« PreviousContinue »
say, Lord, into thine hands, stretched out in this covenant, I commit my spirit. 2. It imports that he shall serve the Lord for ever and ever, in heaven, after death. To confine the great benefit of the covenant to this short life here, is unsuitable to the everlasting covenant. Nay, this benefit contains heaven's happiness. For in heaven his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. There it is that it hath its full accomplishment. The covenant finds the designed servants dead in sin, and therefore it must give them life before they can serve; and that life is eternal life, never to expire, from the moment it is given. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;" and they shall serve him all the days of that life, given them on purpose for the service, that is, through the ages of eternity.
Comfort yourselves, O believers, with this, ye that are depressed with a sense of your unfitness for the service of God here, and your mismanagement in it. Behold, the day of your redemption approacheth, in which you shall be able to serve God, according to your desire, in the mount of glory. We are now to consider,
Secondly, The subordinate benefit, namely, deliverance from our enemies, which stands here as a mean in order to the end, namely, God's service. "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him." It is evident from the structure of the words, both in our version, and in the original especially, that the service is the end of the deliverance, and the deliverance the means of the service. As God said of Israel in Egypt, so doth he say of all his people; "Let my son go, that he may serve me." To this event our text alludes. They cannot serve the Lord till once they be delivered. How should they do it, while they are lying among the feet of their enemies. The service, the enemies, and the deliverance, are all spiritual; therefore they must have a spiritual deliverance, before they can perform the spiritual service. And if it is the design of the covenant, that they shall work and serve the Lord, it must secure and convey to them salvation or deliverance, in the first place; so this is a benefit of the covenant, as well as the others are This may also direct you in your managemeut of this solemn occasion of grace and salvation.
1. If ever you would be capable to serve the Lord, seek that you may be delivered from your spiritual enemies, taken out of their hands who keep you in bondage. While you are in bondage to them, in respect of your state, it is not possible you can serve the Lord. "No man can serve two masters."
2. If ever you would obtain that deliverance from your spiritual
enemies, seek it in the covenant, in a way of believing. There it is offered and exhibited to you; and whosoever does by faith lay hold on this covenant shall have it. So the Son makes them free, who believe on him, as their deliverer, from all their enemies. "And if the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed."
Lastly, Seek that deliverance, that you may serve the Lord. Many seek deliverance by Christ, that they may live at ease in the embraces of their lusts, free from the fear of hell. But none shall ever find it so, for they seek it not in the right way, and for the right end.
Galashiels, Sunday Afternoon, September 22, 1723.
[The same subject continued.]
LUKE i. 74, 75,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
DOCTRINE-That the covenant deliverance is freely bestowed on God's covenant people, that they may serve him, after the manner of the covenant, namely the new covenant. Here I shall take notice,
