Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.—Rev. 1.7

[Therapeutica Sacra: Chapter 6: Of the Covenant of Grace. By David Dickson.]
S   A   C   R   A;
Shewing briefly
The method of healing the diseases of
the Conscience, concerning
R E G E N E R A T I O N:
Written first in Latine
D A V I D   D I C K S O N,
Professor of DIVINITY in the
Colledge of Edinburgh,
And thereafter Translated by him.

Matth. 9.12.
They that be whole need not a Physician,
but they that are sick.

E D I N B U R G H,
Printed by Evan Tyler, Printer to the King’s
most Excellent Majesty, 1664.


Of the Covenant of Grace.

THE third and last covenant concerning man's eternal salvation, is the covenant of Grace made between God and man, through Christ the Mediatour.

Grace, sometimes simply and absolutely taken, is opposed to merit; and in this sense, every good thing, which of God's good pleasure is ordained, or promised, {87} or actually bestowed on the creature, presuppose innocent, is called Grace: because it is impossible that a mere creature, can properly merit any good thing of God: because the creature neither hath nor can have, that which it hath not received, Rom. 11.35, who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?

Sometime Grace is taken for every gift or good, bestowed by God upon the ill deserver: in which sense, gifts, common to elect and reprobate, are called by the name of Grace, Romans 1.5; Eph. 4.7.

Sometime Grace is taken in opposition to the pactional merit of works, or to the reward due by debt covenanted, as Rom. 4.4, To him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt. In which sense, that which is given for works, is not given of grace, Rom. 11.16, and in this sense, we take Grace as it is opposed to the covenant of works: for, the condition of the covenant of works, is the giving perfect obedience to the law; But the condition of the covenant of grace, is the receiving of Christ by faith unto righteousness and life, offered in the Gospel, without the works of the law; which covenant, may thus be described. The covenant of grace is a contract between God and men, procured by Christ upon these terms, that whosoever in the sense of their own sinfulness shall receive Christ Jesus offered in the Gospel, for righteousness and life, shall have Him and all the benefits purchased by Him, according to the covenant of Redemption; and that God will be his God, and the God of his children. This covenant of grace is founded upon the covenant of Redemption, past between God and Christ, wherein it was agreed, that all the elect given unto Christ, shall be reconciled in due time to God, and that to this end, this grace should be preached to bring about the reconciliation; and therefore Christ is called the Mediatour of the new covenant, Heb. 12.22. {88}

Of Infants interest in this Covenant.

Question. WHAT interest have infants in this covenant?

Answer. The same which they had since the first express and formal making thereof with Abraham, to whom God promised to be his God, and the God of his children, whose children all are, who are in Christ, Gal. 3.27,28,29.

For, of the redeemed some come to age, whom God, having called by the preaching of the Gospel, doth induce and effectually move to embrace solemnly the offered fellowship with God and his saints in Christ, and to consecrate themselves and their children unto the service of God. There are other redeemed ones, who die in their infancy, before they come to the use of reason, to whose salvation God hath express respect in making his covenant with their parents, that he will not have them excluded from the blessing, when he calls their parents to him, but in the common offer of grace and reconciliation by Christ, he makes the promise jointly to the parents and the children; for, in one sentence, and, as it were, with one breath, He saith, I will be thy God and thy seeds after thee, Gen. 15.17, whereof the Apostle maketh good use, Acts 2.39, declaring the promise to be made to the Jews and their children, and to the called Gentiles and their children. And upon this ground Paul and Silas, timeously did offer consolation to the Jailor, trembling and anxious what way he should be saved, Acts 16.31, saying Believe in Christ Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

As for the manner how the Lord dealeth with the souls of infants in converting them, the Scripture doth not speak, for this lieth among the secrets of God, which doth not concern us to search after, Deut. 29.29. It should be sufficient to us, that God in covenanting with the parents promiseth to be the God of their children. And according to this covenant the Lord complains of {89} their slaying and offering their children unto idols, calling them His own sons and daughters, Ezek. 16.20. and upon this ground, in the second command, the Lord promiseth to shew mercy to the thousand generation of believing parents; and, 1 Cor. 7.14, the Apostle doth call the children of one of the parents believing, holy children, because of their consecration unto God by the believing confederate parent, and in regard of God's right and interest in them as the children of His own family by covenant.

And Christ our Lord upon this ground doth call the children of confederate parents, burgesses of heaven; of such is the kingdom of heaven, Matth. 19.13,14, and because infants are dedicated to Christ, to be taught and governed by Him in His own way and order, they are called disciples, Acts 15.10, as the disputers for the circumcision of Christian children, as well as of their parents, after the law of Moses, do make it manifest: and in the institution of baptism, our Lord gives the privilege of the covenant unto every nation, no less than to the Jews, that by covenant whole nations might be drawn in and given up as disciples to His doctrine, Matth. 28.29, make all nations disciples by your doctrine, baptizing them, &c. that the children with the parents, might be partakers by baptism, of the seal of the covenant for the righteousness of faith, no less than the children of Israelites were by circumcision.

Of the means to draw on the making of this Covenant.

OF these means we have spoken in the fourth article of the covenant of Redemption, and need not to insist more about them than to name them.

The first mean to draw men into this blessed covenant, and to keep them in it, is the external revelation of the will of God, for teaching men how great their sin and misery is, and how they may be reconciled and delivered by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and how they may testify their thankfulness (being reconciled) {90} for such a mercy; which grounds of saving knowledge, are fully and faithfully set down in holy Scripture, and committed to His servants in the ministry, who should in preaching of the Gospel, inform and persuade men to repent and embrace the grace of Christ, and put on His sweet yoke of obedience upon them.

The second mean is, after application of the Lord's word to the hearers for convincing them of sin in them, and righteousness in Christ, and judgment to follow, to wit, of absolution of the believer, and of condemnation of such as believe not, To receive into the bond of this covenant of grace, all that appear seriously to consecrate themselves and their children to the faith and obedience of the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, without determining whether they be regenerate for the present or not.

The third mean, is the solemn sealing of this covenant, for righteousness of faith and salvation through Christ, by baptizing both the parents that accept the covenant, and their children also; and by exhortations, promises, and comminations, and all other arguments, which may more and more convince them of their need of Christ, and duty to follow Him, to fix and strengthen their hearty purpose to cleave unto the Lord: Such as are, the Lord's command to believe in Christ and love one another, 1 John 3.23, and His threatening, if they believe not, John 3.18, and, 1 John 5.10,11.

The fourth mean, is the gathering of these that have embraced this covenant, into all lawful and possible Church-communion with other His disciples, and fixing them in their several congregations, that they may be edified under their Officers, appointed by Christ in His Testament in their most holy faith, and obedience of all His ordinances. And for further clearing the way of God, bringing the visible Church of Christ into this covenant with Himself, let it be considered: {91}

1. Albeit of those that are come to the use of reason, with whom God doth formally and solemnly make this covenant of grace and reconciliation, many are externally only called, and few in comparison chosen, Matth. 20.21, yet, it is not the will of God, otherwise than by doctrine to separate the elect from the rest of them that are externally called, or to make the elects name known to the world: for, the kirk [church] knoweth not, but God only knoweth who are His, 2 Tim. 2.19. And therefore He hath ordained means common to the elect and reprobate, to bring both unto the external embracing of His covenant, and continuing externally therein, and He doth bestow gifts both to the one sort and to the other, and He worketh in both the one sort and the other according to His own will; But as for inward and effectual calling, or special saving graces which do accompany salvation, and the special operations of the holy Spirit, He reserveth to the elect and redeemed only, to whom in a time acceptable, He revealeth Himself, and sealeth them for His own service.

2. By this wise and holy dealing with the hearers of the Gospel, whereby the Lord so makes good the covenant of Redemption, and bringeth His decrees to pass, as none shall have just reason to stumble; no wonder, that many be compassed within the draught-net of the Gospel, and be moved to enter into this holy and blessed covenant, of whom there may be elect, not as yet converted, whereupon by God's appointment, followeth a solemn covenanting of all that consent to the condition of the covenant, and profess their faith in Christ: all whom (with their children) Christ translates from the Pagan world, into His visible kingdom and fellowship of His Church militant and grants unto them right to the common privileges of Citizens, in the order appointed in His word, that keeping all lawful and possible communion with the Catholick visible Church of Christ, they may be edified in their particular congregations, and governed with others by Ecclesiastical discipline. {92}

3. Together with these external means, serving for drawing on the covenant and going on in it, the common operations of God do concur; common to all the called, both elect and reprobate, and gifts common to both, are bestowed, such as illumination, moral persuasion, historical, dogmaticall, and temporary faith, moral change of affections, and some sort of external amendment of their outward conversation,—saving grace being the special gift of God to His own.

