« FöregåendeFortsätt »
fering should go before perfect doing, because all mankind, by reason of that first and great transgression, are at odds and enmity with God; they are all of them children of his wrath, and therefore God (as we may speak with holy reverence,) cannot be reconciled unto any man, before a full satisfaction be made to his justice by a perfect suffering, (Col. i. 21): perfect suffering, then, is required for the reconciling of man unto God, (Eph. ii. 3,) and setting him in the same condition he was in before his fall, and perfect doing is required for the keeping of him in that condition.
Nom. And, sir, is man as unable to pay the forfeiture as he is to pay the debt? I mean, is he as unable to suffer perfectly, as to do perfectly?
Evan. Yea, indeed, every whit as unable; forasmuch as man's sin in eating the forbidden fruit was committed against God, and God is infinite and eternal, and the offence is always multiplied according to the dignity of the person against whom it is committed : man's offence must needs be an infinite offence, and the punishment must needs be proportionable to the fault; therefore an infinite and eternal punishment is required at man's hands, or else such a temporal punishineut, as is equal and answerable to eternal. Now, eternal punishment man cannot sustain, because then he should never be delivered—he should ever be satisfying, and never have satisfied; which satisfaction is such as is the punishment of the devils and damned men in hell, which never shall have an end. And for temporal punishment, which should be equivalent to eternal, that cannot be neither, because the power and vigour of no creature is such that it may sustain a finite and temporal punishment, equivalent to an infinite and eternal; for sooner should the creature be wasted, consumed, and brought to nothing, than it could satisfy the justice of God by this means; wherefore we may certainly conclude, that no man can satisfy the law and justice of God, neither by active nor by passive obedience, and so consequently no man shall be justified and accepted in the sight of God by his own doings or sufferings.
Nom. Sir, I see it clearly, and am therein fully convinced, and I hope I shall make that use of it. But, sir, is there no other use to be made of the law than this?
Evan. Yea, neighbour Nomologista, you must not only labour thereby to see your own insufficiency to procure your own justification and acceptance in the sight of God, (though that indeed be the chief use that any unjustified person ought to endeavour to make of it,) but you must also endeavour to make it a rule of direction to you in your life and conversation.
Nom. But, sir, if I cannot by my obedience to the law do any thing towards the procuring of mine own justification, and acceptation in the sight of God, or, (which as I do conceive is all one) if I can do nothing towards the procuring of mine own eternal salvation, then methinks all that I do should be in vain, for I cannot see any good I shall get thereby.
Evan. No, neighbour Nomologista, it shall not be in vain ; for though you cannot by your obedience to the law, do any thing towards the procuring of your own justification or eternal salvation ; yea, and though you should never make such a use of it, as to be thereby driven out of yourself unto Jesus Christ for justification and eternal salvation, but should be everlastingly condemned; yet, this let me tell you, the more obedience you yield unto the law, the more easy shall your condemnation be; for although no man (walk he ever so exactly and strictly according to the law) shall thereby either escape the torments of hell, or obtain the joys of heaven, yet the more exactly and strictly any man walks according to the law, the easier shall his torments be, Matt. xi. 22. So that although you by your obedience to the law cannot obtain the uneasiest place in heaven, yet may you thereby obtain the most easy place in hell; and therefore your obedience shall not be in vain. Nay, let me tell you more, although you by your obedience to the law can neither escape that hell, nor enjoy that heaven that is in the world to come, yet you may thereby escape that hell, and enjoy that heaven which is to be had in this present world; for the Lord dealeth so equally and justly with all men, that every man shall be sure to receive his due at his hands: so that as every man who is truly justified in the sight of God by faith in Christ's blood, shall for that blood's sake be sure of the joys of heaven, though his life may even after his believing be in many respects unconformable to the law; yet the more unconformable his life is thereunto, the more crosses and afflictions he shall be sure to meet withal in this life, Psalm lxxxix. 30–32. Even so, though no man that is not justified by faith in Christ's blood shall either escape the torments of hell, or attain the joys of heaven, be his life never so conformable to the law, yet the more conformable his life is thereunto, the less of the miseries and the more of the blessings of this life he shall have ; for it is not to men unjustified, though I suppose not only to them, that the Lord speaketh, Isa. i. 19, saying, “ If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good things of the land." And does not the Lord in the fifth commandment promise the blessing of long life to all inferiors that are obedient to their superiors? And may we not observe, and is it not found true by experience, that those children who are
most careful of doing their duties to their parents, are commonly more free both from their parent's corrections and the Lord's corrections; and are likewise blessed with obedient children themselves, and do also taste of their parent's bounty and the Lord's bounty, as touching the blessings of this life, more than others that are disobedient? And may we not observe, and is it not found true by experience, that those servants that are most faithful and diligent in their places are commonly more free either from the Lord's or their master's corrections, and are likewise rewarded with such servants themselves, and with other temporal blessings both from their masters and from the Lord, than others that are not so? And may we not observe, and is it not found true by experience, that those wives that are obedient and subject to their husbands, are commonly more free from their frowns, checks, or rebukes; at least, they are more blessed with peace of conscience, and a good name aniongst men, than others that are not so ? And inay we not observe, that our mere honest men, who for the most part live without committing any gross sin against the law, are commonly more exempted from the sword of the magistrate, and have many earthly blessings more in abundance than such as are gross sinners? And the Scribes and Pharisees, who were strict observers of the law, in regard of the outward man, were no losers by it, erily,” says our Saviour, “I say unto you, they have their reward,” Matt. vi. 2. So that still, you see, your obedience to the law shall not be in vain; wherefore, I pray you, do your best to keep the ten commandments as perfectly as you can. But above all, I beseech you, be careful to consider of that which has been said touching the special use of the law to you, that so through the powerful working of God's Spirit, it may become an effectual means to drive you out of yourself unto Jesus Christ.
