Chapter 4 – Applying The Covenant Of Grace
First by way of Reprehension.
First. This reproves those (and may serve to convince them of their horrid Blindness and Unbelief) that look on Sin as a trivial thing, a small matter; and so go on in a wicked and ungodly course of life, who add Drunkenness to Thirst; and yet say they shall have Peace: O Souls! do you not tremble to think of the evil of sin? When you hear nothing but the Blood of the Son of God can atone for it, nor satisfy God’s offended Justice and injured Law, do you think God will spare you? pardon you while you live in your sins, and make Provision for the flesh to fulfil the Lusts thereof, did he not spare his own Son, when he stood in our place, charged with our Iniquities? but let out his Wrath upon him, and will he spare you? that have your own sins and horrid guilt and pollution charged upon your own Souls? if you refuse the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Merits of his blood, and do not fly to him, cleave to him, embrace him, and the tender of God’s Grace in and by him, but do neglect so great Salvation, and the means of it, down to Hell you will be brought every Soul of you with vengeance. Nothing shews the evil of sin more than the bleeding Sides, bleeding Heart, and bleeding Hands, and bleeding Feet of the Son of God: and did he suffer thus to satisfy for our sins? for your sins? and shall any Soul alive think, if they slight him, believe not in him, he shall escape Divine Wrath; how can your hands be strong in any way of Wickedness, whilst you look up and see Jesus Christ hang languishing on the Cross, and crying out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
2. This reproves all those (and may tend to convince them of their Folly and Ignorance) whose hopes lies in something else, and not in this Covenant. Those whose hope lies in their sober and civil Lives, they conclude all is well with them, because they are not guilty of those immoral Impieties and greatest Wickedness which others are defiled with: Alas! what good will this do you? when one evil Thought is a breach of that Holy Law that lays you under Wrath and the fearful Curse thereof; will you trust to your honest moral Lives, and sober Conversations, and so slight and neglect the Grace of God offer’d by Jesus Christ in this Covenant: Why Sirs, do you think God sent his Son into the World? if by leading a moral and sober Life Men might be saved.
3. This reproves also those who mixt their own Inherent Holiness and Evangelical Obedience with Christ’s Righteousness, in point of Justification and Acceptation with God, who make Faith in the large Extent, i. e. Faith withal the Concomitants of it, a Condition of Justification, who distinguish between Christ doing for us, as a Redeemer in the Flesh by dying, and render that more extensive, than what he does by the Spirit; as if he was the Head of all Mankind in dying, and all, as so consisidered, have Union with him: but that many of those he died for, shall never be saved by his Life; because they do not answer the Condition of Faith and sincere Obedience; intimating, that Faith is not a Fruit of Christ’s Death, but is wrought out by the Creature through the help of the Spirit; tho’ we have Faith for Christ’s sake, for Christ’s Merits (in a remote sense) as we have fair weather, Pacific paper, p. 5. For had not Christ atoned an satisfied for sin, and the breach of the Law of Works, we could not have had any Blessings either temporal or spiritual: but if it were only thus, then the Covenant of Grace is not so well ordered and sure as we believe it is, but how do they understand that Text, Rom. 5.10. for if when we were Enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being now reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life. Were not all the Elect, or all Christ died for, virtually (as in our Head) reconciled to God by the Death of Christ? and doth not the Apostle assure us that we shall much more be saved by Christ’s Life, if he reconciled us to God by his Death? was not the Gift of Christ in his death for us a greater gift than the gift of the Spirit to us? Did not we all rise from the dead with Christ, virtually when he was raised? And doth not that give us Assurance that we shall be actually quickened and raised, First from a death in sin, respecting our souls; and also be all raised to Eternal Life and Glory, at the last day respecting our Bodies. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not freely give us all things, Rom. 8 32. may it not from these two Scriptures be confident∣ly asserted, that all Christ dyed for shall be saved, i. e. shall have Grace here and Glory hereafter? doth not the Apostle argue from the greater Gift of God’s Grace to the lesser Gift? and that he that gave the greater will not stick to give the lesser.