4. Of this manner of covenanting and taking into Church-fellowship, all the called that consent in a moral way to the condition of the covenant, regenerate and unregenerate, we have a pattern in the Lord's covenanting with all Israel, Exod. 19, the covenant is offered to all the Israelites, without exception; all are invited to enter in covenant without exception, arguments, motives, and moral inducements are made use of, from their experience of the Lord's goodness and gifts given to them before; most ample promises of spiritual benefits, are made unto them, conditionally to be bestowed on them both in this life, and in the life to come, verses 4,5,6, the people embrace the condition of the covenant, verses 7,8, the people are sanctified, and prepared to receive the holy commands and will of God, in the rest of the chapter; then, in the 20th chapter and in the rest of the book, the duties of the covenanters are propounded, which concern the acknowledgement of sin and deserved death; and these also which concern obtaining of justification and sanctification by Christ, and which concern their shewing forth their thankfulness, all the days of their life.

The same covenant, after forty years, is repeated and renewed by Moses, a little before his death in the land of Moab, Deut. 29, the Lord commands Moses to renew the covenant with all the people, verse 1, all the people of Israel, are gathered together, regenerate and unregenerate, verse 2, the sum of arguments and motives to enter in covenant of new, is shortly set down, verse 3, {93} the greatest part of the people to be joined to God in covenant, are openly declared by Moses to be unregenerate, verse 4.

After that, arguments are used to move them, in all time coming, to trust in the Lord and to obey him, to verse 9, the covenant is made with the heads of the tribes, and elders of the people, and their governours, and with all the men of Israel, with their little ones, with the women, and with the strangers that were in the midst of their camp, verses 10,11, the covenant is solemnized with adjuration of all to keep the conditions thereof, verses 12,13, the covenant is extended with adjuration to the posterity, verses 14,15, neither is there any exception made, or exclusion of any that consented to the covenant, whether unregenerate Israelites or strangers, but all are admitted within this covenant.

The same way of covenanting did John Baptist follow, admitting to his baptism the seal of this covenant, all those that came from Jerusalem and out of all Judea, and from the borders of Jordan, without exception; whosoever confessed their sins, or that they were sinners, and professed they did receive the offer of grace, made in the Name of Christ Jesus, the true lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, Matth. 3.5,6, and so far was John from waiting for evidences of saving grace and regeneration, before he admitted them that came to his baptism, into the fellowship of the external covenant of grace and reconciliation, that on the contrary, he made publick profession, that the fan whereby the chaff is separated from the wheat, and the hypocrite discerned from the sincere Christian, was not in his hand, or in any other man or men's hands, but in the hand of Christ Jesus Himself only. And therefore (which is worthy to be observed) after he had publickly testified his suspicion of the hypocrisy and old poisonable disposition, in the Pharisees and Sadducees that came to his baptism, and offered to receive the covenant of grace and the seal thereof, verse 7, forthwith, {94} without inquiring into their regeneration and sincerity of heart, he baptized them among the rest, verse 11, and left them to be examined thereafter by Christ Himself, whether they were upright in heart or not.

The same way of gathering members of the visible Christian Churches out of the world, did Christ's own Apostles follow in His own company, Christ himself being present bodily, beholding and approving their baptizing of multitudes, who after hearing of Christ's sermons, offered to receive baptism, and went down to the water Aenon, where Christ's Apostles did make and baptize more disciples than John, John 4.1, that is, they admitted multitudes into the holy covenant, and sealed the same with baptism, taking no stricter course of examination of them than John did, but admitting all that craved the benefit of the covenant and the seal of it, though they had no certain evidence of their regeneration, being satisfied, that Christ did not forbid to baptize them, when he saw them go down to the water to be baptized, after hearing His sermon. Now, there is no question He knew their hearts, all of them, and that many of them would afterward shortly make defection from Him, and depart from him, and from his disciples' fellowship, as is plain, John 6.6,66,70.

This way of receiving into external covenant, all these who receive the offer and condition of the covenant, without inquiring into their election or reprobation, their regeneration or unregeneration for the time, (which may be called a covenanting outwardly and in the letter) in the deep and wise counsel of God, is appointed for the gathering and constitution of the visible kirk: for, by this mean, first, God so executeth and perfecteth the decree of election, that in the mean time he hindereth none, of all the hearers of the Gospel from receiving the grace of Christ offered therein. He excludeth no man from embracing the covenant; but, on the contrary, he opens the door to all that are called, to enter into (as it were) the outer court of his dwelling {95} house, that they may so draw more near to him; and so he doth not particularly manifest any man's reprobation.

Secondly, by this means also he hideth the election of the elect from others, and from themselves till they repent of their sins and flee to Christ and bring forth some evidences of their election, in their obedience of faith and begun sanctification.

Thirdly, the Lord makes use of this outward and common covenanting with all receivers of the offer, as a mean to draw the confederate in the letter, to be confederate in the spirit; for, the faith which he requires as the condition of the covenant, he worketh in the elect, if not before, or with the external covenanting, yet undoubtedly after, in a time acceptable, and that by the ordinary means, the use whereof is granted to all confederate externally: and so as common illumination is a mean to that special, spiritual, and saving illumination; and dogmatical or historical faith, is a mean unto saving faith; and external calling, is a mean to effectual calling, So external covenanting in the letter, is a mean most fit, and accommodated to make a man a covenanter in the spirit.

Fourthly, this external covenanting, wherein God promiseth to be the believer's God, and the God of their children, is a mean not only to beget and foster faith in the covenanting parents, for their own salvation, but also a mean to comfort them about the salvation of their infants, dying in infancy, whether before or after their baptism; and a mean to give them good hope of those children's blessed resurrection, by virtue of the promise, because in covenanting, the Lord doth promise to be the believer's God, and the God of his children, and doth not exact the condition of actual faith from their dying infants.

From these grounds it followeth, first, that some are taken externally and conditionally into the covenant, upon their engagement unto the righteousness of faith, {96} their baptism is a seal of their engagement unto it, who albeit they be not as yet regenerate, yet they are to be esteemed members of the Church, and Christians outwardly, Christians by calling, and in the letter, whose praise is of men, as they were also in the Church before Christ's coming, Jews outwardly and in the letter, whose praise was of men, commended indeed for so much: but if they came not up to lay hold upon, and follow after, righteousness by faith, were not Jews in God's account, and unto them circumcision was but in the letter, and the sealing of the engagement only, and not of the good things covenanted, Rom. 2.28,29.

Secondly, it followeth, that there are some covenanters outwardly and inwardly also, in the flesh and in the spirit also, whose praise is not of men only, but of God also, to wit, such as not only have engaged to fulfill the condition of living in the faith, and following after the righteousness of faith, but are performers really of their engagement, and unto those their baptism is not only outward and in the flesh, but inward also, in the spirit also, approven of God also. Such as were in the visible Church of old, Jews inwardly, performers of their engagement to live by faith, Jews in the spirit and not in the letter only, whose praise was of God, and not of men only, Rom. 2.28,29.

Thirdly, it followeth, that some are in the covenant absolutely, or without condition required of them for their part, whom God taketh in his own hand absolutely, such as are elect infants, dying in infancy, for whom, that they might be delivered from original sin and deserved wrath, Christ hath engaged and laid down his life, and promised in the covenant to be their God; whom therefore ere they die, he doth immediately quicken, and sanctify, and translateth to heaven after death; of such (saith Christ) is the Kingdom of heaven, Mark 10.14. {97}

How the external dispensation of the Covenant of old,
differeth from that which now is under the Gospel.

ALBEIT the covenant of grace in itself, be one and the same, from the first preaching of it in Paradise, unto the end of the world, because Christ the Saviour of his people, is one and the same, yesterday and today and forever, and because the faith of the elect is of one kind, and was and shall be to the world's end; yet, the external outletting and dispensation of the covenant differeth, as it was propounded before Christ's incarnation and after it: for, in Paradise this covenant was set forth by way of promise, (according to the articles of the covenant of Redemption) that Christ should assume the seed of the woman, and should suffer in the flesh of human nature, and by his power destroy the works of the devil, in favours of his own chosen people, which should militate against the devil under his banner.

2. And lest any man should fancy, that the covenant of grace, founded upon this promise, was made with all the posterity of Adam, as the covenant of works was made with Adam and all his posterity, the Lord, in the uttering of the promise, did not direct his speech unto Adam and Evah, but to the devil by way of threatening, and cursing him and his seed, even all the reprobate, in the audience of Adam and Evah, that our first parents over-hearing the curse of the serpent and his seed, and the promise of Christ's incarnation, in laying hold upon the promiser by faith, might be justified and saved as private persons, after the same way as other believers after them should be justified and saved. This their faith in Christ, the Lord did foster and augment by his doctrine taught unto them, and by the prescribing typical sacrifices to be offered in faith to God for remission of sins: And the Lord did admit their children into the external fellowship of this covenant, without putting difference between one and another outwardly, as we see in Cain and Abel: of which two, {98} the one, to wit, Cain, was a covenanter in the flesh outwardly and in the letter only; for he was destitute and void of saving faith; the other, to wit, Abel, was both outwardly and inwardly a covenanter, not in the letter only but in the spirit also, endued with lively, justifying and saving faith in Christ to be incarnate, and to die for his own people, as the Apostle testifieth reckoning him up among believers justified by faith, Heb. 11.4.

