by John Brown of Haddington
By the gospel in Scripture is meant, either the whole system of God's revealed truth, Mark 1:14; or the history of Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Mark 1:1; or the New Testament dispensation of the covenant of grace, 2 Tim 1:10; or the preaching of God's truth, particularly his free offers of Christ, and salvation through him, 1 Cor 9:14. But, strictly taken, the gospel denotes the glad tidings of life, of full and free salvation through Christ to sinful men, Matt 11:5; Luke 2:10-11. Nothing can more justly be called gospel, i.e. good news, or a gladdening message, than God's free and earnest offers of righteousness, pardon, and acceptance to guilty sinners, adoption to heirs of wrath, sanctification to men dead and defiled in sins, redemption to the most miserable and enslaved, and salvation to the lost,—gifts to the rebellious, that God may dwell among them, 1 Cor 1:30; Acts 5:31; Luke 19:10; Ps 68:18. It is in connection with this view, that the history of Christ's life is called the gospel, because it declares how he, being the Son of God, was made of a woman, was made under the law, obeyed and suffered in our stead, in order to purchase salvation for us, and has ascended to heaven, in order to procure and apply it to us. The general dispensation of God's revealed truth is called gospel, as it is wholly calculated to drive, direct, or draw us to Jesus Christ, as made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.—The New Testament dispensation is called gospel, because the glad tidings of salvation through Christ are therein more fully, clearly, extensively, and powerfully held forth and applied to sinful men, Mark 16:15; Rom 15:19.
I. The gospel, strictly taken, includes, 1. God's doctrinal declarations concerning the salvation of men,—concerning his purpose of election, and the covenant of grace, in its origin, parties, making, parts, administrations,—and concerning the mediator of it in his person, offices, and states, and concerning the blessings of it, union with Christ, justification, adoption, sanctification, spiritual comfort, and eternal glory, Rom 1-11; Gal 2-5; Eph 1-5; Col 1-3; Phil 2:6-11; 1 Tim 3:16; Isa 40-66; etc. and that whether these declarations be plain or figurative, Exod 12; Exod 14; Exod 16-17; Exod 24-30; Lev 1-16; Lev 23; Lev 25; Lev 27; Num 15; Num 17; Num 19; Num 28; Heb 3-10; Gal 3:8; Heb 4:2. 2. God's candid and earnest offers of Jesus Christ, in his person, offices, relations, and fulness, and of himself in him, as an absolutely free gift bequeathed to sinful men in his new-covenant promises, John 3:16; Isa 42:6-7; Isa 55:4; Jer 3:19; Jer 31:31-34; Jer 32:38-41; Ezek 11:19-20; Ezek 36:25-32. 3. His affectionate invitations, in which he calls and earnestly entreats men, under their manifold wretched characters, to receive that which he offers to them, upon the foot of his free grant of it, and to apply it to themselves in particular, Ps 34:8; Ps 81:8,10; Prov 1:22-23; Prov 8:4; Prov 9:4-5; Prov 23:26; Zech 9:12; Matt 9:13; Isa 1:18; Isa 45:22; Isa 44:22; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 55:1-3,6-7; Jer 3:1,4,14,22; Hos 14:1; Ezek 33:11; Matt 11:28-30; John 6:37; John 7:37-39; 2 Cor 5:19-21; Rev 3:17-18,20; Rev 22:17.—These invitations, in so far as they demand our performance of our duty, are reducible to the law as extended upon the foundation of the offers of the gospel, 1 John 3:23; John 6:29; but, in so far as they hold forth God's willingness, readiness, and earnestness to bestow his salvation upon sinful men, and warrant them to receive it to themselves, they belong to the gospel. Notwithstanding they are distinguishable, these declarations, offers, and invitations of the gospel are often contained in the same sentence of Scripture, and ought never to be separated. We never rightly believe any doctrinal declaration of the gospel, unless we, in that very act, receive the good offered, as invited to do so by God himself
II. The use, therefore, of these declarations, offers, and invitations, is, 1. To make known Christ in his person, offices, work, and fulness, and God as reconciled in him, 1 Cor 2:2; 1 Cor 1:24; 2 Cor 4:3-4,6; 2 Cor 5:18-21; 1 Tim 3:16. 2. To present and offer Christ and his fulness to men, and affectionately call and urge them to fellowship with him, 1 Cor 1:9; Prov 9:4-5; Isa 45:22; Isa 55:1-3,6-7. 3. To be God's mean of effectually conveying Christ and his fulness into our heart, for the changing our state and nature, Ps 110:2-3; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:17. 4. To be God's mean of further applying Christ and his fulness to our renewed heart, for carrying on and completing our holiness and comfort, John 1:14,16; John 20:31; Ps 27:13-14; Gal 2:20; Eph 3:17-19; Eph 2:20-22. 5. As a mean of enlarging the knowledge, softening the tempers, and reforming the outward practice of many reprobates, in order to render them useful to the elect, Heb 6:4-5; 2 Pet 2:20; Matt 13:19-22; Phil 1:15-18; Num 23; Num 24.
