Alexander J. (Alexander John) Philip.

The Glory of God considered in reference to man's fall and recovery online

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now to the ;fplf righteous chriftian. Do€S.his hope
glorify the L,9rd ? Let ,us again confider the foun-
dation ofit. , He hath been, and ftill is an open
prophanc perfon, but he is not fo bad as others;
therefore he expefts mercy -through Chrift ; on
what is this expeftation grounded ? Not on Chrift
-as a complete facrifice for fin, but on the confide-
ration of others being viler than him. Others
ijiiere are who conceive fuch an hope will not do,
they muft repent, be heartily forry for their ini-
quities, amend and reform their lives, God then
will accept them through a mediator : perhaps
fome may be found who are perfuaded that the
Lord is a fearcher of the heart, and trier of the
reins of the children of mei>, and therefore fuch
think they muft not only repent of their evil ani-
ons, but of their evil thoughts alfo, and are not
contented with amendment of life only, but are
»lfo laboring for rcftitude of heart : hence they


I 46 3

conclude God will have mercy on them for his-
Son's fake. But fuppofe we make the following
inquiry, to whom do the benefits of Chrift's re-
demption extend : 'thty reply to all ; to every
fon and daughter of Adam ; God forbid it fhould
be otherwife. Did not Chrift die for the world ?
Did hot he give himfelf for mankind ? But what
if we further queftion fuch perfons, do you be-
lieve that every individual fon and daughter of
Adam fball be faved, or do you believe thait any
for whom Chrift died fhall be lol¥ ?'- They anfwer,
iwe believe he died for mankind univerfally ; liot-
withftanding which, fays the prophane chriftian,
if I had been fo bad as fuch a one, alas ! I fhould
have no hope ; and unlefs I had repented and
amended my life fays the outwardly decent man,
how could I have expefted falvation ? Would not
my have been flatly againft the word of
truth ? 1 Cor. vi. 8, 9. But furely the Lord 'ft
merciful to thofe who repent, and do the beft they
arc able ! The third clafs is ready to fay, is it
not written, a good man out of the good treafure
of his heart bringeth forth good things. Matt. xii.
35. What availeth the facrifice where the heart is
non ? Is not the Lord a fpirit ? Surely unlefs I
had been truly forry not only for my praBical ini-
quities but my evil imaginations alfo, and had
amended in both, and become another man,
alas ! what would have become of me ! I know


E 47 3

not wjbat fuclijperfoiis can think of Paivrs decla-*
ration, Heb. x. 14. lor hy one offering he halh per-^
feBed /or ever them ihatarefanHiJied, (orfeparated:)
by this pafTijge it appears that they for whom the
Lord offered himfclf are perfefted: they muft ei -
ther fay they were not perfe8:ed, and fo deny the
itext, attributing the benefits of this offering to the
removal of original guilt and pollution only, or
call in queftion the fufficiency of the means by
which they were perfeded, and attribute to the
fubjeEs of this bleffmg a fhare therein, viz. on
accountof their repentance, amendment, &c. by
which the offering fpoken of became available. —
If fo common fenfe will draw the inference, viz.
that the caufe of falvation muft be their repent-
ance, amendment, &c. But if thefe things Tdc
not without fm, how can the infinite holinefs, and
juftice of God be glorified thereby ? Surely per-
fons of thefe charafters glorify not the Lord Jefus
Chrift by their hope, inafmuch as they conclude
fomething muft be added to what he hath done
and fuffered, to render his redemption complete ;
even the redemption of him who was no other than
the eternal God : rather what a refledion on his
wifdom, power, and goodnefs would it be to
imagine he fhould ftand in need of the holinefs
and righteoufnefs of angels to render his under-
taking available to tli^ end defigned by his infinite
i,vifdom, how much lefs of the fervices of thofe^