3. After the flood, God did not make the covenant with every man, nor with any family by way of explicit and formal paction, except Abraham and his family only, of whom the Messiah, God the Mediatour, was to come according to the flesh; and with him the Lord confirmed the covenant, by adding unto it the Sacrament of circumcision, as the seal of righteousness and justification by faith.

4. In the wilderness at mount Sinai, that the Lord might make evident the necessity of justification by faith in Christ to come, he did repeat the law of works; and to them that did acknowledge their sin, he did set forth Christ their deliverer, under the veil of sacrifices and levitical types, and the very same is the covenant now, whereunto Christ and his ministers, laying aside the veil of the ceremonies, did openly invite their hearers, that acknowledging their sins, and renouncing confidence in their own power and worth, they should cast themselves into the arms of Christ the Saviour, that through him they might obtain justification and life eternal. We see here indeed a diverse manner of dispensing, and outward managing the making of the covenant with men, but the covenant was still the same, clothed and set forth in a diverse manner, and did no other ways differ then and now, but as one and the self same man differeth from himself, clothed suitably one way in his minority, and another way in his riper age.

5. If the covenanters therefore be compared among themselves in respect of divers dispensations, the covenanters {99} in spirit after Christ's incarnation, are in a better condition, than the believers before Christ's coming; for, the believers before Christ incarnate under the pedagogy of the law, did lie under a servitude and bondage as to the outward man, for then the sons and heirs not come to age, did differ nothing from servants, Gal. 4.1, and in regard of the inward man, they saw the mystery of salvation, albeit savingly, yet more obscurely, for, through the veil they saw the mystery of salvation to be had by Christ; but after Christ's coming, the Lord dealt more liberally with believers, because by their freedom from the Levitical ceremonies, taking away the veil, they may behold with open face the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, and be transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3.18.

6. But as for what concerns the covenanters in the letter and outwardly only; they are in worse condition after the coming of Christ, than the literal covenanters before his incarnation: for, the unregenerate under the Gospel, are in danger of more heavy judgment, than the uncircumcised in heart were before Christ came, in regard it is a greater sin to neglect and despise Christ speaking from heaven, in the more clear manifestation of himself in the Gospel, than it was before Christ came to contemn the darker doctrine of Moses, Heb. 2.3, and 10.20.

Concerning the condition of the Covenant.

IN receiving or admission of persons, who are come to the use of reason into the covenant, these three things are to be observed, and distinguished one from another; first, the condition of the person, desiring to be in covenant with God, for reconciliation and grace through Christ; 2. The condition upon which he is entered in covenant; 3. The condition required of him, for evidencing of his sincere covenanting.

The first condition required of the man who desireth {100} to enter in the covenant of reconciliation, is the acknowledgement of his sins; for, except a man confess himself a sinner, and unable to help himself, Christ rejecteth him, and will have nothing to do with him, for Christ hath said, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, Matth. 9.13.

As for the next, the condition of the covenant upon which the man is received, and whereby the man becometh a confederate, it is his consent to receive the grace offered, even Christ with his benefits, as he is holden forth in the Gospel; or, the condition of the covenant is faith, receiving Christ for righteousness and eternal life.

As for the third, the condition required of the man now entered in the covenant, for evidencing the truth and sincerity of the faith which the covenanter professeth, it is the taking on him the yoke of Christ, which he layeth on his confederate people; or, this condition, is the covenanter's up-giving of himself to Christ's government, and obedience of his commands: and all these three, are expressed by Christ, Matth. 11.28,29.

First, they that labour and are heavy laden, are they whom Christ calleth unto a covenant and fellowship of his grace.

Secondly, he propounds the condition of the covenant, to wit, that they believe in Christ, or come unto Him, that in him they may find full relief from sin and misery, and in him full righteousness and felicity.

Thirdly, he requires of them who do embrace him by faith, and so have accepted the condition of the covenant, that they give evidence of their faith in him, by taking on of his yoke on them; take my yoke upon you, saith he.

All these three, a covenanter in the letter externally, will profess to have, and to purpose to follow; but the true covenanters in spirit, have indeed all these three: for, true faith in Christ, or the receiving of Christ offered in the Evangel for justification and salvation, which is {101} the condition of the covenant, presupposeth the condition of the man who is called to embrace Christ, and draweth after it the condition required of the man covenanting: for, he that receiveth Christ for righteousness and eternal life, of necessity must acknowledge himself a man in himself unrighteous, and a lost man, and that he cometh to Christ to be justified, and sanctified, and saved by him, and so to persevere in this course unto life eternal.

Of the Terms whereupon this Covenant is Offered and Pressed in Scripture.

THE terms of the covenant are diversely propounded in Scripture, Exod. 19.5, the Lord propounds it thus, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar people unto me, &c.

In these words, the condition required of those that are already entered in covenant is most eminent; for, this people was in covenant from the time of Abraham's covenanting, and was admitted to the Sacraments before their coming forth of Egypt; and therefore the conditions previous to their entering in covenant, and required for closing the bargain, are not so much insisted on at this time. This condition the people do accept, and give answer to God by Moses, verse 8, all that the Lord hath spoken we will do.

Another form and expression, is used, Acts 16.31, Paul and Silas say to the Jailor, now anxious how to be saved, believe in the Lord, and thou shalt be saved; thou and all thy house. The Jailor accepts of the condition, and he is baptized and all his house, verse 33.

The condition of his person taking with guiltiness, and granting his lost condition is spoken of, verse 27, the condition of the covenant therefore is propounded in the next room, and is accepted, whereupon baptism is administered unto him.

Psalm 27.8. In other words the same condition is propounded: the Lord craveth faith, seeking communion {102} with God for the condition, seek ye my face; the Psalmist accepteth the condition and answereth, Thy Face, O Lord, will I seek.

Isa. 45.22. Christ requires faith in these he calleth, and upon that condition promiseth salvation, Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved: the answer of the believer is set down, verse 24, Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength.

Likewise the way of making this covenant, is set forth by Christ, offering himself a Saviour on the one part, and the believers receiving Christ on the other part, John 1.11,12, as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name.

And, 2 Cor. 5.19,20, upon this only condition of consenting to reconciliation offered, he summeth up most shortly and clearly the covenant-making, We are Ambassadours for Christ, as if God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God. There remaineth no more for making of the covenant, but that the hearer do honestly answer thus, the offer and condition pleaseth me well, I consent to be reconciled. Now he who consenteth to be reconciled, (1.) Granteth his natural enmity; (2.) Accept Christ the Mediatour, Redeemer, Reconciler, offered to him by God, whose fullness is in Christ; And, (3.) obligeth himself to entertain this friendship all his life after.

Last of all, the making of the covenant, is sometime pressed to be received and followed under the form of a precept, 1 John 3.23, this is his command, that ye believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he hath commanded us: In which words the condition, or estate of the person, who is called to believe and enter in covenant, is presupposed: for, it is imported, that he must acknowledge, not only that he is a miserable sinner, and unable to relieve himself, but also that he is naturally averse from the way of seeking righteousness by faith in Christ, and hath need that the sovereign {103} power of God draw him to Christ. Secondly, the condition of the making of covenant is propounded, which is to believe in Jesus Christ. In the third room, the condition required of him that is entered in covenant by believing in Christ, is, that we love one another as he hath commanded us.

This offered and commanded condition of the covenant of grace, some by the grace of God do accept, and engage to perform, and do perform sincerely, albeit weakly; other some, trusting in their own strength, engage unto the obedience of faith, and with their mouth profess they are sinners, and do believe in Christ, and that they will submit themselves to his Government, drawing near to him with their lips, when their hearts are far from him; and such men's faith, changeth not their old disposition and way of living, but it suffereth them to serve their belly, or mammon, or vain glory, and such other idols; yet because the Church are not judges of the secrets of the heart, they must receive into Church-fellowship, all who confess themselves to be sinners, and profess they do accept the offer of Christ's grace, and promise subjection to his ordinances.

Objection. But how can the Church receive men in Church-fellowship, who are destitute of lively faith?

Answer. The Church is not judge of the heart, or of the secrets thereof, because it cannot see faith in itself, but must look to the profession of faith, and to the fruits thereof in their own order and time; the Church is witness to their engagement, but not judges of their sincerity.

2. The covenant of grace doth not exclude the most vile sinners, if they acknowledge their sinfulness, and do solemnly consent unto the conditions of the covenant: because, according to this covenant nothing is bestowed on the covenanter, of merit, but of grace only, which the Church knoweth God can give, and sometimes doth give unto counterfeit confederates, making them sincere in his own time, and that by the means of the ordinances, {104} made use of in the visible Church.

