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a state of alienation and estrangement from God; we are alienated from the very life of God, through the ignorance that is in us ; like the prodigal we have gone into a far country, and care not for returning to our father's house : Yea, more, it is a state of enmity and hostility against God, the carnal mind is enmity against God, we are enemies in our minds by wicked works : It is a godless and a hopeless state, therefore said to be without God and without hope in the world : It is a state of worse than Egyptian darkness; we are not simply in the dark, but we are darkness itself : once ye were darkness : It is a state of impotency and weakness, for when we were without strength in due time Christ died for us : It is a state of bondage and captivity to fin, Satan and the world; we are led captive by these potent enemies : It is a cursed and condemned state, we are condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on us : It is a state of death, we are dead spiritually under the power of sin, and lying upon the very borders of eternal death. Now this is the condition we are reduced unto by the fall, upon which account we may well take up that melancholy song, The crown is fallen from our bead, wo to us that we have finned ; however infinite mercy and love takes occasion from this miserable and ruined estate of man to enter into a new covenant, even a covenant of grace, in order to his deliverance.
2. Remark, that the rise and spring of this covenant of grace was not foreseen faith or good works, or any thing else in the creature, but only the free and surprising love of God, John iii. 16. God so loved the world, that he gave bis only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in bim, might not perish, but have everlasting life, Jer. xxxi. 3. I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. This love of God to loft finners, was altogether and absolutely free, free in opposition to merit, free in opposition to constraint; it hath no other cause, but only the freedom of his own will, Eph. ii. 4. And as it is free, so it is superlatively great, love that passes knowledge, love which hath a height and depth, a breadth and length which can never be fathomed, or found out; it is distinguishing love that takes hold of man when it passed by angels that fell ; it fixed upon some of Adam's family, when it passed by others.
3. This covenant of grace in the original make and constitution of it, was transacted with Christ as a new covenant-head, a publick person representing all the spiritual seed which the Lord hath given him ; for, firs, you must know, that since the fall of inan, God never entered into any covenant with him directly and immediately, but only by the intervention of a surety and mediator. Hence in our larger catechism, in answer to that question, with whom was the covenant of grace made? The answer is, That it was made with Christ, and with the ele&t in bim as bis feed. Hence it is, that we read of Grace given us in Christ before the world began. In this covenant there are some things that relate particularly to Christ himself as surety and redeemer, and some things in it that relate to the members and seed of Christ, the Father having promised sufficient furniture and through-bearing to his Son, both for the purchase and application of our redemption, the Son not only undertakes to fatisfy justice, to fulfil the law, to, bruise the head of the old ferpent, but also by his spirit, which he would send into their hearts, to sprinkle them
with clear water, to take away the stony heart, to enlighten them, to justify them, to adopt and sanctify them, and at last to present them without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and when all this comes to be revealed and set forth in a gospel dispensation, what is incumbent upon us, but to subscribe to this glorious transaction and plan of redemption that was laid by infinite wisdom? Thus I say the covenant of grace was originally transacted with Christ, and with us in him and through him; and they who either in print or pulpit ridicule or exclaim against this as a new scheme of doctrine, they do not ridicule us, but the doctrine asserted by the church of Scotland in her standards, which as it is founded upon the word, so we are bound by solemn covenant to cleave unto it.
4. Remark, That the revelation of this covenant of grace transacted with Christ before the world. was made very early to our first parents in paradise immediately after the fall, Gen. iii. 15. The feed of the woman skall bruise the bead of the serpent, Here it was, that the grand secret which lay in the breast of God, did first break forth, when our first parents were waiting with a trembling heart every moment for the execution of the sentence of the broken covenant of works: Behold glad-tidings of great joy are issued out from a throne of grace, namely, that in the fulness of time the Son of God was to take on the seed of the woman, and bruise' the serpent's head, to destroy the devil, and his works, and redeem man from that gulph of misery into which he was plunged; this was the covenant of grace; and it is remarkable that in its first edition it came forth in a promise of Christ, this was enlarged and explained to Abraham, Mojes, David,
The rainbow of the covenant surround
ing the throne of grace.
The substance of some SERMONS preached at the facrament of Muckart, June 23, 1728.
By the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE.
Rev. iv. 3. And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in hight like unto an emerald.
TOT to stand in the entrance of this discourse, IV we may observe here three things, which Fobn saw in the vision. 1/, A Throne fet in heaven, in the close of the second verse. 2dly, The glorious majesty that fat on the throne, who was like a Jasper and Sardine stone for brightness. 3dly, The canopy of the throne, a rainbow round about it in colour like an emerald. I understand the whole of this to have a respect immediately to the church militant here upon earth, and the glorious dispensation of the grace of God under the new-testament economy; and that which inclines me to understand it in this view is because this vision is prophetical, and has a respect to things that were to be done afterward, as you see in the first verse. Come up bither, and I will thew thee things that must be hereafter, that is, things which. are to be transacted in the church in the succeeding ages and generations of the world; and therefore by the throne here that was set in heaven, I understand the throne of grace, to which we are invited to come with boldness for grace and mercy to belp in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. The throne which hath justice satisfied and judgment executed upon the son of God, for its basis and foundation, Pfal. xxxix. 14. The throne of God and of the Lamb, from which proceeds a pure river or water of life, clear as chrystal, Rev. xxii. 1. And this throne is said to be set in heaven, not as if God's throne of grace were only in heaven properly so called ; for we find the church militant on earth frequently expressed by heaven in scripture, Heb. xii. 20. She is called the beavenly Jerusalem, to wit, the church, i Pet. ii. 2. the heavenly nation, and therefore by heaven here, we may understand the church of God in general : and it is so called to shew that the hearts of believers even while here upon earth, are in heaven, they are defiring a better country, that is an heavenly, and when they address a throne of grace, they have their eyes upon an exalted Christ, who is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. By him that fits on the throne, I understand Christ or God in our nature, not excluding the Father and the Holy Ghoft; for it is the throne of God and of the Lamb. Ezek. i. 26. we have the same description of a throne in a vision, and we are told that above upon the throne was the appearance of a man, which can be applied to none other than the man Ii 4.