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formally so denominated from his authority. All obedience unto Christ proceeds from an express subjection of our souls and consciences unto him.
[2.] No religious obedience could be due unto the Lord Christ directly, by the rule and command of the moral law, were he not God by nature also. The reason and foundation of all the obedience required therein, is,' I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me.' This contains the formal reason of all religious obedience. The Socinians pretend highly unto obedience to the precepts of Christ; but all obedience unto Christ himself they utterly overthrow. The obedience they pretend unto him, is but obeying God the Father according to his commands; but they take away the foundation of all obedience unto his person, by denying his divine nature. And all religious obedience unto any, who is not God by nature is idolatry. Wherefore, all obedience unto God, due by the moral law, hath respect unto the person of Christ, as one God with the Father and Holy Spirit, blessed for ever.
[3.] There is a peculiar respect unto him in all moral obedience as mediator.
1st. In that by the supreme authority over the church wherewith he was vested, he hath confirmed all the commands of the moral law, giving them new enforcements, whence he calls them his commands. This,'saith he, 'is my commandment, that you love one another,' which yet was the old commandment of the moral law; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Hence the apostle calls it an old and new commandment; 1 John ii, 7, 8.
This law was given unto the church under the Old Testament in the hand of a mediator, that is, of Moses; Gal. iii. 19. It had an original power of obliging all mankind unto obedience from its first institution or prescription in our creation; which it never lost nor abated in. Howbeit the church was obliged to have a respect anto it, as it was given unto them, ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." See Mal. iv. 4. Hereon many things hard and difficult did ensue, which we are now freed from. We are not obliged unto the observance of the moral law itself, as given in the hand of that mediator, which gave it the formal reason of a covenant unto that people, and had other statutes and judgments inseparable from it. But the same law continueth still in its original authority and power, which it had from the beginning, to oblige all indispensably unto obedience
Howbeit as the church of Israel as such, was not obliged ụnto obedience unto the moral law absolutely considered, but as it was given unto them peculiarly in the hand of a mediator, that is, of Moses; no more is the evangelical church as such, obliged by the original authority of that law, but as it is confirmed unto us in the hand of our Mediator. This renders all our moral obedience evangelical. For there is no duty of it, but we are obliged to perform it in faith through Christ, on the motives of the love of God in him, of the benefits of his mediation, and the grace we receive by him; whatever is otherwise done by us is not acceptable, unto God.
They do therefore for the most part but deceive themselves and others, who talk so loudly about moral duties. I know of none that, are acceptable unto God, which are not only materially, but formally so, and no more.
If the obligation they own unto them, be only the original power of the moral law, or the law of our creation, and they are performed in the strength of that law unto the end of it, they are no way accepted of God. But if they intend the duties which the moral law requireth, proceeding from, and performed. by, faith in Christ, upon the grounds of the love of God in him, and grace received from him, then are they duties purely evangelical. And although the law hath never lost, nor ever can lose its original power of obliging us unto universal obedience, as we are reasonable creatures; yet is our obedience unto it as Christians, as believers, immediately influenced by its confirmation unto the evangelical church in the hand of our Mediator. For,
2dly. God hath given unto the Lord Christ all power in his name, to require this obedience from all that receive the gospel. Others are left under the original authority of the law, either as implanted in our natures at their first creation, as are the Gentiles ; or as delivered by Moses, and written in tables of stone, as it was with the Jews ; Rom. ii. 12–14. But as unto them that are called unto the faith of the gospel, the authority of Christ doth immediately affect their minds and consciences. He feeds' or rules his people in
the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God;' Mich. v. 4. All the authority and majesty of God, is in him and with him ; so of old, as the great angel of God's presence, he was in the church in the wilderness with a delegated power ; Exod. xxiii. 20-22. Behold I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him and obey his voice, provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak. The name of God the Father is so in him, that is, he is so partaker of the same nature with him, that his voice is the voice of the Father. “If thou obey his voice, and do all that I speak.' Nevertheless he acts herein as the angel of God, with power and authority delegated from him. So is he still immediately present with the church requiring obedience in the name and majesty of God.
