« FöregåendeFortsätt »
“O merciful and loving Father! I do acknowledge that the sins which I did commit before I was a believer, were a transgression of the law of works, because I was then under that law; yea, and that they were committed against thee, as thou stoodst in relation to mo as a Judge, and that therefore thou mightst most justly have inflicted the curse or penalty of the law of works upon me, and so have cast me into hell; but seeing that thou hast enabled me to believe the gospel, viz. that thou hast been pleased to give thine own Son Jesus Christ to undertake for me, to become my Surety, to take my nature upon him, and to be made under the law, to redeem me from under the law, (Gal. iv. 4. and iii. 13; Rom. v. 10); and to be made a curse for me, to redeem me from the curse, and to reconcile me unto thee by his death. Now I know it stands not with thy justice to proceed against me by virtue of the law of works, and so cast me into hell. Nevertheless, Father, I know that the sins which I have committed since I did believe have been a transgression of the law of Christ, because I am still under that law: yea, and I do acknowledge, that they have been committed against thee, even against thee, my most gracious, merciful, and loving Father in Jesus Christ, and that it is therefore meet thou shouldst express thy fatherly anger and displeasure towards me, for these sins which thy law has discovered unto me, in bringing this affliction upon me, or this judgment upon the place or nation wherein I live: how beit, Father, I, knowing that thy fatherly anger towards thy children is never mixed with hatred, but always with love, and that in afflicting of them thou never intendest any satisfaction to thine own justice, but their amendment, even tho parging out of the remainder of those sinful corruptions which are still in them, and the conforming of them to thine own image: I therefore come unto thee this day, to humble myself before thee, and to call upon thy name, not for any need, or power that I do conceive I have to satisfy thy justice, or to appease thy eternal wrath, and to free my soul from hell; for that I do believe Christ has fully done for me already; but I do it in hopes thereby to pacify thy fatherly anger and displeasure towards me, and to obtain the removal of this affliction or judgment which I feel or fear; wherefore I beseech thee to pardon and forgive these my sins, which have been the procuring cause thereof; yea,
pray thee not only to pardon them, but also to purge them, that so this may be all the fruit, even the taking away of sin, and making me partaker of thy holiness; and then, Lord, remove this affliction and judgment when thy will and pleasure is."
And thus have I showed you the reason why I would have you VOL. V
more especially to take notice of your sins, when you come to humble yourself before the Lord in fasting and prayer.
Neo. And, sir, why would you have me to take notice of my sins, upon occasion of my going to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
Evan. Because the more sinful you see yourself to be, the more need you will see yourself to have of Christ; and the more need you see yourself to have of Christ, the more will you prize him; and the more you prize Christ, the more you will desire him; and the more you desire Christ, the more fit and worthy receiver you will be.
Wherefore when you are determined to receive the sacrament, then take occasion to examine yourself as the apostle exhorts you, behold the face of your soul in the glass of the law, lay your heart and life to that rule, as I directed you before; then think with yourself, and commune with your own heart, saying in your heart after this manner, " Though I do believe that all these my sins are for Christ's sake freely and fully pardoned and forgiven, so as that I shall never be condemned for them, yet do I not so fully and comfortably believe it as I onght, but am sometimes apt to question it: and, besides, though my sins have not dominion over me, yet I feel them too prevalent in me, and I would fain have more power and strength against them; I would fain have my graces stronger and my corruptions weaker; wherefore I, knowing that Christ in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper seals up unto me the assurance of the pardon and forgiveness of all my sins; yea, and knowing that the death and bloodshed of Jesus Christ, which is there represented, has in it both a pardoning and purging virtue; yea, and knowing that the more fully I do apprehend Christ by faith, the more strength of grace, and power against corruptions I shall feel;— wherefore I will go to partake of that ordinance, in hope that I shall there meet with Jesus Christ, and apprehend him more fully by faith, and so obtain both more assurances of the pardon of my sins, and the more power and strength against them;" which the Lord grant you for Christ's sake. And thus having also showed you the reason why I would have you more especially to take notice of your sins before you come to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, I will now take my leave of you, for my other occasions do call me away.
Neo. Well, sir, I do acknowledge, that you have taken great pains both with my neighbour and me this day, for the which I do give you many thanks. And yet I must entreat you to do the like courtesy for me which you promised my neighbour Nomologista, and that is, at your leisure, to write me out a copy of the conference we have had this day.
Evan. Well, neighbour Neophitus, I shall think of it, and it may be, accomplish your desire.—And so the God of peace be with you !
Neo. The Lord be with you, sir.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL.
THERE is little more in all this, (viz. “The Marrow,") to be attributed to me than the very gathering and composing of it. That which I aim at, and intend therein, is to show unto myself, and others that shall read it, the difference betwixt the Law and the Gospel,-a point, as I conceive, very needful for us to be well instructed in, and that for thǝse reasons :
First, Because, if we be ignorant thereof, we shall be very apt to mix and mingle them together, and so to confound the one with the other; which, as Luther on the Galatians, p. 31, truly says, “doth more mischief than man's reason can conceive ;” and therefore he doth advise all Christians, in the case of justification, to separate the Law and the Gospel as far asunder as heaven and earth are separated.