III. The gospel, strictly taken, differs from the law, in that, 1. The law considers us as God's rational creatures and subjects, who were originally formed with sufficient abilities perfectly to obey it, and hence directs and binds us to have such abilities, and to exercise them in a proper manner towards God, ourselves, and our neighbours, as our duty, Matt 22:37-39; but the gospel considers us as sinful and self-ruined men, graciously pitied by God, and declares what he, according to his infinite mercy and grace, has done, prepared for, and offers to be, and do to and for us, Isa 42:6-7; Isa 49; Isa 53-55; Ps 22; Ps 68; Ps 72; Ps 146. Hence its offers and invitations continue to believers while their sinfulness remains, and no longer. 2. In every essential point the law flows from the very nature of God; but the gospel, both in its matter and manifestation, flows from his sovereign mercy, grace, or good will,—the outgoings of his mercy in the redemption of men, being no more necessary than the exertion of his wisdom and power in the creation of all things, Eph 1:3-8; Eph 2:4-9; Titus 3:4-5; Rom 5:20-21. 3. The law represents God's blessings as bestowed upon men as good and obedient, Gal 3:12; Rom 10:5; Ps 19:11; Isa 3:10; Isa 1:19; but the gospel represents blessings as bestowed upon men, as in themselves guilty and sinful, Rom 5:5-10,20-21; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 43:24-25; Isa 55:2,7; Isa 1:18; Isa 44:22; Jer 3:4,14,19,22; Ps 68:18; Ezek 36:25-27,31; Hos 13:9; Matt 9:13; Matt 18:11; Luke 15:19; Luke 15:10; 1 Tim 1:15.
IV. The harmony of the law and gospel is their suitableness and subserviency to each other: the gospel promises, offers, and gives to sinful men every thing which the law, in any form, demands of them. It provides them with the righteousness of the Son of God, which answers and magnifies all the demands of the law, as a broken covenant: and lays an effectual foundation of universal, and at last perfect obedience to it, as a rule. Nay, it promises preparation for, assistance in, and a gracious reward of every duty which the law, as a rule, requires, as the following and many other texts, if carefully compared, will sufficiently evince:
The law, as a covenant, is subservient to the gospel, 1. As a glass to shew us our sinfulness and misery, and thus our need of Christ and his salvation offered in the gospel, Rom 3:19-20; Rom 7:9. 2. As an infallible witness that we have in us these very ignominious and wretched characters with which the promises, offers, and invitations of the gospel do correspond, and to which they are directed, Rom 5:20-21; Rom 3:9-18; Rom 1:28-32; Rev 3:17-18; Prov 1:22; Prov 9:4; Isa 1:18; Isa 43:24-25; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 55:2,7; Isa 65:1-2; Jer 3:1,4-5,19; Hos 13:9; Hos 14:1; Zech 9:12; Matt 9:13; Matt 11:28; Matt 22:9; Luke 14:23; Luke 19:10. 3. As a scourge to lash our conscience with charges of guilt and threatenings of wrath, in order to drive us out of all lying refuges to Christ alone for righteousness and salvation, Rom 7:7-13; Gal 3:24. 4. As a tremendous charge by God immediately to receive Christ and his salvation offered to us in the gospel,—as a necessary and principal part of that obedience which we owe to him as our Sovereign, whose declarations we ought to believe, and whose gifts we ought to receive,—and as the only method of affording full satisfaction to all its infinite demands,—and as a leading exercise of love to ourselves, John 3:18; 1 John 3:23; Rom 10:3-4; Rom 7:4; Rom 8:3-4. 5. As an awful commentary upon the mysteries of the gospel, which indirectly manifests the amazing nature of God's redeeming love, the tremendous price of our redemption, and the astonishing happiness of those that are redeemed from under the law to God, 1 John 4:9-10; Matt 3:15; Matt 20:28; Luke 24:26; Gal 3:10,12-13; Gal 4:4-6; Heb 12:18-24; Dan 9:24. 6. As an infallible, a divine security for the eternal happiness of those that are made fulfillers of it in Christ, Rom 8:1-4,32-34; Rom 5:19,21. 7. In revenging the indignity done to itself, in men's obtruding upon it their own abominable self-righteousness, instead of the law-magnifying obedience and sufferings of Christ, it terribly punishes the indignity and injury they did to the gospel, and all the redeeming blood and grace of God in it, by their unbelieving rejection of its offers, Mal 1:13-14; Heb 2:3; Heb 10:26-29; Heb 12:25; John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16.—As a rule of life in the hand of Christ, the law is subservient to the gospel, 1. As an exciter of believers, obedientially to receive more of the gracious privileges of the gospel to qualify them for more full and lively obedience to this law, 2 Pet 3:18; 2 Pet 1:4-8; Eph 6:10; 2 Tim 2:1. 2. As an instructing charge from Christ to improve the abundant grace of the gospel to its honour, Titus 2:10; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:15-16. 3. God's impression of it on our heart being a blessing of the gospel, makes us relish, desire, and rest satisfied with the other pure and spiritual blessings of it, 1 Cor 9:21; Jer 31:33. 4. As a glass it shews us the nature of that God, and of that holiness which the gospel promises and gives to us as our eternal happiness, 1 Pet 1:15-16; Matt 5:48; Eph 4:32; Eph 5:1-2; 1 John 4:8,16,19.—Thus the law of God as a covenant, and as a rule, turns every way to drive, shut up, or allure men to the gospel, and to Christ, and his righteousness and grace in it.
