John Brine Sermons

01 Sermon 1 Eternal Justification

Created By LeRoy Rhodes

leroyrhodes@comcast.net

2006

A Defense of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification,

 From Some Exceptions Made to it by Mr. Bragge,

and

Others by John Brine (London: Aaron Ward, 1732)

SERMON 1

 A DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL JUSTIFICATION,

FROM SOME EXCEPTIONS MADE TO IT BY MR. BRAGGE,

AND OTHERS A DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL JUSTIFICATION, ETC.

THE doctrine of Eternal Justification has been lately objected to by Mr. Bragge, in some sermons of his on that subject, published with some other sermons preached at Lime street, by several ministers; wherein they propose, according to the general title, to state and defend the great doctrines of the gospel, and to answer such objections as are usually advanced against them.

As I have reason to believe Justification from Eternity to be a scriptural doctrine, I think my self under obligation to appear in its defense; and therefore have determined to communicate my thoughts on that subject in this public manner.

I hope that my attempt to establish, what I apprehend to be a truth of the gospel, though opposed by Mr. B. will not be interpreted as an instance of disrespect towards him; who, I am sensible, deserves well of all who are friends to the interest of Christ, for his long standing and eminent service in the church of God. I am humbly of opinion, that it would have been to much better advantage, if Mr. B. had spent those pages which are taken up in treating about the time of Justification, in more fully proving that Christ's righteousness is the matter of it, instead of militating against Justification from eternity; which he cannot but know has been asserted by some able and judicious divines. It is generally allowed, that in refuting any opinion, it is necessary not only to raise objections against it, and to consider with what difficulties it is clogged; but also to answer the arguments offered in defense of it, by those who believe it a truth. The latter of which Mr. B. has wholly neglected: His reasons for it he best knows. I am persuaded he could not be insensible, that there are several arguments made use of, to clear up and defend that important truth, which deserve consideration; and therefore his passing them over in silence gives just reason to conclude, that he thought those arguments too cogent and forcible to admit of a real answer.

This great doctrine has been fully stated, and strongly defended, by Mr. Gill, and others before him; whose arguments ought to be considered, and answers given to them, if any thing is done to purpose in this controversy. In the vindication of this great point, it is not necessary that I should treat of the matter or form of Justification, for in neither of them do I differ from Mr. B. The matter of our Justification I firmly believe to be the righteousness of Christ and the form of it, the imputation of his righteousness to us: Though I must confess, that some expressions have fell from this gentleman's pen, which do not very well consist with his own sentiments with respect to the form, as we shall have occasion to observe hereafter. Nor is it needful, that I should largely treat of Justification, as it is eternal, seeing it has not long since been let in a good light by the author whose name is mentioned above; that would be actum agere, doing the same thing over again, which cannot be judged necessary: Yet it may not be improper to mention briefly those arguments, by which this truth is confirmed. The method I shall observe, in treating on this subject, will be as follows:

First, I shall enquire what it is to be justified by faith. Secondly, Mention those arguments which have been advanced for the proof of eternal Justification. And, Thirdly, Attend to Mr. B's objections against that point, as well as some additional objections from other persons. First, I am to enquire what it is to be justified by faith. Very great controversies have been moved concerning this. Some affirm, that we are so, in a proper sense; or that faith is the matter and cause of our Justification, as the Arminians and Socinians: This others justly deny; and assert, that Christ's righteousness alone is the matter and cause of our Justification. I shall here endeavour to prove, that Justification by faith has no causality in this affair; it is not the impulsive, material, nor instrumental cause thereof.

1. Faith is not the impulsive or moving cause of Justification. It is an act of pure and free grace, without any motive in the creature: Therefore the Apostle faith, "being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ" {Eph 1:7} But this benefit would not be of grace, but of works, was our faith the impulsive cause of it: because faith is a work or act of ours, as we learn from the words of Christ: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" {Joh 6:29} Salvation is not of works, in any branch of it; "for by grace are we saved, through faith; that not of our selves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." {Eph 2:8-9} From whence it is evident that Justification, which is a considerable part of salvation, cannot be by works. The grace of God eminently appears in contriving the way of our Justification by Christ's righteousness, and in fending him into the world to work out a righteousness for us, in which we stand compleat in his sight: Hence we are said, "to be justified by his grace, that we might made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." {Tit 3:7} No other cause can be assigned why sinners are justified in the sight of God, than his free favour and sovereign pleasure, as the effect of which he determined to justify them in the righteousness of his Son.

2. Neither is faith the matter of our Justification; which appears by these arguments.

(1.) Because that righteousness, by which we are justified before God, is not our own. All true believers, as the great Apostle did, esteem "their own righteousness and works but loss and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord; and desire to be found in him, not having their own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." {Php 3:9} It is manifest, that the Apostle excluded every thing from the business of his Justification which might be accounted his own; and, consequently, faith it self, which though it is a fruit of special grace, may properly be reckoned our own, as we are the subjects of it. Hence it is that the Holy Ghost speaks of faith as ours: "But the just shall live by his faith." {Hab 2:4} All dependance on faith for Justification is laid aside by the saints, who are sensible that many deficiencies attend it, and that nothing which is imperfect can recommend them to God.