Secondly, Because if we know right how to distinguish betwixt them, the knowledge thereof will afford us no small light towards the true understanding of the Scripture, and will help us to reconcile all such places, both in the Old and New Testament, as seem to be repugnant; yea, and it will help us to judge aright of cases of conscience, and quiet our own conscience in time of trouble and distress; yea, and we shall thereby be enabled to try the truth and falsehood of all doctrines: wherefore, for our better instruction in this point, we are first of all to consider and take notice what the law is, and what the gospel is.
Now, the law is a doctrine partly known by nature, teaching us that there is a God, and what God is, and what he requires us to do, binding all reasonable creatures to perfect obedience, both internal and external, promising the favour of God, and everlasting life to all those who yield perfect obedience thereunto, and denouncing the curse of God and everlasting damnation to all those who are not perfectly correspondent thereunto.
But the gospel is a doctrine revealed from heaven by the Son of God, presently after the fall of mankind into sin and death, and afterwards manifested more clearly and fully to the patriarchs and prophets, to the evangelists and apostles, and by them spread abroad to others; wherein freedom from sin, the curse of the law, the wrath of God, death, and hell, is freely promised for Christ's sake unto all who truly believe on his name.
2dly, We are to consider what the nature and office of the law is, and what the nature and office of the gospel is.
Now, the nature and office of the law is to show unto us our sin, (Rom. iii. 20,) our condemnation, our death, Rom. ii. 1; vii. 10. Bat the nature and office of the gospel is to show unto us, that Christ has taken away our sin, (John i. 29,) and that he also is our redemption and life, Col. i. 14; iii. 4. So that the Law is a word of wrath, Rom. iv. 14; but the GOSPEL is a word of peace, Eph. ii. 17.
3dly, We are to consider where we may find the law written, and where we may find the gospel written.
Now, we shall find this law and this gospel written and recorded in the writings of the prophets, evangelists, and apostles, namely, in the books called the Old and New Testament, or the Scriptures. For, indeed, the law and the gospel are the chief general heads which comprehend all the doctrine of the Scriptures; yet we are not to think that these two doctrines are to be distinguished by the books and leaves of the Scriptures, but by the diversity of God's Spirit speaking in them: we are not to take and understand whatsoever is contained in the compass of the Old Testament to be only and merely the word and voice of the law; neither are we to think that whatsoever is contained within the compass of the bookscalled the New Testament is only and merely the voice of the gospel; for sometimes in the Old Testament God does speak comfort, as he comforted Adam, with the voice of the gospel ; sometimes also in the New Testament he does threaten and terrify, as when Christ terrified the Pharisees. In some places, again, Moses and the prophets do play the evangelists; inasmuch that Hierom doubts whether he should call Isaiah a prophet or an evangelist. In some places, likewise, Christ and the apostles supply the part of Moses : Christ himself, until his death, was under the law, which law he came not to break, but to fulfil; so his sermons made to the Jews, for the most part, ran all upon the perfect doctrine and works of the law, showing and teaching what we ought to do by the right law of justice, and what danger ensues in the non-performance of the same. All which places, though they be contained in the book of the New Testament, yet are they to be referred to the doctrine of the law, ever having included in them a privy exception of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. As for example, where Christ thas
preaches, “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Matt. v. 8. Again, “ Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. xviii. 3. And again, “ He that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. vii. 22. And again, the parable of the wicked servant cast into prison, for not forgiving his fellow, Matth. xviii. 30; the casting of the rich glutton into hell, Luke xvi. 23. And again, “ He that denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father which is in heaven," Luke xii. 9; with divers such other places, all which, I say, do appertain to the doctrine of the law.
Wherefore, in the fourth place, we are to take heed, when we read the Scriptures, we do not take the gospel for the law, nor the law for the gospel, but labour to discern and distinguish the voice of the one from the voice of the other : and if we would know when the law speaks, and when the gospel speaks, let us consider and take this for a note, That when in Scripture there is any moral work commanded to be done, either for eschewing of punishment, or upon promise of any reward, temporal or eternal; or else when any promise is made, with the condition of any work to be done, which is commanded in the law, there is to be understood the voice of the law.
Contrariwise, where the promise of life and salvation is offered unto us freely, without any condition of any law, either natural, ceremonial, or moral, or any work done by us, all those places, whether we read them in the Old Testament, or in the New, are to be referred to the voice and doctrine of the gospel ; yea, and all those promises of Christ coming in the flesh, which we read in the Old Testament, yea, and all those promises in the New Testament, which offer Christ upon condition of our believing on his name, are properly called the voice of the gospel, because they have no condition of our mortifying annexed unto them, but only faith to appreliend and receive Jesus Christ; as it is written, (Rom. iii. 22,) “ For the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all that believe," &c.
Briefly, then, if we would know when the law speaks, and when the gospel speaks, either in reading the word, or in hearing it preached; and if we would skilfully distinguish the voice of the one from the voice of the other, we must consider, Law. The law says,
“ Thou art a sinner, and therefore thou shalt be damned ;" Rom. vii. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 12.
Gos. But the gospel says, No; “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" and therefore “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," 1 Tim. i. 15; Acts xvi. 31.