to make use of, than to call it a covenant, being warranted so to do, by the sense given of it in this scripture; and their reason for it is, not only because, as the apostle says, it was confirmed by the death of the Testator;[91] but because they conclude, that this more conduces to the advancing the grace of God, in this dispensation, than to style it a covenant, in that sense, in which the word is commonly used, when applied to other matters: but I would rather acquiesce in that medium, betwixt both extremes, which some have given into, who join both the ideas of a covenant and a testament together[92], and style it, in some respects, a covenant, and, in others a testament. If it be called a covenant, they abstract from the ideas thereof, some things, that are contained in the sense of the word, as applied to human contracts, and add to it other things, contained in a testament; such as the giving or bequeathing certain legacies, as an act of favour, to those who are denominated, from thence, legatees, interested in those gifts that are thus disposed of by the will of the testator. Or if, on the other hand, we call it a testament it seems very agreeable, to this dispensation, to join with it the idea of a covenant, more especially as to what contains the concern of Christ herein, as the Head thereof, or the Person in whom all the benefits, contained in this testament, are first reposed, as they are purchased by his blood, and, as the consequence thereof, applied by his Spirit. And this agrees very well with the subject-matter of this answer, in which the covenant is said to be made with him, and with the elect in him, as well as with what is contained in that answer immediately following, in which the covenant of grace is described in such a way, as they describe it, who say that it was made with believers. This is necessary to be premised, that we may not, in our explication of this doctrine, advance any thing which is inconsistent with its being a covenant of grace: and, that we may farther consider this matter, we shall proceed to shew,

II. What there is in the idea of a covenant, as we generally understand the word, when applied to signify a contract between 170man and man. In this case, there are two parties, one of which is said to stipulate, or enter into a covenant with the other, in which he makes a proposal, that he will confer some favours on him, upon certain conditions, provided he will oblige himself to fulfil them; and the other party complies with the proposal made, and, in expectation of those advantages, consents to fulfil the conditions enjoined, and accordingly is said to re-stipulate; as when a person engages another to be his servant, and to give him a reward for his service; and the other consents to serve him, in expectation of the wages which he engages to give him: in this case, each party is supposed to be possessed of something, which the other has no right to, but by virtue of this contract made between them: thus the servant has no right to the rewards, which his master promises, nor has the master any right to his service, but by mutual consent. Each party also proposes some advantage to himself, and therefore, when they enter into this agreement, they are supposed, in some respects, to stand on a level with each other. No one will enter into a covenant with another, for the performing that which he had an antecedent right to; nor will any one engage to perform any service, as a condition of his receiving those benefits, which he had a right to, without any such condition enjoined on him. Moreover, when two parties are said to enter into covenant with one another, they are supposed, in some respects, to stand in need of some things, which they had before no right to; one party needs the reward proposed; the other, the service which he enjoins, as a condition of his bestowing it. These things are generally supposed, and contained in contracts between man and man.

III. When God is said to enter into covenant with man, what method soever we take to explain this federal transaction, we must take heed that we do not include in it any thing that is inconsistent with his infinite sovereignty, or argues him to be dependent on his creatures, as though he had not an antecedent right to their obedience, which he demands in this covenant, or it were left to man’s arbitrary will whether he would perform it or no. Though men may be said to have some things in their own power, so that one has a right to that, which another has no right to, but by his own consent, and are entirely left to their liberty, whither they will consign over that right, which they had to it, to another, who could not otherwise lay claim to it; yet this is by no means to be applied to man when considered as having to do with the great God. The best of creatures have no right to any thing, separate from his arbitrary will; and therefore though stipulation and re-stipulation are proper words, when applied to a man’s covenant, they ought not to be made use of, when we explain this covenant between God and man.

171IV. Though the parties concerned in the covenant, as explained in this answer, to wit, God the Father, and Christ the Head of his elect, are both divine Persons, so that one of them is not infinitely below the other, as man is below God; and therefore it is more properly called a covenant, in this respect, than that which God is said to enter into with man, (and, if stipulation and re-stipulation is, in any respect, applicable to the divine dispensation, it may be applied in this case:) nevertheless, there are some things, which are implied in the idea of a covenant between man and man, that cannot, consistently with the glory of these divine Persons, be contained in this federal transaction between them; particularly, as he that enters into covenant with another, proposes some advantage to himself hereby: thus a master, when he stipulates with one to be his servant, is supposed as much to need his service, as the servant does the wages that he promises to give him; there is a kind of mutual advantage arising from thence: but, in the covenant of grace, whether God be said to make it with man, or with Christ, as the Head of his elect, the advantage that arises from thence is our’s, and not God’s. In this respect, what was done by Christ, made no addition to the essential glory of God, or the divine blessedness, any more than man can be said, in that respect, to be profitable to him: thus some understand those words of the Psalmist, as spoken by our Saviour, when he says, My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints which are in the earth, Psal. xvi. 2, 3. and this agrees very well with some other things, contained in the same Psalm, which are expressly, in other parts of scripture, applied to him; and, if so, then the meaning is, that whatever glory God the Father designed to demonstrate by this federal transaction with his Son; yet he did not, as men do, by entering into covenant with one another, propose to receive any addition of glory from it, as though he were really to be profited thereby.

Again, when men enter into covenant with one another, they are supposed to have different wills, and accordingly they might refuse to enter into those engagements, which they bring themselves under, as well as comply with them; the obligation, on both sides, is founded in mutual consent, and that is supposed to be arbitrary: but, when we consider the eternal compact between the Father and the Son, we must conclude, that though they be distinct as to their personality, yet, having the same essential perfections, the will of the Father and the Son, cannot but be the same. Therefore when many, who explain this doctrine, represent one as proposing, the other as complying, with the proposal; one demanding, the other expecting, and each depending on mutual promises, made by one to the other, this, it is true, seems to be founded on some 172scripture-expressions to the same purpose, wherein the Holy Ghost is pleased to condescend to make use of such modes of speaking, which are agreeable to the nature of human covenants, as he does in various other instances; nevertheless, we must not so far strain the sense of words, as to infer, from hence, any thing that is inconsistent with the divine glory of the Father and the Son. And to this we may add, that no act of obedience can be performed by a divine Person, in the same nature, as there cannot be an act of subjection in that nature, which is properly divine; and consequently when we consider Christ, in this respect, as entering into covenant, and engaging to perform those conditions, which were insisted on therein, these are supposed to be performed by him, as Mediator, or God incarnate, in his human nature; and, in this respect, he is the Head of the covenant, which is made with him, and, in him, with the elect. Therefore we must suppose, when we speak of a covenant between the Father and the Son, that, whatever be the will of the Father, the same is the Son’s will; and whatever conditions the Son consented to perform, as stipulated in this covenant, it was in his human nature that the work was to be done; and therefore it is well observed, in some following answers, that he, who is the Head or Mediator of this covenant, is, as it was absolutely necessary for him to be, both God and man, in one Person. But of this more hereafter.

V. There are several expressions used, in scripture, that give us sufficient ground to conclude, that there was an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, relating to the salvation of his elect, which, if explained agreeably to the divine perfections, and consistently with the glory of each of these divine Persons, is not only an undoubted truth, but a very important article of faith, as it is the foundation of all those blessings, which are promised, and applied to us in the covenant of grace, in which is all our salvation and our hope. Here let it be considered, that, when we speak concerning a covenant, as passing between the Father and the Son, we understand thereby, that there was a mutual consent between them both, that the work of our redemption should be brought about in such a way, as it was, by our Saviour, when this eternal agreement had its accomplishment; and accordingly the Father is said to have set him up, as the Head of his elect, from everlasting, Prov. viii. 23. and ordained, that he should execute those offices, which he was to perform, as Mediator, and receive that revenue of glory, that was the result thereof; and the Son, as having the same divine will, could not but consent to do this; and this is called, his eternal undertaking; and, both these together, 173are styled the eternal covenant, between the Father and him.

For the proof of this doctrine, we might refer to those several scriptures that speak of our Saviour as called, and given for a covenant of the people, Isa. xlii. 6. and fore-ordained, 1 Pet. i. 20. to perform the work which he engaged in, in the behalf of his elect; and also consider him as consenting to do every thing for his people, which he did in time, and to stand in every relation to them, that was subservient to their redemption and salvation, which he could not but do, as having the same divine will with the Father; and without his consent, it could not properly be said that there was a covenant between them. We might also prove it from those several scriptures, that speak of him, as sanctified and sent into the world, John x. 36. to act as Mediator, sealed by the Father, John vi. 27. and receiving a power to lay down his life, and take it up again, John x. 18. that so he might answer the great end of our redemption thereby; and also, from his being empowered to execute the offices of a Prophet, Priest, and King; confirmed in his priestly office by the oath, Psal. cx. 4. Heb. vii. 21. of the Father, sent by him to execute his Prophetical office to those whom he was to guide in the way of salvation; and, as God’s King, set on his holy hill of Zion, Psal. ii. 6. When we consider all these things done, on the Father’s part, as antecedent to Christ’s acting as Mediator, and, at the same time, when we compare them with other scriptures, that speak of the Son, as consenting to do the will of God, or complying with his call, willing to be and do whatever was necessary, to secure the great ends designed thereby; when we consider him, as taking the human nature into union with the divine, not without his own consent thereunto, and as bearing the punishment due to our sin, which it would not have been just for God to have inflicted, without his will or consent; I say, this mutual consent between the Father and the Son, that those things should be done which were subservient to the redemption and salvation of the elect, which the scripture is very express in giving an account of, these are a sufficient foundation for our asserting, that there was a covenant between the Father and the Son relating thereunto.

But now we shall enquire, more particularly, into the sense of those scriptures, on which this doctrine is founded. And here we cannot wholly pass over what we read, in Psal. cxix. 122. Be surety for thy servant for good; and Hezekiah’s prayer, in Isa. xxxviii. 14. I am oppressed; undertake, or be surety, for me. The Hebrew words are the same in both places, and signifies, not barely to confer some privileges on persons, but to do this under the character of a surety; and therefore when 174David and Hezekiah pray that they may be delivered, either from their enemies, or their afflictions, by addressing themselves to their Deliverer under this character, it must be supposed that they understand him, as having undertaken to be a Surety for his people, which is a character that belongs only to the Son. And since it is so evident, that his Mediatorial work and character was so well known to the Old Testament church, as their salvation was equally concerned herein with ours; and, since they are often represented as addressing themselves to him by faith and prayer, it seems more than probable that he is so considered in these texts, when it is desired that he would be surety for them, namely, that as he was appointed by the Father, and had undertaken, by his own consent, to stand in that relation, they pray that they might be made partakers of the benefits arising from thence.

There is also another scripture, in which the same word[93] is used, which seems to be applied to our Saviour, viz. in Jer. xxx. 21. Their nobles, or, as it ought to be rendered, in the singular number, their noble, or magnificent person, shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who is this that engaged his heart to approach to me, saith the Lord? This sense of the text is very agreeable to several other prophecies, relating to the Messiah’s being of the seed of Israel; and when it is said, I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me, it implies, that he should sustain the character, and perform the work of a surety, in the behalf of his people, for that is the proper sense of the word there used; for who is this that hath engaged his heart unto me? that is, who is there, among the sons of men, that dares engage in this work, or is qualified for it? Or it may be understood with a note of admiration; that is, how glorious a person is this, who hath engaged his heart, or (as it was determined that he should) has freely consented to approach unto me, that is, in so doing, to act as a surety with me for my people! And that this is a more probable sense of the text, than to suppose that it is meant either of Zerubbabel, or some other governor, that should be set over them, after the captivity, appears, if we compare it with ver. 9. in which it is said, They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, which can be meant of none but Christ, inasmuch as David was dead; and none that sat on his throne, or descended from him, can 175be called David in this place, because divine worship is said to be performed to him, which could not be done without idolatry, which no true sense of scripture can give countenance to; and this is a character given of our Saviour in other scriptures: thus, in Ezek. xxxiv. 24. I will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them; and, in Hos. iii. 5. They shall seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter day; that is, they shall adhere, and give divine worship, to the Messiah, whom their fathers rejected, when they are converted, in the latter days. Now it is this David, their King, who is said to have engaged his heart to approach unto God; and then, in the words immediately following, ver. 22. God reveals himself, as a covenant-God, to them, which is the consequence of Christ’s engaging his heart to approach unto him: Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Now this proves an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, in that the Father wills, or determines, that he shall draw near, or approach to him, as a surety, and the Son consents, in that he has engaged his heart to do it; and all this with a design that his covenant should be established, and that he should be a God to his people.

There is another scripture which proves that there was a federal transaction between the Father and the Son, from several expressions therein used, namely, in Isa. xlii. 1, 6. which is, beyond dispute, spoken concerning our Saviour; for it is applied to him in the New Testament, Matt. xi. 18-21. Herein God the Father calls him his Servant, as denoting that it was his will, or (to use that mode of speaking, which is generally applied to covenants between man and man) that he stipulated with him, to perform the work which he engaged in, as Mediator, to which he is said to be called in righteousness; and, with respect to his human nature, in which he performed it, he is styled God’s elect, as fore-ordained hereunto, and the person in whom his soul delighteth, as he is glorified by him in the faithful discharge thereof; and, that he might not fail therein, God promises to hold his hand, and keep him; and, as the result of his having accomplished it, to give him for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.

And elsewhere, in Isa. xlix. 8, 9. which also appears to be spoken to Christ, not only from the context, but from the reference to it in the New Testament, 2 Cor. vi. 2. In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves, we have a plain intimation of his being ordained by the Father to perform 176that work, which he was engaged in, as Mediator; and his being given for a covenant of the people, signifies his being sent into the world, in pursuance of a covenant, in which the salvation of his people was contained. And there is another scripture, in which our Saviour, speaking to his disciples, says, in Luke xxii. 29. I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed me;[94] or, I confer the blessings of this kingdom upon you, in a covenant way, as my Father hath appointed me to do, in that eternal covenant, which passed between him and me.

Again, there are several rewards, which were promised to him, as the consequence of his discharging the work committed to him, some of which respected that glory which belongs to his person, as Mediator; and others, more especially, respected the salvation of his people, and therein the success of his undertaking: thus it is said, in Isa. liii. 10. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands; together with several other things relating to the event, and consequence of his performing the work he was engaged in.

Moreover, as he was called to this work, or, as it was, as we before explained it, the result of the Father’s will, that he should perform it; so we have elsewhere an account of his own consent, as implying, that it was the result of his own will, as well as his Father’s: thus it is said, in Psal. xl. 6-8. Mine ears hast thou opened, or bored: alluding to a custom used under the ceremonial law, by which the willing servant was signified to be obliged, by his own consent, to serve his master for ever, Exod. xxi. 5, 6. Thus God the Father, engaged Christ, if I may so express it, to perform the work of a Mediator; and then we have an account of his consent hereunto, when he says, Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart; and this mutual consent is farther expressed in Isa. l. 5. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious; neither turned away back.

And he is farther represented, as making a demand, or insisting on the accomplishment of what was stipulated in this covenant; and this he had a warrant to do from the Father, in Psal. ii. 8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. These, and many other scriptures of the like nature, sufficiently prove this doctrine, that there was an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, relating to the redemption and salvation of the elect; and this implies more than his being barely fore-ordained to perform the work he was engaged in, as he is said to have been, 1 Pet. i. 2. for that, alone, would 177not have proved that there was a federal transaction between the Father and him; since it may be said of any one, who is engaged in works of an inferior nature, that God, who called him to perform them, fore-ordained that he should do so; but when it is said, concerning our Saviour not only that he engaged in the work of our redemption, as the result of his Father’s will, but of his own, and so consented to do whatever was incumbent on him, as Mediator, this certainly argues that there was an eternal covenant between the Father and him, with relation to this matter, so far as we may be allowed to retain any of those ideas taken from human covenants, when we speak of any transaction between two divine Persons.

There is but one scripture more that I shall mention, which, though some will not allow that it relates to this matter, yet, if we duly consider the scope and design thereof, together with its connexion with the foregoing words, may probably appear to be of some weight to confirm this doctrine; namely, in Zech. vi. 13. in which it is said, The counsel of peace shall be between them both. Some, indeed, understand these words, as referring to Joshua and Zerubbabel, and that they signify their mutual consent, to promote the peace and welfare of the church. But this cannot reasonably be concluded to be the sense of the text; for Zerubbabel is not mentioned in this chapter; nor are there any two persons spoken of therein, that it can be applied to, but Jehovah and the Branch, that is, the Father and the Son, who are mentioned in the foregoing words; Christ, who is called the Branch, is said to build the temple of the Lord, and to be a Priest upon his throne; and this work, which he was engaged in, and the royal dignity, which he was advanced to, are both of them said to be the result of a counsel, or federal transaction, that was between them both.

If it be objected to this, that this counsel of peace only respects the harmony that there is between Christ’s priestly and kingly offices, as both of them have a reference to our salvation: this cannot well agree with the meaning of the word counsel, which implies in it a confederacy between two persons, and not the tendency of two offices, executed to bring about the same end.

And, if it be farther objected, that the grammatical construction of the words do not favour the sense which we give of them, inasmuch as they contain an account of something that was future, and not from all eternity. To this it may be replied, that it is not, in the least, disagreeable to the sense of the words, and other phrases of the like import, used in scripture, to understand them in the sense before-mentioned, since it is no uncommon thing, in scripture, for that to be said to be, that appears to be: thus it is said, Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have 178crucified, both Lord and Christ, Acts ii. 36. that is, he hath, by his raising him from the dead, demonstrated him to be both Lord and Christ, which, in reality, he was from all eternity; so, in this text, when it is said, that the counsel of peace shall be between them both, it signifies, that Christ’s building the temple, and bearing the glory, and sitting as a Priest upon his throne, is a plain evidence, or demonstration, that there was a counsel or covenant, between the Father and him, from all eternity, relating to the peace and welfare of his people, who are the spiritual house that he builds, and the subjects whom he governs, defends, and saves. Thus concerning the federal transaction that was between the Father and the Son; and, since this is called, in this answer, The covenant of grace, it may be necessary for us to enquire,

VI. Whether this be a distinct covenant from that which God is said to enter into, or make with man. This covenant is said, indeed, to be made with Christ, as the head of his elect: but it may be enquired, whether there be not also another covenant, which is generally styled the covenant of grace, that is made with the elect, as parties concerned therein. Every one, that is conversant in the writings of those who treat on this subject, will observe, that divines often distinguish between the covenant of redemption, and that of grace; the former they suppose to be made with Christ, in the behalf of his elect; the latter, to be made with them, in which all spiritual blessings are promised, and applied to them, which are founded on Christ’s mediation; and accordingly they say, the covenant of redemption was made with Christ more immediately for himself; whereas the covenant of grace is made with believers for Christ’s sake, in which respect they suppose that these are two distinct covenants, and explain themselves thus.

1. In the covenant of redemption, made with Christ, there were several promises given, which more immediately respected himself; and these related, some of them, to those supports and encouragements that he should receive from the Father, which were necessary, in order to his being carried through the sufferings he was to undergo, viz. that God would hold his hand, that he should not fail, or be discouraged, Isa. xxiv. 4. and others respected that Mediatorial glory, which should be conferred upon him, when his sufferings were finished; as it is said, Ought not Christ to have suffered, and to enter into his glory? Luke xxiv. 26. and that he should have a name given him above every name, Phil. ii. 9. and many other promises to the like purpose.

And, besides these, there were other promises made to him, respecting his elect; as that he should have a seed to serve him, Psal. xxii, 30. and that he should see of the travail of his soul, 179and be satisfied; and that God would divide him a portion with the great, and he should divide the spoil with the strong, Isa. liii. 11, 12. or that his difficult undertaking should be attended with its desired success, that so it might not be said that he died in vain.

But, on the other hand, in the covenant of grace, which they suppose to be distinct from that of redemption, God promiseth forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, through Christ; or that that should be restored to us by him, which we lost by our fall in Adam, with great advantage; and that all the blessings, which we stand in need of, for the beginning, carrying on, and completing the work of grace in us, and the making us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, should be freely given us. Now, as these promises are made to the elect, the covenant, in which they are contained, is called, The covenant of grace, and so distinguished from the covenant of redemption.

2. In the covenant of redemption, as they farther explain it, the elect, on whose account it was made, were considered, as to be redeemed by Christ: But, in the covenant of grace, they are to be considered as redeemed by him; therefore the covenant of redemption is antecedent, or subservient, to the covenant of grace.

3. They farther suppose, that the conditions of the covenant of redemption, on which the promises made therein were founded, are what Christ did and suffered in his own Person; whereas faith, wrought in us, is generally styled by them, a condition of the covenant of grace, and as such it is variously explained, as we shall have occasion to observe, under the next answer, in which faith is said to be required, as the condition to interest believers therein; in this respect, among others, the covenant of redemption is oftentimes explained, as a distinct covenant from that of grace.

I confess, I am not desirous to offend against the generation of those who have insisted on this subject, in such a way, as that they have not advanced any doctrine derogatory to the divine perfections, or subversive of the grace of God, displayed in this covenant; and therefore I am inclined to think, as some have done, that this controversy may be compromised; or, if we duly weigh those distinctions that are necessary to be considered, it will appear to be little more than what consists in different modes of explication, used by those, who, in the main, intend the same thing. I shall therefore humbly offer my thoughts, about this matter, in the four following heads.

(1.) It is to be allowed, on all hands, that the covenant of redemption, as some style it, is a covenant of the highest grace, so far as it respects the advantages that the elect are to receive 180from it; for it is a wonderful instance of grace, that there should be an eternal transaction between the Father and the Son, relating to their salvation, and that herein he should promise to Christ, that, as the reward of his obedience and sufferings, he would give grace and glory to them, as it is allowed by all, who have just notions, either of the covenant of redemption, or that of grace, that he did herein.

(2.) It must be farther allowed, on both sides, whether it be supposed that the covenant of grace, and the covenant of redemption, are distinct covenants, or not, that salvation, and all the blessings, which we generally call privileges of the covenant of grace, have their first foundation in this transaction, between the Father and the Son; so that if there had not been such a covenant, which some call a covenant of redemption, we could have had no promise of these privileges made in the covenant of grace.

(3.) As there is nothing promised, or given, in the covenant of grace, but what is purchased and applied by Christ, so there is nothing promised to Christ, in the covenant of redemption, as some style it, but what, some way or other, respects the advantage of his people: thus whatever was stipulated between the Father and the Son, in that covenant, was with a peculiar regard to their salvation. Did Christ, as their surety, promise to pay that debt, which was due from them, to the justice of God? this must be considered, as redounding to their advantage. And, was there a promise given him, as was before observed, that God would hold his hand, that he should not fail, or be discouraged, till he had finished the work that he came about? this must also be supposed to redound to our advantage as hereby our salvation is secured, which it could not have been, had he sunk under the weight of that wrath, which he bore. And, was there a promise given him, that he should, after his sufferings, enter into his glory? this also redounds to the advantage of the elect; for it not only consists in his being freed from his sufferings, and having some personal glories put upon him, but in his going thither to prepare a place for them, and with this design, that they should be brought there to behold his glory; and this is also considered, as a pledge and earnest of their future happiness, to whom he says, Because I live, ye shall live also, John xiv. 19.

(4.) When we consider this covenant, as made with Christ, whether we call it the covenant of redemption, or of grace, still we must look upon it as made with him, as the Head and Representative of his elect, and consequently it was made with them, as is observed in this answer, as his seed; therefore if the question be only this, whether it be more or less proper to call this two covenants, or one, I will not contend with them, who 181in compliance with the common mode of speaking, assert, that they are two distinct covenants: but yet I would rather choose to call them two great branches of the same covenant; one whereof respects what Christ was to do and suffer, and the glory that he was to be afterwards possessed of; the other more immediately respects that salvation, which was to be treasured up in and applied by him to the elect; and therefore I cannot but think, that what is contained in this answer, that the covenant of grace was made with Christ, as the Head, and, in him, with the elect, as his seed, is a very unexceptionable explication of this doctrine.

VII. Since we frequently read, in scripture, of God’s entering into covenant with man, and man with him, this is next to be explained, in such a way, as is consistent with the divine perfections, and, in order hereto, we have, in our entrance on this subject, enquired[95] into the grammatical sense of the word covenant, and the common acceptation thereof in scripture, when applied to any transaction between God and man, and have shewn, that, however, there may be stipulation and re-stipulation, and thereby a passing over of mutual rights, from one party concerned to the other, in covenants between man and man; yet that this cannot, consistently with the glory of God, and that infinite distance which there is between him and the creature, be applied to the covenant of grace, and have produced some scriptures to prove, that the main thing to be considered therein, is God’s promising the blessings that accompany salvation to his people.

Other scriptures might have been referred to, to the same purpose, in which, when God is said to make a covenant with his people, we read of nothing but promises of temporal, or spiritual privileges, which he would confer on them: thus, when he made a covenant with Abraham, he says, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the river Euphrates, Gen. xv. 18. and elsewhere he says, This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, I will put my law in their inward parts,[96] and write it in 182their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. They shall all know me, from the least to the greatest of them; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34. We might also consider the description hereof, as it is called, A covenant of promise, Eph. ii. 12. and they, who are interested herein, as called, The children of promise, Gal. iv. 28. Nevertheless, God has ordained, that, pursuant to this method of applying the promises of this covenant, none should have ground to expect to be made partakers thereof, but in such a way, as tends to set forth his infinite sovereignty, and unalienable right to obedience from his creatures, which they are bound to perform, not only as subjects, under a natural obligation to obey the divine law, but as those who are laid under a super-added engagement thereunto, by the grace of the covenant. This will prepare the way for what may be farther said, in order to our understanding the meaning of those scriptures, that speak of God’s entering into a covenant with man, and man with him. Therefore let it be observed,

1. That when God entered into a covenant with Christ, as the Head of his elect, this included his entering into covenant with them; as it is expressed in this answer; so that they have their respective concern therein in all things, excepting what relates to his character, as Mediator, Redeemer, Surety, and those peculiar branches of this covenant, which, as was before observed, belong only to himself, which some call the covenant of redemption, as distinct from the covenant of grace. From hence it may be observed, without any strain on the sense of words, that the same covenant that was made with him, was in that peculiar branch thereof that respected the elect, or the privileges that they were to receive from him, made with them. This is very agreeable to, and tends to explain that peculiar mode of speaking, often used by the apostle Paul, concerning believers being crucified with Christ, Gal. ii. 20. dead, Rom. vi. 8. buried, ver. 4. quickened or risen, Col. ii. 12. compared with chap. iii. 1. and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 6, as denoting their being made partakers, as his members, of the benefits arising from Christ’s sufferings and glory, as really as though they had suffered, and were now actually glorified with him.

2. Since the covenant of grace is sometimes called a covenant of promise, for the reasons before-mentioned, we may easily understand hereby, that God’s entering into covenant with 183his people, signifies his giving, or making known to them, those great and precious promises, that are contained therein, which have a more immediate reference to their salvation; and, on the other hand, his keeping covenant with them, implies, his bestowing on them the blessings promised in it, which is otherwise called his remembering his holy covenant, Luke i. 72. or his performing the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which he had sworn unto them from the days of old, Micah. vii. 20. and it is sometimes called his shewing them his covenant, Psal. xxv. 14. not barely in a way of revelation, but special application of the blessings contained therein, and his bringing them into the bond of the covenant, Ezek. xx. 37. that is, engaging or obliging them to obedience, from the constraints of his love and grace, manifested in the promises of this covenant; so that now they are doubly bound to be his, not only as he is their Creator and Sovereign, but as he has made them, by this federal transaction, the peculiar objects of his favour and grace.

3. When God is pleased, as he often does, to annex to this covenant a demand of faith, repentance, or any other graces, to be exercised by those, who may claim an interest in the blessings thereof, this is agreeable to that idea, which, as was before observed, is contained in this covenant, by which it is denominated an establishment, or divine appointment, or, as it is sometimes called, a statute, Numb. xviii. 19. Psal. l. 16. and this respects the connexion of those graces with salvation, and their indispensible obligation thereto, who hope to attain it. But this is rather a consequence of God’s entering into covenant with them, than an antecedent condition, stipulated by him, which would infer a kind of suspense in him, whether he should fulfil his promise or no, till the conditions were performed. This is the principal thing we militate against, when we except against the use of the word stipulation, with relation hereunto; whereas, if nothing else were intended by this word, but the necessary connexion, which God has ordained, that there should be between the blessings promised, and the grace demanded in this covenant, as some, who use the word, understand nothing else by it; I would not contend about persons using, or laying aside an improper, and, I think, I may say, unscriptural mode of speaking.

Thus concerning the meaning of God’s entering into covenant with man. We shall now proceed to the latter branch of this head, namely, what we are to understand by those scriptures that speak of man’s entering into covenant with God: such a mode of speaking we have, when Moses says to the people, Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God, that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day, 184Deut. xxix. 10-12. and it is said elsewhere, The people entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers, with all their hearts, and with all their soul, 2 Chron. xv. 12. and that, Josiah made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes with all their heart, and with all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant, that were written in this book, and all the people stood to the covenant, 2 Kings xxiii. 3. This is a most solemn transaction, and includes in it the very essentials of practical religion; therefore it is necessary for us to enquire, what we are to understand thereby; and, since scripture is the best interpreter of itself, and parallel texts give light to each other, we may observe what is said elsewhere, upon the like occasion, where God speaks of some that chuse the things that please him, love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, and take hold of his covenant, Isa. lvi. 4, 6. so that to enter into covenant, is to take hold of God’s covenant; to embrace the blessings promised therein, as the apostle speaks of those who died in faith, not having received the promises, or the blessings promised, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, Heb. xi. 13. Again, as we receive the blessings of the covenant by faith, so to enter into covenant with God implies, a professed dedication of ourselves to a covenant-God, with a due sense of our obligation to yield that obedience, which we are engaged to thereby, or a declaration that we pretend not to lay claim to the blessings of the covenant, without being enabled, by his grace to comply with the demands thereof; and this is sometimes expressed, by swearing to the Lord, as it is said, Unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear, Isa. xlv. 23. As God, when he enters into a covenant with man, is sometimes said to swear to him, or to confirm his promise by his oath, upon which account the covenant of grace is sometimes called his oath, as in one of the scriptures before-mentioned, and others that might have been referred to, Luke i. 72, 73. so, on the other hand, our entering into covenant with him, is our swearing fealty, as subjects do to their princes, whereby they own them to be their rightful governors, and themselves under an obligation to serve them.

This is farther explained, in that solemn transaction that passed between God and his people, in the close of the ministry and life of Moses, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. by which we may understand what is meant, in other places, by God’s entering into covenant with them; this is expressed by his avouching them to be his peculiar people, as he had promised them, and that they should keep all his commandments; q. d. he conferred this privilege upon them with that view, that they might reckon themselves under the highest obligation to be obedient to him; and then 185we have an explication of man’s entering into covenant with God, when it is said, Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, that is, thou hast publicly declared, that thou art willing to be subject to him, as thy covenant-God, and expressed a ready inclination, pursuant hereunto, to walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: this is such an entering into covenant, as is incumbent on all who expect the blessing thereof; and, if any one intends nothing more than this by restipulation, when he uses the word in explaining this doctrine, I will not contend with him; but, since it is to use a word without its proper ideas, which others annex to it, I humbly conceive this doctrine may be better explained without it.

Quest. XXXII.

Quest. XXXII. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

Answ. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant in that he freely provideth, and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces, and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed to salvation.

Since the covenant, which we have begun to consider, is called the covenant of grace, it is necessary for us to shew in what respects the grace of God is manifested therein; and, in order thereunto, we may observe,

I. That life and salvation, which are very comprehensive blessings, containing all that sinful creatures stand in need of, are promised herein. Hereby the grace of God is more eminently illustrated than it was in the first covenant; in which though life was promised, yet there was no promise of salvation, or of the recovery of a forfeited life. This is only brought to light by the gospel, which contains a glorious discovery of the grace of this covenant: the blessings promised therein, are, grace here, and glory hereafter; all which are contained in that promise, I will be a God to thee, that is, I will deal with thee in such a way, as that all my divine perfections shall contribute to thy happiness. And sometimes when God reveals himself as a covenant-God, he promises, as he did to Abraham, that he will be their shield, and their exceeding great reward, Gen. xv. 1. And there are other promises respecting the forgiveness of sin; as when God says, I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for 186mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins, Isa. xliii. 25. and, that we may consider this in its utmost extent, the apostle says as much as can be expressed in words, which is the consequence of God’s being a covenant-God to his people, when he tells them, All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, 1 Cor. iii. 22.

II. Man could not have been made partaker of these invaluable blessings contained in this covenant, without the interposition of a Mediator; for he no sooner rebelled against God, but he was separated from his presence and deprived of all those blessings, which he might otherwise have expected; and, on the other hand, the holiness and justice of God obliged him to testify his displeasure against him, whereby he was utterly excluded from all hope of obtaining any blessings from him: the perfections of the divine nature rendered it necessary that a satisfaction for sin committed, should be insisted on; and this could not be given by man in his own person, nor could he reasonably expect that God should receive him into favour without it, as having rendered himself guilty in his sight, and so liable to condemnation. Therefore, since he could do nothing that had any tendency to repair the injuries which he had offered to the divine justice, if ever he have access to God, and acceptance in his sight, it must be in and through a Mediator; which leads us to consider what we are to understand, by a mediator, and what was to be done by him, in order to the procuring this favour.

A mediator, in general, is one who interposes between two parties that are at variance, in order to make peace; and this he does, either by endeavouring to persuade the party offended to lay aside his resentment, and forgive the injury, which is a less proper sense of the word; or else by making an overture of satisfaction, as an inducement hereunto. In the former sense it would have been an affront to the divine Majesty, and an injury to his justice, for any one to desire that God should be reconciled, without a satisfaction given; in the latter, we are to understand the word Mediator, when applied to Christ, in this answer. He is not therefore herein to be considered barely as a Mediator of intercession, as pleading that God would remit the debt, out of his mere sovereignty or grace; but as a Mediator of satisfaction, or a Surety, entering into an obligation to answer all the demands of justice. In this respect, he is the Mediator of the covenant; whereas, when he is sent, by God, to reveal, or make known the blessings thereof to man, he is styled, The Messenger of the covenant, Mal. iii. 1. It was possible for a mere creature to perform the work of a mediator, in this lower, and less proper sense of the word; or, provided satisfaction were 187given to the justice of God, to intercede with him for the sinner, or intreat him to turn away from the fierceness of his wrath, which sin deserved, in which sense Moses is styled a mediator, and in no other[97]; so some understand that text, as spoken of him, when the apostle says, Gal. iii. 19. of the law, that it was ordained by angels, in the hand of a mediator[98]; and, agreeably hereunto, Moses says, I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord; for, you were afraid, by reason of the fire, Deut. v. 5. and elsewhere, after Israel had sinned, in worshipping the golden calf, he says, You have sinned a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord: peradventure, I shall make an atonement for your sin, Exod. xxxii. 30. not that he was to be accounted a mediator of satisfaction, for the atonement he hoped to make, was by entreaty, or humble supplication, that God would not destroy them, as they had deserved. This I call a less proper sense of the word Mediator; whereas, in this answer, Christ is styled a Mediator, in the same sense in which he was a Redeemer, or Surety, for man, or made a proper atonement to procure reconciliation between God and man by his blood, of which more will be considered, when we speak concerning Christ’s priestly office.

III. It is a very great instance of grace, that God should admit of a Mediator, who might have exacted the debt of us in our own persons; and, we being unable to pay it, might have punished us with everlasting destruction. That he was not obliged to admit of a Mediator, will appear, if we consider the nature of the debt due from us, who were obliged to perform perfect obedience, or else to suffer punishment; and therefore he might have refused to have allowed of this to be performed by another, in our stead: in this case, it is not like as when pecuniary debts are paid, which cannot be refused by the creditor, though paid by one that is surety for the debtor. But, since this will be more particularly considered, when we speak concerning the satisfaction which Christ gave to the justice of God, as our great High-Priest, all that we shall add, concerning it, at present, is, that it was an instance of that grace, which was displayed in the covenant, in which Christ is considered as a Mediator of satisfaction.

IV. The grace of God farther appears, in that he not only admitted of a Mediator, but provided one. It was impossible for fallen man to find out any one that would so much as plead his cause, or speak a word in his behalf, till satisfaction were first given; and no mere creature could pay unto God a ransom that was worthy of his acceptance, or available, to answer the end designed thereby. If the best of creatures had undertaken 188the work, it would have miscarried in his hands: How deplorable and hopeless then must the condition of fallen man for ever have been, if God had not found out the expedient himself to bring about our redemption! this was a blessing unthought of, unasked for by him. I will not deny but that man might have some ideas of the divinity and glory of the second Person in the Godhead, as the doctrine of the Trinity was revealed to him, while in a state of innocency, as it was necessary that it should be, in order to his worshipping of each of the divine Persons, and I doubt not but he retained some ideas hereof when fallen. But it may be questioned, whether he knew that it was possible for the Son of God to be incarnate; or suppose, for argument-sake, we allow that he had some idea of the possibility thereof; yet he could never have known that he was willing to submit to this astonishing instance of condescension, and thereby to put himself in the sinner’s room, that he might procure that redemption that was necessary for him. This mystery of the divine will was hid in God, and therefore could never have been known by him without revelation, and consequently would not have afforded him any matter of relief in his deplorable state. How wonderful therefore was the grace of God, that he should find out this expedient, and lay help on one that is mighty, or provide one to do that for him, which none else could have done!

And to this we may add, that it was no less an instance of divine grace, that God the Son should consent to perform this work for him: his undertaking it, was without the least force or compulsion; for that would have been inconsistent with his consenting to become a Surety for us, and, as such, to suffer in our room and stead, since all punishment must either be deserved by him, that bears it, or else voluntarily submitted to: The former of these can by no means be said of Christ; for a personal desert of punishment is inconsistent with his spotless purity, and would have rendered the price, laid down by him for our redemption, invalid; therefore he voluntarily condescended to engage in this work. He gave his life a ransom for many; and this is considered as a peculiar display of grace in him, as the apostle expresses it, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet, for your sakes, he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich, 2 Cor. viii. 9.

V. This Mediator being provided for man, without his desert or expectation, we proceed to consider him as offered to him, and, together with him, life and salvation. This is the great design of the gospel, to discover, or make an overture hereof to him; without this, the gospel could not be preached, nor a visible publication made of the grace of the covenant contained 189herein: but, since the overture of grace, or the call of God to accept of, and embrace Christ, as offered in the gospel, is more particularly considered under a following answer[99], we shall reserve the farther consideration of this matter to it.

VI. It is farther said, in this answer, that the grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in his requiring faith, as the condition to interest believers in Christ. This expression may be allowed of, or excepted against, according to the method taken to explain it, which we shall endeavour to do, and therein shew in what sense we deny the covenant of grace to be conditional; and then enquire, whether there be not another sense, agreeable to the divine perfections, in which these words may be understood, and other expressions, of the like nature, frequently used by divines, in which faith is styled a condition thereof; and accordingly we shall enquire,

1. What we are to understand by a person’s having an interest in Christ. This implies our having a right to claim him, as our Mediator, Surety, Advocate, and Saviour, and with him all those spiritual blessings, which are purchased and applied by him to those whom he has redeemed; so that such an one may say, upon good grounds, Christ is mine, together with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in him.

Here let it be considered, that it is one thing to say, that Christ is the Redeemer and Saviour of man, or, in particular, of his elect, who are given to him for this end; and another thing for a person to say, he is my Redeemer or Saviour: the former of these is a truth, founded in scripture-revelation; and accordingly every one may say, as Moses expresses it, Yea, he loved the people, Deut. xxxiii. 3. or his peculiar chosen people; or, as the apostle says, Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, Eph. v. 25. But he, who has an interest in Christ, has a right to claim him, as his Saviour, and therefore may say, with the apostle, He loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal. ii. 20. This I rather choose to express, by a believer’s having a right to claim him as his Saviour, than his being actually enabled so to do, inasmuch as many have an interest in Christ, who are destitute of that assurance, which would give them a comfortable sense thereof in their own souls.

2. We are now to consider how faith is said to be required, as the condition to interest us in Christ; or how far this expression may be qualified and explained, without asserting any thing derogatory to the glory of God, or the grace of the covenant. The word condition, though often used when we speak of contracts between man and man, as an essential ingredient therein, is not so plainly contained in those explications of the covenant of grace, which we have in scripture; and, whenever we use it, 190with a particular application thereunto, we must understand it in such a sense, as is agreeable to the divine perfections. Therefore, that we may compare these two senses of the word condition together, in order to our determining how far it may be used, or laid aside, in explaining this doctrine, let us consider,

(1.) That in human covenants, in which things are promised on certain conditions, these conditions are supposed to be possible to be performed, otherwise the promise, depending thereon, is rendered void, and it contains no other than a virtual denial to make it good. Thus the king of Israel did not, at first, understand the message sent him by the king of Syria, requiring of him to heal Naaman of his leprosy, as a condition of peace and friendship between them; and the inference he makes from it was, that he had a design to seek a quarrel against him; and his reasoning would have been just, had it been intended in this sense, since the condition was not in his own power. Moreover, if a master should tell his servant, that he would give him a reward, in case he would perform the work of ten days in one, he would conclude nothing else from it, but that he was resolved not to give him any thing. Now, to apply this to our present purpose, we must consider whether faith, when it is a condition of the covenant of grace, be in our own power or no. There are some external acts thereof, indeed, which are so; but these are too low to be deemed conditions of salvation, or of the blessings of the covenant of grace; and as for those acts which are supernatural, or the effects of the exceeding greatness of the power of God, though they are inseparably connected with salvation, yet they are not in our power; so as that we may conclude, that they are proposed as conditions, in the same sense as those things are said to be, that are supposed to contain this ingredient in them.

In this respect, the covenant of grace, as to the conditionality of it, differs from the covenant of innocency, in which perfect obedience, which was the condition thereof, was so far in man’s power, that he could have performed it, without the superadded assistance of divine grace: but when, on the other hand, perfect obedience is considered, as a condition of fallen man’s entering into life, in which sense our Saviour’s reply to the young man’s question, in Matt. xix. 17. is understood by many, this is a plain intimation that eternal life is not to be obtained this way, inasmuch as the condition is impossible.

(2.) When conditions are insisted on, in human covenants, it is generally supposed, that though it be possible for the person, that enjoins them, to assist, and enable him, who is under this obligation, to perform them, yet he will not give him that assistance; for, if he does, the contract can hardly be reckoned conditional, but absolute: thus if a creditor should tell an insolvent 191debtor, that he will discharge him, provided he pays the debt, and, at the same time, gives him to understand that he will supply him with a sum of money, that shall enable him to do it, this is altogether the same as though he had discharged him, without any conditional demand of payment. This I cannot but mention, because there are some persons, who speak of faith, as a condition of the covenant of grace, and, at the same time, take it for granted, that it is not in our own power to perform it: nevertheless, since God has promised that he will work it in us, they conclude it to be conditional; whereas such a promise as this would render the covenant absolute, or, at least, not conditional, in the same sense, in which human covenants are, and only infer what we do not deny, that there is a necessary connexion between that grace, which God will enable us to perform, and salvation, which he has promised in this covenant.

