Alexander J. (Alexander John) Philip.

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

. (page 9 of 30)
Online LibraryAlexander J. (Alexander John) PhilipThe Glory of God considered in reference to man's fall and recovery → online text (page 9 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

faith in Jefus Chrift, ere they can repent with
that repentance which is unto life ; and confe-
quently before they are fo convinced of fin as tru-
ly to hate it for God's fake ; that is, from a love
of his purity, authority, and glory: for wherein
does the cffence of mifery confift ? Does it not
conhft in his difpleafure, and to be under the
frowns of his juftice ? What felicity can the
whole creation afford, if God be an enemy ? Yea,
what fpiritual life can there be in any heart, if
God be our adverfary, if we be really in bondage
to his juftice ? And is not this our awful cafe be-
fore faith ? I fpeak not now in reference to God's
S 3 everlafting

( MO )

cverlafting purpofe of mercy towards his elect ;
neither in refpe£l to their virtual juftification in
Chrift before ; nor touching the evidence of
faith ; their feelings and frames after grace re-
ceived^; but in relation to the Lord, as the fu-
preme fovereign and governor of the intelligent
creation, the holy andjuft judge, who will render
to every man according to his deeds ; and to our
aftual ftate and circumftances in his light, confi-
dered in thefe charaQers. I would therefore
again fay, is it not declared that in his favor is
life ? How then can we enjoy fpiritual life without
it ? If not, what then becomes of faving convic-
tion and repentance through the law, ere God be
reconciled ? As then the mercy of God is glorified
by the effettual calling of finners from a ftate
both of condemnation, and fpiritual death ; con^
fequently the outward or gofpel call, the inftru-
ment of this bleffing, muft in its nature, whether
made edceLual or not, exalt this attribute. This

Fiiil, In its univcrfality.

Secondly, In its freedom.

If it were not univcrfal the perfons entitled to
fo great a privilege need to be pointed out by cer-
tain charafcleriftics peculiar to them ; diftinguifli-
irvg them as more deferving thereof than others. —


( Mi )

But if this were the cafe how would mercy appear
to be mercy ? It would rather wear the charac-
ter oF juilicc. Among, men the more miferable
the object, the more our compaffion is excited. —
And. who, do you think are completely miferable
in|God'slig]itif theybc notthofewho are dellitute
both of his favor and. image ? If dillinftion of de-
fert be difallowed, fliall we fay" they are pointed'
out by being greater pradical offenders than'
others ? To affirm this would found very harfli,
as it would be an encouragement to hn, that grace
might abound, Therefore we conclude that to
whomfoever the revelation of redemption is in an
external manner made known, to fuch it has a
voice. Nay mercy requires every fuch perfon to
believe in the Son of God, whether their affences
have been more or lefs in number, greater or lefs
aggravated ; feeing the belt are under the fen-
tence of everlafting puniHiment, and totally dead
in fm. But as it is the nature of fin to harden
and ftupify the mind, and mankind univerfally
before the law of God is revealed in their confci-
ences by his fpirit, think themielves quite well,
fee no need of mercy through Chrift as the fcrip-
t'lre Ihews it, or are extremely liable to miftake
the voice and nature of the evangelical call to
tkem. Legal conviftion is therefore previoufly
neceffary not to render deferving of or qualify
for mercy ; but to fliew the finner his awful Itate,


( M2 )

and how much he ftands in need thereof. Now
it appears that legal conviftion does not entitle
to the call of mercy, but her call may be, and is
to many, who neither know their mifery nor fee
their danger. If not many fuch who attend the
gofpel could not be chargeable with the fin of re-
jeding Chrift, neither favingly to believe would
be their duty. The fpirit of the Lord through
the law begets legal conviction in the confcience ;
hence our legal faith. Falfe views of mercy mix-
ed herewith beget a legal repentance ; and a legal
repentance produces a legal obedience. This
more or lefs precedes true faith in Chrift ; yet
before an evangelical faith takes place in the
heart no proof is procured that the ftate of a per-
fon fo circumftanced is better ; for ftill mercy be-
holds fuch a one upon the like footing with others.
Nay perhaps by finning againft greater light, per-
fons of this ftamp may have incurred more guilt
than many at eafe : for fuch are greater enemies
to the truth than the openly profane. 'Tis true
they are in queft of falvation, yet if mercy do
not fpeak to the heart as well as to the c^r ; they
only fall at laft intoTophet with greater folemnity.
Suppofe a man utterly void of faving faith were
convinced of the glory of the divine fovercignty
and dominion, the omniprefcnce, holinefs, jul-
tice, trutli, and power of God ; the extenfivenefs,
Ipirituality, and ftridnefs of his law; the binding