On the other hand, the gospel marvellously promotes the honour of the law as a covenant. 1. Its representations of Christ, and his undertaking and righteousness, is a delightful commentary upon its tremendous requirements, Rom 8:3-4; Rom 10:4; Dan 9:24; Isa 42:21. 2. It presents in Christ the most clear and persuasive proof of its infinite importance and infallible stability, Gal 4:4-5; Matt 3:15; Matt 5:17-18; Matt 20:28; Luke 24:26. 3. It presents and offers to us a righteousness proper to be presented by us to this law, as an infinitely high and honourable satisfaction to all its demands on us, Rom 3:21-22,24-26,31; 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 42:21; Isa 45:24-25; Isa 54:17; Jer 23:6; Jer 33:16.—It promotes the honour of the law as a rule, in that, 1. It presents, offers, and conveys to us every thing relative to example, motive, endowment, assistance, or reward, which can promote obedience to it in heart or in life, Eph 5:2; 1 John 4:9-10,19; Hos 2:19-20; Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:4; Ezek 36:15-27; Phil 2:12-13; Zech 10:12; 1 Cor 15:58; Heb 12:28. 2. By the powerful influence of the gospel, the law, as a rule, is written on our heart, Heb 8:10-12; Jer 31:31,33.
To illustrate the subservience of the gospel to the moral law as a rule of life, the powerful influence of its evangelical preface, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, etc. in enforcing obedience to all its commandments, may be considered. Here all our holy obedience is founded upon the lawgiver, being Jehovah, and our God and Redeemer. His character Jehovah represents him as necessarily existent as to himself and every thing else; all-sufficient as the Author of all created being, chiefly of the fulfilment of promises. His being Jehovah, our God, imports, that he, in all his fulness and glory, is offered and conveyed to us in the gospel, in all the different relations of Father, Husband, Master, Portion, etc. And it is observable, that in the law given at Sinai, this grant of himself as Jehovah our God is five times repeated, Exod 20:2,5,7,10,12.—His typical representation of himself as our Redeemer, presents to us our eternal redemption in its price, and in its several benefits of union with Christ, justification, adoption, sanctification, spiritual comfort, and everlasting happiness. All these in the most delightful manner enforce obedience to every table,—to every command.
If he be Jehovah, what an infinitely excellent object must he be, of all that love which is demanded for him by the first table! Mark 12:30,33. What an all-sufficient, all-comprehensive, infinite sum of every thing lovely!—If he be Jehovah connected with us in every delightful new-covenant relation;—if he gave, and was the price of our eternal redemption, what an infinitely strong reason for, and engaging pattern of superlative love to himself, is he!—If, in Christ, we receive such rich and inestimable benefits, how powerfully they demand that we should love God in Christ, and for him, and as Christ loved him, and answerably to the manifestation of his perfections in these benefits, and answerably to the relations into which they bring us to God!
They no less powerfully enforce love to ourselves and to our neighbour, in obedience to the second table. If the Lawgiver be Jehovah, infinitely glorious and worthy of our superlative love, his creatures ought to be loved in proportion to their excellency. If he be the author of their being, he ought to be loved in them as his offspring, and they loved for his sake, in proportion to their resemblance of him. If he, in infinite kindness, gave men their being,—how becoming to render that being as happy as possible,—and, as his joint progeny, to live joined in love to him, and to each other!—If, in his new covenant of grace, he has connected himself with us in so many delightful relations, and acts according to them,—why, by our inhuman behaviour, condemn his infinitely gracious example, and refuse to extend our goodness to his representatives, and especially his darling saints on earth, Ps 16:2-3; 1 Pet 3:8; 1 Pet 4:8; Rom 12-15; Eph 5-6; Col 3-4?—If in Jesus' payment of the infinite price of our redemption, he gave us the most engaging example of, and motive to the most disinterested love to mankind, John 13:14; John 15:12; Eph 5:2. If it was paid, and is applied in order to promote our loving men as well as God, why should we not be powerfully constrained by its influence?—If we be united to Christ, why should not the same spirit and mind be in us that was and is in him, Eph 4:21; Phil 2:5; 1 Pet 2:21? If, notwithstanding our unnumbered and high provocations, we be justified freely by his grace, why not love and shew kindness to our brethren that injure us, especially if they appear to have received forgiveness from God, Eph 4:32; Matt 18:23-35? If God, in his redeeming love, has brought us into his family, and put us among his children, why should we retain or live in our former malice and envy? Why not, to the honour of his house, breathe forth the temper of his sons and daughters, in acts of love to each other, 1 John 3:11,14; Titus 3:3? If we be renewed, and have the sanctifying spirit of God dwelling in us, why strive against him and the new nature which he has implanted, in order to do mischief, 1 Pet 1:3,22-23; Gal 5:22; Eph 5:9; Rom 13:8? If we enjoy the consolations of God, why not improve them to the comfort of others by acts of love to them, Col 2:2? If we expect that heavenly state in which love reigns in perpetual perfection, why should we not make it our present temper and business on earth? But, more particularly,