3. It is one thing to be a confederate Christian in the letter, externally in the sight of men; another thing to be a covenanter in the spirit, inwardly in respect of the heart and inward man, Rom. 2.28, and albeit the external covenant doth not bring on righteousness and life, except a man be also a covenanter inwardly in his heart, in the sense of sin and imperfection, making daily use of Christ: yet it is certain, that outward covenanting, is an ordinary and blessed mean unto many, to beget and foster faith, and help forth the fruits thereof.

4. It may and should suffice us, that God, in the first framing of a national Church, did admit, and commanded Moses to admit all the Israelites in covenant, of whom very few were converted, or reconciled to God in their spirit; and this was not hid from Moses, or from the truly godly in the camp of Israel, as is plainly shown to us, Deut. 28.29, where God bears witness against the people, that their heart was not according to their profession and engagement: and Moses speaketh out this truth in all the people's audience, while he is renewing the covenant with them, notwithstanding they were unregenerate, Deut. 29.

Objection. But some will insist and tell us, that the visible Church is a society of Saints or regenerate persons, and that they who live in the visible Church, must be visible Saints, whose life at least doth not contradict their profession, and such as by the judgment of charity we must esteem regenerate.

Answer. Christ's visible Church, is the company of them that are called out of the world unto him; the company of them that are consecrate to God, and engaged by solemn covenant to follow the course of holiness: By calling they are Saints, albeit many of them may be found polluted in their manners: thus doth God Himself teach us to judge, Psalm 50.5, Gather unto me my saints, saith He, and who are these? These who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Now, of these, many did {105} not worship God in spirit, but placed all their religion in ceremonies, and went about by their outward sacrifices to pacify God, and to expiate their sins, as is plain, verses 7,8; others of these called saints, consecrate unto God, and joined with him in a visible covenant, were very wicked, who no ways behaved themselves as became covenanters with God; and who therefore were to be excluded from the benefit of the covenant, except they repented: for, they hated true holiness, and did cast the commands behind their back, verse 16, were thieves and adulterers, slanderers and calumniators of their brethren, verses 18,19, and yet for all this, the Lord doth not exclude them out of the visible Church, but doth in a fatherly manner reprove them, that they might repent and not perish.

2. There is no question, whether all in the visible Church ought to be both in open conversation, and in heart holy, and that they shall certainly be damned and perish, that are not such; but the question is here, about the duty of the Governours of the Church, and of the godly in it, whether they should exclude from Church-membership all who are not regenerate, at least so to be esteemed in the judgment of charity? or, whether all are to be holden for Church-members, and kept within the Church, who are in covenant with God, and sealed with the seal thereof, to the intent that by doctrine and censures of the Church (so far as may be by means) they may be regenerate, and being regenerate, be helped on in the way of holiness?

3. There is a difference to be put betwixt the precepts, concerning the personal sanctification of every man in himself, and the precepts given for the governing of others, and keeping holy society with the called saints, renewed or unrenewed in the visible Church, so far as God's word giveth light and order: for, it is commanded to me and thee, that we pursue peace and holiness, without which none shall see the face of God; but it is not commanded to me or thee, that we should keep {106} no Church-fellowship in God's ordinances, except with the regenerate. It is not commanded to the Governours of the Church, that they must examine every person concerning their regeneration; neither are they forbidden to admit any into the society of the Church, save these whom they esteem regenerate: But they are commanded to bring into the Church, all that oblige themselves to be Christ's disciples, with their children, and by the means appointed of God, in doctrine and censures of the Church, to promove their sanctification and salvation; for, so much doth Christ's commission to the Pastors of the Church import, Matth. 28.19,20.

4. Regeneration is not the just measures, whereby to square the dimensions and extent of the visible Church; but confederation and obsignation of the Covenant by baptism: For, the Church is Christ's visible kingdom, whose visible subjects are all they who solemnly are engaged to subject themselves to his doctrine and government; and therefore the Church visible, is not to be defined, the company of the regenerate, but the company of the confederate with God, and called unto holiness; among whom, Christ tells us, there are few elect, and so fewer regenerate; and therefore the Church of Christ, is compared to a barn-floor, whereinto is gathered both the chaff and the wheat, both they that have faith and they that profess faith, out of whom Christ doth gather his own Elect and redeemed ones.

Objection. But at least in gathering of a Church out of the world, respect must be had, that the consenting of the covenanter be serious; and how can the consent be serious where the heart is not sincere, where the person is not regenerate? Such a man's consent to the covenant, as is without saving faith, is but feigned, counterfeit, hypocritical, and such a consent as may hinder the man's regeneration, and do nothing but provoke God's wrath against the man and the receivers or admitters of him also. {107}

Answer. Serious is sometimes opposed to sport or play, and so a matter may be serious which is in earnest gone about, and is not openly histrionical. And sometime, serious is opposed to the intention of fraud and deceit; and so that may be called serious, which is done without a purpose to deceive or beguile the party. But when the consenter to engage in covenant, speaketh as he thinketh, albeit possibly his own heart deceive him, his consent to the condition of the covenant may justly be called serious, because he intends to deal in earnest, as in a weighty business. And such was the consent of the people of Israel unto the covenant made with God, Exodus 19.

Likewise, counterfeit and hypocritical, is sometime called so, in opposition to that which is real, true, and spiritual: And so all consent to the covenant of Grace, which doth not proceed from the spirit of Regeneration is but feigned faith, and indeed is not saving faith; yet, it may be serious and morally honest, like Israel's, Exod. 14.20, and so sufficient to make a covenant, and to tie an obligation on the man to such duties as may lead to salvation.

Again, feigned, counterfeit, hypocritical, is called that which a man purposely doth feign, making shew of that which he knows not to be, being conscious to his own wickedness; and such a feigned consent, we grant, doth provoke God against such a person; but the Church is not judge of this, so long as they know not of this gross hypocrisy.

We hold then, that there may be, and usually fall forth, such a moral consent unto the covenant of Grace without saving faith, which may be called a serious, really honest consent, as to the agreement of the mind and mouth of the covenanter, such as is found in ordinary civil contracts, between one man and another, and must be acknowledged to be an external Church-covenanting with God, and with the rest of the members of the Church: and so the consent, {108} in respect to the making a covenant, is not feigned, neither is it displeasing unto God in the [its] own kind, albeit it be not sufficient or acceptable to God unto the person's salvation: For, so much doth God himself testify (Deut. 5.) speaking of the Israelites (who were ignorant of the deceitfulness of their own heart, and of their inability to perform what they promised) he saith, (verses 28,29) They have well said, all that they have spoken. Therefore unto the tying a man in this bond of the covenant, this moral honesty, is sufficient, albeit to salvation it is not sufficient, but in order thereto a mean of God's appointment.

Now, that there is such a thing as we call moral integrity or honesty, which differeth from the true Christian's spiritual honesty, or sincerity, it is plain from these places of Scripture, which speak of this integrity of heart in such persons as were not renewed, because they intended no other thing than they pretended. Thus Abimelech excuseth himself to God when he took away Sarah, Abraham's wife, from him, thinking Sarah had been his sister and not his wife, Gen. 20.6, In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands, have I done this. And this the Lord doth acknowledge to be true, verse 17. So also the captains that came with their companies to David in Ziklag, are said to have a perfect heart, because they were morally honest, and resolved, as they professed, uprightly to make David King, and to help him in the war, and not betray him, 1 Chron. 12.33,38.

Of the sundry ways of men's framing of the Covenant of Grace.

AS we told there was a covenant of works, one truly so called of God's institution; and another false sort of covenant of works, of man's framing: So it is also in the matter of the covenant of Grace, there is one truly so called, and another sort false and counterfeit of man's framing. That which is of God's framing, {109} is the covenant, that God makes with the Church, for giving righteousness and life by faith in Jesus Christ: that which we call a counterfeit covenant, is the covenant, which men frame unto themselves upon any other condition than faith: Such was the counterfeit covenant of the false apostles, who corrupted the Gospel-covenant among the Galatians, whereof the Apostle Paul complaineth, Gal. 1.6,7, challenging them, that they had forsaken God, who called them to the grace of Christ, and were turned over to another Gospel, that is to another covenant of grace, than the true one, which is only one, and not various, but by the troublers of the Church was changed into another frame; for, the true covenant, was perverted and corrupted by these who went about to join together Justification by works, and Justification by grace through faith in Christ: which two sorts of covenant, are inconsistent, and do mutually overthrow one another; So also did the Pharisee (Luke 18.11,12,) corrupt and pervert both the covenant of works and the covenant of grace; he corrupted and perverted the covenant of works, because he put up to God some external good works for the perfect obedience of the law; and he perverted the covenant of grace, because albeit he did acknowledge the grace of God, and gave him thanks for giving him ability and power to do good works, and for infusing habits of piety and justice in him; yet, he exalted himself, and took the thanks and praise to himself who had made good use of these virtuous habits, God, I thank thee, (saith he) that I am not like other men, &c.

