THE chief general use
of Christian doctrine is, to convince a man of sin, and of righteousness,
and of judgment, John xvi. 8. partly by the law or covenant of works, that
he may be humbled and become penitent; and partly by the gospel or covenant
of grace, that he may become an unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ, and be
strengthened in his faith upon solid grounds and warrants, and give evidence
of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and so be saved.
sum of the covenant of works, or of the law, is this: "If thou do all
that is commanded, and not fail in any point, thou shalt be saved: but if
thou fail, thou shalt die." Rom. x. 5. Gal. iii. 10, 12.
sum of the gospel, or covenant of grace and reconciliation, is this: "If thou flee from deserved wrath to the true Redeemer Jesus Christ,"
(who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God through him,)
thou shalt not perish, but have eternal life."
x. 8, 9, 11.
convincing a man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment by the law, or
covenant of works, let these scriptures, among many more, be made use of.
For convincing a man of sin by the law, consider Jer. xvii. 9,10.
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it
? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man
according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
the Lord teacheth these two things:
That the fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual sinning against God, is
in the heart, which comprehendeth the mind, will, affections, and all the
powers of the soul, as they are corrupted and defiled with original sin; the
mind being not only ignorant and incapable of saving truth , but also full
of error and enmity against God; and the will and affections being
obstinately disobedient unto all God's directions, and bent toward that only
which is evil: " The heart (saith he) is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked; " yea, and unsearchably wicked, so that no man
can know it; and Gen. vi. 5. "Every imagination of the thoughts of
man's heart is only evil continually," saith the Lord, whose testimony
we must trust in this and all other matters; and experience also may teach
us, that, till God make us deny ourselves, we never look to God in anything,
but fleshly self-interest alone doth rule us, and move all the wheels of our
That the Lord bringeth our original sin, or wicked inclination, with all the
actual fruits thereof, unto reckoning before his judgment-seat; "For
he searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, to give every man according to
his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
let every man reason thus:
God and my guilty conscience beareth witness of, I am convinced that it is
true: But God and my guilty conscience beareth witness, that my heart is
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and that all the
imaginations of my heart, by nature, are only evil continually: Therefore I
am convinced that this is true."
a man may be convinced of sin by the law.
For convincing a man of righteousness by the law, consider Gal. iii. 10.
many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written,
Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in
the book of the law to do them.
the apostle teacheth us three things:
That, by reason of our natural sinfulness, the impossibility of any man's
being justified by the works of the law is so certain, that whosoever do
seek justification by the works of the law, are liable to the curse of God
for breaking of the law; " For as many as are of the works of the law
are under the curse," saith he.
That, unto the perfect fulfilling of the law, the keeping of one or two of
the precepts, or doing of some, or of all duties (if it were possible) for a
time, is not sufficient; for the law requireth, that "a man continue in
all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
That, because no man can come up to this perfection, every man by nature is
under the curse; for the law saith, "Cursed is every one that
continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do
to be under the curse, comprehendeth all the displeasure of God, with the
danger of the breaking forth more and more of his wrath upon soul and body,
both in this life, and after death perpetually, if grace do not prevent the
full execution thereof.
let every man reason thus:
according to the covenant of works, is liable to the curse of God for
breaking the law, times and ways out of number, cannot be justified, or find
righteousness by the works of the law: But I, (may every man say,) according
to the covenant of works, am liable to the curse of God, for breaking the
law times and ways without number: Therefore I cannot be justified, or have
righteousness by the works of the law."
may a man be convinced of righteousness, that it is not to be had by his own
works, or by the law.
For convincing a man of judgment by the law, consider 2 Thess. i. 7.
Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, Ver.
flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Ver.
9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence
of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; Ver. 10. When he shall
come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that
we are taught, that our Lord Jesus, who now offers to be Mediator for them
who believe in him, shall, at the last day, come armed with flaming fire, to
judge, condemn, and destroy all them who have not believed God, have not
received the offer of grace made in the gospel, nor obeyed the doctrine
thereof; but remain in their natural state, under the law or covenant of
let every man reason thus: "What the righteous Judge hath forewarned me
shall be done at the last day, I am sure is just judgment: But the righteous
Judge hath forewarned me, that if I do not believe God in time, and obey not
the doctrine of the gospel, I shall be secluded from his presence and his
glory at the last day, and be tormented in soul and body for ever: Therefore
I am convinced that this is a just judgment: And I have reason to thank God
heartily, who hath forewarned me to flee from the wrath which is to
every man may be, by the law or covenant of works, convinced of judgment, if
he shall continue under the covenant of works, or shall not obey the gospel
of our Lord Jesus.