I. These reasons strongly demand that we should know and acknowledge, worship and glorify the true God as God and our God, and abstain from and abhor all atheism, profaneness, and idolatry, in obedience to the first commandment.—If he alone be Jehovah, how absurd to attempt finding happiness in, or giving his glory to another,—an imaginary, or at best an upstart, dependent, fading, unsubstantial creature, Ps 83:18; Ps 102:26-27; Isa 42:8; Jer 10:10-11; Heb 13:5,8; Ps 48:14; Ps 73:25-26? If he be the all-sufficient Jehovah, why not fix all our contemplation, trust, delight, gloriation, and worship on him alone, Jer 2:13; Jer 18:14-15; 2 Cor 1:5; 1 Sam 2:8? If he be Jehovah, the independent Sovereign, why attempt to pull him down from his high throne, in order to exalt an insignificant creature, or worse, to his place, Isa 40:12-26; Ps 89:6-8; Ps 35:10; Ps 36:7? If he be Jehovah, the sole author and preserver of our being, why ought not all that we are and have to be directed to his honour, Ps 100:3; Ps 95:6-7? If he be the author, upholder, and governor of all creatures, he must possess all their attractive excellency in an infinitely superior degree, and his mere forbearance to communicate to them would render them despicable nothings; why then choose, love, trust in, and adore them in his stead?—If, in his infinite grace, he earnestly offer and freely give himself to us as our God, our infinite All, why refuse him, in order to catch at things empty, abominable, and hurtful, Ps 81:10-13; Jer 3:1,9; Jer 16:19-20; Isa 44:9-20? If, through condescension, debasement, and suffering, he has so laboured to bestow himself on us, why not abandon every rival to receive and enjoy him, Ps 45:10-11; Ps 118:28; Ps 18:1-3? If he candidly and kindly grant us himself and all his fulness, why discredit his promise and offer, as if we believed himself a churlish restrainer of all to himself? If, by solemn declarations of his word, and manifold strivings of his Spirit and providence, he has shut us up to the faith of his being our God, why trample his authority, his faithfulness, and his bowels of mercy under our feet, in order to shift all saving title to, or enjoyment of himself? If Jehovah be our kind, our everlasting Father, why not avouch and glorify him, Mal 1:6? Why turn away from him, Deut 32:6? If he be our affectionate husband, why should we, to his and his people's grief, adulterously forsake him, in order to entertain devils and sinful lusts in his room, John 6:68? If, through suffering and death, he has become our Friend, why live ignorant of, deny, hate, distrust, or displease him, 1 John 4:19; Prov 17:17; Prov 18:24? If he be our Master, who has bought us, and already more than rewarded all our service, and nevertheless reserves infinite rewards of grace for us, why break away from him to serve our murderers, Mal 1:6?—In Jesus' payment of the price of our redemption, we behold every perfection of Jehovah displayed in the most engaging manner,—every promise and grant of him to be our God sealed with the blood of his Son,—the most delightful access and claim to him suited to our sinful condition,—together with full and irrefragable evidence that he will withhold no good thing from us, 2 Cor 4:6; 2 Cor 5:19-21; 2 Cor 1:20; Heb 10:19-22; Heb 8:10-12; Rom 8:32. Why then should we wickedly neglect or refuse to receive, improve, and serve him, Luke 1:74-75; Gen 39:9?—Why should not his infinite mercy, from which all his new-covenant blessings proceed, invincibly draw and bind our hearts to an eternal dependence on, and worship of him? And, if we be united with Christ, why attempt to dissolve our marriage, put him away, or cause him to hold fellowship with idols, 2 Cor 6:14-15; 1 John 5:20-21? If we be justified, why condemn our Justifier, and tread him under our feet? If God has adjudged us to eternal life, why prefer dead idols to him? If he has adopted us into his family, why not live upon him as its provision, join in its worship, and labour to be an honour to its head and members? Why attempt to destroy our gracious adopter, and cut off all life and comfort from ourselves and fellow-children, Jer 2:13? If, by regeneration and sanctification, we have been made temples and living images of God in Christ, why bring idols into his holy place, and deface his honourable image with the mark of the devil in our heart, hand, or forehead? Why act in furious contradiction to the excellent and graciously implanted principles of our new nature, in an unholy and unrighteous forsaking God, for the sake of idols? If we have tasted the everlasting consolations of Christ, why, by forsaking the God of all comfort, undermine our happiness, Col 2:2; 2 Cor 1:3-5? If we have experienced much of his mercy and grace, wisdom, power, and faithfulness, why doubt of his existence, or be ashamed or regardless of him? If we have a title to, or solid hope of everlasting happiness, why commit idolatry, which tends to exclude us from it? If we expect Jehovah to be our eternal All in All, why not rest satisfied with him on earth? If we desire that heavenly happiness, why abandon the preparer of it, and the guide of it, for an idol? why attempt to make our life on earth a hell, through want of fellowship with God?