2. Like unto this fault, is the errour of many, of whom some makes the act of faith brought forth by the power of natural free-will, to be the condition of the covenant, contrary to the doctrine of the Gospel, which makes faith infused, to be the gift of God, renouncing its own righteousness and the merit of all works also, and resting on Christ, to be the condition: {110} For, the sentence of the Apostle, standeth firm and unmoveable, Rom. 11.16, If it be by grace, it is no more of works, &c.

Other some make this the condition of the covenant, that Christ should pay for mortal sins by his own temporal sufferings, and so take away everlasting punishment, but will have the sinner himself to pay for venial sins by temporal sufferings, partly in this life and partly in purgatory.

Other some dream of framing the covenant of grace thus, if a man do all the good he is able, and hath a will to serve God better than before, they conceive that God must take the will for the perfect deed, and so for good payment.

Which counterfeit conditions, and other such like inventions of self-pleasing conceits, are all of them nothing else but the adulterating both of the covenant of works, and of the covenant of grace appointed to God, by which inventions men deceive themselves to their own perdition.

Now, that such perverting of the covenant of works and of grace, are rife & frequent among men, experience may prove: For, before Christ's coming, this was the way of carnal Israelites, Rom. 10.3, and Rom. 9.30, For they being ignorant of the righteousness of God, went about to establish their own inherent righteousness, and would not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. And of the Galatians, it is said, chapter 5.4, Christ is become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law, ye are fallen from grace; that is, ye who seek righteousness or justification by works, have renounced so far as in you lieth grace to be had by Christ; and experience daily sheweth the same disposition in many professed Christians

Question. Are not then such corrupters of the covenant of grace loosed from their obligation, wherein by their baptism they were died to seek righteousness by faith only? {111}

Answer. No: for, albeit by so doing they prove themselves to be corrupters and falsifiers of their covenant, to their own perdition, if they repent not; yet they stand obliged still before God to their covenant sealed in baptism: For, the covenant of God with man, cannot be dissolved by men's treachery, and without God's consent, not only because the covenant of God, with men, in regard of the perpetual equity thereof, hath in it a perpetual obligation, but also because the sovereign dominion of God, hath the force of a law to oblige them whom God hath taken in among his people, that being once his confederate subjects, they should remain still his subjects: For, as circumcision was a seal of covenanted righteousness by faith, So baptism is a seal of the same covenanted righteousness by faith, whether the covenanters remain constant unto their covenant or not, as we see in the Israelites, who albeit they were polluted with idolatry in Egypt, and albeit they proved rebellious in the wilderness, and in the land of promise were found often guilty of breach of covenant; yet, still in the Scripture they are called God's people, and the Lord's interest and right in them, stood fast, and their right also unto the external privileges of the citizens of God's kingdom, remained fast also, until the time that for their open and obstinate rejecting of Christ, the children of the kingdom were cast out and were broken off the true olive tree: So also, the obligation of the baptized, who turn the true covenant of grace into another of their own framing, doth still stand, tying them to perform the condition of the true covenant: and their right to the external privileges of the confederate, doth remain still in some sort, even when they are interdicted from the honourable possession thereof by excommunication: For, the Apostle teacheth us, that the excommunicate remain, as to their ecclesiastick state, (albeit not as to their present ecclesiastick condition) citizens and members of the Church, and subject {112} to Jurisdiction ecclesiastick, and to Christ's discipline; because when they are judged, and are under censure, they are said to be within the Kirk, and not without it, 1 Cor. 5.12, What have I to do to judge also them that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? And these that were delivered unto Satan, as to their present external condition, remained notwithstanding, as to their external state, the domesticks of God, under the discipline of God's house, and were pressed by the censure laid on them, to learn to cease from their sinful course, and specially from these faults for which they were censured and corrected by their excommunication, 1 Tim. 1.20. Hymeneus and Alexander were given over to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme; that is, that being humbled and brought to repentance they might return to the acknowledgement of the truth and to a reverent speaking of holy things, and so the right to be counted brethren and members of the Church (albeit under censure, restraint, and dis-respect till they repented) was not taken altogether from them, even under excommunication; nor yet were the private duties of charity, due to brethren in that fearful condition, to be altogether denied unto them, even when the possession of the former honour of blameless brethren, was taken from them; for, the Apostle will have them, albeit excommunicated, to be esteemed still censured brethren, and not looked upon as enemies, 2 Thess. 3.14,15, If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man (to wit by putting the censure of excommunication on him) and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed; yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother; and this is so much the more carefully to be observed, that the constitution of the visible Church of such and such members, and the use of excommunication may be the better understood: lest the excommunicate, being over-burdened by the sharpness of the censure, should seem to themselves altogether excluded {113} from Church-society, and so despair of returning to the full possession of their privileges, but might know, that the right of citizens of the city of God, was reserved unto them, and was to be restored by way of possession after their repentance, and that they were not cut off from the Christian charity of the brethren, no not when they were lying under the sentence, that they might so much the sooner return to repentance and to the possession of their Ecclesiastick honour.

Objection. But here there ariseth a greater doubt and objection, how, and upon what reason God doth require the condition of faith, which men cannot perform, except it be given of God, as the Apostle testifieth, Ephes. 2.8, you are saved of grace by faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God?

Answer. The equity of the duty required, doth not depend upon men's present power or strength, of whom the condition is required, but upon this ground, that ability was given to Adam, and to his posterity in him: for, all enjoined service, and so the duty of believing in Christ, is founded upon man's natural obligation to obey the moral law; for, by virtue of the first command, Adam was bound, and we in him, not only to believe the word of God already revealed unto him, but to believe also every word of God to be revealed, and he was bound to give unto God the glory of all his attributes, not only of these which already did shew forth themselves in his works, but also of these attributes, which as yet did not put forth themselves in actual exercise: for as it cannot be denied, that man was bound to give God the glory of his avenging justice, upon his threatening to inflict the punishment of death in case man should sin, albeit he could not see the execution of it before he fell; So also it is manifest, he was bound to give God the glory of his goodness and mercy, albeit no object of shewing mercy was yet to be found: and that partly, because it was his duty to give the glory of all perfections unto God, whereof mercy is {114} one; and partly, upon the experience he had of God's manifested goodness in his creation, and God's making a covenant with him about eternal life, upon so easy and equitable terms: upon the same ground, even after the fall, Adam was bound not to despair, nor fly, nor hide himself from God, from whom it was impossible he could escape.

It cannot then be reasonably denied, but man, by the law of nature, is bound to give credit to God when he speaketh, and bound to trust in God when He offereth himself as a friend and a father to him, and when God bids him seek his face, he is bound to obey him, and seek his face, and to follow after more and more near communion with him.

It is true indeed, that Adam in his integrity, could not formally and actually believe in God as a Redeemer: partly, because this mystery was not yet revealed; partly, because he, not having yet sinned, had not need of a Redeemer or of remission of sin; but yet, the power and ability of believing in God, according as God should let forth his will, and the power to adhere unto God, and rest on his goodness and good-will, was given to man in his creation: for, this perfection was a part of the image of God, wherein man was created, even as the habit of shewing mercy on the miserable (though such an object was not to be found, while man continued in the state of innocency) was a part of that original holiness in him; and if this grace hold not, sinners by their sinning once, should make themselves free to sin for ever after, and exempt themselves from all the duties of the moral law, upon this pretence, that they were unable to give obedience to it, which is most unreasonable. And, 2. Because the hearers of the Gospel esteem themselves able to perform the condition of the covenant of grace offered, and to believe in Christ, yea and to give credit, or not, to what is preached unto them, as they see reason; is it not equitable then to put all men to it, who judge themselves {115} able to perform what is required; to the end that after experience, and trial taken of themselves, they should either acknowledge their natural inability to believe in Christ, and so go seek of God the gift of faith, or else be destitute of all excuse, if they shall not do what they conceive and profess themselves able to do?

Thirdly, it is equitable to crave faith from them who are able to promise morally the obedience of faith, and are able to use the external means leading unto true faith; for, the Lord Himself followed this way in his covenanting with the Israelites, Exod. 19, where the Lord propounds the condition of the covenant, and promiseth to be their God, if they should hearken to His voice, verses 5,6, the people did accept the condition and undertook to perform it, verses 7,8, and upon these terms the covenant was made with them morally, in an external way, which did bind the obligation fast upon them.

Fourthly, by preaching of the covenant of grace, God doth ordinarily bestow grace, and grace for grace, on the redeemed in a time acceptable; and in craving the condition, the Lord giveth grace to accept the condition, and to perform it; and this course is very suitable to God's sovereignty or supremacy, suitable to His wisdom and his justice, and suitable to the freedom of his grace: for, it becometh the absolute supremacy of God, and the liberty of His most holy will, to send the Gospel only to whom He will; it becometh his wisdom, where ever He doth send the Gospel, to make offer of grace indifferently to all the hearers, whether elect or reprobate, that all may be tried, whether they please to receive the offer or not; It becometh his justice to withhold grace from such as refuse the offer of it; and it becometh his wisdom, mercy, grace, truth, and justice, both to exact from the elect, for whom Christ did satisfy, the performance of the condition of the covenant, and in the mean time, by the offer of grace, to make them savingly to believe, using the command of {116} believing in Christ for a fit mean to beget faith: hence it is, that saving faith is given only to the elect; which faith therefore, is called the faith of the elect, Titus 1.1. Hence it is, that the elect are called heirs of the promises, Gal. 3.29, and children of the promise, Heb. 6.17, partly, because they are the children promised to be brought in to Christ, Isa. 53.10, partly, because by the promises they are regenerate to a new life, and by believing in Christ, they obtain righteousness and eternal life: for, 1 Pet. 1.23, they are called begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of the incorruptible seed of the word of God.