( H3 }

nafure, efRcacy, and dreadfulnefs of its curfes ; the

multitude and heinoufnefs of his fins, bothoioiiiiffion
and commiflion j do we think that thefe convidions
will produce that love which the law requires ? If not
the heart hath no good in it, becaufe it is void of
love. *' Would any man, faith Charnock vol. i,
*' page 5, feek God merely becaufe he is, or love
" him becaufe he is, if he did not know that he
!' fliould be acceptable unto him ?" Certainly
apoftate angels are convinced of the truth of God's
excellencies, but doth this produce a love of him ?
Truth and good muft unite to beget love in our
hearts ; otherwife the whole gofpel fyftem mufl
fall to the ground. When the divine pcrfeftions
appear not only true and excellent, but alfo
friendly ; then we begin to love and not before,
and confequently there is no good in any heart be-
fore fome degree of true faith in the fatisfa6lion of
Chrift, wherein alone they can appear friendly,
hath taken place. This truth is evident from the
following paflagcs of holy fcripture. viz. 2 Cor. iv,
3. But if our gofpel be hid^ it is hid to thevi that are
lojl. And again chap. iii. 18. Bui we all with open
face beholding as in a glafs the glory of the Lord, arc-
changed into the fame image frora glory to glory even as
by thefpirit of the Lord. Alfo chap. iv. 6. For God
who commanded the light ioJJiine out of darknejs, hath
Jhined in our hearts, to give the light of the knozvledge
of the glory of Ggd i^ the face of Jefm Chrifl^ Thefe


( 144 )

things being premifed, we again affeft the gotpel
call to be^i'nivxsrfal ; for it haCh no limitation in
the fcriptutes. Even ainong the Jews no ftranger
was prohibited from an union with them, and an
enjoyment of fuch privileges as were ncccffary to
falvation; • But under the prefent difpenfation
the Lord Commands all men every where to re-
pent, A^s xvii. 30. (or change their minds ; be
wife again, as the original word fignifies,) and
what is this but to embrace the Son of God by
faith ? JohnxK. 31. Thefe things (faith the beloved
apoflle) are wriiien, that ye might believe that Jefus is
the Chrifi, the Son of God, and that believing ye might
have life through his name. And Paul fays, 1 Titn.
i. 15. This is a faithful faying, and worthy of oil ac-
ceptation, thut Jefus Chrift came into the world to fave
finners, of whom I am chief Legal conviHion is
neither a title to, nor meetnefs for mercy ; but
only neceffary to fliew the finner his need of it. —
Now though hardened finners be deaf to the call
of mercy, yet it ceafes not to call fuch, who either
hear or read the gofpel ; and therein the infinite
mercy of God is glorified : yet it hath no call bu&
through the redemption of Jefus Chrift. Again,
'That the gofpel call is unlimited is obvious front
the ffofoel fcaft recorded : Luh xiv. 21. 23. for-
not all that were invited complied with the invita-
tion ; forwete notthefcribes and pharifees, Jews,
and Gentile profclytes invited ? Certainly they


( 145 )

were. Bet did they aU come that were bidden 1-
Surely not. , Where would be the fin of unbelief,
or flighted mercy, if mercy had no call but to
them who obeyed her ? For to fay a man is for-
bidden to embrace the falvation fet forth in the
gofpel for want of legai conviction is really dan-
gerous, and widely differs from alTerting that fuch
who are wholly deftitute of fuch convittion will
not embrace it. Wherefore the univerfaliiy of
the gofpel call muff be maintained in order to