II. These reasons no less powerfully enforce the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire all God's instituted ordinances of his worship, and dissuade from worshipping him by images, or any other way not appointed in his word. If the Lawgiver be Jehovah infinitely glorious, how fearfully every carnal imagination and corporeal representation of him must misrepresent and debase him! If he be the author of our, and of all other beings, how absurd for us to encourage false and disgraceful representations of him! if he be all-sufficient, why should not his own ordinances alone be held proper means for the enjoyment and worship of him? If he be an absolute sovereign, why forsake his appointments, in order to subject ourselves to the inventions of men, Col 2:16-23?—If he be our divine Father, why not adhere to the rules of his family? If he be our Husband, why not please him in all things, and abhor every reproachful misrepresentation of him,—and every encroachment upon his prerogative of appointing all the means of his own worship? If he be our Friend, why forsake his institutions, or exchange or mix them with those of Satan and the world? If he be our Master and Proprietor, why not receive and adhere to his rules and service? If he be our Portion, why not carefully attend to the only means of enjoying him, Ezek 37:26-27; Ps 84:10-12?—If, to pay the price, and secure the conveyance of our redemption to us, Jehovah's own Son became his representing image, why throw him aside as useless or insufficient, in order to view the Godhead in fancies, or in images made by men, Col 1:15; 2 Cor 4:4,6; John 14:9-10? If, in redeeming mankind, he came to abolish idols, why should they, whom he redeemed, attempt to counteract the end and influence of his incarnation, ministry, and death, Zech 13:2-7? If he has consecrated these ordinances with his own blood, and furnished them with his purchased blessings, why trample on the blood of the covenant, with which they are sanctified, in neglecting, corrupting, or changing them, Eph 2:14-18; Eph 1:3? If, by his blood, he has purchased his mediatorial dominion, from which these ordinances immediately proceed, and has purchased the mission and operation of the Holy Ghost to render them effectual, and has redeemed us from infinite sinfulness and misery, that we may be zealous observers of them, why disregard, abuse, or neglect them?—If we be united to Christ, that we may live by him, why not improve him, in his own ordinances of fellowship with him and his Father and the Spirit? If God has justified us, and adjudged us to eternal life, why not justify his institutions, and use them as means of receiving and increasing our spiritual life? If he has adopted us into his family, why introduce the ordinances of hell or earth into his worship, to prevent our enjoyment of fellowship with him, Matt 15:2-3,9? If we be sanctified, why not earnestly look into his erected glass, in which, beholding his image, we may be changed from glory to glory by his Spirit, 2 Cor 3:18? If, in holiness and righteousness, we be living images of God, formed by himself, why debase ourselves by falling down to a fancy, or the stock of a tree, 1 Cor 8:4; Isa 44:10-20? If there be any new-covenant comfort, why expect it to be conveyed to us, but through the ordinances of the God of all comfort, Isa 66:11-12? If we hope for eternal happiness, why not walk to it, and prepare for it, in God's way, Prov 8:34? If God, the bestower of all blessings, have instituted these ordinances as the means of conferring his favours on men, how absurd, by our negligence or superstition, to attempt to frustrate his kind intentions, Prov 8:34,36; Matt 15:9?
III. In subservience to the third commandment, these reasons powerfully enforce the holy and reverent use of God's names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works, and dissuade from all profanation and abuse of them.—If he be the infinitely glorious Jehovah, all contempt or abuse of his name must be infinitely criminal. If he be all-sufficient, how mad and impious to attempt to rob him of his honour and pleasure? If he be the Author of all being, every abuse of that which he has formed or instituted must terminate on him. If he be an independent Sovereign, why not give him the most profound reverence?—If he be our God, our Father, Husband, Friend, Master, and Portion, what ingratitude, impiety, and self-destruction must be included in our dishonouring his name? And how shocking to improve his new-covenant characters as objects of our profanation and blasphemy?—If, in paying the price of our redemption, Jesus Christ obeyed, suffered, and died, to sweeten the name of God to us, and give it a glorious manifestation in our deliverance,—died to purchase our souls and bodies to be eternal honourers of it,—and to procure the Holy Ghost's creating the fear and love of it in our hearts,—how shocking to crucify Jesus afresh, and by abusive reproach profane his name?—If his name be the source and security of all our new-covenant privileges, why trample on and tear it? If we be united to Christ, why abuse and blaspheme our divine, our dearest Relatives? If we be justified, why abuse and blaspheme our merciful and lofty Judge? If we are adopted by God, why introduce the language and behaviour of hell into his family?
If we be regenerated and sanctified, why mark our hatred of holiness, and belch forth blasphemy against that worthy God, whose image we bear? If we be comforted by God, and through his name, why reward his kindness with the most shocking insult and abuse? If we expect to enjoy and praise him for ever, why disqualify ourselves for that work, and by profaneness prepare ourselves for eternal damnation?
