Light for Them that Sit in Darkness
by John Bunyan
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[16] The filial fear of God is most prevalent when the heart is impressed with a lively sense of the love of God manifested in Christ. As a dutiful and obedient child fears to offend an affectionate parent, or as a person of grateful heart would be extremely careful not to grieve a kind and bountiful friend, who is continually loading him with favours and promoting his true happiness; so, and much more, will the gracious soul be afraid of displeasing the Lord, his bountiful and unwearied benefactor, who is crowning him with loving kindness and tender mercies.—Mason.

[17] It is no new thing for those who are in public places, to seek themselves more than the public welfare; nay, and to serve themselves by the public loss.—Henry.

[18] How does this remind us of the character of By-ends in the "Pilgrim's Progress" !—Ed.

[19] So Ainsworth understands, p. 134, vol. 10. He renders it, "lurking lions, which are lusty, strong-toothed, fierce, roaring, and ravenous. And hereby," says he, "may be meant the rich and mighty of the world, whom God often bringeth to misery." "They that are ravenous, and prey on all about them, shall want, but the meek shall inherit the earth; they shall not want who, with quiet obedience, work and mind their own business; plain-hearted Jacob has pottage enough, when Esau, the cunning hunter, is ready to perish." Henry.—Ed.

[20] "The conduct of angels" means not merely their guiding pilgrims in the way, but also, in a military sense, a guard, or what is now called a convoy.—Ed.

[21] See margin, Genesis 41:43, and 40:8.—Ed.

[22] To publish by sound of trumpet, to trumpet good tidings. In Bunyan's time it was never used ironically.—Ed.

[23] This if from the Bible, and not from the inferior version in the Book of Common Prayer, commonly called the reading Psalms.—Ed.

[24] Sternhold and Hopkin's edit. 1635.—The propriety of singing in public worship was strongly debated by some of the Nonconformists. There were very weighty reasons, in persecuting times, for meetings being held as quietly as possible. The Quakers to this day do not admit singing in their assemblies. The introduction of this psalm proves that Bunyan was acquainted with the "singing" Psalms, and, in all probability, practised singing in public worship. When James I. improved this version for church use, called the Psalms of KING David, translated by KING James, his last four lines are—

Thou of Jerusalem shalt see While as thou liv'st the good, Thou shalt thy children's children see, And peace on Israel's brood.

How blessed are we in our day with the poetry of Watts, Wesley, and a host of others, who have supplied the church with beautiful soul-inspiring compositions, without fear to restrain us in using them.—Ed.

[25] No one can charge Bunyan with a superstitious notion of dreams, whether asleep or as if asleep. Such a mode of interpretation as he recommends is both rational and scriptural. To dream awake is thus explained—"They dream on in a course of reading without digesting."—Locke.—Ed.

[26] Whoever thou art, beseech the Lord to weigh thee in the balances of the sanctuary. No fear of God—no grace in the soul. Of this class is the proud, the covetous, the glutton, the liar, the apostate, the perverter of God's people from the right way; obstinate and incorrigible backsliders; those who neither mourn nor sigh for the wickedness of the land; they that prefer their own fancies, dreams, frames, and feelings, to the Word of God; swearers, adulterers, perjured persons, and oppressors of the poor; they that insult the godly, and rejoice at their sufferings; they that have no love, gratitude, nor sense of duty to God, as the fountain of their unmerited mercies. O reader, give God no rest until, by his Word and Spirit, he imparts to thee this holy fear as the earnest of glory hereafter; without it you are perishing.—Mason.—Ed.

[27] "Snaffle"; a loose bridle with a curb. "To snaffle"; to be easily led.

"The third o' the' world is yours, which with a snaffle, You may pace easy, but not such a wise." Antony and Cleopatra.—Ed.

[28] How familiar but striking an illustration. Reader, look well to the mainspring, and see also that the wheels are not clogged. We ought to be living epistles, known and read of all men.—Ed.

[29] "A royster"; a violent, riotous, blustering, turbulent, fellow—a species of men now much out of date, as are jails and gibbets, sword and burning stake. How great and true that courage which could look at, and expect, such trials, without shrinking, when they were threatened as a reward for love to Christ and holy obedience to his gospel!—Ed.

[30] This is a very strong and striking expression. "To soak," means to imbibe as much as we can contain; and as to the influence of godly fear, happy shall we be in proportion as we are enabled to follow Bunyan's advice.—Ed.

[31] The words, "he made them houses," we humbly suggest, may not only mean that these God-fearing women had safe dwelling-places, but, in a more extensive sense, God made them the heads of honourable families, see 1 Samuel 2:35; 2 Samuel 7:11, 13, 27, 29; 1 Kings 2:24, 11:28. So David's prayer was, "Let my house be established before thee; thou, O my God, wilt build me an house" (1 Chron 17:24,25).—Ed.

[32] Royal patents, in Bunyan's time, were lucrative but most oppressive, conferring upon favourites, or their nominees, an exclusive right to deal in any article of manufacture. But the patent to God's fearers, to trust in him when involved in darkness and distress, is a blessed privilege, injurious to none.—Ed.

[33] "Grabbling"; sprawling along, drawing the body, by the hands, through a small aperture in a mine.—Ed.

[34] "Tines"; from the Saxon; the teeth or spikes in the rowel of a spur.—Ed.

[35] "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord." Blessedness shall attend him all the way to heaven, in proportion as that fear abounds. It is a heaven on earth to live in the constant fear of God—to have a reverential awe and fear of his majesty immovably fixed and implanted in the soul. The grace of fear has an eminent influence in a Christian's sanctification; it is a powerful restraint from sin. A holy fear of God, and a humble fear of ourselves, which are alike of Divine operation, will preserve us from sin and engage us to obedience. God will be our protector and instructor, our guide and our everlasting deliverer from all evil. Let us not rest satisfied with the greatest attainments short of "perfecting holiness in the fear of God."—Mason.

[36] By the goats we are to understand the hypocrites and the finally impenitent, who will depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; see Matthew 25:32, 33-41.—Ed.







Wherein, for the better understanding of the reader, there are several questions answered touching the law and grace, very easy to be read, and as easy to be understood, by those that are the sons of wisdom, the children of the second covenant.

"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Heb 7:19).

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom 3:28).

"To him [therefore] that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:5).


It is difficult to understand those peculiar trials which called forth the mighty energies of Bunyan's mind, unless we are acquainted with the times in which he lived. The trammels of statecraft and priestcraft had been suddenly removed from religion, and men were left to form their own opinions as to rites and ceremonies. In this state of abrupt liberty, some wild enthusiasts ran into singular errors; and Bunyan's first work on "Gospel Truths" was published to correct them. Then followed that alarm to thoughtless souls—"A Few Sighs from Hell"; and, in 1659, as a further declaration of the most important truths of revelation, this work on the two covenants was sent forth to chastise error, and comfort the saints of God. It was published many times during the author's life; and since then, to a late period, very large impressions have been circulated. Upon a subject of such vast importance—upon which hangs all our eternal interests—all our indescribable joys or sorrows in a future and never-ending state—the requirements of our Creator—and His gracious provision of pardoning mercy, upon our failing to keep His Law—these are subjects of intense interest. How important is it that all our researches into these solemn realities should be guided simply by the revealed will of God! That was the fountain at which Bunyan drunk in all his knowledge; and with simplicity, and most earnest desire to promote the glory of God in the salvation of sinners, he here gives the result of his patient, prayerful, painful investigation. The humble dependence upon Divine mercy which the author felt is very striking. He was sensible of his want of education; "no vain, whimsical, scholar-like terms"—no philosophy from Plato or Aristotle. He felt, as to human teaching, his weakness, but proved that, "when he was weak, then was he strong." He claimed an interest in the fervent prayers of his fellow saints—"My heart is vile, the devil lieth at watch, trust myself I dare not; if God do not help me, my heart will deceive me." This was the proper spirit in which to enter upon so solemn a subject; and the aid he sought was vouchsafed to him, and appears throughout this important work. His first object is to define what is the Law, a strict obedience to which is exacted upon all mankind. It was given to Adam, and was afterwards more fully developed upon Mount Sinai. It commands implicit, universal, perfect obedience, upon pain of eternal ruin. He shows us that man, under the influence of that law, and while a stranger to the Law of Grace, may repent and reform his conduct, become a member of a Christian church, be a virgin waiting for his Lord, "but not step even upon the lowest round of the ladder that reacheth to heaven." While man is a stranger to the new birth, "his destiny is the lion's den; yea, worse than that, to be thrown into Hell to the very devils." Bunyan in this, as well as all other of his works, is awfully severe upon those who say, "Let us sin that grace may abound," perverting the consolatory doctrine of Divine grace to their souls' destruction. "What! because Christ is a Saviour, wilt thou be a sinner! because His grace abounds, therefore thou wilt abound in sin! O wicked wretch! rake Hell all over, and surely I think thy fellow will scarce be found. If Christ will not serve their turn, but they must have their sins too, take them, Devil; if Heaven will not satisfy them, take them, Hell; devour them, burn them, Hell!" "Tell the hogs of this world what a hog-sty is prepared for them, even such an one as a God hath prepared to put the devil and his angels into."

