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point; and surely I like it marvellously well, that you conclude no faith justifies, but that whose object is Christ.
Evan. The very truth is, though a man believe that God is merciful and true to his promise, and that he has his elect number from the beginning, and that he himself is one of that number, yet if this faith do not eye Christ, if it be not in God as he is in Christ, it will not serve the turn; for God cannot be comfortably thought upon out of Christ our Mediator; “for if we find not God in Christ," says Calvin, (Instit. p. 155.) “salvation cannot be known.” Wherefore, Neophitus, I will say unto you, as Mr. Bradford said unto a gentlewoman in your case, “ Thus, then, if you would be quiet, and certain in conscience, then let your faith burst forth through all things, not only that you have within you, but also whatsoever is in heaven, earth, and hell; and never rest until it come to Christ crucified, and the eternal sweet mercy and goodness of God in Christ."
§ 7. Neo. But, sir, I am not satisfied concerning the point you touched before; and therefore, I pray you, proceed to show me how far forth I am delivered from the law, as it is the covenant of works.
Evan. Truly, as it is the covenant of works, you are wholly and altogether delivered and set free from it; you are dead to it, and it is dead to you; and if it be dead to you, then it can do you
neither good nor hurt; and if you be dead to it, you can expect neither good nor hurt from it. n Consider, man, I pray you, that, as I said before, you are now under another covenant, viz. the covenant of grace; and you cannot be under two covenants at once, neither wholly nor partly; and therefore, as, before you believed, you were
n Concerning the deliverance from the law, which, according to the Scripture, is the privilege of believers purchased unto them by Jesus Christ, there are two opinions equally contrary to the word of God, and to one another. The one of the Legalist, That believers are under the law, even as it is the covenant of works; the other of the Antinomian, That believers are not at all under the law, no, not as it is a rule of life. Betwixt these extremes, both of them destructive of true boliness and gospelobedience, our author, with other orthodox divines, holds the middle path ; asserting (and in the proper place proving) that believers are under the law, as a rule of life, but free from it as it is the covenant of works. To be delivered from the law as it is the covenant of works, is no more but to be delivered from the covenant of works. And the asserting, that believers are delivered from the law as it is the covenant of works, doth necessarily import, that they are under the law, in some other respect thereto contra-distinguished. And forasmuch as the author teaches, that believers are under the law, as it is the law of Christ, and a rule of life to them, it is reasonable to conclude that to be it. He must needs, under the term," the covenant of works," understand and comprehend the law of the ten commandments; because no man, understanding what the covenant of works is, can speak of it, but he must, under that term, understand and comprehend the ten commandments, even as none can speak of a man, with knowledge of a sense of that word, but under that term must understand and comprehend an organic body, as well as a soul. But it is manisest, that the law There is a twofold death competent to a believer, with respect to the law, as it is the covenant of works; and so to the law as such, with respect to the believer. (1.) The believer is dead to it really, and in point of duty, while he carries himself as one who is dead to it. And this I take to be comprehended in that saying of the apostle, Gal. ii. 19, “ I through the law am dead to the law.” In the best of the children of God here, there are such remains of the legal disposition and inclination of heart to the way of the covenant of works, that as they are never quite free of it in their best duties, so at sometimes their services smell so rank of it, as if they were alive to the law, and still dead to Christ. And sometimes the Lord for their correction, trial,
of the ten commandments, without the form of the covenant of works upon it, is not the thing he understands by that term, " the covenant of works." Neither is the form of the covenant of works (which is no more the covenant itself, than the soul without the body is the man) essential to the ten commandments, so that they cannot be without it. See note b, p. 169. If it be said, that the author, by the covenant of works, understands the moral law, as it is defined, (Lar. Cat. q. 92.) it is granted; but then it amounts to no more, but that, by the covenant of works, he understands the covenant of works; for by the moral law there, is understood the covenant of works, as bas been already evinced. See note a, p. 166.
The doctrine of believers' freedom from the covenant of works, or from the law as that covenant, is of the greatest importance, and is expressly taught.—Lar. Cat. 9. 97. “They that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law, as a covenant of works,” Rom. vi. 14; Rom. vii. 4, 6; Gal. iv. 4, 5. -Westmin. Confess. chap. xix. art. 6. "True believers be not under the law as a covenant of works.” To these I subjoin one testimony, from the Pract. Use of Saving Knowledge, tit, “ For strengthening the Man's Faith,” &c. Rom. viii. (note k, p. 290,) “ Albeit the apostle himself (brought in here for example's cause) and all other true believers in Christ, be by nature under the law of sin and death, or under the covenant of works (called the law of sin and death, because it bindeth sin and death upon us, till Christ set us free) yet the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the covenant of grace, (so called because it doth enable and quicken a man to a spiritual life through Christ) doth set the apostle, and all true believers, free from the covenant of works, or the law of sin and death." See note 1, p. 291. As also tit. “ For convincing a man of judgment by the law," par. 2. and last. And tit. “Evidences of true fuith. And tit. “ For the first,” &c.--note m, Ibid.