For convincing a man of sin, righteousness, and judgment, by the gospel.
for convincing a man of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, by the gospel,
or covenant of grace, he must understand three things:
That not believing in Jesus Christ, or refusing of the covenant of grace
offered in him, is a greater and more dangerous sin than all other sins
against the law; because the hearers of the gospel, not believing in Christ,
do reject God's mercy in Christ, the only way of freedom from sin and wrath,
and will not yield to be reconciled to God. 2. Next, he must understand,
that perfect remission of sin, and true righteousness, is to be had only by
faith in Jesus; because God requireth no other conditions but faith; and
testifies from heaven, that he is well pleased to justify sinners upon this
condition. 3. He must understand, that upon righteousness received by faith,
judgment shall follow, on the one hand, to the destroying of the works of
the devil in the believer, and to the perfecting of the work of
sanctification in him, with power: and that, upon refusing to take
righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ, judgment shall follow, on the other
hand, to the condemnation of the misbeliever, and destroying of him with
Satan and his servants for ever.
this end, let these passages of scripture, among many others, serve to make
the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ appear; or, to make the
greatness of the sin of refusing of the covenant of grace offered to us, in
the offering of Christ unto us appear, let the fair offer of grace be looked
upon as it is made, Isa. lv. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me, (saith
the Lord:) hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting
covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. That is, If ye will
believe me, and be reconciled to me, I will, by covenant, give unto you
Christ, and all saving graces in him: repeated Acts xiii. 34.
consider, that this general offer in substance is equivalent to a special
offer made to every one in particular; as appeareth by the apostle's making
use of it, Acts xvi. 31.
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The reason
of which offer is given, John iii. 16. For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life. Seeing then this great salvation is
offered in the Lord Jesus, whosoever believeth not in him, but looks for
happiness some other way, what doth he else but observe lying vanities, and
forsake his own mercy, which he might have had in Christ ? Jonah ii. 8, 9.
What doth he else but blaspheme God in his heart ? as it is said, 1 John v.
10, 11. He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth
not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God
hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. And that no sin
against the law is like unto this sin, Christ testifies, John xv. 22. If I
had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have
no cloak for their sin. This may convince a man of the greatness of this sin
of not believing in Christ.
convincing a man of righteousness to be had only by faith in Jesus Christ,
consider how, Rom. x.3, 4.
is said, that the Jews, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going
about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves
unto the righteousness of God, (and so they perished.) For Christ is the end
of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. And Acts xiii. 39.
By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could
not be justified by the law of Moses. And 1 John i. 7. The blood of Jesus
Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
convincing a man of judgment, if a man embrace this righteousness, consider
1 John iii. 8. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might
destroy the works of the devil. And Heb. ix. 14. How much more shall the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot
to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ?
if a man embrace not this righteousness, his doom is pronounced, John iii.
18, 19. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this the
condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than light.
let the penitent, desiring to believe, reason thus:
doth suffice to convince all the elect in the world of the greatness of the
sin of not believing in Christ, or refusing to flee to him for relief from
sins done against the law, and from wrath due thereto; and what sufficeth to
convince them that righteousness and eternal life is to be had by faith in
Jesus Christ, or by consenting to the covenant of grace in him; and what
sufficeth to convince them of judgment to be exercised by Christ, for
destroying the works of the devil in a man, and sanctifying and saving all
that believe in him, may suffice to convince me also: But what the Spirit
hath said, in these or other like scriptures, sufficeth to convince the
elect world of the foresaid sin, and righteousness, and judgment: Therefore
what the Spirit hath said, in these and other like scriptures, serveth to
convince me thereof also."
let the penitent desiring to believe take with him words, and say heartily
to the Lord, Seeing thou savest, Seek ye my face; my soul answereth unto
thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. I have hearkened unto the offer of an
everlasting covenant of all saving mercies to be had in Christ, and I do
heartily embrace thy offer. Lord, let it be a bargain; Lord, I believe; help
my unbelief: Behold, I give myself to thee, to serve thee in all things for
ever; and I hope thy right hand shall save me: the Lord will perfect that
which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the
works of thine own hands.
may a man be made an unfeigned believer in Christ.
strengthening the man's faith who hath agreed unto the covenant of grace.
many true believers are weak, and do much doubt if ever they shall be sure
of the soundness of their own faith and effectual calling, or made certain
of their justification and salvation, when they see that many, who profess
faith, are found to deceive themselves; let us see how every believer may be
made strong in the faith, and sure of his own election and salvation upon
solid grounds, by sure warrants, and true evidences of faith. To this end,
among many other scriptures, take these following.