Question. If it be asked, since faith is so necessary, what is the object of faith?

Answer. We answer, the truth of God revealed in Scripture, or God speaking in Scripture, and promising eternal life upon conditions holden forth in these promises: among these promises, some pertain to the covenant of works, such as, Gal. 3.12, do this and live: and, Matth. 19.17, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; and sundry other particular promises of blessings, both spiritual and temporal annexed unto the promulgation of the Law; which promises do serve to encourage them to make good their undertaking if they be able, as they conceive they are, and to humble them when they shall find by experience, that neither threatening nor promises can make them to fulfill that law. Beside the promises annexed to the covenant of works, there are other promises, which pertain to the covenant of reconciliation, and tend to the making men embrace the covenant of grace, and to continue therein, such as these which are propounded in the Gospel, for giving unto the believer all the sure mercies of David, and the benefits purchased by Christ. And of this sort, some are more general, some more special, some of them belong to this life, some of them to the life to come: for, true godliness comprehending faith and the fruits of it, hath the promises both of this life, and of the life to come: of all these promises, the {117} foundation and fountain is the covenant of Redemption (whereof we have spoken, chapter 4,) wherein Christ promiseth to the Father to do his will, and the Father promiseth to Christ as Mediatour the head of the Church, in favours of the redeemed, that he shall see his seed and be satisfied, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand: upon this covenant of Redemption, all the promises, made to the Church, do depend, whether they be absolute promises, whether conditional promises, whether qualified promises, which are like unto conditional. Absolute promises we call (for example) such as do promise absolutely the taking away the heart of stone and the conversion of the Elect, and their perseverance and salvation, Jer. 31.31,32, &c. and 32, verse 40. Such are the promises of gathering, edifying, propagating, and perpetuating of the Christian Church to the world's end, as Math. 16.18, Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Which sort of promises, do serve to move men to come and embrace Christ; and after men have fled to Christ, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen, the believer may make application and comfortable use of all the precious promises of righteousness and eternal life, set forth in the Gospel. Conditional promises are such, as make offer of Christ and reconciliation to the hearers of the Gospel, upon this condition, that in the sense of sin and fear of wrath, they fly to Christ as the only and sufficient remedy of sin and misery. Qualified promises like unto conditional, are these that have in them some qualification of the person who is already a believer, and do seem to make that qualification or designation of the believer to be a condition of the blessing promised therein: which promises, if they be well considered do pre-suppose the qualified person, to whom the promise is made, to be both a believer and also to be evidently endued with the named quality; as for example, Math. 5, Blessed are {118} the merciful, the peace-maker, the meek, the mourners, the poor, the sufferer of persecution for the Gospel, or for Christ, &c. which virtues, if the person be not a believer in Christ, do as yet signify nothing in him, nor do not entitle the man to this Gospel-blessedness; and being the designations of believers, they give the persons endued therewith, encouragement to go on and increase in that grace and all other graces, that they may thereby more and more give evidence of their being real believers: Such also are the promises which are made to the confident waiters on God, rejoicers in God, lovers and fearers of God, &c. In which promises, grace for grace to be derived out of the fullness of Christ, is promised to the believer. Some promises design fit persons to enter in covenant, and do invite them to come to Christ, Such as are, come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, Math. 11.28. And Ho! every one that thirsts, come to these waters, &c. Isa. 55.

And besides these promises which contain the condition of the covenant, made to them who embrace the condition, and do already believe, such as is they that believe in me, shall not perish, but shall inherit eternal life; these are also promises conditional, serving to make men who profess faith in Christ to be real and steadfast in the covenant wherein they are at least outwardly, and solemnly entered, such as, John 15.7,10, If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you, and if ye keep my commands, ye shall abide in my love, &c. And, John 12.26, If any man serve me, him will my father honour; and John 14.21, he that loveth me, shall be loved of my father; and I will love him and manifest myself unto him.

Objection. Seeing it is certain, that the condition of the covenant of grace, is not the doing of one or more works, but faith receiving Christ offered, without respect to our works, as any part of the condition; and seeing the condition of the covenant, is not the having, {119} or exercising of such and such virtues, but the receiving of Christ through faith unto righteousness and eternal life, by the man who hath renounced all confidence in his own works; how cometh it to pass, that such conditional promises are made to them that are endued with, and do exercise, such virtues?

Answer. Albeit the endeavour to work good works, or the exercise of such and such virtues prescribed by Christ, cannot be the condition of the covenant (for then no man could close covenant with Christ till first he shall find these virtues in himself, and have given proof of his constant exercise thereof) yet such conditional promises are made use of after a man hath closed covenant with Christ by faith, as conditions required in a true believer, to evidence the sincerity of his faith. And that because many make pretence of their faith in Christ, and yet do turn the grace of God into wantonness, and do no ways set themselves to new obedience unto God's law, and are no ways careful to bring forth fruits suitable to professed repentance, but are indulgent to their vicious and fleshly lusts, and in effect do renounce all endeavour to exercise good works instead of renouncing a carnal confidence in good works: Therefore God doth put the endeavour to exercise Christian virtues on all professed believers, as a condition distinguishing a sincere believer from an hypocrite, lest any man should please himself, because he is externally in the covenant of Grace, while, it may be, as yet his faith is but a dead faith, not working by love: Against which sort of pretended believers James (chapter 2) disputeth. Such conditional promises are directed toward them that are outwardly already in covenant, and do serve for these several uses.

First, that such as both profess faith in Christ and are endeavouring the duties required in such conditional promises, may acknowledge, that they have obtained of the Lord grace for grace, grace to believe {120} and grace to bring forth the fruits of faith.

Secondly, that the honest hearted may be encouraged to set upon these duties, and may hope to be furnished for them, out of the rich fountain of Christ's grace, John 1.16.

Thirdly, they serve to make such as believe in Christ, when they feel the in-lack of any such commanded duty, or the bitter root of any vice in themselves, to humble themselves in the sense thereof, and to fly more earnestly to Christ the Redeemer, that first they may be covered with his righteousness, and then from him receive the power of the holy Ghost, to bring forth good fruits, as he hath promised, John 15.5, If ye abide in me, ye shall bring forth much fruit.

Fourthly, they serve to make believers in Christ subject themselves to the order of the operation of the holy Ghost who giveth grace for grace, and worketh one grace before another in his own order, as the foresaid promises do import.

Fifthly, they serve to stir up believers in Christ, to the love and exercise of such and such virtues, in the hope of the promised reward.

Sixthly, they serve to move believers to join one virtue to another, for certifying themselves of their own calling and election by their growth therein, 2 Peter 1.3,4,12.

Last of all, they serve to make these who are destitute and void of such qualifications, and are careless to have them, manifest to themselves and others, that they are blind, and cannot see afar off: and that they have forgotten that they were in baptism, ecclesiastically purged from their old sins, 2 Peter 1.9.

Objection. How can this offer of grace to all the hearers of the Gospel, and the solemn making of a covenant with all that profess they do accept of the offer, stand with the doctrine of election of some, and reprobation of others, or, with the doctrine of Christ's redeeming of the Elect only, and not of all and every man? {121}

Answer. The election of some and reprobation of others, was made clear of old by God's making offer of grace unto, and covenanting with, one nation only, and not with any other, Psalm 147.19,20, He shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel; he hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments they have not known them.

2. And the offer of grace to all hearers of the Gospel, and covenanting with all that profess to accept the offer, doth consist with the election of some only, as well now as of old when God made a covenant external and conditional with all Israel, of whom the great part were not elected to life, and of whom it is said, albeit they were in number as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them only were to be saved, Isa. 10.21. For, by this course, God was not frustrate of his purpose and fruit of his covenanting with the mixed multitude of Israelites; for, the Elect by faith obtained righteousness and life, but the rest were blinded, Rom. 11.7.

3. This common offer of grace to all the hearers of the Gospel and the making of a moral covenant with all that do profess that they accept the offer, may stand with the doctrine of Christ's redeeming the Elect only, no less now, than of old, when Christ did make offer of grace to them that were not his sheep, John 10.26, and did receive sundry in among his disciples in external covenant, who did afterward forsake him, John 6.66, but yet he did save, and doth save all his Elect sheep whom the father hath given unto him, John 10.65.

