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means, and brings about his work by that which nothing is expected of, 2 Kings v. 11, 12.
(7.) Lastly, Sometimes providence works by contraries, as the blind man was cured with laying clay on his eyes.
Learn to live by faith, and be frequent in meditation and self-examination, and be much in prayer.
Thus I have laid before you the duty of observing providences. May the Lord pity them that make no conscience of practising what they hear, and get nothing of all but a testimony against themselves. And may he give us all understanding in all things.
GEN. ii. 16, 17.—And the Lord God commanded the man,
saying, Qsevery tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die.
* AVING already shown, that God from all eternity decreed whatever comes to pass; that he executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence; that he made all things of nothing by the word of his power; that he made man upright, adorned with his moral image, consisting in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; and that his providence, extends to all his creatures, and all their actions: that which now falls to be considered is the special act of providence which God exercised towards man, in the estate wherein he was created, namely, the covenant of works which God made with Adam. This covenant is sometimes called the covenant of works, because works, or obedience, was the condition of it; and sometimes the covenant of life, because hife was promised therein as the reward of obedience. In discoursing from this subject, I shall, I. Shew that God made a covenant with Adam, when he created him in a state of innocency. II. Explain the nature of this covenant. III. Shew why God entered into this covenant with man. • IV. Make improvement. * I. That God made a covenant with Adam when he had created him in a state of innocency, appears from this text with the context. For here are the parties contracting, God and man. 1. Here is the duty which God requires of man, not easing of the forbidden fruit; which was no command of the natural law, but superadded thereto, and implied his obligation to observe that law much more. 2. A threatening in case man should break this positive law, Thou shall die, 3. A promise of life in case of continued obedience. For the threatening manifestly implies another proposition, viz. * If thou eat not of this tree thou shalt live.” Besides, the licence the Lord gives him to eat of every other tree in the garden, and so of the tree of life, imports this promise. 4. Man's accepting of the terms. This is left to be gathered from the proposal of it by the Lord to innocent man, who would refuse no terms that a bountiful God proposed. He objected not against the condition; he betook himself to the privilege of the covenant, eating of the other trees of the garden. Eve owns it, Gen. iii. § * Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’ And when they had eaten of this forbidden fruit, their consciences terrified them, ver. 8. ‘Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” No wonder that Moses with a running pen describes this transaction, which, as to its being the way of salvation then proposed, passed as a flying shadow. Thus this covenant appears from the text. To confirm this, consider that the scripture speaks of two covenants, Gal. iv. 24, the one of grace, and therefore the other of works. See also Hos. vi. 7. “They like men have transgressed the covenant. The Hebrew bears, as Adam. It is the same word that occurs, Job xxxi. 33. ‘If I have covered my transgressions as Adam.” This will further appear while we shew, II. The nature of this covenant. Wherein consider, First, The parties covenanting. On the one hand was God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, man Creator and Sovereign Lord, who is the great Lawgiver, and withal good, and communicative of his goodness to his creatures. On the other part was man, God's creature; Adam, representing all mankind, and covenanting with God, not only for himself, but for all his posterity, as the natural father of all, of whose one blood nations of men were to be made, Acts xvii. 26. and the appointed federal head: which is clear from the imputation of his sin to all, Gen. ii. 17. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.’ Compare Rom. v. 12. “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” There was no mediator in this covenant; nor was there need of any : for man was as yet the holy friend of God, and his service while he stood was accCeptable to God, as being fully conformable to his own law, in which he could not but delight, as in his own image. Secondly, The condition of that covenant was perfect obedience, which God required of Adam, Gal. iii. 10, 12, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.—And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doth them shall live in them.” The tenor of this covenant was, “Do this and live.” Where three things are to be considered. 