Secondly, Its freedom. The very epithet
given the call of the gofpel, Titus ii. 1 1 . is ex-
preffive of its freedom. Doth not the Greek
word there ufed exclude all merit and fignify a
free gift ? Is not this word viz, xi^g*" applied both
to the grace of the gofpel and the gofpel of God'i;
grace ? ABs xiv. 13. Is it not a call to thofe who
have, no money, no worthinefs, no meetnefs ?
But if it be not univerfal it cannot be free ; for
why ftiould any be excluded if not for want of
money ? Hov/ doth fuch an exclufion comport
^yith Jfai. I v. 1,2. compared with Rev. xxii. 17 ?
Surely the freedom and univerfality of this divine
call mufl ftand or fall together; and if divefted
of thefe charaders the perfons whom it calls muft
be poffeifed of fome kind of defert or qualification,
but how that can be to the honor of mercy is hard
to fay. If God's electing grace be not revealed,

T neitbe?

( 146 )

neither to, nor in its obje6is before the gofpel
meffage be embraced, if God's people in their
natural eftatc be not of one particular charafter,
but as varioufly circumftaneed and as differently
inclined as the non-ekft, if the law of God difap-
prove of them previous to their effetlual calling
as much as it doth of others, if confcience pro-
perly enlightened by the law no more fliun to re-
prove them than it doth the reprobate, and if no
man dare to fay he is reprobated who hath not
committed the unpardonable fin, by what means
may a man know the gofpel is, or is not, to him,
if it be not free and univerfal ? If you allow it
calls upon any, thefe particulars granted, will
^flablifh as a truth, the freedom and univerfality
of its call ; and that in' the ftrifteft harmony with
the grace of effeftual galling, whereby mercy will
be exalted both in the melTage and grace of the
gofpel. This call then is general ; for they on
whom it calls are rational beings ; for were it con-
ditional or particular, it would be to the laft de-
gree abfurd to imagine that any would receive it,
until the conditions were pointed out, and they
were furc they were the fubjcfts of them. But if
it be unconditional and free, if to the vilcft of the
vile, nay to all who hear it with the outward ear,
mercy then is thereby honored indeed, and the
man who obeys the call atls in fo doing a part
moll rational and juftifiablc ; of which vlB. being


( M7 )

"Utterly incapable but by the fpecial grace of God,
the divine fovereignty is alfo maintained and dis-
played in the triumph and conqueft of mercy,
which now not only calls but calls eflre8;uallv.—
What makes the work of believing fo difficult to
the awakened mind, is a perfuafion that Chrift did
not pay down the price of redemption for all,
biit for a few ; and yet we are called to look to
fiim as our fin offering, without any evidence
fhat we are of the number of that few. — Here
our reafon is at once in the greateft perplex-
ity ; and is apt to fay, it is foolifhnefs, for I
may believe that which never was. But is it con-
trary to reafon in obedience to God's call, to be-
lieve in his Son ? If not whence the objeftion ?
The cafe then muft be, God will now be honored
in our falvation by faith in his mercy and truth,
juft in the fame way as in our firft head, we dif-
honored him in iTis truth and holinefs ; for where
would be the excellency of our faith, if God were
firft to tell us we were ele6led ? Certainly then,
they who thus honor him cannot be deceived be-
caufe their faith is not only an obedience to, but
is alfo of the operation Cof God wrought in the
hearts only of his eleft people : this appears from
Epkef, ii. 8, g. For by grace are ye faved, through
Jaith, and that not of yourfelves, it is the gift of God ;
not of works lejl any man Jhovid hoajl. It is added,
•verfe the loth, For we are his workman/hip, c^reated

