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HON. COLONEL JOHN DOWNES,
One of the Members of the Honourable House of Commons, 8c., E. F.
wishes the true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
Most HONOURABLE SIR,
ALTHOUGH I do observe, that new editions, accompanied with new additions, are sometimes published with new dedications ; yet so long as he who formerly owned the subject doth yet live, and hath the same affections towards it, I conceive there is no need of a new patron, but of a new epistle.
Be pleased then, most honoured Sir, to give me leave to tell you, that your eminency of place did somewhat induce me, both now and before, to make choice of you for its patron; but your endowments with grace did invite me to it, God having bestowed upon you special spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ : for it has been declared unto me by them that knew you, when you was but a youth, how Christ met with you then; and, by sending his Spirit into your heart, first convinced you of sin; as was manifest by those conflicts, which your soul then had, both with Satan and itself, whilst you did not believe in Christ; secondly, of righteousness, as was manifest by the peace and comfort which you afterwards had, by believing that Christ was gone to the Father, and appeared in his presence as your advocate and surety that had undertaken for you; thirdly, of judgment, as has been manifest ever since, in that yon have been careful with the true godly man, (Psalm cxii. 5.) to "guide your affairs with judgment,” in walking according to the mind of Christ.
I have not forgotten what desires you have expressed to know the true difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace; and experimentally to be acquainted with the doctrine of free grace, the mysteries of Christ, and the life of faith. Witness
not only your high approving of some heads of a sermon, which I once heard a godly minister preach, and repeated in your hearing, of the life of faith; but also your earnest request to me to write them out fair, and send them to you into the country; yea, witaess your highly approving of this dialogue, when I first acquainted you with the contents thereof, encouraging me to expidite it to the press, and your kind acceptance, together with your cordial thanks for my love manifested in dedicating it to your honoured name.
Sith then, worthy sir, it has pleased the Lord to enable me both to amend and enlarge it, I hope your affection will also be enlarged towards the matter therein contained, considering that it tends to the clearing of those forenamed truths, and, through the blessing of God, may be a means to root them more deeply in your heart. And truly, sir, I am confident, the more they grow and flourish in any man's heart, the more will all heart-corruptions wither and decay. O sir, if the truths contained in this dialogue were but as much in my heart, as they are in my head, I were a happy man; for then should I be more free from pride, vain glory, wrath, anger, self-love, and love the world, than I am; and then should I have more humility, meekness, and love, both to God and man, than I have. Oh ! then, should I be content with Christ alone, and live above all things in the world ;-then should I experimentally know both how to abound and how to want; and then should I be fit for any condition ; nothing could come amiss unto me. O that the Lord would be pleased to write them in our hearts by his blessed Spirit !
Most humbly beseeching you still to pardon my boldness, and vouchsafe to take it into your patronage and protection, I humbly take my leave of you, and remain, your obliged servant, to be commended,
To all such Humble-hearted Readers as see any need either to know
themselves, or God in Christ.
CONSIDER, I pray you, that as the first Adam did, as a common person, enter into covenant with God for all mankind, and brake it, whereby they became sinful and guilty of everlasting death and damnation; even so Jesus Christ the second Adam, did, as a common person, enter into covenant with God his Father, for all the elect, a that is to say, all those that have, or shall believe on his name, b and for them kept it, c whereby they become righteous, and heirs of everlasting life and salvation :d and therefore it is our greatest wisdom, and ought to be our greatest care and endeavour, to come out e and from the first Adam, unto and into the second Adam:f that so we“ may have life through his name," John xx. 31.
And yet alas ! there is no point in all practical divinity that we are naturally so much averse and backward to as unto this; neither does Satan strive to hinder us so much from doing any thing else as this: and hence it is, that we are all of us naturally apt to abide and continue in that sinful and miserable state that the first Adam plunged us into, without either taking any notice of it, or being at all
a “The covenant (viz. of works) being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression."— Shorter Catechism, quest. 16, “The covenant of grace was made with Christ, as the second Adam, and in him, with all the elect, as his seed."-Larger Cat. quest. 31.