(2.) A perfect righteousness is required, in order to our Justification in God's sight. His law insists upon a compleat obedience to all its precepts, and condemns where it is wanting; for the language of it is, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them." {Ga 3:10} Nor will God, in any instance, act contrary to his own law, which cannot be made void; for it is the eternal standard and rule of righteousness, according to which he will always proceed in judgment. Faith is not a righteousness free from imperfection, and therefore it is not such as is demanded by the Law; wherefore we cannot be justified by it.

(3.) Faith receives that righteousness by which we are justified, and therefore cannot be that righteousness it self. That which is laid hold on, and embraced by faith, must needs be something different from it, as the act and the object are distinct. Christ's righteousness is that to which the faith of a believer looks, and on which it wholly depends for Justification before God: Therefore faith is not the matter of his justifying righteousness.

(4.) Justification is not by works; for if so, boasting will not be excluded, as it must eternally be in the whole of our salvation: For "it is not of works, lest any man should boast;" {Eph 2:9} as was observed before. Faith is an act and work of ours, and therefore cannot be the matter of our Justification.

(5.) We are justified by the obedience and sufferings of Christ, and consequently not by faith. The Apostle expressly asserts that we are justified by his blood; "Much more then being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him {Ro 5:9,19}." And also, that we are made righteous by his obedience; "As by the offence of one many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous:" Therefore not by faith.

3. Faith is not the instrumental cause. In this I am entirely of Mr. Baxter's opinion, who reasons thus: "If faith be an instrument, it is the instrument of God or man; not of man, for man is not the principal efficient, he doth not justify himself; not of God, for it is not God that believethf1" No act of man can be an instrument in those acts of God which are immanent: Justification is such an act; and as Justification is not an act of man's, or he doth not justify himself, faith cannot be his instrument in an act which is none of his. Upon the whole, it may be strongly concluded, that the to credere, or act of believing, is not imputed to us for righteousness, but the object of faith. That this was the Apostle's meaning, when he thus expresses himself, "for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness, is justly observed by Maresius. "f2 This faith, which is imputed to us for righteousness, ought, to be taken metonymically for Christ being apprehended by faith; inasmuch as faith apprehends and applies the righteousness of Christ to us, not simply, or as altogether anothers, but as ours: As Paul, his own inherent legal righteousness being rejected by him, fought that which is through the faith of Christ, and of God by faith; whence also it is called the righteousness of God, as that fear by which Jacob sware, was called the fear of his father; where fear is metonymically put for God, whom he feared." Thus far he. It is evident, that sometimes by faith Christ must be understood; as when it is said, "but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a school-master:" Ga 3:25 That is to say, since Christ, the object of faith, is come into the world, we are no longer under the law as a schoolmaster. Faith is not so much as causa sine qua non in this affair, as appears by the eternal justification of the elect: It has not the least concern herein, if Justification is properly taken. But,

If Justification be considered in the knowledge or perception of it, it is by faith; and that is intended when we are said to be justified by faith, if faith is to be taken in a proper sense. By this grace we behold our natural pollution and inability to perform that which is good; the perfection and spirituality of the law; the necessity of an interest in Christ's righteousness, in order to our acceptance with God; the glory and excellency of it: In consequence of which we renounce our own works, and wholly depend upon the spotless righteousness of Christ. At some times also we by faith view that we are all fair, and without spot in the sight of God, as he considers us in the glorious robe of his Son's righteousness, though full of impurities and spots in our selves. In those seasons we are filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; and can draw nigh to God, as our Father, with a holy freedom and liberty. This is the concern which faith has in our Justification: It beholds and views it, but doth not give being to it, or impute the righteousness of Christ to us, that is God's act without us; and therefore Justification by faith, is only the comfortable knowledge or perception of that gracious privilege.

4. Two reasons may be offered why we are said to be justified by the grace of faith, even in our apprehension thereof.

(1.) Because faith is the eye of our souls, by which we view it, or discern the justifying righteousness of Christ, as imputed to us.

(2.) This grace is of a soul-humbling, and Christ-exalting nature, as Mr. B. observes: "Of all the graces of the Spirit, faith is the most emptying, and accordingly goes poor and indigent to Christ; other graces bring as it were something along with them, whereas faith brings nothing to Christ but a naked backf3" And so it is eminently suited to the design of God in the Justification of sinners: "For it is of faith, that it. might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed." Ro 4:16 It may not be improper to observe here, that It is asserted, that "elect infants dying in infancy, are justified by faith in the habit, though not by faith in the act." If this is true, it follows, that God doth not justify all his elect in one and the same way, but some by the habit, and others by the act of faith: For the proof of which, I am of opinion that no solid argument can be offered.

