A Drink from Brooks: If You’re Considering Sin, Consider Christ

The fourth remedy abasing this device of Satan is, Seriously to consider, That even those very sins that Satan paints, and puts new names and colors upon, cost the best blood, the noblest blood, the life-blood, the heart-blood of the Lord Jesus. That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature; that he who was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; he who filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger; that the almighty God should flee from weak man—the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of the circumcision circumcised, the God who made the heavens working at Joseph’s homely trade; that he who binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father should cry out of misery, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46); that he who had the keys of hell and death at his belt should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, nor after death to lay his body; that that head, before which the angels do cast down their crowns, should be crowned with thorns, and those eyes, purer than the sun, put out by the darkness of death; those ears, which hear nothing but hallelujahs of saints and angels, to hear the blasphemies of the multitude; that face, which was fairer than the sons of men, to be spit on by those beastly wretched Jews; that mouth and tongue, which spoke as never man spoke, accused for blasphemy; those hands, which freely swayed the scepter of heaven, nailed to the cross; those feet, ‘like unto fine brass,’ nailed to the cross for man’s sins; each sense annoyed: his feeling or touching with a spear and nails; his smell, with stinking odor, being crucified on Golgotha, the place of skulls; his taste, with vinegar and gall; his hearing, with reproaches, and sight of his mother and disciples bemoaning him; his soul, comfortless and forsaken; and all this for those very sins that Satan paints and puts fine colors upon! Oh! how should the consideration of this stir up the soul against sin, and work the soul to fly from it, and to use all holy means whereby sin may be subdued and destroyed! —Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices

Law to Gospel and Gospel to Law

The Harmony betwixt the Law and the Gospel by Ralph Erskine

The law’s a tutor much in vogue,
To gospel-grace a pedagogue;
The gospel to the law no less
Than its full end for righteousness.

When once the fiery law of God
Has chas’d me to the gospel road;
Then back unto the holy law
Most kindly gospel-grace will draw.

When by the law to grace I’m school’d;
Grace by the law will have me rul’d:
Hence, if I don’t the law obey,
I cannot keep the gospel-way.

When I the gospel-news believe,
Obedience to the law I give:
And that both in its fed’ral dress,
And as a rule of holiness.

Lo! in my Head I render all
For which the fiery law can call:
His blood unto its fire was fuel,
His Spirit shapes me to its rule.

When law and gospel kindly meet,
To serve each other both unite:
Sweet promises, and stern commands,
Do work to one another’s hands.

The divine law demands no less
Than human perfect righteousness:
The gospel gives it this and more,
Ev’n divine righteousness in store.

Whate’er the righteous law require,
The gospel grants its whole desire.
Are law-commands exceeding broad?
So is the righteousness of God.

How great soe’er the legal charge,
The gospel-payment’s equal large:
No less by man the law can bray,
When grace provides a God to pay.

The law makes gospel-banquets sweet;
The gospel makes the law complete:
Law-suits to grace’s storehouse draw;
Grace docks and magnifies the law.

Both law and gospel close combine,
To make each other’s lustre shine;
The gospel all law-breakers shames;
The law all gospel-slighters damns.

The law is holy, just, and good;
All this the gospel seals with blood,
And clears the royal law’s just dues
With dearly purchas’d revenues.

The law commands me to believe;
The gospel saving faith doth give:
The law injoins me to repent;
The gospel gives my tears a vent.

What in the gospel mint is coin’d,
The same is in the law injoin’d:
Whatever gospel-tidings teach,
The law’s authority doth reach.

Here join the law and gospel hands,
What this me teaches, that commands;
What virtuous forms the gospel please,
The same the law doth authorise.

And thus the law-commandment seals
Whatever gospel-grace reveals:
The gospel also for my good
Seals all the law-demands with blood.

The law most perfect still remains,
And ev’ry duty full contains:
The gospel its perfection speaks,
And therefore gives whate’er it seeks.

Next, what by law I’m bound unto,
The same the gospel makes me do:
What preceptively that can crave;
This effectively can ingrave.

All that by precepts Heav’n expects,
Free grace by promises effects:
To what the law by fear may move,
To that the gospel leads by love.

To run to work, the law commands;
The gospel gives me feet and hands:
The one requires that I obey;
The other does the pow’r convey.

What in the law has duty’s place,
The gospel changes to a grace:
Hence legal duties therein nam’d,
Are herein gospel-graces fain’d.