[ 48 J

he himfelf declares to be wholly flefii : viz. wholly
finful in all the powers of their. fouls, and confe-'
quently in all the adions of their lives before they
be vitally united to him I For what faith this Savior
of mankind ? John iii. 6. Thai -which is lorn of the
JleJJi, isjlijli. Having therefore (hewn and proved
what the hope is which every fallen fon and daugh-
ter of Adam poffefTes, let us enquire into its
fourcc. The apoftle Paul declares of himfelf, as
alfo of the believing Phillipians, that neither he
Ror they had any fuch hope, chap. iii. verfe 3.—
We are (fay* this apoftle) the Circumcifwn, which
■worjhip God in the /pint, and rejoice in Chrijl jefui,
and have no confidence in ihejkjh. The word flefli
in this paffage will be found upon inquiry to in-
tend all the privileges a natural man can enjoy ,^
either refpeciing a civil or religious chara6ler, as
alfo what he is capable of either internally or ex-
ternally, that is, refpe6liiig the operations of miiid,
will, and other faculties of the foul, as alfo the
fruit and effeft of fuch operations in the condu6l
and behavior. This confidence the apoflle dif~
claims, knowing that a corrupt fountain cannot
emit pure ftreams, nor a poifonous root produce
wholcfomc fruit. Had not this been bis perfua-
jion how could we have accounted for whax he
faith, EpheJ. ii. 5. Even when zue were dead infini
(even I Paul together with you believing Ephe-
fianf) haihhe (viz. God) quickened us together with

Chrifi :

C 49 ]

Chrifl : he adds, By grace ye are faved: and in' the
8th and gth verfes, By grace are ye faved, through
yaith, and that not of yourfelves ; it is the gift of God.
Not of works, left any manfJiould boafl. Compare this
with Rom. iv. 4., Now to him that workcth is the
reward not reckoned of grace, hut of debt. Doth it.
not appear from hence, the apoftle was perfuaded
that all confidence in a man's goodnefs, holinefs
and rectitude touching acceptance wixh God ; in
his ability and power to perform fpiritual a£ls of
duty and worfliip antecedent to faith in ^he gofpel
for a free reconciliation (though fuch a one rejed
wipt altogether the redemption of Chrifl) is a confi-
dence in a non-entity, in vanity, in a chimera of
a depraved imagination through fm and the fall ?
Why does the apoftle make ufe of this expreOTion
" in the flefli" ? Becaufe all confidence in a man's
felf fprings immediately from pride (a principal
member of the old man) Rom. vi. 6. There be-
ing no other fource whence it can arife j of which
truth if any one doubt let him compare the follow-
ing fcriptures together : John iii. 6. That which is
born of the pf I isflefJi; verfe the 18th, He ifmt be-
lieveih not is condemned already. John vi. 53. Except
ye eat the Jlefh of the Son of man, and drink his
Mood ye have no life in you. Rom. \i\. 18. Therefore
we conclude, that a man is jufjfed by faith without
the deeds of the iaw. Rom. iv. 5. But to him iliat
worketh mt^^ but believe th gn him that juflfelh the

G ungodly,

t 60 3

ungodly, hisfdiih is counted for righUsufhefs. Will
iiot fuch a one find th^t thefe verfes compared de-
clare every man by nature to be wholly flefh) in
a condemned ftate, and iii order to haVe fpiritu&l
life manifefted in them, they mufl believe with a
faith, which excludes works altogether ; andmuft
come as ungodly pcrfons in themfelves, (having
no Vv'orthinefs to recommend them) to the Lord,
whofe determination it is to juftify, not the righ*
teous, but ungodly ? Silchan a£l of faith we may
Fi^irm, is the firft efFe6l ot fpi ritual life, unlefs we
can fuppofe acts arifing from the new nature, pre-
vious to its being, which fuppofition is not onlf
moft aT:>furd, but will be found very difficult to
he reconciled with holy fcripture, even with
thci aforecited portion, JoAw vi. 53. as alfo with
Rom. xiv, 23. and many other parts of the facred
oracles. From all which it appears that the hope
now confidercd is a ficflily hope, that it is as much
fpe/:irically a fruit of the flefli, as the vices men-
tioned Gal. vi, 19, are ; bccaufc it is a prefump-
luous and vain expcftation, without any warrant
from the lip of truth. Did men in general, nay
did even the Lord's people more attentively re-
flett hereon, what perplexity and evil would be
avoided ! But furely the old nature will by na
means fuff'er it. It faith how can there poflibly
be any hope, where there is no perfonal confor-
mity to the law ? To expeft favor frcun God with-