Again, a principle or habit cannot see, or receive an object: Now if Christ's righteousness is to or upon us, in a way of believing, and it cannot be ours till actually received by faith, both which are affirmed by our author; how come elect infants, who die in infancy, to be actually interested in that righteousness, seeing they cannot act faith, and consequently are uncapable of receiving Christ's righteousness? Therefore it must necessarily be concluded, that the gift of Christ's righteousness becomes actually theirs, without any receiving act in them: And unless it can be proved that God justifies his elect in a different manner, that is to say, some by the habit, and others by the act of faith; the same must be granted concerning those of the elect, who live to riper years. Farther, from hence I cannot but conclude, that no act of faith is necessary to the being of Justification; for, if so, those of the elect who die in infancy, cannot be justified. But why an act of faith should be required to the actual Justification of some of the elect, and not to the Justification of others, I am not able to conceive. The grace of faith, by which we apprehend our. Justification is of the operation of God, It is an effect of powerful and efficacious grace, and not the produce of human power, skill, or industry. It Is not got, but given, as is evident from those words of the Apostle: "By grace are ye saved, through faith, that not of your selves, it is the gift of God." Eph 2:9 And the grace of God is abundantly displayed, in working faith in our souls; over which, as I take it, a veil is drawn by our author in this exhortation of his, "With all your gettings, get faith." Dead sinners, or such as are void of spiritual life, cannot act spiritually, and therefore it is not in their power to get faith; and as they have no ability to believe, they have no inclination to it, for their hearts are full of enmity agaist God. Besides, if faith is got or acquired by men, they make themselves to differ, and have whereof to boast, for then they have something which they did not receive as a gift of free grace; which is constantly denied in scripture, and will never be owned by the saints. Again: It may as well be required of sinners to form divine and supernatural principles in their souls, or to create spiritual life in themselves, as to get faith, for the meaning is the same, which is a work proper to God. Moreover, such an exhortation is not likely to debase and humble proud sinners, or to convince them that they are impotent to good; but rather to swell their haughtiness and pride, and occasion them to Imagine they are possessed of a power which they are not: Thereby also, it is not improbable, but many saints, who are sensible of their weakness, and of the strength of unbelief, may be dejected in their souls, because they cannot, many times when they desire it, exercise that faith which is wrought in their hearts by the Spirit of God. But this by the by.

Secondly, I now proceed to mention those arguments, by which the truth of eternal Justification is confirmed. And,

1. Justification is an immanent, and consequently an eternal act. This argument must be allowed conclusive, unless it can be proved that Justification is a transient act. 2. The elect were by God considered and viewed in Christ from everlasting; which is excellently expressed by Dr. Goodwin in these words: "Look, as God did not, in his decrees about creation, consider the body of Adam singly, and apart from his soul, nor yet the soul without the body (I speak of his creation and state thereby) neither should either so much as exist, but as the one in the other: So nor Christ and his church in election, which gave the first existence to Christ as a head, and to the church as his body, which each had in God's decreesf4." Now as God considers his elect in Christ, they are either objects of condemnation, or Justification. The former must be denied, and therefore the latter evidently follows; except, as God beholds the elect in Christ, they are neither objects of condemnation, nor Justification; which is an absurdity that none will admit. 3. The elect were blest with all spiritual blessings in Christ before the foundation of the world; and therefore with Justification, for that is a spiritual blessing. "This grace by which we are justified, was given us in Christ from eternity, because from eternity God loved us in Christ, and made us accepted in himf5." 4. When Christ, as a surety, engaged for the elect, they were Justified. "At the same time in which Christ became a surety for us, and our sins were imputed to him, we were absolved from guilt, and reputed just; that is, actively justifiedf6:" Which was from everlasting, or before the foundation of the world. 5. God eternally decreed not to punish sin in his people, but in his Son. His decree to punish sin in his Son, includes his will to impute it to him; and his purpose not to punish it in his elect, takes in his will not to impute it to them, and must be their Justification from all sin in his sight. 6. "Christ's atonement and bearing sin was in the eye of God from eternity, as if already done: Hence the patriarchs were actually and personally justified by it f7," as Dr. Chauncy well observes. Therefore, why may it not be concluded that the elect were justified from everlasting, since God had the atonement of Christ then in his eye? I should be glad to see their arguments thoroughly examined, and solidly refuted, if they do not sufficiently prove what they have brought forth.  Thirdly, I shall now go on to answer those objections which are advanced against eternal Justification.

Here I shall, 1st, attend to those raised by Mr. B. and, 2dly, to various objections made by some other persons.