To the distressed, sin-beaten Christian, this book abounds with consolation, and instructions how to overcome the devices of Satan, who will plant the Ten Commandments, like ten great guns, to destroy thy hopes. "Learn to outshoot the devil in his own bow, and to cut off his head with his own sword. Doth Satan tell thee thou prayest but faintly and with cold devotions? Answer him, I am glad you told me, I will trust the more to Christ's prayers, and groan, sigh, and cry more earnestly at the Throne of Grace." To such readers as have been driven to the verge of despair by a fear of having committed the unpardonable sin, here is strong consolation, and a very explicit scriptural definition of that awful crime. Want of space prevents me adding more than my earnest desire that the reading of this treatise may be productive of solid peace and comfort.—ED.



If at any time there be held forth by the preacher the freeness and fullness of the Gospel, together with the readiness of the Lord of Peace to receive those that have any desire thereto, presently it is the spirit of the world to cry out, Sure this man disdains the law, slights the law, and counts that of none effect; and all because there is not, together with the Gospel, mingled the doctrine of the law, which is not a right dispensing of the Word according to truth and knowledge. Again; if there be the terror, horror, and severity of the law discovered to a people by the servants of Jesus Christ, though they do not speak of it to the end people should trust to it, by relying on it as it is a covenant of works; but rather that they should be driven further from that covenant, even to embrace the tenders and privileges of the second, yet, poor souls, because they are unacquainted with the natures of these two covenants, or either of them, therefore, "they say," "Here is nothing but preaching of the law, thundering of the law"; when, alas, if these two be not held forth—to wit, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, together with the nature of the one and the nature of the other—souls will never be able either to know what they are by nature or what they lie under. Also, neither can they understand what grace is, nor how to come from under the law to meet God in and through that other most glorious covenant, through which and only through which, God can communicate of Himself grace, glory, yea, even all the good things of another world.

I, having considered these things, together with others, have made bold to present yet once more to thy view, my friend, something of the mind of God, to the end, if it shall be but blessed to thee, thou mayest be benefited thereby; for verily these things are not such as are ordinary and of small concernment, but do absolutely concern thee to know, and that experimentally too, if ever thou do partake of the glory of God through Jesus Christ, and so escape the terror and insupportable vengeance that will otherwise come upon thee through His justice, because of thy living and dying in thy transgressions against the Law of God. And therefore, while thou livest here below, it is thy duty, if thou wish thyself happy for the time to come, to give up thyself to the studying of these two covenants treated of in the ensuing discourse; and so to study them until thou, through grace, do not only get the notion of the one and of the other in thy head, but until thou do feel the very power, life, and glory of the one and of the other: for take this for granted, he that is dark as touching the scope, intent, and nature of the law, is also dark as to the scope, nature, and glory of the Gospel; and also he that hath but a notion of the one, will barely have any more than a notion of the other.

And the reason is this: because so long as people are ignorant of the nature of the law, and of their being under it—that is, under the curse and condemning power of it, by reason of their sin against it—so long they will be careless, and negligent as to the inquiring after the true knowledge of the Gospel. Before the commandment came—that is, in the spirituality of it—Paul was alive—that is, thought himself safe; which is clear, (Rom 7:9,10 compared with Phil 3:5-11, etc). But when that came, and was indeed discovered unto him by the Spirit of the Lord, then Paul dies (Rom 7) to all his former life (Phil 3) and that man which before could content himself to live, though ignorant of the Gospel, cries out now, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (verse 8). Therefore, I say, so long they will be ignorant of the nature of the Gospel, and how glorious a thing it is to be found within the bounds of it; for we use to say, that man that knoweth not himself to be sick, that man will not look out for himself a physician; and this Christ knew full well when He saith, "The whole have no need of the physician, but the sick";1 that is, none will in truth desire the physician unless they know they be sick. That man also that hath got but a notion of the law—a notion, that is, the knowledge of it in the head, so as to discourse and talk of it—if he hath not felt the power of it, and that effectually too, it is to be feared will at the best be but a notionist in the Gospel; he will not have the experimental knowledge of the same in his heart; nay, he will not seek nor heartily desire after it; and all because, as I said before, he hath not experience of the wounding, cutting, killing nature of the other.

I say, therefore, if thou wouldst know the authority and power of the Gospel, labour first to know the power and authority of the law; for I am verily persuaded that the want of this one thing—namely, the knowledge of the law, is one cause why so many are ignorant of the other. That man that doth know the law doth not know in deed and in truth that he is a sinner; and that man that doth not know he is a sinner, doth not know savingly that there is a Saviour.

Again; that man that doth not know the nature of the law, that man doth not know the nature of sin; and that man that knoweth not the nature of sin, will not regard to know the nature of a Saviour; this is proved (John 8:31-36). These people were professors, and yet did not know the truth—the Gospel; and the reason was, because they did not know themselves, and so not the law. I would not have thee mistake me, Christian reader; I do not say that the law of itself will lead any soul to Jesus Christ; but the soul being killed by the law, through the operation of its severity seizing on the soul, then the man, if he be enlightened by the Spirit of Christ to see where remedy is to be had, will not, through grace, be contented without the real and saving knowledge through faith of Him.

If thou wouldst, then, wash thy face clean, first take a glass and see where it is dirty; that is, if thou wouldst indeed have thy sins washed away by the blood of Christ, labour first to see them in the glass of the law, and do not be afraid to see thy besmeared condition, but look on every spot thou hast; for he that looks on the foulness of his face by the halves, will wash by the halves; even so, he that looks on his sins by the halves, he will seek for Christ by the halves. Reckon thyself, therefore, I say, the biggest sinner in the world, and be persuaded that there is none worse than thyself; then let the guilt of it seize on thy heart, then also go in that case and condition to Jesus Christ, and plunge thyself into His merits and the virtue of His blood; and after that, thou shalt speak of the things of the law and of the Gospel experimentally, and the very language of the children of God shall feelingly drop from thy lips, and not till then (James 1).

Let this therefore learn thee thus much: he that hath not seen his lost condition hath not seen a safe condition; he that did never see himself in the devil's snare, did never see himself in Christ's bosom. "This my Son was dead, and is alive again: he was lost, and is found." "Among whom we also had our conversation in time past." 2 "But now are (so many of us as believe) returned unto" Jesus Christ, "the" chief "Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."

I say, therefore, if thou do find in this treatise, in the first place, something touching the nature, end, and extent of the law, do not thou cry out, therefore, all of a sudden, saying, "Here is nothing but the terror, horror, and thundering sentences of the law."

Again; if thou do find in the second part of this discourse something of the freeness and fullness of the Gospel, do not thou say neither, "Here is nothing but grace, therefore, surely, an undervaluing of the law." No; but read it quite through, and so consider of it; and I hope thou shalt find the two covenants—which all men are under, either the one or the other—discovered, and held forth in their natures, ends, bounds, together with the state and condition of them that are under the one, and of them that are under the other.

