صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

jesty and authority upon it, and by the power and efficacy wherewith by his Spirit it is accompanied. Thus is every word of God stedfast as a declaration of his will unto us, by what means soever it is made known unto us. .

V. Every transaction between God and man, is always confirined and ratified by promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments; “ every trespass.”

VI. The most glorious administrators of the law do stoop to look into the mysteries of the gospel. See 1 Pet. i. 12.

VII. Covenant transgressions are attended with unavoidable penalties; “ every transgression,” that is of the covenant, disannulling of it, " received a meet recompence of reward."

VII. The gospel is a word of salvation to them that do believe.

IX. The salvation tendered in the gospel, is great salvation.

X. Men are apt to entertain thoughts of escaping the wrath of God, though they live in a neglect of the gospel. This the apostle insinuates in that interrogation, “How shall we es

[ocr errors]

XI. The neglecters of the gospel shall unavoidably perish under the wrath of God: “ How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?"

These last observations may be cast into one proposition, and so be considered together; namely, that the gospel is great salvation, which whoso neglecteth, shall therefore unavoidably perish without remedy. We shall first inquire how the gospel is said to be salvation, and that great salvation, and then shew the equity and unavoidableness of their destruction by whom it is neglected, and therein the vanity of their hopes, who look for an escaping in the contempt of it.

By the gospel, we understand with the apostle, the word preached or spoken by Christ and his apostles, and now recorded for our use in the books of the New Testament, not exclusively unto what was declared of it in the types and promises of the Old Testament. But by the way of eminency we appropriate the whole name and nature of the gospel unto that delivery of the mind and will of God, by Jesus Christ, which included and perfected all that had preceded unto that purpose. Now the gospel is salvation upon a double account.

First, Declaratively, in that the salvation of God by Christ is declared, taught and revealed thereby. So the apostle informs us, Rom. i. 16, 17. “ It is the power of God unto salvation, because therein the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;” that is the righteousness of God in Christ, whereby believers shall be saved. And therefore it is called, i xareas to Ow, i ontngros, Tit. ii. 11. the “ saving,' or salvationbringing, grace of God;' the grace of God, as that which teacheth and revealeth his grace. And thence they that abuse it to their lusts are said to “ turn the grace of God into lasci. viousness," Jude 4. that is, the doctrine of it, which is the gospel. And therefore under the Old Testament, it is called the preaching or declaring of glad tidings, tidings of peace, and salvation, Nahum i. 15. Isa. lii. 7. and is described as a proclamation of mercy, peace, pardon and salvation unto sinners, Isa. Ixi. 1, 2. And life and immortality are said to be brought to light thereby, 2 Tim. i. 10. It is true, God had from all eternity in his infinite grace contrived the salvation of sinners, but this contrivance, and the purpose of it, lay hid in his own will and wisdom, as in an infinite abyss of darkness, utterly imperceptible unto angels and men, until it was brought to light, or manifested and declared by the gospel, Eph. iii. 9, 10. Col. i. 25–27. There is nothing more vain than the supposals of some, that there are other ways whereby this salvation might be discovered and made known. The works of nature or creation and providence, the sun, moon and stars, showers from hea. ven, with fruitful seasons, are in their judgment preachers of the salvation of sinners. I know not what also they say, that the reason of man, by the contemplation of these things may find out, of I know not what placability in God, that may incite sinners to go unto him, and enable them to find acceptance with him. But we see what success all the world, and all the wise men of it, had in the use and improvement of these means of the salvation of sinners. The apostle tells us not only, that by their “ wisdom they knew not God," 1 Cor. i. 21. but also, that the more they searched, the greater loss they were at, until they “ wased vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened,” Rom. i. 21. And indeed whatever they had amongst them, which had any semblance of an obscure apprehension of some way of salvation by atonement and intercession, as in their sacrifices, and mediations of inferior deities, which the apostle alludes unto, 1 Cor. vü. 5, 6.; as they had it by tradition from those who were somewhat instructed in the will of God by revelation, so they turned it into horrible idolatries, and the utmost contempt of God. And this was the issue of their disquisitions, who were no less wise in the principles of inbred reason, and the knowledge of the works of nature, than those who now contend for their ability to have done better. Besides, the salvation of sinners is a mystery, as the Scripture every where declareth, a blessed, a “ glorious mystery,” Rom. xvi. 25. « The wisdom of God in a mystery," 1 Cor. ii. 7. Eph. i. 9. Col. i. 25, 26. That is, not only a thing secret and marvellous, but such as hath no dependance on any causes that come naturally within our cognizance. Now, whatever men can find out, by the principles of reason, and the con