And however this doctrine soundeth harsh in the ears of many, when they hear of any reprobate or not elected, or when they hear that Christ did not lay down his life for all and every man, but for the Elect only, and proud men cannot submit themselves to the truth; yet this doctrine, is found to be most true: for, Christ the Redeemer, teacheth us, Math. 22.14, that many are called and few are chosen. And the Apostle teacheth us the same, for (Rom. 9.15.) he citeth {122} Moses to prove the point; I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion; and, verse 18, God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. And the Evangelist, (John 12.37-40,) teacheth us, that there is a number, to whom God hath decreed not to give grace to believe in Christ, albeit they shall hear him preached unto them, from Isaiah 6.9,10, but to the Elect only, verse 13. And, chapter 53.1, he teacheth, that few shall believe in Christ, yea, none save the Elect, to whom the arm of the Lord shall be revealed. And our Lord Jesus teacheth the same, John 6.37,44, that all the Elect shall come to him, and that no more than the father shall powerfully draw unto him, can come unto him.

Objection. But there is another forged way of propounding this covenant which sundry learned men hold forth, who have made many disciples and followers of their opinion, because of the seeming plausibleness of their doctrine: wherein they teach, that Christ Jesus hath died not only for all sorts of men, but also for all and every man, as well for them that perish as for them that are saved; and that albeit he hath not purchased righteousness and life eternal determinately to any man, yet he hath purchased by this universal redemption, power to every man's free-will, to believe in Christ and persevere in his obedience, without any special operation of the holy Spirit in one more than another. And this power of man's free-will, wherewith every child of Adam they say is born, they call by the name of universal grace, albeit in effect it is nothing but universal unrenewed nature, common to every man.

Answer. We answer, how learned soever the teachers of such doctrine seem to be, yet in this doctrine they are not taught of God: Over such men's learning and wisdom, Christ doth glory (Math. 11.25,) saying, I thank thee, O father, Lord of heaven and earth, because {123} thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes: even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Therefore of such doctrine we say, that it is false, and contrary unto Scripture, how plausible soever it seem to proud sinners, yea it is a mocking of Christ, and an hindrance of men's repentance and conversion unto God.

1. Their doctrine is contrary to Scripture, because contrary to the covenant of Redemption wherein the Father and the Son-Mediatour, are agreed upon the persons to be redeemed, to wit, the elect only, given unto the Son to be redeemed; and agreed upon the price of their Redemption, to wit, the obedience of Christ, even to the death of the cross; and agreed upon the graces and gifts to be given to the elect, to wit, all saving graces, as faith, repentance, perseverance, and whatsoever belongs to righteousness and eternal life; and agreed upon the means and way of gathering in the redeemed, out of all tongues and kindreds and nations, prudently and prosperously, as is proven from Scripture, chapter 4, and shall be more confirmed in the next following chapter.

2. Their doctrine it mocketh Christ, because it chargeth Christ with folly in His making covenant so, as neither God's justice nor man's common wisdom, would allow, to lay down the price of his blood, and not be sure who should be saved by his blood, to pay as much for Judas as for Peter, to redeem all and every man, and yet put the disposing of the benefit of Redemption, and fruit of his death out of his own hand, into the hand of men's free-will, to make of it something or nothing as they pleased; to buy a possibility unto men to save themselves actually, without the special grace of the holy Ghost, and to cut himself off from having the glory of the actual conversion of sinners, as far as he is from the blame of men's remaining in sin and infidelity; for, they say he hath purchased alike power to all and every man's free-will, to believe or remain in infidelity {124} as they please; if they use it ill, bear they the blame; if they use it well, they have the praise. They make him to lay down his life for all and every man, and to purchase unto all and every one, power to believe in him, and yet never to purpose to make offer of the Gospel to the thousandth part of men. These and many more blemishes they cast by their doctrine upon the wisdom and power, and grace of our Lord Jesus, who is infinitely wise and holy in all his doings.

3. This doctrine is a great hindrance of men's repentance and conversion unto God, and to the exercise of all holy duties; for, whosoever believeth this their doctrine, he cannot renounce nor deny his own wit, worth, and ability, that he may come humbly unto Christ and follow him, but he must stand to this conceit of himself, which this doctrine teacheth him: yea, such a man cannot say to God in humble and hearty prayer, open mine eyes, that I may behold the wonders of thy Law, and teach me thy statutes; he cannot in earnest say with David, incline my heart to thy testimonies, and not unto covetousness: for, he hath (in his conceit) this power of free-will in himself, by common gift to every man, he cannot heartily thank God (if he seem to himself to do any good) for giving him both to will and to do of his good pleasure; for, this he hath in his own hand, as this deceitful doctrine persuadeth him.

Objection. But some there are who maintain the decree of Redemption, and covenant between God and Christ (which in substance, is one with the decree) to be absolute, concerning the powerful and invincible conversion, perseverance, and salvation of the elect; but concerning the rest of the world, they tell us of a conditional decree of saving every one who shall believe in Christ Jesus, which doth make some difference from what is said before.

Answer. There is indeed an offer to be made to all the hearers of the Gospel, to whom God in his providence doth send his messengers, who are appointed to make {125} offer of peace and reconciliation through Christ, upon condition of hearty receiving it, even to such as the Lord knoweth will reject the offer altogether; against whom, his sent messengers, are to shake off the dust of their feet, for a witness against them, Matth. 10.13-15, which accordingly was done by Paul and Barnabas, Acts 13.46,51, and our Lord made offer of himself to his covenanted people the Jews, who did not receive him, John 1.11,12, and this is to be done according to one of the articles of the covenant of Redemption, concerning the prudent way and manner of Christ's singling forth his own elect, from the rest of the world; But this doth no ways import, or infer, an universal conditional Redemption or any conditional decree of God: for, there is a vast difference between a conditional decree of God, and a decree for bringing about God's purpose, by offering peace unto men upon a condition. A conditional decree presupposeth, that God is not resolved what to do about them to whom he shall make offer of peace upon condition, but that he doth suspend the determination of his own will, till the offer be made, and the man hath refused or accepted of the condition propounded unto him; which sort of decree cannot be in God, to whom are known all his own works, and all men's works from the beginning, Acts 15.18, and who doth all things according to the determinate counsel of his own will, Ephes. 1.11. But a decree to offer peace, upon condition of believing in Christ, is a wise mean both of hiding and executing his own secret decree, and putting the persons to whom he makes the offer unto trial; that after the drawing forth of the natural enmity and backwardness, which is in all men to come unto Christ, till they be drawn by God, He may have mercy on whom He will, and take the refuse at the hands of others for the glory of His justice and grace, according as He hath determined in Himself. The one way determineth man, as God willeth; the other way determineth God, {126} as man willeth. Moreover such a conditional decree concerning all the rest of mankind, beside the elect, is inconsistent with the Scripture, and the way of God's dispensation toward the most part of mankind: for, it was not God's purpose to make the offer of grace, upon condition of believing in Christ, to all and every man, Psalm 147.19,20, He sheweth his word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel, He hath not done so with any nation. And as for His judgments, they have not known them. This same doth Moses insinuate, Deut. 4.7,8, and for his dispensation, experience in all ages sheweth, that the grace of the Gospel, is not offered to all and every one, and so they cannot be said to refuse the condition, who never have the offer of grace upon condition; for, our Lord giveth us ground so to reason, speaking of them who should refuse the offer of the Gospel, John 15.22, if I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, (to wit, the guiltiness of rejecting the offer made in the Gospel) but now they have no cloak for their sin. Wherein also he giveth a reason wherefore the offer is made to them, whom he knew would refuse the offer, to wit, that they may be rendered inexcusable, and be without the cloak or pretence of this allegeance, that if they had gotten the offer, then would they have believed and repented: for, this is the pride of Adam's posterity, they conceive they can believe and obey God, if he shall be pleased to reveal His will to them. And this is suitable to the covenant of Redemption; which, because it was not made for the saving of all and every man, therefore it was not God's purpose to reveal his Gospel, and make offer of his grace to all and every one, but out of all sorts of men to call effectually the elect, sending the Gospel where they live, or bringing them to the place where the Gospel is preached, that the predestinate might be of purpose effectually called, and justified and sanctified and saved, Rom. 8.28-30, and because the elect and predestinate were to live in the civil society of {127} the rest of the world, it was agreed and decreed, that the offer of the Gospel, should be made to all indifferently where God should send his messengers, because God had determined to bring about the salvation of the elect, so wisely and holily, as none of the hearers of the Gospel should be stumbled, or hindered from embracing the offer made to all the hearers indifferently, without letting any an know of his election, till he have received Christ offered to him and other self-condemned sinners, or declaring any man reprobate in particular, to whom he maketh offer of grace.

Objection. But except we grant an universal redemption and the universal grace (as they call it) of the power of free-will to all and every man, how shall we satisfy ourselves about God's dispensation toward them, who live without the Church, strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel?