There be some that through ignorance do say how that such men as preach terror and amazement to sinners are beside the book, and are ministers of the letter—the law, and not of the Spirit—the Gospel; but I would answer them, citing them to the Sixteenth of Luke, from the nineteenth verse to the end; and (1 Cor 6:9,10; Gal 3:10; Rom 3:9-19) only this caution I would give by the way, how that they which preach terror to drive souls to the obtaining of salvation by the works of the law, that preaching is not the right Gospel preaching; yet when saints speak of the sad state that man are in by nature, to discover to souls their need of the Gospel, this is honest preaching, and he that doth do so, he doth the work of a Gospel minister (Rom 3:9-25).

Again, there are others that say, because we do preach the free, full, and exceeding grace discovered in the Gospel, therefore we make void the law; when indeed, unless the Gospel be held forth in the glory thereof without confusion, by mingling the Covenant of Works therewith, the law cannot be established. "Do we then make void the law through faith," or preaching of the Gospel; nay, stay, saith Paul, "God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom 3:31).

And verily, he that will indeed establish the law, or set it in its own place, for so I understand the words, must be sure to hold forth the Gospel in its right colour and nature; for if a man be ignorant of the nature of the Gospel and the Covenant of Grace, they, or he, will be very apt to remove the law out of its place, and that because they are ignorant, not knowing "what they say, nor whereof they affirm."

And let me tell you, if a man be ignorant of the Covenant of Grace, and the bounds and boundlessness of the Gospel, though he speak and make mention of the name of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the name of the new covenant, and the blood of Christ, yet at this very time, and in these very words, he will preach nothing but the law, and that as a Covenant of Works.

Reader, I must confess it is a wonderfully mysterious thing, and he had need have a wiser spirit than his own that can rightly set these two covenants in their right places, that when he speaks of the one he doth not jostle the other out of its place. O, to be so well enlightened as to speak of the one—that is, the law—for to magnify the Gospel; and also to speak of the Gospel so as to establish, and yet not to idolize, the law, nor any particular thereof! It is rare, and to be heard and found but in very few men's breasts.

If thou shouldst say, What is it to speak to each of these two covenants so as to set them in their right places, and also to use the terror of the one so as to magnify and advance the glory of the other? To this I shall answer also, read the ensuing discourse, but with an understanding heart, and it is like thou wilt find a reply therein to the same purpose, which may be to thy satisfaction.

Reader, if thou do find this book empty of fantastical expressions, and without light, vain, whimsical, scholar-like terms, thou must understand it is because I never went to school to Aristotle, or Plato, but was brought up at my father's house, in a very mean condition, among a company of poor countrymen. But if thou do find a parcel of plain, yet sound, true, and home sayings, attribute that to the Lord Jesus His gifts and abilities, which He hath bestowed upon such a poor creature as I am and have been. And if thou, being a seeing Christian, dost find me coming short, though rightly touching at some things, attribute that either to my brevity, or, if thou wilt, to my weaknesses, for I am full of them. A word or two more, and so I shall have done with this.

First. And the first is, Friend, if thou do not desire the salvation of thy soul, yet I pray thee to read this book over with serious consideration; it may be it will stir up in thee some desires to look out after it, which at present thou mayest be without.

Secondly, If thou dost find any stirrings in thy heart by thy reading such an unworthy man's works as mine are, be sure that in the first place thou give glory to God, and give way to thy convictions, and be not too hasty in getting them off from thy conscience; but let them so work till thou dost see thyself by nature void of all graces, as faith, hope, knowledge of God, Christ, and the Covenant of Grace.

Thirdly, Then, in the next place, fly in all haste to Jesus Christ, thou being sensible of thy lost condition without Him, secretly persuading of thy soul that Jesus Christ standeth open-armed to receive thee, to wash away thy sins, to clothe thee with His righteousness, and is willing, yea, heartily willing, to present thee before the presence of the glory of God and among the innumerable company of angels with exceeding joy. This being thus, in the next place, do not satisfy thyself with these secret and first persuasions, which do or may encourage thee to come to Jesus Christ; but be restless till thou dost find by blessed experience the glorious glory of this the second covenant extended unto thee, and sealed upon thy soul with the very Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that thou mayest not slight this my counsel, I beseech thee, in the second place, consider these following things—

First, If thou dost get off thy convictions, and not the right way (which is by seeing thy sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ), it is a question whether ever God will knock at thy heart again or no; but rather say, such an one "is joined to idols, let him alone" (Hosea 4:17). Though he be in a natural state, "let him alone." Though he be in or under the curse of the law, "let him alone." Though he be in the very hand of the devil, "let him alone." Though he be a-going post-haste to Hell, "let him alone." Though his damnation will not only be damnation for sins against the law, but also for slighting the Gospel, yet "let him alone." My Spirit, My ministers, My Word, My grace, My mercy, My love, My pity, My common providences, shall no more strive with him; "let him alone." O sad! O miserable! who would slight convictions that are on their souls, which (if not slighted) tend so much for their good?

Secondly, If thou shalt not regard how thou do put off convictions, but put them off without the precious blood of Christ being savingly applied to thy soul, thou art sure to have the mis-spending of that conviction to prove the hardening of thy heart against the next time thou art to hear the Word preached or read. This is commonly seen, that those souls that have not regarded those convictions that are at first set upon their spirits, do commonly, and that by the just judgments of God upon them, grow more hard, more senseless, more seared and sottish in their spirits; for some, who formerly would quake and weep, and relent under the hearing of the Word, do now for the present sit so senseless, so seared, and hardened in their consciences, that certainly if they should have hell-fire thrown in their faces, as it sometimes cried up in their ears, they would scarce be moved; and this comes upon them as a just judgment of God (2 Thess 2:11,12).

Thirdly, If thou do slight these, or those convictions that may be set upon thy heart by reading of this discourse, or hearing of any other good man preach the Word of God sincerely, thou wilt have the stifling of these or those convictions to account and answer for at the day of judgment; not only thy sins, that are commonly committed by thee in thy calling and common discourse, but thou shalt be called to a reckoning for slighting convictions, disregarding of convictions, which God useth as a special means to make poor sinners see their lost condition and the need of a Saviour. Now here I might add many more considerations besides these, to the end thou mayest be willing to tend and listen to convictions; as,

First, Consider thou hast a precious soul, more worth than the whole world; and this is commonly worked upon, if ever it be saved, by convictions.

Secondly, This soul is for certain to go to Hell, if thou shalt be a slighter of convictions.

Thirdly, If that go to Hell, thy body must go thither too, and then never to come out again. "Now consider this, ye that" are apt to "forget God," and His convictions, "lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver" (Psa 50:22).

But if thou shalt be such an one that shall, notwithstanding thy reading of thy misery, and also of God's mercy, shall persist to go on in thy sins, know, in the first place, that here thou shalt be left, by the things that thou readest, without excuse; and in the world to come thy damnation will be exceedingly aggravated for thy not regarding of them, and turning from thy sins, which were not only reproved by them, but also for rejecting of that Word of Grace that did instruct thee how and which way thou shouldst be saved from them. And so farewell; I shall leave thee, and also this discourse, to God, who I know will pass a righteous judgment both upon that and thee. I am yours, though not to serve your lusts and filthy minds, yet to reprove, instruct, and, according to that proportion of faith and knowledge which God hath given me, to declare unto you the way of life and salvation. Your judgings, railings, surmisings, and disdaining of me, that I shall leave till the fiery judgment comes, in which the offender shall not go unpunished, be he you or me; yet I shall pray for you, wish well to you, and do you what good I can. And that I might not write or speak in vain, Christian, pray for me to our God with much earnestness, fervency, and frequently, in all your knockings at our Father's door, because I do very much stand in need thereof; for my work is great, my heart is vile, the devil lieth at watch, the world would fain be saying, "Aha, aha, thus we would have it"; and of myself, keep myself I cannot; trust myself I dare not; if God do not help me, I am sure it will not be long before my heart deceive me, and the world would have their advantage of me, and so God be dishonoured by me, and thou also ashamed to own me. O, therefore, be much in prayer for me, thy fellow! I trust, in that glorious grace that is conveyed from Heaven to sinners, by which they are not only sanctified here in this world, but shall be glorified in that which is to come; unto which, the Lord of His mercy bring us all.