templation of the works of God, in creation and providence, it is by natural scientific conclusions; and what is so discovered, can be no heavenly, spiritual, glorious mystery, such as this salvation is. Whatever men may so find out, if they may find out any thing looking this way, it is but natural science, it is not a mystery, and so is of no use in this matter, whatever it be. Moreover, it is not only said to be a mystery, but a hidden mystery, and that “ hid in God himself,” as Eph. iii. 9, 10. Col. i. 25, 26. 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8.; that is, in the wisdom, purpose and will of God. Now it is very strange that men should be able by the natural means fore-mentioned, to discover a hea. venly, supernatural wisdom, and that hidden on purpose from their finding by any such inquiry, and that in God himself, so coming unto the knowledge of it, as it were, whether he would or not. But we may pass over these imaginations, and accept of the gospel, as the only way and means of declaring the salvation of God. And therefore every word and promise in the whole book of God, that intimateth or revealeth any thing belonging unto this salvation, is itself a part of the gospel, and 80 to be esteemed. And as this is the work of the gospel, so is it in an especial manner, its proper and peculiar work with respect unto the law. The law speaks nothing of the salvation of sinners; and is therefore called the ministry of death and condemnation, as the gospel is of life and salvation, 2 Cor. iii. 9, 10. And thus the gospel is salvation declaratively.

Secondly, It is salvation efficiently, in that it is the great instrument which God is pleased to use, in and for the collation and bestowing salvation upon his eleet. Hence the apostle calls it the “ power of God unto salvation,” Rom. i. 16., because God in and by it exerts his mighty power in the saving of them that believe; as it is again so called, 1 Cor. i. 18. whence there is a garing power ascribed unto the word itself. And therefore Paul commits believers unto the “ word of grace, as that which is able to build them up, and give them an inheritance among all them that are sanctified,” Acts xx. 32. And James calls it the “ ingrafted word, which is able to save our souls," James i. 21.; the mighty power of Christ being put forth in it, and accompanying of it, for that purpose. But this will the better appear, if we consider the several principal parts of this salvation, and the efficiency of the word as the instrument of God, in the communication of it unto us. As,

First, In the regeneration and sanctification of the elect, the first external act of this salvation. This is wrought by the word, 1 Pet. i. 23. “ We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God.” Wherein not only the thing itself, of our regeneration by the word, but the manner of it also is declared. It is by the collation of a new

spiritual life upon us, whereof the word is the seed. As every life proceeds from some seed, that hath in itself virtually the whole life to be educed from it by natural ways and means, so the word in the hearts of men is turned into a vital principle, that, cherished by suitable means, puts forth vital acts and operations. By this means are we born of God and quickened, who by “nature are children of wrath, dead in trespasses and sins." So Paul tells the Corinthians, that he had “ begotten them in Jesus Christ by the gospel," 1 Cor. iv. 15. I confess, it doth not do this work by any power resident in itself, and always pecessarily accompanying its administration. For then all would be so regenerated unto whom it is preached, and there would be no neglecters of it. But it is the instrument of God for this end; and mighty and powerful through God it is for the accomplishment of it. And this gives us our first real interest in the salvation which it doth declare. Of the same use and efficacy is it in the progress of this work in our sanctification; by which we are carried on towards the full enjoyment of this salvation. So our Saviour prays for his disciples, John xvii. 19. “ Sanctify them by thy word;" as the means and instrument of their sanctification. And he tells his apostles, that they were “ clean through the word that he had spoken unto them," chap. xv. 3. For it is the food and nourishment whereby the spiritual principle of life, which we receive in our regeneration, is cherished and increased, 1 Pet. i. 2. and so able to build us up, until it give “ us an inheritance among them that are sanctified.”

