« السابقةمتابعة »
acted and done by the strength and assistance of the Spirit of God. This is the Popish scheme. 2. The Baxterian scheme is also opposite to this gospeldoctrine : they tell us, that God hath made a new law with mankind; and obedience to that new law and to its commands, is our righteousness; and this obedience gives us a title to heaven, and gives us a title to Christ's blood, and to pardon: And the act of faith is our righteousness, not as it accepts of Christ's righteousness, but as it is an obedience to that new law; the very act and work of faith is, according to them, the righteousness itself : And this faith takes in all kind of works, namely, repentance, love, obedience, and ten or twelve duties of that sort; and all these together are our righteousness for justification. Really (as one says upon this very head) if the apostle Paul were alive, he would excommunicate such ministers.
2. As to practical legalists, this generation is full of these. I know not a more reigning fon among professors ; a gospel-strain is almost loft, and a gospel-method is almost forgotten. If we would go back to our reformers, we should see a gofpel-spirit among them; but now the gospelscheme is come under reproach, as if it were a new scheme ; and some preach against it, write against it, reason against it, as if it were Antinomianism, and a going off from the law; as the Papists accuse the Protestants of old: Why? What is the matter? A hellish, unholy, legal spirit reigns in the world: Now, in prosecuting of this use, and that we may see how much ground there is to lament over, and bewail a legal temper, that takes place, I would here, 1. Shew fome eviden
ces of a legal spirit in the ungodly and unconverted. 2. Some evidences of a legal temper in believers themselves. 3. Shew the cause of this legal temper that is in the world. 4. Shew the evil and danger of it.
ift, Some evidences of a legal temper, that is natural to the ungodly, who having no new nature, have no gospel-spirit at all. This may be evidenced in these four degrees of self, and legal pride, 1. While the man is just in the dead seep of natural security, having no fight, nor sense of his sin, no conviction of, nor contrition for fin; even then, which is strange, he may imagine many times that he is perfect, that he never breaks any of the commandments of God, but keeps the whole law: The young pharisee in the gospel is an eminent instance hereof; our Lord gives him an account of the commands of the law; and he had the insolent boldness to say to Christ, All these things have I kept from my youth 'up: And Paul, before his conversion, was stuff'd with the same legal pride, I was toucbing the law blameless. What means he by that? Why it is as if he had said, I was such a stanch pharisee, and religious zealot, that, as I never thought I broke any of the ten commandments, so I thought I had kept the whole law. Wonderful arrogance and ignorance, to imagine that a man in his fallen state can have a perfection, and keep the whole law! And yet the elect of God, before their conversion, have found that they have been filled with such pride and infolent thoughts, as you see in Paul: Yea, and many think little less, tho' they say they are fioners, yet they see not fin, and fancy they are conformable to the law: They have a good heart, they wrong no body, they are
just just in their dealings, none can say, black is their eye ; and here is their righteousness being alive to the law. 2. Degree is, when men come to be convinced of fin and rebellion and of their loft state by reason of their having trampled the divine authority under foot, offended his Majesty, violated his law, provoked his anger ; then as if Christ were the most needless and useless thing in heaven or earth, they run to their repentance for an atonement, as Papists to their penances, and Pagans to their facrifices to atone their offended deities; as if there were no day's-man, no mediator betwixt God and man, to make atonement; Chrift the propitiation is altogether flighted; they hope to make atonement, and pacify God, by repent. ing seriously, and lamenting bitterly ; and so they fall to work, praying, fasting, mourning, conferfing, with an absolute neglect of Christ; and, upon the back of all their legal fears, confessions and bitter lamentations, their wakened consciences are pleased and pacified: The storm that was raised there, is turned to a calm ; a false peace takes place, not founded upon Christ or his atoning blood, but upon their confeffions, tears, prayers, whereby they think to disgorge and vomit up all the sins of their life, and to save themselves from them, and from the wrath that follows them. To this purpose was that saying of Augustine (it looks like a harsh saying, but had a good meaning) namely, that repentance damns more than fins do. When people are under any fearful apprehension of the wrath. to come upon them for their fins, they flee to their repentance instead of flying to Christ, and that effectually destroys and ruins them. 3. Degree is, when a man not only repents, but amends :
He not only takes up resolutions of amendment of life, but actually studies obedience, reforms his way; he is at pains to get his life changed, but not to get his state changed. He is not taken up to get a new heart, but would have the old heart made à little better : he thinks a little amending will do the business; and what is all this, but, as one says, like the gilding of a rottten post, the post is rotten within, but is finely gilded over without? It is but like the whitening of a sepulchre, that, however white it may be without, yet it is full of dead men's bones within : It is like the painting of a chimney without, that is all black and footy with in: It is like the adorning of a dead corpse with sweet flowers: The man is dead in sins and trespasses, notwithstanding all this. 4. Degree is beyond all this, gospel-light hath shined objectively upon them, and they are more illuminated than to be pleased with this. Why? they hear of Christ, and that there is no salvation, no justification without him; and therefore, they act faith upon him in a legal way; they believe in him, not by a saving faith, but a temporary faith. As believers do perform gospel-obedience to the law, so unbelievers may have a legal faith of the gospel, a legal faith upon Christ, believing in their own strength, believing even before he see his. inability to believe, before ever he sees his unwillingness to believe, before he be humbled under a senle of his absolute need of Christ, and before he see what right and warrant he hath from the word. However, he fancies he hath closed with Christ, laid hold on his cover nant, and this is the most subtle part of selfrighteousness; yet, after all, he is the old man, still wedded to the law : And hence he hath no fancti
fication, no new nature, no new principle of spi-, ritual life, no living unto God.
2dly, Some evidences of a legal temper that remains in believers themselves. 1. When their comfort is still up and down with their frame; if their frame be up, their comfort is up; if their frame be down, their comfort is down; if their frame be gone, their comfort is gone, their joy is withered : Herein the legal spirit discovers itself; whereas a gospel-temper of foul would lead the man to rejoice, even when the changeable frame is gone, that the unchangeable covenant still remains; and to say, Tbo' the fig-tree should not blossom, yet will I rejoice in the Lord: Tho' grace be at a low ebb with me, yet the ocean of grace is in Christ; and herein I rejoice: Tho' I be in darkness, yet will I rejoice, that there is light in him ; though I find nothing but deadness in me, yet will I rejoice that there is life in him; tho' I.be empty, yet will I rejoice that there is fulness in him ; and this to be communicated in his time and way. 2. It is a legal temper in the believer, when his assurance is lost by his challenges. It may be, the man attained some sweet measure of assurance, but behold sin prevails, conscience challenges him, and hereupon he razes all ; this is an evidence of a legal temper, contrary to that gospel-fpirit which we may fee acting in David, Pfal. Ixv. 3. Iniquity prevails against me; it is against my heart, against my will, against my prayers, against my secret groans and wrestlings, against my resolutions, against my inclination they prevail. Shall I raze the foundation of my faith upon this account? No, I flee to the blood of the lamb of God, for cleansing and purging both from the guilt and power of fin; and therefore