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and how to keep the reconciliation of friendship, being made with God through Christ.
5. That albeit the hearing, believing, and obeying of this word, doth belong to all those to whom this gospel doth come; yet the office of preaching of it with authority belongeth to none, but to such only as God doth call to his ministry, and sendeth out with commission for this work. This the apostle holdeth forth, Ver. 19. in these words, "He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation."
6. That the ministers of the gospel should behave themselves as Christ's messengers, and should closely follow their commission set down in the word, Mat. xxviii. 19, 20.; and when they do so, they should be received by the people as ambassadors from God; for here the apostle, in all their names, saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though "God did beseech you by us."
7. That ministers, in all earnestness of affections, should deal with people to acknowledge their sins, and their natural enmity against God, more and more seriously; and to consent to the covenant of grace and embassage of Christ more and more heartily; and to evidence more and more clearly their reconciliation, by a holy carriage before God. This he holdeth forth, when he sayeth, "We pray you, be "ye reconciled to God."
8. That in the ministers' affectionate dealing with the people, the people should consider that they have to do with God and Christ, requesting them, by the ministers, to be reconciled. Now, there cannot be a greater inducement to break a sinner's hard heart, than God's making a request to him for friendship; for when it became us, who have done so many wrongs to God, to seek friendship of God, he preventeth us: and (O wonder of wonders!) he requesteth us to be content to be reconciled to him; and therefore most fearful wrath must abide them who do set light by this request, and do not yield when they hear ministers with commission, saying, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
9. To make it appear how it cometh to pass that the Covenant of reconciliation should be so easily made up
twixt God and a humble sinner fleeing to Christ, the apostle leads us unto the cause of it, holden forth in the covenant of redemption, the sum whereof is this: "It is "agreed betwixt God and the Mediator Jesus Christ the "Son of God, surety for the redeemed, as parties-con"tractors, that the sins of the redeemed should be imputed "to innocent Christ, and he both condemned and put to "death for them, upon this very condition, that whosoever "heartily consents unto the covenant of reconciliation "offered through Christ, shall, by the imputation of his ❝ obedience unto them, be justified and holden righteous "before God; for God hath made Christ, who knew no "sin, to be sin for us, saith the apostle, that we might be "made the righteousness of God in him.”
Hence may a weak believer strengthen his faith, by reasoning from this ground after this manner:
"He that, upon the loving request of God and Christ, "made to him by the mouth of ministers, (having com"mission to that effect,) hath embraced the offer of perpetual reconciliation through Christ, and doth purpose, "by God's grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against 36 sin, and to serve God to his power constantly, may be "as sure to have righteousness and eternal life given to "him, for the obedience of Christ imputed to him, as it " is sure that Christ was condemned and put to death for "the sins of the redeemed imputed to him:
"But I (may the weak believer say) upon the loving "request of God and Christ, made to me by the mouth "of his ministers, have embraced the offer of perpetual "reconciliation through Christ, and do purpose, by God's "grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against sin, and "to serve God to my power constantly:
"Therefore I may be as sure to have righteousness "and eternal life given to me, for the obedience of Christ "imputed to me, as it is sure that Christ was condemned "and put to death for the sins of the redeemed imputed ❝ to him."
The third Warrant and special Motive to believe in Christ, is the strait and awful command of God, charging all the hearers of the gospel to approach to Christ in the order set down by him, and to believe in him; holden forth, 1 John iii. 23.
THIS is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
Wherein the apostle giveth us to understand these five doctrines:
1. That if any man shall not be taken with the sweet invitation of God, nor with the humble and loving request of God, made to him to be reconciled, he shall find he hath to do with the sovereign authority of the highest Majesty; for "this is his commandment, that we believe in him," saith he
2. That if any man look upon this commandment as he hath looked heretofore upon the neglected commandments of the law, he must consider that this is a command of the gospel, posterior to the law, given for making use of the remedy of all sins; which, if it be disobeyed, there is no other command to follow but this, "Go, ye cursed, into "the everlasting fire of hell;" for "this is his command"ment;" the obedience of which is most pleasant in his sight, Ver. 22. and without which it is impossible to please him, Heb. xi. 6.