qilt. ^ better heart and behaviour is 4 felf-deffep-
tion. Hath not God corarnanded a,U men every
%vhere to rep^nf ? 4^j^y;i. 3,0, and doth not this
imply, tlM if they io 49 and amend their lives
jhere isjjope ? Thus the fleih, where the con-
fcience is.awakened will be prompting the foul not to
turn to Gh rift alone, not to a reconciled God in
him only, laying itfelf at the feet of pure and
infinite fnefcy, will not influence it to come as a
a finn/er - Iq ^\ie complete righteoufnefs of Jcfus,
authorifed fo to dp, by the free promife of God to
tine chief of offenders, and on this foundation to
';feuild its hop^ for complete falvation, both from
J:he guilt ^and power of iniquity, (acknowledging
it hath not even a good thought to plead in its
own favorj but rather to qualify itfelf for God's
?nercy, and to feek even to God for grace to be
rendered worthy of a fhare in the merits of his
.'Son, or at leaft to be made meet for fo great a
privilege. From all which obfervations may it
not be inferred, that the end the divine Spirit
purfues through the law^on the confciences of his
people i§, to J1ie\r them ftep by ftep that they
■have no /olid ground for hope on die footing of a
•legal conformity, either in a greater or a lefs de-
gree, to convince and thoroughly to perfuade them,
that after all their repentance, amendment, and
ieeming caaverfjon of heart and life they {liil are
dinners, altogether fuch, polluted iu heart' and
:.. Ga pratiicg^

E 5^ 3

pr^Hice, and that they as yet never poffeHed the
leafl conformity to the righteous law of God, even
in their imaginary beft feafons ? If not, how fhall
we underftand the-apoftle in his reafonings on
this point ? Rom. iv. 13, 14. and following verfes;
— " For the promife, that he fliould be, the heir
of the world, was not to Abraham", or to his feed,
through the law, but through the righteoufnefs of
faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs,
faith is made void, and the promife made of none
eiTc6l : (he adds a reafon in the following verfe)
Becaufe the law worketh wrath ; for where no law
is, there is no tranfgreffion." Now obferve his
inference. " Therefore it is of faith that it might
be by grace, to tiie end the promife might be fure
to all the feed." How full and concliffive is this
argument ! How cogent ! Not only to prove that
our legal obedience in no rrife will entitle us to
everlafUng bleffednefs, but that it hath no (hare
in the procurement thereof; if it had, why is
grace and faith here oppofed to the law ? Why
doth the apoftle fay in the fifth ver'fe, But to
him that worketh nOt^ Why doth he afk that re-
markable qucltion, Gcd. ii. 17. But ifwhik roe feek
to bejujlijied by Chrijt, we ourjeltes alfo arc found ftri'
ners, is therefore Chrifl the minifler of fin ? God forbid.
Surely if fome legal righteoufnefs in us were ne-
cefTary, either before or after faith in Chrii^ ; if
this were rcquifite for juftification, for the fa vox


-C 63 3


of God, and to attain the bleffings promifed, let
any unprejudiced perfon confider, whether in the
apoftle's opinion hereby lignified it would not be
a judging Chrift's redemption incomplete, and
confequentty concluding fd divine a perfonage the
minifterof fin. That this is the argument'of this
great apoftle in thefe' words,, let the drift of thfc
whole epiftle be ferioufly weighed, and compared
with other parts of his writings, but more particu-
larly with that ftriking pafTage of his, Rom.xi. 5,
6. and it will fufficiently appear. *' For, fays
he, even fo then at this prefent time alfo there is a
remn^it according to the eleftion of grace. And
if of grace, then is it ho more of works: other-
wife grace is no more grace. But if it be of works,
then is it no more of grace : otherwife work is no
Biore work." What fliall we fay then, but . With
the apoftle in the aforecited paffage of his, 2 Cof,
iii. 9. that the law, though in the hand of the di-
vine Spirit, is not A miniftration of hope, but a
miniftration of condemnation, calculated for and
ufed to the purpofe only of flaying the power of
felf-righteoufnefs, as elfewhere exprefled by him,
viz. Rom. X. g. But when {he commandment emu, Jin
revived^ and I died, RefpeQiing hupian authority,
in reference to this point, who fo worthy as Martin
Luther, that great reformer of Europe from popery
to be confulted ? Let us hear what he fays. Fol.
i^2 of his Expofition Qf the Epiftle to the Gala-