Were not all that Christ died for, chosen in him before the foundation of the World? that they should be holy, and without blame before him in love, Eph. 1.4, 5. and did not the Father promise him that he should see his Seed and doth not Christ say, all that the Father gave to him, shall come to him; that is, shall have Faith: and can any come that were not given to him? If Faith and Repentance be given to the Elect, who are saved? Can others come to Christ who have not the like Faith and Repentance given to them? doth not Faith flow from a Principle of divine Life? and can there be such a noble Effect without the cause from whence it proceeds? Can a dead Man quicken himself? or can he refuse to live that has life infused into him? Thy People shall be willing in the day of thy Power, Psal 100.3. in the Beauty of Holiness: Is Christ a true and proper Redeemer of all? and yet a multitude are left under sin and wrath, and never redeemed, nor many of them never hear of this Saviour or Redeemer at all.
4. This also reproves all such who render the Covenant of Grace in its nature like the Covenant of Works, i. e. if we perform the Condition we stand, if we perform it not we fall; it being made with us, and so our Covenant: God expects we discharge our Obligation therein, for ’tis evident, as we enter into Covenant with God, according to these men’s Notions at our Baptism, (or be it before, and Baptism be but a Sign or Token of it,) there is no surety here to engage for us (unless it be as it is among some of this sort, those they call God-fathers and God-mothers) O! what a dangerous state are we in? if this be so, i. e. if Christ be not to perform his Obligation for us, as our Surety to God, that we may not be lost nor miscarry; but that all depends upon our own performances on our holy Watchfulness and sincere Obedience, for if Man at first did not stand, when he had no sin, no corrupt nature, no body of sin and death, how should we stand and weather the Storm, now we are so corrupted, so depraved, and have a thousand Snares laid for us in every place, that have such a deceitful Heart, such a deceitful Devil, and a bewitching World to encounter it withal: if, as Doctor Goodwin hints, Man suffered shipwreck, when he stands so firm, so strong, and well-built Ship; and when he had so good a lot, as his Will was to him before he fell, and a calm Sea; who will be mad to venture to Sea now, on such a leaky and rotten Vessel? and be no better a Pilot, than his own base, depraved, and corrupt Will to steer this ship on such tempestuous and dangerous Seas. The truth is, the Covenant of Grace is not ordered in all things and, if what these men say be true; that a Man may be a Child of God today, and a Child of the Devil to morrow; and that justified Persons may so fall away, as to perish for ever.
5. This reproves all such, who when convinced of their sinful and lost condition by nature, then presently set upon a Work of Reformation, and on duties of Humiliation, and then begin to see (as they think) a great change is wrought in them, and on that rest, and Hope all is well. Like Herod who heard John and reformed many things, Mark 6.20. Alas Sirs! this building will fall to the ground; is this to take hold of the Covenant? Is this to get Union with Christ? is this Regeneration? is this to believe on the Lord Jesus, Act. 16.31. that you may be saved, our own Works be they what they will; like Chaff they shall be burned up. True, if you reform not your Lives (which the Terrors of the law, and Laws of the Land may force some of you to do, or Shame, and reproach, and Fear of Hell Torments) you shall certainly be damed: yet his you may do, and yet never be saved, ’tis so far from a bare Reformation of Life; that will stand you in stead, that a Saint’s Salvation, Hope and Desire lies not in a changed Heart, nor in inherent Grace, nor sincere Obedience, but in Christ, in his Righteousness, it lies in this Covenant, not in their Baptismal Covenant, not in being Church-Members, not in Praying, and hearing Sermons, and breaking of Bread, but in Christ, and in the Covenant of Grace; this is all my Salvation, and all my Desire, &c.
