Page images
PDF
EPUB

fitation,” who livest in disobedience to this command, and refuscít the grace contained in this covenant-grant ? " to whom wilt thou flee for help ? and where wilt thou leave thy glory?" How will you look God in the face, when arraigned before his awful tribunal ? What a kneil will it give to thy heart, when thou hearest this, as the first and leading article of thy indictment, There is the man who would not know and acknowledge me as his God and Redeemer! me, who stretched out my arms of grace to embrace him, and whole bowels sent out a sound after him, saying, I am the Lord thy God: Thois fhalt have no other goris before me! he preferred self and the world to me, and therefore now “I will laugh at his calamity, and mock when his fear is come” upon him. O “consider this, ye that forget God, leait he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” out of his hand.

7. Consider what advantage will redound to thy foulby obeying this command with an eye to the covenant-provife. Thou art made up for ever; all falvation, as you heard, is wrapped up in this one word, I am the Lord thy God. And in the faith of it thou mayest go through the valley of che shadow of death, without fearing any evil; for thy God is with thee, he will never leave thes, nor forsake thee. .

But I shall not further infft in preiling this exhortation with arguments. One would think that no man that believes a future state of eternal happinels or misery, needs to le much urged to know and acknowledge God in Chrift as his God, upon this new grant of sovereign grace; this being the very hinge upon which a comfortable eternity doth turn. All I thall do further, in prosecuting this exhortation, is, to answer a few objections which carnal reason and unbelief will very readily muster up against this doctrine and exhortation · Obje7. 1, May one fay, I have lost all claim and title to the Lord as my God, by violating the holy law; and I think I hear God saying to me with a frown, “ How shall I put thee among the children," who haft forfeited thy relation to me ? and therefore I dare not own and acknowledge him as the Lord my God. Answ. It is indeed true, that you and I, and all mankind, have loft our title and relation to him as our God by the first Adam, and the breach of the firit covenant: and since the fall of Adam, God never said to any finner upon a law-ground, I am the Lord thy Gord; 110, when a finner looks at that airth, his hope and strength perishes for ever from the Lord. But, O Sirs, here is a new covenant, a new gift or grant that God makes of himself, which does not go . upon the ground of our obedience to the law as its condition, but upon the ground of sovereign grace, reigning through the

righteousness

righteousness of God-man : here, I say, is a new claim of right prefented to the guilty sinner, I am the Lord thy God; “I will be unto them a father, and they shall be my fons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” These and the like ab. folute and indefinite promises are universally dispensed to all and every one, as the ground of faith. And lest any finner, through a sense of guilt, should scare to lay hold upon this new claim of right, here is the warrant subjoined and annexed to the claim, Thor falt have no other gods before ins'.

Object. 2. I am afraid lealt God be not saying this to me in particular, I am the Lord thy God; and therefore dare not lay hoid of it. I fear least he be not requiring me in particular, by this commandment, to know and acknowledge him as my God. Answ. It is by these and the like groundless surmiles and infinuations, that an evil heart of unbelief turns us away from the living God, and from taking hold of his covenant. But pray, tell nie, in good earnest, do you think to difputc away the binding obligation of the very first commandment of the law of God? for, as was said, at the same time that you refuse to take hold of this covenant-grant, you disobey the firit and leading precept of the law. Why, will you own the obligation of the other commandiments of the law, and reject this? I Tuppole there are none of you but will readily acknowledge, that you in particular are bound to honour your parents, not to kill, steal, commit adultery, &c. You may with as good reason fay or think, that these other precepts do not bind you in particular, as imagine that you are not particularly bound by the first to know and acknowledge a God in Christ as your God. Why so much prejudiced againit the firit and chief commandment of God beyond all others ? What account can be rendered for it, that nien should thrult away from them the first commandment of the very law of nature, when grafted into the gospel.covenant, and made to subservient to their eternal (al. vation ? I know of no folid reason that can be given for it, but that of the apostle, “ The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."

Object. 3. I cannot refuse that the command, Thou shalt have no other gods before me, is binding upon me in particular ; but I can never think that it is to me in particular that God is faying, I am the Lord thy God. Answ. Who authorised you, or any of Adam's race, to put asunder what God has joined? I anı iure it is not by God's warrant that this is done ; and therciore you may eagly divine that it is from a worie airth. It is the great plot of Satan to break that connection which Gou lias laid betwixt the gospel and the law; for lie knows very well, that if the gospel be separate from:he law, or the law from the

• gospel,

gospel, in the matter of pradlice, not one of the commande ments of the law can be obeyed to purpose. And this first command in particular, if it be disjoined from the gospel-promisè laid in the preface, I am the Lord thy God, it can no more be obeyed by a finner, than if he were commanded to pull the fun or moon out of the firmament. Pray consider, while you own the obligation of the precept, and mean while refuse your interest or concern with the preface, you acknowledge your obligation to obedience, and yet at the same time cast away the foundation upon which your obedience is to stind; thus you build without a foundation, and how can that building stand? It will fall, and great will be the fall of it. And therefore, in the name of God, I proclaim that this promise, I am the Lord thy God, is to you, and your feed, and to all that are afar off. Did not God speak to every individual in the camp, when he uttered these words, I am the Lord thy God; as well as when he added, Thou shalt have no other gods before me? The same is he saying to you, and me, and every one of us; and therefore let us not caft away our own mercy ; to us, as well as unto them, “ belong the adoption, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the promises."