Now, delivering from a covenant being the dissolution of a relation which admits not of degrees, believers being delivered from the covenant of works, must be wholly and altogether set free from it.
This appears also from the believer's being dead to it, and it dead to him, of which before at large.
and exercise of faith, suffers the ghost of the dead husband, the law, as a covenant of works, to come in upon their souls and make demands on them, command, threaten, and affright them, as if they were alive to it, and it to them. And it is one of the hardest pieces of practical religion, to be dead to the law in such cases. This death to it admits of degrees, is not alike in all believers, and is perfect in none till the death of the body. But of this kind of death to the law, the question proceeds not here. (2.) The believer is dead to it relatively, and in point of privilege ; the relation betwixt him and it is dissolved, even as the relation between a husband and wife is dissolved by death; Rom vii. 4, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another." This can admit of no degrees, but is perfect in all believers ; so that they are wholly and altogether set free from it, in point of privilege, upon which the question here proceeds, and in this respect they can expect neither good nor hurt from it.
wholly under the covenant of works, as Adam left both you and all his posterity after his fall; so now, since you have believed, you are wholly under the covenant of grace. Assure yourself then, that no minister, or preacher of God's word has any warrant to say unto you hereafter, “ Either do this and that duty contained in the law, and avoid this and that sin forbidden in the law, and God will justify theo and save thy soul: or do it not, and he will condemn thee and damn thee ?". No, no, you are now set free both from the commanding and condemning power of the covenant of works.p So that I will say unto you, as the apostle says unto the believing Hebrews, Heb. xii. 18, 22, 24, “ You are not come to Mount Sinai that might not be touched, and that burned with fire; nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempests; but you are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God : and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenaut.” So that (to speak with holy reverence) God cannot, by virtue of the covenant of works, either require of you any obedience, or punish you for any disobedience; no, he cannot, by virtue of that covenant, so much as threaten you, or give you an angry word, or show you an angry look ; for indeed he can see no sin in you, as a transgression of that covenant; for, says the apostle, “ Where there is no law, there is no transgression,” Rom. iv. 15.9 And therefore, though hereafter you do through frailty transgress any of all the ten commandments, r yet do you not
o See p. 250, note s. “ Believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned.”_Westmin. Confess. chap. xis, art. 6.
p From the general conclusion already laid down and proven, namely, That believers are wholly and altogether set free from the covenant of works, or from the law as it is that covenant, this necessarily follows. But to consider particulars, for further clearing this weighty point, (1.) That the covenant of works hath no power to justify a sinner, in regard to his utter inability to pay the penalty, and to fulfil the condition of it, is clear from the apostle's testimony, Rom. viii. 3, “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son," &c. (2.) That the believer is not under the condemning power of it, appears from Gal. iii. 23, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Rom. viii. 1, " There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Verse 33, 34, " It is God that justifieth ; who is he that condemneth ?” (3.) As to its commanding power, believers are not under it neither; for, 1. Its commanding and condemning power, in case of transgression, are inseparable ; for, by the sentence of that covenant, every breaker of its commands is bound over to death. Gal. iii. 10, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are • written in the book of the law, to do them,” “And wbatsoever it saith, it saith to them that are under it,” Rom. iii. 19. Therefore, if believers be under its command. ing power, they must needs be under its condemning power, yea, and actually bound over to death; forasmuch as they are, without question, breakers of its command, if they be indeed under its commanding power.
2. If, as to any set of men, the justifying and condemning power be removed from that law which God gave to Adam as a covenant of works, and to all mankind in him, than the covenant-form of that law is done away as to them ; so that there is not a covenant of works in being unto them, to have a commanding power over them; but such is the case of be ers, that law can neither justify them, nor condemn them; therefore, there is no covenant of works in being betwixt God and them, to have a commanding power over them; our Lord Jesus “ blotted out the hand-writing, took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross,” Col. ii. 14.
