« ForrigeFortsett »
nant, is called the faith of God's elect, Tit. i. 1.; intimating, that all they, and they only for whom Christ contracted in the covenant before the world began, do sooner or later cordially consent to, and approve of that covenant. It bears no prejudice to this doctrine, that the desolate is said to have many more children than she who hath an husband, Gal. iv. 27.; as that only means that Abraham's spiritual seed, shall be far more numerous than his carnal, not that the seed of the woman shall be more numerous than the seed of the serpent, believers more than unbelievers. In a word, Christ did not represent the world, but the men whom his Father gave him out of the world, John xvii. 6.
5thly. The two covenants differ, with respect to the condition
upon which their promises do turn. The condition of the covenant of works was Adam's righteousness: that of grace, is the obedience and the satisfaction of the great Substitute who was made sin for us, 2 Cor. y. 21, 1 Pet. ii. 18. I am sensible that many divines have expressed themselves otherwise on this head, calling our faith the condition of the new covenant; nor can I deny that in many instances they, and such as contend that Christ's surety-righteousness only is the condition, differ rather in sound, than in sense: in the name, not in the thing: the one party taking the word condition in one sense; and the other in ano. ther. But in some instances there has been a real, yea, a very material difference; while men have taught that faith was our evangelical righteousness, imputed to us for our justification as the milder condition of the gospel-covenant. This was a corrupting of the holy covenant with a witness. To avoid this dangerous doctrine, we judge it safer, and more agreeable to the form of sound words, to say that Christ's surety-rightcousness is the condition of the covenant, than to call faith by that name. For the further understanding of this matter, we offer the following considerations.
1st. The condition of the second covenant must be stated from the first, the broken one. That required obedience to the precepts, and satisfaction to the pe.
nalty of the law. Therefore so must this, else the conditions of happiness are changed. Nothing but perfect doing and suffering could be sustained by the broken covenant, and therefore nothing but these could be the condition of the covenant of grace. Faith, repentance, and new obedience, suppose the breach of the first covenant. They argue imperfection in him who is the subject of them; and therefore neither (any of them apart, nor all of them together, can be the condition of the second. For the conditions of life are not become lower, only they are accepted from a surety in the sinner's stead.
2dly. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, therefore its condition was performed by him. He alone was the party-contractor on man's side, and therefore he only had the burden of doing and of suffering, whatever could in terms of Jaw be required of dead sinners as conditions of life. His surety-righteousness has the same place in the se. cond covenant, that Adam's perfect obedience would have had in the first. As in that case the holy life of Adam's posterity, would not have been the condition of the first covenant, but the fruits and effects of that condition perfectly fulfilled; so here, the faith and holiness of Christ's spiritual seed are not the conditions of the new covenant, but the fruits and effects of the condition fulfilled by himself.
3dly. There are only two covenants. The condition of the one was laid on the first Adam, therefore the condition of the other, must either be wholly fulfilled by the second Adam, or divided betwixt him and
This last is too gross to be admitted. For if we he partners with him in the condition, with bim shall we also divide the glory, and so boasting will not be altogether excluded. Whatever proportion of the condition is performed by us, the same proportion of glorying will be due to us. This consequence cannot be avoided by saying, that the strength whereby we perform the condition is not our own, but given us; for Adam's strength was given him likewise. Therefore in this
case, we must either say that the condition of the covepant is divided between Christ and us, or that there are more covenants than two.
To avoid the first, many lave fallen into this last; teaching that there was one covenant made with Christ, the condition whereof was fulfilled by him; and another made with us, the condition of which we perform in his strength. But this distinction is not well founded, as we have already seen.
4thly. Elect sinners, even as all others, are dead, morally dead in trespasses and sins. Therefore they be. hove to have life, spiritual moral life, before they can believe, repent, or give new obedience. Upon what condition do they get that life? Not upon condition of faith, surely, for faith supposes spiritual life. To deny this, would lead into the greatest absurdities. Such as that a thing is the condition of itself; that faith is given on condition of faith, &c. Since therefore dead sinners get life, it must be on condition of something done by their Surety, or as scripture speaks, they obtain
precious faith through the righteousness of our Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. i. 1. Since that righteousness is the condition of life, it necessarily follows that it is the condition of the covenant, and that therefore pone of the actings of that life, which faith and repentance certainly are, can strictly and properly be called the condition. They all suppose the condition of the covenant, but can no more be so called, than effects can be called the cause from which they flow.