(3.) When any thing is promised to another, on condition that he do what is enjoined on him, it is generally supposed that it is a dubious and uncertain matter whether this condition shall be fulfilled, and the promise take place; or, as I may express it, every condition contains not a necessary, but an uncertain connexion between the promised advantage, and the duty enjoined, and that for this reason, because all human covenants depend on the power and will of men, who are under conditional engagements to perform what is demanded therein; and these are supposed to be mutable and defective, and, as far as they are so, the performance of the condition may be reckoned dubious; and he that made the promise is liable to the same uncertainty, whether he shall make it good or no. This will hardly be denied, by those who defend the other side of the question, who, in explaining the nature of human liberty, generally suppose, that every one, who acts freely, might do the contrary; therefore they must, from hence, conclude, that, if the performing the conditions of a covenant be the result of man’s free will, it is possible for him not to perform them, and therefore it must be a matter of uncertainty, whether a person, who promises a reward upon the performance of these conditions, will confer it or no. But, however this may be applied to human covenants, we are not to suppose that faith, or any other grace, is, in this respect, a condition of the covenant of grace, as though God’s conferring the blessings promised therein were dependent on the will of man, as determining itself to the exercise of these graces; in this respect, we cannot but deny the covenant of grace to be conditional.

(4.) If we take an estimate of the worth and value of a condition enjoined, the advantages that he, who enjoins it, expects to receive from it, or the reference that the performance thereof 192has to the procuring the blessing promised, in which case the person, who has fulfilled it, may be said to merit, or have whereof to glory in himself, as to what concerns the part he has performed therein: this must not be applied to any transaction between God and man, and therefore is wholly to be excluded from those ideas, which are contained in the word condition, when applied to the covenant of grace, as will be allowed by most, who do not give into the Popish doctrine of the merit of good works. Concerning the worth and value of faith, and all other graces, I would not be thought, in the least, to depreciate or divest them of that excellency, which they have, above all other effects of God’s power and blessings of providence; whereas certainly we ought to bless God for them, or glory in him, as the Author of them: but that which we would fence against in this matter, is nothing more than what our Saviour does, when he says, When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, Luke xvii. 10. And I would not have any one suppose, that whatever condition is performed by us, has such a value put on it, as that eternal life is hereupon due to us, in a way of debt, which would make way for boasting. It is true, the conditions which Christ performed in that branch of the covenant, which more immediately respected himself, which some call the covenant of redemption, were properly meritorious, and the blessings he purchased thereby were given him in a way of debt, and not as an undeserved favour: but, if we suppose that there is the same reference of faith, or any other grace acted by us, to that salvation, which we expect, we turn the covenant of grace into a covenant of works, and resolve that into ourselves which is due to God alone.

But since many excellent divines have asserted faith to be a condition of the covenant of grace, who do not understand the word condition, either as containing in it any thing dubious or uncertain on the one hand, or meritorious on the other; and probably they choose to express themselves so, in compliance with custom, and to explain away the common ideas of the word condition, as applied to human covenants, rather than altogether to lay it aside; and, it may be, they do this, lest they should be thought to deny the necessary connexion between faith and salvation: I shall therefore, for the same reason, conclude this head with the following propositions, whereby our not using the word condition, may be vindicated, from any just exception; or, our using of it may not appear to be inconsistent with the divine perfections, or the grace of this covenant. Therefore,

1st, We shall lay down this as an undoubted truth, the denial whereof would be subversive of all religion, that faith, and 193all other graces, are required by God, and our obligation thereunto is indispensible; whether it be reckoned a condition of the covenant or no, it is no less a duty.[100] It is true, there are 194some who distinguish between the obligation of a law, and that of a covenant; the former of which depends on an express command; the latter is the result of some blessings promised or 195conferred, which has in it the obligation of a law, but not the formal nature of it; and therefore they conclude, that we are commanded by God, as a Lawgiver, to believe and repent, but that it is more proper to say, we are rather engaged by him, as a covenant-God, than commanded to exercise these graces: but this dispute is rather about the propriety of words, than the main substance of the doctrine itself; and therefore I shall enter no farther into this critical enquiry, but content myself with the general assertion, that faith, and all other graces are necessary duties; without which, it is impossible to please God, to use the apostle’s expression, Heb. xi. 6. or to have any right to the character of Christians.

2dly, Faith, and all other graces, are to be also considered as blessings, promised in the covenant of grace. This appears from those scriptures that speak of them as the gifts of God, Eph. ii. 8. purchased by the blood of Christ, and so founded on his righteousness, 2 Pet. i. 1. and wrought in us by his Spirit, and the exceeding greatness of his power, Eph. i. 19. and as discriminating blessings, which all are not partakers of, as the apostle says, All men have not faith, 2 Thess. iii. 2.

This may be farther argued, from what Christ undertook to purchase for, and apply to his people, as their federal Head; so that, in pursuance hereof, all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, are bestowed on them, in him; and hereby the covenant is made good to them, as God is said, together with Christ, to give them all things, Rom. viii. 32. First, Christ is given for a covenant of his people, and then, upon his fulfilling what he undertook to procure for them, all that grace, which is treasured up in him, is applied to them; therefore faith, and other concomitant graces, are covenant-blessings.

3dly, There is a certain connexion between faith, with other concomitant graces, and salvation. But this having been considered elsewhere, together with the sense of those scriptures, that seem to be laid down in a conditional form, from whence the arguments, to prove the conditionality of the covenant of grace, are generally taken;[101] all that we shall add, at present, is, that since, in this eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, it was agreed, established, and, on our Saviour’s part, undertaken, that the elect should be not only redeemed, but sanctified, and enabled to exercise all grace, before they are brought to glory, this is made good to them in this covenant; and therefore, as the consequence of Christ’s purchase, faith, 196and all other graces, are wrought in the soul, which afterwards, in receiving the end of faith, is brought to eternal salvation; so that we may as well separate Christ’s undertaking to redeem his people from their attaining salvation, as we can his applying those graces which accompany it.

However, when we speak of these graces, as connected with salvation, we must not conclude that they are the cause thereof. Though we are saved in a way of believing, we are not saved for our faith; and therefore I cannot but approve of what is observed by many divines, who treat of this subject, that these graces are the way to heaven, though Christ’s righteousness be the cause of our coming there.[102] I am sensible there are some who express their dislike of some of the most unexceptionable modes of speaking, if not altogether agreeable to those which they make use of, who can hardly approve of any one’s asserting, that faith, and other graces, are the way to salvation; partly, because they are the beginning of salvation, and principally, because Christ styles himself, The Way, John xiv. 6. But to this it may be replied, that though grace be glory begun, yet it may as truly be said to be the way to complete salvation, as the traveller’s setting out, and going forward on his journey, is the way to the end thereof, without which it can never be attained; and, though Christ be the way to salvation, as every thing that tends to fit us for, and bring us to it, is founded on what he did for us, as Mediator; yet this does not, in the least, overthrow the connexion of grace with glory, in the method in which he brings his people to it, by first working faith, and all other graces in them, before the work is brought to perfection, or the top-stone thereof is laid.

4thly, If we assert more than this, namely, that faith is a condition of the covenant of grace, or, as it is expressed in this answer, a condition to interest believers in Christ, we must distinguish between God’s bestowing the blessings of the covenant of grace, pursuant to his secret will, or his eternal purpose; and our having a visible ground, or reason, to claim an interest in them; the former of these cannot be supposed to be conditional, without making God dependent on our act; the latter may, and, I think, ought to be deemed so. Thus faith is a condition, or an internal qualification, without which no one has a warrant to conclude his interest in, or lay claim to the saving blessings of the covenant of grace, so that when it is said to be a condition to interest believers in Christ, in this answer, we are to understand it, as that which evinces our claim to him, or gives us ground to conclude, that we are redeemed by him, and to expect that he will bestow upon us complete 197salvation. To deny this, would be to suppose, that an unbeliever has a warrant to conclude that Christ loved and gave himself for him, or that he shall be saved by him; which is a doctrine that I cannot but oppose with the greatest detestation, as what contains in it an unwarrantable presumption, and leads to licentiousness, which, I hope, nothing, that has been said on this subject, has the least tendency to do. Thus we have considered how faith may be said to be a condition of our laying claim to an interest in Christ; we proceed,

VII. To consider how the grace of God is glorified, in his having ordained, that we should apprehend or discern our interest in Christ, and the blessings of the covenant, by faith. Of all other graces, faith is that which has the greatest tendency to discover to the soul its own vileness, and nothingness; and, indeed, every thing that we behold in Christ its object, has a tendency to abase us in our own sight. Do we, by faith, behold Christ’s fulness? This has a tendency to humble us, under a sense of our own emptiness. Do we look on Christ as the Fountain of all righteousness and strength? This leads us to see that we are destitute hereof in ourselves; so that, as faith beholds all that we have, or hope for, as being founded on, and derived from Christ, and gives us hereupon the greatest sense of our own unworthiness, this is in its own nature adapted to advance the grace of God; and therefore God, in taking this method to apply the blessings of the covenant, requiring faith, as an instrument, hereof, ordained the best expedient, to illustrate, and set forth his own grace as displayed therein. But since it is a very difficult matter to believe, as this grace of faith is the gift and effect of the power of God, we are now to consider,

VIII. That the grace of the covenant is farther manifested, in that God has promised, and pursuant thereunto, gives his Holy Spirit to work faith, and all other graces that are connected with, or flow from it. That we have in the covenant of grace a promise of the Holy Spirit, to work in us, that grace which God requires, is very evident; for he says, I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace, and of supplications, Zech. xii. 10. and elsewhere, God promises to pour his Spirit upon their seed, and his blessings upon their offspring, Isa. xliv. 3. and this is farther set forth, in a metaphorical way, when he promises to sprinkle clean water on his people, and that he would cleanse them from all their filthiness, and from all their idols, and give them a new heart, and put a new spirit within them, and take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them an heart of flesh, and all this is said to be done by his Spirit, which he promised to put within them, Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27. And more 198particularly, the Spirit, as working faith in the hearts of believers, is called, for that reason, The Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. iv. 13. and all other graces are called, The fruit of the Spirit, Gal. v. 22, 23. so that they are from the Spirit, as the Author of all grace, and they proceed from faith, as one grace tends to excite another: thus the heart is said to be purified by faith, Acts xv. 9. which is said also to work by love, Gal. v. 6. and hereby we are enabled to overcome the world; and this produces all holy obedience, which is called, The obedience of faith, Rom. xvi. 26. Thus concerning the Spirit’s working faith and all other graces.

Again, it is farther added, that the truth and sincerity of faith is evidenced as well as the grace of faith wrought by the Spirit; and this is also a blessing promised in the covenant of grace. Hereby we are enabled to discern our interest in Christ, and our right to all the blessings that accompany salvation; in which respect, the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he shews them his covenant, Psal. xxv. 14. He not only discovers to them that there is such a dispensation of grace in general, but that they have a right to the blessings promised therein, and accordingly seals them unto the day of redemption, Eph. iv. 30. and hereby they are enabled to walk comfortably, as knowing in whom they have believed, and, are induced to the greatest thankfulness, as those, who are under the highest obligations to God, who promises and bestows these, and all other blessings, whereby his grace is abundantly manifested, in this covenant.

Quest. XXXIII., XXXIV., XXXV.

Quest. XXXIII. Was the covenant of grace always administered after one and the same manner?

Answ. The covenant of grace was not always administered after the same manner; but the administrations of it, under the Old Testament, were different from those under the New.

Quest. XXXIV. How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament.

Answ. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament, by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover, and other types and ordinances, which did all fore-signify Christ then to come, and were, for that time, sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.

Quest. XXXV. How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament?

199Answ. Under the New Testament, when Christ the substance was exhibited the same covenant of grace was, and still is, to be administered in the preaching of the word; and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, in which, grace and salvation is held forth in more fulness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations.

Having considered the nature of the covenant, in which God has promised salvation to his people, and how his grace is manifested therein, we proceed to speak concerning the various dispensations thereof, or the way in which God has been pleased, from time to time, to discover and apply the blessings contained in it, for the encouragement of his people to hope for salvation. This he has done, at sundry times, and in divers manners, Heb. i. 1. the first method of administration was before Christ’s incarnation; the other, in all succeeding ages, to continue to the end of the world. Accordingly we are led to consider,

I. How the covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament. As God has always had a church in the world, in the earliest ages thereof, which has been the seat of his special presence, and been favoured with the displays of his glory; so he has made known, and applied to them, the blessings of salvation, or the promises of this covenant, in which they are contained. How he has done this, is particularly considered in this answer; in which there is something supposed, namely, that it was absolutely necessary, for the salvation of the elect, that God should, some way or other, reveal Christ to them, by whom they were to obtain remission of sins; for he was to be the object of their faith, as well as the fountain of their blessedness. This he could not have been, unless he had taken some methods to lead the world into the knowledge of his Person, and that work he designed to engage in, whereby they, who lived before his incarnation, might be encouraged to look for the benefits which he would procure, by what he was to do and suffer, in order thereunto. Now, that he has done so, and that the method which he has taken therein, was sufficient to build up his elect in the faith of the promised Messiah, is what we are particularly to consider, and so shall shew,

1. That God revealed Christ, and the blessings of the covenant of grace, to his church of old. There were two ways by which he did this; one was by express words, or an intimation given from heaven, that the Messiah, the prince of life, should, in the fulness of time, take our nature, and dwell among us; and that what he was then to be, and do, should be conducive to the salvation of those who lived before his incarnation, as much as though he had done this from the beginning of the 200world: the other was, by types, or significant ordinances, which are only different ways of discovering the same important doctrines to them.

(1.) God revealed Christ then to come to the Old Testament church, by promises and prophecies; to the end, that though they were not, at that time, to behold him, as manifested in the flesh, they might take a view of him by faith, and hereby he might be rendered the object of their desire and expectation, that when he came, it might be no unlooked-for event, but the accomplishment of those promises and predictions that related thereunto: thus God told Abraham, not only that he should be blessed with a numerous off-spring, but that, in his seed, that is, in the Messiah, who should descend from him, all the nations of the earth should he blessed; he likewise says to Israel, by Moses, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet, from among thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken, Deut. xviii. 15. and, in following ages, there were promises and predictions, that gave farther light, concerning the person and offices, the sufferings and glory of the Messiah, as it is said, To him give all the prophets witness, Acts x. 43. And the prophet Isaiah is so express, in the account he gives of this matter, that he is styled, by some, the evangelical prophet; what he says, concerning him, is so particular, as though it had been an history of what was past, rather than a prophecy of what was to come; accordingly he foretells, that he should be born, or given, as a public blessing to the world, and describes him not only as having the government upon his shoulder, but as having the perfections of the divine nature, which discover him fit for that important trust, when he styles him, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, Isa. ix. 6. And, as he speaks of his birth, so he intimates, that he should be born of a virgin; chap. vii. 14. and he describes him, in chap. liii. as condescending to bear our sins, as standing in our room and stead, designing hereby to make atonement for them; he speaks of him, as brought like a lamb to the slaughter, and cut off out of the land of the living, making his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, and after this, that he should prolong his days, and that the consequence hereof should be glorious to himself, and of the highest advantage to his people: and he describes him elsewhere, chap. lxiii. 1, &c. in a most elegant manner as one triumphing over conquered enemies; travelling, or pursuing his victories, in the greatness of his strength, and making it appear that he is mighty to save.

Another prophet speaks of him as a Branch that should grow out of the root or stock of David, when it was almost dead and dry, and that he should set up a more glorious throne, and exercise 201a government over his people in a spiritual way, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. And the prophet Micah gives us an account of the very place of his birth, and speaks of Bethlehem, as rendered famous and renowned by his being born therein, who should be a ruler in Israel, though otherwise it was little among the thousands of Judah, Micah v. 2. Another prophet signifies his coming at that time, when God would shake all nations, that is, fill the world with civil commotions, and cause it to feel the sad effects of those wars, whereby the kingdoms of the world had been dis-jointed, and many of them broken in pieces, that then the desire of all nations should come, and fill his house, to wit, the second temple, with glory, Hag. ii. 7. And the prophet Daniel speaks of him as the Messiah, or Christ, the character by which he was most known, when he was here on earth, and gives a chronological account of the time when he should come, and be cut off, though not for himself, and hereby confirm the covenant, and at the same time, cause the sacrifice and oblation, that is, the ordinances of the ceremonial law, to cease, and so make way for another dispensation of the covenant, to wit, that which we are under, which was to succeed in the room thereof.

(2.) The covenant of grace was also administered by the various types and ordinances of the ceremonial law, which were all significant signs of that grace, that should be displayed in the gospel, which was to be obtained by Christ. Many of these types and ordinances were instituted before the whole body of the ceremonial law was given from mount Sinai. The first we read of was that of sacrifices, which were offered in the first ages of the world, whereby they had an early intimation given them of the blood of the covenant, which should be shed to expiate sin. And, after this, circumcision was instituted, first given to Abraham, as a visible mark, or token, of the covenant, immediately before the birth of Isaac, the promised seed, at that time, when God was pleased to enter into covenant with him, Gen. xvii. 9, 10. and this ordinance was continued in the church, throughout all the generations thereof, till our Saviour’s time, and is explained by the apostle, as a sign, or seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom. iv. 11.

Another type was the passover, which was first instituted in commemoration of Israel’s departure out of Egypt, which had in it many significant rites and ceremonies, whereby our redemption, by Christ, was set forth; upon which occasion, the apostle calls him our Passover, who is sacrificed for us, 1 Cor. v. 7. and in allusion hereunto, he is styled, The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, John i. 29.

There were many other ceremonial ordinances, or types, which God gave to the Jewish nation, which were significant representations of the grace that was to be displayed in the gospel, 202or, as it is expressed in this answer, they fore-signified Christ then to come, which contained as the apostle expresses it, A shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1. so that they all pointed at the grace of the covenant, or the accomplishment of what was to be performed by Christ, after his incarnation: but this will be more particularly considered, when we speak of the ceremonial law, as distinguished from the moral, under a following answer[103]. Therefore, at present, we shall only consider the types in general, and their reference to the grace of the covenant, whereby the Old Testament church were led into the knowledge of the Messiah then to come, together with what he was to do and suffer, to purchase and apply the blessings of this covenant to his people. And here we shall shew,

1st, That there were typical ordinances under the ceremonial law. This we are obliged to maintain, against those who have advanced several things relating to the origin of the ceremonial law, which tend very much to divest it of its spirituality and glory[104], when they assert, that all the rites and ordinances thereof were derived from the Egyptians; and that they were first observed by them, before known and received by the church; and that the reason why God accommodated his law thereunto, was because he knew how tenacious they were of that religion in which that generation had been trained up in Egypt, and how difficult it would be for them wholly to lay it aside, and to give into another way of worship, which was altogether foreign to it: nevertheless, they say that he cut off, or separated from it, every thing that was idolatrous, and adapted other things to that mode of worship, which he thought most conducive to his glory. But though he commanded his people, when they left Egypt, to borrow vessels of silver and gold, to be used in that service they were to perform in the wilderness; yet far be it from us to suppose, that God, in ordaining this law, borrowed any part of it from them. It is true, there were rites of worship used by the Egyptians, and other nations, which had some affinity with the divine law, and were received by them in common with other heathen nations, by tradition, from the church, in former ages; and it cannot be denied, but that the Israelites sometimes corrupted the worship of God, by introducing some things into it, which were practised by neighbouring nations: but God gave no countenance to this matter, by accommodating his law to theirs. But since this has been purposely and largely insisted on, with much learning and judgment, by others[105], I shall pass it over.

There are others, who make farther advances on this subject, 203tending to overthrow that which appears to be the main design of the ceremonial law, together with the spiritual meaning of it; these not only conclude, that the main end of God’s giving it to the Jews, was because it was necessary that there should be some form of worship erected, otherwise they would have invented one of their own, or practised that which they had received from the Egyptians; and the more pompous and ceremonious this form was, and especially the nearer it came to that of neighbouring nations, it would more readily be received and complied with: but, that there was no design herein to typify, or shadow forth Christ, or the blessings of the covenant of grace; these therefore, were commanded duties[106], (whereby the people were to be kept employed,) but not typical ordinances. But it is very strange that any, who have read some explications hereof, occasionally mentioned in the Old Testament, and especially that large comment on the ceremonial law, given by the apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, should embrace this opinion.

2dly, Whatever ordinances were typical, they respected Christ, his person, offices, the grace of the covenant, and the way of salvation, by him; therefore I cannot approve of what I occasionally meet with, in some ancient commentators, and other modern writers, who sometimes speak of things being typical of other things besides Christ, and what relates to the work of redemption by him. Thus some speak of those notorious wicked persons mentioned in scripture, as Cain, Pharaoh, and others, as though they were types of the devil; and of Antiochus Epiphanes, as a type of Anti-christ. And others speak of some things as types of Gospel-ordinances, so they call circumcision a type of baptism, and the passover of the Lord’s supper; and several writers, amongst the Papists, suppose, that the bread and wine, that was brought forth by Melchisedek to Abraham, was a type of the Eucharist, as they call that ordinance. Others speak of Noah’s being saved in the ark from the deluge, as a type of baptism, being mis-led herein by a mistaken sense of the word, used by the apostle, when he says, having spoken before of Noah’s being saved in the ark, The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us, 1 Pet. iii. 21. &c. whereas the meaning of the Greek word[107] is not that this was a type of baptism, but that it signified, as baptism also doth, that salvation, which we have by Christ.

3dly, When we consider what was typified by those ordinances, under the ceremonial law, we must avoid two extremes; namely, that of those who make more types, than the Holy Ghost designed in scripture; and others, who will not acknowledge many things to be types, which plainly appear to be so: 204the former give too great scope to their wit and fancy, when they reckon every thing to be a type, that may be adapted to Christ, and the gospel-state; and accordingly suppose, many persons and actions done by them to be typical, which it is hard to prove that they were designed to be, or were looked upon as such by the Old Testament-church. Thus it would be a difficult matter to prove that Samson (especially in any other respect than as he was a Nazarite) was a type of Christ. But, if it could be proved, that the success he sometimes had in his skirmishes with the Philistines, was a type of Christ’s victories over his and our enemies; yet it doth not appear, though some have extended the parallel so far, that his carrying the door and posts of the gate of Gaza to the top of a hill that is before Hebron, Judges xvi. 3. signifies Christ’s resurrection. But it is abominable, when any one supposes, as some have unwarily done, that his loving a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah, ver. 4. was a type of Christ’s loving the Gentile church.

But, because I would not give any occasion to conclude that I have light thoughts of the performance of some, who have explained many things, which they call types, in scripture, with a very honest and good design, to lead the world into the knowledge of several great gospel-truths; I shall take leave to distinguish between those things, which were plainly designed, in scripture, to be types, and some other, which, though it doth not appear that they were looked upon as such by the Old Testament-church, yet they may be accommodated to illustrate or explain some doctrines contained in the gospel. If any one call these methods of illustration, types, because there is some analogy or resemblance between them and Christ, or the benefits of the covenant, they may extend their illustrations as far as they please; I will not contend with them. It is not their saying, that such and such things are similitudes, by which Christ may be set forth; but their asserting that these similitudes were designed by God, to be ordinances for the faith of his church, to lead them into the knowledge of Christ, that I militate against, when I suppose that some are chargeable with an extreme, in extending this matter too far, which, it is certain, many have done.

But this may give occasion to enquire; when we may determine that a thing is designed, by God, to be a type of Christ, and the grace of the covenant? To this I answer,

(1.) As to what respects persons, or, as it is commonly expressed, personal types, though I cannot say, that every one, whose life and actions bear a very great resemblance to some things that are remarkable in the life of Christ, is a type of him, in any other sense, than, as we are led, by the analogy, or 205resemblance of things, to speak of it, in a way of accommodation or illustration; yet we have some directions given us, by which we may conclude some persons to be types of Christ; one of which is, when he is called by their name: thus our Saviour’s being called David, in several scriptures, Hos. iii. 5. Ezek. xxxiv. 23. and David’s often speaking in the Person of our Saviour, in several of his Psalms, seems to intimate, that he was looked upon, by the church in his day, as a type of Christ.

Again, Moses seems to imply as much concerning himself, when he speaks of Christ as a Prophet, whom the Lord God should raise up from among their brethren, and he adds, that he should be like unto him, and consequently typified by him, Deut. xviii. 15. and the apostle seems to intimate as much, when he compares Moses and Christ together, in point of faithfulness, that the one was faithful as a servant in God’s house, the other as a Son over his own house, Heb. iii, 2, 5, 6.

Again, when any remarkable actions, were done by persons mentioned in scripture, which were allowed to be typical, it follows, from thence, that the person, who was appointed to be God’s minister in doing them, was a type of Christ. Thus we may conclude Joshua to have been reckoned, by Israel, a type of Christ, in leading them into the land of Canaan, upon the same ground that they had to look upon that land, as a type of the gospel-rest, which we are brought to by Christ. And, for the same reason, Solomon might be called a type of Christ, as he built the temple, which was reckoned, by the Jews, as a type of God’s presence, in a way of grace with his people; and there are other passages, that might be referred to in scripture, which farther prove him to be a type of Christ.[108]

And nothing is more evident, than that the priests, under the law, who were ministers in holy things, and the high priest, in a way of eminency, were types of Christ; they are so considered in the explication thereof, given in the epistle to the Hebrews; and they farther appear to be so, inasmuch as the church had sufficient ground to conclude, that their ministry was typical, or the gifts, or sacrifices that they offered, were types of what was offered by Christ, for our redemption. And this leads us,

(2.) To consider those types, which are called real, or things done, as being ordinances designed to signify the grace of the covenant. These were either occasional, or stated; the former whereof were designed for types, at those times, when the things were performed. But it doth not appear that they were so afterwards, in succeeding ages; as their passing through 206the red sea, being under the cloud, their eating manna in the wilderness, and drinking water that came out of the rock. All these things are expressly mentioned, by the apostle, as types, 1 Cor. x. 1, 3, 4. compared with ver. 11. and we may add thereto the brazen serpent, which was plainly a type of Christ, and, as such, our Saviour applies it to himself, in John iii. 14. But all these were occasional types, which were ordinances to the church no longer than the action was continued.

Again, there were other things, which seemed to be standing types, or ordinances, in all successive ages, till Christ the Antitype came, as circumcision, the passover, sacrifices, and other rites of worship, used in the temple service; these things being expressly mentioned, in scripture, as types, we have ground to determine them to be so. Thus concerning the covenant of grace, as revealed to the church of old.

2. We are now to consider, that the method which God took in the administration of the covenant of grace, under the Old Testament, was sufficient to build up his elect in the faith of the promised Messiah. There were, indeed, many types given to the church, but these would not have led them into the knowledge of Christ, and salvation to be obtained by him, unless God had taken some method to explain them; for they had not a natural tendency to signify Christ, and the blessings of the covenant of grace, as words have, according to the common sense thereof, to make known the ideas they convey: but their signification was, for the most part, if not altogether, instituted, or annexed to them, by the divine appointment, and many of them had not the least resemblance, in themselves, of what they were ordained to signify; therefore it was necessary that they should be explained. For we may say the same thing of a type, that is said of a parable, as they are both figurative representations of some less known ideas, that are designed to be conveyed thereby; now a parable is styled, by the Psalmist, A dark saying, Psal. lxxviii. 2. and, by the prophet Ezekiel, A riddle, Ezek. xvii. 2. and our Saviour, speaking thereof, in this sense, tells his disciples, that unto them it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others in parables, Luke viii. 10. and they are elsewhere opposed to a plain way of speaking, as when the disciples say, Now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb, or parable, John xvi. 29. as it is rendered in the margin; so when Nathan reproved David for his sin, in the matter of Uriah, he first represented it by a parable, taken from the rich man’s robbing the poor man of his ewe-lamb, which, before he explained the meaning of it, was not understood by him, 2 Sam. xii. 1-6. But when he told him, Thou art the man intended hereby, it was as evident to him, as though he had made use of the most significant words 207relating to this matter. The same may be said concerning types under the Old Testament dispensation; they would have been unintelligible, had there been no explication annexed to them, whereby the spiritual meaning thereof might be understood. And, if we consider them as a part of religious worship, we cannot suppose that that consisted only in some bodily exercises, such as killing of beasts, sprinkling the blood, &c. for that is no part of religion, any otherwise than as it refers to, and leads the faith of those, who are engaged therein, into the knowledge of some things, in which it is more immediately concerned.

But this argument having been insisted on elsewhere,[109] and the necessity of God’s leading his church into the meaning of the ceremonial law, having been considered and proved, from the divine goodness, and a brief account having been given of the method which God took to lead them into it, which tends to obviate any objection that might be made against it we shall only observe, at present, that as there is a very clear explication given hereof, in several places in the New Testament, so there are some expressions used in the Old, which seem to refer to the spiritual meaning thereof; and, if it be allowed that the church had then the least intimation given them, either by some hints, contained in scripture, or by some other methods of revealing it, that there was a spiritual meaning affixed thereunto, which it is plain there was, then it will follow, that they might easily, from this direction, have applied this to particular instances, and have attained a very great degree of the knowledge of the spiritual meaning of these types and ordinances.

That this may farther appear, let it be considered, that they were led into several doctrines relating to the Messiah, and the offices that he was to execute as Mediator, by express words, and they must be given up to a very great degree of judicial blindness, as the Jews are at this day, if they could not understand thereby many of those great truths, which relate to the way of salvation by Christ. Now, if they were led into them, by this more plain method, they might easily accommodate the typical ordinances thereunto, and accordingly the one would be a key to the other: thus, when they were told of the Messiah’s bearing the iniquity of his people, as the prophet Isaiah does, or of the Lord’s laying on him the iniquity of us all, Isa. liii. 4, 6. they might easily understand that the same thing was signified by some rites used in sacrificing, as when the priest was to lay his hand on the head of the sacrifice, before he slew it, and its being, upon this occasion, said to bear the iniquity of the congregation, Lev. iv. 4. compared with chap. xvi. 21, 22. therefore they could not be at a loss, as to the spiritual 208meaning thereof. And, when we read elsewhere such expressions, as plainly refer to the thing signified, by some ceremonial ordinances, viz. The circumcision of the heart, Deut. xxx. 6. The calves of the lips, Hos. xiv. 2. The sacrifice of thanksgiving, Psal. cxvi. 17. and many other passages of the like nature, it cannot reasonably be supposed that they were wholly strangers to it; and therefore these types and ordinances were, in an objective way, sufficient to build them up in the faith of the Messiah.

This being considered, it may very evidently be inferred, from hence, that they had full remission of sins, and eternal life, as it is farther observed; and therefore it is not necessary to suppose, with some of the Pelagians and Socinians, that they might be saved without the knowledge of Christ; nor, with the Papists, that they were incapable of salvation, till Christ came and preached to them after his death, and so discharged them from the prison, in which they were detained; nor with some among the Protestants, who extend the bondage of the Old Testament-church so far, as though they were not fully justified, but lay under a perpetual dread of the wrath of God. This we often meet with in the writings of many, who, in other respects, explain the doctrine of the covenant of grace in a very unexceptionable way. And here I cannot but observe, what is well known, by those who live in the United Netherlands, that this matter has been debated with so much warmth in those parts, that it has occasioned divisions and misunderstandings among divines, who, in other respects, have adhered to, and well defended the doctrines of the gospel, against those who have opposed them. The judicious and learned Cocceius, whom I cannot but mention with the greatest respect, who lived about the middle of the last century, has been, and is now, followed by many divines, in those particular modes of explaining this doctrine, which he makes use of: his sentiments, indeed, about this matter, were not wholly new; but having written commentaries on several parts of scripture, he takes occasion to explain great numbers of texts, agreeably to that particular scheme, which he maintains; and while, on the one hand, he runs great lengths, in explaining what he reckons to be scripture-types and predictions, and thereby gives great scope to his imagination on the other hand, he extends the terror, bondage, and darkness, which the church was under, during the legal dispensation, farther than can well be justified, and advances several things in defending and explaining his scheme, which many divines, who do not give into his way of thinking, have excepted against.

Instead of making but two dispensations of the covenant of grace, according to the commonly received opinion, he supposes 209that there were three;[110] namely, the first from God’s giving the promise to our first parents, immediately after they fell, relating to the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent’s head, to his delivering the law from mount Sinai; which dispensation had nothing of terror, or bondage, in it, any more than the dispensation which we are under; and he supposes, that the church had clearer discoveries of Christ, and the blessings of the covenant, than they had after Moses’s time. The second dispensation was, that which took place when God gave Israel the law from mount Sinai, which he generally describes as a yoke, which they could hardly bear; and sometimes as a curse, a rigorous dispensation, in which there was a daily remembrance of sin: and the reason of God’s exercising this severity, and shutting them up in a judicial way, under terror, darkness, and bondage, was, because they revolted from him, by worshipping the golden calf, a little before the law was given; upon which occasion, God put a vail upon his ordinances, covered the mysteries of the gospel by types, and, at the same time, did not lead them into the meaning thereof, which as was before observed, would have a tendency to leave them in a state of darkness, as to the great doctrines that were signified by these types and ordinances of the ceremonial law. And this he supposes to be the meaning of what the apostle says, concerning the double vail; one put on the things themselves, the other, on the hearts of the Jews; and both these were typified by the vail, which Moses put over his face, 2 Cor. iii. 13-15, and this darkness was attended with distress and terror of conscience, whereby they were, as the apostle says elsewhere, All their life-time subject to bondage, Heb. ii. 15. which they explain, concerning the church of the Jews, under the legal dispensation. And they add, that all this continued as long as that dispensation lasted, or till it was succeeded by the third, viz. the gospel-dispensation, which we are under, whereby the church was delivered from this yoke, which neither they, nor their fathers, were able to bear. But that which I would take occasion to except against, in this scheme, is,

1. They seem to make the terror, bondage, and darkness, which the church was under, greater than they ought to do; for, I humbly conceive, all those scriptures, which they refer to for the proof hereof, are to be taken, not in an absolute, but a comparative sense. It is one thing to say, that this dispensation was less bright and comfortable, than the present dispensation, which we are under, is; and another thing to say, 210that it was so dark and comfortless, as they generally represent it to be.

2. I cannot but think, as I have before observed, that the church of Israel had a clearer discerning of the meaning of the ordinances of the ceremonial law, than these divines would allow them to have had; or, at least, that the vail, that was upon their hearts, principally respected a part of them, and that in some particular ages, not in every age of the Jewish church; for some of the Old Testament-saints seem to have discovered a great degree of light in the doctrines of the gospel, as appears more especially from several of the Psalms of David, and some of the writings of the prophets.

3. Whatever degree of judicial blindness and darkness the church of the Jews might be exposed to for sin, it does not so fully appear that this was inflicted as a punishment on them, for worshipping the golden calf at the foot of the mount Sinai: but there were several instances of idolatry and apostacy from God, that gave occasion thereunto, which, when they repented of, and were reformed from, the effects of his wrath were taken away; therefore we are not to suppose, that the ceremonial law was given, at first, as a yoke, or curse, laid on them for this sin in particular.

4. We are not to extend the bondage and darkness thereof so far, with respect to any of them, as to suppose, that, under that dispensation, they had not full remission of sin; for the contrary hereto seems to be contained in several scriptures; as when it is said, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, Psal. xxxii. 1, 2. and, There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared, Psal. cxxx. 4. and elsewhere, Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy, to all that call upon thee; and thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin, Psal. lxxxvi. 5. and lxxxv. 2. and elsewhere, Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, Micah. vii. 18, 19.

These, and such-like scriptures, seem so plainly to overthrow this part of their scheme, that they are obliged, in defence thereof, to understand them all, as containing nothing else, but a prediction of that blessedness, which the New Testament-church should receive, and not as a privilege that was enjoyed under the legal dispensation, which I cannot but think to be an evasive perversion of the sense of those scriptures, but 211now referred to, and others of the like nature; for it is plain that the apostle, referring to one of them, to wit, the words of the Psalmist, in Rom. iv. 6. compared with ver. 9. says, that therein David describes the blessedness that cometh not on the circumcision only, that is, not only on the Jews, but on the uncircumcision also, that is, the gospel-church; which is a plain argument, that this blessedness, that accompanies forgiveness, was a privilege, that the Old Testament-church enjoyed, and not barely a promise of what the New Testament-church was to expect: q. d. was the Old Testament-church the only blessed persons in enjoying forgiveness? No, says he, as they formerly enjoyed it, we who believe, are partakers of the same privilege.

And to this we may add, that, in consistency with this scheme, they entertain some unwarrantable notions about the justification of the Old Testament church. Some say, that it was less full; others, which is a more unguarded way of speaking, that it was less true;[111] and, agreeably hereunto, they suppose, that they had no other ideas of the doctrine of justification, but as implying in it the divine forbearance, or not punishing sin; though they had a perpetual dread that it would be punished at last, and no comfortable sense of the forgiveness thereof.[112] But this is certainly an extending the terror and bondage of that dispensation farther than we have just ground, from scripture, to do, whatever turns they give to several scriptures in defence thereof; and therefore we must conclude, as it is observed in this answer, that the Old Testament-church had full remission of sins, as well as eternal salvation.

II. We are now to consider the covenant of grace, as administered under the New Testament, which is the dispensation thereof, that we are under and is to continue to the end of the world, which by way of eminency, we call the gospel-dispensation; concerning which it is observed,

2121. That it began when Christ, the Substance, was exhibited. He is called the Substance thereof, without any particular limitation of the word; and therefore we may understand thereby, either that he was the Substance of the ceremonial law, as all the promises and types thereof had a peculiar reference to him; and, as the apostle says, To him give all the prophets witness, Acts x. 43. or else he may be considered as the Substance of the New Testament-dispensation, the subject-matter of the ministry of the gospel. Thus the apostle speaks of Christ crucified, as the principal thing which he determined to know, or insist on, in the exercise of his ministry, and that with good reason, since all gospel-doctrines were designed to lead us to him, and set forth his glory, as the Fountain and Author of our salvation, 1 Cor. i. 23. chap. ii. 2. And both the seals of the new covenant, namely, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, signify that salvation which we enjoy, or hope for, by Christ, our consecration to him, and communion with him: thus he is truly styled the substance of both the dispensations of the covenant; the former looked forward, and pointed out Christ to come, as the object of the church’s desire and expectation; the latter represents him as being come, and so the object of our joy and thankfulness, for the blessings which he has procured for us.

And this leads us to consider when it was that the New Testament-dispensation commenced, which is here said to be upon Christ’s being exhibited. Christ’s exhibition implies in it, either his public appearing when he was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us, or else it has a particular respect to the time when he first entered on his public ministry and went about doing good, confirming his mission by uncontested miracles: this he did immediately after his baptism, whereby he appeared to be the Person, whose coming the prophets had foretold, and whom John the Baptist had pointed at, and given the world ground to expect that he would immediately shew himself, in a public manner to them which he did accordingly. This appearing of Christ, was like the sun’s rising after a night of darkness, and therefore, in some respects, the gospel-dispensation might be said to begin then; nevertheless, in propriety of speaking, it could not be said fully to commence till Christ’s resurrection: then it was that the ceremonial law ceased, all the types and ordinances thereof having had their accomplishment in him. Thus the prophet Daniel speaks first of Christ’s being cut off, and thereby confirming the covenant, and then of the sacrifice and oblation’s ceasing, Dan. ix. 26, 27. and, when that dispensation was at an end, the gospel dispensation immediately succeeded it. We are now to consider,

2132. How these two dispensations differ. They were, indeed, the same for substance, both before and since the coming of Christ, as was before observed, when we considered that the covenant of grace, notwithstanding the different dispensations thereof, is but one. And this farther appears, in that the blessings promised therein were the same, to wit, redemption through the blood of Christ, and compleat salvation by him. He was the Mediator and Fountain of all that happiness which his people enjoyed, either before or after his incarnation; nevertheless, the way of administering this covenant, under the gospel dispensation, differs from its former way;

(1.) In that it was, before this, predicted and signified, that Christ should come, and therefore the Old Testament-church waited for his appearing; and accordingly they are represented as saying, Until the day break, and the shadows flee away; turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether, Cant. ii. 17. But the New Testament-church adores and magnifies him, as having appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and fully accomplish the work of our redemption thereby; and, in the preaching of the gospel, he is represented as having abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, and done every thing for us that is necessary to bring about our redemption. And this is also signified by the sacraments of the New Testament, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, which, though they may be justly called gospel-types, or external signs of Christ, and the blessings of the covenant of grace; yet they differ from the types under the ceremonial law, not only in the matter of them, but in that they refer to the work of redemption, as fully accomplished by him, which the ceremonial law could not from the nature of the thing, be said to have done.

(2.) The gospel-dispensation differs from the legal, and very much excels it, as grace and salvation is therein held forth in more fulness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations. This is founded on what the apostle says, 2 Cor. iii. 7-11. when comparing the two dispensations together, he calls one the ministration of death, or condemnation, and describes it, as that which is now done away, which while it continued, was glorious; the other he calls, the ministration of the Spirit, or of righteousness, and speaks of it, as excelling in glory. Whether the former is styled, The ministration of death, because of the terrible manner in which the law was given from mount Sinai, upon which occasion the people said to Moses Let not God speak with us, in such a way, any more, lest we die; or whether it respects the many curses and threatenings, denounced in that dispensation, to deter the people from sin, we will not determine: but it is certain, that the apostle speaks of the gospel-dispensation, 214as excelling in glory, which is the principal thing we are now to consider, and this it might be said to do.

1st, As grace and salvation are therein held forth with greater clearness, or evidence. This we may truly say without supposing the legal dispensation to be so dark, as that none of the church, in any age thereof, could see Christ, and the way of salvation by him, to be signified by any of its types or ordinances. We may observe, that when the apostle speaks of this dispensation, he does not say absolutely that it had no glory, but that it had no glory in this respect by reason of, or compared with, the glory that excelleth. Now the gospel-dispensation excels the legal, as to its clearness, or fulness of evidence, in that the accomplishment of the predictions, or the making good of the promises of redemption and salvation by Christ, affords greater evidence of the truth and reality of these blessings, than the bare giving the promises could be said to do; for though one gave them the expectation, the other put them into the actual possession thereof, when Christ the Substance, was, as was before observed, exhibited, and the ceremonial law had its accomplishment in him.

2dly, Under the gospel-dispensation, grace and salvation revealed therein, are attended with greater efficacy; for as the greatest part of the Old Testament-church were not so much disposed, as they ought, especially in some ages thereof, to enquire into, or endeavour to attain a clearer discerning of the spiritual meaning of the ceremonial institutions, through the blindness of their minds, and the hardness of their hearts, so the effect and consequence hereof, was answerable thereunto, inasmuch as there was but a small remnant of them, who obtained mercy to be faithful, who rejoiced to see Christ’s day, and embraced the promises which they beheld afar off; whereas, in the gospel-dispensation, the word of the Lord had free course, and was more eminently glorified in those places where it was made known: but this will farther appear, if we consider,

3dly, That it excelled in glory, in regard of the extent thereof; for it was under this dispensation that that promise was to have its accomplishment, that Christ should be a light to the Gentiles, and God’s salvation unto the end of the earth, Isa. xlix. 6. or that God would destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that was spread over all nations, chap. xxv. 7. It was then that a commission was given to preach the Gospel to every creature, Mark xvi. 15. or that Christ should be preached unto the Gentiles and believed on in the world, 1 Tim. iii. 16. In this respect, the gospel-dispensation certainly excelleth in glory, and it is owing hereunto that we enjoy, at present, this invaluable privilege. But if this present 215dispensation be only reckoned the dawn and twilight, or the beginning of that glory that shall be revealed at Christ’s second coming, as grace is sometimes styled glory begun; or if the apostle’s description of it, when he says, that we are come unto the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, Heb. xii. 22, 23. contains an intimation, that the glory, which still remains to be revealed, is nothing else but the perfection of this present dispensation, that we may conclude that it far excelleth all others in glory.

From what has been said, in comparing the former, and present dispensation of the covenant of grace, we may infer:

[1.] The care of God extended to his church, in all the ages thereof; so that he never left them without the means of grace, which, how various soever they have been as to the matter of them, have yet tended to answer the same end, namely, leading the church into the knowledge of Christ.