John Bunyan.

These are several titles which are set over the several TRUTHS contained in this book, for thy sooner finding of them—


1. The words of the text opened, and the doctrines laid down. [This doctrine, that there are some that are under the law, or under the Covenant of Works.] 2. What the Covenant of Works is, and when it is given. 3. What it is to be under the Covenant of Works. 4. Who they are that are under the Covenant of Works. 5. What men may attain to that are under this Covenant of Works.


1. The doctrine proved. 2. The new covenant made with Christ. 3. The conditions of the new covenant. 4. The suretiship of Christ. 5. Christ the Messenger of the new covenant. 6. Christ the Sacrifice of the new covenant. 7. Christ the High Priest of the new covenant. 8. Christ completely fulfilled the conditions of the new covenant. 9. The Covenant of Grace unchangeable; the opposers answered. 10. Who, and how men are actually brought into the new covenant. 11. A word of experience. 12. The privileges of the new covenant. 13. Two Hell-bred objections answered. 14. A use of examination about the old covenant. 15. A legal spirit. 16. The use of the new covenant. 17. The unpardonable sin. 18. Objections answered for their comfort who would have their part in the new covenant.




In the three former chapters, the Apostle is pleading for the salvation of sinners by grace without the works of the law, to the end he might confirm the saints, and also that he might win over all those that did oppose the truth of this doctrine, or else leave them the more without excuse; and that he might so do, he taketh in hand, first, to show the state of all men naturally, or as they come into the world by generation, saying, in the Third Chapter, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that doeth good," etc. As if he had said, It seems there is a generation of men that think to be saved by the righteousness of the law; but let me tell them that they are much deceived, in that they have already sinned against the law; for by the disobedience of one, many, yea all, were brought into a state of condemnation (Rom 5:12-20). Now, in the Sixth Chapter he doth, as if he had turned him round to the brethren, and said, My brethren, you see now that it is clear and evident that it is freely by the grace of Christ that we do inherit eternal life. And again, for your comfort, my brethren, let me tell you that your condition is wondrous safe, in that you are under grace; for, saith he, "Sin shall not have dominion over you"; that is, neither the damning power, neither the filthy power, so as to destroy your souls: "For ye are not under the law"; that is, you are not under that that will damn you for sin; "but" you are "under grace," or stand thus in relation to God, that though you have sinned, yet you shall be pardoned. "For ye are not under the law, but under grace." If any should ask what is the meaning of the word "under," I answer, it signifieth, you are not held, kept, or shut up by it so as to appear before God under that administration, and none but that; or thus, you are not now bound by the authority of the law to fulfill it and obey it, so as to have no salvation without you so do; or thus, if you transgress against any one tittle of it, you by the power of it must be condemned. No, no, for you are not so under it; that is, not thus under the law. Again, "For ye are not under the law." What is meant by this word "law"? The word "law," in Scripture, may be taken more ways than one, as might be largely cleared. There is the law of faith, the law of sin, the law of men, the law of works, otherwise called the Covenant of Works, or the first or old covenant. "In that He saith a new covenant," which is the grace of God, or commonly called the Covenant of Grace, "He hath made the first old," that is, the Covenant of Works, or the law (Heb 8:13). I say, therefore, the word "law" and the word "grace," in this Sixth of the Romans, do hold forth the two covenants which all men are under; that is, either the one or the other. "For ye are not under the law"—that is, you to whom I do now write these words, who are and have been effectually brought into the faith of Jesus, you are not under the law, or under the Covenant of Works. He doth not, therefore, apply these words to all, but to some, when he saith, "But ye"; mark, ye, ye believers, ye converted persons, ye saints, ye that have been born. (YE) "for ye are not under the law," implying others are that are in their natural state, that have not been brought in to the Covenant of Grace by faith in Jesus Christ.

The words, therefore, being thus understood, there is discovered these two truths in them—DOCTRINE FIRST. That there are some in Gospel times that are under the Covenant of Works. DOCTRINE SECOND. That there is never a believer under the law, as it is the Covenant of Works, but under grace through Christ. "For ye," you believers, you converted persons, ye "are not under the law but under grace"; or, for you are delivered and brought into or under the Covenant of Grace.


For the first, THAT THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE UNDER THE LAW, OR UNDER THE COVENANT OF WORKS, see, I pray you, that Scripture in the Third of the Romans, where the Apostle, speaking before of sins against the law, and of the denunciations thereof against those that are in that condition, he saith, "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law"; mark, "it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Rom 3:19). That is, all those that are under the law as a Covenant of Works, that are yet in their sins, and unconverted, as I told you before. Again he saith, "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal 5:18). Implying again, that those which are for sinning against the law, or the works of the law, either as it is the old covenant, these are under the law, and not under the Covenant of Grace. Again he saith, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Gal 3:10). That is, they that are under the law are under the curse; for mark, they that are under the Covenant of Grace are not under the curse. Now, there are but two covenants, therefore, it must needs be that they that are under the curse are under the law, seeing those that are under the other covenant are not under the curse, but under the blessing. "So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham," but the rest are under the law (Gal 3:9).

Now I shall proceed to what I do intend to speak unto. FIRST. I shall show you what the Covenant of Works, or the law, is, and when it was first given, together with the nature of it. SECOND. I shall show you what it is to be under the law, or Covenant of Works, and the miserable state of all those that are under it. THIRD. I shall show you who they are that are under this covenant, or law. FOURTH. I shall show you how far a man may go and yet be under this covenant, or law.


FIRST. What this Covenant of Works is, and when it was given. [What this covenant is.] The Covenant of Works or the law, here spoken of, is the law delivered upon Mount Sinai to Moses, in two tables of stone, in ten particular branches or heads; for this see Galatians 4. The Apostle, speaking there of the law, and of some also that through delusions of false doctrine were brought again, as it were, under it, or at least were leaning that way (verse 21) he saith, As for you that desire to be under the law, I will show you the mystery of Abraham's two sons, which he had by Hagar and Sarah; these two do signify the two covenants; the one named Hagar signifies Mount Sinai, where the law was delivered to Moses on two tables of stone (Exo 24:12; 34:1; Deu 10:1). Which is that, that whosoever is under, he is destitute of, and altogether without the grace of Christ in his heart at the present. "For I testify again to every man," saith he, speaking to the same people, that "Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law," namely, that given on Mount Sinai—"ye are fallen from grace" (Gal 5:3,4). That is, not that any can be justified by the law; but this meaning is, that all those that seek justification by the works of the law, they are not such as seek to be under the second covenant, the Covenant of Grace. Also the Apostle, speaking again of these two covenants, saith, "But if the ministration of death," or the law, for it is all one, "written and engraven in stones," mark that, "was glorious, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit," or the Covenant of Grace, "be rather glorious?" (2 Cor 3:7,8). As if he had said, It is true, there was a glory in the Covenant of Works, and a very great excellency did appear in it—namely, in that given in the stones on Sinai—yet there is another covenant, the Covenant of Grace, that doth exceed it for comfort and glory.

[When it was given.] But, though this law was delivered to Moses from the hands of angels in two tables of stones, on Mount Sinai, yet this was not the first appearing of this law to man; but even this in substance, though possibly not so openly, was given to the first man, Adam, in the Garden of Eden, in these words: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest 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). Which commandment then given to Adam did contain in it a forbidding to do any of those things that was and is accounted evil, although at that time it did not appear so plainly, in so many particular heads, as it did when it was again delivered on Mount Sinai; but yet the very same. And that I shall prove thus—

God commanded Adam in Paradise to abstain from all evil against the first covenant, and not from some sins only; but if God had not commanded Adam to abstain from the sins spoken against in the Ten Commandments, He had not commanded to abstain from all, but from some; therefore it must needs be that He then commanded to abstain from all sins forbidden in the law given on Mount Sinai. Now that God commanded to abstain from all evil or sin against any of the Ten Commandments, when He gave Adam the command in the garden, it is evident that He did punish the sins that were committed against those commands that were then delivered on Mount Sinai, before they were delivered on Mount Sinai, which will appear as followeth—

The First, Second, and Third Commandments were broken by Pharaoh and his men; for they had false gods which the Lord executed judgment against (Exo 12:12); and blasphemed their true God (Exo 5:2) which escaped not punishment (Exo 7:17-25). For their gods could neither deliver themselves nor their people from the hand of God; but "in the thing wherein they dealt proudly, He was above them" (Exo 18:11).