I am 1st, to begin with those objections which Mr. B. has advanced against eternal Justification. Now he objects thus:

Object. 1.f7 "Faith must be more than a manifestation of our Justification, because the saints are said in scripture to have access, by faith, into the grace wherein they stand;" "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access, by faith, into this grace wherein we stand:" {Ro 5:2} That is, we stand actually pardoned, and actually justified before God, as well as actually reconciled with God. In the opinion of our author, this text is a sufficient proof that the saints, by faith, enter into a justified state, and consequently cannot be justified before they believe. In order to shew that he mistakes the sense of the text, I would observe these things.

If by faith we are actually brought into, or fixed in a justified state, it will follow that this grace has a causal influence on our Justification; which it is evident it has not, because Justification is no other than the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, which is an act proper to God. If our actual Justification is by faith, it is either by the habit, or the act of faith: Now, as I apprehend, there is no ground to assert that Justification is by the habit of faith, because no action can be ascribed to faith as a habit; and should any assert that it is by the act of faith, I would enquire of them, whether Justification is only by the first act of faith, and not also by renewed acts? If it is only by the first act of faith, it then evidently follows, that faith has not the same concern or use in our Justification, in its renewed acts, as in the first act of it. Besides, if our actual justification depends upon, or is by repeated acts of faith; this, as a necessary consequence, will arise from thence, That when faith is not in exercise, believers are not justified; because, according to this, faith gives actual being to Justification.

Wherefore, I cannot but conclude, that if Justification be the benefit designed by that grace, into which the saints are said to have access by faith, thereby is not intended, that Justification, as to its actual being, commences when they believe, but only that at that time they have the comfortable apprehension of it. But I am persuaded, that upon a due consideration of that strict connection which these words have with the first verse, we shall see reason to conclude, that some other privilege, and not Justification, is intended by that grace, into which the saints are said to have access by faith: For it is to be observed that the Apostle, in the first verse, asserts that we are justified by faith; "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, if we suppose that he intends the same thing in the second verse, we shall make him guilty of a gross tautology, and shall then be obliged to take the words in this view; "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access, by faith, into the grace of Justification;" or thus, "being justified by faith, by faith also we are justified. But I imagine, that none will allow that the Apostle could possibly be guilty of such a needless repetition; and, if not, it must be granted that some other privilege, and not Justification, is to be understood by that grace, into which the saints are said to have access by faith.f8 Now our access to the throne of grace is usually intended, when the Greek word for access is made use of in other places. And I can see no reason why that may not be allowed to be the sense of it in this. The design of the Apostle in the words, seems to me to be this; That through Christ we have freedom of access unto the throne of grace: The preposition eijv may as well be rendered unto, as into: Whereat we stand; for en maybe translated at, as it sometimes is: As for instance; ejn dexia~ te tou~ qra>nou Qeou~, "at the right hand of the throne of God." {Heb 12:2} So that the words strongly imply, that our access to the throne of grace, is a standing privilege or benefit, of which we shall never be deprived, because our liberty of access to God depends upon, or is secured by the infinite merit of Christ's blood and righteousness, which will eternally remain the same. From the whole, it is evident, that this text affords nothing for the proof of what is collected from it by Mr. B. that the elect of God are not actually justified before they believe, or that their actual Justification is by faith.

Object. 2. "Was faith only a manifestation, i.e. of our Justification, why is it compared to a hand, as well as to an eye?"

I answer: Faith, as an eye, views that it is necessary we be furnished with a righteousness which is perfect, and that we have no such righteousness of our own. It also beholds the perfection and glory of the righteousness of Christ; and, as a hand, it lays hold on and receives that righteousness for our Justification in the sight of God. But our act of receiving this righteousness, is not the imputation of it to us, which is the ratio formalis of our justification, and is God's act alone; our receiving act can have no concern therein. Besides, we receive Christ's righteousness as justifying, and consequently are justified before our reception of it. Further, if the act of receiving Christ's righteousness is our actual Justification, we justify our selves; whereas Justification is an act of God's grace towards us in Christ, as has been before observed. Moreover, if actual Justification is by our receiving Christ's righteousness, it is repeated as often as we act faith on the justifying righteousness of Christ, except this grace, after the first act of it, ceases to have the same concern in Justification as it has in its first act; which, if any take the liberty to assert, I hope they will make it fully appear: To conclude; when it is said that Justification by faith is the comfortable knowledge of it, therein is included the act of renouncing our own righteousness, and applying to Christ's, as that which alone can justify us before God. But what proof this affords, that Justification by faith is to be under flood in a proper sense, and cannot precede it, I am at a loss to understand.

Object. 3. "Faith, in the business of Justification, must be more than a manifestation; because, was it no other, other graces would share with faith, in its use and office, as it respects our Justification, for they all speak by way of manifestation, and evidence our being loved, and chose in Christ from everlasting."

