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he be dead to the law, more than a wife can be married to two husbands at once; that is plainly, one cannot be both under the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, at one time: for if to be married to Christ, signify the bringing of the man within the covenant of grace, which I think cannot be denied, with any colour of reason, by those that acknowledge consent of parties necessary to the making up of the covenant; the being dead to the law, must be freedom from the covenant of works. Now, I pray you, what is it that makes the believer liable, in any case, to eternal punishment? If there be any thing, it must needs be the law; but we hear he is dead to it; but if dead to it, how can it have any power over him? To be dead to the law, says Luther,* is to have nothing at all to do with it; not to be held by the law, but to be free from it, and not to know it. And so the orthodox teach with one consent, that believers are free from the law, as to its cursing and condemning power; for “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”+ And indeed, according to the Apostle's reasoning in the forecited place, the law, as it is the covenant of works, and as to its condemning power, has no more to do with believers, or no more authority over them, than a man has over her, who alive was his wife, but is now dead; and therefore the believer needs no more fear the threats of the law, nor concern himself with them, as directed against him, than a dead wife, the threatenings of him who sometime was her husband; for what has the law to do with him now, when death hath dissolved the relation? The Apostle teacheth the same doctrine, Rom. vi. 14. where, speaking to believers, he tells them, it is their privilege, that “they are not under the law, but under grace.” The law and grace have two distinct dominions; therefore a man under grace is not liable to answer at the court of the law, he not being under the jurisdiction of the law, or covenant of works. So that the law, with its condemning power, can no more reach the believer, than the laws of this kingdom, those that dwell under the great Turk. From all which I may thus argue, He that is thus divorced from the law, that lives not under its dominion, but is as a dead man unto it, cannot be condemned by it, nor by virtue of it made liable to punishment; but such is every believer. Ergo. And I doubt not, but if we were as much dead to the law in point of practice, as we are in point of privilege, we
† Gal. iii. 13. | The godly often think that Christ will accuse and condemn. This comes hence; they are not free of the flesh, therefore the terrors of the law return, &c. Luth, in Gal. iv, 4.
* Luib. Com. in. Gal. ii. 19.
many sins ?
would more easily believe this. But the truth is, that, in respect of practice, believers are rather dying than actually dead to the law. And it is not easy for a man that is exercised, to quit living to the law: and therefore Luther,* speaking of this privilege of believers, has that feeling expression, “ These things (says he) are easily said, but happy he who knows them well in the conflict of conscience ; that is, who, when sin rushes on him, when the law accuseth and terrifieth him, were able to say, What is that to me, that thou, O law, makest me guilty, and convincest me that I have committed
That is nothing to me. Now am I deaf, I hear thee not, because I am dead to thee." This will be yet more clear and convincing, if we consider, that the law is dead to them, as well as they to it, Rom. vii. 1. “Know ye not, brethren, how that the law hath dominion over a man, as long as he liveth ?” So our translation reads it: the words in the original are, eph' hoson chronon ze; and may as well be rendered, " as long as it liveth, referring the life to the law, not to the man. And I think the context does fairly carry it this way: for all along this discourse, the Apostle speaketh of the law under the notion of an husband, even the first husband to elect sinners; and it is clear, that in the two verses immediately following, he speaks of the life and death of the husband : “ The woman is bound to her husband so long as he liveth ; but if the husband be dead,”—ver. 2. “If while her husband liveth—but if her husband be dead,” ver. 3.7 So the connection of the fourth verse with the former, plainly appears; for having premised that the law is dead to the believer, he concludes, that therefore they are dead to it, and their relation to it is now ceased. And thus it is read and understood by several judicious interpreters, both ancient and modern. The Apostle more clearly asserts this, ver. 6. “That being dead wherein we were held; apothanontos en ho cateichometha.” The context also cleareth this exposition: for the Apostle adds, "that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the latter;" importing so much, as that “that wherein we were held," made us to “serve God in the oldness of the latter,” viz. of the law : which cannot be properly said of the flesh, or of sin, for that stirs up, even to sin against the letter of the law; but well may be said of the law, with its threatenings, which forcibly sets on even the unregenerate to outward obedience. Whereunto well agrees the term used by the Apostle, speaking here of the law, "in which (says he) we were held;"* the word signifies forcibly holden, and is used of
supra. † Origen, Ambrose, Tindal, Erasm. cit. Mar. of Mod. Div. p. 142. So Aretius.
those who are detained in prison and custody, which the Apostle Gal. iii. 23. doth plainly speak of, the “ keeping under the law;"“ We were kept ephrouroumetha,” kept as in a prison, and shut up, &c. And this word held, seems plainly to answer to that, ver. 2. “ The woman is bound to her husband.” Now, that husband is dead, even the law wherein we were held. Thus said Luther, “ The law which bound me, and held me captive, is now bound and holden captive by grace.” The law then is dead to the believer. Christ, by his death, hath been the death of the law, in.point of condemning power: the law, which was the strength of sin, that is, whereby sin had a power of binding over the soul to eternal wrath, is now gone by the death of Christ, 1 Cor. xv. 46. By his blood he hath “ blotted out the hand-writing, (Col. ii. 14.), nailing it to his cross." For to the cross two were nailed, the Son of God, and the law of God. The law nailed Christ to the cross, and Christ would not die alone, but crucifies the law that crucified him; as Samson at his death was the death of those that were the cause of his death. Upon which consideration, Luthert brings in the believer insulting over the law, with a kind of holy pride, and thus speaking to the law: "I do nothing value thy terrors and threatepings, because thou hast crucified the Son of God. Therefore the sin which thou hast committed against him, is unpardonable; thou hast lost thy right; and now hereafter thou art not only to Christ conquered and strangled, but also to me believing in him, to whom he hath gifted that victory.” Thus he. All which being considered, I think it will be very hard to shew, how a believer can ever be actually liable to eternal wrath.