Again; some judge that the Lord punished the sin against the Second Commandment, which Jacob was in some measure guilty of in not purging his house from false gods, with the defiling of his daughter Dinah (Gen 34:2).

Again; we find that Abimelech thought the sin against the Third Commandment so great, that he required no other security of Abraham against the fear of mischief that might be done to him by Abraham, his son, and his son's son, but only Abraham's oath (Gen 21:23). The like we see between Abimelech and Isaac (Gen 31:53). The like we find in Moses and the Israelites, who durst not leave the bones of Joseph in Egypt, because of the oath of the Lord, whose name, by so doing, would have been abused (Exo 13:19).

And we find the Lord rebuking His people for the breach of the Fourth Commandment (Exo 16:27-29).

And for the breach of the Fifth, the curse came upon Ham (Gen 9:25-27). And Ishmael dishonouring his father in mocking Isaac was cast out, as we read (Gen 21:9,10). The sons-in-law of Lot for slighting their father perish in the overthrow of Sodom (Gen 19:14).

The Sixth Commandment was broken by Cain, and so dreadful a curse and punishment came upon him that it made him cry out, "My punishment is greater than I can bear" (Gen 4:13).

Again; when Esau threatened to slay his brother, Rebecca sent him away, saying, "Why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?" hinting unto us, that she knew murder was to be punished with death (Gen 27:45) which the Lord Himself declared likewise to Noah (Gen 9:6).3 Again; a notable example of the Lord's justice in punishing murder we see in the Egyptians and Pharaoh, who drowned the Israelites' children in the river (Exo 1:22); and they themselves were drowned in the sea (Exo 14:27).

The sin against the Seventh Commandment was punished in the Sodomites, etc., with the utter destruction of their city and themselves (Gen 19:24,25). Yea, they suffer "the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7). Also the male Shechemites, for the sin committed by Hamor's son, were all put to the sword (Gen 34:25,26).

Our first parents sinned against the Eighth Commandment in taking the forbidden fruit, and so brought the curse on themselves and their posterity (Gen 3:16). Again; the punishment due to the breach of this Commandment was by Jacob accounted death (Gen 31:30,32). And also by Jacob's sons (Gen 44:9,10).

Cain sinning against the Ninth Commandment as in Genesis 4:9, was therefore cursed as to the earth (Verse 11). And Abraham, though the friend of God, was blamed for false-witness by Pharaoh, and sent out of Egypt (Gen 12:18-20) and both he and Sarah reproved by Abimelech (Gen 20:9,10,16).

Pharaoh sinned against the Tenth Commandment, and was therefore plagued with great plagues (Gen 12:15,17). Abimelech coveted Abraham's wife, and the Lord threatened death to him and his, except he restored her again; yea, though he had not come near her, yet for coveting and taking her the Lord fast closed up the wombs of his house (Gen 20:3,18).

[Further Arguments.] I could have spoken more fully to this, but that I would not be too tedious, but speak what I have to say with as much brevity as I can. But before I pass it, I will besides this give you an argument or two more for the further clearing of this, that the substance of the law delivered on Mount Sinai was, before that, delivered by the Lord to man in the garden. As, first, "death reigned over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression"—that is, though they did not take the forbidden fruit as Adam did; but had the transgression been no other, or had their sin been laid to the charge of none but those that did eat of that fruit, then those that were born to Adam after he was shut out of the garden had not had sin, in that they did not actually eat of that fruit, and so had not been slaves to death; but, in that death did reign from Adam to Moses, of from the time of his transgression against the first giving of the law, till the time the law was given on Mount Sinai, it is evident that the substance of the Ten Commandments was given to Adam and his posterity under that command, "Eat not of the tree that is in the midst of the garden." But yet, if any shall say that it was because of the sin of their father that death reigned over them, to that I shall answer, that although original sin be laid to the charge of his posterity, yet it is also for their sins that they actually committed that they were plagued. And again, saith the Apostle, "For where no law is, there is no transgression" (Rom 4:15). For "sin is not imputed when there is no law; nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses." saith he (Rom 5:13,14). But if there had been no law, then there had been no transgression, and so no death to follow after as the wages thereof; for death is the wages of sin (Rom 6:23) and sin is the breach of the law; an actual breach in our particular persons, as well as an actual breach in our public person (1 John 3:4). 4

Again; there are no other sins than those against that law given on Sinai, for the which those sins before mentioned were punished; therefore the law given before by the Lord to Adam and his posterity is the same with that afterwards given on Mount Sinai. Again; the conditions of that on Sinai and of that in the garden are all one; the one saying, "Do this and live," the other saying the same. Also judgment denounced against men in both kinds alike; therefore this law it appeareth to be the very same that was given on Mount Sinai.

Again; the Apostle speaketh but of two covenants—to wit, grace and works—under which two covenants all are; some under one, and some under the other. Now this to Adam is one, therefore that on Sinai is one, and all one with this; and that this is a truth, I say, I know, because the sins against that on Sinai were punished by God for the breech thereof before it was given there; so it doth plainly appear to be a truth; for it would be unrighteous with God for to punish for that law that was not broken; therefore it was all one with that on Sinai.

Now the law given on Sinai was for the more clear discovery of those sins that were before committed against it; for though the very substance of the Ten Commandments were given in the garden before they were received from Sinai, yet they lay so darkly in the heart of man, that his sins were not so clearly discovered as afterwards they were; therefore, saith the Apostle, the law was added (Gal 3:19). Or, more plainly, given on Sinai, on tables of stone, "that the offence might abound,"—that is, that it might the more clearly be made manifest and appear (Rom 5:20).

Again; we have a notable resemblance of this at Sinai, even in giving the law; for, first, the law was given twice on Sinai, to signify that indeed the substance of it was given before. And, secondly, the first tables that were given on Sinai were broken at the foot of the mount, and the others were preserved whole, to signify that though it was the true law that was given before, with that given on Sinai, yet it was not so easy to be read and to be taken notice of, in that the stones were not whole, but broken, and so the law written thereon somewhat defaced and disfigured.

[Object.] But if any object and say, though the sins against the one be the sins against the other, and so in that they do agree, yet it doth not appear that the same is therefore the same Covenant of Works with the other.

Answ. That which was given to Adam in Paradise you will grant was the Covenant of Works; for it runs thus: Do this and live; do it not and die; nay, "Thou shalt surely die." Now there is but one Covenant of Works. If therefore I prove that that which was delivered on Mount Sinai is the Covenant of Works, then all will be put out of doubt. Now that this is so it is evident—

1. Consider the two covenants are thus called in Scripture, the one the administration of death, and the other the administration of life; the one the Covenant of Works, the other of grace; but that delivered on Sinai is called the ministration of death; that, therefore, is the Covenant of Works. "But if," saith he, "the ministration of death, written and engraven on stones was glorious," (2 Cor 3:7).

2. The Apostle, writing to the Galatians, doth labour to beat them off from trusting in the Covenant of Works; but when he comes to give a discovery of that law or covenant—he labouring to take them off from trusting in it—he doth plainly tell them it is that which was given on Sinai (Gal 4:24,25). Therefore that which was delivered in two tables of stone on Mount Sinai, is the very same thing that was given before to Adam in Paradise, they running both alike; that in the garden saying, Do this and live; but in the day thou eatest thereof—or dost not do this—thou shalt surely die.

And so is this on Sinai, as is evident when he saith, "the man which doeth those things shall live by them" (Rom 10:5). And in case they break them, even any of them, it saith, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the (whole) book of the law to do them" (Gal 3:10). Now this being thus cleared, I shall proceed.