In this objection there are several grand mistakes. There is something in it which is perfectly irreconcilable to what our author has before asserted. Here he tells us, that faith, and other graces, are a manifestation of God's everlasting love, and his choice of us in Christ; which are immanent acts, or I know not what acts of God must be looked upon to be such: Nay, he himself allows they are, in these words; "All the purposes of God, as they are in him, are immanent acts." Therefore God's purpose or will to love his people from everlasting, and his eternal election of them in Christ, must needs be such acts. He elsewhere asserts that it is impossible the immanent acts of God should be known by any creature: For, concerning them, he delivers himself in this manner; "As he must be a man, and not an inferior being, who knows what the immanent acts in man are, or how things lie in his mind and will; and he must be an angel, who knows what the immanent acts of an angel are; so he must be God, who knows what the immanent acts of God are, or how things lie in the divine mind and will. Thus God himself speaks of them; "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord: For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

It must be allowed, that it is a most palpable contradiction to assert, that the Immanent acts of God cannot be known, and yet that faith, with other graces, is a manifestation of those acts. Again, let us consider what Mr. B. has said about the impossibility of knowing the immanent acts of God. Now, that no creature below man can understand his immanent acts, must readily be granted; because no creature inferior to man, is endued with reason: But that no creature, unless an angel, can know the immanent acts of angels, is a mistake. Their acts are rational acts, and may be understood by a principle of reason, with which the mind of man is furnished; not but the immanent acts of angels must be discovered to man, in order to his knowledge of them; and so likewise the immanent acts of men must be declared, before they can be known by others. The same also is to be observed concerning the immanent acts of God; they, in some measure, are to be understood by rational or intelligent creatures, as our author himself is obliged to allow in another place, though he is so unhappy as to contradict himself here. It is certain that God's immanent acts could never have been understood by us, if God himself had not revealed them: But have we not, in the Bible, a clear discovery of his immanent acts, which relate to the salvation of his elect; and are they not revealed, in order to be known by them for their peace and comfort? Further: Are not God's purposes to save the elect, and the contrivance of proper ways or methods to effect such a gracious design, his immanent acts? And are not they declared to us in the holy scriptures? And also are they not, in some degree, known by us, as we are illuminated by his grace? Besides, if it is impossible for us to conceive of God's immanent acts, we must remain eternally ignorant of them, for we shall not be deified in heaven.

Add to this, If it is absolutely impossible for us to know the order of things in the divine mind, we shall not, to eternity, be able to resolve this question, Whether God, in his decree of election, foresaw that we would believe, prior to, and independent on his purpose, that we should believe, and be holy? And therefore all disputes with the Remonstrants about it must needs cease, and be acknowledged vain and impertinent. Whence it appears, that this observation favours eternal election no more than eternal Justification. I also add, that how much forever it may be thought, upon a cursory view of this text, ("My ways are not as your ways," etc.) that it affords sufficient evidence to support what it is brought in favour of; I doubt not, but upon a close enquiry into it, the judicious reader will easily see that the true meaning of the words is this: That God's mercy, which is displayed in the remission of our sins (and is spoken of in the verse before) is not to be limited by our narrow conceptions, but that it infinitely exceeds those notions which we are too ready to entertain concerning it. To this purpose are those words of Calvin upon the text: "I am not a mortal man, that I should act towards you as one severe and implacable. f9" If our author intends that God's immanent acts cannot be comprehended, I believe none will oppose him in that. But there is a wide difference between conception and comprehension; we are capable of conceiving, or forming ideas of God's love, but shall never be able to comprehend it. I observe, that faith is not a manifestation of God's love to us, and choice of us in Christ from everlasting. This grace cannot pry and search into God's heart, and acquaint us with his secrets, any farther than they lie open to our view in divine revelation; our knowledge of them arises wholly from the discovery God himself makes about them. The manifestation of there things, is either external or internal. The external manifestation of God's favour to his elect, and his eternal designs of grace concerning them, is in the Gospel: "That is the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" {Eph 3:9} Herein are made known God's eternal love to his chosen, and the secret actings of his goodness to them before the world was, his covenant-transactions with Christ their Head, to secure their eternal salvation and happiness. For what is the gospel but a manifestation of the contrivance of our redemption, and the actual accomplishment of it by Christ? Upon this account it is called the "wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world to our glory." {1Co 2:9} There is also an internal manifestation of these things to our souls, of which the Spirit of God is the author: "For he searches all things, yea, even the deep things of God," and reveals them to us, or enables us spiritually to understand them; as is evident from those words of the Apostle: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit (Ver. {1Co 2:9-10}." It is therefore very obvious, that faith is not the manifestation of there things, neither externally, nor internally. It may be farther observed, that other graces, as well as faith, are manifest proofs of our interest in God's eternal love, and of our being the objects of his eternal choice in Christ; because they are effects which flow from thence. But tho' they are an evidence of these things, as effects are clear proofs of the existence of the cause by which they are produced, that ought not to be confounded with the manifestation of God's everlasting love to our souls, and of our eternal election in Christ: For then we must be supposed to have a constant sense of God's love to us, and choice of us, because our graces, at one time as well as another, are evidences of these things. Besides, the revelation of God's love to us, is only received by faith. For neither love, nor fear, nor repentance, can embrace the witness of God's Spirit; that is peculiar to the grace of faith, "which alone Is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen:"That {Heb 11:1} is, it is by faith only that we view invisible things. Therefore this grace has its peculiar use distinct from all others, in the sense or apprehension of our Justification, and, consequently, this objection vanishes.

