Chapter 19 - Concerning the Outward Means of Executing the Decree of Election and of the DecalogueThe Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)
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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”
After the foundation of election, which hath hitherto been delivered, it followeth that we should entreat of the outward means of the same.
The means are God’s covenant and the seal thereof.
God’s covenant is His contract with man concerning the obtaining if life eternal upon a certain condition.
This covenant consisteth of two parts: God’s promise to man, man’s promise to God.
God’s promise to man is that whereby he bindeth Himself to man to be His God, if he perform the condition.
Man’s promise to God is that whereby he vieweth his allegiance unto his Lord and to perform the condition between them.
Again, there are two kind of this covenant. The covenant of woks and the covenant of grace. Jer. 31:31-33, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
The covenant of works is God’s covenant made with condition of perfect obedience and is expressed in the moral law. The Moral Law is that part of God’s word which commendeth perfect obedience unto man as well in his nature as in his actions and forbiddeth the contrary. Rom. 10:5, “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” 1 Tim. 1:5, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” Luke 16:27, “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house.” Rom. 7:14, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
The Law hath two parts. The Edict, commanding obedience, and the condition binding to obedience. The condition is eternal life to such as fulfill the law, but to transgressors, everlasting death.
The Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, is an abridgement of the whole law, and the covenant of works. Ex. 34:27, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” 1 Kings 8:9, “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” Matt. 22:40, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
The true interpretation of the Decalogue must be according to these rules.
I. In the negative, the affirmative must be understood, and in the affirmative, the negative.
II. The negative bindeth at all times and to all times: and the affirmative bindeth at all times but not to all times and therefore negatives are of more force.
III. Under one vice expressly forbidden are comprehended all of that kind; yea the least cause, occasion, or enticement thereto, in forbidden; as 1 John 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” Matt. 5:21 to the end. Evil thoughts are condemned as well as evil actions.
IV. The smallest sins are entitled with the same names, that that sin is, which is expressly forbidden in the commandment, to which they appertain. As in the former places, hatred is named murder, and to look after a woman with a lusting eye is adultery.
V. We must understand every commandment of the law so as that we annex this condition: unless God commands the contrary. For God being an absolute Lord, and so above law, may command that which His law forbiddeth: so He commanded Isaac to be offered, the Egyptians to be spoiled, the brazen serpent to be erected which was a figure of Christ, &c.
The Decalogue is described in two tables. The sum of the first table is that we love God with our mind, memory and affections and all our strength, Matt. 22:37, “This is the first, (to wit, in nature and order) and great commandment (namely, in excellency and dignity.)