« НазадПродовжити »
should choose. Adam was in the enjoyment of good when God revealed to him his law. God addressed him, not as one who might be doubtful whether or not he should receive good from his hand, but as one in possession of powers and capacities even then appropriating extensive benefits. His delighting himself in God—the highest good that he could enjoy, though no explicit promise of good had been made to him, would have been a token to him that he was in covenant. But the promise in which that good was implied rendered the anticipation of it definite, both as to time and duration.
Again, the law of God was given both as a law and as a covenant to Adam, as the representative of the human race. Though the giving of the positive precept put him into a covenant state as a federal head, and though by breaking it he fell, and in consequence of his sin they fell in him, yet it is unwarrantable to maintain that the duty of abstaining from the tree of life was the only condition of the covenant to be observed by him as the public covenant head of his descendants. What would have been his condition had he neglected any other duty incumbent on him ? Would he not have been depraved as an individual personally guilty ? and accordingly seeing that he that offends in one point is guilty of all, would he not have been unworthy of representing his posterity, or in consequence of his depravity would he not have resolved to eat of the tree of life, and thus have exposed himself to the stroke of Divine indignation, and have been cut off ? As, had he existed alone, he would from the very constitution of his nature have been under covenant obligation to perform whatever duties his Creator might have made known to him, so in his public character, his obedience to the law of God on his own behalf and towards the fulfilment of the peculiar duties con
nected with his relation to his descendants, was due as required by covenant. As one with his posterity he was bound by requirements that would have brought them under obligation. Feeling himself commanded to obey on behalf of many of whom he himself was one, no less than as if he had acted in an individual capacity, did he or could he recognise his obligations to acquiesce in duty prescribed, nor less was he called and urged solemnly by covenant to engage to them.
Accordingly, man in his original condition, was, from his constitution, engaged in covenant to God by his law. By a twofold bond, the obligation laid upon him was imposed. The authority of God requiring obedience was one of the bonds. The authority of God requiring fulfilment of an engagement made according to his command was the other. The giving of the law implied the disposition of the constitution of man to respond to its appeal, and demonstrated that both were of God. Seeing that He determined to create moral subjects on earth, his arrangements provided that he should make them disposed to acquiesce in that law; and hence, so long as man continued to possess the moral standing in which he was placed at first, he must have had an impression that by the constitution which had been given him, God was engaged to bestow good upon him, which he was brought under obligation by Covenanting to accept.
Covenanting is adapted to the moral constitution of man in a state of
grace. First. Inasmuch as gracious capacities lead to acquiescence in what God requires. All the powers of man, either directly or indirectly, were injured and misdirected by the fall. The range of the intellect was circumscribed, and its power was diminished. The affections were deadened, and subjected to unholy influence ; the conscience became callous, and unfit to testify for God as it had formerly done; and the will was exercised to do only evil, and that continually. From the moral nature of man proceeded all the evils that overtook his constitution in consequence of sin, That suffered the taint of a depravity that exposed the sinner to ruin; and the curse of the broken law went out through it, to mar and destroy. Man by nature is degraded, because he is chargeable with original and actual sin, and because he wills not to obey God. Of every characteristic of a creature in covenant with him, he is destitute, Between the tendencies of his nature, and the demands of the Divine law, there is no correspondence. “ The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”5 But in the day of effectual calling, a complete change is produced upon the moral tendencies of the soul. Before that, there was applicable to it the description, 56 Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” 6 Afterwards it uses the language, “ It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works."? Men in sin have addressed to them the mandate, “ Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see."
Men renewed, do each say, " I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people ;"9 “ I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear
To the wicked is addressed the reproof, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing ?"11 To the righteous belongs the description, “ that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord.” 12 Of unbelievers, it is declared, “ Even
5 Rom. viii. 7. John v. 40. 7 Ps. lxxiii. 28. 8 Is. xlii. 18. 9 Ps. lxxxv, 8. 10 Mic. vii, 7. 1 Ps. iv. 2, 12 Is. lvi. 6.
their mind and conscience is defiled."13 But of those who live by faith, it is said, “ How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?”!4 Of those who, though professedly the people of God, were but hypocrites, the record is given, “But my people would not hearken to my voice: and Israel would none of
But concerning those who had submitted to him, an apostle gave the testimony, “ It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” 16 Thus, those who are born again, are rendered fit to lay hold upon the proposals of God's goodness and mercy through Christ. Such are a people made willing in a day of power. Corruption continues within them, but it is subdued. They delight in the law of God after the inward man. To the requirement of a covenant like that of works, their resolutions and endeavours are alike inadequate. Under the dispensations of Divine grace, however, no proposals of any covenant designed to confer life through their own obedience is made to them. It is on a covenant, the conditions of which were fully satisfied by One infinitely qualified for his work, that they are invited to take hold, and the powers conferred upon them correspond to the exercise. Imperfection marks the nature of the Christian, even throughout all his earthly career; but the means to be employed by him in making covenant engagements to the Lord, do not less accord to his new covenant relation to him, than those made by him in innocence, did to his first covenant state ; and not less are his gracious powers and faculties suited to the one, than the original gifts conferred upon him, were adapted to the other. 13 Tit. i. 15. 14 Heb. ix. 14. 15 Ps. lxxxi. Il.
16 Phil. ii. 13.
Secondly. Inasmuch as the invitations to accede to the Covenant of Grace are tendered to sinners, and through the operation of the Spirit are accepted by those who are born again.
The offering of free favour to man must imply the possibility of him, aided in some manner, accepting it. Had the rational nature of man been destroyed by the fall, then a re-organization of him must have preceded the reception on his part of the benefits offered. But regeneration, and not re-organization, is experienced by him when he is enabled to lay hold of God's Covenant. The former, not less wondrous, perhaps more wondrous than the latter would have been, brings the sinful creature from the state of one exposed to the curse of the law, as both a covenant and a law, to that of one engaged to the duties of a permanent covenant. By regeneration, the intellectual character of the human mind is not changed, nor thereby are changed the conscience and affections and capacity to will. By that the personal identity of the sinner is not altered; for it is the same being that sinned who is saved. But by that the tendencies of the moral nature are changed, and modifications most important are produced upon the operation of the powers of the whole man;—in one word, the heart in being brought under gracious influence is renewed, and thus is made to possess the character of a new heart. Thus, the understanding that was formerly darkened and misdirected is enlightened; those affections that were sinful are sanctified; the conscience is made tender; and the will which was opposed to God is made to acquiesce in his; the enmity in the heart, like a foreign substance which had not annihilated the nature, but which had assumed dominion over the whole man, and exercised a power for which he was answerable, is displaced; and corruption, though not altogether removed, is gradually bereft of its