[2.] We may farther infer the necessity of external and visible worship, which the church was never wholly destitute of, for then it would have ceased to have been a church; and also the necessity of divine revelation, as to what respects the way of salvation by Christ; and therefore we must not conclude, that the church was, at any time, without some beams of gospel-light shining into it, or that they were left, as the Heathen are, to seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, as the apostle speaks, Acts xvii. 27. or that, before the gospel-dispensation commenced, salvation was to be obtained, by adhering to the light and dictates of nature, which discovers nothing of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, or of that remission of sin, which is only to be obtained through him.

[3.] Christ’s having been revealed to, and consequently known by the Old Testament church, as the promised Messiah, may give some light to our understanding what we often read in the New Testament concerning persons believing in him, upon his working of miracles, or using some other methods to convince them that he was the Messiah, when, at the same time, we do not read of any particular discovery made to them relating to the glory of his Person, and offices, and the design of his coming into the world, which was necessary to their believing him, in a saving way, to be the Messiah. Thus when he converted the woman of Samaria, by revealing himself to be that Prophet, whom the church expected, when he told her some of the secret actions of her life, she immediately believed in him, John iv. 18, 19, 29. and many of her fellow-citizens believed on him, upon the report that she gave them hereof, ver. 39. and, when he opened the eyes of the man that 216was born blind, he only asked him this question, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? and then discovers that he was the Person; and it immediately follows, that he believed and worshipped him, John ix. 35, 37, 38. And there were many other instances of the like nature in the New Testament, in which persons believed in Christ, before he gave them a particular account of his design in coming into the world, barely upon his working miracles, which gave them a conviction that he was the Messiah; whereas faith supposes not only a conviction that Christ is the Messiah, but a knowledge of his Person, and the offices he was to execute as such. This may very easily be accounted for, by supposing that the Jews had been before instructed in this matter, and therefore they wanted no new discoveries hereof; accordingly they believed in him, and worshipped him, as being induced hereunto, by those intimations that were given to them, under the Old-Testament dispensation, that the Messiah, whenever he appeared, would be the Object of faith and worship.

[4.] Since the gospel is more clearly preached under this present dispensation, than it was before; this tends to aggravate the sin of those who despise Christ, as revealed therein, as our Saviour says, This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil, chap. iii. 19. Before our Saviour’s incarnation, the Old Testament-church might be said to reject the covenant of promise, or not regard the gospel contained therein; but, under the New Testament-dispensation, sinners reject the covenant of grace, as confirmed, ratified, and sealed, by the blood of Christ; and, as the apostle says, Count the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and therefore are thought worthy of much sorer punishment, Heb. x. 29.

Quest. XXXVI., XXXVII.

Quest. XXXVI. Who is the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace?

Answ. The only mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fulness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and Man, in two entire distinct natures, and one Person for ever.

Quest. XXXVII. How did Christ, being God, become Man?

Answ. Christ, the Son of God, became Man by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived 217by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her, yet without sin.

Next to the covenant of grace, and its various administrations, we have, in some following answers, an account of the Mediator thereof, who is set forth in the glory of his Person; the offices that he executes, and the estate in which he either was, or is, together with those accessions of glory, with which he shall perform the last part of his work in the close of time. The first thing to be considered, is the constitution of his Person, as God-man, Mediator; and here,

I. He is set forth as the only Mediator of the covenant of grace. How we are to understand his being Mediator, has been already considered[113], and it was observed, that he did not make peace, by intreating, that God would remit the debt, without giving that satisfaction, which was necessary to be made, for the securing the glory of the divine justice. Herein we militate against the Socinians, who suppose him to be styled a Mediator, only because he made known unto the world those new laws contained in the gospel, which we are obliged to obey, as a condition of God’s being reconciled to us; and giving us a pattern of obedience in his conversation; and, in the close thereof, confirming his doctrine by his death; and then interceding with God, that, on these terms, he would accept of us, without any regard to the glory of his justice, which he is no farther concerned about, than by prevailing that it would desist from the demands which it might have made, and so pardon sin without satisfaction; But this is directly contrary to the whole tenor of scripture, which represents him as giving his life a ransom for many, Matt. xx. 28. upon which account it is said he made peace through the blood of his cross, Col. i. 20. and that God brought him again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant, as the God of peace, Heb. xiii. 20. and, at the same time, appeared to be a God of infinite holiness and justice, and Christ a Mediator of satisfaction: But this will be farther considered, when we speak concerning his Priestly office[114].

That which we shall, at present, observe is, that he is styled the only Mediator: Thus it is said, There is one Mediator between God and men, The man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. ii. 5. In this we oppose the Papists, who greatly derogate from the glory of Christ by pretending that the angels, and glorified saints, are mediators of intercession, and that they not only offer up supplications to God in the behalf of men here on earth, but with them they present their own merits, as though Christ’s 218redemption and intercession had not been sufficient without them; and accordingly a great part of their worship consists in desiring that these good offices may be performed by them, on their behalf, which I cannot but conclude to be a breach of the first, or, at least, let them put never so fair colours upon it, of the second commandment; which will be farther considered in its proper place.

The scriptures they bring, in defence of this practice, are nothing to their purpose. For whenever an angel is said to intercede for men, as it is expressed, The angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah? Zech. i. 12. or to be the object of their prayers, or supplications, as Jacob says, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, Gen. xlviii. 16. no other person is intended hereby but Christ the angel of the covenant. Another scripture, which they bring to the same purpose, is that, in which Moses says, Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, Exod. xxxii. 13. which they miserably pervert; for Moses does not desire that God would hear the prayers that these saints made to him in the behalf of his church; but that he would remember the covenant that he made with them, and so accomplish the promises thereof, by bestowing the blessings that his people then stood in need of.

And there are two other scriptures that are often cited by the Papists, to this purpose, which, they think, can hardly be taken in any other sense; one is in Rev. v. 8. where it is said, that the four beasts, and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints; and the other is in chap. viii. 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. It must be allowed, that there are many passages, in this book, which are hard to be understood; but there are none contrary to the analogy of faith, or derogatory to the glory of Christ, as the sense they give of these scriptures is; and therefore we must enquire, whether they may not be understood otherwise by us? It is said, indeed, the four beasts, and four and twenty elders, had golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints; but it is not fully determined whether, by these beasts and elders, are intended the inhabitants of heaven, or men on earth. If it is only an emblematical representation of those prayers that are directed to God from the church in this world, it is nothing to their purpose. But we will suppose that, by these beasts and elders, here spoken of, who fell down before the Lamb, are meant 219the inhabitants of heaven: nevertheless, we are not to understand, that they are represented as praying for the saints here on earth; for the golden vials full of odours, are only an emblem of the prayers that are put up by the saints here on earth, which God accepts of, or smells a sweet savour in, as perfumed with odours of Christ’s righteousness. This may be illustrated by those political emblems, that are used in public solemnities; such as the coronation of kings, in which the regalia are carried by the prime ministers of state, not to signify that they have any branch of kingly dignity belonging to them: but the whole ceremony is expressive of his honours and prerogatives, who is the principal subject thereof; so when the heavenly inhabitants are represented, in this vision, in such a way, as they are here described, it only signifies, that the prayers, which are put up by God’s people here on earth, through the mediation of Christ, are graciously heard and answered by him.

As for the other scripture, in which it is said, Another angel stood at the altar, and there was given him much incense, that he should offer it, with the prayers of all saints, that is generally understood, by those who do not give into this absurd opinion of the Papists, as spoken of our Saviour, and then it makes nothing to their purpose, but rather militates against it. But if it be objected, to this sense of the text, that our Saviour cannot properly be called another angel, and therefore it must be meant of one of the created angels; the sense but now given of the foregoing scripture may be accommodated to it, and so the meaning is, this angel, or one of the angels, stood at the altar before the Lamb, and, in an emblematical way, is set forth, as having incense put into his hand, which he presents to him; not as offering it up for himself, but as signifying that it was for the sake of Christ’s merits, that the prayers of his people, here on earth, ascended with acceptance in the sight of God. And it is as though he should say to Christ, “The incense is thine, thou hast a right to the glory thereof; and therefore let all know, that this is the only foundation of the church’s hope, that their wants shall be supplied by thee.” So that this does not give the least countenance to the Popish doctrine, of there being other mediators between God and man besides our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some of the Papists, indeed, are sensible that this opinion tends to detract from the glory of our great Mediator, and therefore they chuse rather to assert, that the saints and angels are mediators between Christ and men, so that we are through their means, to have access to him, and by him, to the Father: but, since Christ not only condescended to take our nature upon him, and therein to procure redemption for us; but invited his people to come to him; and since it is said, through 220him we have an access unto the Father, Eph. ii. 18. and no mention is made of any, by whom we have access to Christ; and our access to God is founded only in his blood, we have nothing else to do, but, by faith, in what he has done and suffered to draw nigh to God, as to a Father, reconciled to this great and only Mediator.

II. This Mediator is described, as to his Person, as God incarnate, or, as it is expressed, the eternal Son of God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, who became Man, and that, in the most proper sense, by assuming to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, which are the two constituent parts of man. Here we are to consider,

1. The Person assuming the human nature. He is styled the eternal Son of God, of one substance with the Father, and, with respect to his personality, equal with him.[115] This is the same mode of speaking that was used by the Nicene fathers, in defence of our Saviour’s divinity against the Arians, which we have largely insisted on, in our defence of the doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity,[116] and having also explained what we mean by Christ’s Sonship, as referring to his Person and character, as Mediator,[117] we shall add no more on that subject at present, but take it for granted, that our Saviour is, in the most proper sense, a divine Person, and shall consider him as assuming the human nature; accordingly we may observe,

(1.) That it was the second Person in the Godhead who was incarnate, and not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost. This we affirm against the Sabellians, who deny the distinct Personality of the Father, Son, and Spirit; and assert that the Father, or the Holy Ghost, might as truly be said to have been incarnate, as the Son, since their Personality, according to them, is not so distinct, as that what is done by one divine Person, might not be said to have been done by another.[118]

(2.) It follows, from hence, that the divine nature, which belongs in common to the Father, Son, and Spirit, cannot be properly said to have been incarnate. It is true, we read, that God was manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. and elsewhere, that in him, namely, in the human nature, dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, Col. ii. 9. from whence some take occasion to conclude, that the human nature was united to the Godhead, or that the Godhead of Christ was said to be incarnate: but if this be asserted, it must be with caution and a distinction. I cannot therefore suppose, that the Godhead absolutely considered, but as including in it the idea of its subsisting in the Person of the Son, was incarnate; which is very well expressed, 221when we say that the human nature was united to the second Person in the Godhead, rather than to the Godhead itself.

(3.) Christ being farther considered, as the eternal Son of God; it follows from hence, that he existed before his incarnation, which has been largely insisted on, under a foregoing answer, in defence of Christ’s proper deity. In this we oppose not only the Socinians, who deny that he existed before he was conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin; but also the Arians, especially those of them who take occasion to explain, without disguise, or ambiguity of words, what they mean when they speak of him, as being before time, which comes infinitely short of what is intended by his being styled God’s eternal Son, and so existing with him before time. Thus we have an account of the Person assuming the human nature.

2. We are now to consider the nature assumed, or united to the divine Person, which was an human nature, consisting of a true body, and a reasonable soul; so that as Christ is, in one nature, God equal with the Father, in the other he is Man, made, in all the essential properties of the human nature, like unto us. Here we may consider,

(1.) That, since this is a matter of pure revelation, we have sufficient ground, from scripture, to assert, that our Saviour is both God and Man. Many of the scriptures, that have been before referred to, to prove his deity, expressly attribute to him an human, as well as a divine nature, and speak of the same Person as both God and Man; as when God styles him, The Man that is my Fellow, Zech. xiii. 7. or, when he, who is Jehovah, our righteousness, is also described as a branch raised unto David, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. that is, of the seed of David; or, as the apostle says, he, who is over all, God blessed for ever, was of the fathers concerning the flesh, or his human nature, Rom. ix. 15. Moreover, when we read of the same Person, as styled, The mighty God, and yet a Child born unto us, a Son given, Isa. ix. 6. or of the same Person’s being called Emmanuel, God with us, and yet born of a Virgin, Isa. vii. 14. compared with Matt. i. 23. or, when we read of the Word’s being made flesh, and dwelling among us: and elsewhere, being called the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, and yet made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, Rom. i. 3. or, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. These, and many other scriptures, as plainly prove him to be man, as they do that he is God.[119] And, indeed, the arguments to prove his humanity, taken from 222thence, are not so much contested, as those that respect his proper deity; and therefore, if these scriptures prove him to be God, they contain as strong and conclusive arguments to prove him to be Man, so that the bare mention of them is sufficient, especially when we consider, as it cannot be denied, that all these scriptures speak of the same Person; therefore,

(2.) When Christ is said to be both God and Man, it does not imply that there are two Persons in the Mediator; and accordingly it is said, in the answer we are explaining, that though these natures are distinct, yet the Person who has them, is but one. This is to be maintained against those who entertain favourable thoughts of that ancient heresy, first broached by Nestorius,[120] whose method of reasoning cannot be reconciled with the sense of those scriptures, which plainly speak of the same Person, as both God and Man, and attribute the same actions to him in different respects, which is inconsistent with asserting, that the Mediator is both a divine and a human Person; and it cannot be denied but that it is a contradiction in terms, to say, that two Persons can be so united, as to become one. However, it must be acknowledged, that this is one of the incomprehensible mysteries of our religion; and when divines have attempted to explain some things relating to it, they have only given farther conviction, that there are some doctrines contained in scripture, which we are bound to believe, but are at a loss to determine how they are what they are asserted to be.

If it be objected, that we cannot conceive of an human nature, such an one as our Saviour’s is that has not its own Personality, since there is no parallel instance hereof, in any other men, which I take to be the principal thing that gave occasion to the asserting, that he had a human Person, as well as a divine;

The answer that I would give to this objection, is, that though, it is true, every man has a distinct subsistence of his own, without being united to any other person, yet we have no ground to conclude, that the human nature of Christ, even in its first formation, had any subsistence separate from the divine nature. Had it been first formed, and then united to the divine nature, it would have had a proper subsistence of its own; but, since it was not, its Personality, considered as united to the second Person in the Godhead, is contained therein, though its properties are infinitely distinct from it.

3. These two natures are distinct; united but not confounded. This is asserted, in opposition to an old exploded heresy, 223which was maintained by some, who, to avoid the error of Nestorius, and his followers, went into the other extreme,[121] and asserted, that the divine and human nature of Christ were confounded, or blended together, after the similitude of things that are mixed together in a natural or artificial way, whereby the composition is of a different nature from the parts of which it is compounded, by which means they debase his Godhead, and advance his manhood; or rather, instead of supposing him to be both God and man, they do, in effect, say, he is neither God nor man. The main foundation, as I apprehend, of this absurd and blasphemous notion, was, that they could not conceive how he could have a divine and human understanding and will, without asserting, with Nestorius, that there were two persons in the Mediator, whereby they split against one rock, while endeavouring to avoid another. And to fence against both extremes, the fathers, in the council of Chalcedon, explained the doctrine in words to this purpose: That the two natures of Christ were indivisibly and inseparably united, without supposing that one was changed into the other, or confounded with it.

Therefore we must consider, that though these two natures are united, yet each of them retains its respective properties, as much as the soul and body of man do, though united together, which is the best similitude by which this can be illustrated, though I do not suppose that, in all respects, it answers it. Thus, in one nature, Christ had all the fulness of the Godhead, and in nothing common with us; nothing finite, derived, or dependent, or any other way defective. In his other nature, he was made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted: in this nature, he was born in time, and did not exist from all eternity, and increased in knowledge, and other endowments, proper thereunto. In one nature, he had a comprehensive knowledge of all things; in the other, he knew nothing but by communication, or derivation, and with those other limitations that finite wisdom is subject to. In one nature he had an infinite sovereign will; in the other, he had such a will as the creature has, which though it was not opposite to his divine will, yet its conformity thereunto was of the same kind with that which is in perfect creatures; so that though we do not say that his human will was the same with his divine, as to the essential properties thereof; yet it may be said to be the same, in a moral sense, as conformed thereunto, in like manner, as the will of man is said to be subjected to the will of God.

224Had this been duly considered, persons would not have been so ready to give into an error so dangerous and blasphemous, as that which we are opposing. And we have sufficient ground, from scripture, to distinguish between his divine and human understanding and will, inasmuch as it is said, in one place, speaking of his divine understanding, Lord, thou knowest all things, John xxi. 17. and of his human, Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the Son, Mark xiii. 32. and so of his will, it is sometimes represented as truly divine, in the same sense as the Father’s, as when it is said, As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will, John v. 21. and elsewhere, If we ask any thing according to his will he heareth us, 1 John v. 14. and, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, John vi. 37. And, in other places, he is represented as having an human will, essentially distinct from the will of God; as when he says, Not my will, but thine, be done, Luke xxii. 42.

4. The nature that was assumed by the Son of God, is farther described, as truly and properly human. It was not an angelic nature; as the apostle says, He took not on him the nature of angels, inasmuch as he did not design to redeem the angels that fell, but he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham, Heb. ii. 16. And, this nature is farther described, as consisting of a true body, and a reasonable soul.

(1.) Christ is described as having a true body. This is maintained against those who, in an early age of the church,[122] denied that he had a real human nature. These, it is true, do not deny his deity; but they suppose, that it was impossible for God to be united to human flesh, and therefore that he appeared only in the likeness thereof; as some heathen writers represent their gods, as appearing in human forms, that they might converse with men. Thus they suppose, that the Godhead of Christ appeared in an human form, without a real human nature, in which sense they understand that scripture, He took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, Phil. ii. 7. as though, in that place, the similitude of a man were opposed to real humanity; or, at least, they suppose, that he had no other human nature when he dwelt on earth, than what he had, when he appeared to the church, under the Old Testament-dispensation, viz. to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and several others, in which they conclude, that there was only the likeness of a human body, or an aerial one, which, according to some common modes of speaking, is called a spirit. To give countenance to this, they bring some other scriptures, as when it is said, after his resurrection, that he appeared in another 225form to two disciples, as they walked into the country, Mark xvi. 12. so when he appeared to Mary, it was in such a form, as that she knew not that it was Jesus, but supposed him to be the gardener, John xx. 14, 15. and especially when it is said, in another scripture, Luke xxiv. 21. when his two disciples at Emmaus knew him, he vanished out of their sight;[123] which they understand of his vanishing, in the same sense, as, according to the popular way of speaking, a spectrum is said to do.

But this opinion is so absurd, as well as contrary to scripture, that it only shews how far the wild and extravagant fancies of men may run, who are so hardy, as to set aside plain scriptures, and take up with some few passages thereof, without considering their scope and design, or their harmony with other scriptures. And, indeed, there is scarce any thing said concerning him in the New Testament, but what confutes it; where we have an account of him, as being born, passing through all the ages of life, conversing familiarly with his people, eating and drinking with them, and, at last, dying on the cross, which put this matter out of all manner of dispute; as also when he distinguishes himself from a spirit, when the disciples were terrified upon his standing unexpectedly in the midst of them, supposing that he had been a spirit, he satisfies them that they were mistaken, by saying, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have, Luke xxiv. 29.

As for those scriptures in the Old Testament, which speak of his appearing in a human form, assumed for that purpose; whether there was, in every one of those instances, a real human body that appeared, though, in some of them, it is beyond dispute that there was, I will not pretend to determine; yet it must be considered, that this is never styled his incarnation, or becoming man, but it was only an emblem, or prelibation thereof; and when it is said, in the scripture before mentioned, that he was made in the likeness of men, it does not from hence follow, that he was not, after his incarnation, a real man, for the likeness of man is oftentimes so understood in scripture; as when it is said, on occasion of the birth of Seth, that Adam begat a son in his own likeness, Gen. v. 3. And as to that other scripture, in which Christ is said to appear in different forms, it is not to be supposed that there was a change in his human nature, but only a change in his countenance, or external mein; or he appeared with other kind of garments, which rendered him not immediately known by them. And when, in the other scripture, it is said, he vanished out of their sight, nothing is intended thereby, but an instantaneous withdrawing of himself from them, which, it may be might contain something miraculous.

226(2.) Christ is farther described, as having taken to himself a reasonable soul, to which his body was united. This is maintained against the Arians, who deny that he had an human soul, concluding that the divine nature, such an one as they will allow him to have, was, as it were, a soul to his body; which is founded partly on their misunderstanding the sense of those scriptures, in which it is said, The Word was made flesh, John i. 14. and God was manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. and, Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, Heb. ii. 14. and, Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, &c. Rom. ix. 5. But the principal argument, by which this opinion is supported, is, because they suppose, that, if he had an human soul, distinct from his divine nature, he must have had two understandings and wills, to wit, a divine and an human, and then it would have been possible for him to have had contrary ideas in his mind, and determinations in his will, as man, to what he had as God, which would infer a sort of confusion of thought, and irregularity of actions: but to this it may be answered,

1st, As to the former, relating to his assuming flesh, it is a very common thing, in scripture, by a synecdoche, of the part for the whole, for flesh to signify the whole man, consisting of soul and body, of which we have many instances in scripture; as when it is said, All flesh had corrupted his way, Gen. vi. 12. that is, all men had corrupted their way; and the prophet speaking concerning the vanity of man, as mortal, says, All flesh is grass, Isa. xl. 6.

2dly, As to the other branch of their argument; we allow that Christ, as Man, had a distinct understanding and will, from what he had as God, and that his human understanding was not equally perfect with his divine, neither had his human will the sovereignty and glory of his divine will. And, if it should be also allowed, that if his human understanding and will had not always been under the influence and direction of his divine, he might have had contrary ideas, and determinations, as man, to what he had as God; yet we cannot allow that the divine nature would so far suspend its direction and influence, as that his human understanding should have contradictory ideas to his divine, so that this inconvenience should ensue, which would occasion a confusion and disorder in his actions, or methods of human conduct. It was no disparagement to him, nor hindrance to his work, to suppose that his human soul was subject to some natural imperfections, which were inconsistent with the infinite perfection of his deity; however, it is sufficient to assert, that, as Man, he knew every thing, which he was obliged to perform, in a way of obedience, and consented to, and delighted in every thing that was agreeable to his divine will, which would render his obedience compleat; though we suppose, 227that the nature, in which he performed it, was less perfect than that to which it was united; therefore this method of reasoning is not conclusive, and we must suppose, that he had a human soul, distinct from his divine nature. This is evident, because he could not perform obedience in the divine nature, his human soul being the only subject thereof, and it is proper to the deity to be dispassionate; therefore those sinless passions which he was subject to, were seated in his soul, as united to the body; and that he had such passions, is very plain from scripture; for he says, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matt. xxvi. 38. And there are various other passions besides sorrow, which he was subject to, which, though free from sin, were altogether inconsistent with the infinite perfection of the divine nature.

9. This human nature is said to have been conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin. Here we may observe,

(1.) That there was something in the formation of Christ’s human nature, in which he resembled the rest of mankind, in that he was not produced, and brought into a state of manhood in an instant, or created out of the dust of the ground, as Adam was, but was born, or as the apostle expresses it, made of a woman, Gal. iv. 4. to denote his being formed out of her substance; and accordingly he began his state of humiliation in infancy, that he might, in all respects, be made like unto those whom he came to redeem. Herein the promise made to our first parents, relating to his being the seed of the woman, Gen. iii. 15. was not only fulfilled; but another express prediction, by the prophet Isaiah, who says, Unto us a Child is born, Isa. ix. 6.

(2.) There was something peculiar and extraordinary in his formation, as he was an extraordinary Person, and to be engaged in a work peculiar to himself; so he is said to have been born of a Virgin, not because, as some suppose, that that is a state of greater sanctity, than any other condition of life, but, as was before observed[124], that he might be exempted from the guilt of Adam’s first sin, which he would have been liable to, though sanctified from the womb, had his human nature been formed in an ordinary way. It was certainly necessary that his human nature, which was, in its first formation, united to his divine Person, should be perfectly sinless; since it would have been a reproach cast on the Son of God, to have it said concerning him, that he was, in the nature which he assumed, estranged to, and separate from God, as all mankind are, who are born in an ordinary way. And this was also necessary for his accomplishing the work of our redemption, since as the apostle says, Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, 228undefiled, and separate from sinners, Heb. vii. 26. And, in order to his being born of a Virgin, there was an extraordinary instance of the power of God; and therefore it is said, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, Luke i. 35.

His being born of a Virgin, was an accomplishment of that prediction which we read of in Isa. vii. 14. The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. This text being so convincing a proof of Christianity, and, as such, referred to in the New Testament, Matt. i. 22, 23. the Jews, and many of the modern Deists, have endeavoured to weaken the force thereof, which renders it necessary for us to illustrate and explain it, agreeably to the scope and design of the prophecy, contained in the context; which we shall endeavour to do, in the following Paraphrase. Says God to the prophet, “Go to Ahaz, and bid him not be faint-hearted, by reason of the threatened invasion by the confederate kings of Israel and Syria; but let him ask a sign for the confirmation of his faith, that I may hereby assure him, that they shall not be able to do him any hurt: but I know, before-hand, his unbelief, and the sullenness of his temper, that he will refuse to ask a sign; therefore, when thou goest to meet him, take thy young son Shear-jashub in thine hand, or in thine arms, from whom thou mayest take occasion to deliver part of the message which I send thee with to him; tell him, that though he refuse to ask a sign, nevertheless[125], the Lord shall give thee a sign, to his people, whom thou shalt command to hear this message, as well as Ahaz, they being equally concerned herein; therefore let them know, that, though their obstinate and wicked king calls a compliance with my command a tempting me, and therefore will not ask a sign, I will not give him any other sign, than what the whole house of Israel shall behold, in future ages, which, though it cannot be properly called a prognostic sign, yet it will be, when it comes to pass, a rememorative sign[126], and that shall be a glorious one; for, Behold a Virgin[127] shall conceive, 229and bear a Son, and thou shalt call his name Immanuel. When this wonderful thing happens, a thing new and unheard of, which shall be created in the earth, that a woman should compass a man, as it is said elsewhere, Jer. xxxi. 22. then the house of David shall understand the reason why I have not suffered these two kings to destroy Judah, so that it should be broken, that it be not a people, as Ephraim shall, within threescore and five years, [ver. 8.] for then the Messiah could not come of the house of David; and what he shall do for them, when he comes, is the ground and reason of all the temporal deliverances that I work for them, and particularly of this from the intended invasion of these two confederate kings. Tell them, moreover, that as this shall be a rememorative sign, so I will give them to understand, at present, that they shall be delivered in a little time; for before this Child, which thou hast here brought with thee, shall know to refuse the evil, and chuse the good, or shall know the difference between moral good and evil, that is, in two or three years time, The land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings; or those two kings, which thou dreadest, shall be driven, by the king of Assyria, out of their own land. And inasmuch as my people may be afraid, that, before these two years are expired, they shall be brought into such straights, through famine, or scarcity of provisions, which generally attend sieges, that they shall want the necessaries of life; let them know that this child, meaning Shear-jashub, shall not want butter and honey, that is, the best and most proper food for it, that he may know, or rather, until[128] he know to refuse the evil, and chuse the good, that is, till these two kings, Rezin and Pekah, be utterly destroyed.”

Thus having considered our Saviour’s being born of a Virgin, there is one thing more that is to be observed under this head, namely, that he was of her substance, which is particularly mentioned in this answer, with a design to fence against an 230ancient heresy, maintained by the Gnostics in the second century, and hath been defended by others, in later ages, who supposed, that our Saviour did not derive his human nature from the Virgin Mary, but that it was formed in heaven, and sent down from thence; and that the Virgin’s womb is only to be considered as the first seat of its residence in this lower world, which they found on those scriptures which speak of his coming down from heaven, John iii. 13, 14. which they understand concerning his human nature; whereas, nothing is intended thereby but the manifestative presence of his divine nature, in which respect God is, in other scriptures, said to come down into this lower world, Gen. xi. 5, 7. And another scripture, which they bring to the same purpose, is that, in which, they suppose, he denies his relation to his mother, when he says, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother, Mat. xi. 48, 50. in which he does not deny his natural relation to them, but designs to shew, that his regard to persons in the exercise of his public ministry, was principally founded on their doing the will of his Father. And whereas they farther suppose, that if his human nature had, in any respect, been derived from the substance of the Virgin, either she must be concluded immaculate, as the Papists do, or else he must have been born a sinner; this hath been already proved to be no just consequence, inasmuch as the formation of his human nature, though it were of the substance of the Virgin, was in an extraordinary and miraculous way, whereby he was exempted from the guilt of original sin.

There is another opinion maintained by some of the school-men, which, though it be not generally received, seems, to me, not altogether improbable, namely, that Christ’s human body, though formed in the womb of the virgin, and a part of her substance, yet, as to the manner of its formation, it differed from that of all other human bodies, inasmuch as the matter, of which they consist, receives its form in a gradual way, and they cannot properly speaking be styled human bodies, till organized and fitted to have their souls united to them; whereas these suppose that the body of Christ, in its first formation, was rendered fit to receive the soul, which was, in an instant united to it; and both soul and body, at the same time, without having any separate subsistence, were united to the divine nature. This account of the formation of Christ’s human body, though I think it most adapted to the union of his soul and body with the divine nature, in the very instant of its formation, and therefore cannot but conclude it a more probable conjecture than what is generally received, yet I do not lay it down as a necessary article of faith; nor would I, from hence, be supposed to deny 231that the body of Christ grew in the womb like other human bodies, after the soul is united to them; nor would I set aside the account the scripture gives of the virgin’s accomplishing the full number of days, in which she should be delivered, Luke ii. 6. Gal. iv. 4. Thus we have considered our Saviour, as having a true body and a reasonable soul, and both united to the divine nature, whereby he is denominated God incarnate, in this answer.

6. Our Mediator is farther said to have been incarnate, in the fulness of time; and it is added, he shall continue to be both God and man for ever.

(1.) Let us consider what is meant by Christ’s becoming man in the fulness of time. The human nature could not be united to the divine from all eternity; since it is inconsistent with its being a created nature, that it should exist from eternity; notwithstanding he might, had it been so determined, have, assumed this nature in the beginning of time, or immediately after the fall of man, who then stood in need of a Mediator; but God, in his sovereign and wise providence, ordered it otherwise, namely, that there should be a considerable distance of time between the fall of man and Christ’s incarnation, in order to his recovery, which is called, in scripture, the fulness of time, Gal. iv. 4. that is, the time foretold by the prophets, and particularly Daniel, Dan. ix. 24, 25. whose prediction had an additional circumstance of time annexed to it, which gave occasion to the Jews to expect his coming at the same time that he was incarnate.

That there was an universal expectation of the Messiah at this time, appears from the disposition of many among them to adhere to any one, especially if he pretended himself to be a prophet, or that he would make some change in their civil affairs; and the Jewish historian[129] tells us of many tumults and seditions that were in that age. Some of their ring-leaders he styles magicians; and persons pretending to be prophets, though, indeed, he does not expressly say that they assume the character of Messiah, yet he observes, that the time in which this was done, gave occasion hereunto[130]; by which he means that it being at that time that the Jews expected that the Messiah, their king, should come, they thought it a fit opportunity to make these efforts, to shake off the Roman yoke; and they were so far from concealing the expectation they had thereof, that it was well known by the heathen, who were not without jealousies concerning them, with respect to this matter; so that some celebrated writers among them observe, that it was generally 232received throughout the east, according to some ancient predictions, that, at that time, the Jews should obtain the empire;[131] and there are several expressions, in scripture, which intimate as much: thus Gamaliel speaks of one Theudas, who boasted himself to be somebody, by which, it is probable, he means the Messiah, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves, and were slain, Acts v. 36, 37. which some think to be the same person that Josephus mentions, the name being the same; though others are rather inclined to think that it was another pretender to this character, from some critical remarks they make on the circumstance of time referred to by Gamaliel, being different from that which is mentioned by Josephus.[132] However, this does not affect our argument; for it is plain, from hence, that, about that time, the Jews were disposed to join themselves to any one who endeavoured to persuade them that he was the Messiah.

And this farther appears, from what our Saviour says, All that ever came before me, are thieves and robbers, John x. 8. by which, doubtless, he means, several that pretended to be the Messiah, in that age, before he came; and it is said elsewhere, Luke xix. 11. a little before our Saviour’s crucifixion, that they, that is, the Jews, generally thought that the kingdom of God, and consequently the Messiah, whom they expected, should immediately appear; and he also foretels, that between this and the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, before that age was at an end, many false Christs, should arise, and warns his followers not to adhere to them, Mat. xxiv. 24-26.

Moreover, had not the Jews expected that the Messiah would appear at that time, they would never have sent in so formal a manner, as they are said to have done, to enquire, Whether John the Baptist, when he exercised his public ministry amongst them, was he? John i. 19-21. And, when he had convinced them that he was not the Messiah, but that our Saviour would soon appear publicly amongst them, who had the only right to this character, he found it no difficult matter to persuade them to believe it; and accordingly Jerusalem and all Judea, that is, the people almost universally attended on his ministry, and were baptized, making a profession of this faith, and of their expectation of, and willingness to adhere to him; and it was the report, that the wise men, who came from the east, had received from the Jews, who were conversant with them, that this was the time that the Messiah should appear, that brought them to 233Jerusalem, from their respective countries, otherwise that preternatural meteor, or star, which they saw, could not have given them a sufficient intimation concerning this matter, so as to induce them to come and pay their homage to him; and when they came, and enquired of Herod, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? how surprizing soever it might be to that proud tyrant, to think that there was one born, who, as he supposed, would stand in competition with him for the crown, yet it was no unexpected thing to the Sanhedrim, whose opinion in this matter he demanded, in an hypocritical manner; therefore they say, he was to be born in Bethlehem, according to the prediction of the prophet Micah; whereas, if they had not known that this was the time in which he was to be born, they would have replied, that it was an unseasonable question, and a vain thing, to ask where a person was to be born, whose birth was not expected in that age; and they might easily have satisfied Herod, and removed the foundation of his jealousy and trouble, and thereby have prevented that inhuman barbarity committed on the infants of Bethlehem, if they had told him that the time spoken of by the prophet Daniel, in which the Messiah was to be born, was not yet come: but they knew otherwise; and in this respect, Christ might be said to be born in the fulness of time. That which we shall farther observe, concerning it, is,

1st, That it was at that time when God had sufficiently tried the faith of the Old Testament-church, in waiting for his coming, and thereby glorified his sovereignty, who hath the times and seasons of his bestowing all blessings in his own power.

2dly, It was at that time when the measure of the iniquity of the world was abundantly filled, whereby his people might observe the deplorable state into which sin had brought mankind, and the utter impossibility of our recovery without a Mediator, and that the light of nature could not discover any method by which the redemption and salvation of man might be brought about.

3dly, It was at that time that the Jewish church was at the lowest ebb, and therefore the most seasonable time, and they were laid under the highest obligations to adore and magnify him: their political state was broken, the sceptre departed from Judah, and they were brought under the Roman yoke, which sat very uneasy upon them; neither could they ever expect to make that figure in the world as they once had done, therefore now was the time for the Messiah to come, and erect his kingdom. And, besides this, they were given up to a very great degree of judicial blindness and hardness, and were disposed to make void the law of God by their traditions; so that religion, among them, was at a very low ebb; therefore it was the 234fittest time for God to display his grace, in reviving his work, and preventing his cause and interest from wholly sinking in the world. This was the time in which the Son of God became Man.

(2.) Christ shall continue to be God and Man for ever, or the union of these two natures is indissoluble: as to his divine nature, he is necessarily eternal and unchangeable; and the human nature shall continue for ever united to it, as the result of the divine purpose, in which God intends that some ends, glorious to himself, honourable to the Mediator, and advantageous to his people, should be attained thereby. For,

1st, If he had had a design to lay aside his human nature, he would have done it when he finished his work of obedience and sufferings therein, and thereby had so far answered the end of his incarnation, that nothing more was necessary for the purchase of redemption: but when he rose from the dead, as a Conqueror over death and hell, and was declared to have accomplished the work he came into the world about, it is certain he did not lay it aside, but ascended visibly into heaven, and shall come again, in a visible manner, in that same nature, to judge the world at the last day.

2dly, The eternity of Christ’s human nature appears from the eternity of his mediatorial kingdom, of which more under a following answer, when we come to speak concerning the glory of Christ’s kingly office. It appears, also, from the eternity of his intercession, which, as the apostle expresses it, He ever liveth to make, Heb. vii. 25. for his people: thus he does, by appearing in the human nature in the presence of God, in their behalf; therefore he must for ever have an human nature.

3dly, His saints shall abide for ever in heaven, and, as the apostle says, Shall ever be with the Lord, 1 Thess. iv. 17. and their happiness shall continue both as to soul and body; and, with respect to their bodies, it is said, they shall be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, Phil. iii. 21. therefore his glorious body, or his human nature, shall continue for ever united to his divine Person.

4thly, His retaining his human nature for ever, seems necessary, as it redounds to the glory of God: it is an eternal monument of his love to mankind, and an external means to draw forth their love to him, who procured those mansions of glory, which they shall for ever be possessed of, by what he did and suffered for them therein.

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Quest. XXXVIII., XXXIX., XL.

Quest. XXXVIII. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?

Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death, give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and so satisfy God’s justice, procure his favour, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.

Quest. XXXIX. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be Man?

Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator should be Man, that he might advance our nature, perform obedience to the law, suffer, and make intercession for us in our nature, have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness unto the throne of grace.

Quest. XL. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and Man in one Person?

Answ. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and Man, should himself be both God and Man, and this in one Person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole Person.

Our Mediator having been considered as God and Man, in one person, we have a farther account of the necessity of being so. And,

I. It was necessary that he should be a divine Person, for several reasons here assigned, with others that may be added. As,

1. If he had not been God, he could not have come into the world, or been incarnate, and have had the guilt of our sins laid on him, with his own consent; for he could not have been a party in the everlasting covenant, in which this matter was stipulated between the Father and him; and, had he not consented to be charged with the guilt of our sin, he could not have been punished for it, inasmuch as God cannot punish an innocent person; and, if such an one be charged with this guilt, and consequently rendered the object of vindictive justice, as our Saviour is said to have been, in scripture, it must be with his own consent. Now the human nature could not consent to its own formation, and therefore it could not consent to bear our iniquities; since to consent supposes the person to be existent, which Christ, had he been only Man, would not have been before 236his incarnation, and therefore he could not have come into the world as a Surety for us, and so would not have been fit, in this respect, to have discharged the principal part of the work, which he engaged in as Mediator.

2. There is another thing, mentioned in this answer, which rendered it requisite that the Mediator should be God, namely, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death. It must be allowed, that the weight of the wrath of God, due to our sin, was so great, that no mere creature could, by his own strength, have subsisted under it. We will not deny, that a mere creature, supposing him only innocent, but not united to a divine Person, might have been borne up, under the greatest burthen laid on him, by the extraordinary assistance of God, with whom all things are possible; nor that God’s giving a promise that he should not fail, or be discouraged, is such a security, as would effectually keep it from sinking; yet when we consider the human nature, as united to the divine, this is an additional security, that he should not sink under the infinite weight of the wrath of God, that lay upon him; for then it would have been said, that he, who is a divine Person, miscarried in an important work, which he undertook to perform in his human nature, which would have been a dishonour to him: so far this argument hath its proper force. But,

3. There is another reason, which more fully proves the necessity of the Mediator’s being a Divine Person, viz. that this might give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession, that so what he did might have a tendency to answer the valuable ends designed thereby, namely, the satisfying the justice of God, procuring his favour, and purchasing a peculiar people to himself. Had he been only man, what he did and suffered, might indeed have been sinless, and perfect in its kind; nevertheless, it could not be of infinite value, for a finite creature, as such, cannot pay an infinite price, and thereby answer the demands of justice. Had nothing been demanded of him but a debt of obedience, which he was obliged to perform for himself, as a creature, it would not, indeed, have been necessary that it should be of infinite worth and value, any more than that obedience, that was due from our first parents, while in a state of innocency: But when this is considered as a price of redemption paid for us, and as designed to procure a right to the favour of God, and eternal life, this must be of such a value, that the glory of the justice of God might be secured, which nothing less than an infinite price could do; and the law of God must not only be fulfilled, but magnified, and made honourable; and therefore the obedience, which was required, must not only be sinless, but have in it an infinite 237worth and value, that hereby, when in a way of intercession, it is pleaded before God, it might be effectual to answer the ends designed thereby; but this it could not have been, had he not been an infinite Person, namely, God as well as Man.

4. Another reason assigned for this, is, that he might give his Spirit to his people. It is necessary that redemption should be applied, as well as purchased; and that the same Person, as a peculiar branch of glory due to him, should perform the one as well as the other; and, in the application of redemption, it was necessary that the Spirit should be glorified, that hereby he might appear to be a divine Person; and, as he acts herein in subserviency to the Mediator’s glory, as has been before observed[133], he is said to be sent by him, which he could not have been, had not Christ had a divine nature, in which respect he was equal with him; nor could he be said to give that which the Spirit works, as he promised to do, when he told his disciples, If I depart, I will send him unto you, John xvi. 7.

5. It was necessary that Christ should be God, that he might conquer all our enemies, and so remove every thing out of the way that tends to oppose his name, interest, and glory; these are sin, Satan, the world, and death. Sin, which is opposite to the holiness of God, is that which spirits, excites, and gives being to all opposition there is against him, either in earth or hell, and endeavours to eclipse his glory, controul his sovereignty, and reflect dishonour on all his perfections. This must be subdued by Christ, so that it may no longer have dominion over his people, Rom. vi. 14. and, in order hereunto, its condemning power must be taken away, by his making satisfaction for it, as our great High Priest; and also its enslaving power subdued by the efficacy of his grace, in the internal work of sanctification.

And, upon his having obtained this victory over sin, Satan is also conquered when his prisoners are brought from under his power; and he finds himself for ever disappointed, and not able to detain those, who were, at first, led captive by him, nor to defeat the purpose of God relating to the salvation of his elect, or to boast as though he had wrested the sceptre out of his hand, or robbed him of one branch of his glory.

Moreover, the world, which is reckoned among the number of God’s enemies, must be conquered inasmuch as it opposes his name and interest in an objective way, from whence corrupt nature takes occasion either to abuse the various gifts and dispensations of providence, or by contracting an intimacy with those who are enemies to God and religion, to become more like them, as the apostle says, The friendship of the world is 238enmity with God, James iv. 4. Now Christ must be God, that he may discover its snares, and enable his people to improve the good things of providence to his glory, and over-rule the evil things thereof for their good.

And as for death, which is reckoned among Christ’s and his people’s enemies, which the apostle calls, The last enemy that is to be destroyed, 1 Cor. xv. 26. this is suffered to detain the bodies of believers, as its prisoners, till Christ’s second coming; but it must be destroyed, that so they may be made partakers of complete redemption; and this is also a part of the Mediator’s work, as he raises up his people at the last day. And all these victories over sin, Satan, the world, and death, as they require infinite power, so it is necessary that he, who obtains them, should be a divine Person.

6. It is necessary that the Mediator should be God, that he might bring his people to everlasting salvation, that is, first fit them for, lead them in the way to Heaven, and then receive them to it at last; for this reason, he is styled, The author and Finisher of our Faith, Heb. xii. 2. and it is said, that as he began the good work, so he performs it, Phil. i. 6. or carries it on to perfection. Grace is Christ’s gift and work; as he purchased it by his blood, while on earth; it is necessary that he should apply it by his power; even as Zerubbabel, who was a type of him, after he had laid the foundation-stone of the temple, at last, brought forth the head-stone thereof, with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, unto it, Zech. iv. 7. so Christ works all our works for us, and in us, till he brings them to perfection, and presents his people unto himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish, Eph. v. 27. and this is certainly a divine work, and consequently he, who performs it, must be a divine Person. And to this we may add,

7. It was necessary that our Mediator should be God, inasmuch as the everlasting happiness of his people consists in the enjoyment of him. He is not only the Author of their complete blessedness, but, as we may express it, the matter of it; they are made happy, not only by him, but in him; accordingly heaven is described as a state, in which they behold his glory, John xvii. 24. and see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. therefore, since he is the Fountain of blessedness, it is requisite that he should be God, as well as Man.

