Feb 25, 2011

"...a man in or with a legal spirit should not, nay, cannot..." -John Bunyan

I shall show you the very manner and
way that a legal, or old-covenant-converted
professor, bear with the terms, doth take both
in the beginning, middle, and the end of his
doing of any duty or command, or whatsoever
it be that he doth do. 1. He thinking this or that
to be his duty, and considering of the same, he
is also presently persuaded in his own
conscience that God will not accept of him if he
leave it undone; he seeing that he is short of his
duty, as he supposeth, while this is undone by
him, and also judging that God is angry with
him until the thing be done, he, in the second
place, sets to the doing of the duty, to the end
he may be able to pacify his conscience by
doing of the same, persuading of himself that
now the Lord is pleased with him for doing of
it. 2. Having done it, he contents himself, sits
down at his ease, until some further convictions
of his duty to be done, which when he seeth
and knoweth, he doth do it as aforesaid, from
the same principle as he did the former, and so
goeth on in his progress of profession. This is to
do things from a legal principle, and from an
old-covenant spirit; for thus runs that covenant,
“The man that doth these things shall live in
them,” of “by them” (Lev 18:5; Gal 3:12; Rom
10:5). But more of this in the use of this

Object. But, you will say, by these words of
yours you do seem to deny that there are
conditional promises in the Gospel, as is clear,
in that you strike at such practices as are
conditional, and commanded to be done upon
the same.

Answ. The thing that I strike at is this, that a
man in or with a legal spirit should not, nay,
cannot, do any conditional command of the
Gospel acceptably, as to his eternal state,
because he doth it in an old-covenant spirit.
“No man putteth new wine into old bottles”;
but new wine must have new bottles, a Gospel
command must have a Gospel spirit, or else the
wine will break the bottles, or the principle will
break the command.

Object. Then you do grant that there are
conditional promises in the New Testament, as
in the moral law, or Ten Commands.
Answ. Though this be true, yet the
conditional promises in the New Testament do
not call to the same people in the same state of
unregeneracy to fulfill them upon the same

The Law and the Gospel being two distinct
covenants, they are made in divers ways, and
the nature of the conditions also being not the
same, as saith the Apostle, the righteousness of
the law saith one thing, and the righteousness
of faith saith another (Rom 10:4-6). That is, the
great condition in the law is, If you do these
things, you shall live by them; but the
condition, even the greatest condition laid
down for a poor soul to do, as to salvation—for
it is that we speak of—is to believe that my sins
be forgiven me for Jesus Christ’s sake, without
the works or righteousness of the law, on my
part, to help forward. “To him that worketh
not,” saith the Apostle [that is] for salvation,
“but believeth on Him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith”—mark, “his faith is counted
for righteousness” (Rom 4:5). So that we, saith,
he, “conclude that a man is justified by faith
without”—mark again, “without the deeds of
the law” (Rom 3:28).

But again; there is never a condition in the
Gospel that can be fulfilled by an unbeliever;
and therefore, whether there be conditions or
whether there be none, it makes no matter to
thee who art without the faith of Christ; for it is
impossible for thee in that state to do them, so
as to be ever the better as to thy eternal estate;
therefore, lest thou shouldst split thy soul upon
the conditions laid down in the Gospel, as thou
wilt do if thou go about to do them only with a
legal spirit; but, I say, to prevent this, see if
thou canst fulfill the first condition; that is, to
believe that all thy sins are forgiven thee, not
for any condition that hath been or can be done
by thee, but merely for the Man’s sake that did
hang on Mount Calvary, between two thieves,
some sixteen hundred years ago and odd. And,
I say, see if thou canst believe that at that time
He did, when He hanged on the Cross, give full
satisfaction, for all thy sins, before thou in thy
person hadst committed ever a one. I say, see if
thou canst believe this; and take heed thou
deceive not thyself with an historical, notional,
or traditional acknowledgment of the same.
And, secondly, see if thou canst so well fulfill
this condition, that the very virtue and efficacy
that it hath on thy soul will engage thee to
fulfill those other conditions, really in love to
that Man whom thou shouldst believe hath
frankly and freely forgiven thee all, without any
condition acted by thee to move Him thereto,
according to that saying in 2 Corinthians 5:14,
15; and then thy doing will arise from a
contrary principle than otherwise it will do—
that is, then thou wilt not act and do because
thou wouldst be accepted of God, but because
thou hast some good hope in thy heart that
thou art accepted of Him already, and not on
thine, but wholly and alone upon another
man’s account..."

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