T 2 in

( .48 )

in Chri/i Jtfm wiiogood Works, which Goi hath before
4>rdained, that we JJiould walk in ihem» The difficulty
then of believing is not in coming up, but rathev
in coining down to God's method of grace, \v hicl?
is to receive falvation freelj^ and as itogpdly in
.ourfelves. This the pride of Qur nature cannot
bear, nor our reafon admit • hence that a.ptitud<?
even in many, who profefs the dotlrine of parti-
cular redemption, to lay fomc evidence of grace
before faith, for a foundation to it. What is thi^
but a feeking to know our eleftion in order to
believe ? And where is the difhculty of belieying
if that be known ? But admitting this to be juA,
what would be the confequence ? Suppofwig this
evidence to be faving conviftion, as 'tis called. —
Would not this lead us to prove it by repentance,
and then to prove the truth of our repentance by
our good works an(l tolay claim to Chrift in con-
fequence thereof ? By this pra6lice are we not in
danger of miftaking the very nature of faith ? For
certainly this would be laying the law and works
for a foundation of Chrift and grace, Conviclion
then purely legal can be no evidence of falvation,
yet there may be much legal conviftion in that heart
which is purified by faith. Now the former is not
that evidence but the latter, which will ever dif-.
cover itfelf by an aiming to trail in Chrill alone,
in obedience to the call of mercy through the call
of the gofpel. Some may fay, is not legal con-


( H9 >

vjtlioa ihen.Of i|i)e ? I repiy, that it is fo, bas heen
already obfetv^d ; however in what point of view it is
to :b'e regarded fee Er/hincs's Sermons-, voi.ihp*
540, wiiCK^hicintiioducespneobjctting ':'; I want
** a law (^^^J;4c< I am.n^^t ^f^ry and:]a;^a¥y,laden,
■• and tberefor,e ana fl(^;fk:tpi take! hpidpf God's
j^' ^lovenam.' . Anfwer, Jf yiOjU tlp^i^krfp.ijiake a law
;' work and b-umiliationt a pricg in ypvir hfand, to
•• recommend you to Chmli, arid fit jy,ou, for 'him^
•' I tell yx>Ai. j:h^t inftead pf fitting lyourfelf for
'• ChtriftryQAi-^jace l)Vii;lding. up a wall ..between
•• Chriit apd' ^ou, thatyou fhall nev^iTjgei over.
'.« If yQU.'fee an abfoluteaeed of-Chrift and that
'' y'our a;:€ u^4one without him, do.nptftand to
" feek more law worli ; -for that morpenjt you clofe
*•' with virtuf;£xf<thei covenant of grace,
•' the , law ha^, gotten i.t&;end, Chrift. bejing the
'? end Qf tbe law to every one that belieV^eth. It
V is th^.vi'eafy and h^avy laden are called, but
*' .that is not tQ exclude' lOthers, who cannot find
*'that difpofition in themfelves ; and they are
'V' mentioned in particular in the call, becaufe they
" are moft ready to exclude themfelves from hav-
*' any concern in Chrift or his covenajit." Hence
it is plain that the gofpel call being univerfal and
free, divine mercy is thereby exalted; as no
worth, nor meetnefs, in the creature is firft ex-
pected ; but infinite mercy purfuing infinite mi*
lery with its folicitations, fliews iifelf in its


f 150 )

true and genuine charafter, and obviates every
objedion that any felf-eonvifted or felf-condemned
finner can make : nay it anfwers all the objec-
tions which may be made from a fuppofition of a
"want of conviftion, and proves to him that his ef-
tale "would not be in the leaft degree better, were
he as perfeBly convinced as thofe in Tophet ; and
with relation to thofe who neither hear, under-
ftand, nor obey its call,' inafmuch as they are
called, it cannot be faid that its overtures are in-
confiftent with its character becaufe none are ex-
cepted : the nature then of its call is to be confi-
dered. It is to itfelf in harmony with all- the re-
vealed perfeftions of deity. Wherefore it is a
call to Chrift the way, to' faith in him ; for mercy
bath no call but through that divine channel
wherein the truth, juftice, and holinefs of God
are glorified ; for as by Chrift thefe divifle attri-
butes are fully and perfe6lly glorified ; fo the imi-
verfality and freedom of the gofpel call declares it
foto be, and magnifies the mercy of God in har-
mony therewith ; yea Chrift thereby is exalted,
and the wifdom and power of Jehovah difplayed,
vho could reconcile parties fo oppofite, as thefe
divine attributes and finful man. Therefore
above all things miftake not the voice of mercy,
for even the molt hardened finner is not without
fome thoughts of mercy, but what are they ? Cer-
.tamlv vain notions thereof. Some of this cha-