II. It was requisite that the Mediator should be Man. When we speak of the necessity of Christ’s incarnation, we are not to understand hereby, that this was absolutely necessary, without supposing the divine will, or purpose, to redeem man; for since our redemption was not in itself necessary, but was only so, as the result of God’s purpose relating thereunto; so 239Christ’s incarnation was necessary, as a means to accomplish it. This is what divines generally call a conditional necessity[134]; so that since Christ was ordained to be a Mediator between God and man, it was requisite that he should become Man: The reason assigned for it is, that he might perform obedience to the law. That obedience to the law was required, in order to his making satisfaction for sin, we shall have occasion to consider, when we speak of his Priestly office; therefore all that need be observed under this head, is, that this obedience could not be performed by him in the divine nature, in which respect he cannot be under any obligation to perform that which belongs only to those who are creatures, and as such subjects; therefore, if he be made under the law, he must have a nature fitted and disposed to yield obedience.

Some have enquired, whether it was possible for Christ to have answered this end, by taking any other nature into union with his divine Person; or, whether this might have been brought about by his taking on him the nature of angels? I shall not enter so far into this subject, as to determine whether God might, had he pleased, have accepted of obedience in any other nature, fitted for that purpose; but we have ground, from scripture, to conclude, that this was the only way that God had ordained for the redemption of man; and therefore, though Christ might have performed obedience in some other finite nature, or might have taken the nature of angels, this would not, in all respects, have answered those many great ends, which were designed by his incarnation. And therefore, since this was the way in which God ordained that man should be redeemed, it was necessary that he should take the human nature into union with his divine; and inasmuch as he was to yield obedience to the same law, that we had violated, it was necessary that he should be made of a woman, as the apostle expresses it, Gal. iv. 4. God had ordained, as an expedient most conducive for his own glory, that he, who was to be our Redeemer, should run the same race with us; and also, that he should suffer what was due to us, as the consequence of our rebellion against him, that so, as the Captain of our salvation, he should be made perfect through sufferings, Heb. ii. 10. And inasmuch as sufferings were due to us in our bodies, it was necessary, God having so ordained it, that he should suffer in his body, as well as in his soul; and as death entered into the world by sin, so God ordained it, that we should be redeemed from the power of the grave, by one, who died for us; in which respects, it was necessary that he should be man.

There are also other ends mentioned in this answer, which render this necessary, namely, that he might advance our nature. 240It was a very great honour which that particular nature, which he assumed, was advanced unto, in its being taken into union with his divine Person. Though it had no intrinsic dignity, or glory, above what other intelligent, finite, sinless beings are capable of; yet it had a greater relative glory than any other creature had, or can have, which may be illustrated by a similitude taken from the body of man, how mean soever it is in itself, yet, when considered in its relation to the soul, that adds a degree of excellency to it, in a relative sense, greater than what belongs to any creature, destitute of understanding; so the human nature of Christ, though it had not in itself a glory greater than what another finite creature might have been advanced to; yet, when considered as united to the divine nature, its glory, in a relative sense may be said to be infinite.

It follows from hence, that since Christ’s being truly and properly man, was a particular instance, in him, of the advancement of our nature, to a greater degree of honour, than what has been conferred on any other creature, this lays the highest obligation on us to admire and adore him; and should be an inducement to us, not to debase that nature which God has, in this respect, delighted to honour, by the commission of those sins, which are the greatest reproach unto it.

Another consequence of Christ’s incarnation, whereby it farther appears that it was requisite that he should be man, is that, in our nature, he might make intercession for us. For the understanding of which, let it be considered, that the divine nature cannot properly speaking, be said to make intercession, since this includes in it an act of worship, and argues the Person, who intercedes, to be dependent, and indigent, which is inconsistent with the self-sufficiency and independency of the Godhead; therefore, had he been only God, he could not have made intercession for us, and consequently this is the necessary result of his incarnation.

Object. 1. It may be objected hereunto, that the Spirit is said to make intercession for the Saints, according to the will of God, Rom. viii. 27. whereas he has no human nature to make intercession in; therefore Christ might have made intercession for us, though he had not been incarnate.

Answ. When the Spirit is said to make intercession for us, this is not to be understood of his appearing in the presence of God, and so offering prayers, or supplications to him in our behalf; but it only intends his enabling us to pray for ourselves, which is an effect of his power, working this grace in us; therefore the apostle, speaking concerning the same thing, says, elsewhere, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father, Gal. iv. 6. that is, enabling us to cry, Abba, Father: Such an intercession as this, is not 241unbecoming a divine Person; and this is what is plainly the sense of those scriptures, in which the Spirit is said to intercede for us. As for Christ’s intercession, it consists, indeed, in his praying for us,[135] rather than enabling us to pray; therefore it was requisite that he should be Man, in order thereunto.

Object. 2. It is generally supposed, that Christ made intercession for his people before his incarnation: Thus we cannot but conclude, that he is intended by the angel of the Lord, who is represented as pleading for Israel; O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and upon the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these three-score and ten years? Zech. i. 12. and also as pleading in their behalf against the accusations of Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord, which hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: Is not this a brand which is plucked out of the fire? chap. iii. 2. If therefore he made intercession at that time, when he had no human nature, his incarnation was not necessary thereunto.

Answ. Though we allow that Christ is often represented, in the Old Testament, as interceding for his people; yet these expressions are either proleptical, and do not denote, so much, what Christ then did, as what he would do, after he had assumed our nature; or they imply, that the salvation of the church, under that dispensation, was owing to the intercession that Christ would make after his incarnation, as well as to that satisfaction which he would give to the justice of God in our nature; so that Christ, in those scriptures, is represented as procuring those blessings for his people, by what he would, in reality, do after his incarnation, the virtue whereof is supposed to be extended to them at that time: He did not therefore formally, but virtually, intercede for them; and consequently it does not prove that his incarnation was not necessary for his making that intercession, which he ever lives to do in the behalf of his church.

It is farther observed, that it was requisite that our Mediator should be Man, that he might have a fellow-feeling of our infirmities: Thus the apostle says, He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been, in all points; in his human nature, tempted like as we are, yet without sin, Heb. iv. 15. As God, it is true, he has a perfect, namely, a divine knowledge of our infirmities, but not an experimental knowledge thereof; and therefore, in this respect, had he not been Man, he could not have been said to sympathize with us herein; and therefore his compassion towards us, has this additional motive, taken from his incarnation: It was in this respect that he had the passions of the human nature, and thereby is induced, 242from what he once experienced, to help our infirmities, as being such as he himself condescended to bear.

And to this it may be added, as a farther consequence of his incarnation, that we are made partakers of the adoption of sons, and have comfort and access with boldness, to the throne of grace. This the apostle also gives us occasion to infer, from his being made of a woman, and made under the law, not only that he might redeem them that were under the law, but that we might receive the adoption of sons, Gal. iv. 5. and encourages us, from hence, to come boldly to the throne of grace, Heb. iv. 16. As Christ’s Sonship, as Mediator, includes his incarnation, and was the ground and reason of the throne of grace being erected, to which we are invited to come; so, he being, in the same respect, constituted Heir of all things, believers who are the sons of God, in a lower sense, are notwithstanding, styled, Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. He is the Head and Lord of this great family, who purchased an inheritance for them, and they the members thereof, who, in the virtue of his purchase, have a right to it; therefore his incarnation, which was necessary hereunto, was the great foundation of our obtaining the privilege of God’s adopted children, and of our access by him to the Father. We first come by faith to him, who, if we allude to Elihu’s words, was formed out of the clay, and therefore his terror shall not make us afraid, neither shall his hand be heavy upon us, Job xxxiii. 6. and through him, we come to God, as our reconciled Father.

III. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God and man, in one Person. Had his human nature been a distinct human Person, the work of our redemption would have been brought about by two persons, which would each of them have had the character of Mediator, unless two persons could be so united, as to constitute but one, which is no better than a contradiction. And it is farther observed, in the answer under our present consideration, that there were works to be performed, proper to each nature: in the human nature he was to perform every thing that implied subjection, obedience, or suffering; and though none of these could be performed by him, in his divine nature, yet an infinite worth, value, and dignity, was to be added thereunto, which was not so much the result of any thing done by him in that nature, as of the union of the human nature with it; upon which account, the obedience he performed, had, in a relative sense, the same value, as though it had been performed in his divine nature; and, upon this account, it is said, that God purchased the church with his own blood, Acts xx. 28.

And to this we may add, that as each nature was distinct, and their properties not in the least confounded, as was before observed; so we often read, in scripture, of distinct properties 243attributed to the same person, which are opposed to each other, namely, mortality and immortality, weakness and omnipotency, dependence and independence, &c. which could not be, with any propriety of speaking, applied to him, had he not been God and man, in the same person. This is generally styled by divines, a communication of properties,[136] concerning which we must observe, that the properties of one nature are not predicated of the other; as the Lutherans suppose, when they conclude, that the human nature of Christ is omnipresent, upon which their doctrine of consubstantiation is founded; but we assert, that the properties of one nature are predicated of the same person, to whom the other nature also belongs; so that when we say the Person, that was God, obeyed and suffered; or the Person, that was man, paid an infinite price to the justice of God, we are far from asserting, that the Godhead of Christ obeyed, or the manhood merited;[137] and this is the necessary result of his two natures being united in one Person. There are two things observed, in illustrating this matter.

1. That the works of each nature must be accepted of God for us, as the works of the whole Person, or of the same Person; therefore, if the nature that obeyed and suffered had been an human person, his obedience and sufferings could not have been of infinite value, or accepted by God as a sufficient price of redemption; for they could not have had this value reflected on them, had they not been the works of a divine Person: and those rays of divine glory, that shined forth in his human nature, could have no immediate relation to it, had it been a distinct Person from that of his Godhead.

2. It is farther observed, that those works, which were performed by him in each nature, are to be relied on by us, as the works of the whole Person: this reliance contains in it an instance of adoration, and supposes the Person, who performs them, to be God, which he was not in his human nature; therefore we are to adore our Mediator, and rely on the works performed by him, in his human nature, as he is God and man in one Person. As we have sufficient ground, from scripture to conclude, that the Mediator is the Object of divine adoration; so we are to depend on him, as a divine Person, for salvation; and our worship herein does not terminate on his human nature, but on his deity: but, if his human nature had been a distinct human person we could not be said to adore him that died for us, and rose again; so that, upon all these accounts, it is necessary that he should be not only God and man, but that these two natures should be united in one Person.

244Having considered our Mediator as God and man, in one Person, we are now to speak of him as having those glorious titles and characters attributed to him, expressive of his mediatorial work and dignity; accordingly, he is variously denominated as such in scripture: sometimes he is called, Lord, Phil, iv. 5. at other times, Jesus, Matt. i. 21. and elsewhere, The Lord Jesus, Acts ix. 17. and also, The Lord Christ, Col. iii. 24. and, in other places, The Lord Jesus Christ, chap. i. 2. He is called Lord, to denote the infinite dignity of his Person, as God equal with the Father; which name is given him in the New Testament, in the same sense, in which he is called Jehovah in the Old, as has been observed under a foregoing answer,[138] and to denote his divine sovereignty, as the Governor of the world, and the church, and particularly as executing his kingly office as Mediator; and, in the two following answers, he is described by his mediatorial characters, Jesus, and Christ.

Quest. XLI., XLII.

Quest. XLI. Why was our Mediator called Jesus?

Answ. Our Mediator was called Jesus, because he saveth his people from their sins.

Quest. XLII. Why was our Mediator called Christ?

Answ. Our Mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure, and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King of his church, in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.

I. Our Mediator is very often called Jesus in the New Testament, which name signifies a Saviour, as it is particularly intimated by the angel, who gave direction, that he should be so called, before his birth, Matt. i. 21. and he is not only styled our Saviour, but our Salvation, in the abstract: thus the prophet, foretelling his incarnation, says, Behold, thy Salvation cometh; his reward is with him, and his work before him, Isa. lxii. 11. and, when Simeon held him in his arms, he blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Luke ii. 28-30. He is a Saviour, as he brings about salvation for us, and we attain it by him; and he may be styled our Salvation, as our eternal blessedness consists in the enjoyment of him. Salvation contains in it a preserving and delivering us from all evil, which some call the negative idea thereof, and a conferring on us the greatest good, which is the positive 245idea of it. In saving us from evil, he is sometimes said to deliver us from this present evil world, Gal. i. 4. and elsewhere we are said to be saved from wrath through him, Rom. v. 9. and, as all the deliverance we experience, or hope for, is included in the word Salvation, so are all the spiritual blessings wherewith we are blessed, in this, or a better world; and, upon this account, he, who is the purchaser and author thereof, is called Jesus.

1. Since Christ is called Jesus, let us be exhorted to take heed that we do not entertain any unworthy thoughts of him, or that salvation which he hath procured, by supposing it indefinite, or indeterminate, or that he did not come into the world to save a certain number, who shall eventually obtain this blessing; but that he is the Redeemer, and consequently the Saviour of many that shall finally perish, which is little better than a contradiction. And let us not suppose, that it is in the power of man to make his salvation of none effect; for whatever difficulties there may be in the way, he will certainly overcome them, otherwise he would be called Jesus, or a Saviour to no purpose; and therefore they, who suppose him to be the Saviour of all mankind upon this uncertain condition, that they improve their natural powers, or the liberty of their will, so as to render his purpose, relating to their salvation, effectual, which otherwise it would not be, do not give him the glory which belongs to him, as called Jesus.

2. Let us take heed that we do not extenuate his salvation to our own discouragement, as though he were not able to save, to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, or did not come into the world to save the chief of sinners; or we had certain ground to conclude our case to be so deplorable, as that we are out of the reach of his salvation.

3. Let none presume, without ground, that he is their Saviour, or that they have an interest in him as such, while in an unconverted state; or vainly conclude, that they shall be saved by him, without faith in, or subjection to him.

4. Let this name Jesus tend to excite in us the greatest thankfulness, especially if we have experienced the beginning of the work of salvation; and let such encourage themselves to hope, that having begun the good work in them, he will finish it, when he shall appear, a second time, without sin, unto salvation.

II. Our Mediator is called Christ, or, as it is generally expressed in the Old Testament, the Messiah, which signifies a person anointed: thus it is said, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ, John i. 41. or, as it is in the margin, the anointed. And, as anointing was made use of under the ceremonial law, in the public inauguration and investiture 246of prophets, priests, and kings, in their respective offices, they are, for that reason, called God’s anointed: thus it is said, concerning the prophets, Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm, Psal. cv. 15. Kings are likewise so styled, as Samuel says, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him, 1 Sam. xvi. 6. These were often anointed, though not always;[139] but the priests were always anointed, when they first entered on their office; and the high priest is described by this character, as he upon whose head the anointing oil was poured; so we read of the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments, Psal. cxxxiii. 2. This was not an insignificant ceremony, or merely political, in which respect it is used, in our day, in the inauguration of kings; but it was an ordinance to signify God’s designation of them, to the office which they were to execute, in which they were to expect, and depend upon him for those qualifications that were necessary thereunto; but it was more especially designed to typify the solemn inauguration and investiture of our Saviour, in the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King of his church; and, in allusion hereunto, he is called, the Messiah, or the Christ. His anointing was not external, or visible, with material oil; but, in a spiritual sense, it signified his receiving a commission from the Father to execute the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King: upon which account, he is styled, God’s holy child Jesus, whom he had anointed, Acts iv. 27. And this unction, as it was of a spiritual nature, so it was attended with greater circumstances of glory; and the offices he was appointed to execute, were more spiritual, extensive, and advantageous, than theirs, who were types thereof: thus the Psalmist says of him, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows, Psal. xlv. 7. accordingly he was anointed to execute his prophetical office, to 247preach the gospel to the poor, Luke iv. 18. and his priestly, so the prophet Daniel speaks of him, as finishing transgression, making an end of sin, bringing in an everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24. which he did as a Priest; and then he speaks of anointing him, who was most holy, as infinitely excelling all those who were anointed with holy oil. He is also said to be anointed to execute his kingly office; and, with respect thereunto, is called the Lord’s anointed; and God says, concerning him, I have set, or as it is in the margin, anointed, my king upon my holy hill of Sion, Psal. ii. 2. Now there are three things which are more especially intended in this unction, which are particularly mentioned in this answer.

1. His being set apart, or separated from the rest of mankind, as the only Person who was designed to execute the offices, together with his public investiture therein. For the right understanding of which, let it be considered, that there was an eternal designation of him by the Father thereunto: thus the apostle speaks of him, as one who was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet. i. 20. And some think, that this is intended by that expression of the Psalmist, I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, Psal. ii. 7. and that this is also intended by his being set up from everlasting, Prov. viii. 23. This we may call his eternal inauguration, which was the foundation, ground, and reason of his incarnation, or of that inauguration, or investiture, which was visible to men in time, which is the second thing to be considered, in his being set apart to execute these offices.

When he came into the world, there was a glorious declaration given, both to angels and men, that he was the Person whom God had conferred this honour upon, and accordingly he received glory from them, as Mediator, by a divine warrant; so some understand that scripture, When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him, Heb. i. 6. And elsewhere we read, Luke ii. 10, 11. of the angels being sent as heralds, to make proclamation of this matter to men, at his first coming into the world. And, when he entered on his public ministry, there was a divine declaration given, as a farther visible confirmation hereof, immediately after his baptism, when the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him, and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Matt. iii. 16, 17. and John the Baptist was immediately raised up, as a prophet, to signify this to the world, which he did at that time, when our Saviour first entered on his public ministry, and speaks of him, as preferred before himself, not only as having a more excellent 248nature, but as being set apart to an higher office, than that which he was called to; and accordingly he styles him, The Lamb of God, intimating, that God had set him apart, as the great Sacrifice that was to be offered for sin, John i. 29, 30. and, soon after this, he gives another testimony hereunto, together with a glorious, yet just, character of the Person, who was invested with this authority, when he says, concerning him, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven: q. d. “I have not received this honour of being the Christ, and doing the works which he does, but it is given him from heaven: I am not the bridegroom of the church, but his friend, who rejoice greatly, because of his voice; what he hath seen and heard, that he testified; and God hath sent him, whose word he speaketh; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him; the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand, John iii. 27-35. therefore he is set apart, by him, to perform the work of a Mediator, which belongeth not unto me.”

2. Christ was furnished with authority, or had a commission given him, to perform the work he was engaged in, as Mediator. This was absolutely necessary, since, as the apostle says, concerning the priesthood in general, that no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, and authorized by him to perform it, as was Aaron; so also Christ glorified not himself, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee; and, Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec, Heb. v. 4-6. As it was reckoned an intrusion, and no other than an instance of profaneness, for any one to exercise a sacred office, without a divine warrant, it was necessary that our Saviour should be furnished therewith: the work he was to perform was glorious, the consequences thereof of the highest importance, and his services would not have been accepted, or availed to answer the great ends thereof, had he not received a commission from the Father. And that he came into the world with this commission and authority, derived from him, he constantly asserts and proves, he asserts it, when speaking concerning himself, that God the Father had sealed him, John vi. 27. and elsewhere says, I have power to lay down my life, and to take it again; this commandment have I received of my Father, John x. 18. and he not only asserts, but proves it; every miracle that he wrought being a confirmation thereof, in which respect a divine testimony was affixed to his commission: thus he says, The works that I do, in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me, ver. 25. and elsewhere, when he asserts his authority, and proves, that the words which he spake, he spake not of himself; he adds, the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works, John xiv. 10, 11. He appeals to those miraculous works, 249which were performed either by himself, or by the Father, which he might well do, because the Father and he had the same divine power, and thereby intimates, that the commission, which he received from the Father, was attested in this extraordinary manner.

3. Our Saviour’s unction included in it an ability to execute those offices, which he was engaged in, as Mediator. We have before observed, that when persons, under the ceremonial law, were anointed to execute the offices either of prophet, priest, or king; this was not only an ordinance, to signify that they had a divine warrant to execute them, but they were hereby given to expect those qualifications that were necessary to the discharge thereof. God never calls to an office, but he qualifies for it: thus our Saviour was furnished with ability, as well as authority; this was more especially applicable to his human nature, in which he was to obey and suffer; as to his divine nature, that could not be the subject of a derived power, or qualifications conferred upon it. Now this ability, with which our Saviour was furnished, as man, was that which rendered him fit to perform the work which he came into the world about. As a Prophet, he was qualified to preach the gospel with greater wisdom and authority than all others, who were ever engaged in this work: his very enemies confessed, that never man spake like him, John vii. 46. and he had continual assistance from God, which preserved him from all mistakes; so that what he delivered was infallibly true, and, as such to be depended on: he was also furnished with zeal for the glory of God, yet such as was tempered with sympathy, meekness, and compassion towards his people; and an holy courage, resolution, and fortitude, which preserved him from fainting, or being discouraged under all his sufferings; and a constant disposition and inclination to refer all to the glory of the Father, and not to assume any branch of divine honour to his human nature; and, by this means, the whole discharge of his ministry was acceptable, both to God and man.

Thus concerning the reasons why our Saviour is called Christ. And this leads us to consider the offices which he was anointed to execute, upon the account whereof he is styled, the Prophet, Priest, and King of his church. Here we shall premise some things in general concerning these three offices; and then speak to each of them, as contained in the following answers.

1. Concerning the number of the offices, which he executes; they are three. Some have enquired, whether there are not more than three executed by him, inasmuch as there are several characters and relations, which Christ is described by, and is said to stand in, to his people, besides those of Prophet, 250Priest, and King: thus he is styled, The Head of the body, the church, Col. i. 18. and an Husband, to it, Isa. liv. 5. and a Bridegroom, John iii. 29. and elsewhere he is said to perform the office of a Shepherd: thus he styles himself, The good Shepherd, John x. 14. and he is called, The Captain of our salvation, Heb. ii. 10. and many other characters of the like nature are given him, from whence some have taken occasion to think, that several of them contain ideas, distinct from those of a Prophet, Priest, and King, and therefore that there are more offices than these executed by him: but all that need be said to this, is, that these, and other characters and relations, which are ascribed to Christ in scripture, are all included in, or reducible to one or other of these three offices; therefore we have no reason to conclude, that he executes any other offices, distinct from them, as Mediator.

2. The condition of fallen man, and the way in which God designed to bring him to salvation, which was adapted thereunto, renders it necessary that Christ should execute these three offices. Accordingly, we are all of us, by nature, ignorant of, and prejudiced against divine truth, as the apostle observes, The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. ii. 14. therefore it is necessary that Christ should execute the office of a Prophet, to lead us into all truth, and give this spiritual discerning thereof.

Moreover, we are all guilty before God, Rom. iii. 19. and can by no means make atonement, give satisfaction to his justice, or procure a pardon; nor can we plead any thing done by us, as a ground thereof; therefore we need that Christ should execute the office of a Priest, and so first make atonement, and then intercession, for us.

And as to the way in which God brings his people to salvation, this requires Christ’s executing his threefold office. Salvation must be purchased, proclaimed, and applied; the first of these respects Christ’s Priestly office; the second, his Prophetical; and the third, his Kingly; accordingly he is said to be made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30. and elsewhere he styles himself, The Way, the Truth, and the Life, John xiv. 6.

Moreover, in the execution of these offices, and bringing us thereby to salvation, he deals with God and man in different respects; with God, more especially, as a Priest, in satisfying his justice, and procuring his favour: thus the high priest under the law, who was a type of Christ’s Priestly office, is said to be ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, Heb. v. 1. even so Christ, 251our great High Priest, by offering himself a sacrifice, performed that part of his ministry which pertained to God, in the behalf of men; and he also deals with God, by appearing in his presence, continually making intercession for them; and, on the other hand, he deals with men, as designing to bring them to God, which he does more especially as a Prophet and King.

3. These three offices, which Christ executes, are distinct, and therefore not to be confounded. This we maintain against Socinus, and his followers: they speak, indeed, of Christ, as a Prophet, Priest, and King, which they are obliged to do, because the words are so frequently mentioned in scripture; yet the sense they give of them, amounts to little more than an acknowledgment of his Prophetical office: and even this, as they explain it, contains in it nothing more than what other prophets, that went before him, either were, or might have been, qualified to perform; for any one, who is under divine inspiration, may infallibly declare the will of God, and give forth those laws, by which God has ordained that his church should be governed; and our Saviour, according to them, does little more than this. They speak of him, indeed, as a Priest, but not as making satisfaction for our sins to the justice of God, nor by interceding in the virtue thereof, but only by putting up prayers and supplications to him on our behalf; which differs very little from those prayers and supplications that were put up by other prophets in behalf of the people.

Again, they speak of him as a King, but not as subduing our wills, or conquering our enemies, by almighty power; or, if they allow that he subdues us to himself, as a King, yet, in their farther explaining thereof, they mean nothing else by it, but his gaining us over to his side by arguments, freeing us from our ignorance, and over-coming our prejudices against truth, by a clear revelation of it; or, if they speak of his conquering our enemies, they intend nothing else by it, but his guarding and defending his people, by furnishing them with arguments to resist their subtle attempts against them, all which things are reducible to his Prophetical office; so that, though they speak of him as executing three offices, it is no more than if they should assert, that he executes but one; and the most they intend by all this, is, that he is a teacher, sent from God, and consequently not much superior in excellency to Moses, who was a prophet, raised up from among his brethren, and had the honourable character given him, that he was faithful in all his house; whereas, the apostle proves, by what he says of our Lord Jesus, that he was counted worthy of more glory, as he who hath builded the house, hath more honour than the house; and farther styles him a divine Person, when he says, he that built all things is God, Heb. iii. 2, 3.

2524. These three offices, which Christ executes, are not to be divided, especially when they are executed in such a way, as is effectual to the salvation of those who are concerned herein. He may, indeed, in an objective way, reveal the will of God, or give laws to his church, as a Prophet, without working savingly upon the understanding: he may also execute his kingly office, as a judge, in pouring the vials of his wrath on his enemies, without subduing the stubbornness of their wills, or bringing them to the obedience of faith: nevertheless, we must conclude, that, wheresoever he executes one of these offices in a saving way, he executes them all. In this respect, though the offices be distinguished, yet in the execution of them, they are not divided: thus whosoever is so taught by him, as a Prophet, as to be made wise to salvation, is redeemed by his blood, as a Priest, overcome by his power as a King, and brought into subjection to his will in all things; so all for whom, as a priest, he has purchased peace, to them he will, in his own time, proclaim it, as a Prophet, and enable them to believe in him, by making them willing in the day of his power.

5. He executes these offices in a twofold state; first, of humiliation, and then of exaltation, with different circumstances agreeable thereunto; which twofold state will be considered in some following answers. What we shall observe, at present, concerning it is, that that part of Christ’s priestly office, in which he made atonement for sin, was executed on earth in his state of humiliation: whereas the other part thereof, consisting in his intercession, together with some branches of his prophetical and kingly office, were executed both in earth and heaven, though in a different manner, agreeable to those circumstances of glory in which he was, and is.

Quest. XLIII.

Quest. XLIII. How doth Christ execute the office of a Prophet?

Answ. Christ executeth the office of a Prophet, in his revealing to the church, in all ages, by his Spirit and word, in divers ways of administration, the whole will of God, in all things concerning their edification and salvation.

That which may be first observed, before we consider the parts of Christ’s prophetical office, and the manner of his executing it, is the order in which it is mentioned, as set before his priestly and kingly offices, which may give us occasion to enquire whether it be executed before them.

1. If we consider the natural order of his executing his three offices, or the dependence of the execution of them, one on the 253other, then it must be observed, that he first executes his priestly office, and, pursuant hereunto, his prophetical and kingly; for sinners must first be redeemed by his blood, before they can be brought to a saving knowledge of him, or an entire subjection to him; therefore he first deals with God as a Priest, in our behalf, and thereby prepares the way of salvation, and lays the foundation thereof, in his oblation and intercession, and then, as a Prophet and King, he deals with men, and thereby brings them to God. In this respect, therefore, if these three offices were to be laid down in their natural order, we must say, that Christ executes the office of a Priest, Prophet, and King.

2. If we consider the order in which our Saviour executed these offices, in the exercise of his public ministry, we may say, he first produced his commission, or proclaimed the end of his coming into the world, and proved himself to be the Messiah, and so discovered himself to his people, as the great Prophet of his church; and, after that, he laid down his life, as a sacrifice for sin, as a Priest, and then he conquered his enemies, spoiled principalities and powers, and exerted the exceeding greatness of his power, in the application of redemption, as a King. It is in this respect that the offices of Christ are generally treated of, in the same method in which they are here laid down; so that his prophetical office is first mentioned, which is what we are now to consider. And,

I. We shall shew how Christ is described, in scripture, as the Prophet of his church. There are many expressions whereby his prophetical office is set forth: Thus he is styled, a Teacher come from God, John iii. 2. and he calls himself our Master, Matt. xxiii. 8. or the Lord of our faith, and, as such, is distinguished from all other teachers, some of which affected very much to be called Rabbi, and would persuade the world, by an implicit faith, to believe whatever they said: But our Saviour advises his disciples to refuse that title; for, says he, One is your master, even Christ.

Again, he is called, a law-giver, Mat. xxxiii. 22. or, the one and only lawgiver; and, it is added, that he differs from all other law-givers, in that he is able to save, and to destroy, James iv. 12. he is also called, The Angel, or Messenger of the covenant, who reveals the covenant of grace to us; and brings these glad tidings, that is, in him, reconciling the world to himself.

He is also called, The apostle, as well as the high Priest, of our profession, Heb. iii. 1. as he was first sent of God to publish peace, before he appointed others, who are called apostles, or inferior ministers to him, to pursue the same design. He is also styled, A witness to the people, their leader and commander, Isa. lv. 4. and he is farther described, as a faithful witness, Rev. i. 5.

254And he is set forth by several metaphorical expressions, which denote the execution of this office, viz. The light which shineth in darkness, John i. 5. Thus the prophet Isaiah describes him, when he says, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, Isa. lx. 1. He is likewise compared to the sun, the fountain of light, and so called, The Sun of righteousness, that was to arise with healing in his wings, Mal. iv. 2. and, The bright and morning star, Rev. xxii. 16. by which, and many other expressions to the same purpose, this prophetical office of Christ is set forth in scripture.

II. We shall now consider what Christ does in the execution of his prophetical office, as he is said to reveal the will of God to his church. And,

1. How he was qualified for this work, which supposes him to have a perfect knowledge of the divine will. We have before observed, that the Socinians, agreeably to the low thoughts they have of him, as a mere creature, suppose, that he was unacquainted with the will of God till he entered on his public ministry; and, in order to his being instructed therein, that he was, soon after his baptism, taken into heaven, and there learned, from the Father, what he was to impart to mankind, which they suppose to be the meaning of those scriptures, that speak of him, as coming down from heaven, or coming forth from the Father, into the world, John vi. 38. compared with chap. xvi. 28. and his speaking as the Father had taught him, or what he had seen with his Father, chap. viii. 28, 38. But, since we have shewn the absurdity of this opinion elsewhere, when speaking in defence of our Saviour’s deity[140], and have considered that those scriptures, which mention his coming down from heaven, plainly refer to his incarnation, and that the mode of expression is the same, as when God is said, in other scriptures, to come down into this lower world, by his manifestative presence here, which is not inconsistent with his omnipresence; therefore I shall only add, at present, that those scriptures, which speak of Christ’s being taught the things which he was to impart to the church, as they do not overthrow the omniscience of his divine nature; so they give no countenance to this supposition, that his human nature was taken up into heaven to be taught the will of God. In this nature, indeed, he needed instruction, and had no knowledge but what he received by communication; and it is plainly said of him, that he increased in wisdom, as he advanced in age: But the knowledge which he had, as man, which was sufficient to furnish him for the execution of this office, proceeded from a two-fold cause, namely, the union of that nature with his divine Person, the result whereof was, his having all those perfections that belong to it, of which the knowledge of 255divine things is one; for it would have been a dishonour to him, as God, to be united to a nature that had the least blemish or defect, or was unqualified to perform the work which he was therein to engage in. And, besides this, our Saviour had an unction from the Holy Ghost, which, as has been already observed, implies not only his receiving a commission, but, together therewith, all necessary qualifications to discharge the work he was engaged in, which include in them his knowing the whole will of God; as it is said, God gave not the Spirit by measure unto him, John iii. 34. that is, he gave it in a greater measure to him, than he ever did to any other, as the work, that he was to engage in, required it.

2. Let us now consider what is the will of God, which Christ reveals. This includes in it every thing that relates to our salvation, or that is necessary to be known and believed by us, in order thereunto, viz. that God had an eternal design to glorify his grace, in the recovery of a part of mankind from that guilt and misery, in which they were involved, and putting them into the possession of compleat blessedness; and that, in order hereunto, each of the Persons in the Godhead designed to demonstrate their distinct Personal glory, that, in this respect, they might receive adoration and praise from men; the Father, as sending our Saviour, to be a Redeemer; the Son, as taking that character and work upon him; and the Spirit, as applying the redemption purchased by him.

Moreover, he was to make a public proclamation that salvation was attainable; and that the way to attain it, was by sinners coming to him as a Mediator, by whom they might have access to the Father; and to invite them to come to him by faith; as he often does in the gospel. He was also to let them know, that this faith is the gift of God, and in what way they may expect to attain it, to wit, in a constant attendance on the ordinances of his own appointment; and, to encourage them hereunto, that there are many great and precious promises, which are all put into his hand, to apply and make good to his people. These, and many other things, which contain in them the sum and substance of the gospel, are what we understand by the will of God, which Christ communicates, as a Prophet, to his church. As it may be observed, that these doctrines are such as are matter of pure revelation, which could not have been known without it, as well as of the highest importance, and therefore worthy to be made known by so excellent a Person. And this leads us to consider,

III. The persons to whom Christ reveals the will of God, namely, the church; to them the lively oracles of God are committed; and they are built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner-stone. 256As for the world, which is sometimes opposed to the church, it is said, that, by wisdom it knew not God, 1 Cor. i. 21. that is, not in such a way as he is revealed in the gospel; but the church, which Christ loved, and for which he gave himself, is said to be sanctified by the word, Eph. v. 26. and to them it is given, to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to others it is not given, Matt. xiii. 11. so that the church is the seat, and the object of the execution of Christ’s prophetical, as well as of his other offices; They are taught by him as the truth is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21.

IV. We are now to consider the way and means by which Christ reveals the will of God to the church; there are two ways by which this is done.

1. Objectively, which is an external method of instruction, the effect and consequence whereof is our hearing of him by the hearing of the ear, or as the apostle calls it, our having the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, Rom. ii. 20. This instruction Christ is said to give by the word: And this he did; first, by publishing the glad tidings of salvation in his own Person, which he mentions, as one great end for which he was sent into the world, as he says, I must preach the kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent, Luke iv. 43. and accordingly he styles himself, The Light of the world, John viii. 12. and it is said, that he was anointed to preach good things unto the meek, sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, Isa. lxi. 1. and when he is represented, as complying with the call of God, and delighting to do his will, he adds, I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest, I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness, and thy truth, from the great congregation, Psal. xl. 9, 10. And as Christ preached the gospel in his own Person, so, when he left the world, he gave commission to others to preach it, and his Spirit to instruct them what they should deliver, by whose inspiration his word was committed to writing, which is the fountain of all truth; and, by this means, the church attains, as at this day, the knowledge thereof.

2. Our Saviour reveals the will of God to his people, in a subjective way, which is internal, whereby he deals with their hearts, which he disposes and fits to receive the truth: Hereby he opens the eyes of the understanding, to see a beauty and glory in the gospel, and inclines all the powers and faculties of the soul to be conformed to it; and this he does more especially in those in whom he executes his prophetical office effectually, unto salvation. This is styled, in this answer, Christ’s executing 257his prophetical office by his Spirit, as distinguished from the execution thereof by his word. We read sometimes of the Spirit’s teaching us, in scripture as our Saviour tells his disciples, that He, viz. the Spirit, would guide them into all truth, John xvi. 13. and of believers having their souls purified, in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, 1 Pet. i. 22. and at other times of Christ’s teaching by his Spirit. Now there is no essential difference between Christ’s teaching as God, and the Spirit’s teaching, since the divine glory of the Son and Spirit, to which this effect is attributed, is the same: But Christ’s teaching by his Spirit, only denotes, as was before observed under a foregoing answer, the subserviency of the Spirit’s acting herein, to Christ’s executing this branch of his prophetical office, whereby he demonstrates his personal glory[141].

V. We are now to consider the various ages in which Christ is said to execute this office. That he did this after his incarnation; first, in his own Person, and then, by taking care that his gospel should be preached in all succeeding ages, until his second coming, has been already considered. We may also observe, that Christ executed his prophetical office before his incarnation: Thus it is said, that, by his Spirit, he preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, to the world before the flood, who are represented in the words immediately following, as disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. so that Noah who was a prophet, was his inferior minister, raised up, and spirited by him, to preach to the world, which upon that account, is called Christ’s preaching, and accordingly herein he executed his prophetical office. And he is also said to have given the law from mount Sinai, as the apostle’s words seem to intimate, when he says, Whose voice shook the earth, Heb. xii. 26. to wit, mount Sinai, which trembled when he gave the law from thence; and that this refers to our Saviour, appears from the words immediately foregoing, wherein it is said, See that ye refuse not him that speaketh, namely, Christ; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, to wit, from mount Sinai, or when he spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him, that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth, &c. ver. 25.

Moreover, that he executed his prophetical office before his incarnation, and thereby led his church into the knowledge of divine truth, is evident, from the account we have, in scripture, of his appearing to them in the form of a man, or an angel, which he more frequently did, before the word of God was committed to writing, and afterwards occasionally in following ages: Thus he appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and 258sent him into Egypt to demand liberty for Israel, and afterwards he led them through the red sea, as appearing in the pillar of the cloud and fire; and he is described, as the angel which was with Moses in the church in the wilderness which spake to him in mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the lively oracles, Acts vii. 38. which is a farther proof of what was before mentioned, that he gave the law from thence; and while they travelled through the wilderness, he led them about, or went before them, in the pillar of cloud, and instructed them, Deut. xxxii. 10. so that all the knowledge of divine things, which they attained to, was the result of the execution of his prophetical office unto them. And when at any time they opposed Moses, his under-minister, he appeared in Person and vindicated him; as in that particular instance, occasioned by Aaron’s and Miriam’s speaking against him, wherein it is said, The Lord came down in a pillar of a cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and said, If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream; my servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house, Numb. xii. 5-7. which is a farther intimation, that Christ then executed his prophetical office, by inspiring the prophets, who were raised up at that time.[142]

To conclude this head, we may observe the difference between Christ’s executing his Prophetical office, before and after his incarnation. In the former of these, as was but now hinted, he occasionally assumed the likeness of the human nature, that he might the better converse with man, but was not really incarnate; in the latter, he delivered the mind and will of God, as dwelling in our nature. Before this, he discovered what was necessary to be known by the church at that time, and gave them those promises which related to the work of our redemption, to be performed by him: but, in the present execution of his Prophetical office, he opens a more glorious scene, and represents all those promises, as having their accomplishment in him, and displays the divine perfections, in bringing about our salvation, in their greatest beauty and lustre.

Quest. XLIV.

Quest. XLIV. How doth Christ execute the office of a Priest?

Answ. Christ executeth the office of a Priest, in his once offering himself a sacrifice, without spot, to God, to be a reconciliation 259for the sins of his people, and in making continual intercession for them.

In considering Christ’s Priestly office, as described in this answer, we may observe the two great branches thereof, namely, the offering himself a sacrifice; and making intercession. There are several scriptures which expressly mention both of them: thus he is said, through the eternal Spirit, to have offered himself without spot, to God, Heb. ix. 14. and then described as having entered into heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us, ver. 24. and elsewhere the apostle speaks of him, as having an unchangeable priesthood, and being able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, and that this is founded on his offering up himself, and making intercession for them, chap. vii. 24, 25, 27. In considering this, we may observe,

I. The reason of his being styled a Priest, which denomination was taken from those who exercised the priestly office under the ceremonial law, who were types of him, as such: accordingly we may consider; that the office of the priesthood was executed by sundry persons, appointed to this service. A priest was a public minister, who was to serve at the altar, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, Heb. v. 1. That these were offered in all the ages of the church, after the fall of man, appears, from the sacrifice that Abel offered, which the apostle calls an excellent one, and, upon this occasion, says, that he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, Heb. xi. 4. and therefore it follows, that it was instituted by him: yet it does not appear that there was, in that early age of the church, a set of men solemnly and publickly invested in this office: but the heads of families are generally supposed to have been the public ministers in holy things, and particularly priests, though they do not appear to have been then so styled; and thus it continued till about the time that God brought Israel out of Egypt, when, by his appointment, all the first-born of the children of Israel were consecrated to him; and these officiated as priests, during that small interval of time, till the priesthood was settled in the tribe of Levi, upon which occasion God says, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of all the first-born, because all the first-born are mine; for on the day that I smote all the first-born, in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, Numb. iii. 12, 13. And, when God gave the ceremonial law from mount Sinai, he appointed that tribe to minister as priests in holy things. Of these some had one part of the ministry of the sanctuary committed to them, and others another; particularly the priesthood, or the charge of offering gifts and sacrifices, 260was more, especially committed to the family of Aaron, of which the eldest son, in their respective generations, was generally advanced to the high priesthood, and other descendants from him were common priests, who acted under, or were assistants to him in all the parts of his ministry, excepting that which respected his entering into the holy of holies. These were invested in their respective offices by unction, though the high priest’s office and unction had some things peculiar in it, in which it exceeded theirs; and they were all types of Christ’s priesthood, though the high priest was so in an eminent degree; which leads us to consider,

II. The Priesthood of Christ, as typified under the ceremonial law, and that either by the service which was commonly performed by the high priest, and other priests under him, or as it was typified by Melchizedec, who is occasionally mentioned in scripture, as shadowing forth Christ’s Priesthood in some particular instances, which were not contained in other types thereof.

1. We shall speak concerning the priests under the law, as types of Christ’s Priesthood, and particularly shew wherein their priesthood agrees with, or differs from his.

(1.) Wherein they agree.

1st, Every high priest was taken from among men, as the apostle observes, Heb. v. 1. and was ordained for men in things pertaining to God. And, to this we may add, that he was taken from among his brethren, and so must be a member of that church, in whose name he administered, and of which he was the head, by the dignity of his office. In this, he was a lively type of Christ, who, in order to his being an High Priest, became man, that he might perform this ministry for men in things pertaining to God. It is true, the validity of his office, or the efficacy thereof to answer its designed end, arose from the dignity of his Person, as God; yet the matter thereof, or the ministry he performed, required that he should be taken from among men, and have all the essential properties of the human nature; so that, as the high priest was taken out of the church, or from among his brethren, and, by office, was the head thereof, Christ was a member of the church, and, as such, complied with those ordinances which God had instituted therein, and from the dignity of his Person and office, was the Head thereof: as a Member of it, he was exposed to the same temptations and miseries as they are, and so is able to sympathize with, and succour them under all their temptations, Heb. iv. 15. compared with chap. v. 2. and as the Head thereof, he manages all affairs relating to it, and expects that all his people should be entirely subjected to him.

2dly, The matter of the priest’s office, or the things that were 261offered by him, were, as was before observed, gifts and sacrifices offered for the remission of sins; which blessing could not be attained without shedding of blood, as the apostle observes, without shedding of blood there is no remission, chap. ix. 22. Thus Christ was to redeem his people, and procure forgiveness of sins, and make atonement for them by sacrifice, or by the shedding of blood.