3dly. All judgment upon and concerning this obedience is committed unto him by the Father. For the Father judgeth no man' (that is, immediately as the Father), “but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ;' John v. 22. • He hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man ;' ver. 27. And his judgment is the judgment of God; for the Father, who judgeth none immediately in his own person, judgeth all in him ; 1 Pet. i. 17. • If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth'according to every man's work.' He doth so in and by the Son, unto whom all judgment is committed. And unto him are we to have regard in all our obedience, unto whom we must give our account concerning it, and by whom we are and must be finally judged upon it. To this purpose speaks the apostle, Rom. xiv. 10–12. We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.' He proveth that we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, or be judged by him, by a testimony of Scripture that we shall be also judged by God himself, and give an account of ourselves unto him. And as this doth undeniably prove and confirm the divine nature of Christ, without the faith whereof, there is neither cogency in the apostle's testimony, nor force in his arguing ; so he declares that God judgeth us only in and by him. In this regard of our moral obedience unto Christ, lies the way whereby God will be glorified.
[2.] All things are yet more plain with respect unto institutions of divine worship. The appointment of all divine ordinances under the New Testament, was his especial province and work, as the Son and Lord over his own house. And obedience unto him in the observance of them is that which he gives in especial charge unto all his disciples, Matt. xxviii. 18-20. And it is nothing but a loss of that subjection of soul and conscience unto him, which is indispensably required of all believers, that hath set the minds of so many at liberty to do and observe in divine worship what they please, without any regard unto his institutions. It is otherwise with respect unto moral duties. For the things of the moral law, have an obligation on our consciences antecedent unto the enforcement of them by the authority of Christ, and there holds us fast. But as unto things of the latter sort, our consciences can no way be affected with a sense of them, or a necessity of obedience in them, but by the sole and immediate authority of Christ himself. If a sense hereof be lost in our minds, we shall not abide in the observance of his commands.
The especial principle of obedience unto the person of Christ; which is
lwve. Its truth and reality vindicated.
That which doth enliven and animate the obedience whereof we have discoursed, is love. This himself makes the foundation of all that is acceptable unto him. If,' saith he, 'ye love me, keep my commandments ;' Jobn xiv. 15. As he distinguisheth between love and abedience, so he asserts the former as the foundation of the latter. He accepts of no obedience unto his commands, that doth not proceed from love unto his person. That is no love which is not fruitful in obedience, and that is no obedience which proceeds not from love. So he expresseth on both sides. If a man love me, he will keep my words; and he that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings ;' ver. 23, 24.
In the Old Testament the love of God was the life and substance of all obedience. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, thy mind and strength,' was the sum of the law. This includes in it all obedience, and where it is genuine, will produce all the fruits of it. And where it was not, no multiplication of duties was accepted with him. But this in general we do not now treat of.
That the person of Christ is the especial object of this divine love, which is the fire that kindles the sacrifice of our obedience unto him; this is that alone which at present I design to demonstrate.
The apostle hath recorded a very severe denunciation of divine wrath against all that love him not. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha;' 1 Cor. xvi. 22. And what was added unto the curse of the law, we may add unto this of the gospel ; “ and all the people shall say, Amen;' Deut. xxvii. 26. And on the other hand, he prays for grace on all that ' love him in sincerity ;? Eph. ii. 26. Wherefore, none who desire to retain the name of Christians, can deny in words at least, but that we ought with all our hearts to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
I do not so distinguish love from obedience as though it were not itself a part, yea, the chiefest part of our obedience, So is faith also, yet is it constantly distinguished from obe: dience properly so called. This alone is that which I shall demonstrate, namely, thạt there is, and ought to be in all believers, a divine, gracious love unto the person of Christ, immediately fixed on him, whereby they are excited unto, and acted in, all their obedience unto his authority. Had it been only pleaded, that many who pretend love unto Christ, do yet evidence that they love him not, it is that which the Scripture testifieth, and continual experience doth proclaim. If an application of this charge had been made unto them whose sincerity in their profession of love unto him can be no way evicted, it ought to be borne with patience, amongst other reproaches of the same kind that are cast upon them. And some things are to be premised unto the confirmation of our assertion.