Obj. 4. What if all that is intended in these words, I am the Lord thy God, be only either an assertion of divine sovereignty, or of an external federal relation to Israel as the feed and posterity of Abraham, and the only vilble church? And if so, where is there a foundation in them for me to believe in him as the Lord my God? Answ. I am far from excluding any of these things the objection mentions as comprehended in these words, I am the Lord thy God : and I grant, that if no more were included in them, I do not see how they could be a foundation of special and saving faith to me, or any else. But that it is otherwise, will not readily be denied by any, if they consider what it is God requires of us in the firit command, as inseparably connected with the preface. Pray con Gider it a little. Is this all that God calls for by the first pricept of his law, to know and acknowledge him as our sovereign Lord-Creator, or that he is a God to the visible church by external federal relation ? No doubt, these are truths indispensibly to be belieed: but there is more required, namely, to believe that he is the Lord our God in Christ, and to worship and glorify him accordingly. The external federal relation that God tears to the visible church, becomes special when this promise is applied by a saving faith ; hence this is the common argument wherewith Israel is urged to believe and repent through all the Oid Teftament; particularly, Psal. lxxxi. 9-u. And whenever faving faith was acted, whereby their turn unto him was iniluenced, they commonly faften upon, and apply this funda

'mental

[blocks in formation]

mental promise in my text, Jer. iii. 22. So that, I say, there is more in these words, I am the Lord thy God, than a bare aflertion of divine sovereignty, or of his covenant-relation to Israel as a visible church; there is in them a glorious new-covenant grant or gift that God makes of himselfto us in Christ as our God, to be applied by a faving faith : and when such a faith is acted upon it, the native echo of the soul unto it is, “ This God is my God;" I believe it, because he himself hath said it, and said it not to others only but to me in particular ; " I will say, It is my people ; and they shall say, the Lord is my God.” It is true indeed, no man can speak this dialect of faith without the Holy Spirit ; but to say that there is not sufficient ground for a particular applicatory faith in the bare word or promise of God, abstractly considered, is to apologize for the unbelief of the hearers of the gospel, and to run into the error of the enthufiafts, who suspend the duty of believing, not upon the word of God, but upon the work and light of the Spi. rit within.

Object. 5. If this promise be made to every cne in the vi. sible church, how thall the veracity of the Promiser be salved, or vindicated, feeing there are many who come short of it, many to whom he never becomes their God in a special covenantrelation.

Unto this objection I might answer, by way of retortion, How is it that the unbeliever makes God a liar, if the promise be not made to him in particular? for if the promise, and the faithfulness of the Promiser, be not to him, he cannot be blamed for not believing, or not setting to his seal to a promise never made to him. Can he be condemned for not intermeddling with a thing that does not belong to him? Again, I ask, How was it that God, in a confittency with his faithfulness, made unbelieving Israel to know his breach of promise, Numb. xiv. 34, after he had made a grant or gist of the land of Canaan to them, and promised to bring them into it, while yet they never were al. lowed to enter it, but dröpt their carcases in the wilderness, God having fworn that they should not enter into his rest? The faithfulness of God, in breaking his promise that he had made to that generation, is falved by landing the blame upon their own unbelief; they believed not his word, they truited not in his falvation, they gave more credit to the false lying report of the wicked spies, than to the word and promile of him for whom it is impossible to lie; and because they made God a liar, therefore his promise made to them turned to be of no effect unto them. In like manner, a promile is left us of entering into a spiritual a:id eternal rest;

but

od if so,

in him any of n these ce were zdation

at it is

Onfider Ensepatle. Is

W, to ceator,

deral beliehe is

him ars to

plied

here

Oid

ever s in 7dautal

but mean time most have reason to fear lest God make them to know his breach of promise, by excluding them out of that promised reft, because of their unbelief. The faithfulness of God is not in the least impeached hereby, because the unbeliever calls his faithfulness in question, and rejects his promise, as a thing not worthy of regard. Can a man be charged with unfaithfulness, in not be towing himself and his estate upon a woman to whom he has made a promise of marriage, if the woman to whom it was made refuse his offer and promise ? The faithfulness of the ban. kers of Scotland is engaged in particular to the bearer of their note; but if the bearer shall tear the note, or throw it

away as a piece useless paper, their veracity is nowise im. - peached, though they never pay that man the fum contained in the note; fo here.

Object. 6. If I could find the marks and evidences of faving grace once wrought in my soul, then indeed I could acknowledge and believe the Lord is my God; but till then I dare not, neither do I think it my duty. Answ. I do owii that none can warrantably draw this conclusion that they are in a state of grace, within the bond of the covenant, or saving. ly interefted in the Lord as their God, till they have exå. mined the matter at the bar of the word, and upon trial have found fuch marks of grace as warrant them to draw such a conclufion. But this is not the question now under consideration. The question at present is, Whether it be lawful and warrantable for a poor finner, who is so far from finding any works of grace or gracious qualifications in himself, that he can fee nothing but fin and misery, feels himfelf to be an heir of hell and wrath; whether, I say, it be his duty, upon the footing of this covenant grant and promise, I am the Lord thy God, to know, believe, and acknowledge the Lord as his God? And if this be the question, which it must be, it is all one as if it were alked, whether it be the immediate duty of such a person to obey the first command of the moral law as it Tands under a covenant of grace? or, Whether a person is to forhear obedience to the firit command in the law of God, till he find gracicus qualifications wrought in his soul. To affirm which, were upon the matter to say, that the first commandment of the law does not enjoin the first dury of religion, but that fomething is to be done before we do the thing that Cod requires of us in the first place as the founciation of all other acts of obedience; and that is, to know and believe that God in Christ is cur God, by virtue of a covenant of grace contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God. Such arrange abfurdities we inevitably run ourselves into, when we

keep

« PreviousContinue »