6 See chap. 2. sect. 3. note 7.
d Thus the impetration or purchase of redemption, and the application of it, are taught to be of the same extent; even as Adam's representation, and the ruins by his fall are: the former extending to the elect, as the latter unto all mankind.
f Uniting with Christ by faith.
affected with it, so far are we from coming out of it. And if the Lord be pleased by any means to open our eyes to see our misery, and we do thereupon begin to step out of it, yet, alas! we are prone rather to go backwards towards the first Adam's pare state g, in striving and struggling to leave sin, and perform duties, and do good works; hoping thereby to make ourselves so righteous and holy, that God will let us into paradise again, to eat of the tree of life, and live for ever: and this we do, until we see the “flaming sword at Eden's gate turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life,” h Gen. iii. 24. It is not ordinary, when the Lord convinceth a man of his sin (either by means of his word or his rod) to cry after this manner: 0 I am a sinful man! for I have lived a very wicked life, and therefore surely the Lord is angry with me, and will damu me in hell! O what shall I do to save my soul? And is there not at hand some ignorant, miserable comforter, ready to say, Yet do not despair, man, but repent of thy sins, and ask God's forgiveness, and reform your life, and doubt not but he will be merciful unto you; i for he has promised you know, "that at time soever a sinuer repenteth him of his sins, he will forgive him.”;
g That is, to the way of the covenant of works, which innocent Adam was set upon.
h That is, till we be brought to despair of obtaining salvation in the way of the covenant of works. Mark here the spring of legalism, namely, the natural bias of man's heart towards the way of the law, as a covenant of works, and ignorance of the law, in its spirituality aud vast exient. Rom. vii. 9; x. 2, 3.
i There is not one word of Jesus Christ the glorious Mediator, nor of faith in bis blood, in all the advice given by this causist to the afflicted ; and agreeable thereto is the effect it has upon the afflicted, who takes comfort to himself without looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ at all, as appears from the next paragraph.
Bebold the Scripture pattern in such a case : Acts ii. 37, 38, " Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." Chap. xvi. 30, 31,
• Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? and they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." And thus the Directory, title “Concerning visitation of the sick.” “ If it appear that he hath not a due sense of his sins, endeavours ought to be used to convince him of his sins—to make known the danger of deferring repentance, and of salvation at any time offered, to awaken the conscience, and to rouse him out of a stupid and secure condition, to apprehend the justice and wrath of God"-(here this miserable comforter finds the afflicted, and should have taught him concerning an offended God, as there immediately follows)—"before whom none can stand but he that, being lost in himself, layeth hold upon Christ by faith.”
And does he not hereupon comfort himself, and say in his heart at least, 0! if the Lord will but spare my life, and lengthen out my days, I will become a new man! I am very sorry that I have lived such a sinful life; but I will never do as I have done for all the world! 0! you shall see a great change in me! believe it.
And hereupon he betakes himself to a new course of life; and, it may be, becomes a zealous professor of religion, performing all Christian exercises, both public and private, and leaves off his old companions, and keeps company with religious men; and so, it may be, goes on till bis dying day, and thinks himself sure of heaven and eternal happiness; and yet, it may be, all this while is ignorant of Christ and his righteousness, and therefore establisheth his
Where is the man, or where is the woman that is truly come to Christ, that has not had some experience in themselves of such a disposition as this? If there be any that have reformed their lives, and are become professors of religion, and have not taken notice of this in themselves more, or less, I wish they have gone beyond a legal professor, or one still under the covenant of works.
Nay, where is the man or woman, that is truly in Christ, that findeth not in themselves an aptness to withdraw their hearts from Christ, and to put some confidence in their own works and doings? If there be any that do not find it, I wish their hearts decieve them not.
Let me confess ingenuously; I was a professor of religion at least a dozen of years before I knew any other way to eternal life, than to be sorry for my sins, and ask forgiveness, and strive and endeavour to fulfil the law, and keep the commandments, according
j This sentence, taken from the English service-book, is in the “ Practice of Piety," p. 122. cited from Ezek. xxxiii. 14, 16, and is reckoned amongst these scriptures, an ignorant mistake of which keeps back a sinoer from the practice of piety. But the truth is, it is not to be found in the Old or New Testament; and therefore it was ob. jected against, as standing in the service-book under the name of “ Sentence of Scripture,” pretended to be cited from Ezek, xviii. 21, 22,— Reasons showing the ne. cessity of reformation, &c. p. 26.