SECOND. A second thing to be spoken to is this: to show what it is to be under the law as it is a Covenant of Works; to which I shall speak, and that thus—

To be under the law as it is a Covenant of Works, is to be bound, upon pain of eternal damnation, to fulfill, and that completely and continually, every particular point of the Ten Commandments, by doing them—Do this, and then thou shalt live; otherwise, "cursed is every one that continueth not in all," in every particular thing or "things which are written in the book for the law to do them" (Gal 3:10). That man that is under the first covenant stands thus, and only thus, as he is under that covenant, or law. Poor souls, through ignorance of the nature of that Covenant of Works, the law that they are under, they do not think their state to be half so bad as it is; when, alas! there is none in the world in such a sad condition again besides themselves; for, indeed, they do not understand these things. He that is under the law, as it is a Covenant of Works, is like the man that is bound by the law of his king, upon pain of banishment, or of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, not to transgress any of the commandments of the king; so here, they that are under the Covenant of Works, they are bound, upon pain of eternal banishment and condemnation, to keep within the compass of the law of the God of Heaven. The Covenant of Works may, in this case, be compared to the laws of the Medes and Persians, which being once made, cannot be altered. Daniel 6:8. You find that when there was a law made and given forth that none should ask a petition of any, God or man, but of the king only; this law being established by the king (verse 9). Daniel breaking of it, let all do whatever they can, Daniel must go into the lions' den (verse 16). So here, I say, there being a law given, and sealed with the Truth and the Word of God,—how that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Eze 18:4). Whosoever doth abide under this covenant, and dieth under the same, they must and shall go into the lion's den; yea, worse than that, for they shall be thrown into Hell, to the very devils.

But to speak in a few particulars for thy better understanding herein, know,

First. That the Law of God, or Covenant of Works, doth not contain itself in one particular branch of the law, but doth extend itself into many, even into all the Ten Commandments, and those ten into very many more, as might be showed; so that the danger doth not lie in the breaking of one or two of these ten only, but it doth lie even in the transgression of any one of them. As you know, if a king should give forth ten particular commands to be obeyed by his subjects upon pain of death; now if any man doth transgress against any one of these ten, he doth commit treason, as if he had broke them all, and lieth liable to have the sentence of the law as certainly passed on him as if he had broken every particular of them.

Second. Again; you know that the laws being given forth by the king, which if a man keep and obey for a long time, yet if at the last he slips and breaks those laws, he is presently apprehended, and condemned by that law. These things are clear as touching the Law of God, as it is a Covenant of Works. If a man doth fulfill nine of the Commandments, and yet breaketh but one, that being broken will as surely destroy him and shut him out from the joys of Heaven as if he had actually transgressed against them all; for indeed, in effect, so he hath. There is a notable Scripture for this in the Epistle of James, Second Chapter, at the tenth verse, that runs thus:—"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all,"—that is, he hath in effect broken them all, and shall have the voice of them all cry out against him. And it must needs be so, saith James, because "He that said," or that law which said, "Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law" (Verse 11). As thus; it may be thou didst never make to thyself a god of stone or wood, or at least not to worship them so greatly and so openly as the heathen do, yet if thou hast stolen, born false witness, or lusted after a woman in thy heart (Matt 5:28) thou hast transgressed the law, and must for certain, living and dying under that covenant, perish for ever by the law; for the law hath resolved on that before-hand, saying, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in ALL things"; mark, I pray you, "in all things"; that is the Word, and that seals the doctrine.

Third. Again; though a man doth not covet, steal, murder, worship gods of wood and stone, etc., yet if he do take the Lord's name in vain, he is for ever gone, living and dying under that covenant. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain"; there is the command. But how if we do? Then he saith, "the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." No; though thou live as holy as ever thou canst, and walk as circumspectly as ever any did, yet if thou dost take the Lord's name in vain, thou art gone by that covenant: "For I will not," mark "I will not," let him be in never so much danger, "I will not hold him guiltless that taketh My name in vain" (Exo 20:7). And so likewise for any other of the ten, do but break them, and thy state is irrecoverable, if thou live and die under that covenant.

Fourth. Though thou shouldest fulfill this covenant, or law, even all of it, for a long time, ten, twenty, forty, fifty, or threescore years, yet if thou do chance to slip and break one of them but once before thou die, thou art also gone and lost by that covenant; for mark, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things," that continueth not in ALL things, mark that, "which are written in the book of the law to do them." But if a man doth keep all the Law of God his whole lifetime, and only sin one time before he dies, that one sin is a breach of the law, and he hath not continued in doing the things contained therein. For, so to continue, according to the sense of this Scripture, is to hold on without any failing, either in thought, word, or deed; therefore, I say, though a man doth walk up to the law all his lifetime, but only at the very last sin one time before he die, he is sure to perish for ever, dying under that covenant. For, my friends, you must understand that the Law of God is "yea," as well as the Gospel; and as they that are under the Covenant of Grace shall surely be saved by it, so, even so, they that are under the Covenant of Works and the law, they shall surely be damned by it, if continuing there. This is the Covenant of Works and the nature of it—namely, not to abate anything, no, not a mite, to him that lives and dies under it: "I tell thee," saith Christ, "thou shalt not depart thence," that is, from under the curse, "till thou hast paid the very last mite" (Luke 12:59).

Fifth. Again; you must consider that this law doth not only condemn words and actions, as I said before, but it hath authority to condemn the most secret thoughts of the heart, being evil; so that if thou do not speak any word that is evil, as swearing, lying, jesting, dissembling, or any other word that tendeth to, or savoureth of sin, yet if there should chance to pass but one vain thought through thy heart but once in all thy lifetime, the law taketh hold of it, accuseth, and also will condemn thee for it. You may see one instance for all in (Matt 5:27,28) where Christ saith, that though a man doth not lie with a woman carnally, yet if he doth but look on her, and in his heart lust after her, he is counted by the law, being rightly expounded, such an one that hath committed the sin, and thereby hath laid himself under the condemnation of the law. And so likewise of all the rest of the commands; if there be any thought that is evil do but pass through thy heart, whether it be against God or against man in the least measure, though possibly not discerned of thee, or by thee, yet the law takes hold of thee therefore, and doth by its authority, both cast, condemn, and execute thee for thy so doing. "The thought of foolishness is sin" (Prov 24:9).

Sixth. Again; the law is of that nature and severity, that it doth not only inquire into the generality of thy life as touching several things, whether thou art upright there or no; but the law doth also follow thee into all thy holy duties, and watcheth over thee there, to see whether thou dost do all things aright there—that is to say, whether when thou dost pray thy heart hath no wandering thoughts in it; whether thou do every holy duty thou doest perfectly without the least mixture of sin; and if it do find thee to slip, or in the least measure to fail in any holy duty that thou dost perform, the law taketh hold on that, and findeth fault with that, so as to render all the holy duties that ever thou didst unavailable because of that. I say, if, when thou art a hearing, there is but one vain thought, or in praying, but one vain thought, or in any other thing whatsoever, let it be civil or spiritual, one vain thought once in all thy lifetime will cause the law to take such hold on it, that for that one thing it doth even set open all the floodgates of God's wrath against thee, and irrecoverably by that covenant it doth bring eternal vengeance upon thee; so that, I say, look which ways thou wilt, and fail wherein thou wilt, and do it as seldom as ever thou canst, either in civil or spiritual things, as aforesaid—that is, either in the service of God, or in thy employments in the world, as thy trade or calling, either in buying or selling any way, in anything whatsoever; I say, if in any particular it find thee tardy, or in the least measure guilty, it calleth thee an offender, it accuseth thee to God, it puts a stop to all the promises thereof that are joined to the law, and leaves thee there as a cursed transgressor against God, and a destroyer of thy own soul. 5

Here I would have thee, by the way, for to take notice, that it is not my intent at this time to enlarge on the several commands in particular—for that would be very tedious both for me to write and thee to read; only thus much I would have thee to do at the reading hereof—make a pause, and sit still one quarter of an hour, and muse a little in thy mind thus with thyself, and say, Did I ever break the law; yea or no? Had I ever, in all my lifetime, one sinful thought passed through my heart since I was born; yea or no? And if thou findest thyself guilty, as I am sure thou canst not otherwise choose but do, unless thou shut thy eyes against thy every day's practice, then, I say, conclude thyself guilty of the breach of the first covenant. And when that this is done, be sure, in the next place, thou do not straightway forget it and put it out of thy mind, that thou art condemned by the same covenant; and then do not content thyself until thou do find that God hath sent thee a pardon from Heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator of the second covenant. And if God shall but give thee a heart to take this my counsel, I do make no question but these words spoken by me, will prove an instrument for the directing of thy heart to the right remedy for the salvation of thy soul.