Object. 4. "If faith, in the business of Justification, is no more than a manifestation, one believer may be more justified than another, as his manifestation thereof may be dearer and fuller." I answer, that Justification is God's act, not ours. He only justifies the ungodly by imputing Christ's righteousness to them. Therefore Justification by faith is not to be understood properly, i.e. the being of Justification is not designed; for that has no dependance on faith, but the knowledge of this benefit is intended, when it is said we are justified by faith. Nor is it any absurdity to affirm, that one believer has a fuller discovery of his Justification by Christ than another; and that the saints, at one time, may have a stronger assurance of their Justification, than at some others. Farther, Mr. B. suggests, under this head, that the doctrine of eternal Justification smells rank of the Arminians. Every one knows they are no friends to it, any more than some others. And I am well assured, if those who embrace it, could once discover what connection there is between that doctrine and Arminian principles, they would, with the greater freedom, part with it: For, in their opinion, that scheme is wholly contrary to scripture. To conclude: If Justification is by faith, in a proper sense, or if it has a dependance on faith as to its actual being, and faith has always the same use in Justification, I may take leave to return our author's words upon himself: "That a believer in the dark would be no more justified, than whilst he was shut up in unbelief." All which is unscriptural, and smells rank of the Arminians, who hold a falling from grace. This absurdity is a natural consequence, which arises from the opinion of actual Justification by faith; because, when that is not in being, upon which any thing depends, that which has its dependance on it cannot then exist; but faith, on which actual Justification depends (according to this author) is not always in the act, though it is in the habit. The consequence is easy to be understood.

Object. 5. "To talk of God's actually imputing a thing of that worth, as is Christ's righteousness, to nothing, or to that which as yet has no actual being; that he should actually impute Christ's righteousness to a non ens, or to one who as yet is not, is to talk, not only unscripturally, but unintelligibly."

To this objection I answer: The immanent and transient acts of God are to be distinguished; the latter produce a real change in their subjects, and necessarily require their existence; but God's immanent acts are not productive of any physical change in their objects, and consequently it is not necessary that they should exist, when those acts take place. Justification is not a transient, but immanent act: It is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, which is an act in God's mind, and effects no real change in us; therefore our existence is not necessary to our Justification before God. Let it be farther observed, that if the imputation of righteousness requires our actual existence, the imputation of sin doth also. There is the same reason for asserting the one, as the other. That sin was imputed to us before we had an actual being, is evident; for sin was imputed to us when we were made sinners, which we were immediately upon, or by the fall of Adam, as we may justly collect from those words of the Apostle: "For by one man's disobedience many were made sinners:" {Ro 5:19} That is, all the posterity of Adam were by God reputed sinners, because they sinned in him as their public head. This clearly proves the imputation of sin to us long before our actual existence. Again: That sin was imputed to the elect (as considered in themselves) from everlasting, is fully demonstrated by the covenant of grace, which God and Christ entered into in eternity, to save them from the dismal consequences of their sins. Sin must be first imputed, before any penal evil can be inflicted on us. The corruption of our nature follows the imputation of sin: That is the cause why we are shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin. Therefore we stand charged with this in God's sight, before our conception in the womb. For, as Maccovius well observes: "This sin, i.e. original sin, arises from sin imputed, as the desert of it; or, as some love to speak, the demerit. For God, on account of this imputation, most justly punisheth all who are propagated from Adam in a natural way.f10" And elsewhere he answers this question, When, or at what time, is sin imputed, after this manner:

1. "To impute, says he, is a moral, act; that is to say, that this or that thing is accounted as done by one for another, as tho' the other had done it." He adds,

2. "That this act may be, where the object, or rather the subject, to which something may be imputed does not have existence; and that it may have respect to this future subject; or, that sin may be imputed to any one, who doth not as yet exist, but whose future being is certain. Thus, for instance: Our sins were imputed to Christ the Saviour, as man, and were imputed to him as soon as he was promised as a Mediator, hence it was that believers, who lived before Christ was incarnate, were delivered from eternal death, There things being thus, we now answer to the question, That sin was imputed to all who were to be propagated from Adam, as soon as Adam sinned. For as to what Scharpius supposes, that sin is imputed when man first exists, or begins to be, that is refuted from hence; that the matter of which man is to be born, is already polluted with inherent sin. Hence the Holy Spirit is said to have sanctified the mass of which Christ was to be born; which is taken from  {Lu 1:35}. So then sin inherent is later than sin imputed f11" And, in his book of metaphysicks, he makes use of this as an argument for Justification preceding regeneration. He asks this question, Whether or not Justification goes before regeneration? And answers: "Thus it is; for as sin inherent supposes that sin is imputed, so also inherent righteousness presupposes righteousness is imputedf12." Now as sin may be, and actually is, imputed to us, before we exist; so righteousness may be, and actually is, imputed to use prior to our existence.

