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PART II. – How to Attain a Saving Interest in Christ


Having, in the former part of this Treatise, put every man's state to the trial, it now remains that, in this following part, we give advice to those who neither can nor dare lay claim to the marks formerly mentioned.

Quest. II. What shall they do who want the marks of a true and saving interest in Christ, already spoken of, and neither can nor dare pretend unto them?

Ans. If men do not discover in themselves the marks of a saving interest in Christ, spoken of before, then it is their duty, and the duty of all that hear the gospel, personally and heartily to close with God's device of saving sinners by Christ Jesus, and thus to secure their state.



Chapter I. Some Things Premised for the Information of the Ignorant


For the better understanding of this, we shall premise some things for the information of those who are more ignorant, and then speak more directly to the thing. As for the things to be premised:-- 1. The Lord did, at the beginning, out of His bounty, make a covenant with man in Adam--'And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayst freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' (Gen. 2: 16, 17.) And He gave the man ability to abide in that covenant--'God has made man upright' (Eccl. 7: 29); but man, by eating of that forbidden fruit, did break that covenant--'They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant' (Hos. 6: 7); and made it void forever, and involved himself in misery thereby--'By the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in His sight' (Rom. 3: 20); '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.' (Rom. 5: 12 .) 2. The Lord did most freely, from everlasting, purpose and intend to save men another way, namely, by Christ Jesus, and the covenant of grace, in which He intended reconciliation with the elect through Christ Jesus, God and man, born of a woman, in due time to make this agreement effectual. And this device of satisfying His own justice, and saving of the elect by Christ, He did at first intimate to our parents in paradise, saying, 'That the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.' (Gen. 3: 15.) And the Lord has in all generations made this known to His church. 3. The Lord has in all ages covenanted to be the reconciled God of all those who, by their subjection to His ordinances, did profess their satisfaction with this device, and oblige themselves to acquiesce in the same, and to seek salvation by Christ Jesus, as God does offer Him in the gospel; so all the people of Israel are called the Lord's people, and are said to avouch Him to be their God, and He does avouch them to be His people 'Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice; and the Lord has avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He has promised thee, and that thou shouldst keep all His commandments.' (Deut. 26: 17, 18.) Yea, the Lord does also engage Himself to be the God of the seed and children of those who do so subject themselves to His ordinances. The covenant is said to be made between God and all the people, young and old, present and not present that day (Deut. 29: 10-15); and all are appointed to come under some seal of that covenant, as was enjoined to Abraham. (Gen. 22: 10.) Not only was it so in the Old Testament, but it is so in the New Testament also. The Lord makes offer of Himself to be our God in Christ Jesus; and the people professing their satisfaction in that offer, and in testimony thereof subjecting themselves unto the ordinances, they are reckoned a covenanted people, and are joined unto His church in thousands, receiving a seal of the covenant, without any further particular previous trial--'Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.' (Acts 2: 38 , 41.) 4. Many deal treacherously with God in this covenant--'Nevertheless, they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant.' (Psa. 78: 36, 37.) And although they profess their estimation of Christ the Saviour, and their heart-satisfaction with that device of saving sinners by Him, and having the image of God restored by Him in them; yet their heart is not right with God, and they do content themselves with an empty title of being in a sealed covenant with God: 'Abraham is our Father,' say they. (John 8: 3.) For although the Lord obligeth every man, who professeth his satisfaction with Christ Jesus, the devised ransom, to be cordial and sincere herein; and only to those who are so does He make out the spiritual promises of the covenant, they only being privileged to be the sons of God who do really receive Christ (John 1: 12); yet the Lord does permit many to profess their closing with Him in Christ, both in the Old and New Testament, whilst their heart is not engaged; and He does admit them to be members of His church, granting unto them the use of ordinances, and many other external mercies and privileges denied unto the heathen, who are not in covenant with Him. 5. Although the greater part of people do foolishly fancy that they have closed with God in Christ Jesus sincerely and heartily; or, at least, they do, without any ground or warrant, promise a new heart to themselves before they depart this life; yet there be but very few who do really and cordially close with God in Christ Jesus as He is offered in the gospel: and so there be but very few saved, as is clear--'Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be who find it' (Matt. 7: 14); 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' (Matt. 20: 16.) If people would believe this, it might help to alarm them. 6. Although none at all do cordially close with God in Christ Jesus, and acquiesce in that ransom found out by God, except only such as are elected--'But the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded' (Rom. 11: 7)--and whose hearts the Lord does sovereignly determine to that blessed choice--'No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him' (John 6: 44); yet the Lord has left it as a duty upon people who hear this gospel, to close with His offer of salvation through Christ Jesus, as if it were in their power to do it; and the Lord, through these commands and exhortations, wherein He obligeth men to the thing, does convey life and strength to the elect, and does therein convey the new heart unto them, which pointeth kindly towards this new device of saving sinners, and towards Christ in His covenant relations; for it is the Lord's mind, in these commands and invitations, to put people on some duty, with which He uses to concur for accomplishing that business between Him and them: so then, it is a coming on our part, and yet a drawing on His part; 'No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him.' (John 6: 44.) It is a drawing on His heart, and a running on our part--'Draw me, we will run after Thee.' (Cant. 1: 4.) It is an approaching on our part, and yet a 'choosing and causing to approach' on His part. (Psa. 65: 4.) It is a believing or receiving on our part--'But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name;' and yet 'it is given us to believe.' (John 1: 12; Phil. 1: 29.)


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