6. This reproves such likewise that remain under the Spirit of Bondage, and slavish Fear, after God hath graciously awakened them, convinced them of their Sins and lost Condition without Christ, and hath let out a Spirit of burning upon them, that has burned up all their former Hopes, Faith and Confidence, which they once had in the Flesh, and are broken into pieces in the sight and sense of the evil of Sin. Souls what aileth you? what’s the cause of your Disquietments and Sorrow? Is there no Help? No Relief for your Souls in this Covenant? Dare you not venture on Christ? Is there not all things that you want in Christ, and on this Covenant? May be you will say, O! your sins are great, what tho’ there is great pardoning Mercy in this Covenant, a great Saviour for you; are you sinners, wounded sinners, sin-sick sinners, lost and undone sinners? then I declare, nay, proclaim Peace to you in Christ; good News, O Soul! is brought this day to your Ears; here is a Christ for you, Pardon for you in this Covenant, I will forgive their Iniquities, their Sins I will remember no more. Will you make God a Liar? and not believe the Record he hath given of his Son? Joh. 5.10.
Secondly, By way of Exhortation, I must exhort you that lead ungodly Lives to tremble, you who are condemned, and refuse the Offers of God’s Grace by Christ, in this Covenant: What do you mean? will you value your base Lusts above God? above Christ, above the Salvation of your Souls; can you think God will give himself to you? or Christ espouse you, that live in, and love your sins, your dishonouring and Soul-damning Pride, Covetousness, Uncleanness, Drunkenness, &c. or any Deeds of Darkness, which God’s Soul loaths; be exhorted to adhere to the Truth of God’s Justice, the Veracity of his Word, the Denounciations of his Wrath, which is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of Men, Rom. 2.18. Shall Christ and all Covenant Mercies be offered to you? a Feast of fat Things provided for you, and will you make light of this Offer? and gracious tender of Salvation.
2. You heart-broken Sinners be exhorted to look up to Christ, behold him whom the Father hath chosen and laid help upon, one mighty to save, look to your Physician, he is come to ease your burthened Consciences, to heal your wounded Souls, to pour in his Oil and Wine, he will do it all freely, tho’ you have no Money, no Price or Money-worth; yet in this Covenant, here is Wine and Milk for you also, and your Souls shall live, and you shall be taken into his Covenant, and have Interest in the sure Mercies of David, Isa. 55.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
3. Let such be exhorted, to lay to heart and repent, who darken the Doctrine of God’s Free-grace, and eclipse the Glory of the Everlasting Covenant, that turn it into a Law of conditional Obedience, and mixt Works, done by the Creature with Christ’s Merits; have they not stumbled many an honest Christian already, and filled others with many Fears and Doubtings, whilst they set them to seek after-Justification by their own sincere Obedience and Gospel-Holiness, and join that (some way or another) with the Merits and Righteousness of Christ, and would have them not to count their own personal Holiness (as Paul did) even Dung, that they may be found in Christ not having their own Righteousness but the Righteousness of God which is by Faith, whether their Doctrine tends most to promote true Gospel-Holiness, and the Honour of God, or ours; will appear at the last day. I hope they may mean well, but may they not fear they mistake? in going about to remove the Ancient Land-mark: why should that glorious Doctrine of Justification, that shone forth in the days of Martin Luther, and has been the Ground of so many godly Christian’s Hope; nay, Martyrs, now be struck at? and by which means, new Animosities and Divisions are let in a∣mong God’s People, to the Reproach of his Holy Name, and Grief of Thousands of faithful Christians.
3. Consolation, This may be much improved in the last place, by way of Comfort and Consolation to Christians in every Condition, both in Life, and at the Hour of Death.
1. Is the Covenant of Grace made with Christ for us? and has he undertaken for our Souls as our Surety? is it ordered in all things and sure? Then poor doubting Soul, here is a Foundation of Comfort for thee; O! how doth the Love of the Father abound towards us? as to enter into a Covenant for us, with his own Son; here’s infinite Love, and Condescension: know, Christ equally engaged for all the Father gave him; Care is taken for the weakest Saint, as for the strongest; nay, Christ therefore carries his Lambs in his Arms, lays them in the Bosome of his Covenant. Souls, remember God calls it his Covenant, where is it called our Covenant? we may break with God, but he will not break with us; Altho’ my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an Everlasting Covenant.