The precept checks me when I stray;
The promise holds me in the way:
That shews my folly when I roam;
And this most kindly brings me home.

Law threats and precepts both, I see,
With gospel promises agree;
They to the gospel are a fence,
And it to them a maintenance.

The law will justify all those
Who with the gospel-ramsom close;
The gospel too approves for ay
All those that do the law obey.

The righteous law condemns each man
That dare reject the gospel plan:
The holy gospel none will save,
On whom it won’t the law ingrave.

When Christ the tree of life I climb,
I see both law and grace in him:
In him the law its end does gain;
In him the promise is Amen.

The law makes grace’s pasture sweet,
Grace makes the law my sav’ry meat;
Yea, sweeter than the honey-comb,
When grace and mercy brings it home.

The precepts of the law me show
What fruits of gratitude I owe;
But gospel-grace begets the brood,
And moves me to the gratitude.

Law-terrors pain the putrid sore;
And gospel-grace applies the cure:
The one plows up the fallow-ground:
The other sows the seed around.

A rigid master was the law,
Demanding brick, denying straw;
But when with gospel-tongue it sings,
It bids me fly, and gives me wings.

In Sum:

Both law and gospel close unite,
Are seen with more solace,
Where truth and mercy kindly meet,
In fair Immanuel’s face.

On Avoiding the Starboard Side by Jumping off the Port Side (Galatians 5:13–15)

sailing-ship-1361937.jpg

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. …For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” —Galatians 5:1, 13

In standing firm and not submitting we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that defending the north side of the fort is the same thing as defending the fort. What is most important is the freedom stood in, not the legalism stood against. If you make standing firm against legalism on the north your only concern, you’ll be blindsided out of the south by libertinism.

In standing firm against legalism, it is easy to fall backward into libertinism or antinomianism—(anti: against; nomos: the law). Luther colorfully said, “The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side. One can’t help him, no matter how one tries. He wants to be the devil’s.” The world is doomed to fall off one side or the other. The saints can be taught to ride. They can learn to run well and walk by the Spirit down the straight and narrow. Even so, we, the saints, never keep it perfectly between the lines and it is easy to drift. Our ears must be tuned to the Word so that we hear the warning rattle of the rumble strip as we’re making our way to the ditch.

The danger stands not only on both sides, but within. The flesh wants to drift from the center of gospel freedom. Likely, you recognize your steering has an alignment issue towards the left or the right. Which son are you? The older brother or the prodigal? The legalist or the libertine? It’s good that you’re aware of your bent, but you must also beware of the danger of overcorrecting. It is in this letter, containing Paul’s sharpest rebuke of legalism, that we find this warning concerning antinomianism. The recovering legalist shouldn’t reason from grace to sin. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:10).

Jumping off the starboard side is not a good way to prevent falling off the port side. If standing firm against legalism is your sole concern, you’ll fall off the other side. The point of standing firm isn’t simply to avoid falling off of one side of the boat. Our chief concern shouldn’t be what we are standing firm against, but what we are standing firm in.

We are standing in the gospel, in freedom, to by the Spirit, unto God and in obedience to Him, love our neighbor. Stand firm. Do not submit. You’re free! Use that freedom to by the Spirit, love your neighbor for the glory of Christ.

A Drink from Brooks: Painting Sin with Virtues Colors

“First, consider, That sin is never a, whit the less filthy, vile, and abominable, by its being coloured and painted with virtues colours. A poisonous pill is never a whit the less poisonous because it is gilded over with gold; nor a wolf is never a whit the less a wolf because he hath put on a sheep’s skin; nor the devil is never a whit the less a devil because he appears sometimes like an angel of light. So neither is sin any whit the less filthy and abominable by its being painted over with virtue’s colours.” —Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices

Running Well by Standing Fast (Galatians 5:7–12)

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” —Galatians 5:7–9

The race of faith is one in which if you are cut off, you take the blame. If you’re tripped, you’re at fault for not being ready. If you’re not running well, it’s because you’re not standing fast (Galatians 5:1). Enemy interference is expected. This is no gentleman’s race. It is a race for warriors.

The word translated “hindered” can carry the connotation of being cut off. It’s hard to avoid the double entendre. By circumcision the Judaizers were trying to cut the Galatians off in the race of faith. The knight cannot reason that he committed treason because his opponent had a bigger sword.