( >5i )

rafter think God will fhew mercy without a media-
tor. Others that their good intentions (hall give
them a title to heaven, and that mercy through
Chrifl will pardon a life of wilful iniquities. A
third fort think that meer external worfhip in con-
jundion with the merits of Chrift will fave them.
A fourth that mercy's call is a call to legal repen-
tance only ; by which they think to enter heaven,
fuppofing Chrift's facrifice will perfeft what is
lacking. A fifth that legal repentance is conver-
fion ; by which they are entitled to Chrift, and all
the bleffings of the new covenant. Now can we
think that thefe do rightly underftand the voice of
mercy ? For certainly when it calls, not only the
finner's mifery, but its own glory in harmony with
the glory of all the divine, but injured, perfe6lions
of deity is primarily and principally regarded ; nay
it would have the fovereignty of God exalted,
therefore though its call be univerfal, it is not to
the mediator, as having really obeyed and died
for every individual of Adam's pofterity, but to
him as an official Savior for every guilty finner
to approach unto and believe in. Its call then
is not a revelation of God's will of purpofe but
precept ; and a declaration of every man's 4^ty,
that hears the gofpel, or to whom Providence fends
it. Let none therefore be difcouraged, though
they have but the bible in their hands ; much lefs
thofe who attend the preaching of the gofpel in it^


( ^52 )

truth afid purity. To tfee .former I wcxuld fay,
art thou concerned for the fahation of.thy foul ?
And has Providence excluded thee from hearing
the word preached in itspurity ? Be then concern-
ed to read the oradeis of truth with attention and
prayer. Labor to be -convinced what a finner
thou art both by nature and practice, and -wliat
fin deferves. Be folJcitous to be perfuuded that
thou neitheV haft, nor canlt have any ground of
hope from any righteoufnefs of thine own; then
think whether the Lord has not provided a way
wher-ein he may be graeious. Read his word for
the difcoverytJiereof M'ith fervent p-rayer to hiftr
lo teach thee; and if thoufliouldeft be fo favored
as to perceive tiieway Godhas revealed in his word,
even the atonement and righteoufnefs of his fon,
labor to fee that thou art called upon to embrace
it. Perhaps brought thus far thou mayeft be un-
der the moft fenhble feelings of thine own inabi-
lity. If thou haft right views of Chrift the ene-
mies of thy foul will certainly oppofe thee. Thy
complaint will be that thou art not abls to come
unto him, thou canft not believe. Now know for
thine encouragement, that there is no objeclion
that thou canft make againft thyfelf.but mercy

. hath an anfwerfor. If thou fay thou. art not fuf-
ficiently cojfvinced ? It will reply doft thou fee
thy need of Jcfus ? If the objeftion bei thou art

i too vile, it will anfwer, that mercy is for the


( >53 )

vileft. If thou complain.. diou canft not come,
nay thou canlt not defire to come, her advice will
be, to groan unto that God. who heard the groan-
ings of his people of old, and came down to de-
liver them. £xod. ii. 114.:' But to the latter; take
heed that thou reft not in the word heard. Ponder
thine own fmfulnefs and mifery ; view thyfelf in
the glafs of God's law and juftice ; and confider
that if one fin deferve ev^rlafting 'punifliment,
what thy defert muft be. Labor to be convinced
that thou art fpiritually dead by nature ; and if
thou never didft believe notwithftanding fuch rich
privileges, Oh reft not till thou canft fay wnth ap-
propriation, verily in the Lord have 1 righte-
oufnefs and ftrength, and to that end confider
both the medium and inftrument of mercy, even
the gofpel that calls upon thee.