O consider, in the first place, wbat a great number of duties are required, and what a great number of sins are forbidden in every one of the ten commandments! And in the second place, consider, how many of those duties you have omitted, and how many of those sins you have committed. And in the third place, consider, that there has been much corruption mixed with every good duty which you have done, so that you have sinned in doing that which in itself is good; and that you have had an inclination of heart and disposition of will to every sin you have not committed, and so have been guilty of all those sins which you have not done. And in the fourth place, consider, that the law denounceth a curse unto every one which continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. And then, in the fifth place, make application of the curse unto yourself, by saying in your heart, if every one be cursed which continueth not in all things, then surely I am cursed that have continued in nothing. And then, in the sixth place, consider, that before you can be delivered from the curse, the law and justice of God requires that there be a perfect satisfaction made both by paying the debt and the forfeiture to the very utmost farthing; perfect doing and perfect suffering are both of them required. And then, in the last place, consider, that you are so far from being able to make a perfect satisfaction, that you can do nothing at all towards it, and that therefore as of yourself, you are in a most miserable and helpless condition.
Nom. Well, sir, I do now plainly see that I have been deceived, for I verily thought that the only reason why the Lord gave the law, and why you that are ministers do show us what is required and forbidden in the law, had been, that all men might thereby come to see what the mind and will of the Lord is, and be exhorted, and persuaded to lead their lives thereafter. And I also verily thought that the more any man did strive and endeavour to reform his life and do thereafter, the more he procured the love and favour of God towards him, and the more God would bless him, and do him good, both in this world and the world to come; yea, and I also verily thought, that it had been in man's power to have come very near the perfect fulfilling of the law, for I never read nor heard any minister show how impossible it is for any man to keep the law, nor ever make any mention of any such use of the law, as you have done this day.
Evan. Surely, neighbour Nomologista, these have not only been your thoughts, but also the thoughts of many other men : for it is natural for every man to think that he must and can procure God's favour and eternal happiness by his obedience to the law, at the least, to think he can do something towards it; for naturally men think that the law requires no more but the external act, and that therefore it is in man's power to keep it perfectly. Is it not an ordinary and common thing for men when they hear or read that there is more required and forbidden in the law than they were aware of, to think with themselves, Surely I am not right, I have transgressed the law more than I thought I had done, and therefore God is more angry with me, than I had thought he had been; and therefore to pacify his anger, and procure his favour towards me, I must repent, amend, and do better; I must reform my life according to the law, and so hy my future obedience make amends for my former disobedience; and if thereupon they do attain to any good measure of ontward conformity, then they think they come near the
perfect fulfilling of the law; and if it were not that the doctrine of the Church of England is, that no man can fulfil the law perfectly, and that none but Papists do say the contrary, they would both think and say they did, or hoped they should keep all the commandments perfectly. And upon occasion of this their outward reformation according to the law, they think, yea, and sometimes say, they are regenerate men and true converts, and that the beginning of this their reformation was the time of their new-birth and conversion unto God. And if these men do confess themselves to be sinners, it is rather because they hear all others confess themselves so to be, than out of any true sight and knowledge, sense, or feeling they have of any inward heart-corruption. And if they acknowledge, that a man is not to be justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ, it is rather because they have heard it so preached, or because they have read it in the Bible, or some other book, than because of any imperfection which they see in their own works, or any need they see of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And if they do see any imperfection in their own works, and any need of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, then they imagine that so long as their hearts are upright and sincere, and they do desire and endeavour to do their best to fulfil the law, God will accept of what they do, and make up their imperfect obedience with Christ's perfect obedience, and so will justify and save them; but all this while, their own works must have a hand in their justification and salvation, and so they are still of the works of the law, and therefore under the curse ; the Lord be merciful both to you and them, and bring you under the blessing of Abraham!
Nom. Sir, I thank you for your good wishes towards me, and for your great pains which you have now taken with me, and so I will for this time take my leave of you; only, sir, I could wish, if it might not be too much trouble to you, that you would be pleased at your leisure, to give me in writing a copy of what you have this day said concerning the law.
Evan. Well, neighbour Nomologista, though I can hardly spare so much time, yet because you do desire it, and in hope you may receive good by it, I will, ere long, find some time to accomplish your desire.
Neo. I pray you, neighbour Nomologista, tarry a little longer, and I will go with you.
Nom. No, I must needs be gone; I can stay no longer.
Evan. Then fare you well, neighbour Nomologista, and the Lord make
you to see your sins ? Nom. The Lord be with you, sir. Neo. Well, sir, now I hope you have fully convinced him that he