This Covenant stands firm, this Foundation of God is sure, it was Established from all Eternity by an Eternal Act of God, that cannot be Repealed, Altered or Changed: God is thine, Christ is thine, if thou hast Union with him, all is thine; and the Oath of God, the Truth and Faithfulness of God is engaged for the making good all the Blessings that are contained in this Covenant; God is thine, and Christ is thine for ever. Thou art given to Christ, and Christ will not lose any one Soul the Father gave unto him; none can pluck thee out of his hands, Joh. 10.28.
2 Art thou afflicted for thy sins? Look into this Covenant, here is a Cordial for thee, His Seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his Throne as the days of Heaven, Ps. 89.29. If his Children forsake my Law, and walk not in my Judgments, v. 30. If they break my Statutes, and keep not my Commandments, v. 31. then will I visit their transgressions with the Rod, and their iniquities with stripes, v. 32. But my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail, v. 33. My Covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my mouth, v. 34. Is not here Relief for thee, if thou art afflicted? ’tis a sign thou art beloved; tis for thy profit, than thou mayest partake of his holiness, Heb. 12.10.
3. Art thou backsliden from God? see that in Hos. 14. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for mine anger is turned away from him, v. 4.
4. Art thou like a dry withered Tree? see his promise in this Covenant, I will be a dew to Israel, he shall grow as the Lilly, and cast forth his root as the Lebanon, they shall revive as the Corn, and grow as the Vine, v. 7. Tho’ I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me, saith David: this he saw was in God’s Covenant, Psal. 138.7.
5. Do thy sins appear grievous to thee? he has (as you heard promised in this Covenant) to be mercifull to their unrighteousness, their sins and iniquities will I remember no more, Heb. 8 12. Heb. 10.17.
6. But O the Power of them! Soul, mind his promise in this Covenant, sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law, but under grace, Rom. 6.14.
7. Art thou tempted? look into the Covenant, there hath no temptation taken you, but such that is common to man, and God is faithfull, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make way to escape, that ye way be able to bear it also, 1 Cor. 10.13. Christ having suffered, being tempted, is able to succour them that are tempted, Heb. 2.18.
8. Art poor? and afraid thou shalt want Bread? either for thy Body, or for thy Soul; see that in Psal. 111.5. He hath given meat to them that fear him, he is ever mindful of his Co∣venant, he will abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread, Psal. 132.15.
9. Art thou afraid thou shalt sometime or another depart from God, or fall away from him? mind his Covenant, I will put my fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from me, Jer. 32.40. Tho’ they fall, they shall not utterly be cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his right hand, Psal. 37.24.
10. Dost thou fear Satan will be too hard for thee? Look into this Covenant, God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, Rom. 16.20. O the Comfort this Covenant affords to us in every Condition, he will give Grace and Glory, and no good thing will be with-hold from them that walk uprightly. Christians. what remains for you to do, that you may have the Comfort that is in this Covenant, but to go to God by Christ your Mediator, he pleads his own Merits and Righteousness for us. I took flesh, O my Father, I suffered death according to thy good Pleasure; in their stead I gave my Soul a Ransome for them, I was made a Curse for them, wounded, to heal their Wounds, I bore their Sins, and carried their Sorrows; O condemn them not for their Iniquities which met in me: they are my Purchase, my Members, I have paid their Debts, and brought in everlasting Righteousness for them: he is heard all ways, O! pray in his Name, and all your wants shall be supplied.
2. let the Fruits of God’s Grace shine forth in your Lives: what shall we render to God for all his Covenant-Blessings? You are bought with a price, and are not your own, therefore glorify God in your Body, and in your Spirit, which is the Lord’s, 1 Cor. 1.19, 20.
Quest. But methinks I hear some poor sinner crying out, How may I come to be in this Covenant?