3. That every one who heareth the gospel, must make conscience of the duty of lively faith in Christ; the weak believer must not think it presumption to do what is commanded; the person inclined to desperation must take up himself, and think upon obedience unto this sweet and saving command; the strong believer must dip yet more in the sense of his need he hath of Jesus Christ, and more and more grow in the obedience of this command; yea, the most impenitent, profane, and wicked person must not thrust out himself, or be thrust out by others, from orderly aiming at this duty, how desperate soever his condition seem to be; for he that commands all men to believe in Christ, doth thereby command all men to believe that they are damned
damned and lost without Christ: he thereby commands all men to acknowledge their sins, and their need of Christ, and in effect commands all men to repent, that they may believe in him. And whosoever do refuse to repent of their bygone sins, are guilty of disobedience to this command given to all hearers, but especially to those that are within the visible church: for "this is his commandment, "that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus "Christ," saith he.
4. That he who obeyeth this commandment hath built his salvation on a solid ground: for, 1st, He hath found the promised Messiah, completely furnished with all perfections unto the perfect execution of the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; for he is that Christ in whom the man doth believe. 2d, He hath embraced a Saviour, who is able to save to the uttermost, yea, and who doth effectually save every one that cometh to God through him; for he is Jesus, the true Saviour of his people from their sins. 3d, He that obeyeth this command hath built his salvation on the Rock, that is, on the Son of God, to whom it is no robbery to be called equal to the Father, and who is worthy to be the object of saving faith, and of spiritual worship: "for this " is his command, (saith he,) that we believe in the name "of his Son Jésus Christ."
5. That he who hath believed on Jesus Christ, though he be freed from the curse of the law, is not freed from the command and obedience of the law, but tied thereunto by a new obligation, and a new command from Christ; which new command from Christ importeth help to obey the command: unto which command from Christ, the Father addeth his authority and command also; for "this is his command- "ment, (saith John,) that we believe on the name of his "Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he hath com "manded us." The first part of which command, enjoining belief in him, necessarily implieth love to God, and so obedience to the first table; for believing in God, and loving God, are inseparable; and the second part of the command enjoineth love to our neighbour, (especially to the household of faith,) and so obedience to the second table of the law.
Hence may a weak believer strengthen himself, by reasoning from this ground after this manner:
"Whosoever, in the sense of his own sinfulness, and "fear of God's wrath, at the command of God, is fled to "Jesus Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and "hath engaged his heart to the obedience of the law of "love, his faith is not presumptuous or dead, but true "and saving faith:
"But I (may the weak believer say,) in the sense of my "own sinfulness, and fear of God's wrath, am fled to Jesus "Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and have en"gaged my heart to the obedience of the law of love: "Therefore my faith is not a presumptuous and dead "faith, but true and saving faith.
The fourth Warrant and special Motive to believe in Christ, is much assurance of life given, in case men shall obey the command of believing; and a fearful certification of destruction, in case they obey not; holden forth, John iii. 35.
THE Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. Ver. 36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Wherein are holden forth to us these five following doctrines:
1. That the Father is well satisfied with the undertakings of the Son, entered Redeemer and Surety, to pay the ransom of believers, and to perfect them in holiness and salvation; "the Father loveth the Son," saith he; viz. as he standeth Mediator in our name, undertaking to perfect our redemption in all points: The Father loveth him, that is, doth heartily accept his offer to do the work, and is well pleased with him his soul delighteth in him, and resteth upon him, and maketh him, in this his office, the "receptacle of love, and grace, and good will," to be conveyed by him to believers in him.
2. That, for fulfilling of the covenant of redemption, the Father hath given to the Son (as he standeth in the capacity