IV. These reasons no less powerfully enforce the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his word, especially one whole day in seven to be an holy sabbath to himself.—If he be the infinitely glorious Jehovah, how can time be better spent than in honouring him, and contemplating his glory? If he be all-sufficient, how profitable the time spent in fellowship with him, and receiving his fulness! If he be the author of beings, how proper to commemorate his astonishing works of creation and redemption, and cheerfully to bestow time, or any thing else, on his service, when he demands it! If he be an absolute Sovereign, how necessary to allow him every thing which he challenges for his property!—If he be our God, our Father, our Husband, our Friend, our Master and Portion, how absurd to refuse him any thing he requires! And how pleasant, profitable, honourable, and dutiful, to spend proper time in fellowship with, and enjoyment of him, in these new-covenant relations!—If Jesus Christ, by his obedience and death, has redeemed us from sin and hell to God, how worthy of our solemn remembrance must the finishing of his purchase be? If, in his death, he purchased for us an everlasting fellowship with, and the enjoyment of God, and procured the applying influences of the Holy Ghost to promote it, why should the peculiar season and means of this fellowship be despised or profaned?—If we be united to Christ, why should not we, on the day of his resurrection, awake, that he may give us light? If we be justified, why not commemorate that day of the week in which Christ received his justifying sentence for himself and his people?—and prize that day which God has appointed for bestowing or intimating justification to men? If we be adopted, why not observe the great birthday of God's family in Christ their risen Head? If we be sanctified, why not delight to keep holy the Sabbath of the Lord our God, and improve it as a mean of our progressive holiness? If we have received the Spirit of consolation, why not delight to hold solemn weekly fellowship with the God of all comfort and his people? If, by the covenant, the promise, the oath of God, eternal salvation be secured for us, why not take pleasure in weekly foretastes of it, and call the Sabbath a delight?
V. These reasons also enforce the careful performance of all the relative duties required in the fifth commandment, and dissuade from every thing contrary.—If the infinitely glorious, all-sufficient, independent, all-creating and governing Jehovah, be manifested in the diversified relations of men to each other, and the duties belonging to them, why, by neglect of these duties, should we dishonour his character in his representatives, resist his ordinances, and practically consider ourselves more capable to fix our stations, and regulate our duties in them, than he?—If Jehovah, as our God, stand to us in the infinitely gracious new-covenant relations of Father, Husband, Friend, Master, Portion, etc. how richly must we be furnished,—how strongly bound and powerfully excited to give an honourable representation of him, in all our relative behaviour toward men, Eph 5-6; Col 3-4; 1 Pet 2-3; Rom 12-15?—If, in paying the price of our redemption, Christ fulfilled the duties of every relation in which he stood, as Child, Servant, Subject, Master, Friend, Father, etc. Matt 3:17; John 8:29; Luke 2:51; Isa 49:3; Isa 52:13; Isa 53:11; John 14:28,31; John 10:18; John 17:4; John 13:1-10; John 15:13-14; John 10:10-11,15; Matt 23:8,10; Isa 53:10; Isa 9:6; Eph 5:25-27; why not copy his pattern? If, by his obedience and sufferings, he sanctified and rendered human relations useful and comfortable to us, why should we not honour him in fulfilling the duties pertaining to them, Eph 5:23,27?—If we be united to Christ, why not walk as he also walked, 1 John 2:6; Eph 5:2; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 Cor 11:1? If we be pardoned and accepted to eternal life, why not act tenderly toward all our relatives,—even such as injure us? Matt 5:44; Eph 4:32. If we be adopted members of God's family, why not exemplify our good manners before the world? If we be renewed and sanctified, why not walk in the beauties of holiness, in abiding with God, in our respective stations, and attempting to gain our relations to Jesus Christ? If we have enjoyed spiritual comforts, why, in our whole behaviour towards others, should we not comfort them with the consolation wherewith we are comforted by Christ, 2 Cor 1:4,6? If we expect the heavenly state, why not make this world as like it as we can, in social order and happiness, 2 Pet 3:11,14?