I. Of the covenant deliverance bestowed.
II. Of the covenant service, which is the design of this deliver
III. Of the necessary connection betwixt the covenant deliverance, and covenant service.
I. The covenant deliverance bestowed. We being delivered out of the hands of our enemies. I shall reduce these to four.
1. They are delivered from the law. Not from the law as a rule of life in the hand of a Mediator, standing in the covenant of grace; but from the law as a covenant, under which all men are, in their natural state. The scripture is most express on this. Rom. vi. 14, 15. They are delivered from the curse of it. It cannot reach them. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." From the commanding power of it. For how
can it have a commanding power over them who are not under it? It was the fault of the Galatians, that some of them desired to be under it. Did they desire, think you, to be under the curse of it? No, surely, but under the commanding power of it. Not observing, that if once they were under the commanding power of it, they should be under the cursing power of it also; since whom the law cannot command, it can, and certainly will curse, in case of transgression, Gal. iii. 10, compared with Rom. iii. 19. But they are as completely freed from it, as death can make a wife free from her husband. 66 They are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that they should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
2. From sin. Though they are not free from the indwelling of it in this life, and molestation by it, yet they are freed from its guilt of eternal wrath, by which it binds over the sinner to the revenging wrath of God. "There is therefore now no condemnatian to them that are in Christ Jesus." The covenant secures believers as much against that recurring on them, as God's oath secures the world from a second deluge. "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I should not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." They are freed also from the dominion of sin. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." The bond by which it held the sinner, was strong as death; but it is broken so as never to be joined again. "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
3. From death. Though they are not free from that shadow of death, that nominal death, which serves to separate the believer's soul from his body for a while, therefore called the death of the body; yet they are delivered from the real death of the man, even that terrible thing wrapt up in the threatening of the covenant of works, which was the penalty of it. "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Even stinged death, universal death, which alone is death, properly so called; as appears in the case of the body, in which though a leg or arm, a member or members, be mortified as dead as if they were in the grave; yet none will reckon the body a dead corpse, but still a living body, till such time as death hath gone over the whole of it. Now as soon as man sinned by breaking the covenant of works, death's sting pierced him to the very soul; cold death went over the whole man, and left him speechless, motionless, and lifeless, as to any thing truly good. And the whole creation could not raise the dead man to life again.
Now from this death God's covenant people are delivered. when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us together with Christ." This is in virtue of their union with Christ. They may now sing, "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Christ." And it shall never, never from the moment of their entering into the covenant, come back upon them again. Our Lord's words are, Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
Lastly, From Satan, though not from molestation by him in this life; yet from under his power and dominion. God sends the gospel "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Christ Jesus." When man sinned, and death seized him, he was Satan's lawful captive; Is. xlix. 24. Satan having the power of death as executioner, Jesus our Saviour, took our nature, "that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." But now believers are delivered from him, "for God hath delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son." Satan shall never recover his power over them, "for the God of peace shall bruise him under their feet shortly." And so shall all the other parts of the delivery not yet bestowed on them, be shortly given them, and so the deliverance be completed. Let us now,
II. Take notice of the covenant service, which is the design of this deliverance; and not only the design of the deliverance, but also of the deliverer; which, therefore, shall certainly take effect in the delivered. I take it up in three things, according to the text. They shall serve the Lord,
1. As sons serving their Father. "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son who serveth him." Possibly they made a fashion of serving the Lord, before they came into a covenant of grace. But then their service was after the manner of the covenant which they were under. They served him as bond servants. Slavish fear of hell, and servile hope of heaven, being the great springs of their obedience. But now they will serve him, in a new manner, even in "newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Love to their Father will set them to work. The whole with them is "a work and labour of love." Gratitude to their God and Redeemer, will bind them to
it. They ever cry, "what shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits towards us. They are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an 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." Meanwhile, they depend entirely on Christ's work and service, not on their own, for the whole of their salvation. "For we," say they, "are the circumcision, which worship God in. the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
2. They shall serve him universally. "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments." The old covenant servants are ever partial in the law. There is not one of them but discovers what spirit they are of, by baulking some of its commandments. Wherefore, if our obedience be not more extensive than theirs, we will never see heaven. "For except our righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." But the new covenant servants "esteem all God's precepts concerning all things to be right." Their religion will neither lack piety nor charity. They will be holy towards God, righteous toward their neighbour, and sober with respect to themselves. They will serve the Lord internally and externally. They desire to know, and to comply with all God's will, that, like David the son of Jesse, they may fulfil all his will.
3. They will serve him constantly. "I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end." They shall never totally nor finally fall away from their service. The old covenant servants are still breaking away from their service, for the spirit of old Adam, a spirit of apostacy, reigns in them, and "leads them to draw back to perdition." But new covenant servants are not of this kind. (Greek,) we are not of defection, but of faith, even "of them that believe to the saving of the soul," Heb.
The new covenant servants once entered home to their service, never change masters again, but will hold by their new master while they live. And the reason of the difference is, the former are bond servants, the latter filial servants. "Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth ever." Now remember he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Let
III. Show the necessary connection betwixt the covenant deliverance and covenant service.
1. None can serve the Lord in this right manner, till once in the