Answer. As for the elect among them, either they shall be brought to the hearing of the Gospel where it is preached, or the Gospel shall be sent unto them where they do live; and for the rest, the Lord dealeth with them on the terms of the covenant of works, the power of keeping whereof, albeit they have lost in Adam, yet they are not loosed from the obligation and penalty of violating thereof, and even they have not laid aside the proud opinion of their ability to follow virtue, and eschew vice as they please. And the course which God followeth concerning them, the Apostle sheweth us, Rom. 2.12-15, As many as have sinned without the written law (saith he) shall perish without the law, &c. for, when the Gentiles which have not the law (to wit, the written law given to the Church) do by nature the things of the law; these having not the law, are a law to themselves.

Objection. But if the doctrine of redemption of the elect only unto life, be maintained, and power of free-will to believe and obey the Gospel, be not given to every man, specially of these that have the offer of the {128} Gospel, and that without any special operation of the holy Ghost, how can it be said, that God dealeth justly, in earnest, and fairly, with miserable sinners, when he exhorts, requests, and obtests all that hear the Gospel, to come to Christ, and persevere in obedience of the faith, when he knoweth that none of them have power to believe or obey, and that to many of them he hath no purpose ever to give grace to repent and believe that they may be saved?

Answer. First, what can the patrons of the power of men's free-will speak against the justice and goodness of God when they hear his complaint against Israel, Psalm 81.8,9,10, &c. Hear O my people, and I will testify unto thee O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me, there shall be no strange God in thee, neither shalt thou worship any strange god; I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it; but my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me, So I gave them up to their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their own counsels. What can they say against God's justice and fair dealing, when he, having drawn forth to light, by his long continued preaching of his word, the obstinate enmity of the reprobate multitude against him, opened up his decree against all that sort in the sad message committed to Isaiah, chapter 6.9,10, Go and tell this people, hear ye indeed, and understand not; see ye indeed, but perceive not: make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed, verse 13, yet there shall be a tenth part, the holy seed, (to wit, the elect) shall be the substance thereof? And of this prophesy use is made, when the multitude of misbelievers was like to obscure the glory of Christ, John 12.37,38, to 42, they heard the offer of grace preached by Christ himself, and saw his manifold wonders, yet they believed not, neither could they believe, because God had rejected them, as {129} John doth prove from the prophesy of Isaiah.

Secondly, Is it not fair dealing, when the Lord professeth, that his word shall be preached, and his wonders manifested (for the elect's cause, albeit they were but as a tenth part) to a cursed and reprobate multitude, who should hear and see without his blessing, and in his dispensation, doth in effect as he hath professed? As it is a reasonable answer of a husbandman and Gardener to his child, asking him, why he beats the whole sheaf and watereth all the Garden, seeing the sheaf is most part straw and chaff, and the garden full of weeds, to say to the child, that he beats the sheaf, that he may sever the corn from the straw and chaff, and that he watereth the ground, where herbs and weeds do grow together, that he may make both to come up above ground, and after that, may pull out the weeds, and foster the herbs for the master's use? So it is a reasonable answer to such as cavil against the preaching of the Gospel, to a mixed multitude of elect and reprobate, to say that the Gospel is preached to both, for the conversion of the elect, and bringing to light the hatred of the reprobate against God, and the offer of his grace.

Thirdly, we grant the Lord knoweth men's wickedness and inability to obey his commands, and their natural enmity against him; but he knoweth also, that all men by nature are proud and puffed up with the conceit of their own wisdom and righteousness, and ability, so as they will not acknowledge their sinfulness, nor be sensible of their misery and danger of perdition, but do entertain a high esteem and opinion of themselves, and in special this, that they love God above all things, and that they can do any thing commanded, at least in such a measure as may reasonably satisfy God, as is to be seen in the example of the Israelites undertaking, Exod. 19, therefore, God, in His wisdom before he convert any man, doth pull down this false conceit, by putting his ability to proof by the {130} preaching of the law, to the intent, that as the Lord knoweth what is in man, so man may know it also both in his own and other men's experience: and this is brought to light yet more clearly by the preaching of the Gospel, wherein albeit God make the precious offer of life and salvation to every hearer of the Gospel, if he will acknowledge his sin, and betake himself to Christ; yet no man of himself will either believe or receive the offer, but will go on in his own counsel and ways, till God by his grace convert him. This sickness is common both to the elect and the reprobate, but when the natural perverseness of both is manifested, God cometh and maketh the difference of the one from the other, out of his mere grace, by drawing the elect powerfully to Christ, and letting the rest go on to their own perdition in his righteous judgment. And our Lord doth so expound the matter, John 8.47, He that is of God, heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

Fourthly, the Lord professeth plainly, that in the dispensation of his word and works of providence, he intendeth the trial of men, and the discovery of their hearts to themselves and to others; and what fairer dealing can there be than this? for Exod. 16.4, He tells them, that he will rain down Manna upon them, to prove them, whether they will walk in his law or not: and, Exod. 20.20, He tells them, he will give them his law and preaching of his word, to prove them, that his fear might be before them: and, Deut. 8.2, that the dispensation of his providence toward them, all the forty years in the wilderness, was to humble them, and to prove them, to know what was in their heart, whether they would keep his commands or not: and, Deut. 13.1,2,3, that he would suffer false prophets to arise among them, to prove them, and to try whether they would love the Lord their God with all their heart. And to this same intent, we are advertised, that Christ should be not only a tried {131} stone, but also a stone for trial, set for the ruin of some, and raising up of other some, Isa. 28.16,17, and 8.14, compared with Luke 2.34,35, for, by this manner of dispensation, the Lord maketh manifest, that both the elect and reprobate are concluded under sin and unbelief of themselves, and that no man can come to Christ, except the Father draw him, that he may have mercy on whom he will have mercy. And this manner of probation of men by a common offer of grace unto all, is a part of that prudence, whereby Christ, by his conditional promises and exhortations, and the preaching of the Gospel to all hearers, maketh all these that are outwardly called, to be without excuse, and fishes forth the elect out of the sea of sin and misery, and out of the society of those that perish: of which prudence, Isaiah speaketh, chapter 52.13, Behold, my servant shall deal prudently and prosper, and be extolled, and be very high.

Wherefore this wisdom of God in converting the elect, without giving cause of stumbling unto any of the rest, is rather to be admired and praised, than to be disputed against, as we are taught, Rom. 11.33,34,35,36, O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out?

Objection. But for all this, the carnal wisdom of proud men is such as neither is it subject to God, nor indeed can be, but standeth in hostile enmity against him, and will not be quiet, but when it heareth what is said, Rom. 9.18, that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth, will say, as it is, verse 19, why doth God yet find fault? for, who hath resisted his will? this doctrine, say they, doth hinder men's repentance altogether.

Answer. We answer with the Apostle, verse 20, Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? whether dost thou compear procuratour for the reprobate and for Satan the enemy of God, to quarrel and dispute {132} with God anent his righteous decrees? If thou wilt avow this, we leave thee and all such proud and presumptuous misbelievers of plain doctrine to reckon with your Judge. But if thou speak only for thyself, we shall let thee see, that his doctrine shall not hinder thee from repentance. If then thou shalt say, I will not dispute against God, but do desire earnestly to be satisfied about myself, for I believe, that many are reprobate and few are chosen; and my fear is, that I be found of the worst sort, and do not know how to rid myself of my doubts and fears. For answer, we shall deal with thee in a friendly manner; and, first, we put thee in remembrance, that God hath served an inhibition on all men, not to meddle with the secret counsel of God, Deut. 29.29, The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but these things that are revealed belong unto us and our children forever. Therefore do not hearken to this suggestion, but go about thy duty. We ask then, first, art thou convinced of thy sin and ill deserving? If thou say, I am a sinner, and cannot answer for one of a thousand of my by-gone sins, for which God may justly, and I fear he shall in effect reject me, we answer unto thee, it is to good purpose that thou art so far convinced of sin, as to judge thyself worthy of death, and utter exterminion from his mercy: mean time be comforted thus far, that thou art not of the number of those who confide in their own righteousness, nor of the number of them who trust in their own strength, or power of their free-will.

We ask again, doth thy by-gone life displease thee? and wouldst thou have thy sins forgiven, and thyself reconciled with God? doth Christ, offering himself in the Gospel, please thy soul, when thou hearest from his word, that he craveth nothing of thee, save that thou welcome his offer, and consecrate thyself to him, that so in him thou mayest have righteousness and sanctification and salvation? If thou answer, that the searcher of hearts knoweth thy hearty desire to be reconciled {133} to God in Christ, to live before him hereafter as a reconciled child, there is a good hope of salvation for such a one as thou art.

Thirdly, we say, seeing thou hast heard the law convincing thee of sin, and hast believed God's word so far, why dost thou not believe him also, when in the Gospel thou hearest his offer and call unto all self-condemned sinners, to come unto Christ, and rest their weary souls upon him? who hath excepted thee from the embracing of mercy offered in Jesus Christ? look therefore what his word saith to all sinners flying for refuge unto Christ, who is the hope set before sinners, and leave him not, whatsoever be thy fears; for, he that hungereth and thirsteth for righteousness through Christ, shall be satisfied.