Secondly, It is so in the communication of the Spirit unto them that do believe, to furnish them with the gifts and graces of the kingdom of heaven, and to interest them in all those privileges of this salvation, which God is pleased in this life to impart unto us, and to entrust us withal. So the apostle dealing with the Galatians about their backslidings from the gospel, asketh them, “ whether they received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the word of faith,” Gal. iii. 2. that is the gospel. That was the way and means whereby God communicated unto them his Spirit, by whom, among many other privi. leges, “ we are sealed unto the day of redemption." This is the covenant of God, that his “ Spirit and the word of the gos. pel” shall go, and shall abide together with his elect, Isa. lix. 21. And he is given unto us by the gospel, on many accounts.

1. Because he is the gift and grant of the author of the gospel, as to all the especial ends and concernments of salvation. John tells us, that “the Spirit was not given when Jesus was not as yet glorified," chap. vii. 39. that is, not in that manner, as God hath annexed unto this salvation : and therefore Peter tells us, that " when the Lord Christ ascended up on high, he received of the Father the promise of the Spirit, and poured

with that he more ear is to an bestow upon th that to

[ocr errors]

him forth on them which did believe," Acts ii. 33. And this he did, according to his own great promise and prediction, while he conversed with his disciples in the days of his flesh. There was not any thing that he more supported and encouraged them with, nor more raised their hearts to an expectation of, than. this, that he would send unto them, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost, for many blessed ends and purposes, and that to abide with them forever, as we may see, John xiv. 15, 16. And this is the great privilege of the gospel, that the author of it is alone the donor and bestower of the Holy Spirit; and of what concern he is in the business of our salvation, all men know, who have any acquaintance with these things.

2. He is promised in the gospel, and therein alone. All the promises of the Scripture, whether in the Old Testament or New, whose subject is the Spirit, are evangelical: they all belong unto, and are parts of the gospel. For the law bad no promise of the Spirit, nor any privilege by him annexed unto it. And hence he is called “the Holy Spirit of promise,” Eph. i. 13. who, next unto the person of Christ, was the great subject of promises from the foundation of the world.

3. By these promises are believers actually and really made partakers of the Spirit. They are vehicula Spiritus, the chariots that bring this Holy Spirit into our souls, 2 Pet. i. 4. By these great and precious promises is the divine nature communi. cated unto us, so far forth as unto the indwelling of this blessed Spirit. Every evangelical promise is unto a believer but as it were the clothing of the Spirit; in receiving whereof he receives the Spirit himself, for some of the blessed ends of this great salvation. God makes use of the word of the gospel, and of no other means, to this purpose. So that herein also it is the grace of God that bringeth salvation.

Thirdly, In our justification. And this hath so great a share in this salvation, that it is often called salvation itself. And they that are justified, are said to be saved, as Eph. ii. 8. And this is by the gospel alone ; wbich is a point of such importance, that it is the main subject of some of Paul's Epistles, and is fully taught in them all. And in sundry respects it is by the gospel.

1. Because therein, and thereby, is appointed and constituted the new law of justification, whereby even a sinner may come to be justified before God. The law of justification was, that he that did the works of the law should live in them, Rom. s. 5. But this became weak and unprofitable by reason of sin, Rom. viii. 3. Heb. viii. 7-9. That any sinner (and we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God) should be justified by this law or rule, implies a contradiction, and is utterly impossible. Wherefore God by the gospel bath constituted a

thai dided befustificat

« السابقةمتابعة »