Thus much now touching the law, and the severity of it upon the person that is found under it, having offended or broken any particular of it, either in thought, word, or action; and now, before I do proceed to the next thing, I shall answer four objections that do lie in my way, and also, such as do stumble most part of the world.

[Four Objections.]

Object. First. But you will say, Methinks you speak very harsh; it is enough to daunt a body. Set the case, therefore, that a man, after he hath sinned and broken the law, repenteth of his wickedness and promiseth to do so no more, will not God have mercy then, and save a poor sinner then?

Answ. I told you before, that the covenant, once broken, will execute upon the offender that which it doth threaten to lay upon him; and as for your supposing that your repenting and promising to do so no more may help well, and put you in a condition to attain the mercy of God by the law, these thoughts do flow from gross ignorance both of the nature of sin, and also of the nature of the justice of God. And if I were to give you a description of one in a lost condition for the present, I would brand him out with such a mark of ignorance as this is.

Answ. 2. [The first answer is expounded by the second]. The law, as it is a Covenant of Works, doth not allow of any repentance unto life to those that live and die under it; for the law being once broken by thee, never speaks good unto thee, neither doth God at all regard thee, if thou be under that covenant, notwithstanding all thy repenting and also promises to do so no more. No, saith the law, thou hast sinned, therefore I must curse thee; for it is My nature to curse, even, and nothing else but curse, every one that doth in any point transgress against Me (Gal 3:10). They brake My covenant "and I regarded them not, saith the Lord" (Heb 8:9). Let them cry, I will not regard them; let them repent, I will not regard them; they have broken My covenant, and done that in which I delighted not; therefore, by that covenant I do curse, and not bless; damn, and not save; frown, and not smile; reject, and not embrace; charge sin and not forgive it. They brake My covenant "and I regarded them not"; so that I say, if thou break the law, the first covenant, and thou being found there, God looking on thee through that, He hath no regard on thee, no pity for thee, no delight in thee.

Object. Second. But hath not the law promises as well as threatenings? saying, "The man which doeth these things shall live," mark, he shall live, "by them," or in them (Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12).

Answ. 1. To break the Commandments is not to keep or fulfill the same; but thou hast broken them, therefore the promise doth not belong to thee by that covenant. 2. The promises that are of the law are conditional, and so not performed unless there be a full and continual obedience to every particular of it, and that without the least sin. "Do this"—mark, do this—and afterwards thou shalt live; but if thou break one point of it once in all thy life, thou hast not done the law; therefore the promises following the law do not belong unto thee if one sin hath been committed by thee. As thus, I will give you a plain instance—"Set the case, there be a law made by the king, that if any man speak a word against him he must be put to death, and this must not be revoked, but must for certain be executed on the offender; though there be a promise made to them that do not speak a word against him, that they should have great love from him; yet this promise is nothing to the offender; he is like to have no share in it, or to be ever the better for it; but contrariwise, the law that he hath offended must be executed on him; for his sin shutteth him out from a share of, or in, the promises." So it is here, there is a promise made indeed, but to whom? Why, it is to none but those that live without sinning against the law; but if thou, I say, sin one time against it in all thy lifetime, thou art gone, and not one promise belongs to thee if thou continue under this covenant. Methinks the prisoners at the bar, having offended the law, and the charge of a just judge towards them, do much hold forth the law, as it is a Covenant of Works, and how it deals with them that are under it. The prisoner having offended, cries out for mercy; Good, my lord, mercy, saith he, pray, my lord, pity me. The judge saith, What canst thou say for thyself that sentence of death should not be passed upon thee? Why, nothing but this, I pray my lord be merciful. But he answers again, Friend, the law must take place, the law must not be broken. The prisoner saith, Good, my lord, spare me, and I will never do so any more. The judge, notwithstanding the man's outcries and sad condition, must, according to the tenor of the law, pass judgment upon him, and the sentence of condemnation must be read to the prisoner, though it makes him fall down dead to hear it, if he executes the law as he ought to do. And just thus it is concerning the Law of God.

Object. Third. Ay, but sometimes, for all your haste, the judge doth also give some pardons, and forgives some offenders, notwithstanding their offences, though he be a judge.

Answ. It is not because the law is merciful, but because there is manifested the love of the judge, not the love of the law. I beseech you to mark this distinction; for if a man that hath deserved death by the law be, notwithstanding this, forgiven his offence, it is not because the law saith, "spare him"; but it is the love of the judge or chief magistrate that doth set the man free from the condemnation of the law. But mark; here the law of men and the Law of God do differ; the law of man is not so irrevocable; but if the Supreme please he may sometimes grant a pardon without satisfaction given for the offence; but the Law of God is of this nature, that if a man be found under it, and a transgressor, or one that hath transgressed against it, before that prisoner can be released there must be a full and complete satisfaction given to it, either by the man's own life or by the blood of some other man; for "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb 9:22); that is, there is no deliverance from under the curse of the Law of God; and therefore, however the law of man may be made of none effect sometimes by showing mercy without giving of a full satisfaction, yet the Law of God cannot be so contented, nor at the least give way, that the person offending that should escape the curse and not be damned, except some one do give a full and complete satisfaction to it for him, and bring the prisoner into another covenant—to wit, the Covenant of Grace, which is more easy, and soul-refreshing, and sin-pardoning.

I say, therefore, you must understand that if there be a law made that reaches the life, to take it away for the offence given by the offender against it, then it is clear that if the man be spared and saved, it is not the law that doth give the man this advantage, but it is the mere mercy of the king, either because he hath a ransom or satisfaction some other way, or being provoked thereto out of his own love to the person whom he saveth. Now, thou also having transgressed and broken the Law of God, if the law be not executed upon thee, it is not because the law is merciful, or can pass by the least offence done by thee, but thy deliverance comes another way; therefore, I say, however it be by the laws of men where they be corrupted and perverted, yet the Law of God is of that nature, that if it hath not thy own blood or the blood of some other man—for it calls for no less, for to ransom thee from the curse of it, being due to thee for thy transgression, and to satisfy the cries, the doleful cries, thereof, and ever for to present thee pure and spotless before God, notwithstanding this fiery law—thou art gone if thou hadst a thousand souls; for "without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb 9:22); no forgiveness of the least sin against the law.

Object. Fourth. But, you will say, "I do not only repent me of my former life, and also promise to do so no more, but now I do labour to be righteous, and to live a holy life; and now, instead of being a breaker of the law, I do labour to fulfill the same. What say you to that?"

Answ. Set the case, thou couldst walk like an angel of God; set the case, thou couldst fulfill the whole law, and live from this day to thy life's end without sinning in thought, word, or deed, which is impossible; but, I say, set the case it should be so, why, thy state is as bad, if thou be under the first covenant, as ever it was. For, first, I know thou darest not say but thou hast at one time or other sinned; and if so, then the law hath condemned thee; and if so, then I am sure that thou, with all thy actions and works of righteousness, canst not remove the dreadful and irresistible curse that is already laid upon thee by that law which thou art under, and which thou hast sinned against; though thou livest the holiest life that any man can live in this world, being under the law of works, and so not under the Covenant of Grace, thou must be cut off without remedy; for thou hast sinned, though afterwards thou live never so well.