Arg. III. Those seriptures which declare the believer to be “ free from condemnation," plainly teach this doctrine which we now prove. John iii. 18,“ He that believeth, is not condemned; but he that believeth not, is condemned already. It is easy to see what the meaning of this is, which is said of him that believeth, if we consider the antithesis in the text; “He that believeth not, is condemned already;" not that the sentence is already executed upon him, but that he is sentenced by the law, and so liable, in actu secundo, to eternal wrath : so he that believeth is under no sentence, or is not liable so as the other is. So John v. 24, “ He that believeth, shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life;" where it is plain, that the same thing is taught; for passing from a legal death, to a legal life, which is nothing else but the taking off of the sentence of death, whereby the soul is inade actually liable to eternal wrath, is opposed to coming into condemnation. The words in the original press this more strongly; cis krison uk erchetai alla metabebeken ek tu th.inatu ; cometh not, in the present time into judgment, but hath passed, &c.;* the word krisis here, and kerinomai in the former, being simple words, do no doubt signify judgment, and to be judged, but tropically condemnation : only properly, I think the judgment or condemnation here spoken of, relates not only to the judgment and condemnation to come, but also to that which is in this life. But nothing can be more plain than what the apostle hath, Rom. viii. 1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." But believers even lying under sin unrepented of, are in Christ Jesus ; therefore there is no condemnation even to them. I shall not say with Jackson,t that the meaning is, there is no cause of a damnatory sentence in them; but I shall say with judicious interpreters, that it holds forth freedom from guilt, whereby they might be bound over to eternal punishment; and am well content to hold by the argument from this place, which Wendelin says the orthodox use against the Papists for the perfection of justification. The argument is this “ Where there is no condemnation, there is no punishment; but to the justified there is no condemnation : Ergo, To them there is no punishment; or, they are bound over to no penal satisfaction. The proposition is proved, because condemnation is an adjudging to punishment.”|| Thus he. How shall the force of this argument be invalidated ? Will any say that this privilege is restricted by the following clause, “ that walk not after the fiesh, but after the Spirit," and so belongs not to those who lie under unrepented-of guilt? This were to make two sorts of persons in Christ; some in Christ, that “walk after the Spirit;" and others in him, that " walk after the flesh :” and if there be such, let us no more ask, what concord Christ can have with Belial, light with darkness ? But the apostles plainly applies the not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit, to all believers, to all in whom the “righteousness of the law is fulfilled, ver. 4. And the walkers after the flesh, makes the same with them that are in the flesh, ver. 5, who cannot please God, ver. 8. have not the Spirit, and are none of Christ's, yer. 9. If any shall say, that the meaning is, There is no actual condemnation to them, though there want not something condemnable in them; it is the truth, and the very thing we plead for, viz.
Leigh's Crit. Sac.
| Ubi supra.
| Com. in Gal. iv. 4. 5.
Leigh's Crit. Sac. † Concord. # Piscat. annal. in loc. Zanch. tom. 4, loc. de pecatto, col. 81.
|| Syst. Theol. p. 599.
That though by their sins they deserve to be damned, yet there is no sentence passed against them, binding them over to eternal wrath, even though this sentence should never be put in execution. But this is not the meaning of those that make this exception; but thus they understood it, as we commonly say, They shall never be damned ; that is, the sentence shall never be executed upon them ; the wrath they are actually liable to by their sins, shall be diverted; the antecedent being put for the consequent, condemnation for the execution of it. But if so, I would fain learn of those men, what the apostle hath done, in asserting this, seemingly at least, great privilege of believers beyond others ? and why he adds this now to it, importing, as it would seem, somewhat which those persons had not before? Are there not thousands out of Christ, that are as highly privileged as they? Are there not many that are yet enemies to Christ, walking after the flesh, regardless of the Spirit, who shall never have the sentence of condemnation executed upon them, but shall certainly be saved? Is it not as true of the elect unconverted, that the sentence shall never be executed against them, as of believers ? Yea, surely. It must needs then be meant of this actual liableness to eternal wrath, the freedom from which is the peculiar privilege of believers.*
ARG. IV. If believers under sin unrepented of, be actually liable to eternal wrath, or the strokes of vindictive justice, then they are liable to pay a debt over again which hath been once already paid to the full ; which is absurd, and unworthy of the divine Majesty, impeacheth his justice, as our divines say against the Papists, and reflects dishonour on the merits of Christ's death. We believe, that “ by once offering Christ hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;" he hath fully paid the believer's debt, and satisfied for all his sins past, present, and to come: and shall the believer himself be yet liable to pay that debt? This argument Beza hath pithily holden forth in his confession of faith,t “ Thou wilt say then,” says he, “ that there be infinite iniquities in me, which deserve eternal death. I do grant; but I add more to it, which thou, (Satan) hast maliciously omitted : that is, that the iniquities which be in me, were sufficiently revenged and punished in Jesus Christ, who hath borne the judgment of God in my stead. So upon this I make
my conclusion contrary to thine ; that is to say, Forasmuch as God is righteous, and will not be paid double, and Jesus Christ,
Sio hath a potential, but not an actual guilt, as the sins of the godly; here is reatus concupiscentiæ, sed non persone. Weems Christ, Syn. p. 294.
† Confess. point 4. art. 10.