Answ. Soul, it is by thy being united to Christ, or by Union with him through the Spirit, ’tis by Faith: O close with Christ, cry to God for his Spirit, attend on the means of Grace, see if thou canst find in thy heart to love Christ, to espouse him, enter into an Holy Contract with him, to this end he sends his Ministers. O that thou didst but see the most of him! and behold the Beauty that is in him, he that has the Son, has Life, he is actually in this Covenant, but know this is the Work of Christ; ’tis he must make thy heart willing, and dissolve those Bonds thou hast ty’d with other Lovers. Thou art not first to enter into a Covenant with God, or offer thy Terms of Gospel-Faith and Holiness, so as on that Condition, to oblige God to enter into a Covenant with thee: no, Christ is first given, and then God gives us to him; nay, himself with him: Christ’s Love is first set on us, before we can love him, and when we were in our blood (not washed) that was the time of his Love, and then he entered into a Covenant with us, Ezek. 16. Reverend Mr. Cotton saith, The Lord is the first thing that he giveth by his Covenant, and with himself all things else, Rom 8.32. and there is the Precedency, Christ is given, and in him all spiritual Blessings, Eph. 1.3. and this for the Order of Nature in giving in the Covenant: not Obedience first, nor Faith first, nor any thing else first, but himself: Donum primum & primarium, and in him all his Goodness. p 14. on the Covenant.
Art thou weary? dost thou thirst? art a wretched sinner? then take Christ, go to him and drink. Thou art not O sinner! first to wash thy self from thy Wickedness, and get a clean heart, and then come to the Fountain of Christ’s Blood; but as a poor, vile, lost sinner to come unto him: believe in him that justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4.5. Also ’tis Christ who is thy Physician, ’tis he that has undertaken thy Cure, and must apply the Remedy, and none can do it but he, and tho’ thou hast no money, yet this Physician is to be had, and his Medicines too, and all freely, Isa. 55.1, 2.
But to close, Let us reflect a little on the Deceased, my Brethren, whose Corps is it we are to follow to the Grave this Evening: Sirs, ’tis the Corps of a godly Man; nay, a Minister, an ancient Minister: one who long and faithfully served Jesus Christ, under many Afflictions, great Trials and Sufferings: O how many of late have we lost? and how few raised up in their stead? the harvest is great, but the labourers are few, one drops here, and another there; some by Distempers of Body made unable to labour before death comes, (as it was with our honoured Brother deceased) while others are taken away in their full strength: have we not cause to fear what is coming on? See that in Isa. 57.1, 2. God calls home his Ambassadors, apace, what may we expect? O look for approaching Judgments, God hath given us divers ways warning, before Wrath breaks out upon us; the sins of the Nation are near fully ripe, and the sins of God’s people tend to fill up the measure.
But tho’ we must all die, as well our painful Ministers as the people, yet in this Covenant death is ours, 1 Cor. 3.22. ’tis a Blessing, it is Gain, the Sting is taken away by the Lord Jesus; so that we ought not to mourn for our godly Friends that die, (as such who have no hope) for the righteous (in this Covenant) have hope in their death: This God is our God, and he will be our Guide even unto death. Thus is the Covenant of Grace, all the Desire, Hope, and Consolation of Relievers, both in Life, and Death. Our honour’d Brother is fall’n asleep in the Lord, i. e. in Union with Christ; and as Death has put an end to all his Sorrows, so now his Spirit possesses all eternal Joy and Comfort: for tho’ (he as well as we) was at∣tended with weakness, and many Infirmities, yet he could say, God had made with me an everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and this is all my Salvation, and all my Desire, altho’ he makes it not to grow.
Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) was a Particular Baptist pastor and prolific writer. He was converted to Christ in his youth and in 1659 began to preach the gospel under the auspices of a free will Baptist church in Buckinghamshire. In 1664, he was arrested on charges of publishing a schismatical catechism for children. He was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment, fined twenty pounds and pilloried for several hours in Aylesbury and Winslow. In 1668, he moved to London and was appointed the Pastor at the Horsleydown congregation in Southwark. Having now come into contact with several Particular Baptist ministers, he began to nurture Calvinistic views of the gospel, becoming one of the leading Particular Baptist ministers in London. He served thirty-six years as the Pastor for the Horsleydown church, was one of the signers of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith and was the author of more than forty books.