5thly. No covenant-blessing can be given to sinners, but in consideration of the condition of the covenant, as either performed, or to be performed. The nature of a condition bears so much." Now, it is obvious that the surety-righteousness of Christ, and not the sinner's faith, holds this place in the new covenant. None of the federal blessings whether pertaining to grace or glory, to the sinner's real or relative state, to the beginning, progress, or perfection of happiness, but they are all given on consideration of Christ's righteousness ooly öthly Faith, and all the lovely graces which follow in her train, belong to the promises of the covenant, and therefore cannot be its condition: unless one and the same thing can pertain to both. It was promised to Christ, that on condition he made his soul an offer. ing for sin, the elect should be endowed with a new heart, should believe, repent, and yield new obedience. It is in this sense that grace was given them before the world began, 2 Tim. i. 9. Tit. i. 2. And therefore it necessarily follows that their faith, repentance and new obedience belong not to the conditionary part of the covenant, but to the promissory. I know no way of evading this consequence, but by alleging that though it was promised in the federal transaction between the Father and the Son, that the elect should believe, &c. yet these things are required of them in the covenant, as exhibited to them in time. But though it is cheerfully granted, that all duty is required in the covenant, as made with them in their own person, the only inference deducible from this is, that faith is a condition of connection in the covenant, but not the condition of the covenant. That God who hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, hath established a certain order in the cove. nant, a connection between duty and privilege, for instance between faith and justification, Rom. v. 1.; between holiness and comfort, John xiv. 21. Hence it follows, that the one must precede the other. The amount, however, of all this is, that there is a certain invariable order wherein God will perform his promises, that he will work faith in his people ere he bestow pardon upon them; and that therefore to expect the latter without the former, is in effect to overturn that order which God, only wise, hath established. But never will it follow that what originally belonged to the promissory part of the covenant, is at last transferred to the conditionary. Unless with some, we adopt that hypothesis of two covenants, one made with Christ, wherein faith was promised to the elect; and another made with them, wherein faith is required of them: and that therefore what was promised in the one covenant, is
the condition of the other. A doctrine inadmissible, as we have seen.
7thly. That not faith but Christ's surety-righteousness only is the condition of the covenant, appears from the case of elect infants dying in infancy. That they are saved, is beyond controversy. That they cannot believe in Christ, is equally so. For if they cannot discern between their right hand and their left, if the gospel cannot be preached to them, how can they believe on Christ? Nevertheless, being saved, it cannot but be on account of his righteousness imputed to them. It will not be alleged that they obtain heavenly happiness otherwise than in consideration of what the Surety hath done and suffered: that they obtain the height of covenant blessings otherwise than in virtue of the condition of the covenant. It remains therefore that the righteousness of Christ only is the condition of the covenant of
grace. Let it be remembered, however, that faith is absolutely necessary in all who are subjects capable of it. A few observations on its nature, necessity and office, shall conclude what we have to say on the conditionality of the covenant of grace.
ist. Since faith is promised in the covenant, it follows that none who are without it can be personally in that covenant. For to be so in the covenant, and not to be possessed of one of its leading promises, is a contradiction. God having promised faith in his covenant, surely he will give it to all such as he takes into the covenant.
2dly. Faith is necessary not only in its being, or power; but also in its exercise and actings, in all that are capable of these. And we can best judge of that capacity from its contrary. All who are capable to reject Christ, must actually receive him, otherwise they shall never see heaven, but the wrath of God abideth on them. In the covenant of grace God has not only promised the being of faith, but also its exercise: not only that his elect shall have a power to come to Christ, but that they shall actually come, Isaiah lv. 5. John vi.