If you are duped by a false teacher, the blame falls on you. If you eat the apple, you cannot blame the serpent. Tolerated lies are soon digested. Stand firm. Do not submit. Give no quarter.

Rest assured, the serpent and his spawn have been crushed under the crucified foot of Christ. Our Lord will manifest this victory when He returns in glory and the serpent is crushed under the feet of the saints (Romans 16:20). But the saints are those who persevere in the faith. So, paradoxical as it may seem, if you are to run well, you must stand fast.

A Drink from Brooks: Sin Is but a Bitter Sweet

The second remedy to consider, That sin is but a bitter sweet. That seeming sweet that is in sin will quickly vanish, and lasting shame, sorrow, horror, and terror will come in the room thereof: Job 20:12-14, ‘Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue, though he spare it, and forsake it not, but keep it still within his mouth, yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.’ Forbidden profits and pleasures are most pleasing to vain men, who count madness mirth, &c. Many long to be meddling with the murdering morsels of sin, which nourish not, but rent and consume the belly, the soul, that receives them. Many eat that on earth that they digest in hell. Sin’s murdering morsels will deceive those that devour them. Adam’s apple was a bitter sweet; Esau’s mess was a bitter sweet; the Israelite’s quails a bitter sweet; Jonathan’s honey a bitter sweet; and Adonijah’s dainties a bitter sweet. After the meal is ended, then comes the reckoning. Men must not think to dance and dine with the devil, and then to sup with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; to feed upon the poison of asps, and yet that the vipers tongue should not slay them. —Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices

Free Spirit vs. Freedom of the Spirit (Galatians 5:1–6)

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” —Galatians 5:1

If justification by faith alone in Christ alone is the central doctrine of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, why is it hailed as the Magna Carta of Christian Liberty? Because as 5:1 demonstrates, justification by faith is bound to freedom as an attempt at justification by works is bound to slavery. Here we have the central commands of this letter: “stand firm” and “do not submit.” These are really one command. Standing firm is not submitting; not submitting is standing firm. This imperative flows from this gospel indicative, “for freedom Christ has set us free.” Christ, in whom we have this freedom, is laid hold of through faith; the Christ grasped through faith is our righteousness.

What is freedom? Certainly it is freedom from something. It is freedom from the law’s demands (3:23), the law’s curse (3:10), sin (3:22), and the elemental spirits of this world (4:3–9). We are freed from these things, but what are we freed to? Is our freedom only negative?

What is freedom? Consider this, one of the most famous works of Jonathan Edwards is his treatise The Freedom of the Will. One of the most famous of Martin Luther is The Bondage of the Will. What might surprise some is how harmonious the two are. It is all a question of what is meant by freedom. Luther, ever the blunt one, says that the will is in bondage to sin (i.e. John 8:34, Romans 6:17). Edwards, in his more sophisticated style, first says that the will freely does whatever it wants. The problem is, the only thing fallen man want’s to do is sin. Fallen man freely does as he wants, but his want-to is enslaved to sin. So, as Calvin says, to insist that such a will is “free” is to use a big word for a small thing.

What Edwards demonstrates is that being free to do whatever I want to do isn’t truly freedom. Yet, this is exactly what our modern, individualistic connotation of freedom is. As fallen a man, being free to do whatever you want is bondage to self—a self who is a damned fool. As a fish is free in water, so we are free when we bow to the Sovereign who is life, goodness, beauty, and truth. When a creature tries to play creator and cast off God’s Lordship, he embraces death, evil, ugliness, and lies. He embraces bondage. Bondage willingly embraced is the worst kind of bondage. The soul might be free when the wrists are shacked, but, though the wrists are unshackled, they are not free if the soul is chained.

So again, what is freedom? At its core is the redemption of Christ purchasing us unto Himself, so that we are counted righteous in Him, reconciled to God, and adopted as sons with all the benefits and promises thereof. But central to this freedom as Paul now wants to work it out is life in the Spirit. When Paul began laying down his defense of the doctrine of justification by faith alone in chapter 3 he asked, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Paul will bring this full circle in 5:16–18.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

What beautiful irony: walking by your own desires is bondage whereas walking by the Spirit is freedom. In the former we are under the law and break it. In the latter, we are free from the law and keep it. What is this life in the Spirit? It is living unto God by God. It is living as a creature in love and dependence on the Creator. It is not a life that strives for justification. It is a life that stems from justification.