tians.— •

t 84 1

tians^« Another ufe of the law is divine and

** fpiritual,- ^vhich is (as Paul fayeth) to increafe

*' tranfgreffions, that is to fay, to reveal unto

*' man his- fin, his blindnefs, his n)ifery, his im-

" piety, ignorance, hatred, and contempt of

" God, death, hell, the judgment and deferved

" wrath of God. Of this ufe the apoftle intreat-

** eth notably in the 7th to the Romans. This is

** altogether unknowa to hvpacritcs, to the po-

" pifli fophifters andfchool divines, and to all that

*' walk in the .opinion of the righteoufnefs of the

<' law, or their own righteoufnefs. But to the

/" end that God might bridle and beat dovn this

*^ monfter and this mad beaft (I mean the pre-

*' fumpdon of man's righteoufnefs and religion)

'*•' which naturally makedi men proud, and puffeth

*' them up in fuch foart^ that they think thera^

.*^ felves theieby to pleaie Gad highly : it behov-

-" ed him to fend feme Hercules which mioht fet

-*' upon this monfter with all fore® and courage to

*' overthrow him, and utterly to deftroy him ;

"*' that is to fay, he was co!n<ft rained to give a law

/'an moaoit Sinai, with fo great majcfty, and with

■'' fo terrible a fliew, that the whole multitude was

*' aftoniflied..,£W. xix. 20. This, as it is the

*•' proper and the principal ufe of the law, fo is it

*' very profitable and alfo niofl: neceflarv. For if

'' any be not a murderer, and adulterer, a thief,

" and ou'twarrlly refrain from fin,, as tlte T'-fiarifee


C 55 1

«' did which is mentioned in the gofpel, he woukj
" fwear (becaufe he is pofTefled with the devil)
•' that he is righteous, and therefore he conceiv*
*' ethan opinion of righteoufnefs, and prefumeth
*' of his good works and merits. Such a one God
" cannot otherwife mollifie and humble, thsit he
" may acknowledge his mifery and damnation, but
" by the law. For that is the hammer of death,
^* the thundring of hell, and lightning of God's
*« wrath that beateth to powder the obftinate and
"■ fenfelefs hypocrites. Wherefore this is the
'" proper and true ufe of the law, by lightning,
" by tempeft, and by the found of the trump (as
" in mount Sinai) to terrify, and by thundring to
*.' beat down and rend in pieces that beaft which is
" called the opinion of righteoufnefs. Therefore
*' faith God by Jeremy his prophet, my word is a
" hammer breaking rocks. For as long as the
" opinion of righteoufnefs abideth in man, folong
'■• there abideth alfo in him incomprehenfiblepride,
" prefumption, fecurity, hatred of God, contempt
'' of his grace and mercy, ignorance of the pro-
'' mifcs and ofChrifh The preaching of free re-
" million of fins through Chrifl; cannot enter into
" the heart of fuch a one, nether can he tafte or
'• favour thereof. For that mighty rock and ada-
'' mant wall, to wit, the opinion of righteoufnefs,
'' wherewith the heart is environed doth refill it."
As it remains no longer dubious, that the moral


C 56 ]

law in the hand of the divine Spirit is in no wife
ordained to effeft any true hope in the confciences
of his people before faith, but rather to condemn ;
let us therefore laftly confider what was before
propofed, viz.