3dly, After the high priest had offered sacrifices, there was another part of that ministry, which was peculiar to himself, in which he was an eminent type of Christ, which he performed but once a year, to wit, on the great day of expiation, when he went into the holiest of all within the vail, with blood and incense; the blood he sprinkled on the mercy-seat over the ark, and caused the smoke of the incense to ascend and cover the mercy-seat, and from thence he received an intimation from God, that the sacrifices, which he had offered for the people, were accepted, after which he went out, and blessed them, in the name of the Lord; in all which, he was a lively type of Christ’s executing his Priestly office, chap. ix. 3, 7. compared with Lev. xvi. 14. who first offered an acceptable sacrifice for us on earth, and then entered into heaven, (which was typified by the priest’s entering into the holy of holies) to present his sacrifice before God, and to make intercession for us; and, as the consequence hereof, he blesses his people, in turning them from all their iniquities, and in conferring all the other fruits and effects of his sacrifice upon them. Thus Christ’s Priesthood was shadowed forth by that ministry, which was performed by the priests under the ceremonial law; nevertheless,

(2.) There were many things in which they differed; as,

1st, The priests under the law were mere men; but Christ, though truly man, was more than a man. Though he was made, in all the essential properties of the human nature, like unto us; yet he had a divine nature, in which he was equal with God; and therefore his ministry could not but be infinitely more valuable, than that of any others, who were types of him.

2dly, The priests under the law were of the tribe of Levi, and therefore theirs is called, by the apostle, The Levitical priesthood, Heb. vii. 11. But our Saviour, as Man, was of the tribe of Judah, and therefore did not derive his priesthood from them by descent, as they did from one another, chap. vii. 13, 14.

3dly, The sacrifices which were offered by the priests under the law, were no other than the blood of beasts, appointed for that purpose; but Christ offered his own blood, chap. ix. 12,14.

4thly, The priests under the law were sinners; accordingly Aaron was obliged first to offer up sacrifice for his own sins, and then for the peoples’, chap. vii. 27. but Christ needed not 262to do this, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, ver. 26.

5thly, The sacrifices offered by the priests under the law, could not expiate, or take away sins, chap. x. 4. but Christ, by the offering that he has made, has for ever perfected them that are sanctified, or made a full atonement for all sin. Now since it is said, that it was impossible for sin to be expiated by the sacrifices under the law, we are to enquire in what sense atonement was, or could not be made thereby: if the sin was of such a nature, or that it was punishable by human judicature, the making atonement by sacrifice, in many instances, put a stop to the prosecution, and took away the guilt, which the person had contracted, as to any farther proceedings of men against him; for this was an ordinance appointed by God, in which the offender had an external and visible recourse to the blood of Jesus, signified by the blood which he offered; and this is supposed to have been accompanied with repentance for the sin committed, which gave satisfaction to the church, as to what concerned this matter, as offensive to them; and they could demand no more of the offender, in order to their declaring, that, so far as they were judges, his guilt was expiated, by that which was signified by the sacrifice which he brought, which was offered for him, and therefore the crime that he committed was pardoned.

It is true, there were some crimes that were to be punished with death; and, in this case, the church was not to receive satisfaction by sacrifice, nor were proceedings against the guilty person to be stopped by this means: and, among other crimes, that of wilful murder was one which admitted of no sacrifice; so, I think, the meaning of what the Psalmist says, is to be understood, Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it, Psal. li. 16. as implying, that the guilt of blood was such, that he had hereby forfeited his life, which, though no subject had power enough to take away, yet God might, for this, have set his face against him, and have cut him off, in a visible manner, from among his people, as he often did, when crimes were not punished in a legal way. This punishment God graciously remitted, when he told him, by Nathan, that he had put away his sin, he should not die, 2 Sam. xii. 13. and David, when he testifies his repentance, in this Psalm, would have offered sacrifice, but he finds that none was ordained for the sin he had committed. In other cases, indeed, the church was satisfied, excommunication, or some other punishment, prevented, and the offender taken into favour, by his offering sacrifice, in which respect, this service is called making atonement for him: but, in other respects, it was impossible to expiate sin thereby, so as to procure justification in the sight of God; for they could 263not expiate it, as to what concerns the conscience, as it is said, that the sacrifices could not make him, that did the service, perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, Heb. ix. 9. so that, that guilt of sin, which burdens the consciences of men, as having more immediately to do with God, was taken away only by Christ’s sacrifice; in which respect, the efficacy hereof far exceeds all the ends and designs of the sacrifices, which were offered under the law. And this farther appears, inasmuch as these sacrifices were to be repeated, there being a continual remembrance of sin; for this supposes, that sin was not hereby wholly expiated in the sight of God: and, in this, they also differ from the sacrifice Christ offered, inasmuch as that, being effectual to take away sin, was offered but once, chap. x. 10, 14.

6thly, The priests under the law were mortal, and therefore the priesthood was successive; but Christ, as he was not from them by a lineal descent so he had no successor in his priesthood. In this, the apostle opposes him to them, when he says, They truly were many, because they were not suffered to continue, by reason of death; but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood, chap. vii. 23.

Again, as the priesthood ceased, in particular persons, by death, so the high priesthood was sometimes taken away from those that were advanced unto it, for some instances of maladministration: thus the high priesthood, for some time, descended in the line of Eleazar, the elder branch of Aaron’s family; and afterwards, during the reign of the judges, it was transferred to the younger branch of his family, namely, the descendants from Ithamar, in which line it was when Eli was high priest; and afterwards, when his sons, by their vile behaviour, forfeited their right to the high priesthood, and God threatened that he would take it away from his family, 1 Sam. ii. 30. compared with ver. 35. and 1 Kings ii. 35. (which was accomplished when Abiathar, in the beginning of Solomon’s reign, was thrust from the priesthood) it again descended in Zadock, to the elder branch of Aaron’s family.

264Again the priesthood itself was not designed to continue for ever, but only during that dispensation; after which, there was to be no altar, priests, nor sacrifice: But Christ’s priesthood, as it was unalienable, so it could never be forfeited by male-administration, or descend to any other; therefore he is said to be a Priest for ever, which seems to be the meaning of that scripture, in which his priesthood is considered, as different from the Levitical priesthood, as those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath, by him that said unto him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, chap. vii. 21. which oath not only signifies the establishing of him in his priesthood, but it secured to him that he should never fall from it.

There are other things in which Christ’s priesthood differs from that of the priests under the law, in that they entered into the holy places made with hands, but Christ into heaven it self, chap. ix. 7. compared with ver. 24. and then it was only the high priest that was to enter into the holy of holies: But, as the apostle observes, that under the gospel, in the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, all believer’s are admitted into the holiest of all, that is, they have access through faith, into the presence of God, by the blood of Jesus.

And lastly, under the law, there was a certain order of men that were priests, and yet all the people were not so; but, under the gospel-dispensation, believers are styled, an holy and a royal priesthood, and the sacrifices they offer up, are spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9. And this leads us,

2. To consider Christ’s priesthood, as typified by Melchizedek, concerning whom it is said, in Gen. xiv. 18, 19, 20. that Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine to Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings; and he was priest of the most high God, and he blessed him, &c. And this is referred to, as tending to set forth Christ’s priesthood, in Psal. cx. 4. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and the apostle, in Heb. vii. refers to these scriptures, which are the only places of the Old Testament where this is mentioned, and applies them to Christ’s priesthood as containing many things which were not typified by the Aaronical priesthood. And it may be observed, that when the apostle enters on this subject, he premises this concerning it, that it contained a very great difficulty, as he says, Of whom [i. e. Melchizedek] we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, Heb. v. 11. that is, hard to be explained, so as to be fully understood; it will be no strange thing therefore if we cannot fully explain it, or assert some things concerning it, which are only probable; and 265certainly this observation of the apostle should induce us to treat on this subject with the greatest humility and modesty. As to what we have to say concerning it, I hope we shall advance nothing contrary to the analogy of faith, how difficult soever some phrases, used in scripture, relating thereunto, may seem to be: And the method in which we shall proceed, shall be; first, to enquire who this Melchizedek was; and, secondly, how we have herein an eminent type of Christ’s priesthood in some things, in which it was not shadowed forth by the Aaronical priesthood.

We shall now enquire who this Melchizedek probably was; and here we pass by the conjecture of some who lived in an early age of Christianity, whom Epiphanius mentions[143], who supposed that he was the Holy Ghost; which appears to be a very absurd notion, inasmuch as we never read in scripture, of the Holy Ghost’s appearing in the form of a man, nor of his performing any of those offices which belong to the Mediator; and therefore it is equally contrary, to the tenor of scripture, to call him the priest of the most high God, as it is to call the Father so; and thus Melchizedek is styled, in the scripture we are explaining. I shall add no more, as to this ungrounded opinion; but proceed to consider that which is more commonly acquiesced in, namely,

First, That he was a man: But when it is farther enquired, what man? there are three different opinions relating hereunto.

(1.) The Jews generally conclude that he was Shem, the son of Noah, as also do many other ancient and modern writers, who pay a deference to their authority and reasoning[144]. The principal thing that induces them to be of this opinion, is, because it appears, from scripture-chronology, that Shem was living at that time, when Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings[145]. And they farther add, that Shem, having received the patriarchal benediction from his father, might truly be reckoned the greatest man in the church, and that both as a priest and a king, as Melchizedek is described to be. But 266there are two very considerable objections against this opinion, which have weight enough in them, if not to overthrow it, at least to make it very doubtful: namely,

1st, That Shem’s father, mother, and descent, together with the beginning of his life, and afterwards the end thereof, were well known, the year when he was born, and the time that he lived, being particularly mentioned in scripture; and therefore the apostle could not say concerning him, as he does concerning Melchizedek, that he was without father, without mother, without descent having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; meaning, as most expositors suppose, that he was so, because these were not known, or mentioned in scripture.

2dly, It is very plain from scripture, that Shem’s place of abode was not in the land of Canaan, and therefore he could not be said to be king of Salem, that is as it is understood by the greatest number of expositors, of Jerusalem; since this was the seat of the posterity of Ham, one of Shem’s brethren; accordingly from Canaan, his son, that land took its name. This evidently appears from what is said in Gen. x. 6-20. where the Jebusite, Emorite, Hivite, and other inhabitants of the land of Canaan, are said to be the descendants of Ham. For these reasons, Melchizedek does not appear to have been Shem.

(2.) There is one learned writer, who conjectures that this Melchizedek was Ham[146], which, indeed, agrees very well with the place of his residence: But there are other things which render this opinion not in the least probable; not only because the same thing may be observed of Ham, as was before of Shem, that he could not be said to be without father, without mother, without beginning of years, and end of life: But it may farther be said concerning him, that he had not received the patriarchal benediction from Noah, his posterity having had a curse entailed upon them, as it is said, in Gen. ix. 25. Cursed be Canaan. Therefore some question, whether Ham might be reckoned a member of the church,[147] much more whether he deserved to be called a priest of the most high God, and king of righteousness; though it is true, this author[148] supposes, that Ham was not cursed by Noah, but only Canaan his son, and his posterity; therefore he might have been an excellent person, and deserved the character given of Melchizedek. But there are very few who will be convinced by this method of reasoning; and therefore we pass it over, and proceed to consider,

(3.) That the greatest part of divines suppose, that it is not only the safest, but most probable way of solving this difficulty, to confess, that it is impossible to determine who he was, and 267that the Holy Ghost has purposely concealed this matter, from us, that he might be a more eminent type of Christ; and therefore they suppose him to have been a certain unknown king and priest residing at Jerusalem, at that time when Abraham was met by him, and that this ought to put a full stop to all farther enquiries about him: upon which account, it may well be said, concerning him, that he was without father, without mother, &c. that is, these were not known; and what does not appear to be, is sometimes said, in scripture, not to be. Thus concerning their opinion, who suppose that he was a man.

Secondly, There is another opinion concerning him, which though not so commonly received as the first and third above mentioned, which though probably it may not be without some difficulties attending it, yet it very much deserves our consideration, namely, that Melchizedek was our Lord Jesus Christ himself, assuming, at that time, the form of a man, and personating a priest and a king, as he did on several occasions, designing thereby to prefigure his future incarnation[149][150] And it is argued in defence of this opinion,

1st, That when the apostle describes him as king of Salem, he does not hereby intend Jerusalem, or that at that time, he resided 268there: But, as he explains it, in the words immediately following, it implies, that he was king of peace, as this word Salem signifies; and accordingly he is set forth by two of those glorious titles, which are given him elsewhere in scripture, namely, king of righteousness, as it is said concerning him, that a king shall rise and prosper, who is called, The Lord our righteousness, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. and likewise, The Prince of Peace, Isa. ix. 6. And that which makes this opinion more probable, is, that it doth not appear that Jerusalem was called Salem, which is supposed to be a contraction of the word Jerusalem, till some ages after this; for, till David conquered it, it was commonly known by the name of Jebus, 1 Chron. xi. 4.

2dly, The apostle’s description of him, as being without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, is rather applicable to a divine Person than a mere man. And as for the sense, which is generally given of these words, namely, that he was without father, &c. because no mention is made thereof in scripture, viz. in those two scriptures in the Old Testament, in which he is spoken of; this seems more strained and forced, than to understand them according to the proper sense of the words; and, if, indeed, this imports nothing else, but the silence of scripture, with relation thereunto, there are many other persons who have as great a right to this character as Melchizedek; as Job, Elijah, &c. whereas Melchizedek is thus described, as distinguished from all others.

To this we may add, (which will farther strengthen this argument) what the apostle says, that in this respect, he was made like the Son of God, that is, as is generally supposed, a type of him. Now, if his being without father, mother, descent, &c. in the common acceptation of the words, be inconsistent with his being a type of Christ to the church, in Abraham’s time, then certainly that cannot be the sense thereof; for he was, without doubt, a type of his priestly, and kingly office to him, and the church, in his days, as well as to those who lived in following ages. Now, that he could not be a type thereof to many, who lived in that age, is evident; for they, who lived in the place where he was born and died, knew his father, mother, descent, beginning, or end of life; therefore he was no type of Christ’s eternal priesthood to them. And as for Abraham, though he might not know his father, mother, or descent, or the exact time when he was born, and so, in that respect he might, in part, he made like to the Son of God, to him, as signifying, that his priestly office was not derived by descent, as the Aaronical priesthood descended from parents to children: yet he could not be a type of the everlasting duration of Christ’s priestly office since he was then no more without end of days, 269in the common sense in which that expression was taken, than Abraham, or any other who lived with him, who could not be supposed to know the time, or place, of their death. And, if, according to the common opinion, Melchizedek is said to be without father, mother, descent, &c. because there is no mention thereof in scripture, this could not be a type to Abraham, or any other, before the word of God was committed to writing.

3dly, There is another thing, which may be observed in the apostle’s description of him, Heb. viii. 8. when he says, that he liveth,[151] and accordingly is opposed to those priests that die, by which he seems to be described as immortal, and so opposed to mortal men. It is not said, that he once lived, and that we have no mention made of the time of his death, but he liveth, which some conclude to be an ascription of that divine perfection to him, whereby he is styled the living God, or, as it is said in one of the following verses, He ever liveth, ver. 25. to denote his eternal priesthood; or, as he says concerning himself elsewhere, I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Rev. i. 8.

4thly, That which still makes this opinion more probable, is the consideration of the place, where they, who defend the other side of the question, suppose he lived, and the people to whom he ministered as a priest, which seems not agreeable to the character given him, as the greatest priest on earth. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, at that time, were idolaters, or at least, they had no relation to the church of God, which was then seated in Abraham’s family; for, when Abraham sojourned in Gerar, not many miles distant from it, in the south-west border of the land of Canaan, he gives this description of it, that he thought surely the fear of God was not in this place; and it can hardly be supposed that Jebus, or Jerusalem, was much better. If the Canaanites had been members of the true church, Abraham would not have lived as a stranger and sojourner amongst them, not desirous to converse with them. Since therefore Jerusalem, or Salem, was inhabited by those who were not worshippers of the true God, how could Melchizedek be said to be their priest, or a minister in holy things to them? for, though an holy man may be a king over a wicked people, such an one cannot well be said to be a priest to those, who desire not to be found in the exercise of God’s true worship.

5thly, It seems farther probable, that Melchisedek was not a priest, or king, whose usual place of residence was Jerusalem, where he administered and reigned, inasmuch as we do not read that Abraham, at any other time, conversed, or joined with him in worship, though the place where he sojourned was but a few 270miles distant from it, which we can hardly suppose that he would have neglected to do, or that we should have had no account of any intercourse between these two men, (who must be reckoned the greatest and best that lived on earth) besides that mentioned in the scripture we are now considering.

6thly, This may be farther argued, from what the apostle says, that Melchisedek blessed Abraham, and infers, from thence, that he was superior to him, inasmuch as the less is blessed of the better, Heb. vii. 7. There are but two senses in which a person is said to bless another; the one is, by praying for a blessing on him, or as God’s messenger, signifying, that he would bless him; and the other is, by conferring blessedness upon him, or making him blessed. Now, if Melchisedek had only blessed Abraham, in the former of these senses, which he might have done, had he been a mere man, the apostle could not have inferred from hence, his superiority to Abraham; for the lowest of men may in this sense, bless the greatest, that is, pray for a blessing on them, and God might employ such to declare to others that they are blessed; yet it would not follow, from hence, that they are, in this respect, greater than them. Melchisedek blessed Abraham, and therefore, as the apostle infers, was greater than him, and consequently he blessed him, by making him blessed, or conferring some of those blessings, which he has to bestow, as a divine Person, the Fountain of blessedness.

These are the most material arguments which are brought in defence of this opinion; from whence it seems probable, that our Saviour on this occasion assumed the form of a Man, as he often did, and appeared to Abraham with the mien and likeness of a King and Priest; as he is said elsewhere to appear to Joshua, in the form of a warrior, with his sword drawn in his hand, and soon discovered to him who he was; so we may suppose, that at this time, he appeared to Abraham as a King, and a Priest, and discovered to him who he was, and the right he had to the spoils he had gained, of which he accepted the tithes, partly, to signify that this was to be the way in which the priesthood was to be supported in future ages; but principally to give herein a type of that divine homage, which we owe to him, as the Priest and King of his people. I will not be too tenacious of this side of the question, but, to me, it seems the more probable, especially if what is objected against it does not weaken the force of the arguments brought to support it; which is now to be considered.

Object. 1. The place of Melchisedek’s residence is said to be Salem, or Jerusalem, in the land of Canaan, where he was a king and priest. Now this could not be said of our Lord Jesus Christ; for, as his kingdom was not of this world, so he never resided, or fixed his abode in any part of it before his incarnation. 271It is true, he sometimes appeared then in the form of a Man, or an Angel, that he might occasionally converse with his people; yet he never continued long, or dwelt amongst them, till he was made flesh; whereas, Melchizedek seems to be described as an inhabitant of the land of Canaan, dwelling in Salem, therefore it cannot he meant of him.

Answ. This objection takes some things for granted, that will not readily be allowed, by those who entertain the contrary way of thinking, viz. that Salem is the name of a place, and that there he resided; whereas it may be replied to this, that it is rather a character of his person; for, if Tzedek be a character of his person, as signifying righteousness, why should it be denied that Salem, from the Hebrew word Shalom, is also a glorious character, belonging to his person? especially considering the apostle explains both of them in this sense, when he says, that these words, by interpretation, are, King of righteousness, and King of peace, Heb. vii. 2. and, if this be true, there is no force in the other part of the objection, taken from his residing in any particular place before his incarnation.

Object. 2. It is farther objected, that our Saviour is said to be a Priest, after the order of Melchisedek, chap. vii. 17. and it is also added, that after the similitude of Melchisedek there ariseth another Priest, ver. 15. meaning our Saviour; therefore he cannot be the same person with Melchisedek.

Answ. This objection is much more material than any other, which is brought against this opinion, which, I am apt to think, determines the sentiments of many, who give into the commonly received opinion concerning him: But, as it ought to be considered, whether the arguments, in defence of the other side of the question, be conclusive; so it may be replied to it; that Christ might be called a Priest, after the order of Melchisedek, though he were the person intended by him, if we take the words in this sense; viz. that, by his appearing in the form of a Priest and a King to Abraham, he afforded a type, or figure, of what he would really be, and do, after his incarnation, and herein gave a specimen of his Priestly and Kingly office, which he would afterwards execute. And this might as well be said to be a type hereof, as any of his appearances, in the form of a man, were typical of his incarnation, which divines generally call a prelibation thereof, which differs very little from the sense of the word type.

As to what is said concerning another Priest, arising after the similitude of Melchisedek, though it may be reckoned a strong objection against our argument; yet let it be considered, that after the similitude of Melchisedek, imports the same thing as after the order of Melchisedek; and so it signifies, that there is a similitude, or likeness, between what he then appeared to 272be, and what he really was, after his incarnation. And as for his being called another Priest, that does not imply that he was a Priest different from Melchisedek, but from the priests under the law; for the apostle, as appears by the context, is comparing Christ’s Priesthood with the Aaronical; and therefore, when he executed his Priestly office, after his incarnation, he might well be styled another Priest, that is, a Priest not descending from Aaron, but the anti-type of Melchisedek, as prefigured by this remarkable occurrence.

Thus concerning that difficult question, who Melchisedek was? All that I shall add is, whether it were Christ himself, or some other person, yet it is evident that there was herein a very eminent type of Christ’s Kingly and Priestly office; and more especially of his Priestly, as containing in it several things that were not shadowed forth by the Aaronical priesthood; particularly, though the Aaronical priesthood contained a type of Christ’s making atonement, by shedding his blood; yet there was nothing in it that typified the glory of his Person, his immortality and sinless perfection, the eternal duration of his Priesthood, or his being immediately raised up by God, for that end; nor was there herein a type of the Kingly and Priestly office of Christ, as belonging to the same Person, since the priests under the law were not kings, nor the kings priests.

Moreover, Melchisedek’s being represented as without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, plainly signifies, that the execution of his priestly office depended immediately on God, who raised him up, as an extraordinary Person, for this end, as well as that he remains a Priest for ever; so that, if we take both these types together, we have a very plain and clear representation of Christ’s Priestly office. And this leads us to consider,

III. The necessity of Christ’s executing this part of his Priestly office, which consists in his making satisfaction to divine justice. This is generally denied by those who oppose his divinity; and particularly the Socinians, who maintain, that God pardons sin without satisfaction.[152] And others, who do not 273altogether deny the satisfaction of Christ, suppose, that God might have pardoned sin without it; but that it was more expedient to make a demand of it, than not, inasmuch as his honour, as the Governor of the world, is secured thereby, and therefore that his demanding satisfaction, is the result of his will; and accordingly, that he might have required and accepted of a satisfaction, less valuable than what was given him by our Saviour: This opinion is equally to be opposed with the former, as derogatory to the glory of the divine perfections.

Now, when we assert the necessity of satisfaction, we mean, that God could not, in consistency with his holiness and justice, pardon sin without it; and that no satisfaction, short of that which Christ gave, is sufficient to answer the end designed thereby, or worthy to be accepted by God, as a price of redemption.

And, when we assert that satisfaction was necessary, we would be understood as intending it in the same sense, as forgiveness of sin, or salvation is so; the necessity hereof being conditional, or founded on this supposition, that God designed to save sinners. This, indeed, he might have refused to have done, and then there would have been no room for satisfaction to be given to his justice: But, since God designed to be reconciled to his people, and to bring them to glory, we cannot but assert the necessity of satisfaction in order thereunto; and, to prove this, let it be considered,

1. That the necessity hereof appears from the holiness of God; and accordingly,

(1.) Inasmuch as he is infinitely perfect, he cannot but will and love that which is most agreeable to his nature, and which contains the brightest display of his image, which consists in righteousness and true holiness, as it is said, The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, Psal. xi. 7. And it follows, from hence,

(2.) That he cannot but hate, and have an infinite aversion to, whatever is contrary hereunto; for, if his love of holiness be founded in the perfection of his nature, then his hatred of sin, which is opposite to it, must be founded therein: Thus it is said, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity, Hab. i. 13. and elsewhere, Thou hatest all workers of iniquity, Psal. v. 5. Now God’s hating sin, consists in his infinite opposition to it, and so it is natural to him, or in his will, to punish it; and consequent thereunto, in his actual punishing of it. If the first of these be necessary, the others must be so likewise; or, if he be an holy God, he cannot but determine to punish sin, and afterwards put his determination in execution.

274(3.) It is fit he should manifest his hatred of sin, otherwise he could not be glorified by his creatures, as an holy God; for he cannot have the glory of any attribute ascribed to him, unless there be a visible display thereof; therefore it is necessary to demonstrate his hatred of sin, by punishing it; and, hence an obligation arises from a necessity of nature, and not barely from an act of his will, to bring to condign punishment all sin, even that which he designs to pardon: But this could not have been done without a demand of satisfaction to be given, by a surety, in the sinner’s behalf, which plainly evinces the necessity of satisfaction, which was the thing to be proved.

2. This farther appears, from the punishment threatened by the law of God, which is also necessary. For the understanding of which, let it be considered,

(1.) That God cannot but give a law to intelligent creatures, who, as such, are the subjects of moral government, and therefore under a natural obligation to yield obedience to him: But this they could not do, if the law were not given and promulgated.

(2.) It was necessary for God to annex a threatning to his law, in which respect punishment would be due to those who violate it, whereby obedience might be enforced, and that fear, which is excited by it, would be an additional motive hereunto; otherwise the sinner would be ready to conclude, that he might go on in his rebellion against God with impunity.

(3.) If this law be violated, as it is by sin, the truth of God, as the result of the threatning annexed to it, obliges him to punish it, either in our own persons, or in the person of our Surety, that so the honour of his law might be secured, which he is obliged to vindicate, as it contains a bright display of the glory of his perfections.

3. If God could, consistently with his own perfections, pardon sin without satisfaction, he would not have sent his well-beloved Son to suffer for it. This plainly appears from his wisdom and goodness. It is not consistent with the glory of his wisdom, for him to bring about a thing with so much difficulty, and with such displays of his vindictive justice, in punishing one who never offended him, if he could have answered the great end hereof on easier terms or have brought about the work of our salvation without it; neither does it consist with his goodness to inflict punishment, where it is not absolutely necessary, since, agreeably to this perfection, he delights rather to extend compassion, than to display his vindictive justice, if it might be avoided. Accordingly he is described, in scripture, (speaking after the manner of men) as punishing sin with a kind of regret, or reluctancy, Hosea. xi. 8. Thus it is said to be his strange work, Isa. xxviii. 21. and that he doth not afflict wilingly, nor grieve the children of men, Lam. iii. 33. but on the 275other hand, delighteth in mercy, Micah vii. 18. Therefore if he could, consistently with his perfections, have pardoned sin without satisfaction, he could not have commanded the sword of his vindictive justice to awake against the man that is his fellow, Zech. xiii. 7. as an expedient to bring about an end, that might have been attained without it.

Moreover, if God could have pardoned sin without satisfaction, then his giving his own Son to perform it for us, would not have been such a wonderful instance of divine grace, as it is represented to be in scripture; for it could not have been the only expedient to bring about our salvation, if satisfaction were not absolutely necessary thereunto.[153]

IV. We are now to consider what kind of satisfaction God demanded, for the expiating of sin. There are many who do not pretend, in all respects, to deny the necessity of satisfaction; but, when they explain what they mean by it, it amounts to little more than a denial thereof: Thus the heathen, who had learned, by tradition that sacrifices were to be offered, to make atonement for sin, concluded that these were sufficient to satisfy for it, and thereby to deliver from the guilt thereof. And some of the Jews, in a degenerate age of the church, seemed to have nothing else in view, and to have no regard to the spiritual meaning thereof, or their reference to Christ’s satisfaction, as types of it, when they rested in them, as supposing, that the multitude of their sacrifices were sufficient to satisfy for those vile abominations, which they were guilty of; upon which occasion, God expresses the greatest dislike thereof, when he says, To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs or of he-goats, Isa. i. 11. And elsewhere he tells them, I spake not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices, Jer. vii. 22. He does not mean that these were not instituted by him; but it is as though he had said, I did not hereby intend that they should be reckoned a sufficient price to satisfy my justice for sin. And, to fence against this supposition, the apostle says, that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins, Heb. x. 4. for they were far from being a sufficient price to satisfy God.

Moreover, the Papists speak much of human satisfactions, consisting in various penances, fastings, leading a mortified life, parting with their estates, and submitting to voluntary poverty, with a design to make atonement for sin. The main foundation of this opinion, is their supposing, that, whatever satisfaction God demands for sin, it is the result of his will, and 276therefore he might accept of the smallest instance of obedience and suffering, as sufficient to compensate for it, because he has deemed it so; and therefore they distinguish between giving satisfaction to God and to his justice. God, say they, may accept of, or be satisfied with the smallest price, instead of that which is most valuable; whereas nothing can, properly speaking, be said to satisfy justice, but that which has in it a value in proportion to what is purchased thereby. As to the former branch of this distinction, we deny that God can accept of any thing as a price of redemption, but what has a tendency to secure the glory of his perfections, and that, nothing less than an infinite price, can do, and therefore the distinction is vain, and nothing to their purpose; or, if they suppose that God can be satisfied with what justice does not conclude sufficient, then it is blasphemous, and derogatory to the divine perfections. Therefore we can allow of no satisfaction, but what tends to set forth the glory, and fulfil the demands of divine justice;[154] accordingly, 277we are to consider, that the satisfaction which was demanded by the justice of God, for the expiation of sin, must contain in it two things; namely,

2781. It must be of infinite value, otherwise it would not be sufficient to compensate for the injuries offered to the divine name by sin, which is objectively infinite, and therefore deserves a 279punishment proportioned to it, and consequently the price demanded to satisfy for it, must be of equal value. The justice of God would cast the utmost contempt on any thing that falls 280short hereof: thus the prophet represents one, as making a very large overture, which one would think sufficient, if a finite price were so, when he speaks, in a beautiful climax, or gradation, of coming before the Lord with burnt-offerings, and these well 281chosen, calves of a year old, and a multitude of them; Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, a price which very few were able to give, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? in which he offers more than it was possible to give; then he ascends yet higher, and, if it were sufficient, would part with his first-born for his transgression, the fruit of his body, for the sin of his soul; all which is reckoned an inconsiderable price, not sufficient to procure the thing designed thereby; and therefore he that offers it, is advised instead of pretending to satisfy divine justice by a finite price, to walk humbly with his God, Micah vi. 7, 8. and, whatever obedience he is obliged to perform, not to have the vanity to think that this is a sufficient price to answer that end.

2. Satisfaction must bear some similitude, or resemblance, as to the matter of it, to that debt which was due from those for whom it was to be given. Here we must consider what was the debt due from us, for which a demand of satisfaction was made; this was twofold.

1st, A debt of perfect and sinless obedience, whereby the glory of God’s sovereignty might be secured, and the honour of his law maintained. This debt it was morally impossible for man to pay, after his fall; for it implies a contradiction to say that a fallen creature can yield sinless obedience; nevertheless, it was demanded of us, though fallen; for the obligation could not be disannulled by our disability to perform it.

2dly, There was a debt of punishment, which we were liable to, in proportion to the demerit of sin, as the result of the condemning sentence of the law, which threatened death for every transgression and disobedience. Now, to be satisfaction to the justice of God, it must have these ingredients in it.

As to the infinite value of the price that was given, this is contested by none, but those who deny the divinity of Christ; and these arguments that have been brought in defence of that doctrine; and others, by which we have proved the necessity that our Mediator should be God, render it less needful for us, at present, to enlarge on this subject.[160] But there are many, who do not deny the necessity of an infinite satisfaction, who will not allow that it is necessary that there should be a resemblance between the debt contracted, and satisfaction given; and, by these, it is objected,

Object. 1. That the least instance of obedience, or one drop of Christ’s blood, was a sufficient price to satisfy divine justice; in defence of which they argue, that these must be supposed to have had in them an infinite value; but nothing can be greater than what is infinite, and therefore that one single act of obedience was sufficient to redeem the whole world of 282fallen men, or the whole number of fallen angels, if God had pleased to order it so.

Answ. Though we do not deny that the least instance of obedience, or sufferings performed by our Saviour, would have been of infinite value, inasmuch as we do not conclude the infinity of obedience to consist in a multitude of acts, or in its being perfectly sinless; nor do we deem his sufferings infinite, merely because they were exquisite, or greater than what mankind are generally liable to in this world, but because they were the obedience and sufferings of a divine Person; neither do we deny, that, according to the same method of reasoning, the least act of obedience and suffering, performed by him, would have been infinite. Nevertheless, it does not follow from hence, that this would have been a sufficient price of redemption; for the sufficiency of the price does not only rise from the infinite value thereof, but from God’s will to accept of it; and he could not be willing to accept of any price, but what had a tendency to illustrate and set forth the glory of his holiness, as a sin-hating God, and of his sovereignty in the government of the world, in such a way, that the most fit means might be used to prevent the commission of it, and of his truth, in fulfilling the threatnings denounced, which man was exposed to, by his violating the law. Now these ends could not be answered by one single instance of obedience, or suffering, and therefore God could not deem them sufficient; and it is plain that he did not, for, if he had, he would not have delivered our Saviour to suffer all that he did; concerning whom it is said, He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, Rom. viii. 32.

Moreover, it was necessary that redemption should be brought about in such a way, as would lay the sinner under the highest obligation to admire the love, both of the Father and the Son. Now, if Christ had performed only one act of obedience, or suffered in the least degree, this instance of condescension, though infinite, would not have had so great a tendency to answer this end; nor could it have been said, as it is, with a great emphasis of expression, that God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Rom. v. 8.

Object. 2. It is objected, by others, that Christ’s active obedience was no part of the satisfaction which he gave for us, inasmuch as this was a debt due from him for himself, his human nature (in which alone he could yield obedience) being under a natural obligation to perform it; therefore he could not be said to pay that debt for us, which was due for himself. As for his passive obedience, that, indeed, might be performed for us, because, being an innocent person, he was not under any obligation to suffer, but by his own consent; but this cannot be 283said of his active obedience. And it is farther objected, that if he had performed active obedience for us, this would have exempted us from an obligation to yield obedience ourselves, and consequently this doctrine leads to licentiousness.

Answ. We allow that Christ as Man, was obliged to perform obedience, as a debt due from him, as a creature, and consequently, now he is in heaven, he is under the same obligation; though this has no reference to the work of our redemption, which was finished before he went thither: nevertheless, the obedience he performed before his death, might be deemed a part of that satisfaction which he gave to the justice of God for us; for,

(1.) His being under the law, was the result of his own voluntary consent, inasmuch as his incarnation, which was necessary, to his becoming a subject, was the result of the consent of his divine will. Now, if he came into the world, and thereby put himself into a capacity of yielding obedience by his own consent, which no other person ever did, then his obedience, which was the consequence hereof, might be said to be voluntary, and so deemed a part of the satisfaction which he gave to the justice of God in our behalf.

(2.) Though we do not deny that Christ’s active obedience was a debt due to God for himself, yet it does not follow, from hence, that it may not be imputed to us, nor accepted for us; even as that perfect obedience which was to have been performed by Adam, according to the tenor of the first covenant, though it were to have been imputed to all his posterity, was, nevertheless, primarily due from him for himself.

(3.) As to that part of the objection, in which it is supposed, that Christ’s obedience for us, would exempt us from an obligation to yield obedience, this is generally brought, by those who desire to render this doctrine odious, and take no notice of what we say in explaining our sense thereof. Therefore, in answer to it, let it be considered, that, when we say Christ obeyed for us, we do not suppose, that he designed hereby to exempt us from any obligation to yield obedience to God’s commanding will, but only to exempt us from performing it with the same view that he did. We are not hereby excused from yielding obedience to God, as a Sovereign, but from doing it with a view of meriting hereby, or making atonement for our defect of obedience, which was the result of our fallen state; and therefore we are to say, When we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do, Luke xvii. 10. without considering it as that righteousness, by which we are to be justified in the sight of God. We understand our obligation to yield active obedience, in the same sense, as we are obliged patiently to suffer whatever afflictions 284God is pleased to lay on us, from which we are not exempted by Christ’s sufferings: the only difference between them is, that his sufferings were penal and satisfactory; he suffered for us, that hereby he might purchase for us eternal life, which is not the end of a believer’s suffering; therefore, why may it not be allowed, that Christ might perform obedience for us, and we, at the same time, not be excused from it?

Object. 3. As to what concerns the sufferings of Christ, it is objected, by others, that the whole of his passive obedience was not demanded as a price of redemption for us but only what he endured upon the cross, which was the greatest and most formidable part of his sufferings; and particularly those which he endured from the sixth to the ninth hour, while there was darkness over all the land, in which his soul was afflicted in an extraordinary manner, which occasioned him to cry, (Matt. xxvii. 45, 46.) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?[161] As for his other sufferings, endured in the whole course of his life, these are allowed to have been a convincing evidence of his love to us, and designed, as an example, to induce us to bear afflictions with patience; but that it was only his sufferings upon the cross that were satisfactory, and that was the altar on which he offered himself for us; which appears from those scriptures which speak of our redemption and justification, as the effect of his crucifixion and death, rather than of his sufferings in life.

Answ. To this it may be replied, that, though redemption and salvation be often attributed, in scripture, to Christ’s death, or to his shedding his blood upon the cross for us, yet there is, in all of them, a figurative way of speaking, in which, by a Synecdoche, a part is taken for the whole; therefore his sufferings in his life, though not particularly mentioned therein, are not excluded. There is one scripture, in which, by the same figurative way of speaking, our justification is ascribed to Christ’s active obedience, when it is said, By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, Rom. v. 19. in which, though his passive obedience be not mentioned, it is not excluded; therefore, when we read of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, as being a part of his satisfaction, we are not to suppose that his sufferings in life are excluded. The apostle plainly intimates as much, when he says, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Phil. ii. 8. he humbled himself not only in his death, but in all the sufferings he endured unto it, in the whole course of his life; therefore we must conclude, that what he endured in his infancy, and that poverty, temptation, reproach, and contradiction of sinners against himself, 285and all the other miseries which he underwent, during the whole course of his life, which were a part of that curse which was due to us for sin, were submitted to by him to expiate it, and consequently were a part of that satisfaction.

As for the cross’s being styled, as it is by some ancient and modern writers, the altar, on which Christ offered himself, we think that little more than a strain of rhetoric; or, if it be designed to illustrate the opinion we are now opposing, we deny that it ought to be called the altar; for it is no where so styled in scripture, neither have we ground to conclude, that the altar, upon which the sacrifices under the law were offered, was a type of Christ’s cross in particular; and, indeed, we have a better explication of the spiritual meaning thereof, given by Christ himself, when he speaks of the altar, as sanctifying the gift, Matt. xxiii. 19. alluding to what is said concerning its being most holy, and whatsoever touched it, shall be holy, Exod. xxix. 37. from whence it is inferred, that the altar was more holy than the gift, which was laid upon it, and it signifies, that the altar, on which Christ was offered, added an excellency to his offering; whereas nothing could be said to do so, but his divine nature’s being personally united to his human, which rendered it infinitely valuable. This is therefore, the altar on which Christ was offered; or, at least this is that which sanctified the offering, and not the cross on which he suffered[162].

V. We shall now prove, that what Christ did and suffered, was with a design to give satisfaction to the justice of God; and, that what he offered, was a true and proper sacrifice for sin. All allow, that Christ obeyed and suffered; and even the Socinians themselves will not deny that Christ suffered for us, since this is so plainly contained in scripture: But the main stress of the controversy lies in this; whether Christ died merely for our good, namely, that we might be hereby induced to believe the truth of the doctrines he delivered, as he confirmed them, by shedding his blood, or that he might give us an example of patience and holy fortitude under the various evils we are exposed to, either in life or death? This is the sense in which they understand Christ’s dying for us: But there is a great deal more intended hereby, to wit, that he died in our room and stead, or that he bore that for us, which the justice of God demanded as a debt first due from us, as an expedient for his taking away the guilt of sin, and delivering us from his wrath, which we were liable to. This will appear, if we consider,

1. That he is, for this reason, styled our Redeemer, as having 286purchased us hereby, or delivered, us, in a judicial way, out of the hand of vindictive justice, which is the most proper, if not the only sense of the word redemption. The Socinians, indeed, speak of Christ as a redeemer; but they understand the word in a metaphorical sense, as importing his delivering us from some evils, that we were exposed to; not by paying a price of redemption for us, but by revealing those laws, or doctrines, which had a tendency to reform the world, or laying down some rules to direct the conversation of mankind, and remove some prejudices they had entertained; whereas we assert, that herein he dealt with the justice of God, as offering himself a sacrifice for sin.

This appears from those scriptures that speak of his soul, as made an offering for sin, Isa. liii. 10. or his being set forth to be a propitiation, to declare the righteousness of God for the remission of sins, Rom. iii. 25. in which respect, he answered the types thereof under the law, in which atonement is said to be made by sacrifice, which, being an act of worship, was performed to God alone, whereby sin was typically expiated, and the sinner discharged from the guilt, which he was liable to; and, in this respect Christ is said, as the Anti-type thereof, to have offered himself without spot to God, when he shed his blood for us, or to have put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. and to have given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour.

Moreover, what he did and suffered, is styled a ransom, or price of redemption; and accordingly they, who were concerned therein, are said to be bought with a price, 1 Cor. vi. 20. and he saith, concerning himself, that he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many, Matt. xx. 28. We read, in scripture, of a person’s paying a sum of money, as a ransom for his life, when it was forfeited, by his having been the culpable occasion of the death of another, Exod. xxi. 29, 30. and if such a consideration, when exacted as a price of redemption, be styled a ransom, a person’s laying down his life for another, may, with equal propriety, be so called. And this Christ is said, in many scriptures, to have done for us; upon which account he is styled our Redeemer.

Object. We oftentimes read, in scripture, of redemption, where there is no price paid: Thus Israel is said to be redeemed out of Egypt, Deut. vii. 8. and Babylon, Micah iv. 10. And elsewhere, speaking of their deliverance out of captivity, God saith, I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible, Jer. xv. 21. whereas there was no price of redemption paid for their deliverance, either out of Egypt or Babylon, but it was by the immediate power of God. So Jacob, when he speaks of his deliverance from evil by the angel, styles this, his redemption from 287all evil, Gen. xlviii. 16. Now, though we allow that the angel he there speaks of, was our Lord Jesus Christ; yet the deliverance he wrought for Jacob was not by paying a price for him, but by exerting his divine power in order thereto.

Moreover, others are called redeemers, who have been God’s ministers in delivering his people: Thus Moses is called a ruler and deliverer by the hands of the angel, which appeared to him in the bush, Acts vii. 35. so our translators rendered it[163]: but it ought to be rendered a Redeemer; therefore there may be redemption without satisfaction.

Answ. This objection, how plausible soever it may seem to be, is not unanswerable; and the reply which may be given to it, is, that though deliverance from evil may be styled redemption, as it is oftentimes in scripture: the reason of its being so called, is, because of the reference which it has to that ransom that Christ was, after his incarnation, to pay for his people. This was the foundation of all that discriminating grace that God, in former ages, extended to his people, it was on the account hereof that he did not suffer them to perish in Egypt, or Babylon, and accordingly their deliverance is called a redemption, from thence; whereas, we never find that any deliverance, which God wrought for his enemies, who have no concern in Christ’s redemption, is so called.

And whereas Moses is styled, in that scripture but now referred to, a Redeemer, the deliverance he wrought for them, as an instrument made use of by the angel that appeared to him, may, without any impropriety of expression, be called a redemption, and he a redeemer, inasmuch as that deliverance that Christ wrought by him, was founded on the purchase which he designed to pay, otherwise Moses, would not have been so styled.