3. Believers are dead to the law, as it is the covenant of works, and “married to q And therefore since there is no covenant of works (or law of works, as it is called, Rom. iii. 27.) betwixt God and the believer, it is manifest there can be no transgressing of it, in their case. God requires obedieuce of believers, and not only threatens them, gives them angry words and looks, but brings heavy judgments on them for their disobedience ; but the promise of strength, and penalty of fatherly wrath only, andexed to the commands requiring obedience of them, and the anger of God against them, purged of the curse, do evidently discover, that none of these come to them, in the channel of the covenant of works.
another,” Rom. vii. 4. Therefore they are set free from the commanding power of the first husband, the covenant of works.
4. They are not under it ; Rom. vi. 14, “ Ye are not under the law, but under grace :" how then can it have a commanding power over them ?
5. The consideration of the nature of the commands of the covenant of works may sufficiently clear this point. Its commands bind to perfect obedience, under the pain of the curse, which on every slip, is bound upon the transgressor. Gal. iii. 10. “Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things,” &c. But Christ hath redeemed believers from the curse, verse 13; and the law they are under speaks in softer terms, Psalm lxxxix. 31, 32. “ If they break my statutes then will I visit their transgression with my rod,” &c. Moreover, it commands obedience upon the ground of the strength to perform, given to mankind in Adam, which is now gone, and affords no new strength; for there is no promise of strength for duty belonging to the covenant of works; and to state believers under the covenant of works, to receive commands for their duty, and under the covenant of grace, for the promise of strength to perform, looks very unlike to the beautiful order of the dispensation of grace, held forth to us in the word ; Rom. vi. 14. “ Ye are not under the law, but under grace."
Lastly, Our Lord Jesus put himself under the commanding power of the covenant of works, and gave it perfect obedience, to deliver his people from under it; Gal. iv. 4, 5, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." That they then should put their necks under that yoke again, cannot but be highly dishonouring to this crucified Christ, who disarmed the law of its thunders, defaced the obligation of it as a covenant, and, as it were, grinded the stones upon which it was wrought to powder.”—Charnock, vol. 2. q. 531.
r And though all the sins of believers are not sins of daily infirmity, yet they are all sins of frailty ; Gal. v. 17. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh—so that ye cannot do the things that ye would ;" Rom. vii. 19. The evil which I would not, that I do.”—See chap. v. 15, 17, and vi. 12.
thereby transgress the covenant of works: there is no such covenant now betwixt God and you. s
And therefore, though hereafter you shall hear such a voice as this, “ If thou wilt be saved, keep the commandments :" or Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them;" nay, though you hear the voice of thunder and a fearful noise; nay, though you see blackness and darkness, and feel a great tempest; that is to say, though you hear us that are preachers, according to our commission, (Isa. lviii. 1,) “ lift up our voice like a trumpet,” in threatening hell and damnation to sinners and transgressors of the law; though these be the words of God, yet are you not to think that they are spoken to you. t No, no; the apostle assures you that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom. viii. 1. Believe it, God never threatens eternal death, after he has given to a man eternal life.u Nay, the truth is, God never speaks to a believer out of Christ; and in Christ he speaks not a word in the terms of the covenant of works. v And if the law, of itself should presume to come into your conscience, and say, • Herein and herein thou hast transgressed, and broken me, and therefore thou owest so much and so much to Divine justice, which must be satisfied, or else I will take hold on thee; then answer you and say, “O law ! be it known unto thee, that I am now married unto Christ, and so I am under covert; and therefore if thou charge me with any debt, thou must enter thine action against my husband Christ, for the wife is not sueable at the law, but the husband. But the truth is, I through him am dead to thee, O law! and thou art dead 10 me; and therefore justice hath nothing to do with me, for it judgeth according to the law." w And
s Thus far of the believer's complete deliverance from the covenant of works, or from the law, namely, as it is the covenant of works. Follows the practical use to be made of it by the believer. And, 1. In the hearing of the word.
t Though they are God's own sayings, found in his written word, and spoken by his servants, as having commission from him for that effect; yet, forasmuch as they are the language of the law, as it is bis covenant of works, they are directed only to those who are under that covenant, Rom. iii. 19, and not to believers, who are not under it.
u And to believers he hath given eternal life already, according to the Scripture. See p. 251, note u.
v Follows, II. The use of it, in conflicts of conscience with the law in its demands, sin in its guilt, Satan in his accusations, death in its terrors.
w He begins with the conflict with the law; for as the apostle teaches, " the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law,” i Cor. xv. 56. While the law retains its power over a man, death has its sting, and sin its strength against him ; but