The reasons for this that hath been spoken are these—

First, The nature of God's justice calls for it—that is, it calls for irrecoverable ruin on them that transgress against this law; for justice gave it, and justice looks to have it completely and continually obeyed, or else justice is resolved to take place, and execute its office, which is to punish the transgressor against it. You must understand that the justice of God is as unchangeable as His love; His justice cannot change its nature; justice it is, if it be pleased; and justice it is, if it be displeased. The justice of God in this case may be compared to fire; there is a great fire made in some place; if thou do keep out of it, it is fire; if thou do fall into it, thou wilt find it fire; and therefore the Apostle useth this as an argument to stir up the Hebrews to stick close to Jesus Christ, lest they fall under the justice of God by these words, "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29); into which, if thou fall, it is not for thee to get out again, as it is with some that fall into a material fire; no, but he that falls into this, he must lie there for ever; as it is clear where he saith, "Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings, and with devouring fire?" (Isa 33:14). For justice once offended knoweth not how to show any pity or compassion to the offender, but runs on him like a lion, takes him by the throat, throws him into prison, and there he is sure to lie, and that to all eternity, unless infinite satisfaction be given to it, which is impossible to be given by any of us the sons of Adam.

Secondly, The faithfulness of God calls for irrecoverable ruin to be poured out on those that shall live and die under this covenant. If thou, having sinned but one sin against this covenant, and shouldst afterwards escape damning, God must be unfaithful to Himself and to His Word, which both agree as one. First, he would be unfaithful to Himself; to Himself, that is, to His justice, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, and power, if He should offer to stop the running out of His justice for the damning of them that have offended it. And secondly, He would be unfaithful to His Word, His written Word, and disown, deny, and break that, of which He hath said, "It is easier for Heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail," or be made of none effect (Luke 16:17). Now, if He should not, according to His certain declarations therein, take vengeance on those that fall and die within the threat and sad curses denounced, in that His Word could not be fulfilled.

Thirdly, Because otherwise he would disown the sayings of His Prophets, and gratify the sayings of His enemies; His Prophets say He will take vengeance; His enemies say He will not; His Prophets say He will remember their iniquities, and recompense them into their bosom; but His enemies say they should do well, and they shall have peace, though they walk after the imaginations of their own hearts, and be not so strict as the Word commands, and do not as it saith (Deu 29:19,20). But let me tell thee, hadst thou a thousand souls, and each of them was worth a thousand worlds, God would set them all on a light by fire, if they fall within the condemnings of His Word, and thou die without a Jesus, even the right Jesus; "for the Scriptures cannot be broken." What! dost thou think that God, Christ, Prophets, and Scriptures, will all lie for thee? and falsify their words for thee? It will be but ill venturing thy soul upon that.

And the reasons for it are these:—First, Because God is God; and secondly, Because man is man.

First, Because God is perfectly just and eternally just, perfectly holy and eternally holy, perfectly faithful and eternally faithful; that is, without any variableness or shadow of turning, but perfectly continueth the same, and cannot as well cease to be God as to alter or change the nature of His Godhead. As He is thus the perfection of all perfections, He gave out His Law to be obeyed; but if any offend it, then they fall into the hands of this His eternal justice, and so must drink of His irrevocable wrath, which is the execution of the same justice. I say, this being thus, the law being broken, justice takes place, and so faithfulness followeth to see that execution be done, and also to testify that He is true, and doth denounce His unspeakable, insupportable, and unchangeable vengeance on the party offending.

Secondly, Because thou art not as infinite as God, but a poor created weed, that is here today and gone tomorrow, and not able to answer God in His essence, being, and attributes; thou art bound to fall under Him, for thy soul or body can do nothing that is infinite in such a way as to satisfy this God, which is an infinite God in all His attributes.

[Misery of man by this law.]

But to declare unto you the misery of man by this law to purpose, I do beseech you to take notice of these following particulars, besides what has been already spoken:—First, I shall show the danger of them by reason of the law, as they come from Adam; Second, as they are in their own persons particularly under it.

[First, The danger of them by reason of the law, as they come from Adam.]

1. As they come from Adam, they are in a sad condition, because he left them a broken covenant. Or take it thus: because they, while they were in him, did with him break that covenant. O! this was the treasure that Adam left to his posterity; it was a broken covenant, insomuch that death reigned over all his children, and doth still to this day, as they come from him, both natural and eternal death (Rom 5). It may be, drunkard, swearer, liar, thief, thou dost not think of this.

2. He did not only leave them a broken covenant, but also made them himself sinners against it. He [Adam] made them sinners—"By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom 5:19). And this is worse than the first.

3. Not only so, but he did deprive them of their strength, by which at first they were enabled to stand, and left them no more than dead men. O helpless state! O how beggarly and miserable are the sons of Adam!

4. Not only so, but also before he left them he was the conduit pipe through which the devil did convey off his poisoned spawn and venom nature into the hearts of Adam's sons and daughters, by which they are at this day so strongly and so violently carried away, that they fly as fast to Hell, and the devil, by reason of sin, as chaff before a mighty wind.

5. In a word, Adam led them out of their paradise, that is one more; and put out their eyes, that is another; and left them to the leading of the devil. O sad! Canst thou hear this, and not have thy ears to tingle and burn on thy head? Canst thou read this, and not feel thy conscience begin to throb and dag? If so, surely it is because thou art either possessed with the devil, or besides thyself.

[Second.] But I pass this, and come to the second thing, which is, the cause of their being in a sad condition, which is by reason of their being in their particular persons under it.

1. Therefore, they that are under the law, they are in a sad condition, because they are under that which is more ready, through our infirmity, to curse than to bless; they are under that called the ministration of condemnation, that is, they are under that dispensation, or administration, whose proper work is to curse and condemn, and nothing else (2 Cor 3).

2. Their condition is sad who are under the law, because they are not only under that ministration that doth condemn, but also that which doth wait an opportunity to condemn; the law doth not wait that it might be gracious, but it doth wait to curse and condemn; it came on purpose to discover sin, "The law entered," saith the Apostle, "that the offence might abound" (Rom 5:20) or appear indeed to be that which God doth hate, and also to curse for that which hath been committed; as he saith, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal 3:10).

3. They are in a sad condition, because that administration they are under that are under the law doth always find fault with the sinner's obedience as well as his disobedience, if it be not done in a right spirit, which they that are under that covenant cannot do, by reason of their being destitute of faith; therefore, I say, it doth control them, saying, "This was not well done, this was done by the halves, this was not done freely, and that was not done perfectly, and out of love to God." And hence it is that some men, notwithstanding they labour to live as holy as ever they can according to the law, yet they do not live a peaceable life, but are full of condemnings, full of guilt and torment of conscience, finding themselves to fail here, and to fall short there, omitting this good which the law commands, and doing that evil which the law forbids, but never giveth them one good word for all their pains.

4. They that are under the law are in a sad condition, because they are under that administration that will never be contented with what is done by the sinner. If thou be under this covenant, work as hard as thou canst, the law will never say, "Well done"; never say, "My good servant"; no; but always it will be driving thee faster, hastening of thee harder, giving thee fresh commands, which thou must do, and upon pain of damnation not to be left undone. Nay, it is such a master that will curse thee, not only for thy sins, but also because thy good works were not so well done as they ought to be.

5. They that are under this covenant or law, their state is very sad, because this law doth command impossible things of him that is under it; and yet doth but right in it, seeing man at the first had in Adam strength to stand, if he would have used it, and the law was given them, as I said before, when man was in his full strength; and therefore no inequality if it commands the same still, seeing God that gave thee strength did not take it away. I will give you a similitude for the clearing of it. Set the case that I give to my servant ten pounds, with this charge, Lay it out for my best advantage, that I may have my own again with profit; now if my servant, contrary to my command, goeth and spends my money in a disobedient way, is it any inequality in me to demand of my servant what I gave him at first? Nay, and though he have nothing to pay, I may lawfully cast him into prison, and keep him there until I have satisfaction. So here; the law was delivered to man at the first when he was in a possibility to have fulfilled it; now, then, though man have lost his strength, yet God is just in commanding the same work to be done. Ay, and if they do not do the same things, I say, that are impossible for them to do, it is just with God to damn them, seeing it was they themselves that brought themselves into this condition; therefore, saith the Apostle, "What things soever the law (or commands) saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Rom 3:19). And this is thy sad condition that art under the law (Gal 3:10).

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