2. There are many scriptures that speak of Christ’s obedience and sufferings, as being in our room and stead, whereby he performed what was due from us to the justice of God which is the proper notion of satisfaction. Thus we are to understand those expressions, in which he is said to die for us, as the apostle says; In due time Christ died for the ungodly, and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Rom. v. 6, 8. by which we are to understand, that he endured those sufferings in life and death which we are liable to, with a design to procure for us justification, reconciliation to God, and eternal salvation, and herein he was substituted in our room and stead, as well as died for our good.[164]

288That Christ died, in this sense, for his people, farther appears, from his being therein said to bear their sins, as the apostle expresses it, Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, 1 Pet. ii. 24. and elsewhere it is said, He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken, Isa. liii. 5-8. all which expressions plainly denote that he suffered that which was due to them, or that he died in their room and stead.

And this he is farther said to do, in a sense, in which none but he ever died for any other, and therefore much more must be understood by it, than his dying for the good of mankind. The apostle speaking of this matter, opposes Christ’s sufferings to his own, with respect to the end and design thereof, when he saith; Was Paul crucified for you, 1 Cor. i. 13. which is as though he should say, it is true, I have suffered many things for the church’s advantage: yet it would be a vile thing for you to entertain the least surmise, as though my suffering were endured with the same view that Christ suffered; for he died as a sacrifice for sin, that he might give a price of redemption to the justice of God, which no one else ever did.

Object. 1. It is objected, to what hath been said in defence of Christ’s dying in our room and stead, inasmuch as he bare our iniquities, that these expressions denote nothing else but his taking them away, which he might do, if he had not died in our room and stead. Thus we have an explication of that scripture before mentioned, which speaks of Christ’s bearing our iniquities, wherein it appears that nothing is intended thereby but his taking away some afflictions we were liable to; as it 289is said, upon the occasion of his casting out devils, and healing all that were sick, that this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, Mat. viii. 16, 17. which he might be said to do, without his dying to satisfy the justice of God for us in our room and stead.

Answ. There are two things to be considered in the death of Christ, which, though distinct, are not to be separated; one is, his bearing those griefs, sorrows, or punishments, that were due to us for sin; the other is, his taking them away, as the effect and consequence of his having born or answered for them; and the design of the prophet Isaiah, in his liii. chapter, is to shew that Christ did both these, as appears by several expressions therein; accordingly when he is said, in ver. 4. To have borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, both these senses are to be applied to it; one of which is explained by the apostle, in 1 Pet. ii. 24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree; and the evangelist, in the text under our present consideration explains these words of the prophet in both senses, when he saith, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, that is, he submitted to give satisfaction for them, and, as the consequence thereof, healed those diseases which we were liable to, as the fruit of sin. The objection therefore taken from this scripture, against the doctrine we are maintaining, is of no force; for though Christ took away those miseries, which were the effects and consequences of sin, it doth not follow that he did not do this, by making satisfaction for it.

Object. 2. There are other ends of Christ’s dying for us, mentioned in scripture, where though the same mode of speaking be used, different ends are said to be attained thereby, from that of his giving satisfaction to the justice of God: Thus it is said, that he gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil world, Gal. i. 4. that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. ii. 14. and that he might hereby leave us an example that we should follow his steps, 1. Pet ii. 21. and that he might acquire to himself some additional circumstances of glory, thus it is said, He died, and rose and revived, that he might be Lord, both of the dead and living, Rom. xiv. 9. These, and such-like ends, are said to be attained by Christ’s death, which do not argue that he died in our stead, but only for our advantage.

And to this it may be added, that others are represented as suffering for the church, as well as Christ, namely, for their good, where there is no difference, in the mode of speaking, from that other scripture, in which Christ is said to die for us. Thus the apostle saith, I rejoice in my sufferings for you, Col. i. 24. and this he explains elsewhere, when he speaks of his 290being afflicted for the church’s consolation and salvation, 2 Cor. i. 6.

Answ. We do not deny but that there are other ends designed by Christ’s sufferings and death, besides his giving satisfaction to divine justice, which are the result and consequence thereof; therefore we must consider him as dying in our stead, and then the fruits and effects, which redound to our advantage; one is so far from being inconsistent with the other, that it is necessary to it; and, in some of the scriptures but now mentioned, both these ends are expressed, the former being the ground and reason of the latter; as when it is said, He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world: the meaning is, he first made satisfaction for sin, and then, as the consequence thereof, in the application of redemption, he designed to deliver us from the evils we are exposed to in this world; and when, in another scripture before-mentioned, the apostle speaks of Christ’s purifying unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, he mentions this not as the chief, much less as the only design of his giving himself for his people; but it is said, he did this first, that he might redeem them from all iniquity, namely, by giving a satisfaction to justice for them, and then, that having redeemed, he might purify them to himself; and when it is said, that he died, that he might be Lord, both of the dead and living, the meaning is, that he might purchase that dominion which he hath over them as Mediator; or that having satisfied divine justice for them, as a Priest, he might, have dominion over them as a King; so that these two ends are not inconsistent with each other, and therefore the latter doth not destroy the former.

And as for that scripture, in which the apostle speaks of his sufferings for the church, or for their consolation and salvation, we may observe, that he doth not say that he suffered for them, much less, in their room and stead, or as a propitiation to make reconciliation, that hereby he might promote their consolation and salvation, as Christ did; much less is it said of any besides him, that he gave his life a ransom for them, which is an expression peculiar to himself, wherein his death is represented as a price of redemption for them[165].

3. That Christ died in our room and stead, and consequently designed hereby to give satisfaction to the justice of God for our sin, appears from his death’s being typified by the sacrifices under the ceremonial law, which, it is plain, were substituted in the room of the offender, for whom they were offered. We read of the priest’s laying his hand on the head of the sacrifice, and confessing over it the iniquities of those for whom it was offered, upon which occasion it is said to have born them, 291Lev. xvi. 21, 22. And the consequence thereof was their being discharged from the guilt which they had contracted, which is called, making atonement for sin. Now that this was a type of Christ’s making satisfaction for our sins, by his death, is evident, inasmuch as the apostle having spoken concerning this ceremonial ordinance, applies it to him, when he saith, that Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, Heb. ix. 28. And elsewhere, when referring to the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, as the paschal lamb was styled, Exod. xii. 27. He says that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, 1 Cor. v. 7. And, as such, he is said to be made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. v. 21. And as they who were ordained to perform this service, are called priests, Christ, as typified thereby, is so styled.

I am sensible it will be objected, that the sacrifices under the ceremonial law were not instituted with a design to typify Christ’s death; which would hardly have been asserted by any, as being so contrary to the sense of many scriptures, had it not been thought necessary to support the cause they maintain. But, having said something concerning this before, in considering the origin of the ceremonial law[166], I shall only add, that it is very absurd to suppose that God appointed sacrifices not as types of Christ, but to prevent their following the custom of the Heathen, in sacrificing to their gods, and that they did not take their rites of sacrificing from the Jews, but the Jews from them; and God, foreseeing that they would be inclined to follow their example herein, indulged them as to the matter, and only made a change with respect to the object thereof, in ordaining, that, instead of offering sacrifice to idols, they should offer it to him. But this runs counter to all the methods of providence in the government of the church, which have been so far from giving occasion to it to symbolize with the religion of the Heathen, in their external rites of worship, that God strictly forbade all commerce with them. Thus Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, an idolatrous country, to live in the land of Canaan, and there he was to be no other than a stranger, or sojourner, that he might not, by too great familiarity with the inhabitants thereof learn their ways. And afterwards the Jews were prohibited from having any dealings with the Egyptians; not because civil commerce was unlawful, but lest this should give occasion to them to imitate them in their rites of worship; to prevent which, the multiplying horses was forbidden, Deut. xvii. 16. upon which occasion the church saith, in Hos. xiv. 3. We will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods, that is, we will not do any thing that may be a temptation to us to join 292with the Egyptians, or other Heathen nations, in their idolatry; therefore certainly God did not ordain sacrifices in compliance with the Heathen, but to typify Christ’s death.

Thus we have endeavoured to prove that Christ gave satisfaction to the justice of God for sin, as he was a true and proper sacrifice for it. I might, for the farther strengthening of this argument, have proved, that the end of Christ’s death, assigned by the Socinians, namely, that he might make atonement for sin, can hardly be reckoned an expedient to confirm any doctrine; for there are many instances of persons having laid down their lives to confirm doctrines that have been false, and nothing more is proved hereby, but that the person believes the doctrine himself, or else is under the power of delusion or distraction; whereas a person’s believing the doctrine he advances is no evidence of the truth thereof: and as for our Saviour’s confirming his doctrines, that was sufficiently done by the miracles which he wrought for that end. And indeed, were this the only end of Christ’s dying, I cannot see how it differs from the death of the apostles, and other martyrs, for the sake of the gospel; whereas Christ laid down his life with other views, and for higher ends, than any other person ever suffered.

And to this we may add, that if Christ died only to confirm his doctrine, or, as it is farther alleged, by those whom we oppose, that herein he might give us an example of submission to the divine will and patience in suffering, this would have been no manner of advantage to the Old Testament saints; for Christ could not be an example to them, nor were the doctrines, which they pretend he suffered to confirm, such as took place in their time. Therefore Christ was no Saviour to them, neither could they reap any advantage by what he was to do and suffer; nor could they have been represented as desiring and hoping for his coming, or, as it is said of Abraham, rejoicing to see his day, John viii. 56. and if we suppose that they were saved, it must have been without faith in him. According to this method of reasoning, they not only militate against Christ’s being a proper sacrifice; but render his cross of none effect, at least to them that lived before his incarnation; and his death, which was the greatest instance of love that could be expressed to the children of men, not absolutely necessary to their salvation.[167]

293Object. Before we close this head, we shall consider an objection generally brought against the doctrine of Christ’s satisfaction, namely, that he did not undergo the punishment due 294for our sins, because he did not suffer eternally; nor were his sufferings attended with that despair, and some other circumstances of punishment, which sinners are liable to in the other world.

295Answ. To this it may be answered, that the infinite value of Christ’s sufferings did compensate for their not being eternal. And, indeed, the eternity of sufferings is the result of their not 296being satisfactory, which cannot be applicable to those that Christ endured; and as for that despair, attended with impatience, and other sins committed by those that suffer eternal 297punishments, that arises from the eternal duration of them, as well as from the corruption of nature, which refuses to subscribe to the justice of God therein, while complaining of the severity of his dispensations.

Thus we have considered Christ’s death, as a true and proper sacrifice for sin. We might now take notice of an expression that is used in this answer, which is taken from the words of the apostle, that once offered himself, Heb. ix. 28. and that without spot to God, ver. 14. This offering being sufficient to answer the end designed, there was no need of repeating it, or of his doing any thing else with the same view; the justice of 298God having declared itself fully satisfied when he was raised from the dead. But having before considered the infinite value of what he did and suffered, and its efficacy to bring about the work of our redemption, whereby it appears to be more excellent than all the sacrifices that were offered under the ceremonial law, I need not say any more on that subject; and as we have also considered Christ as being sinless, and therefore offering himself as a Lamb, without spot and blemish, and how this was the necessary result of the extraordinary formation and union of the human nature with his divine Person, and the unction which he received from the Holy Ghost; I shall only observe, at present, what is said concerning his offering himself to God. This he is said to have done, in the scripture but now referred to, through the eternal Spirit; which words are commonly understood of his eternal Godhead, which added an infinite value to his sacrifice, or, like the altar, sanctified the gift, which is certainly a great truth: But it seems more agreeable, to the most known sense of the word Spirit, to understand it concerning his presenting, or making a tender of the service he performed by the hand of the eternal Spirit unto God, as an acceptable sacrifice.

But the main difficulty to be accounted for, in this scripture, is, what is objected by the Socinians, and others, who deny his deity, namely, how he could be said to offer himself to God, since that is the same as to say, that he offered himself to himself, he being, as we have before proved, God equal with the Father. But there is no absurdity in this assertion, if it be understood concerning the service performed by him in his human nature, which, though it was rendered worthy to be offered, by virtue of its union with his divine Person, this act of worship terminated on the Godhead, or tended to the securing the glory of the perfections of that divine nature, which is common to all the divine Persons; and it is in this sense that some ancient writers are to be understood, when they say, that Christ may be said to offer up himself to himself, that is, the service performed in the human nature was the thing offered, and the object hereof, to which all acts of worship are referred, was the divine nature, which belongs to himself as well as the Father.[168]

299VI. We shall now consider the persons for whom, as a Priest, Christ offered himself, and so enter on that subject, that is so much controverted in this present age, namely, whether 300Christ died for all men, or only for the elect, whom he designed hereby to redeem, and bring to salvation; and here let it be premised.

301I. That it is generally taken for granted, by those who maintain either side of the question, that the saving effects of Christ’s death do not redound to all men, or that Christ did 302not die, in this respect, for all the world, since to assert this would be to argue that all men shall be saved, which every one supposes contrary to the whole tenor of scripture.

3032. It is allowed, by those who deny the extent of Christ’s death to all men, as to what concerns their salvation, that it may truly be said, that there are some blessings redounding 304to the whole world, and more especially to those who sit under the sound of the gospel, as the consequence of Christ’s death; inasmuch as it is owing hereunto, that the day of God’s 305patience is lengthened out, and the preaching of the gospel continued to those who are favoured with it; and that this is attended, in many, with restraining grace, and some instances 306of external reformation, which (though it may not issue in their salvation) has a tendency to prevent a multitude of sins, and a greater degree condemnation, that would otherwise ensue. 307These may be called the remote, or secondary ends of Christ’s death, which was principally and immediately designed to redeem the elect, and to purchase all saving blessings for them, 308which shall be applied in his own time and way: Nevertheless others, as a consequence hereof, are made partakers of some blessings of common providence, so far as they are subservient to the salvation of those, for whom he gave himself a ransom.

3093. It is allowed on both sides, and especially by all that own the divinity and satisfaction of Christ, that his death was sufficient to redeem the whole world, had God designed that it 310should be a price for them, which is the result of the infinite value of it; therefore,

4. The main question before us is, whether God designed 311the salvation of all mankind by the death of Christ, or whether he accepted it as a price of redemption for all, so that it might be said that he redeemed some who shall not be saved by him? 312This is affirmed by many, who maintain universal redemption, which we must take leave to deny. And they farther add, as an explication hereof, that Christ died that he might put all 313men into a salvable state, or procure a possibility of salvation for them; so that many might obtain it, by a right improvement of his death, who shall fall short of it; and also that it 314is in their power to frustrate the ends thereof, and so render it ineffectual. This we judge not only to be an error, but such as is highly derogatory to the glory of God; which we shall endeavour 315to make appear, and to establish the contrary doctrine, namely, that Christ died to purchase salvation for none but those who shall obtain it. This may be proved,

316I. From those distinguishing characters that accompany salvation, which are given to those for whom he died.

1. They are called his sheep, in John x. 11. I am the good 317Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. This metaphor must certainly imply, that they, for whom Christ died, are distinguished from the world, as the objects of his immediate care, and special gracious providence: But, besides this, there are several things in the context, which contain a farther description of these sheep, for whom he laid down his life, which cannot be applied to the whole world: Thus it is said, in ver. 14. I know my sheep, and am known of them, that is, with a knowledge of affection, as the word knowledge is often used in scripture, when applied to Christ, or his people. Again, these sheep are farther described, as those who shall certainly obtain salvation; as our Saviour says concerning them, in ver. 27, 28. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they 318shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand: but this privilege, without doubt, belongs not to the whole world.

They are also considered as believers, inasmuch as faith is the necessary consequence of Christ’s redemption, and accordingly are distinguished from the world, or that part thereof, which is left in unbelief and impenitency: Thus Christ says, concerning those who rejected his Person and gospel, in ver. 26. Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.

2. They for whom Christ died are called his friends, and, as such, the objects of his highest love, in John xv. 13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, and they are farther described, in the following words, as expressing their love to him, by doing whatsoever he commandeth them; and, he calls them friends, so they are distinguished from servants, or slaves, who, though they may be made partakers of common favours, yet he imparts not his secrets to them; but, with respect to these, he says, in ver. 15, 16. All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you; And they are farther distinguished from the world, inasmuch as they are chosen by Christ, and ordained that they should go and bring forth fruit; and there are several other privileges which accompany salvation, that are said to belong to these friends of Christ, for whom he died.

Object. It is objected, that what Christ here says, concerning his friends, is particularly directed to his disciples, with whom at that time he conversed and these he considers as persons who had made a right improvement of his redeeming love; and therefore, that redemption which the whole world might be made partakers of, if they would, these were like to reap the happy fruits and effects of.

Answ. To this it may be replied, that whatever promises, or privileges, Christ’s disciples were made partakers of, if these do not immediately respect their character as ministers, but as Christians, they are equally to be applied to all believers. Now, that what Christ says to them, whom he calls his friends, is applicable to all believers, appears from their being described as abiding in him, and bringing forth much fruit, under the powerful influence of his grace, without whom they can do nothing; and, when he speaks, in ver. 19, 26. of the world’s hating them, because they are not of the world, and of the Comforter’s being sent to testify of him, in order to the confirmation of their faith, this belongs to all believers, as such; therefore they are as much described as Christ’s friends, for whom he laid down his life, as his disciples, to whom he more immediately directed his discourse.

And as for the other part of the objection, namely, that these had made a right improvement of Christ’s redemption: the 319reply that may be given to it, is, that none but Christ’s friends can be said to have made a right improvement of redemption, and therefore none but such have any ground to conclude that Christ died for them: but this is not the temper and character of the greater part of mankind, therefore Christ did not die for the whole world: and it is very evident, from this character which Christ gives of them, for whom he died, that either they are, or shall be, of enemies, made friends to him.

3. They are called, The Children of God that were scattered abroad, who should be gathered together in one, as the consequence of his death, in John xi. 52. This gathering together in one, seems to import the same thing, with what the apostle speaks of, as a display of the grace of the gospel, and calls it, their being gathered together in Christ their Head, in Eph. i. 10. and one part of them he considers, as being already in heaven, and the other part of them on earth, in their way to it; and he speaks such things concerning them, in the foregoing and following verses, as cannot be said of any but those that shall be saved. Now, if Christ designed, by his death, to purchase this special privilege for his children, certainly it cannot be supposed that he died for the whole world; and elsewhere the apostle speaking, in Heb. ii. 10. concerning the Captain of our salvation’s being made perfect through sufferings considers this as a means for bringing many sons to glory, which is a peculiar privilege belonging to the heirs of salvation, and not to the whole world.

Object. 1. It will be objected to this, that nothing can be proved from the words of so vile a person as Caiaphas, who relates this matter; and therefore, though it be contained in scripture, it does not prove the truth of the doctrine, which is pretended to be established thereby.

Answ. Though Caiaphas was one of the vilest men on earth, and he either did not believe this prophecy himself, or, if he did, he made a very bad use of it, yet this does not invalidate the prediction: for though wicked men may occasionally have some prophetic intimation concerning future events, as Balaam had, the instrument, which the Spirit of God makes use of in discovering them to mankind, does not render them less certain, for the worst of men may be employed to impart the greatest truths: therefore it is sufficient to our purpose, that it is said, in the words immediately foregoing, that being high priest that year, he prophesied, as it was no uncommon thing for the high priest to have prophetic intimations from God, to deliver to his people, whatever his personal character might be; so that we must consider this as a divine oracle, and therefore infallibly true.

Object. 2. If it be allowed, that what is here predicted was 320true, yet the subject-matter thereof respects the nation of the Jews, concerning whom it cannot be said, that every individual was in a state of salvation, and therefore it rather militates against, than proves the doctrine of particular redemption.

Answ. It is evident, that when it is said that Christ should die for that nation, the meaning is, the children of God in that nation; for the children of God, that dwelt there, are opposed to his children that were scattered abroad; and so the meaning is, Christ died that they should not perish, who have the temper, and disposition of his children, wherever the place of their residence be.

4. They for whom Christ died are called his church, whereof he is the Head; and the Body, of whom he is the Saviour, in Eph. v. 23. and these he is said to have loved, and given himself for, in ver. 25. Now the church is distinguished from the world, as it is gathered out of it; and the word church, in this place, is taken in a very different sense, from that in which it is understood in many other scriptures. The apostle does not mean barely a number of professing people, of which some are sincere, and others may be hypocrites, or of which some shall be saved, and others not; nor does he speak of those who are apparently in the way of salvation, as making a visible profession of the Christian religion: But it is taken for that church, which is elsewhere called the spouse of Christ, and is united to him by faith, and that shall, in the end, be eternally saved by him; this is very evident, for he speaks of them, as sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word, in ver. 26. And, as to what concerns their future state, they are such as shall be presented to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, in ver. 27. Now, since it was for these that Christ died, it cannot be reasonably concluded that he died equally and alike for all mankind.

And to this we may add, that they are called his people, whom he designed to save from their sins, in Matt. i. 21. and also a peculiar people, who are described by this character, by which they are known, as being zealous of good works, in Tit. ii. 14. and, by his death, they are said not only to be redeemed, so as to be put into the possession of the external privileges of the gospel, but redeemed from all iniquity, and purified unto himself; all which expressions certainly denote those distinguishing blessings which Christ, by his death, designed to purchase for those who are the objects thereof.

II. That Christ did not die equally, and alike for all mankind, appears from his death’s being an instance of the highest love, and they, who are concerned herein, are in a peculiar manner, obliged to bless him for it as such. Thus the apostle 321joins both these together, when he says in Gal. ii. 20. He loved me, and gave himself for me; and elsewhere it is said, in Rev. i. 5. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; and herein it is said, that God commendeth his love towards us, in Rom. v. 8. as that which is without a parallel. And besides, when he speaks of this love of Christ expressed herein, he seems to distinguish it from that common love which is extended to all, when he says, Christ died for us; and, that we may understand what he means thereby, we must consider to whom it was that this epistle was directed, namely, to such as were beloved of God, called to be saints, in chap. i. 7. They are also described as such, who were justified by Christ’s blood, and who should be saved from wrath through him; reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and who should be saved by his life; and, as such, who joyed in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by him had received the atonement, in chap. 9-11. therefore surely they, who were thus beloved by Christ, to whom he expressed his love by dying for them, must be distinguished from the world. And our Saviour speaks of this, as far exceeding all that love, which is in the breasts of men, to one another, in John xv. 18. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. Therefore we have no reason to suppose that he died equally and alike for all, for then there would be an equal instance of love herein to the best and worst of men; Judas would have been as much beloved as Peter; the Scribes and Pharisees, Christ’s avowed enemies and persecutors, as much beloved as his disciples and faithful followers, if there be nothing discriminating in his dying love. Therefore we must conclude that he died to procure some distinguishing blessings for a part of mankind, which all are not partakers of.

And, as this love is so great and discriminating, it is the subject-matter of the eternal praise of glorified saints: The new song that is sung to him, in Rev. v. 9. contains in it a celebrating of his glory, as having redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, who were admitted into his immediate presence, as the objects of his distinguishing love. And certainly all this implies more than his purchasing the gospel-dispensation, or the discovery of the way of salvation to mankind, of whom the greatest part neglect, despise, and reap no saving advantage thereby.

III. There are some circumstances attending the death of Christ, which argue, that it was not designed for all the world: particularly, he died as a Surety, or as one who undertook to pay that debt, which the justice of God might have exacted of men in their own persons. This has already been proved; and that which may be inferred from hence, is, that if Christ, by dying, paid this debt, and when he rose from the dead, receiving 322a discharge from the hand of justice, then God will not exact the debt twice, so as to bring them under the condemning sentence of the law, whom Christ, by his death, has delivered from it: this is certainly a privilege that does not belong to the whole world, but to the sanctified.

Moreover, some are not justified or discharged for the sake of a ransom paid, and never shall be; therefore it may be concluded, that it was not given for them.

IV. It farther appears, that Christ did not die equally and alike for all men, in that he designed to purchase that dominion over, or propriety in them, for whom he died, which would be the necessary result hereof. As they are his trust and charge, given into his hand, to be redeemed by his blood; (and, in that respect, he undertook to satisfy the justice of God for them, which he has done hereby) so, as the result hereof, he acquired a right to them, as Mediator, by redemption; pursuant to the eternal covenant between the Father and him, he obtained a right to bestow eternal life on all that were given to, and purchased by him. This tends to set forth the Father’s glory, as he designed hereby to recover and bring back fallen creatures to himself; and it redounds to Christ’s glory, as Mediator; as herein he not only discovers the infinite value of his obedience and sufferings, but all his redeemed ones are rendered the monuments of his love and grace, and shall for ever be employed in celebrating his praise: But certainly this is inconsistent with his death’s being ineffectual to answer this end, and consequently he died for none but those whom he will bring to glory, which he could not be said to have done, had he laid down his life for the whole world.

V. That Christ did not die, or pay a price of redemption for all the world, farther appears, in that, salvation, whether begun, carried on, or perfected, is represented, in scripture, as the application thereof; and all those graces, which are wrought by the Spirit in believers, are the necessary result and consequence thereof. This will appear, if we consider, that when Christ speaks of his Spirit, as sent to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to guide his people into all truth he says, He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you, John xvi. 14. the meaning of which is, that he should apply what he had purchased, whereby his glory, as our Redeemer, would be eminently illustrated; and elsewhere, when the apostle speaks of the Spirit’s work of regeneration and sanctification, he considers it as the result of Christ’s death, and accordingly it is said to be shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Tit. iii. 6. And when we read of his redeeming them that were under the law, their receiving the adoption of sons, Gal. iv. 5. and all the privileges contained in 323it, these are considered as the necessary consequences thereof; and Christ’s being not spared, but delivered up unto death for those who are described as chosen, called, justified, and such as shall be hereafter glorified, is assigned, as a convincing evidence, that God will with him freely give them all things, Rom. viii. 32. Now this cannot, with the least shadow of reason, be applied to the whole world; therefore Christ did not die for, or redeem, all mankind.

That the application of redemption may farther appear to be of equal extent with the purchase thereof, we shall endeavour to prove, that all those graces, which believers are made partakers of here, as well as complete salvation, which is the consummation thereof hereafter, are the purchase of Christ’s death. And herein we principally oppose those who defend the doctrine of universal redemption, in that open and self-consistent way, which the Pelagians generally take, who suppose, that faith and repentance, and all other graces, are entirely in our own power; otherwise the conditionality of the gospel-covenant, as they rightly observe, could never be defended, and they, for whom Christ died, namely, all mankind, must necessarily repent and believe. Thus a late writer[170] argues, in consistency with his own scheme; whereas some others, who maintain the doctrine of universal redemption, and, at the same time, that of efficacious grace, pluck down with one hand, what they build up with the other. It is the former of these that we are now principally to consider, when we speak of the graces of the Spirit, as what are purchased by Christ’s blood; and, that this may appear, let it be observed,

1. That complete salvation is styled, The purchased possession, Eph. i. 14. and our deliverance from the wrath to come, is not only inseparably connected with, but contained in it, and both these are considered as purchased by the death of Christ, 1 Thess. i. 10. Rom. v. 9, 10. and the apostle elsewhere, speaking concerning the church, as arrived to its state of perfection in heaven, and its being without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and without blemish, that is, when its sanctification is brought to perfection, considers this, as the accomplishment of that great end of Christ’s giving himself for it, or laying down his life to purchase it, Eph. v. 25, 27.

2. It follows, from hence, that all that grace, whereby believers are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, which is the beginning of this salvation, is the purchase of Christ’s blood. Accordingly God is said to have blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, (or, as it may be better rendered, in what concerns heavenly things) in Christ, Eph. i. 3. that is, for the sake of Christ’s death, 324which was the purchase thereof; therefore it follows, that faith and repentance, and all other graces, which are wrought in us in this world, are purchased thereby: Thus it is said, Unto you it is given in behalf of Christ to believe, as well as to exercise those graces, which are necessary in those who are called to suffer for his sake, Phil. i. 29. and elsewhere God is said to have exalted Christ to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance, as well as forgiveness of sins, Acts v. 31. And, since his exaltation includes in it his resurrection from the dead, it plainly argues, that he died to give repentance, and consequently that this grace was purchased by him; and when our Saviour speaks of sending the Spirit, the Comforter to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, which comprizes in it that internal work of grace that is wrought by him, he considers this as the consequence of his leaving the world, after he had finished the work of redemption by his death, and so purchased this privilege for them, John xvi. 7, 8.

VI. That Christ did not die for all mankind, appears from his not interceding for them, as he saith, I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine; and not for his disciples alone, but for them also which should believe on him through their word, John xvii. 9, 20. This farther appears from a believer’s freedom from condemnation being founded on Christ’s intercession, as well as his death and resurrection, Rom. viii. 34. and his being, at the same time, styled an Advocate with the Father, and a propitiation for our sins, 1 John ii. 1, 2.

And this may be farther argued from the nature of Christ’s intercession, which (as will be considered in its proper place[171]) is his presenting himself, in the merit of his death, in the behalf of those for whom he suffered; as also from his being always heard in that which he pleads for, John xi. 42. which argues that they shall be saved, otherwise it could not be supposed that he intercedes for their salvation: but this he cannot be said to do for all mankind, as appears by the event, in that all shall not be saved.

Object. To this it is objected that Christ prayed for his enemies, as it was foretold concerning him, by the prophet, who saith, He made intercession for the transgressors, Isa. liii. 12. and this was accomplished at his crucifixion, when he saith, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, Luke xxiii. 34. That which Christ here prayed for, was forgiveness, which is a privilege connected with salvation; and this he did in the behalf of the multitude that crucified him: but it cannot reasonably be supposed, that all these were saved: therefore if 325Christ’s death and intercession respects the same persons, and necessarily infers their salvation, then it would follow, that this rude and inhuman multitude were all saved, which they, who deny universal redemption do not suppose.

Answ. Some, in answer to this objection, suppose, that there is a foundation for a distinction between those supplications, which Christ, in his human nature, put up to God, as being bound, by the moral law, in common with all mankind, to pray for his enemies; and his Mediatorial prayer or intercession. In the former of these respects, he prayed for them; which prayer, though it argued the greatness of his affection for them, yet it did not necessarily infer their salvation; in like manner, as Stephen, when dying, is represented as praying for those who stoned him, when he saith, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, Acts vii. 80. or, as our Saviour prays for himself in the garden, O, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, Matt. xxvi. 39. whereby he signifies the formidableness of the death he was to undergo, and that his human nature could not but dread such a degree of suffering: this they suppose to be different from his Mediatorial intercession for his people, in which he represents the merit of his death, as what would effectually procure the blessings purchased thereby; in this latter sense, he could not be said to pray for any of those who crucified him, who are excluded from salvation.

But, since this reply to the objection hath some difficulties attending it, which render it less satisfactory, especially because it supposes that he was not heard in that which he prayed for, when he desired that God would forgive them, I would rather chuse to take another method in answering it; namely, that when Christ prays that God would forgive them, he means that God would not immediately pour forth the vials of his wrath upon that wicked generation, as their crime deserved, but that they might still continue to be a people favoured with the means of grace; this he prays for, and herein was answered; and his intercession for them, though it had not an immediate respect to the salvation of all of them, had, notwithstanding, a subserviency to the gathering in of his elect amongst them, whose salvation was principally intended by this intercession, as it was for them that he shed his blood; and accordingly I apprehend, that this desire that God would forgive them, implies the same thing as Moses’s request, in the behalf of Israel, did, when he saith, Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people, as thou hast forgiven this people from Egypt, until now, Numb. xiv. 19. where to pardon intends nothing else but God’s not punishing them as their sin deserved, in an immediate, and exemplary way and manner.

VII. The doctrine of universal redemption hath some absurd 326consequences attending it, not consistent with the divine perfections; as,

1. It would give occasion for Christ to be called the Saviour of those who shall not be eventually saved by him, the Redeemer of many, who are held in chains by the justice of God, and receive no saving benefit by his redemption, or for him to be said to express the highest instance of love, in dying for those who shall for ever be the objects of his hatred, which implies a contradiction; and what is this but to say, that he delivers those from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. i. 10. who are, and shall be for ever, children of wrath? therefore we must either assert universal salvation, or deny universal redemption.

2. It will also follow from hence, that he satisfied the justice of God for all the sins of all men; for to lay down a price of redemption, is to discharge the whole debt, otherwise it would be to no purpose. Now, if he satisfied for all the sins of every man, he did this that no sin should be their ruin, and consequently he died to take away the guilt of final impenitency in those who shall perish; and therefore they have, by virtue hereof, a right to salvation, which they shall not obtain: it follows then, that since he did not die for all the sins of all men, he did not, by his death, redeem all men.

3. If Christ died for all men, he intended hereby their salvation, or that they should live: but it is certain he did not intend the salvation of all men; for then his design must be frustrated with respect to a part of them, for whom he died, which contains a reflection on his wisdom, as not adapting the means to the end. Moreover, this supposes that Christ’s attaining the end he designed by his death, depends on the will of man, and consequently it subjects him to disappointment, and renders God’s eternal purpose dependent on man’s conduct.

4. Since God designed, by the death of Christ, to bring to himself a revenue of glory, in proportion to the infinite value thereof, and Christ, our great Mediator, was, as the prophet saith, to have a portion with the great, and to divide the spoil with the strong, as the consequence of his pouring out his soul unto death, Isa. liii. 12. it follows from thence, that if all are not saved, for whom Christ died, then the Father and the Son would lose that glory which they designed to attain hereby, as the work would be left incomplete; and a great part of mankind cannot take occasion from Christ’s redeeming them, to adore and magnify that grace, which is displayed therein, since it is not eventually conducive to their salvation.

Having endeavoured to prove the doctrine of particular redemption; we shall now consider the arguments generally brought by those who defend the contrary scheme, who suppose, that God designed, as the consequence of Christ’s death, 327to save all mankind, upon condition of their repenting and believing, according to the tenor of the gospel-covenant, which is substituted in the room of that which was violated by man’s apostacy from God, whereby sincere obedience comes in the room of that perfect obedience, which was the condition of the first covenant. This they call man’s being brought into a salvable state by Christ’s death; so that Christ rendered salvation possible; whereas faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, render it certain. And, so far as this concerns the design of God, in sending Christ to redeem the world, they suppose that God determined hereby to put man into such a state, that all may be saved, if they will.

And, as to what concerns the event, to wit, man’s complying with the condition, they that defend universal redemption are divided in their sentiments about it; some supposing that Christ purchased faith and repentance for a certain number of mankind, namely, those who shall repent and believe, and pursuant thereunto, will work those graces in them; whereas others, who had not these graces purchased for them, shall perish, though Christ has redeemed them. These suppose, that redemption is both universal and particular, in different respects; universal, in that all who sit under the sound of the gospel, have a conditional grant of grace contained therein, whereby they are put into a salvable state, or possibility of attaining salvation; and particular, with respect to those who shall repent and believe, and so attain salvation; in which sense they apply that scripture, in which God is said to be the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe, 1 Tim. iv. 10. This some call a middle way, between the Pelagian and Calvinistic methods of reasoning about this subject; but it appears to be inconsistent with itself, inasmuch as they, who give into this hypothesis, are forced sometimes to decline what they have been contending for on one side, when pressed with some arguments brought in defence of the other; therefore we shall pass this over, and consider the self-consistent scheme, in which universal redemption is maintained,

The sum of all their arguments, who defend it in the Pelagian way, amounts to this, viz. that Christ died not to purchase salvation absolutely for any, but to make way for God’s entering into a new or gospel covenant with men, in which salvation is promised, on condition of faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, which they suppose to be in the power of those who have the gospel. And, that the heathen may not be excluded, though it cannot be styled a gospel-covenant to them, there are abatements made, as to what concerns faith, founded on divine revelation, and the only condition that entitles them to salvation 328is their yielding sincere obedience to the law of nature, in proportion to their light.

They farther add, that this gospel-covenant must be conditional, otherwise it could not be called a covenant, as wanting an essential ingredient contained in every covenant; and these conditions must be in our own power, otherwise the overture of salvation, depending on the performance thereof, would be illusory; and it could not be called a covenant of grace, inasmuch as there can be no grace, or favour, in promising a blessing upon impossible conditions; neither could this gospel-covenant be styled a better covenant than that which God entered into with our first parents, in which the conditions were in their own power; nor could it be an expedient to repair the ruins of the fall, or bring man, in any sense, into a salvable state. So that, according to this representation of the doctrine of particular redemption, there are not only many absurd consequences attending it, which detract from the glory of the gospel, but it is contrary to the holiness, wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, and so derogates as much from the divine perfections, as any thing that is argued in defence of universal redemption can be pretended to do. And, to sum up the whole argument, there is an appeal to scripture, as that which gives countenance to it in a multitude of instances. This is the substance of all that is said in defence of this doctrine; and, in opposition to it, We shall take leave to observe,

(1.) That it is taken for granted, but not sufficiently proved, that Christ died to purchase the covenant of grace; whereas, if the difference between the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace, be only circumstantial, as has been before observed,[172] then the death of Christ is included among the conditions of this covenant; and if so, the covenant itself could not be the purchase thereof: but, if by Christ’s purchasing the covenant of grace, they only meant his purchasing the graces given in the covenant, we are far from denying it, though they generally do. That therefore which we are principally to oppose, is their sense of the conditionality of the covenant of grace, and its being essential to a covenant to be conditional, namely, to depend on uncertain conditions, in our power to perform, it being as they suppose, left to the freedom of our own will to comply with or reject them, and thereby to establish or disannul this covenant: but having elsewhere proved that the word covenant is often used in scripture, without the idea of a condition annexed to it,[173] and also considered in what respects those ideas, contained in a conditional covenant between man and man, are to be excluded, when we speak of a 329covenant between God and man;[174] and having also, in maintaining the doctrine of election, endeavoured to defend the absoluteness of God’s will, and shewed in what sense we are to understand those scriptures that are laid down in a conditional form,[175] which may, with a little variation, be applied to our present argument; we shall, to avoid the repetition of things before insisted on, add nothing farther in answer to this part of the argument, we are now considering, but only that it implies God to be, in many respects, like ourselves, and supposes that it is in our power to frustrate, and render the death of Christ, which was the highest display of divine grace, ineffectual, and so prevent his having that glory, which he designed to bring to his own name thereby.

(2.) As to what is farther argued, concerning the covenant of grace being a better covenant than that which God made with man in innocency, and therefore that the conditions thereof must be in our own power, otherwise God, by insisting on the performance of what is impossible, subverts the design of the gospel, and the covenant hereupon ceases to be a covenant of grace; it may be replied that though we freely own that the covenant of grace is, in many respects, better than that which God entered into with man in innocency, and that it would not be so were it impossible for those, who are concerned therein, to attain the blessings promised to the heirs of salvation; yet we cannot allow that it must necessarily be conditional, in the sense in which some understand the word, much less that the conditions thereof are in our own power, or else the design of the gospel must be concluded to be subverted.

Therefore we may take leave to observe, that when God is said to require faith, and all other graces in this covenant-dispensation, and has connected them with salvation, this does not overthrow the grace of the covenant, but rather establish it; for grace and salvation are not only purchased for, but promised and secured to all who are redeemed, by the faithfulness of God, and the intercession of Christ and shall certainly be applied to them; and whereas, the graces of the Spirit are not in our own power, this is so far from overthrowing the design of the gospel, that it tends to advance the glory thereof, as God hereby takes occasion to set forth the exceeding riches of his grace, in making his people meet for, and bringing them, at last, to glory. And, though it be not possible for all to attain salvation, this should he no discouragement to any one to attend on those means of grace, under which we are to hope for the saving effects of Christ’s death, whereby we may conclude that eternal life is purchased for us, and we shall at last be brought to it.

330(3.) As to what is farther alleged, concerning the covenant of grace, as designed to repair the ruins of the fall, or God’s intending hereby to bring man into a salvable state; we are never told, in scripture, that what was lost by our first apostasy from God, is to be compensated by the extent of grace and salvation to all mankind; and it is not the design of the gospel to discover this to the world, but that the exceeding riches of divine grace should be made known to the vessels of mercy, before prepared unto glory, Rom. ix. 23. This is, as some express it, the plank that remains after the ship-wreck,[176] or the great foundation of our hope, and possibility of escaping everlasting destruction; and it is a much better ground of security, than to lay the whole stress of our salvation on the best improvements of corrupt nature, or those endeavours which we are to use, to improve the liberty of our will, in order to our escaping ruin, without dependance on the divine assistance; which is the method that they take to attain salvation, who thus defend the doctrine of universal redemption.

(4.) As for our being brought into a salvable state by the death of Christ; the gospel no where gives all mankind ground to expect salvation, but only those who have the marks and characters of Christ’s redeemed ones; and these are not brought by his death unto a mere possibility of attaining it, but the scripture represents them as having the earnest, or first fruits thereof, and speaks of Christ in them, as the hope of glory, Eph. i. 14. Rom. viii. 23. They are also said to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son, chap. v. 10. which is more than their having a bare possibility of salvation, as the result and consequence thereof.

(5.) That which is next to be considered, is, what concerns the doctrine of particular redemption, as being derogatory to the divine perfections, together with many absurd consequences, which are supposed to attend it. It is very common, in all methods of reasoning, and particularly in defending or opposing the doctrine of universal redemption, for persons to endeavour to make it appear, that the contrary scheme of doctrine is chargeable with absurdities; and, as we have taken the same method in opposing universal redemption, it may reasonably be expected, that the doctrine of particular redemption should have many absurd consequences charged upon it; to which we shall endeavour to reply, that thereby it may be discerned whether the charge be just or no. And,

1. The doctrine of particular redemption is supposed to be inconsistent with the goodness of God, as it renders salvation impossible to the greatest part of mankind, and their state irretrievable 331by any means that can be used, and so has a tendency to lead them to despair. But to this it may be replied,

1st, That it must be owned, that they, for whom Christ did not die, cannot be saved; and therefore, had God described any persons by name, or given some visible character, by which it might be certainly concluded that they were not redeemed, it would follow from thence, that their state would be desperate. But this is not his usual method of dealing with mankind: he might, indeed, have done it, and then such would have been thereby excluded from, and not encouraged to attend on the means of grace; but he has, in wisdom and sovereignty, concealed the event of things, with respect hereunto, from the world; and therefore there is a vast difference between men’s concluding that a part of the world are excluded from this privilege; and that they themselves are included in that number: the latter of which we have no warrant to say, concerning ourselves, or any others, especially so long as we are under the means of grace. There is, indeed, one character of persons in the gospel, which gives ground to conclude that Christ did not die for them, and that is what respects those who had committed the unpardonable sin. I shall not, at present, enter into the dispute, whether that sin can now be committed or no, since we may be occasionally led to insist on that subject under another head; but there seems to be sufficient ground to determine, either that this cannot be certainly known, since the extraordinary gift of discerning of spirits is now ceased; or, at least, that this cannot be applied to any who attend on the means of grace with a desire of receiving spiritual advantage thereby.

2dly, If Christ’s not dying for the whole world be a means to lead men to despair, as salvation is hereby rendered impossible, this consequence may, with equal evidence, be deduced from the supposition, that all mankind shall not be saved, which they, who defend universal redemption, pretend not to deny: but will any one say, that this supposition leads men to despair? or ought it to be reckoned a reflection on the divine goodness, that so many are left to perish in their fallen state, by the judicial hand of God, which might have applied salvation unto all, as well as purchased it for all mankind?

2. The doctrine of particular redemption is farther supposed to be inconsistent with the preaching the gospel, which is generally styled a door of hope; and then the dispensation we are under cannot be called a day of grace; which renders all the overtures of salvation made to sinners illusory, and contains in it a reflection, not only on the grace of God, but his holiness.

In order to our replying to this, something must be premised to explain what we mean by a day of grace, and the hope of the gospel, which accompanies it. And here, let it be considered,

332(1.) That we hereby intend such a dispensation in which sinners are called to repent and believe, and so obtain salvation; not that we are to suppose that it is to be attained by their own power, without the special influences of the Holy Ghost, for this would be to ascribe that to man, which is peculiar to God; nor that God would give his special grace to all that sit under the sound of the gospel; for this is contrary to common observation and experience, since many make a profession of religion who are destitute of saving grace.