VI. No less powerfully do these reasons enforce and urge our preservation of human life required in the sixth commandment, and dissuade from every thing contrary. If Jehovah be the Author, Preserver, and Proprietor of men's life, what a presumptuous striking at his life, a robbing him of his power and property, and an exposing our own life to his just vengeance, must all unjust taking it away be! If he be our infinitely glorious and absolute Sovereign, why should not the views of his infinite glory and majesty awe and compose our spirits! Why should we vie with him in the power of life and death, or rob him of that life which he might dispose to his own glory?—If he be our all-sufficient God, Father, Husband, Friend, Master, Portion, why, like devils, attempt to render ourselves happier by ruining ourselves or our neighbours?—If, infinite kindness, he has become related to us his enemies, why not imitate his gracious and honourable conduct, in labouring, by every lawful mean, to preserve the life of our enemies,—and in walking in love toward that life, which he may make useful for his honour? Why not, in the whole of our behaviour, exhibit him to the world, as gracious, merciful, and longsuffering? If, with his infinitely precious blood, he has purchased our eternal life, why, by destroying men's lives, should we counteract the end of his death?—Why rob him of an opportunity to glorify himself, by bestowing spiritual and eternal life on our neighbours? And why not follow his example, who prayed for, and promoted the welfare of his betrayers and murderers?—And why not earnestly and hopefully improve all the means of promoting the precious life of our own or our neighbours' souls?—If we be united to Christ, why render his members instruments of cruelty, hatred, and murder? If we be justified, and adjudged to eternal life, why not mortify every murderous disposition? Or why act as if we had no eternal life abiding in us, or attempt to annul our happy sentence, or rob God of an opportunity of justifying others? Eph 4:31-32; Matt 18:23-33; 1 John 3:15; Dan 12:3. If we be God's adopted children, why should not we be kindly affectioned, and ready to lay down our lives for our brethren? 1 John 3:16. If the Holy Ghost dwell in us in his sanctifying and comforting influences, why should we not permit, nay, improve him, to purge out all our selfishness, and render us fruitful in all goodness and love? And why not avoid every thing which may provoke or grieve him?—If, at an infinite expence of love, power, and blood, God has conformed us to his own image, why make ourselves like the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning? If he comfort us with his kindness, why should we maliciously pain and distress others? If we expect everlasting happiness, why indulge such affections as render us unfit for it, and mark our exclusion from it? If God suffer not bloody men to live out half their days on earth, why should they expect eternal life in heaven?
VII. These reasons no less powerfully enforce the preservation of our own and our neighbour's chastity, in obedience to the seventh commandment. If God be Jehovah, the Author and Former both of our body and mind, both ought to be kept pure to his honour. If he, in his everlasting arms, be their upholder and governor, why pollute them? If he be all-sufficient, why, in his stead, seek unlawful and beastly pleasures for our immortal soul? If he be infinitely glorious, why, with abominable filthiness, stain his image on ourselves? If he be our God, our Father, our Husband, our Friend, our Master and Portion, how unnecessary, how infamous, absurd, and provoking, to prefer disgraceful and ruinous pleasures to the most intimate and most delightful fellowship with him?—If Jesus Christ purchased our body and mind with the infinite price of his blood, why not glorify him and his Father with both? If he died to redeem us from the filthiness of the flesh and Spirit, why attempt to frustrate the end of his death, and, for nothing, for endless ruin, sell our body and soul to the coarse drudgery of Satan? 1 Cor 6:19,29; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 1:18-19. If, in paying the price of our redemption, he marked such contempt of the pleasures of sense, why not, with the same mind, arm ourselves? 1 Pet 4:1-3.—If we be united to Christ, why make our body and mind, which are his members, the members of an harlot? If, in our justification, we be delivered from the broken law, we are no longer debtors to live after the flesh, Rom 6:13-14; Rom 8:12; why then tempt God to reverse his infinitely gracious sentence? Heb 13:4; 2 Pet 2:10. Or why interrupt our new-covenant evidence, or his new intimations of our pardon? If we be the adopted children of God, why dishonour him and his family, by our abominable whoredoms? If we have his sanctifying Spirit and a sanctified nature in us, why disgrace his temple, debase and oppose his work, by the indulgence of beastly lusts? 1 Thess 4:3-4; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Cor 6:19; Gal 5:22-23. If we enjoy the consolations of God, and have his love shed abroad in our heart, why abuse them, as if sensual gratifications were a necessary supplement of, or preferable to them? If we be entitled to, or expect heavenly and eternal pleasures, why, by brutal defilements on earth, unfit ourselves for them? If Jesus and his complete salvation be fast approaching to us, why not lay aside chambering and wantonness? Rom 13:11-14. If we expect that he will fashion our body like to his glorious body, why now render it viler than the beasts?
VIII. These reasons no less powerfully urge that universal equity, which is required by the eighth commandment. If God be the sovereign proprietor of all things, how wicked must it be to rob any of that which he has allotted him? If he be the author of all being, all dishonesty in any thing must amount to a robbery committed on God himself, and an attempt to reverse his disposal.—If he be our God, our Father, our Husband, our Friend, and our Master, why not trust him to lay up for his children, and provide for his spouse, his friends, and servants, things earthly as well as eternal, and why blaspheme him, as if he were a resetter of our stolen goods? If he be our all-sufficient portion, why prefer stolen trifles to his infinite fulness?—If, in Jesus's payment of the price of our redemption, God has so clearly manifested his infinite regard to equity, why, for trifles, violate a law ratified by the death of his Son? If Jesus Christ, by his death, has purchased for us a new-covenant right to, and possession of every temporal good thing, why rob others, in order to procure that which is bad for us? If he has purchased for himself a mediatorial right to all things, why, by our dishonesty, attempt to disgrace or rob him of the reward of his death, Heb 2:8-9; Hag 2:8?—If we be united to Christ, why stretch forth our heart or our hands, which are his members, to dishonesty? If we be pardoned, and adjudged to eternal life, why reproach and condemn God our justifier, as if he permitted and obliged us, on our way to heaven, to procure maintenance from Satan? If we be adopted into the family of God, why stain our character with dishonesty, which is not the spot of his children? And, why disgrace our Father, elder Brother, and fellow Saints, as if they connived with our theft? If we be the sanctified temples of the Holy Ghost, why debase ourselves with treasures of rapine, Isa 33:15-16? If we enjoy the consolations of God, why mix them with, or lose them for, the disgraceful fruits of fraud and violence, Heb 13:18; Luke 16:1? If we be certain heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and expect everlasting riches and glory, why dishonour him, and disgrace ourselves, by dishonesty in the things of this world?