^ i54 )


Mercy displayed in the divine
Efficiency of the Holy Spirit.

^Cor.u. 4, 5. And my fpeeck and my preaching was

not with ' enticing words of man's wijdom : hut in

dewionjlyaiion of the fpirit and of power ; that your

faith Jhould not f and in the wifdom ofmen, hut in the

power of God,

WHEN we compare this pafTage of holy writ,
with Rom.'w. 5. and Tit. m. 5. we imme-
diately own the Lord the Holy Ghoft to be the divine
efficient of his people's faith; and that the very
nature thereof beingholy, fanfti-ficationmuftbe ne-
ceflTarily the immediate fruit and effeft of their jufti-
iication. The gbjefts of this grace you will fee de-
fcribcd in our ninth chapter on reference thereto ;
wherein we have endeavored to prove that all mcri
by nature are alike miferable, equally under the-
curfe and condemnation of God's moft righteous
law, dead in fin, and utterly deftitute of the leaft
fpiritual motion. That they are juftified as fuch,
Paul pofitively declares, Rom. iv. 5. Tohim (fays he)
that worketh not, hut helieveth on him that juflifeth the
tingodly, hisfaith is counted for righieoufnefs. Thai
is, immediately previous to juilifying grace they


( 155 )

were in that ftate, but when juftified, fanBification
manifefted by true repentance, inftantaneoufly fol-
lowed. Therefore when God's elcft people are
apprehended of God, they apprehend him. and
apprehending him by faith, love him. Though
mercy be fo difplayed in the call of the gofpel as
to leave finners inexcufable, yet when difplayed
both in word and power, it appears both infinite
and fovereign mercy. The one is a call to the
miferable, the other is a rendering that call effec-
tual. The former is in word only, but the latter
in power, i Thef. i. 5. Hence our Lord faith,
John vi. 45. Every man that hath heard and learned
of the Father comeih unto me. And again verfe 37.
All that the Father giveth me.Jhall come unto me ; and
him that cometh unto me, I will in no loife cajl out. —
Mercy by the gofpel call hath left no room for fin-
ners reafonably to obje6l ; but though they may
objetl, yet when mercy fpeaks to rhe heart, all
their unrcafonable objections are filenced. There-
fore the Lord in his work upon their hearts, deals
with them as rational creatures. Thev arc not faved
without their reafon and in oppofition to their wills,
but their underilandings before dark and blind,
being now enlightened, nothing appears to them
more rational than the gofpel meffage ; and their
wills before ftubborn and perverfe, being fweedy
brouglit into fubjetlion thereto, they embrace the
fame with delight as moft falutary for them, as
U 2 well

{ ^56 >

well as honora])le to God ; fo that it comes to pafs
that they are not converted againfi their wills,
but that their very underftandings and wills are
converted. If then the fpirit of Cod only teache?-
fo as to beget true faidi. the knowledge fo learnt,
muft be of a different nature than what can be
, procured by human teaching, though the things
taught be the fame. Hence it follows that divine
mercy attains the end both of Chrift's fatisfa6Lion
and the revelation of God's love to fmners through
the gofpel ; for were not the gofpel to be attend-
ed at all with the power of the fpirit, not one of
the fallen race of Adam would embrace it, and
confequently none would be faved. The rational
mind may perceive, the literal meaning of the
gofpel truths, but it is only fupernatural illumina-
tion can produce a cordial confidence^ bringing
forth fuch fruits as true faith is defcribed to yield.
Men are apt to look on the gofpel as a fimple nar-
rative or relation ; in this view it inay produce an
affent, but nothing more : yet when it is viewed
not only as a narrative, but in the nature alfo of
an unconditional, free, and unmerited promife,
held forth for every ungodly finner, yea for him
who wprketh not, to embrace ; the man who is beaten
out of all legal hopes and thus views it, is I am
apt to think certainly taught by the Ipirit ; and
doth indeed with the heart believe. . Chrift in the

Online LibraryAlexander J. (Alexander John) PhilipThe Glory of God considered in reference to man's fall and recovery → online text (page 9 of 30)