The manner in which condemnation in the con-
fcience is efFe6led ; this is calculated to render fin
bitter, and to caufe the people of God, before they
are brought favingly to him, to ft and in awe of
fmning. Let it be premifed, that the Lord is not
confined to time. Many inftances there are,
•whereby the almighty fovereign manifefts the ex-
ceeding riches of his grace, both in the conviftion
and converfion of the ftout hearted, even in a
very fhort fpace of time ; perhaps under one dit-
courfe fuch perfons may clearly difcover their con-
tiemned ftate, their weaknefs and helplefnefs; be
favored with fo perfpicuous a difplay of the way of
falvation by Chrift Jefus, and fo influenced by a
divine energy, that noqueftion may bejuftly made
either by themfelves or others, but that they are
become the trophies of the Lord's fpecial grace. —
However as the prefent matter of inquiry refpa6is
thofe on whom he more gradually operates as a
fpirit of bondage ; "Vnay we not affirm that the
Lord thereby would teach the foul (who is the
fubjcft of fuch operations) the great evil of ini-
quity, if not in an efpecial and peculiar light re-
fpetling God, yet as relating to itfelf, and the


C 57 3

danger and bitter cfFeds of tranfgreffion, thereby
leading the mind to fear and ftand in awe of per-
iifting ftill in a courfe of rebellion. This certainly
may be the cafe of thofe who are not yet the fub-
jetts of faith, and who may not be juftly denomi-
nated the called of God. In order to profecute
this fubje6l, 'tis neceffary to obferve, that every
rational creature is either a8;uate4 by a fupreme
Jove to God, and a6ls in conformity to that prinr
ciple, or by a fupreme love to himfelf : that any
man void of faith in Ghrift, a ftranger to a faving
acquaintance with redemption through the media-
tor, in any degree hates iniquity, and loves
the commands of God from a fupreme love to
him, will be too difficult to prove, either from
experience or the word of truth. 'Tis true, many
of the heathen poets, philofophers and great men
amongft them, inculcated the love of virtue,
purely for its amiablenefs and beauty, alfo the ab-
horrence of vice, on account of its intrinfic tur-
pitude and vilenefs ; yet if any among them can
be found who praftifed the one and were not
guilty of the other, excited to fuch a condu6l from
the above motives without a fupreme regard to
felf intereft or felf prefervation ; may it not be
confidently affirmed notwitftanding, that a fupreme
iovc to the will of God they knew not, either in
theory or praftice ? If then every man hath con-
created with him a defire of felf prefervation and

H felf

E 58 ]

felf advantage, the mifery of man fallen and de-
generated is, that this principle hath ufurped the
throne of God in the foul, and will be obeyed by
all the faculties, and powers of the man in all
things, in preference to God. Hence we fee the
rife of all legal workings of the heart. Doth the
Lord the Spirit convince of notorious fcandalous
iniquities, of a flagrant and horrid conduQ;, and
condemn the man in his confcience on this account,
prefcnt to his view the threatnings of the Lord again 0:
him, and fliew the foul the danger it is in of ever-
lading mifery ? Self love at once begins to ftir
within it. True, fays the man, I muft be in dan-
ger indeed ! Such as I am I cannot have any hope
of pardon ! And what will it profit me in the end
if I perfevere in thofe ways ? Certain it is I mud
perifh everlaftingly ; would it not be better for
me to break off thefe ill courfes, repent, and be
a new man ? Certainly it would ; befides I fhall
then be delivered from that inward fenfe of divine
difpleafurc which I now feel, and can I doubt but
then the Lord will have mercy upon me ? What
is all this but the produ61; of felf love, an incli-
nation to reform throuah fear and dread ? Not
any regard to God's glory, concern how he hath
been difhonored, much lefs from any fupreme
love to him. Now the man fcts about the work,
not from any hope the divine fpirit effects within
him : no, but from an imaginary and delufivc