For laying solid grounds of Faith, consider 2 Peter i. 10. Wherefore the
rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for
if ye do these things ye shall never fall.
which words, the apostle teacheth us these four things, for help and
direction how to be made strong in the faith.
That such as believe in Christ Jesus, and are fled to him for relief from
sin and wrath, albeit they be weak in the faith, yet they are indeed
children of the same Father with the apostles; for so he accounteth of them,
while he calleth them brethren.
That albeit we be not sure, for the time, of our effectual calling and
election, yet we may be made sure of both, if we use diligence; for this he
presupposeth, saying, "Give diligence to make your calling and election
That we must not be discouraged, when we see many seeming believers prove
rotten branches, and make defection; but we must the rather take the better
heed to ourselves: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, (saith he,) give
That the way to be sure both of our effectual calling and election, is to
make sure work of our faith, by laying the grounds of it solidly, and
bringing forth the fruits of our faith in new obedience constantly:
"For if ye do these things, (saith he,) ye shall never fall;"
understanding by these things, what he had said of sound faith, Ver. 1, 2,
3, 4, and what he had said of the bringing out of the fruits of faith, Ver.
5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
To this same purpose, consider Rom. viii. 1. There is therefore now no
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit. Ver. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Ver. 3. For
what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God,
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned
sin in the flesh Ver. 4. That the righteousness of the law might be
fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
the apostle teacheth us these four things, for laying of the ground of faith
That every one is a true believer, who, in the sense of his sin, and fear of
God's wrath, doth flee for full relief from both unto Jesus Christ alone, as
the only Mediator and all-sufficient Redeemer of men; and, being fled to
Christ, doth strive against his own flesh, or corrupt inclination of nature,
and studieth to follow the rule of God's Spirit, set down in his word: for
the man, whom the apostle doth here bless as a true believer, is a man in
Christ Jesus, "who doth not walk after the flesh, but after the
That all such persons as are fled to Christ, and do strive against sin,
howsoever they may be possibly exercised under the sense of wrath, and fear
of condemnation, yet they are in no danger; for "there is no
condemnation (saith he) to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after
the flesh, but after the Spirit."
That albeit the apostle himself, (brought in here for example's cause,) and
all other true believers in Christ, be by nature under the law of sin and
death, or under the covenant of works, (called the law of sin and death,
because it bindeth sin and death upon us, till Christ set us free;) yet the
law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the covenant of grace, (so
called, because it doth enable and quicken a man to a spiritual life through
Christ,) doth set the apostle, and all true believers, free from the
covenant of works, or the law of sin and death: so that every man may say
with him, "The law of the Spirit of life," or the covenant of
grace, hath made me free from the law of sin and death," or covenant of
That the fountain and first ground, from whence our freedom from the curse
of the law doth flow, is the covenant of redemption, passed betwixt God and
God the Son as incarnate, wherein Christ takes the curse of the law upon him
for sin, that the believer, who could not otherwise be delivered from the
covenant of works, may be delivered from it. And this doctrine the apostle
holdeth forth in these four branches: (1.) That it was utterly impossible
for the law, or the covenant of works, to bring righteousness and life to a
sinner, because it was weak. (2.) That this weakness and inability of the
law, or covenant of works, is not the fault of the law, but the fault of
sinful flesh, which is neither able to pay the penalty of sin, nor to give
perfect obedience to the law, (presuppose bygone sins were forgiven:)
"The law was weak (saith he) through the flesh." (3.) That the
righteousness and salvation of sinners, which was impossible to be brought
about by the law, is brought to pass by sending God's own Son, Jesus Christ,
in the flesh, in whose flesh sin is condemned and punished, for making
satisfaction in the behalf of the elect, that they might be set free. (4.)
That by his means the law loseth nothing, because the righteousness of the
law is best fulfilled this way; first, by Christ's giving perfect active
obedience in our name unto it in all things; next, by his paying in our name
the penalty due to our sins in his death: and, lastly, by his working of
sanctification in us, who are true believers, who strive to give new
obedience unto the law, and "walk not after the flesh, but after the
Section: Warrants and Motives to believe