As for the hope of the gospel, or that door of hope that is opened therein to sinners, we cannot understand any thing else thereby, but that all, without distinction, are commanded and encouraged to wait on God in his instituted means of grace, and the event hereof must be left to him who gives and withholds success to them, as he pleases. All have this encouragement, that, peradventure they may obtain grace, under the means of grace; and this is not inconsistent with their being styled a door of hope, and God is not obliged to grant sinners a greater degree of hope than this, to encourage them to wait on him in his ordinances, notwithstanding there is a farther motive inducing us hereunto, namely, that this is his ordinary way, in which he works grace; or, if God is pleased to give us desires after the efficacy of his grace, or any degree of conviction of sin and misery; this is still a farther ground of hope, though it fall short of that grace of hope that accompanies salvation.

(2.) As to what concerns the preaching of the gospel, and the overtures of salvation to all therein, which, upon the supposition of Christ’s not dying for all men, they conclude to be illusory, and repugnant to the holiness of God. To this it may be replied, that we do not deny that in preaching the gospel, Christ is offered to the chief of sinners, or that the proclamation of grace is made public to all, without distinction: but this will not overthrow the doctrine of particular redemption, if we rightly consider what is done, in offering Christ to sinners; which, that it may be understood, let it be observed,

1st, That God has given us no warrant to enter into his secret determinations, respecting the event of things, so as to give any persons ground to conclude that they are redeemed, and have a warrant to apply to themselves the promise of salvation, or any blessings that accompany it, while in an unconverted state. Ministers are not to address their discourses to a mixed multitude of professing Christians, in such a way, as though they knew that they were all effectually called, and chosen of God. Our Saviour compares them to the faithful and wise steward, whose business it is to give every one their portion of meat in due season, Luke xii. 42. and therefore they are, consistently with what is contained in scripture, to tell them, that 333salvation is purchased for a part of mankind, and they know not but that they may be of that number, which will be an evidence to them that they are so.

2dly, When Christ is said to be offered to sinners, in the preaching of the gospel, that, which is intended thereby, is his being set forth therein as a most desirable object, altogether lovely, worthy to be embraced, and submitted to; and not only so, but that he will certainly save all whom he effectually calls, inasmuch as he has purchased salvation for them.

3dly, It includes in it an informing sinners, that it is their indispensible duty and interest to believe in Christ, and in order thereto, that they are commanded and encouraged to wait on him for that grace, which can enable them thereunto: and, as a farther encouragement, to let them know that there is a certain connexion between grace and salvation; so that none, who are enabled, by faith, to come to Christ, shall be cast out, or rejected by him. This is the preaching and hope of the gospel; and, in this sense, the overtures of salvation are made therein; which is not in the least inconsistent with the doctrine of particular redemption.[177]

Object. Though this be such a method of preaching the gospel, as is consistent with the doctrine of special redemption; yet there is another way of preaching it, which is more agreeable to the express words of scripture, and founded on the doctrine of universal redemption; and accordingly sinners ought to be told, that the great God, in the most affectionate manner, expostulates with them, to persuade them to accept of life and salvation, when he represents himself, as having no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and, with an earnestness of expression says, Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Therefore the design of the gospel is, to let the world know that God’s dealing with mankind, in general, are full of goodness; he would not have any perish, and therefore has sent his Son to redeem them all, and, as the consequence hereof, pleads with them to turn to him, that they may reap the benefits purchased thereby.

Answ. Whatever be the sense of these expostulatory expressions, which we frequently meet with in scripture, we must not suppose that they infer, that the saving grace of repentance is in our own power; for that is not only contrary to the sense of many other scriptures, but to the experience of every true penitent, whose language is like that of Ephraim, Turn thou me, and I shall be turned, Jer. xxxi. 18. nor must we conclude, that God designs to save those that shall not be saved; for then he could not say, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all 334my pleasure, Isa. xlvi. 10. If these ideas, as unworthy of God, be abstracted from the sense of such-like scriptures, we may understand them, not only in a way that is consistent with the divine perfections, but with the doctrine of particular redemption; which, that it may appear, let it be considered, that it is a very common thing, in scripture, for God to condescend to use human modes of speaking, and those, in particular, by which various passions are set forth; notwithstanding, we must not conclude that these passions are in God as they are in men. Such expostulations as these, when used by us, signify, that we earnestly desire the good of others, and are often warning them of their danger: but all is to no purpose, for they are obstinately set on their own ruin, which we can by no means prevent; it being either out of our power to help them, or, if we could, it would not redound to our honour to do it. This draws forth such-like expostulations from men; but the weakness contained in them, is by no means to be applied to God: it cannot be said to be out of his power to give grace to impenitent sinners; nor, in case he has so determined, will it tend to his dishonour to bestow it. Now, that we may understand the sense of these scriptures, let it be considered,

1. That life and death, in scripture, are oftentimes used to signify the external dispensations of providence, as to what concerns that good or evil, which God would bring on his people: thus it is said, See, I have set before thee this day, life and good, death and evil, Deut. xxx. 15, 19, 20. where life is explained in the following words, as signifying their being multiplied and blessed in the land, whither they were to go to possess it; and when God advises them in a following verse, to choose life, the consequence of this is, that both they and their seed should live, that they might dwell in the land, which the Lord sware to their fathers to give them; and elsewhere, when God says, by the prophet Jeremiah, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death, Jer. xxi. 8. he explains it in the following words, as containing an expedient for their escaping temporal judgments, when he says, He that abideth in the city, shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans, shall live. And I cannot see any reason to conclude, but that many other expressions, of the like nature, in which God promises life, or threatens death to the house of Israel, by the prophets, who often warned them of their being carried into captivity, and dying in their enemies’ land, have a more immediate respect thereunto; and that proverbial expression, which the Israelites are represented as making use of, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens’ teeth are set on edge, Ezek. xviii. 2. seems to intimate no more than this; q. d. that our fathers have sinned, and 335thereby deserved that the nation should be ruined by being carried captive, and we must suffer for their sins; in answer to which, God tells them, that this proverb should not be used by them, but this evil should be brought on them for their own iniquities, or prevented by their reformation, namely, by forsaking their idolatry, whoredom, violence, oppression, and other abominations. And then he adds, ver. 12, 13, 17, 18. the soul that sinneth, it shall die, that is, if you continue to commit these vile enormities, you shall be followed with all those judgments which shall tend to your utter ruin; but if the wicked will turn from all his sins which he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die, ver. 21. If this be the sense of these and such-like texts, then it was not wholly out of their own power thus to turn to God, how much soever that special grace, which accompanies salvation, be out of our power. It is one thing to say, that man cannot work a principle of grace in himself, or to do that by his own power, which is the special gift and work of the Spirit of God, and, as the consequence thereof, have ground to expect eternal salvation; and another thing to say, that he cannot abstain from some gross enormities, as an expedient to prevent desolating judgments. But if it will not be allowed that this is the sense of all those scriptures, that promise or threaten life or death, which I do not pretend peremptorily to assert, let it be farther added,

2. That if spiritual and eternal blessings be included in the word life, and the contrary in death, in the scriptures but now referred to, we may account for the sense of them, without supposing that God designs what shall never come to pass, to wit, the universal salvation of mankind, though a part of them shall not be saved, by considering desire, in him, as signifying the effects of desire in men.[178] Thus God’s not desiring a thing, denotes it not to be the object of desire; accordingly when he desires not the death of sinners, it implies, that they ought to endeavour to avoid it, as the most formidable evil; and, on the other hand, his taking pleasure in a thing, as he does in the salvation of his people, signifies not only his intending to save them, but the inexpressible happiness which they shall attain thereby; and, when he exhorts them, as an expedient to attain this privilege, to turn, this signifies the inseparable connexion between salvation and repentance, or turning to God, which, though it be God’s gift, it is, notwithstanding, our act and indispensible duty. Therefore, if we take this, and such-like scriptures, in either of these two senses, they are far from giving countenance to the doctrine of universal redemption.

3. There is another absurd consequence charged upon the doctrine of special redemption, namely, that it is inconsistent 336with our being exhorted and encouraged to repent and believe for the remission of sins, or to the saving of the soul, as scripture gives all men a warrant to do, Acts ii. 38. and since all are commanded to exercise these graces, and to expect salvation, as connected therewith, the doctrine of particular redemption, as a late writer insinuates, puts us under a necessity of believing a lie. And he farther adds, that if the condition, annexed to the promise of salvation, be impossible, and known to be so, it gives no encouragement to set about it; and, if he who promises knows it to be so, he promises nothing, because nothing that a person can obtain, or be the better for, whereby he is deluded, and a cheat put upon him, by pretending kindness, in making the promise, and intending no such thing.[179] Thus that author represents the doctrine of particular redemption, as containing the most blasphemous consequences that words can express: he must therefore have been very sure that his argument was unanswerably just, though, I hope, we shall be able to make it appear that it is far from being so; which, that we may do, let it be considered,

(1.) That we are to distinguish between a person’s being bound to believe in Christ, and to believe that Christ died for him; the first act of faith does not contain in it a person’s being persuaded that Christ died for him, but that he is the Object of faith, as he is represented to be in scripture; and accordingly it supposes that we are convinced that Christ is the Messiah, that he purchased salvation for all who shall attain it, and is able to save, unto the utmost, all that come unto God by him; and also, that it is our duty and interest so to do. And, since saving faith is not in our own power, but the work and gift of divine grace, we are encouraged to wait on God in his ordinances, and, with fervent prayer, to beseech him that he would work this grace in us, acknowledging, that if he should deny us this blessing, there is no unrighteousness in him; and we are to continue waiting on him, and using all those means which are in our power, though they cannot attain their end, without his blessings; and, when he is pleased to work this grace in us, we shall be enabled to put forth another act of faith, which is properly saving, as intended by the scripture, which speaks of believing to the saving of the soul, which consists in receiving of him, and resting on him for salvation, as hoping that he hath died for us, inasmuch as he hath given us that temper and disposition of soul, which is contained in that character which is given of those for whom Christ died.

(2.) We must farther distinguish between God’s commanding all that sit under the sound of the gospel to believe in Christ; and his giving them ground to expect salvation, before 337they believe in him. Faith and repentance may be asserted to be duties incumbent on all, and demanded of them, when, at the same time, it doth not follow that all are given to expect salvation, upon the bare declaration that they are so. Accordingly the command and encouragement is to be considered in this order; first, as it respects our obligation to believe; and then, as it respects our hope of salvation; and neither the former nor the latter of these does, in the least, infer that God intended to save all mankind, or gave them ground to expect salvation, who do not believe in Christ.

(3.) As to what is farther suggested, concerning salvation’s being promised on such conditions, as are known, both by God and man, to be impossible, the only answer that need be given to this, is, that though with men this is impossible, yet with God all things are possible, Matt. xix. 26. When we consider faith and repentance, as conditions connected with salvation, or as evincing our right to claim an interest in Christ, and that salvation, which is purchased by him, in which sense, as was before observed, we do not oppose their being called conditions thereof, by those who are tenacious of that mode of speaking;[180] and we do not call them impossible conditions, any otherwise than as they are so, without the powerful energy of the Holy Spirit; we cannot think that our asserting, that it is impossible that all mankind should thus repent and believe, is a doctrine contrary to scripture, which gives us ground to conclude, that all men shall not be saved, and consequently that all shall not believe to the saving of the soul. And, when we consider the impossibility thereof, we do not suppose that God has given all mankind ground to expect this saving faith, upon which the blasphemous suggestion, relating to his deluding men, is founded; it is enough for us to say, that God has not told any one, who attends on his ordinances, in hope of obtaining this grace, that he will not give him faith; and more than this need not be desired by persons to induce them to perform this duty, while praying and waiting for the happy event thereof, to wit, our obtaining these graces, and so being enabled to conclude that Christ has died for us.

4. If all the absurdities before mentioned will not take place to overthrow the doctrine of particular redemption, there is another argument, which they, who oppose it, conclude to be unanswerable, namely, that it does not conduce so much to advance the grace of God, as to assert that Christ died for all men, inasmuch as more are included herein, as the objects of divine favour, therefore God is hereby more glorified.

To this it may be replied, that it does not tend to advance the divine perfections, to suppose that God designed to save any 338that shall perish, for that would be to argue, as has been before considered, that the purpose of God, with respect to the salvation of many, is frustrated. But, since the stress of the argument is laid on the display of the glory of divine grace; that does not so much consist in the extent of the favour, with respect to a greater number of persons, as it does in its being free and undeserved, and tending, for this reason, to lay the highest obligation on those who are concerned herein, which is the most known sense of the word grace.

But inasmuch as it will be objected, that this is only a criticism, respecting the sense of a word, it may be farther replied to it, that if the grace, or goodness of God, be more magnified by universal, than particular redemption, as including more, who are the objects thereof, the same method of reasoning would hold good, and they might as well attempt to prove, that there must be an universal salvation of mankind; for that would be a greater display of divine goodness, than for God only to save a few; and it would be yet more eminently displayed, had he not only saved all mankind, but fallen angels. Shall the goodness of God be pretended to be reflected on, because he does not extend it to all that might have been the objects thereof, had he pleased? Has he not a right to do what he will with his own? And may not his favour be communicated in a discriminating way, whereby it will be more advanced and adored, by those who are the objects thereof, without our taking occasion from thence to reply against him, or say, what dost thou?

And to this it may be added, that they, who make use of this method of reasoning, ought to consider that it tends as much to militate against the doctrine they maintain, namely, that God hath put all mankind into a salvable state, or that Christ, by his death, procured a possibility of salvation for all; which, according to their argument, is not so great a display of the divine goodness, as though God had actually saved all mankind, which he might have done; for he might have given repentance and remission of sins to all, as well as sent his Son to die for all; therefore, upon this head of argument, universal redemption cannot be defended, without asserting universal salvation. Thus concerning those absurdities which are pretended to be fastened on the doctrine of particular redemption; we proceed to consider the last and principal argument that is generally brought against it, namely,

5. That it is contrary to the express words of scripture; and some speak with so much assurance, as though there were not one word in scripture, intimating, that our Lord died only for a few, or only for the elect;[181] though others will own, that there 339are some scriptures that assert particular redemption, but that these are but few; and therefore the doctrine of universal redemption must be aquiesced in, as being maintained by a far greater number of scriptures: but, in answer to this, let it be considered, that it is not the number of scriptures, brought in defence of either side of the question, that will give any great advantage to the cause they maintain, unless it could be made appear that they understood them in the true and genuine sense of the Holy Ghost therein: but this is not to be passed over, without a farther enquiry into the sense thereof, which we shall do, and endeavour to prove that it does not overthrow the doctrine we have been maintaining, how much soever the mode of expression may seem to oppose it; and, in order hereunto, we shall first consider in what sense all, all men, the world, all the world, and such-like words are taken in scripture, as well as in common modes of speaking, in those matters that do not immediately relate to the subject of universal redemption; and then we may, without much difficulty, apply the same limitations to the like manner of speaking, which we find in those scriptures which are brought for the proof of universal redemption. Here we are to enquire into the meaning of those words that are used, which seem to denote the universality of the subject spoken of, when nothing less is intended thereby, in various instances, which have no immediate reference to the doctrine of redemption. And,

(1.) As to the word all. It is certain, that it is often used when every individual is not intended thereby: thus we read in Exod. ix. 6. that all the cattle of Egypt died, when the plague of murrain was inflicted on the beasts; whereas it is said, in the following words, that none of the cattle of the children of Israel died; and, from ver. 3. it appears that none of the Egyptians’ cattle died, save those in the field; and it is plain, that there was a great number of cattle that died not, which were reserved to be cut off by a following plague, viz. that of hail, in ver. 19. Moreover, it is said, in ver. 25. that the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field; yet we read, in chap. x. 5. of the locusts eating the residue of that which escaped, and remained unto them from the hail.

Again, we read, in Exod. xxxii. 3. that all the people brake off the golden ear-rings which were in their ears, of which Aaron made the calf, which they worshipped; whereas it is not probable that all wore ear-rings; and it is certain, that all did not join with them, who committed idolatry herein; for the apostle intimates as much, when he speaks of some of them as being idolaters, who sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play, 1 Cor. x. 7. And some conclude, that those of the tribe of Levi, who gathered themselves unto Moses, and joined with 340him in executing the vengeance of God on the idolaters, are said to be on the Lord’s side; not barely because they repented of their idolatry, but because they did not join with the rest in it; and, if this be the sense of the text, yet it does not appear that they were all exempted from the charge of idolatry, though it be said, that all the sons of Levi were gathered to him; for we read, in ver. 29. of every man’s slaying his son, and his brother; and, in Deut. xxxiii. 9. it is said, on this occasion, that they did not know their fathers, nor their children, that is, they did not spare them; therefore some of that, as well as the other tribes, joined in the idolatry, though they were all gathered to Moses, as being on the Lord’s side.

Again, we read, in Zeph. ii. 14. where the prophet speaks concerning God’s destroying Syria, and making Nineveh desolate, that all the beasts of the nations shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; by which he intends that those beasts, that generally lodge in the wilderness, or in places remote from cities, such as the cormorant and bittern, &c. should take up their residence in those places, which were formerly inhabited by the Ninevites; therefore all the beasts cannot be supposed to signify all that were in all parts of the world.

Again, the prophet Isaiah, in chap. ii. 2. when speaking of the multitude which should come to the mountain of the Lord’s house, which he expresses by all nations coming to it, explains what is meant by all nations coming to it, in the following verse, namely, that many people should say, Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord; and the prophet Micah, referring to the same thing, says, in chap. iv. 2. that many nations shall say, Let us go up to it, as containing a prediction of what was to be fulfilled in the gospel-day, in those that, out of various nations, adhered to the true religion.

Again, it is said, in 1 Chron. xiv. 17. that the fame of David went forth into all the lands, which cannot be meant of those which were far remote, but those that were round about Judea.

Moreover, it is said, in Matt. iii. 5, 6. that Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, went out to John, and were baptized of him; which cannot be understood in any other sense, but that a great number of them went out to him for that purpose. And when it is said, in Matt. xxi. 26. that all men held John as a prophet, it is not to be supposed that the Scribes and Pharisees, and many others, who cast contempt on him, held him to be so; but that there were a great many who esteemed him as such. And when our Saviour says, in Matt. x. 22. Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, it is certain, that those that embraced Christianity are to be excluded out of their number who hated them. Again, when it is said, in Acts ii. 5. that there were dwelling at Jerusalem, 341Jews of every nation under heaven, it is not to be supposed that there were Jews residing in every nation, who resorted to Jerusalem; upon which occasion, a learned writer[182] puts this question, Were there any who resorted there from England or Scotland?

Again, we read, in John iii. 26. that John’s disciples came to him, complaining, that Jesus baptized, and all men came unto him; by which nothing more is to be understood, but that many, among the Jews attended on his ministry, which were, by far, the smaller part of that nation. By these, and many other scriptures, that might be brought to the same purpose, it appears, that the word All sometimes denotes not every individual, but a part of mankind.

(2.) Let us now consider the sense in which we are to understand the world, or all the world; from whence it will appear, that only a small part of the world is intended thereby in many scriptures: thus the Pharisees said, upon the occasion of a number of the Jews following our Saviour, in John xi. 19. The world is gone after him. How small a part of the world was the Jewish nation? and how small a part of the Jewish nation attended on our Saviour’s ministry? yet this is called the world.

Again, it is said, in Luke ii. 1. There went out a decree from Augustus, that all the world should be taxed; by which nothing more is intended than those countries that were subject to the Roman empire; and, in Acts xvii. 26. it is said, that these that have turned the world upside down, are come hither also; which cannot be meant in any other sense, but those parts of the world where the apostles had exercised their ministry. And when the apostle tells the church, in Rom. i. 8. that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world, he only means those other churches that were planted in several parts of the world. And, in Acts xi. 28. it is said, that Agabus signified, by the Spirit, that there should be a great dearth, throughout all the world; by which nothing is meant but all adjacent countries, which is to be taken in the same sense, as when it is said, in Gen. xli. 51. that all countries came into Egypt to buy corn, because the famine was so sore in all lands, that is, in the parts adjacent to Egypt: thus we have sufficient ground to conclude, that all men, the world, and all the world, is often taken for a small part of mankind.

But, that we may be a little more particular in considering the various limitations these words are subject to in scripture, as well as in our common modes of speaking, let it be observed,

1st, That sometimes nothing is intended by all men, but all sorts of men, without distinction of sex, nation, estate, quality, 342and condition, of men in the world: thus the apostle says, in 1 Cor. ix. 19. I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more; this he explains in the following verses, as including men of all ranks and characters: To the Jews, I became a Jew; to them that were under the law, as under the law; to them that were without the law, as without law; to the weak, I became weak: I became all things to all men, that by any means I might gain some.

2dly, Sometimes the word All, or the world, is taken for the Gentiles, in opposition to the Jews; thus the apostle saith, in Rom. xi. 12. Now if the fall of them, viz. the Jews, be the riches of the world, that is, of the Gentiles, as he explains it in the following words; And the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? and in ver. 32. he saith, God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.[183]

3dly, The world is sometimes taken for those who do not believe, in opposition to the church: thus it is said, in Rev. xiii. 3, 4. All the world wondered after the beast and they worshipped the dragon; which is farther explained, in ver. 8. where it is said, that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life; and in 1 John v. 19. it is said, We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness, or, as some render it,[184] in the wicked one, as being subject to Satan; but the church is exempted from that charge, notwithstanding the universality of this expression.

4thly, Sometimes the word All is limited by the nature of the thing spoken of, which is very easy to be understood, though not expressed: thus the apostle in Tit. ii. 9. exhorts servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; which must be certainly understood as intending all things just, and not contrary to the laws of God, or the civil laws of the land, in which they live.

5thly, The word All is often used, not only in scripture, but in our common modes of speaking, to signify only those, who are the objects of that thing, which is done for them, and then the emphasis is laid on the action, or the person that performs it; as when we say, all malefactors under a sentence of death, are to be pardoned by the king; we mean nothing else by it, but that all, who are pardoned, do receive their pardon from him; or when we say, that virtue renders all men happy, and vice miserable; we mean, that all who are virtuous are happy, and all who are vicious miserable; not that virtue, abstracted from the exercise thereof, makes any happy, or vice miserable; in which case, the word all is not taken for every individual person, but only for those who are either good or bad: and this 343is agreeable to the scripture-mode of speaking; as when it is said, in Prov. xxiii. 21. Drowsiness shall clothe a man, or every man, with rags; or sloth reduces all to poverty; not all mankind, but all who are addicted to this vice.

Moreover, it is said, in Psal. cxlv. 14. The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down; which is not to be understood, as though God keeps all mankind from falling, or raises every individual person, that is bowed down, so as not to suffer him to sink under his burden; but that all who are upheld, or raised up, when bowed down, are made partakers of this privilege by the Lord alone.

Having shewn in what sense the word All, or all the world, is frequently used in scripture, when not applied to the doctrine of redemption; we shall now consider the application thereof unto it, whereby it may appear, that those scriptures, which are generally brought in defence of the doctrine of universal redemption, do not tend to support it, or overthrow the contrary doctrine that we are maintaining.

1. The first scripture, that is often referred to for that purpose, is 1 John ii. 2. in which it is said, concerning our Saviour, that he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. For the understanding of which, we must consider, that it is more than probable that the apostle writes this epistle to the converted Jews, scattered through various countries in Asia, as Peter is said to do, 1 Pet. i. 1. and James, James i. 1. for which reason they are called general epistles; as likewise this of John is, inasmuch as they are not addressed to particular churches among the Gentiles, converted to the faith, as most of the apostle Paul’s are. Now, it is plain, that, in the scripture but now mentioned, when these believing Jews are given to understand, that Christ is a propitiation for their sins, and not for their’s only, but for the sins of the whole world; the meaning is, not for their sins only, who were Jews, but for the sins of the believing Gentiles, or those who were converted by the ministry of the apostle Paul, who is called the apostle of the Gentiles. This has been before considered to be the meaning of the word world in many scriptures; and so the sense is, that the saving effects of Christ’s death redound to all who believe, throughout the world, whether Jews or Gentiles.

2. Another scripture generally brought to prove universal redemption, is, that in Heb. ii. 9. That he, to wit, Christ, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. For the understanding of which, we must have recourse to the words immediately following, which are plainly an illustration thereof; accordingly they, for whom Christ tasted death, are styled many sons, who are to be brought to glory; and, in order thereunto, 344Christ, the Captain of their salvation, was made perfect through sufferings, which is an explication of his being crowned with glory and honour, for the suffering of death; and it plainly proves, that it was for these only that he tasted death, and that by every man, for whom he tasted it, is meant every one of his sons, or of those who are described, in ver. 11. as sanctified, and whom he is not ashamed to call brethren; and they are further styled, in ver. 13. The children whom God hath given him; so that this sense of the words being so agreeable to the context, which asserts the doctrine of particular redemption, it cannot reasonably be supposed that they are to be taken in a sense which has a tendency to overthrow it, or prove that Christ died equally and alike for all men.

3. Another scripture, brought for the same purpose, is 1 Cor. xv. 22. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But let it be considered, that the apostle is not speaking directly concerning redemption in this text, but concerning the resurrection of the dead; and, if it be understood of a glorious resurrection unto eternal life, no one can suppose that every individual of mankind shall be made partaker of this blessing, which is also obvious, from what is said in the verse immediately following, where they who are said to be made alive in Christ, are described as such, whom he has a special propriety in, Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming; and therefore the meaning is only this, that all of them, who shall be raised up in glory, shall obtain this privilege by Christ, whose resurrection was the first-fruits thereof.

I am sensible that the reason of the application of this scripture to prove universal redemption, is principally taken from the opposition that there seems to be between the death of all mankind in Adam, and the life which is obtained by Christ; and therefore they suppose, that the happiness, which we enjoy by him, is of equal extent with the misery we sustained by the fall of Adam: but, if this were the sense of the text, it must prove an universal salvation, and not barely the possibility thereof; since the apostle is speaking of a privilege that should be conferred in the end of time, and not of that which we enjoy under the gospel-dispensation; accordingly it does not, in the least, answer the end for which it is brought.

4. The next scripture, by which it is supposed that universal redemption may be defended, is that in Rom. v. 18. As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For the understanding of which scripture, let it be considered, that the blessing, which is said to extend to all, is no less than justification of life, and not merely a possibility of attaining salvation; and, in the foregoing verse, 345they, who are interested in this privilege, are said to receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, and to reign in life by Jesus Christ. Now certainly this privilege is too great to be applied to the whole world; and, indeed, that which the apostle, in this verse, considers, as being upon all men unto justification of life, he explains, when he says, Many shall be made righteous; therefore this free gift, which came upon all men unto justification, intends nothing else, but that a select number, who are said to be many, or the whole multitude of those who do, or shall believe, shall be made righteous.

Object. If it be objected to this sense of the text, that there is an opposition between that judgment which came by the offence of one, to wit, Adam, upon all men, unto condemnation, and that righteousness, which came upon all men, unto justification; and therefore all men must be taken in the same sense in both parts of the verse, and consequently must be extended to all the world.

Answ. To this it may be replied, that it is not necessary, nor reasonable, to suppose, that these terms of opposition have any respect to the universal extent of condemnation and justification; for the apostle’s design is not to compare the number of those who shall be justified, with that of those who were condemned by the fall of Adam; but to compare the two heads together, Adam and Christ, and to shew, that as we are liable to condemnation by the one, so we obtain the gift of righteousness by the other; which is plainly the apostle’s method of reasoning, agreeable to the whole scope of the chapter, as may easily be observed, by those who compare these words with several foregoing verses.

5. There is another scripture brought to prove universal redemption, in 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; by which it is supposed, that the apostle is here proving that all mankind are dead in sin, and that the medium by which he proves it, is Christ’s dying for all men; so that the remedy is as extensive as the disease, and therefore that this is an undeniable proof of universal redemption.

But this is not a true representation of the apostle’s method of reasoning; for he designs not to prove that all were dead in sin, but to it. That this may appear, let us consider the connexion of this text with what goes before. The apostle speaks of them, in the foregoing verses, as having assurance of their future salvation, and as groaning to be clothed upon with their house, which is from heaven; and as having the first fruits of the Spirit, and says that the apostles were made manifest in their consciences, that is, they had something in their own consciences that evinced the success of their ministry to them, 346upon which account they had occasion to glory on their behalf; all which expressions denote them to have been in a converted state. And the apostle adds, in ver. 13. Whether we be beside ourselves, or whether we be sober, that is, whether we have a greater or less degree of fervency in preaching the gospel, it is for God, that is for his glory, and for your sakes; for the love of Christ, that is, either his love to us, or our love to him, constraineth us hereunto; because we thus judge, that if one, namely, Christ, died for all, that is, for you all, then were all dead, or you all are dead, that is, not dead in sin, but you are made partakers of that communion which believers have with Christ in his death, whereby they are said to be dead unto sin, and unto the world; and the result hereof is, that they are obliged to live not to themselves but to Christ. This seems more agreeable to the design of the apostle, than to suppose that he intends only to prove the fall of man, from his being recovered by Christ, since there is no appearance of any argument to the like purpose, in any other part of the apostle’s writings; whereas our being dead to sin, as the consequence of Christ’s death, is what he often mentions, and, indeed, it seems to be one of his peculiar phrases: thus he speaks of believers, as being dead to sin, Rom. vi. 2. and dead with Christ, ver. 8. and elsewhere he says, You are dead, Col. iii. 3. that is, you have communion with Christ, in his death, or are dead unto sin; and the apostle speaks of their being dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, chap. ii. 20. that is, if you have communion with Christ, in his death, you are obliged not to observe the ceremonial law, which is called the rudiments of the world; and, in several other places, he speaks of believers being crucified, dead, buried, and risen, from the dead, as having communion with Christ therein, or being made partakers of those benefits which he procured thereby. If, therefore, this be the apostle’s frequent method of speaking, why may not we suppose, that in this verse, under our present consideration, he argues, that because Christ died for them all, therefore they were, or they are all dead;[185] And, being thus dead, they are obliged, as he observes in the following verse, not to live to themselves, but to Christ that died for them, and thereby procured this privilege, which they are made partakers of. If this sense of the text be but allowed to be equally probable with the other, it will so far weaken the force thereof, as that it will not appear, from this scripture, that Christ died for all men.

6. Universal redemption is attempted to be proved, from 347John iii. 16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: But, if we understand the world, as taken for the Gentiles, as it is oftentimes in scripture, then the sense of the text seems to be this, which is not inconsistent with special redemption, namely, that the love of God, which was expressed in sending his Son to die for those whom he designed hereby to redeem, is of a much larger extent, as to the objects thereof, than it was in former ages; for it includes in it not only those who believe among the Jews, but whosoever believes in him, throughout the world; not that their believing in him is the foundation, or cause, but the effect of his love, and is to be considered as the character of the persons, who are the objects thereof. In this sense, we are also to understand another scripture, in John i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, that is, of all those whose sins are expiated hereby, throughout the whole world.

7. The doctrine of universal redemption is farther maintained, from our Saviour’s words, in John vi. 33. The bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world; which is explained in ver. 51. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world: But it does not appear, that Christ hereby intends that his death was a price of redemption paid for all mankind; for he speaks of the application of redemption, which is expressed by his giving life, and not barely of his procuring a possibility of its being attained; and they, to whom he gives this privilege, are described as applying it to themselves, by faith, which is doubtless, the meaning of that metaphorical expression, whereby persons are said to eat of this bread, or his flesh; so that the meaning of this scripture is, that the death of Christ is appointed, as the great means whereby all men, throughout the whole world, who apply it by faith, should attain eternal life: But this cannot be said of all, without exemption; and therefore it does not from hence appear, that Christ’s death was designed to procure life for the world.

8. There is another scripture, brought to the same purpose, in Matt. xviii. 11. The Son of man is come to save that which is lost, that is, as they suppose, all that were lost; and consequently, since the whole world was brought into a lost state by the fall, Christ came to save them. The whole stress of this argument is laid on the sense that they give of the Greek word[186], which we render, that which was lost, whereby they understand every one that was lost; whereas it only denotes, that salvation 348supposes them, that have an interest in it, to have been in a lost state. And, indeed, the text does not seem immediately to respect the purchase of redemption, or salvation, by Christ’s shedding his blood, as a Priest, but the application thereof, in effectually calling, and thereby saving lost sinners. This is illustrated by the parable of the lost sheep, (in the following words,) which the shepherd brings back to the fold, upon which occasion he says, that it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. And this farther appears, from our Saviour’s using the same mode of speaking, with this addition, that he came to seek, as well as to save, Luke xix. 9, 10. them, upon the occasion of his converting Zaccheus, and telling him, that salvation was come to his house. And this agrees well with that prediction relating to Christ’s executing his Prophetical office, in the salvation of his people, as being their Shepherd; in which he is represented, as saying, I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick, Ezek. xxxiv. 16. Moreover, the parable of the lost sheep, which Christ recovered, appears by its connexion with the foregoing verses, to have a particular respect to those little, or humble ones, that believe in him, who went astray, by reason of some offences that were cast in their way; and therefore, when he had denounced a threatening against those who should offend any of them, and cautioned the world that they should not do this, by despising them, Matt, xviii. 6, 10. he supposes this treatment would cause some of them to go astray; upon which he says, that one of his ends of coming into the world, was to seek, to save, and to recover them.

9. Universal redemption is farther argued, from the universality of divine grace; and accordingly that text is often referred to, in Tit. ii. 11. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men: But this seems very remote from the sense of the Holy Ghost, in these words; for by the grace of God is meant the gospel, that brings the glad tidings of salvation; and its appearing to all men, signifies being preached to the Gentiles: or suppose, by the grace of God, we understand the display of his grace in the work of redemption, it is not said, that it was designed for, or applied to all men, but only that the publication thereof is more general than it had formerly been. And when the apostle, in ver. 14. speaks more particularly concerning redemption, he alters his mode of expression, and considers it, with its just limitation, with respect to the objects thereof, viz. that he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. We shall add but one 349scripture more, which is brought in defence of universal redemption, viz.

10. That in which the apostle speaks of God, in 1 Tim. iv. 10. as the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe; wherein universal redemption is not asserted in the same sense in which they maintain it, viz. that God hath brought all men into a salvable state, so that they may be saved if they will: But the meaning of this scripture is, that God is the Saviour of all men, that is, his common bounty extends itself to all, as the Psalmist observes, The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works, Psal. cxlv. 9. but he is more especially the Saviour of them that believe, inasmuch as they are interested in the special benefits purchased by his redemption, who are said to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, Isa. xlv. 17.

There are several other scriptures brought to prove universal redemption, as when it is said, that God will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 4. and, The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. iii. 9. which have been before considered[187]; and therefore we pass them over at present, and some other scriptures, from whence it is argued, that Christ died for all, because he died for some that shall perish, as when the apostle speaks of some false teachers, who deny the Lord that bought them, 2 Pet. ii. 1. and another, Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died, Rom. xiv. 15. and that in which the apostle speaks of a person who counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, Heb. x. 29. and some other scriptures to the like purpose, the consideration whereof I shall refer to a following answer[188], in which the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance is defended.[189]

350Thus concerning the first branch of Christ’s Priestly office, consisting in his offering himself a sacrifice, without spot, to God, and the persons for whom this was done. We should 351now proceed to consider the second branch thereof, consisting in his making continual intercession for them, for whom he offered up himself: But, this being particularly insisted on in a following answer[190], we shall pass it over at present, and proceed to consider the execution of his Kingly office.

Quest. XLV.

Quest. XLV. How doth Christ execute the office of a King?

Answer. Christ executeth the office of a King, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them, in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their own good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest who know not God, and obey not the gospel.

A King is a person advanced to the highest dignity; in this sense the word is used in scripture, and in our common acceptation thereof, as applied to men; and more particularly it denotes his having dominion over subjects, and therefore it is a relative term; and the exercise of this dominion is confined within certain limits: But, as it is applied to God, it denotes universal dominion, as the Psalmist says, God is King of all the earth, Psal. xlvii. 7. in this respect therefore, it is properly a divine perfection. That which we are led to consider, in this answer, is how Christ is more especially styled a King, as 352Mediator. Divines generally distinguish his kingdom into that which is natural, and that which is Mediatorial; the former is founded in his deity, and not received by commission from the Father, in which respect he would have been the Governor of the world, as the Father is, though man had not fallen, and there had been no need of a Mediator; the latter is, what we are more especially to consider, namely, his Mediatorial kingdom, which the Psalmist intends, when he represents the Father, as saying, Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion, Psal. ii. 6.

The method in which we shall speak concerning Christ’s Kingly office, shall be by shewing who are the subjects thereof; the manner of his governing them; and the various ages in which this government is, or shall be exercised; together with the different circumstances relating to the administration of his government therein.

I. Concerning the subjects governed by him. These are either his people or his enemies; the former of these are, indeed, by nature, enemies to his government, and unwilling to subject themselves to him, but they are made willing in the day of his power, are pleased with his government, and made partakers of the advantages thereof; the latter, to wit, his enemies are forced to bow down before him, as subdued by him, though not to him; so that, with respect to his people and his enemies, he exercises his government various ways. Which leads us to consider,

II. The manner in which Christ exercises his Kingly government; and that,

First, With respect to his people. This government is external and visible, or internal and spiritual; in the latter of which he exerts divine power, and brings them into a state of grace and salvation. The Church is eminently the seat of his government, which will be farther observed under a following answer[191]; and therefore, at present we shall only consider them as owning his government, by professing their subjection to him, and thereby separating themselves from the world; and Christ governs them, as is observed in this answer, by giving them officers, laws, and censures, and many other privileges, which the members of the visible church are made partakers of; of which more in its proper place.

That which we shall principally consider, at present, is Christ’s exercising his spiritual and powerful government over his elect, in those things that more immediately concern their salvation. And here we may observe,

1. Their character and temper, before they are brought, in a saving way, into Christ’s kingdom. There is no difference 353between them and the rest of the world, who are the subjects of Satan’s kingdom; their hearts are by nature, full of enmity and rebellion against him, and they are suffered sometimes to run great lengths in opposing his government, and their lives discover a fixed resolution not to submit to him, whatever be the consequence thereof: Other lords, says the church, have dominion over them, Isa. xxvi. 13. they serve divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3. walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2. and some of them have reason to style themselves, as the apostle Paul says he was before his conversion, 1 Tim. i. 15.

Sometimes, indeed, they meet with some checks and rebukes of conscience, which, for a while, put them to a stand; and they seem inclinable to submit to Christ, as being afraid of his vengeance, or their own consciences suggest the reasonableness thereof; and this issues in some hasty resolutions, arising from the terror of their own thoughts, or the prospect of some advantage, which will accrue to them thereby, whereby their condition may be rendered better than what they, at present, apprehend it to be; and this extorts from them a degree of compliance with the gospel-overture, especially if Christ would stoop to those terms, which corrupt nature is willing to conform itself to; or make those abatements, that would be consistent with their serving God and mammon. In this case, they are like the person whom our Saviour mentions, who being called, replies, I go, Sir, and went not, Matt. xxi. 30. Sometimes they promise that they will submit hereafter, if they may but be indulged in their course of life for the present, and, like Felix, would attend to these matters at a more convenient season; or, as one is represented, desiring our Saviour that he might first go and bury his father, Matt. viii. 21. by which we are not to understand his performing that debt, which the law of nature obliged him to perform to a deceased parent, which might have been soon discharged, and been no hindrance to his following Christ: but he seems to be desirous to be excused from following him till his father was dead, and all this with a design to gain time, or to ward off present convictions, his domestic affairs inclining him not immediately to subject himself to Christ, or to take up his lot with him, or to forsake all and follow him, though he was not insensible that this was his duty. This is the temper and character of persons before they are effectually persuaded to submit to Christ’s government; and the consequence hereof is oftentimes their not only losing their convictions, but returning with stronger resolutions to their former course, and adding greater degrees of rebellion to their iniquity.

2. There are several methods used, by Christ, to bring sinners 354into subjection to him; some of which are principally objectionable, and, though not in themselves sufficient, yet necessary to answer this end. Accordingly,

(1.) He gives them to understand that there is an inevitable necessity of perishing, if they persist in their rebellion against him, as our Saviour says, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, Luke xiii. 3. or, as it is said elsewhere, Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Job ix. 4. and that the consequence thereof will be, that those his enemies that would not that he should reign over them, shall be brought forth, and slain before him, Luke xix. 27. And this is not only considered in a general way, as what other sinners are given to expect, but impressed on the conscience, and particularly applied to himself, whereby he is convinced that his present course is not only dangerous, but destructive, and fills him with that distress and concern of soul, which is the beginning of that work of grace, that shall afterwards be brought to perfection.

(2.) Christ holds forth his golden sceptre, and makes a proclamation to sinners to return and submit to him, and, at the same time, expresses his willingness to receive all that by faith, close with the gospel-overture, and cast themselves at his feet with sincere repentance: thus he says, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out, John vi. 37. and, how vile soever they have been, their unworthiness shall not be a bar to hinder his acceptance of them.

(3.) He also shews them their obligation to obey and submit to him, as their rightful Lord and Sovereign, who claims divine worship from them, Psal. xlv. 11. and what unanswerable engagements they are laid under hereunto, from all that he did and suffered in life and death, whereby he not only expressed the highest love, but purchased to himself a peculiar people, who must own him as their King, if they expect to reap the blessed fruits and effects of his purchase, as a Priest: this Christ convinces them of. And,

(4.) He represents to them the vast advantages that will attend their subjection to his government, as they shall not only obtain a full and free pardon of all their past crimes, and be taken into favour as much as though they had never forfeited it, but he will confer on them all those graces that accompany salvation, and advance them to the highest honour; upon which account they are said to be made kings and priests unto God, Rev. i. 6. yea, he will grant them to sit with him in his throne, Rev. iii. 21. not as sharing any part of his Mediatorial glory, but as being near to him that sits on the throne, and having all those tokens of his regard to them that are agreeable to their condition, or the relation they stand in to him, as subjects. He 355presents to their view all the promises of the covenant of grace, which are in his hand, to accomplish, and gives them ground to expect all the blessings he hath purchased, assures them that he will admit them to the most delightful and intimate communion with himself here; that he will keep them from falling, and, in the end, present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude, ver. 14. and as for their past follies, ingratitude, and rebellion against him, he tells them, that these shall be passed over, and not laid to their charge, Rom. viii. 33. for their confusion and condemnation, how expedient soever it may be for him to bring them to their remembrance, to humble them, and enhance their love and gratitude to him, who will, notwithstanding, forgive them.

(5.) He gives them to understand what duties he expects from them, and what are the laws that all his subjects are obliged to obey, and accordingly that he will not give forth any dispensation or allowance to sin, which is a returning again to folly; neither will he suffer them to make their own will the rule of their actions, or to live as they list, nor to give way to carnal security, negligence, or indifference in his service, but they must be always pressing forwards, running the race he has set before them with diligence and industry, that they be not slothful, but followers of them, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises, Heb. vi. 12. and not only so, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, Rom. xii. 11. that they must have a zeal for his honour, as those that appear to be in good earnest, and prefer his interest to their own; and that this must be tempered with meekness, lest, whilst they seem to be espousing his cause, they give ground to conclude that the indulging their irregular passions is what they principally design. As for the obedience he demands of them, it must be universal, with their whole heart, and to the utmost of their power; and therefore if the duty enjoined be difficult, they must not say, as some of his followers did, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? John vi. 60. but rather, in this case, depend on his grace for strength to enable them to perform it; and, as they are to obey his commanding will, so he tells them they must submit to his providential will, and therein glorify his sovereignty, and reckon every thing good that he does, inasmuch as it proceeds from a wise and gracious hand, and is rendered subservient to answer the best ends, for his glory and their advantage.