IX. These reasons no less forcibly urge the most strict regard to truth, and to our own and our neighbour's good name. If the lawgiver be Jehovah the God of truth, who gives being to all his words, why incline to, utter, or encourage falsehood or calumny? If he be the author of all being, why employ the work of his hands in the service of his archenemy, who is a liar, and the father of lies? If he be our absolute sovereign, why act as if our heart and tongue belonged to the devil? If his name and nature be infinitely glorious, why disgrace him in those creatures in whom his name and image are peculiarly marked? If he be all-sufficient, why prefer calumny and falsehood to the just commendations and high praises of him?—If he be our God, our Father, our Husband, our Friend, our Master, our Portion, what can tempt us to slander and falsehood, either to avert evil or to procure advantage? And, in order to imitate Satan, and retail the poison of asps under our tongue, why dishonour his relations to us, and ours to him?—If, in the price of our redemption, God has manifested his inviolable, his infinite regard to the truth of his own promises and threatenings, in the death of his Son, his detestation of Adam's reception of falsehood, and his reproaching his Maker, why ought not lying and reproachful lips to be an abomination to every one interested in that propitiation, and in the New Testament ratified by it?—If we be united to Christ, who is the true and faithful witness, nay truth itself, why render his members instruments of calumny and falsehood, especially to the disgrace of his mystical body, which to him is as the apple of his eye? If God has graciously blotted out millions of our crimes and justified us, why should we not for ever detest all slandering others, or delighting in their infamy? And why not pass the most charitable judgment on the conduct of others, particularly of those who, to our shame, may, in the last judgment, have their character solemnly vindicated? If we be adopted into God's family, why act as the children of Satan, and as if the spirit of God assisted us to contrive and utter lies and calumny? If the Spirit of truth, by his word of truth, has begotten us again and sanctified us, implanting truth in our inward part, why not speak the truth in love growing up into Christ, Eph 4:15; and our sanctified tongue be as choice silver, and our lips feed many, rather than pour forth malice and folly? If God's law be written in our heart, why not put away all guile, malice, and evil speaking, 1 Pet 2:1; James 1:18,21; James 4:11? Why should the same tongue bless God, and curse men who are made after his image? If we enjoy the comforts of the Holy Ghost, why banish them to introduce infernal pleasure in falsehood and slander? If God has given us so many exceeding great and precious promises sealed with the blood of his Son, why, by such infamous, though too common wickedness, labour to come short of them? If we be entitled to, or expect everlasting happiness, why, by lying and calumny, ripen ourselves for hell, Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15?
X. These reasons no less mightily enforce that contentment and charitable frame of spirit required in the tenth commandment, and dissuade from every thing contrary. If God be the infinitely glorious, all-sufficient author, and independent sovereign of being, why, by discontentment, envy, and covetousness, or corruption of nature, should we deprive him of his honour, and of his proper place in our heart? If he be our God, Father, Husband, Friend, Master, and Portion, why should we be discontented under his care, and our new-covenant enjoyment of him? And why fond to fill his place in our soul with base, vile, empty, or ill-gotten nothings?—If, in paying the price of our redemption, Jesus Christ contented himself with poverty, reproach, distress, and death, that he might render us, his enemies, happy and renowned, why should we imitate devils, who left their first estate, in order to procure what must attend the curse of God?—If we be united with Christ, why indulge tempers which are so displeasing and disgraceful to him? If God, in our justification, forgive us so many sins, how much less must we be than the least of all his mercies! And why then not contented with so many and great mercies as we possess, or are entitled to? And why refuse to walk in his way to that eternal life to which he has adjudged us? If we be God's adopted children, why repine at his all-sufficient and delightful provision, and labour to feed on husks, which swine do eat? If we be sanctified, why indulge that evil concupiscence, which renders us carnal, sold under sin? If we be graciously comforted by God, why, with discontentment, envy, and covetousness, unrighteously vex our soul from day to day? If we be heirs of eternal life, why fond of that which detains our heart from our heavenly blessedness? If God draw us upward, why should our belly and soul cleave to the earth?
Reflection. But what do I know of this glorious gospel, and its marvellous influence? Have I understood and believed its declarations, embraced its offers, and complied with its invitations? Have I experimentally discerned and felt its difference from, harmony with, and subservience to the law, as a covenant, and as a rule? Is my heart filled and inflamed, my loins girt and my feet shod with this gospel of grace and peace? Under its heart-purifying, heart-enlarging, and animating influence, have, and do I, run in the way of all God's commandments?—Here, here, let my knowledge be exact, and my experience powerful and distinct.—A mistake here, even to appearance the most trivial, how greatly may it affect the exercise of my soul, or my preaching Christ!