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Thrice blessed, thou saint of the Lord,
In Jesus thy refuge is found;
And joys shall increase and abound.
Yes ! joy shall increase like a stream,
Thy peace like the waves of the sea ;
And Jesus thy portion shall be.
XII. ON THE TWO COVENANTS.
The covenant of works, in the order of time, was proclaimed to Adam before the covenant of grace. But the covenant of grace, called in Scripture the everlasting covenant, was entered into by the divine persons in the Godhead, before the world was made.
Whilst contemplating this despensation of mercy, our views must stretch themselves into eternity.
We must pass beyond the origin of earth, and enter into those revelations which record the purposes of God ere time began.
And how wonderful are the counsels of infinite love, wisdom and power !
Jesus, in the volume of inspired truth, is declared to be," the Lamb of God, who was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter i. 20. “ Slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. xiii. 8. His redeemed ones were “ó chosen in him before the foundation of the world.” Ephes. i. 4. “ From the beginning chosen to salvation.” 2 Thess. ii. 13. “ According to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began." 2 Tim. i. 9. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” i Peter i. 2. “Predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Ephes. i. 11.
From these glorious passages, and many others of similar import, it is evident, that the whole economy of human redemption was devised and planned in the eternal counsels of Jehovah before the earth or man was formed.
Hence we are taught that the covenant of grace originated in the everlasting love of God. But with respect to us finite creatures, who can know nothing of the purposes of God, but as he is pleased to reveal them, it may aptly be called a New Covenant. When Adam was created in the image of God, the Lord placed him in a garden of delights, surrounded with every thing that could gratify his pure and innocent desires.
In the midst however of this garden was placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil, as a reason able test of his obedience : for God created man in righteousness and true holiness, with powers and faculties to know and serve him.
In the garden was also placed the tree of life, as a pledge of immortality. Of this tree he might freely eat, whilst he continued obedient to the divine command. But man, alas ! ate of the forbidden fruit through the subtle temptations of the serpent, and thus the covenant of works was broken, and death entered into the world by sin.
His whole posterity are involved in the dreadful consequences of the fall; for the Scriptures declare: " In Adam all die." All die spiritually; for “we are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity." “We are by nature the children of wrath.”
All die naturally. The sentence “ dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return,” extends to all the children of Adam. * It is appointed unto men once
“ Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
All die eternally, if left in righteous judgment to the awful consequences of transgression : “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “ He that believeth not, shall be damned.”
In this wretched, lost, and sinful condition, when he was without strength and without hope, Adam heard the voice of mercy.
66 The seed of the woman” was proclaimed and promised.
The new covenant was then made known; new to Adam ; and may we not hope, more delightful to his guilty, trembling soul, than all the sweet harmony of birds which had regaled his ear in the lovely groves of Eden.
At the voice of pardoning grace, hope revives ; love rekindles, and joyful admiration holds the mind in wondering meditation, on the goodness of our justly offended Creator.
The covenant of works made with Adam being broken, all hope of happiness from that covenant is done away for ever.
But the covenant of grace made with Christ, the second Adam, is immutable and everlasting.
Jesus, in our nature, fulfilled all the conditions, performed all the requirements, and answered all the demands of the broken covenant of works. unsinning obedience and meritorious death, he brought in everlasting righteousness; and thus became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.
So that now, all the blessings of the covenant of grace, are made over to every fallen son and daughter of Adam, who truly believe in Jesus.
Here then is the spring of the believer's hope, and peace, and joy. Here he finds security and
stability. Here he reposes his soul, and smiles at every storm.
0! how rich, how full, how sovereign is the covenant of grace. This covenant, as we have seen from the pages of eternal truth, was made before the world began, made from eternity. What a wide expanse for the mind to
in ! But we need a guide, or else our minds will soon be lost in wandering mazes, and dangerous speculations.
This guide is the Bible, read with prayer in a spirit of humility and faith, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
Where the line of revelation stops, there we must stop. Or rather, where it enters into the unfathomable depths of eternal wisdom, there we must pause, and wonder and adore.
We must not dare to tread within the veil, or curiously to pry into those hidden mysteries, which God has wisely concealed from mortal eyes. “ Thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter, will compose and satisfy every humble, loving, obedient, grateful follower of the Lamb.
What personally concerns every believer is this : have I the spirit and character of those who are interested in the covenant of grace? If not, what will all its glories and blessings avail me? I shall only resemble a person looking over the title-deeds of a vast estate, in which he hath no interest.
How plain and express is the word of God, in describing the character of the redeemed. Here is no ambiguity-no darkness-no mystery. It is a faithful mirror, held up to all mankind. Happy indeed are they, who beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The character of God's peculiar people, is thus. pourtrayed by the pen of unerring truth.
They are “ chosen in Christ, that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love." “ Chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” “ They are saved, and called with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace." “ They are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" They are predestinated unto the adoption of children.” “ Predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son." “Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath foreordained that they should walk in them.” “They are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should shew forth the praises of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.” “He gave himself for them, that he might redeem them from all iniquity, and purify unto himself, a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
Such is the spirit and character of those happy souls who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before them in the gospel: the character of all who truly believe in Jesus. To them all the promises of God in Christ Jesus, are yea and amen; sure and abiding. To them the most affectionate exhortations are addressed. “ Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”—“Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and