Moreover, he tells them, that whatever obedience they may be enabled to perform, they must ascribe the glory thereof not to themselves, but to him, as he is the Author and Finisher of faith, and works in them all those graces that he requires of them. And, when they have thus engaged in his service, and 356their faces are turned heaven-ward, he obliges them never to think of returning to their former state and company, or subject themselves to the tyranny they are delivered from: as the angel ordered Lot, when he was escaped out of Sodom, not so much as to look back, as one that had a hankering mind to what he had left behind him; or like the Israelites, who longed for the onions and garlic, and the flesh-pots of Egypt, when they were on their journey towards the good land, which God had promised them. Thus Christ expects that all his subjects should not only obey him, but that they should do this with unfainting perseverance, as not being of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul, Heb. x. 39. Thus concerning their present obligations and future advantages, together with the duties they are engaged to perform; or the laws of Christ’s kingdom, which he makes known to them, before they are brought into subjection to him.

And to this we may add, that he not only presents to them the bright, but the dark side of the cloud, and sets before them the many difficulties and troubles, they are like to meet with in this world, in common with the rest of his subjects, that they may not hereafter be under any temptation, to complain as though they were disappointed, when things go otherwise than they were given to expect: as with one hand he represents to their view the crown of life; so, with the other, he holds forth the cross, which they must take up and follow him, Matt. xvi. 24. if they would be his disciples. He does not conceal from them the evils they are like to meet with from the world, but tells them plainly, that they must expect to be hated of all men for his name sake, Matt. x. 22. and be willing to part with all things for him, especially if standing in competition with him; so that he who loveth father or mother, son or daughter, yea, his own life, more than him, is not worthy of him, ver. 37, compared with Luke xiv. 26. and, that self-denial must be their daily exercise, that no idol of jealousy must be set up in their hearts; no secret or darling lust indulged, as being not only contrary to the temper and disposition of his subjects, and a dishonour to their character, but inconsistent with that supreme love that is due to him alone: he also warns them not to hold any confederacy with his enemies, strictly forbids them to make any covenant with death and hell, and requires that all former covenants therewith should be disannulled and broken, as containing a tacit denial of their allegiance to him.

Thus concerning the methods which Christ useth in an objective way, to bring his people to his kingdom. But these are not regarded by the greatest part of those that sit under the sound of the gospel; nor, indeed, are they effectual to answer this end in any, till he is pleased to incline and enable them, 357by his power, to submit to him; he must first conquer them before they will obey. Before this they had no more than an external overture, or representation of things, in which he dealt with them as intelligent creatures, in order to their becoming his subjects out of choice, as having the strongest motives and inducements thereunto: but this is an internal work upon the heart, whereby every thing, that hindered their compliance is removed, and they are drawn by that power, without which none can come unto him, John vi. 44. their hearts are broken, their wills renewed, and all the powers and faculties of their souls inclined to subscribe to his government, as king of saints. This leads us to consider,

3. How persons first express their willingness to be Christ’s subjects; what engagements they lay themselves under, and what course they take pursuant thereunto.

(1.) They cast themselves at his feet with the greatest humility and reverence, being sensible of their own vileness and ingratitude, and, at the same time, are greatly affected with his clemency and grace, who, notwithstanding their unworthiness, invites them to come to him; which they do, not as desiring to capitulate, or stand upon terms with him, but they are willing that he should make his own terms, like one that sends a blank paper to his victorious prince, that he might write upon it what he pleases, and expresses his willingness to subscribe it. This may be illustrated by the manner in which Benhadad’s servants, when his army was entirely ruined, and he no longer able to make resistance against Ahab, present themselves before him with sackcloth on their loins, and ropes on their heads, in token of the greatest humility, together with an implicit acknowledgment of what they had deserved; and without the usual method of entering into treaties of peace, the only message they were to deliver was, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee let me live, 1 Kings xx. 32. Thus the humble returning sinner implores forgiveness, and a right to his life, as an act of grace, at the hand of Christ, who has been represented to him, as a merciful king, and ready to receive returning sinners.

(2.) This subjection to Christ is attended with the greatest love to, and desire after him, which they express to his person, and his service, as well as those rewards that attend it, being constrained hereunto by that love and compassion, which he hath shewed to them; and by those just ideas which they are now brought to entertain, concerning every thing that belongs to his kingdom and interest.

(3.) They consent to be the Lord’s, by a solemn act of self-dedication, or surrender of themselves, and all that they have, to him, as seeing themselves obliged so to do; and therefore 358they desire to be his, to all intents and purposes, his entirely, and for ever.

(4.) Since there are many difficult duties incumbent on Christ’s subjects, and many blessings which they hope to receive, they express their entire dependance on him for grace, to enable them to behave themselves agreeably to the obligations they are under, that they may not turn aside from him, or deal treacherously with him, as being unsteadfast in his covenant: they also rely on his faithfulness for the accomplishment of all the promises, which afford matter of relief and encouragement to them; and this is accompanied with a fixed purpose, or resolution to wait on him, in all his ordinances, as means appointed by him, in which they hope to obtain those blessings they stand in need of.

(5.) This is done with a solemn withdrawing themselves from, renouncing and testifying their abhorrence of those to whom they have formerly been in subjection, whose interest is contrary to, and subversive of Christ’s government. These they count to be their greatest, yea, their only enemies, and proclaim open war against them, and that with a fixed resolution, by the grace of God, to pursue it to the utmost; like the courageous soldier, who, having drawn his sword, throws away the scabbard, as one that will not leave off fighting till he has gained a complete victory; and this resolution is increased by that hatred which he entertains against sin, and is exercised in proportion to it: the enemies against whom he engages, are the world, the flesh, and the devil; the motives that induce him thereunto are because they are enemies to Christ, and stand in the way of his salvation. Now, that he might manage this warfare with success, he takes to himself the whole armour of God, which the apostle describes, Eph. vi. 11-17. which is both offensive and defensive. And he also considers himself as obliged to shun all treaties or proposals made by them, to turn him aside from Christ, and all correspondence with them, and to avoid every thing that may prove a snare or temptation to him, or tend to Christ’s dishonour.

And to this we may add, that he hath a due sense of his obligation, to endeavour to deliver others from their servitude to sin and Satan, to encourage those who are almost persuaded to submit to Christ, and to strengthen the hands of those who are already entered into his service, engaged with him in the same warfare against his enemies, and pursuing the same design, conducive to his glory. The methods he takes in order hereunto, are truly warrantable, and becoming the servants of Christ: he is not like the scribes and Pharisees, who were very zealous to gain proselytes to their interest, which, when they had done, they made them twofold more the children of hell than 359themselves, Matt. xxiii. 15. but makes it his business to convince those he converses with, that they are subject to the greatest tyranny of those who intend nothing but their ruin; that they serve them who have no right to their service, and, that the only way to obtain liberty, is to enter into Christ’s service, and then they will be free indeed, John viii. 36. Moreover, he endeavours to remove those prejudices, and answer all objections which Satan usually brings, or furnishes his subjects with, against Christ and his government. If they say, with the daughters of Jerusalem, What is thy beloved more than another beloved? he has many things to say in his commendation; as, the church is brought in using various metaphorical expressions to set forth his glory, and he joins with them in that comprehensive character given of him, which contains the sum of all that words can express, He is altogether lovely; this is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem, Cant. v. 9, 16. This concerning the way in which Christ’s subjects engage against, and oppose Satan’s kingdom.

But let it be farther considered, that the opposition is mutual: when persons are delivered out of the power of darkness, and translated into Christ’s kingdom, they are not to expect to be wholly free from the assaults of their spiritual enemies, and these oftentimes gain great advantages against them from the remainders of corrupt nature, in the best of men. The devil is represented, by the apostle, as a roaring lion, who walketh about seeking whom he may devour, 1 Pet. v. 8. Sometimes he gives disturbance to Christ’s subjects, by inclining men to exercise their persecuting rage and fury against the church, designing hereby to work upon their fears; at other times, he endeavours, as it were, by methods of bribery, to engage unstable persons in his interest, by the overture of secular advantage; or else to discourage some, by pretending that religion is a melancholy thing, that they who embrace it, are like to strive against the stream, and meet with nothing but what will make them uneasy in the world. This opposition, which is directed against Christ’s kingdom, proves oftentimes very discouraging to his subjects; but there are attempts of another nature often used to amuse, discourage, and destroy their peace, by taxing them with hypocrisy, and pretending, that all their hope of an interest in Christ’s favour and protection, is but a delusion, and therefore it had been better for them not to have given in their names to him, since the only consequence thereof will be the aggravating their condemnation. If the providences of God be dark and afflictive, he endeavours to suggest to them hard thoughts of Christ, and to make them question his goodness, and faithfulness, and to say, with the Psalmist, Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and have washed my hands in innocency, 360Psal. lxxiii. 13. and, when God is pleased, at any time, for wise ends, to deny them his comforting presence, the enemy is ready, on this occasion, to persuade them, as the Psalmist represents some speaking to the like purpose, that there is no help for them in God, Psal. iii. 2.

These methods are often used, by the enemies of Christ’s kingdom, to weaken the hands of his subjects, whereby the exercise of their graces is often interrupted, and they are hurried into many sins, through the violence of temptation; nevertheless they shall not wholly revolt. Grace may be foiled, and weakened thereby, but it shall not be utterly extinguished; for, though they be guilty of many failures and miscarriages, which discover them to be in an imperfect state, yet they are preserved from relapsing into their former state; and not only so, but are often enabled to prevail against their spiritual enemies, in which the concern of Christ, for their good, eminently discovers itself; and, if the advantage gained against them be occasioned by their going in the way of temptation, or not being on their guard, or using those means that might prevent their being overcome thereby, this is over-ruled by Christ, to the humbling and making them more watchful for the future; or if God has left them to themselves, that he may shew them the sin and folly of their self-confidence, or reliance on their own strength, this shall be a means to induce them to be more dependent on him for the future, as well as importunate with him, by faith and prayer, for that grace, which is sufficient to prevent their total and final apostasy, as well as to recover them from their present back-slidings. And these many weaknesses and defects, which gave them so much uneasiness, will induce them to sympathize with others in the like condition; and the various methods which Christ takes for their recovery, will render them skilful in directing others how to escape, or disentangle themselves from this snare, in which they have been taken, and which has given them so much uneasiness.

We might here have enlarged on that particular branch of this subject, which respects the warfare that is to be carried on by every one who lists himself under Christ’s banner, and owns him to be his rightful Lord and Sovereign, which takes up a very considerable part of the Christian life; as he is said to wrestle not only against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places, Eph. vi. 12. and elsewhere we read of the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, Gal. v. 17. But this will be considered under a following answer, in which we shall be led to speak of the imperfection of sanctification in believers, 361together with the reasons thereof;[192] and therefore we pass it over at present, and shall proceed to consider,

4. How Christ deals with his subjects after he has brought them hitherto, and inclined and enabled them to submit to his government: this is expressed in the answer we are explaining, in the following heads.

(1.) He rewards their obedience. This supposes that he requires that they should obey him, and that their obedience should be constant and universal, otherwise they deserve not the character of subjects; and, as to what concerns the regard of Christ to this obedience, though herein men are not profitable to God, as they are to themselves, or to one another, yet it shall not go unrewarded. The blessings which Christ confers on them are sometimes styled a reward, inasmuch as there is a certain connexion between their duty and interest, or their obeying and being made blessed, which blessedness is properly the reward of what Christ has done, though his people esteem it as an act of the highest favour; in this sense he rewards their obedience, and that either by increasing their graces, and establishing their comforts here; or by bringing them to perfection hereafter. But inasmuch as their obedience is, at present, very imperfect, which tends very much to their reproach, and affords matter of daily humiliation before God, it is farther added,

(2.) That Christ corrects them for their sins. This is inserted among the advantages of his government, though it is certain, that afflictions, absolutely considered, are not to be desired; nevertheless, since they are sometimes needful, 1 Pet. i. 6. and conducive to our spiritual advantage, they are included in this gracious dispensation, which attends Christ’s government, as by these things men live, Isa. xxxviii. 16. How much soever nature dreads them, yet Christ’s people consider them as designed for their good, and therefore not only submit to them, but conclude that herein he deals with them. As we are far from blaming the skilful chirurgeon, who sets a bone that is out of joint, or cuts off a limb, when it is necessary to save our lives, though neither of these can be done without great pain: thus when God visits our transgressions with the rod, and our iniquities with stripes, we reckon that he deals with us as a merciful and gracious Sovereign, and not as an enemy, since his design is to heal our backslidings, and prevent a worse evil from ensuing thereby.

(3.) He preserves and supports his subjects under all their temptations and sufferings. There are two sorts of temptations mentioned in scripture, to wit, such as are merely providential, which are designed as trials of faith and patience; as when the 362apostle says, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trial of your faith worketh patience, James i. 2, 3. and elsewhere the apostle Paul, speaking of the persecutions which he met with from the Jews, calls them temptations, Acts xx. 19. But, besides these, there are other temptations which arise from sin, Satan, and the world, whereby endeavours are used more directly to draw Christ’s subjects from their allegiance to him: thus it is said, Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed, James i. 14. and elsewhere, They that will be rich, that is, who use indirect means to attain that end, or make this the grand design of life, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition, 1 Tim. vi. 9. and the devil, who has a great hand in managing these temptations, and solicits us to comply therewith, is, for that reason, called, by way of eminency, the tempter, 1 Thes. iii. 5. and Matt. iv. 3. In both these respects, believers are exposed to great danger, by reason of temptations, and need either to be preserved from, or supported under them, that they may not prove their ruin; and this Christ does in managing the affairs of his kingdom of grace for his people’s advantage, and herein that promise is fulfilled to them, There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will, with the temptation also, make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it, 1 Cor. x. 13.

(4.) Christ powerfully orders all things for his own glory, and his people’s good, as they are said to work together for good, Rom. viii. 28. and herein his wisdom, as well as his goodness, is illustrated. Sometimes, indeed, they cannot see from the beginning of an afflictive providence to the end thereof, or what advantage God designs thereby; herein we may apply those words of our Saviour to Peter, though spoken with another view, What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter, John xiii. 7. This will eminently appear, when they shall see how every step which Christ has taken in the management of his government, has had a subserviency to promote their spiritual advantage hereafter. Thus we have considered how Christ executes his Kingly office, more especially towards his people, who are his faithful subjects.

Secondly, We are now to speak concerning the exercise of Christ’s Kingly government towards his enemies. He is, as has been before observed, their King; not by consent, or voluntary subjection to him, nor do they desire to own his authority, or yield obedience to his laws; but they are, notwithstanding, to be reckoned the subjects of his government; which is exercised,

3631. In setting bounds to their power and malice, so that they cannot do what they would against his cause and interest in the world. How far soever he may suffer them to proceed to the disadvantage of his people; yet he is able to crush them in a moment; and, when he sees their rage, and how they set themselves against him with their combined force, and insult, as though they had brought their designs to bear, as not doubting the success thereof, he tells them plainly, that they imagine a vain thing, and that he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision, Psal. ii. 1, 4. and the reason is very obvious, because God is greater than man. Though it would be a dishonour to him to say, that he is the author of sin, yet it redounds to his glory, that he sets bounds and limits to it, and over-rules it by his wisdom to his own glory; as it is said, Surely, the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain, Psal. lxxvi. 10.

2. Christ has exercised his Kingly government in gaining a victory over his enemies; this he did, when he spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross. This, indeed, was done by him, when he was in the lowest depths of his sufferings, and, in a more eminent degree, exercised his Priestly office; yet, in some respects, he is said, at that time, to have exercised his Kingly, and that in a very triumphant manner, as it is here expressed; and elsewhere he is said, through death, to have destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, Heb. ii. 14. hereby he purchased those restraints which the powers of darkness were brought under more than they were before. Satan’s chain was hereby shortened, and his subjects delivered out of his hand, being ransomed by the blood of Christ; and, as the consequence thereof, they were afterwards persuaded to withdraw their necks from that yoke, which they were formerly under, by the power of that grace that attended the preaching of the gospel, whereby they were subjected to Christ’s government. Moreover, our Saviour tells his people, that he had overcome the world, John xvi. 33. not only because he had in his own Person, escaped the pollution thereof, and not been entangled in its snares, nor hindered in the work he was engaged in, by the afflictions and injurious treatment that he met with from it, but as he procured for them those victories over it, whereby they shall be made more than conquerors through him that loved them.

3. Christ’s kingly government is, and shall more eminently appear to be exercised towards his enemies, in punishing them for all their rebellions against him. There are reserves of vengeance laid up in store, and more vials of wrath, which shall be poured forth on Satan, and all the powers of darkness, which 364they are not without some terrible apprehensions of, from the knowledge they have of God as a just judge; upon which account they are said to believe and tremble, James ii. 19. and as for all his other enemies, he will break them with a rod of iron; he will dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, Psal. ii. 9. or bring them forth, and slay them before him, Luke xix. 27. Thus concerning the manner how Christ’s kingly government hath been exercised, both towards his people and his enemies; and this leads us to consider,

III. The various seasons, or ages, in which Christ’s kingly government has been, or shall be exercised, together with the different circumstances relating to the administration of it therein. As soon as ever man fell, and thereby stood in need of a mediator to recover him, Christ was revealed, as one who had undertaken his recovery, and, as a victorious king, who should break and destroy that power, that had brought him into subjection to it. Now there are various periods, or seasons, in which he has executed his kingly office, or shall continue so to do.

1. He did this before his incarnation, during which time his government was visible, as to the effects thereof, as extended to all those who were saved under the Old Testament-dispensation: they were subdued and defended by his divine power, that was then exerted, as well as discharged from condemnation, by virtue of the sacrifice, which, in the fulness of time, he was to offer for them. We have already shewed how he executed his prophetical office during this interval;[193] now we must consider him as exercising his kingly office. The majestic way in which he delivered the law from mount Sinai, was a glorious display thereof; and the Theocracy, which they were under, which is described, in scripture, as a government distinct from, and excelling all others in glory, and the subserviency of it to their salvation, was a farther evidence that he was their king. This he evinced, at one time, by his appearance to Joshua, as the captain of the Lord’s hosts; and at another time it was represented in an emblematical way, when he was seen by the prophet Isaiah, as sitting upon a throne, and his train filling the temple. And in the book of Psalms, he is frequently acknowledged by the church as their king; concerning whom it is said, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre, Psal. xlv. 6. and, in many other places he is described as the King, the Lord of hosts, not only as predicting the future exercise of his government, but as denoting what he was at that time; concerning whom it was said, Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her? Jer. viii. 19. And when God declares that he had advanced 365him to this mediatorial dignity, and set him on his holy hill of Zion, the kings and judges of the earth are exhorted to serve him with fear, and, in token of their willingness to be his subjects, to kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and they perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little, Psal. ii. 6, 10, 12.

2. After his incarnation, when he first came into the world, he was publickly owned, by the wise men (who came from the East) as one that was born King of the Jews, and the gifts which they presented to him of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Matt. ii. 2. compared with ver. 11. the best presents that their country afforded, were designed to signify that homage which was due to him, as one whom God had appointed to be the King of his church, though his external mein, and the circumstances of his birth, contained no visible mark of regal dignity. While he conversed with his people, in the exercise of his public ministry, he gave them frequent intimations hereof, when describing the nature of his kingdom, as spiritual, and not of this world; and, when one of his followers addressed him, as the Son of God, and the King of Israel, he is so far from reproving him, as ascribing to him a glory that did not belong to him, that he not only commends his faith that was expressed herein, but gives him to understand, that he should have a greater evidence of this truth, when he should see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon him, John i. 49-51.

And, in the close of his life, when he entered into Jerusalem, with a design to give himself up to the rage and fury of his enemies, providence, as it were, extorted a confession of his regal dignity, from the unstable multitude, and, at the same time designed to fulfil what was foretold by the prophet Zechariah, when he says, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass, Zech. ix. 9. and their saying, Hosannah, blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord, John xii. 13. was the result of a present conviction, which they had of this matter, though it was not long abiding, and hereby they were, as it were, condemned out of their own mouth. And, after this, when Pilate asked him this question, in plain terms, Art thou the King of the Jews? he publickly professes himself to be so; nevertheless, he gives him to understand, that his kingdom was not of this world, upon this account the apostle says, that before Pontius Pilate he witnessed a good confession, and styles him, King of kings, and Lord of lords, 1 Tim. vi. 13, 15.

3. Christ still executes his Kingly office in that glorified state, in which he now is. This the apostle intimates, when alluding to the custom of kings in their solemn triumphs over 366their enemies, (who throw medals amongst the people to perpetuate the remembrance thereof, and bestow donatives, or peculiar marks of favour upon this occasion) when he speaks of him, as ascending up on high, having led captivity captive, and then giving gifts unto men, Eph. iv. 8. In this exalted state there are undeniable proofs of his regal dignity in the blessings which his church, in this world, receives, as the result of it as well as in the honours that are paid him by the inhabitants of heaven. The Socinians, indeed, will not allow that he executed his Kingly office on earth: but this is contrary to the account we have of his executing it in his humbled state, as above mentioned; therefore we must suppose, that when Christ entered into his glory, he did not begin to reign; though, from that time, he has exercised his government in a different manner, upon the account whereof the gospel dispensation, which ensued thereon, is called, by way of eminence, his kingdom; and, because this dispensation began upon his ascension into heaven, it is sometimes called, in the New Testament, the kingdom of heaven.

I need not add much concerning the present exercise of his Kingly government, since the greatest part of what has been said, under this answer, has a particular regard to it. It was after his ascension into heaven that the gospel-church was established, which is sometimes called his visible kingdom; then it was that the laws and ordinances, by which it was to be governed, were made known to it, together with the peculiar privileges that were then bestowed upon it, as the effects of Christ’s royal bounty: then the Spirit was sent, and, by his assistance, the gospel was preached to all nations, saving grace plentifully bestowed on multitudes, who were enabled to subject themselves to him, as King of saints; and, in this manner, Christ has hitherto exercised his Kingly government, and will do until his second coming.

Here we shall take occasion to consider what is advanced, by several, concerning Christ’s reigning a thousand years on earth, which, they suppose, will intervene between the present administration of the affairs of his kingdom, and the saints reigning with him in heaven for ever. This opinion has not only the countenance of many ancient writers, who have defended it, but it seems to be founded on several scriptures; so that we shall be led, in considering this subject, rather to enquire into the true sense of those scriptures, that speak of Christ’s reigning on earth, than to deny that he will, in any sense, reign therein, in a way circumstantially different from that in which he now administers the affairs of his kingdom. And here we shall consider what is advanced, by some, concerning this matter, who assert many things relating thereunto, 367which stand in need of stronger arguments to defend them, than have hitherto been brought; and then we shall consider how far we have ground, from scripture, to say, that Christ shall reign here on earth, and all his saints that shall live therein, with him, and what we may conclude to be the true sense of those scriptures that are brought in defence of Christ’s personal reign.

The opinions of those that treat on this subject, are so different, that to speak distinctly to them all, would be too great a diversion from my general design: and this also renders it more difficult, to lay down the state of the question in a few words. However, I shall briefly attempt this; and, that we may proceed with greater clearness, shall consider what is asserted, by several writers, concerning Christ’s personal reign on earth, which shall be in the latter end of the world, and is to continue, from the time that it commences, a thousand years.

(1.) Some have supposed, that this thousand years’ reign includes in it the whole compass of time, in which Christ shall judge the world. This is called, indeed, in scripture, a day; but it cannot reasonably be supposed that it shall take up no more than the space of twenty-four hours; and therefore they suppose, that it shall contain the space of a thousand years, which they found partly on that scripture, in Psal. xc. 4. A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past; and more especially on the apostle’s words, in 2 Pet. iii. 8. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; and this they apply, in particular to the day of judgment, which is spoken of in the verse immediately foregoing; and, since we have ground to conclude that this shall be done on earth, and also, that, when Christ judges the world, it may be truly said, he exercises his Kingly office in a most glorious manner; therefore they conclude, from hence, that this thousand years’ reign includes in it all the time that he will take up in judging the world: but, even in this matter, all do not agree in their sentiments; for some think, that, in this judicial process, none are to be judged but the saints, who, being acquitted by him, are said to reign with him; and, in order hereunto, that they shall be raised from the dead, which they suppose to be meant by the first resurrection, and that the rest shall not be raised till the thousand years are finished, Rev. xx. 5. But this seems not agreeable to the account we have elsewhere, in scripture, of Christ’s raising the dead, coming to judgment, and determining the state, both of the righteous and wicked, as what is to be done in or near the same time, each of these being distinct branches of the same solemnity. And that which makes this opinion still more improbable, is, because in the same scripture in which we have an account of 368this thousand years’ reign, it immediately follows, that, when these years shall be expired, Satan will be loosed out of his prison, and suffered to deceive the nations; and then we read of other enemies which the church shall have, concerning whom it is said, that they shall be gathered together to battle; and it is farther said, that they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and all this is to be done between the end of the thousand years reign and the general judgment, when the dead, small and great, shall be raised, the books opened, and all judged out of those things that are written therein, according to their works; therefore this opinion concerning the thousand years’ reign, including in it the time in which Christ shall appear, in this lower world, to judge his saints, does not seem to be the sense of that scripture on which this opinion is supposed to be founded, Rev. xx. 12.

(2.) The more common opinion, which is defended by several ancient and modern Chiliasts, or Millenaries, as they are generally called, is, that our Lord Jesus Christ shall, some time in the last days, before he comes to the final judgment, appear in this lower world, in his human nature, and dwell and reign among the inhabitants thereof, in such a way, as may render it a kind of middle state between that which the church is now in, and heaven; more glorious than the former, and yet very much inferior to the latter. And here they suppose,

1st, That there are several things which shall go immediately before it, as tending to usher in the glory of that kingdom, to wit, the conversion of the Jews, which is to be effected at once. And, in order hereunto, some conclude that the dispensation of miracles shall be revived; which they argue from hence, in that all the remarkable changes that have formerly been made in the affairs of the church, have been introduced by miracles; and the Jews, more than any other nation in the world, have been desirous of a conviction by such a method as this.

Moreover, it is also supposed, that, at the same time, those scriptures that foretel a greater fulness of the Gentiles, or the conversion of many, who still remain in the darkness of heathenism, shall have their accomplishment in an eminent degree; and this shall also proceed from, and be attended with a greater degree of the effusion of the Spirit, and the consequence hereof will be a more glorious light shining throughout the world, than has ever done; and that these two, the Jews and Gentiles, shall be both joined together, in one body, under Christ, their visible and glorious Head.

Moreover, some suppose, that Jerusalem, and the countries round about it, shall be the principal seat of this kingdom, to 369which these new converts shall repair; so that, as there the glorious scene of the gospel was first opened, in that part of the earth, the glory of Christ’s personal reign shall begin. Others, to this, add, that, at this time, the temple at Jerusalem shall be built, which shall far exceed that which was built by Solomon, in glory; and that the New Jerusalem shall be also built and adorned in a magnificent way, agreeable to what is said of it in scripture, Rev. xxi. which they understand in a literal sense. In this I must take leave to differ from them, though not in what was but now hinted, concerning the conversion of the Jews, and the fulness of the Gentiles going before it.

2dly, Though some suppose that the general conflagration, spoken of by the apostle Peter, 2 Pet. iii. 7, 13. shall be after this thousand years reign, which is certainly the more probable opinion; yet others have concluded, that it shall be before it and that the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, which believers according to God’s promise look for, shall arise out of the ruins of the old. Thus a late writer says,[194] who advances many things concerning the ante-diluvian world, as well as this new one, with an elegancy of style, that is very entertaining, and, in many instances, runs counter to the sentiments of all that went before him, than which a more ingenious romance is hardly extant: but since, for the most part, he brings in scripture to give countenance to what he advances, and lays down a peculiar scheme concerning this Millennium, I cannot wholly pass it over. He supposes, that the reign of Christ, on earth, shall be ushered in by a general conflagration, in which all the inhabitants thereof must necessarily be consumed, and the world reduced into a second chaos by fire; and, as his master De Cartes describes the form of the world when first created, and how the various particles of matter were disposed, in order to its being brought to that perfection to which it arrived afterwards, so he describes the form to which the world shall be framed; which, when done, being at a loss to find out inhabitants for it, he supposes that the dead shall be raised; to which he applies what is said in scripture concerning the first resurrection, and then this thousand years reign begins: but he is more at a loss, as might easily be supposed, to account for Gog and Magog, the enemies of the church, which shall give it great disturbance at the close thereof; and, since he cannot easily suppose them to be raised from the dead for this end, he fancies that they shall spring out of the earth; which so much embarrasses his scheme, that, whatsoever scriptures he brings in defence of it, it must be supposed by impartial judges, to be attended with the greatest absurdities.

3703dly, There are others, who suppose that the general conflagration shall not be till the end of the thousand years reign; nevertheless they conclude, that the dead shall be raised, and more particularly those who are designed to reign with Christ. And, with respect to this, the sentiments of persons are somewhat different, inasmuch as some suppose that none shall be raised, at this time, but those who have suffered martyrdom for Christ’s sake; and that this is the meaning of that expression, I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and the word of God, and they lived and reigned a thousand years, Rev. xx. 4. Others suppose, that because many, who have not suffered death for Christ’s sake, have, in other respects, passed through an equal number of persecutions and reproaches in life, and were ready to suffer martyrdom, had they been called to it, these are not excluded; and therefore that all the saints shall be raised from the dead, as the apostle says, The dead in Christ shall rise first, 1 Thess. iv. 16. that is, a thousand years before the wicked; and that this is intended by what is styled the first resurrection; they shall rise, not to be received immediately into heaven, but shall be first openly acknowledged, and acquitted by Christ, the Judge of all, and then reign with him on earth, throughout the whole period of time.

4thly, Others suppose, that, during this thousand years’ reign, the public ordinances of God’s worship, namely, the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments, and the present order and discipline of churches, shall entirely cease; to which they accommodate the sense of some scriptures, to wit, that in which it is said, concerning the New Jerusalem, that there was no temple therein that the city had no need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine in it, Rev. xxi. 22, 23. and elsewhere, when the apostle says, that the church, in celebrating the Lord’s Supper, was to to shew forth the Lord’s death till he come, 1 Cor. xi. 26. they suppose that the meaning is, that they were to do this till he shall come to reign on earth, and no longer.

5thly, There are some who entertain very carnal notions of the saints reigning with Christ, inconsistent with perfect holiness; and speak of pleasures, which they shall then enjoy, that are more agreeable to Mahomet’s paradise, than the life of saints, admitted to such privileges, which they suppose them to be partakers of. And some proceed yet farther in their wild and ungrounded fancies, when they think that a small number of the wicked shall be left in the world, to be, as it were, slaves to them; all which are inconsistent with the spirituality of Christ’s kingdom. Such extremes as these, many, who, have defended Christ’s personal reign on earth, have unwarily run into; among whom there are some ancient writers, who have 371led the way to others, who speak of it as the generally received opinion of the fathers in the three first centuries[195]; but these are not much to be depended on, as to the sense they give of scripture, any more than those who have lived in latter ages, especially in those things which they advance, that seem to be inconsistent with the spirituality of Christ’s kingdom: But if this account, which they give of it, appear to be contrary thereunto, what they farther say concerning it, and others, who improve upon their scheme, is much more remote from it, when they speak of the building of Jerusalem, and that being the principal seat of Christ’s reign; and of several things relating to it, which are of such a nature, and contain so great a reproach on Christ’s kingdom, that I forbear to mention them; and there are very few who will think them consistent with the character of saints. This gave disgust to Augustin, who, at first, adhered to this opinion, but afterwards was justly prejudiced against it[196].

Thus we have given a brief account of the different sentiments of many, who treat in their writings of Christ’s personal reign, of which some are maintained by persons of great worth and judgment, and seem more agreeable to the sense of those scriptures, that are brought to defend them, than others; these ought to be farther considered, that it may appear whether they 372are just or no. As for those, which can hardly be called any other than romantic, and have little more to support them, than the ungrounded conjecture of those who advance them, and are so far from agreeing with the general scope and design of scripture, that they contain a reflection on the methods of Christ’s government, rather than an expedient to advance it; these carry in themselves their own confutation, and nothing farther need be said in opposition to them.

Before we proceed to consider how far Christ’s reign on earth may be defended, and in what other respects several things, which are asserted, relating to some circumstances, that they suppose, will attend it, do not seem to be sufficiently founded on scripture, we shall take leave to premise some things, in general, relating to the method in which this subject ought to be managed.

1. So far as the scripture plainly gives countenance to this doctrine in general, viz. that the administration of Christ’s government in this lower world, shall be attended with great glory, and shall abundantly tend to the advantage of his church, this is a subject of too great importance to be passed over with neglect, as though we had no manner of concern therein, or it were a matter of mere speculation; for certainly all scripture is written for our learning, and ought to be studied and improved by us, to the glory of God, and our own edification. And as for those texts that speak of Christ’s government, as exercised in this world, they contain matters in them not only awful and sublime, but our having just ideas thereof, will be a direction to our faith, when we pray for the further advancement of Christ’s kingdom, as we are bound daily to do.

2. We must take heed that we do not give too great scope to our fancy, by framing imaginary schemes of our own, and then bringing in scripture, not without some violence offered to the sense thereof, to give countenance to them; nor ought we to acquiesce in such a sense of scripture, brought to support this doctrine, as is evidently contrary to other scriptures or to the nature and spirituality of Christ’s government.

3. We must take it for granted, that some of those scriptures, which relate to this matter, are hard to be understood, and therefore a humble modesty becomes us, in treating on this subject, rather than to censure those who differ from us, as though they were departed from that faith, which is founded on the most obvious and plain sense of scripture, especially if they maintain nothing that is derogatory to the glory of Christ; which rule we shall endeavour to observe, in what remains to be considered on this subject. And since most allow that there is a sense, in which Christ’s kingdom shall be attended with 373greater circumstances of glory than it is at present, we shall proceed to shew,

(1.) How Christ’s kingdom shall be advanced, in this lower world, beyond what it is at present, and that in such a way as agrees very well with the sense of several scriptures relating thereunto, without giving into some extremes, which many have done, who have plead for Christ’s personal reign on earth, in such a way, in which it cannot easily be defended. We freely own, as what we think agreeable to scripture,

1st, That, as Christ has, in all ages, displayed his glory, as King of the Church, as has been before observed; so we have ground to conclude, from scripture, that the administration of his government in this world, before his coming to judgment, will be attended with greater magnificence, more visible marks of glory, and various occurrences of providence, that shall tend to the welfare and happiness of his church, in a greater degree, than has hitherto been beheld, or experienced by it, since it was first planted by the apostles, after his ascension into heaven; which we think to be the sense in general, of those scriptures, both in the Old and New Testament, which speak of the latter-day glory. Some of the prophets seem to look farther than the first preaching of the gospel, and the glorious display of Christ’s government that attended it, which was, in part, an accomplishment of some of their predictions relating hereunto, inasmuch as there are some expressions, which they make use of, that seem as yet not to have had their accomplishment: Thus the prophet Isaiah, when he speaks of the glory of the Lord as arising, and being seen upon the church, and the Gentiles coming to this light, and kings to the brightness thereof. Isa. lx. 1. & seq. and many other things to the same purpose, which denote the glorious privileges that the gospel-church should enjoy: Though this, in a spiritual sense, may, in a great measure, be supposed to be already accomplished; yet there are other things, which he fortels concerning it, which do not yet appear to have had their accomplishment: as when he says, that thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night, ver. 11. And the same mode of speaking is used, concerning the New Jerusalem, in Rev. xxi. 25. as denoting the church’s being perfectly free from all those afflictive dispensations of providence, which would tend to hinder the preaching and success of the gospel; and that violence should be no more heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction in thy borders, ver. 18. by which he intends the church’s perfect freedom from all persecution; and that the sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Ver. 18, 19. This is so far from having been yet accomplished, 374that it seems to refer to the same thing, that is mentioned concerning the New Jerusalem, Rev. xxi. 23. and almost expressed in the same words, which, if it be not a metaphorical description of the heavenly state, has a peculiar reference to the latter-day glory; and, when the prophet farther adds, that thy people shall be all righteous, as denoting that holiness shall almost universally obtain in the world, as much as iniquity has abounded in it, this does not appear to have been yet accomplished.

Again, when the prophet Micah speaks of the Mountain of the Lord, being established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and that people should flow unto it, Micah iv. 1. though this, and some other things that he there mentions, may refer to the first preaching of the gospel, and success thereof; yet what he farther adds, that they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; and nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid, ver. 3, 4. This prophecy, so far as it may be taken otherwise than in a spiritual sense, seems to imply a greater degree of peace and tranquility than the gospel-church has hitherto enjoyed; therefore when he says, that this shall be in the last days, ver. 1. we have reason to conclude, that he does not mean barely the last, or gospel dispensation, which commenced on our Saviour’s ascension into heaven, but the last period thereof, viz. that time which we are now considering.

As to the account we have hereof in the New Testament, especially in many places in the book of the Revelation, that speak of the kingdoms of the world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and of his taking to himself his great power and reigning, Rev. xi. 15, 17. and what is spoken concerning the thousand years reign, chap. v. 20. whatever be the sense hereof, as to some circumstances of glory that shall attend this administration of the affairs of his kingdom, it certainly has not yet had its accomplishment, and therefore leads us to expect that it shall be attended with greater degrees of glory redounding to himself, which we call the latter-day glory.

2dly, Many privileges will redound to the church hereby; for as Christ is said to reign on earth, so the saints are represented as reigning with him, as they say, Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth, Rev. v. 10. and elsewhere, when the apostle speaks of Christ’s reigning a thousand years, adds, that they shall reign with him, Rev. xx. 6. which cannot be taken in any other sense than for a spiritual reign, agreeable to Christ’s kingdom, which is not of this world; therefore,

3753dly, We have, from hence, sufficient ground to conclude, that when these prophecies shall have their accomplishment, the interest of Christ shall be the prevailing interest in the world, which it has never yet been in all respects, so that godliness shall be as much valued and esteemed, as it has been decried, and as universally; and it shall be reckoned as great an honour to be a Christian, as it has, in the most degenerate age of the church, been matter of reproach. And to this we may add, that the church shall have a perfect freedom from persecution in all parts of the world; and a greater glory shall be put on the ordinances, and more success attend them, than has hitherto been experienced. In short there shall be, as it were, an universal spread of religion and holiness to the Lord, throughout the world.

4thly, When this glorious dispensation shall commence, we have sufficient ground to conclude, that, the Anti-christian powers having been wholly subdued, the Jews shall be converted. This may be inferred from the order in which this is foretold, in the book of the Revelation, in which the fall and utter ruin of Babylon is predicted, in chap. xviii. And, after this, we read in chap. xix. of the marriage of the Lamb being come; and his wife, as having made herself ready; and others who are styled blessed, are called to the marriage-supper, in ver. 7, 9. This, as an ingenious and learned writer observes[197], seems to be a prediction of the call of the Jews, and of the saints of the faithful, namely, the gospel church, who were converted before this time, being made partakers of the spiritual privileges of Christ’s kingdom, together with them, and so invited to the marriage-supper; accordingly, by the Lamb’s wife, is intended the converted Jews, who are considered as espoused to him; and inasmuch as their being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish a righteousness of their own, and not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God, Rom. x. 3. occasioned their being rejected; so, when they are converted, and these new espousals are celebrated, it is particularly observed, that this righteousness shall be their greatest glory, the robe that they shall be adorned with; so that when this bride is said to have made herself ready, it follows, in Rev. xix. 8. To her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linnen is the righteousness of the saints. This prophecy, being placed immediately before the account of the thousand years’ reign, in chap. xx. gives ground to conclude, that it shall be before it, or an introduction to it.

Object. I am sensible there are some who question whether those prophecies, especially such as are found in the Old Testament, 376that foretell the conversion of the Jews, had not their full accomplishment in the beginning of the gospel-state, when many churches were gathered out of the Jews, and some of the apostles were sent to exercise their ministry in those parts of the world, where the greatest number of them resided, upon which account Peter is called the apostle of the Jews; for God wrought effectually in him to the apostleship of the circumcision, Gal. ii. 8. and he, together with James and John, direct their inspired epistles to them in particular.

Answ. But to this it may be replied, that there are some scriptures, in the New Testament, relating to this matter, which do not seem, as yet, to have been accomplished, but respect this glorious dispensation, in which there shall be, as it were, an universal conversion of them in the latter day; particularly what the apostle says, If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? Rom. xi. 15. And he adds, I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in, and then all Israel shall be saved, ver. 25, 26. This seems, as yet, not to have been accomplished; and as for those scriptures, in the Old Testament, that predict many things in favour of the Jewish nation; though I will not deny that many of them had their accomplishment, either in their return from the Babylonish captivity, or in those that were converted in the beginning of the gospel-dispensation, yet I cannot think that they all had; for the prophet Hosea seems to foretell some things that are yet to come, when he speaks of them, as being many days without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim, Hos. iii. 4. which seems to point at the condition in which they now are; and he adds, in the following words, Afterwards the children of Israel shall seek the Lord their God, and David their king, to wit, Christ, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days; which seems to intend their conversion, which is yet expected.

Thus far our faith, as to this matter, may be said to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets: but, if we pretend to determine the way, and manner in which this shall be done, we must have recourse to uncertain conjectures, instead of solid arguments. That learned writer whom I have before mentioned,[198] gives his opinion about it, which I will not pretend to disprove, though, indeed the ingenuity thereof is more to be valued than its convincing evidence. He supposes it shall be somewhat like the conversion of the apostle Paul, by Christ’s appearing with a glorious light on earth, and then retiring to 377heaven again: but the accommodating one particular circumstance of providence, (in which Christ seems to have another end to answer, namely, that Paul might be qualified for the apostleship by this extraordinary sight of him) to this matter, as an argument of the Jews being converted in such a manner, proves nothing at all; therefore the best way is to leave this among the secrets which belong not to us to enquire after.[199] Thus concerning the conversion of the Jews, as what is expected to go immediately before those glorious times that we are speaking of. And to this we may add,

5thly, That there shall be a greater spread of the gospel through the dark parts of the earth; and so that scripture, which was but now referred to, concerning the Gentiles coming to the light of this glorious morning, or the forces of the Gentiles coming unto the church, Isa. lx. 3, 5. shall have a fuller accomplishment than hitherto it has had; as also another scripture in which the prophet says, that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, ch. xi. 9. We will not deny but that this had, in part, an accomplishment, when the gospel was first preached by the apostles; and, indeed, the prophet intimates, that these things shall come to pass when a rod shall come out of the stem of Jesse, ver. 1. that is, after Christ’s incarnation, who was of the seed of David, according to the flesh. Therefore I cannot but think that those words, In that day, which we often meet with in scripture, ver. 10, 11. signify the whole gospel-dispensation, from the beginning thereof to its consummation, in Christ’s coming 378to judgment; and then we may look for some things, which the prophet here foretells, as what should come to pass in one part thereof, and other things in another. And as to what respects the knowledge of Christ being so extensive, as that it is said to cover the earth; or Christ’s being elsewhere said to be a light to the Gentiles, though it denote the first success of the gospel in the conversion of the Gentiles, it does not argue, that such-like texts shall not have a farther accomplishment when those other things shall come to pass, which the prophet mentions in the foregoing verses, under the metaphor of the wolf dwelling with the lamb, &c. and other things, which relate to a more peaceable state of the church, than it has hitherto experienced. And it seems sufficiently evident, that, when this happy time shall come, the interest of Christ shall be the prevailing interest in the world, and the glory of his kingdom shall be more eminently displayed, than, at present, it is. In these respects, we are far from denying the