[ 59 1

perfuafion, excited, and ftirred up by felf love,
viz. that a reformation from grofs pra6lices will
fave him. For though this divine agent through
the law teftifies what the nian hath to fear, and
thereby renders his fins burdenfome, painful and
tormenting ; yet it is the man's ignorance and
pride which are the fp rings of his falfe confidence
in his reformation from the enormities he before
lived in. This hope is maintained according as
he perfeveres in his refolution of amendment ; but
if he relapfe, if he break out again into his for-
mer exceffes, then hath he frefh trouble in his^
foul ; the law comes upon him with renewed de-
nunciations, and until he can repent, amend,
and condu6t himfelf as a reformed perfon, he hath
no quiet, he is miferable, and wretched in every
thing he is engaged in ; hence he is led to hate
his iniquities, to look upon tranfgreffion as a great
evil, to fly from them, but ah ! not becaufe they
are injurious to the Lord's glory, contrary to his
nature, fubverfive of his authority ; but becaufe
of the affliftion he feels in his mind in confequence
of them, and inafmuch as he cannot think he fliall
efcape everlafting wrath, unlefs he can conquer
and fubdue them. Thus the man may go on for
fome time finning and repenting, until the Lord
the Spirit fliew him the neceffity of heart religiouj
by revealing to him the perfeftions and attributes
of God, that he is an holy, juft, jaid righteous

H 2 God,

C 6d ]

God, that he fearcheth the heart, arid trleth the

reins of the children of men, and that he will

bring every work into judgment, with every ffc-

cret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be

evil, Jer. xvii. lo. Ectltf. xii. 14. At this the

man is amazed, his hopes are all fled, yet, re-

fle6ling there is a Savior provided, he begins to

think that if he endeavors to watch not only his

ways but his thoughts arid purpofes he ftiall do

well. Who cannot fee that the coriviSLion is from

the Spirit of truth witneflingto his own law, to the

injunftions and threatnin'gs thereof, fhewing the

man his danger and the jeopardy he is in ? But

whence arife his fears ? From what quarter comes

his hope ? Not from the Lord, no ; but ftill front

the aforementioned principle, even felf-ldve ; he

is mightily concerned for felf, (which would be a

commendable difpofition, did it lead him to feek

fuch a refuge, which fhould prove not only fafe

for him, but honorable to the Lord) and knowing

no other way, than his own perfonal obedience,

ftill his expectation is from thence, and when he

finds that he is deficient, either in thought or deed,

much more when he pofitively tranfgreffes, either

ill the one or the other, his confcience is afrefli

wounded, his trouble again renewed, and his

hope and expeQations fail, and from hence arifcs

his hatred unto his iniquities, both internal and

;pxternal. All this he dolh not without any re-


t 6' 1

fpeft to Chrift, no ; but as fomething, if not" to'
render him worthy of, yet to make him meet fof
Chrift, and thinks there can or ought to be no
faith in a Savior, unlefs he arrive at thefe prere-
quifites. How far (liort of this, the expeftation*
of many are, let their eonfciences teftify. In this
way a man from a prophane, unjuft, and irreli-
gious perfon, may become not only a moral, de-^
cent and fober, but in the judgment of moft a truly
fincere and religious man, though ftill under th$
law, and may appear both to himfelf and others
to hate fin in heart and life, and yet do fo only
from a principle of felflove, and not at all out of
regard to the glory of God, ^nd from a true love
to oi- fear of him. But it may be demanded if a
^a riian, notwithftanding fin is rendered bitter unto
him and he ftands in fear of offending, flill remains
in the fame flate, is not irt the favor of and dotli
not love God, why fhould this work betcarriedon
upon him in this way ? Would it not have been
fetter had it been inflantaneous ? In reply, it
may be obferved, the Lord knows what is beft ;
he is a fovereign agent, and who fliall fay unto
him what doeft thou ? Though this be a fufhcieiU
anfwer, yet fome reafons may be advanced.

Firft, where convi6lions are gradual, the heart
i^ better acquainted with its iniquities.

The man who hath been firft convicted of his
praBical offenceSj .hath bi' his con;endings with


i: 62 5

his fins and corriiptions been brouglittoa, circum^

Online LibraryAlexander J. (Alexander John) PhilipThe Glory of God considered in reference to man's fall and recovery → online text (page 19 of 30)