CHAP. I. A briefe Treatise con∣cerning the agreement and difference betweene the Old and New Testament; the first Covenant betweene God and Man, in Innocency, which is the old Covenant of Works: and the New Covenant made with Mankinde, in Christ, which is called the Covenant of free Grace; also betweene the Law and the Gospell.
IT is an Ancient custome which hath beene for many Ages in use among the lear∣ned before the entrance into the large Exposition of the Gospell of Christ in the New Testament, to premise and Page 2 lay downe by way of prepara∣tion, the nature, difference, and agreement between the Old and New Testament, the Cove∣nant of Workes, and the Cove∣nant of Grace, the Law and the Gospell, the Prophets and the Evangelists. And surely if wee doe rightly consider the end and use of this practise, and the profit and benefit which may arise from the knowledge of the nature of these beforehand, and of the true difference and agree∣ment betweene them, we cannot but judge those learned men worthy of imitation; and that it will be profitable for us to walke in the same steps when like occasion is offered. For the knowledge of the true diffe∣rence of the Old and New Te∣stament, the Covenant of Workes, and the Covenant of Grace, the Law and the Gospel, will not only give us great light, for the right understanding of divers particular speeches used Page 3 in the New Testament by the Evangelists and Apostles, but also may keepe us from many dangerous errours, and enable us to answer the Objections of the Adversaries which they make out of the words of the Apostles and Prophets, wrong∣fully wrested and misconstrued according to their owne foolish imaginations. As for example, sometimes the Apostles exhort us to observe the things which by Tradition have beene delive∣red unto us, and command to observe the good orders and Or∣dinances established in the Churches. Now a man not knowing the difference be∣tweene the Old and New Te∣stament, the Law and the Gos∣pel, when hee heares such spee∣ches, may imagine that in those words he is injoyned to observe the Traditions and Ordinances of Moses, and so may with the seduced Galatians fall into a great errour. So in some places Page 4 of the Apostles we read, That they who are borne of God sin not, That they who sin are of the Devill, That they who sinne wilfully after that they have received the knowledge of the truth, can have no sacri∣fice for their sinne, And that he who beleeveth not is condem∣ned already.
These things when a man heares or reades, who is igno rant of the difference betweene the Law and the Gospell; hee may imagine with our new up▪ start Heretiques, That every sinne which a man willingly commits, doth prove him to be a childe of the Devill, destitute of all grace: And that when men are once called and justified, they cannot willingly sinne any more. And many such errours he may runne into: but if he un∣derstandeth that sinne in those places signifieth sinne against the Evangelicall Law, the two Commandements of the Gos∣pell, Page 5 which commands us to be∣leeve and repent, and not every sinne against any Commande∣ment of the Law▪ hee cannot bee deceived. For sinne against the Gospell, is when a man being before called to beleeve and pro∣fesse the Gospell, and having re∣ceived the Commandements thereof, which injoyne repen∣tance of all sinne, and beleefe in this Iesus Christ whom the Go∣spell preacheth, doth afterwards rebell against these two Pre∣cepts, that is, falls into infideli∣ty and impenitency, which is wilfull Apostacy. Now these sinnes none can commit who is borne of God, or hath any true saving grace in him; and if wee thus understand sinne, wee shall not be deceived. So likewise the Evangelists and Apostles do tell us, that if we doe such and such good workes we are righteous, if wee call on the Name of the Lord wee shall be saved; and our Saviour saith, that he will Page 6 pronounce them the blessed of his Father, and will say to them, Come, inherit the Kingdome: for yee fedde mee when I was hungry, and visited mee in prison: In that yee did these things to my little ones. And againe, Many sins are forgiven her, for shee loved much. If wee know not the difference be∣tweene the Law and the Gos∣pell, we may by these speeches be moved to thinke that men are justified and saved by their workes, and may merit heaven by good deeds, as the Iewes and Papists doe beleeve. But if wee know, that by good deeds and righteous workes, the Evange∣lists and Apostles doe common∣ly meane not simple workes of obedience to the Law, but works done by a true saving and justi∣fying faith, he cannot be decei∣ved. For such workes have these two prerogatives above all others. First, in that they are fruits of a justifying faith, which Page 7 can never faile, and doe proceed from the spirit of repentance, which makes us one with Christ, sonnes of God in him, and abides in us, as an immor∣tall seed, they are infallible to∣kens of our justification, and do assure unto us the Crowne of glory which Christ hath pur∣chased for us, and the kingdome of heaven which is the inheri∣tance of sons. And therefore we may truely say, that he which doth such workes is righteous, and shall be saved, and injoy all blessednesse, not meaning that they make him righteous or merit Heaven; but that they are the evidences of his right to heaven. And the more they are, and the greater and more excel∣lent, the more they testifie a mans union and communion with Christ by a lively faith, and give more assurance of a greater reward. Secondly, being the workes of a man that is justified by faith, and hath perfect com∣munion Page 8 of Christs righteous∣nesse, they have all their spots and staines cleansed and covered with the robe of Christs righte∣ousnesse, and all their defects thereby supplyed to the full, and so they are perfect righteous workes, as well as the doer of them is a perfect righteous man, not in themselves, but by vertue of Christ his obedience, which is communicated and imputed to the worker of them, and in him to them also. They are righte∣ous, and are so called, not actual∣ly or effectually, but passively; that is, not for making the doer of them righteous, but by the doers receiving of Christs righ∣teousnesse by that faith whereof they are fruits; which righte∣ousnesse doth supply all their defects, and makes them righte∣ous, not by reason of a naturall change in themselves, or altera∣tion of their nature, but by spi∣rituall communion which they have of it, together with the Page 9 doers of them. Thus if we un∣derstand these words in the E∣vangelicall sense, we cannot bee deceived, but may know the truth, and how to answer all gainesayers. I could bring ma∣ny Instances of this nature, but these are sufficient to shew, that before wee can sufficiently ex∣pound & rightly understand the Gospell, it is meet that we should know, and be able to shew the nature, and also the agreement and difference betweene the Law and the Gospell, and be∣tweene the Old and New Testa∣ment. Wherefore before I come to the particular expounding of the Gospell of Saint Iohn, which I have undertaken, I will follow the steps of the learned of for∣mer times, and will endevour to shew briefely the agreement and difference betweene the Old and New Testament, betweene the Old Covenant of Workes, and the New Covenant of Grace, and betweeen the Law & the Go∣spell Page 10 in the first place. And in so doing I will labour to reform some things which they have done before me, and to handle this point a little more distinct∣ly. For whereas the most part of them doe confusedly com∣pare the Law and the Gospel to∣gether without distinction of the words: and while they la∣bour to make the Gospell more glorious by all meanes, they doe put too great a difference be∣tweene it and the Law, which hath beene a cause of much er∣rour to many, and even of vili∣fying and contemning the Old Testament and the Law; My desire and purpose is, first to shew the severall acceptations and the true sense and meaning of the words; and then to de∣clare the true agreement and difference, and to make those differences which are observed by others to agree together so far as truth will suffer, and to cut off all vaine and needlesse diffe∣rences. Page 11 This doing, I hope I shall reserve to each their due reverence and respect; God shall have his glory by both the Law and Gospell; Your hearts shall be enabled with love of both, and you better enabled to understand the true meaning of the Gospell, and to feele the power thereof in your soules.