1. The law, which was to be the rule of that obedience; which is twofold. (1.) The moral law, or the law of the ten commandments, as the apostle explains it, Gal. iii. 10. forecited. It is true, Adam had not this law written on tables of stone, but it was written in his heart; the knowledge of it was concreated with him, so that he naturally knew it, being made upright; which he could not be without this, Eccl. vii. 29. Yea, this law is in part written on man's heart after the fall, as appears from Rom. ii. 15. Much more was it written on Adam’s heart before the fall. This law is the perpetual rule of righteousness. (2.) There was the positive symbolical law, of not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This law was revealed to Adam in the text, neither could he otherwise have known it; it being no part of the law of nature, but a thing in itself altogether indifferent, and depending merely on the will of God, who could have appointed otherwise. Only, as the natural or moral law obliged him to this, seeing it commands the creature to obey God's will in all things; so by this his respect to the moral law was manifested: for as in not eating he testified his supreme love and obedience to God, so in eating of it he rejected the sweet yoke of God, and took on that of the devil. 2. The nature of the obedience that was the condition of this covenant. It behoved to be perfect. (1.) In respect of the principle of it. So the law requires men to “love the Lord with all the heart.” It required not only external obedience, refraining from the thing forbid. den; but internal obedience, which behoved to proceed from a disposition of soul bent towards God, in which there was no blemish, and altogether free and unconstrained with. out any reluctancy from within. And this implies, that the glory of God behoved to be man's chief end in all his actions, without having the least squint look to any other as his chief end. (2.) Perfect in parts extending to all the commands of God whatsoever that were given him, Gal. iii. 10, with respect to his thoughts, words, and actions. He was to do nothing that God prohibited, and to omit nothing that he commanded. He was to fulfil all righteousness, and his obedience was to be as broad as the law. Every command. ment, without the least exception as to one title, was to be obeyed to the fullest extent. (8.) Perfect in degrees. He was to “love the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind,” Matt. xxii. 37. Every act of obedience behoved to be perfect in degrees, wanting nothing of that perfection which the law required. Every action performed by him behoved to be screwed up to the pitch determined in the law, without falling short of it in the least punctilio. that was lower than that height required, was to be rejected as sinful; and the least flaw spoiled the whole. (4.) Perfect in duration or continuance, without interruption, while God should have kept him in the state of trial, Gal. iii. 10. This state could not have been for ever, without rendering the promise of life fruitless; for to make a promise necessarily implies that a time is set for obtaining the reward promised to the obedience; and if Adam was to continue in a perpetual state of trial, he could never have ob. tained the reward of his obedience. The time of this probation is not mentioned in the Bible. Probably it was not to be very long. And perhaps the devil, knowing the benignity and goodness of the Creator to his upright creature man, that he would not keep him long in a state liable to mutability, was incited to attack him so very early as on the day of his creation, in order to prevent his confirmation in an upright estate. . This and no less was the condition of that covenant. On no other terms could he attain to eternal happiness by it, or be justified in respect of his state before the Lord, though he might in respect of particular actions. . Hence it appears, that sincere obedience could not have been accepted, if it was not altogether perfect; nothing could be accepted, but an obedience altogether without fault or blemish; and that there was no place for repentance under this covenant; no sorrow for transgressing in the least instance could be admitted : for the threatening was peremptory, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Such a positive denunciation cut off all hope, and rendered repentance of no avail. 3. Adam's power to perform the obedience required. He was able to answer all the demands of that covenant, being made upright, Eccl. vii. 29. and in the image of God. There was light in his understanding, sanctity in his will, and rectitude in his affections; there was such an harmony among all his faculties, that his members yielded to his affections, his affections to his will, his will obeyed his reason, and his reason was subject to the law of God. Had he not then sufficient knowledge of his duty 2 and was he not invested with full power to perform the obedience required of him Besides, it was not consistent with the justice and goodness of God to have required that of his creature, which he had not given him power to perform. The case is quite otherwise with respect to us in our lapsed state, for we have lost the power of yielding obedience to God's law in Adam. But let it be remembered, that though we are utterly unable to obey, yet God has not lost his right to demand obedience; which should induce us to betake ourselves to the second covenant, where every thing is freely given, and the will accepted for the deed. Thirdly, The promise of the covenant was life, and therefore it is called the covenant of life. Now, a threefold life . was promised. . - : 1. Natural life, consisting in the union of the soul with the body, which should have been continued without death, if VoI. I. - K k
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