Object. 6. "All the purposes of God, as they are in him, are immanent acts; his whole counsel is so, as it takes in his works of nature, grace, and glory. Now if this, without the intervention of his power, gives actual being to any thing, to our Justification, for instance, it should, by a parity of reason, give actual being to every thing, to this world, and to all that is therein; to the church militant, and to the church triumphant."

I answer: All transient acts of God are put forth in time, and they give being to something which did not exist before, and therefore cannot be eternal. Creation is such an act; it is an act, without God, not in him: Therein his infinite power is exerted, for the production of that which had no existence, till such a creating act takes place, His decree to create, and creation it self, are different acts; the former is an immanent, the latter a transient act; the one is eternal, the other is in time. But Justification is an immanent act, not without, but in God, and is not expressive of any real or physical change in its objects: It therefore must be eternal. Again, it is altogether impertinent and inconclusive to argue thus: If God's decree gives actual being to any thing, to our Justification, for instance, by a parity of reason, it should give being to every thing, etc. For God's bare decree gives not actual being to any thing out of himself; but his will, purpose, or decree, as it respects an act in his own mind, is no other than the act it self: As for instance, his will or immutable purpose to love his elect, is his actual love to them, and his will to elect, is election; or it gives actual being to the thing it self, which has no existence but in his infinite mind. So his will or purpose not to impute sin, and to impute righteousness, is his real non-imputation of the one, and actual imputation of the other; and is the complete Justification of the elect, which has no being but in God's breast, I add, it ought to be proved that Justification is a transient act, by which actual being is given to something out of God himself; or that it is effective of some real and physical change in its objects, as it needs must be, if there is an intervention of God's power between his decree to justify, and Justification it self. If this is not done, as I am of opinion it can't be, it will evidently appear that it is far from solid reasoning to infer, that as God's mere decree to create, gives not actual being to any thing so his will and purpose to justify, doth not give being to Justification.

Object. 7. "Paul was a chosen vessel before he believed; but where is he said to have been pardoned, or justified, or reconciled, or adopted, whilst lying out from, and persecuting of the Lord Jesus Christ?" Why should it be enquired whether there things were spoken concerning Paul, before he believed? If they are declared of God's elect in general, that is sufficient to support the doctrine of their actual Justification, reconciliation, and adoption before faith. It would no way affect the argument, if we no where read any of these blessings about Paul in particular, whilst he was a persecutor of Christ. But, because "Paul was justified, reconciled, and adopted, even when in a state of unbelief, therefore he was converted in God's appointed time. If Christ's righteousness had not been imputed to him when he was dead in sin, he would never have received spiritual life from Christ; for regeneration is the effect of Justification, or follows upon it. Agreeably to which this gentleman himself asserts,"That Christ first is made righteousness, and so sanctification; and adds, that "this order ought not to be inverted." Had he always delivered himself consistent with what is here said, he would have prevented this publication. Again: Paul was actually reconciled, or God was so to him, when a persecutor; "for peace was made," for Paul, as well as other elect persons, "by the blood of Christ's cross." {Col 1:20} If God was not really reconciled to his elect before they believe, and he was full of anger and wrath against them, they never would believe: For wrath in God, is his purpose to inflict the desert of sin on guilty sinners; which cannot consist with designs of love and favour to them.

Therefore those who are the objects of God's wrath, in this sense, never will believe. The death of Christ did not render God reconcileable to sinners, as some say, but actually reconciled. And it may be observed, that it is said of Paul, that he was reconciled, whilst an enemy; that is, a persecutor of Christ: For he speaks it of himself, in these words; "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."Moreover, {Ro 5:10} he was in a state of adoption, when he persecuted Christ in his members: For, because he was a child of God, "the Spirit of God's Son was sent into his heart;" by whole influences he was enabled "to cry, Abba Father." {Ga 4:6} Regeneration doth not make us sons; but, because we are sons, we are regenerated. That the elect "are by nature children of wrath, even as others," {Eph 2:2} is certain; and that they are the children of God by grace, is equally so. And both there may be said of them at one and the same time, but in different respects. As the descendants of Adam, they are children of wrath; that is, they are under a sentence of condemnation by the law: As in, and members of Christ, they are the children of God, and free from condemnation in his sight; yea, they are the objects of his special love and delight, and were so from everlasting; which is the reason why they are regenerated in God's due time, when their adoption becomes open and visible. Junius hath this note on Ga 4:5. Adoptio filiorum aeterna, sed suo tempore exhibetur; that is, the adoption of sons is eternal, but is manifested in time.

Object. 8. "A sinner's Justification may, and should be considered as the birth of time and so personal and actual, in the joyful and blessed application thereof." I answer: Justification, as it is an act in God, or as it is taken for his non-imputation of sin, and imputation of righteousness, ought not to. be considered as the birth of time, but is eternal, because all his immanent acts are so. Again: Is actual Justification the same with personal, and cannot persons be justified before they exist? then they cannot be personally elected, before their actual existence. If there is a personal election from eternity, there also may be a personal Justification from eternity, because the latter requires our existence no more than the former.

Those who object against eternal Justification, That the existence of the persons justified is necessary to Justification, would do well to consider, that the Remonstrants, in the same manner, object against eternal election. Fore say they, "It cannot be, that any one should be actually elected, who doth not as yet actually exist, for as much as no qualities belong to a non ens. f13' Let our opponents see how they can remove this difficulty, which is railed against eternal election; and closely examine if that answer, which removes it, as levelled against a personal election from everlasting, doth not also fully take off its force against the personal Justification of the elect before time. I am persuaded they will: For as election is an act in God, and is not effective of any real change in us; so is Justification, and works no physical change in us, as has been before observed. If by actual Justification, or the application of that benefit, is intended the discovery of it to God's elect, for their consolation and joy, it certainly follows faith; and is that Justification by faith which the scripture speaks of, when faith is taken in a proper sense, but is no evidence that Justification it self is not eternal.

Object. 9. "The distinction of virtual and actual, has its use and place in scripture, as well as in nature. In nature the care is plain; for the earth virtually contains all the fruit that will be brought forth and ripened, not only the next summer, but an hundred years hence; whence it follows not that trees are now full of ripe fruit. The sea also virtually contains all fountains and rivers that can possibly flow from it, as eternity contains all possible time. And no less plain is the case as to scripture, where Christ is said to be a lamb slain from the foundation of the world: Which cannot be understood of Christ's being actually crucified, before he was born; but the slaying there must be virtual, not actual." This distinction of virtual and actual I cannot well understand, especially as it is used in the affair of Justification. Virtual seems to me to signify something which has effe in potentia, being in power, or that which is possible to be effected; and may be considered as uncertain, with respect to actual being. Thus all possible things may be said to be virtually in the divine mind, or to lie before God as things which may be produced by his infinite power, though never brought into real being: "For ens is divided into ens in power and act.f14" Wherefore I conceive it may be as well to make use of the word potential as virtual, when the actual being of any thing, which, may be, is not designed, but only its being in power. I will not pretend to say what farther may be designed, by virtual (than potential imports) when it is made use of in the business of Justification, But I am not able to understand that the term it self signifies any thing more. Again: It appears very strange to me that any thing, which has no being but in God himself, (as Justification has not) should be said to have only a virtual being till time, and that its actual being commences in time; because, whatever is in God, must needs be eternal. Therefore it is an improper way of reasoning to infer, that because trees are not now full of ripe fruit, that God doth not actually, but only virtually justify his people. before faith. Justification, as It is an act in God's mind, ought not to be considered as future, but as it always has been in himself, though not known to us till we believe, I add, that virtual, as standing opposed to actual, seems to be made use of by some in such a way, as, in a great measure, destroys the true notion of a public head and representative. Whatever is done by a public head, as so considered, is reckoned as done by those whom he represents, or, what he acts, as such, is looked upon as acted by them. This was the care with all mankind, who sinned in Adam, their public head; they were accounted really guilty of his transgression, the not in actual being, which is the cause why they are conceived in sin. And the elect were as really justified in Christ their public head, when he was justified from all their sins: As he, in God's account, was discharged from all guilt, so were they also: For he was not acquitted without respect had to them, as the persons whom he represented. To talk of being virtually justified, in opposition to a real or actual discharge from sin in God's account, is directly contrary to all just notions of Christ being the representative of his people. To conclude: How Christ could be virtually slain, in the common acceptation of the word, which is taken to signify the being, action, or suffering of a person in another, I can by no means understand: I know of none who could represent Christ, and in whom he might be said to do or suffer any thing. It must therefore be understood as that which certainly should be, according to the divine decree; and that his sufferings and satisfaction was then in the eye of God, as if he had already suffered, and atoned for our sins, as was before observed. But because Christ did not actually fuller from everlasting, it follows not that the elect were not justified from everlasting; because the same is not to be concluded of God's immanent, as is of his transient acts. Justification is an immanent act, and is eternal; the punishing of Christ was a transient act, and could not be eternal.

I shall now observe some things concerning the use of the word actual in Justification, as it is said to be so upon believing, and not before. And if it is intended, when it is said that the elect were not actually justified from everlasting, that God did not acquit them of their sins in his mind, it is a mistake, as appears by what has been already observed; or if it is designed that they are not declaratively discharged from them before they believe, it is not true, for that they are by the gospel in general, though that declaration cannot be received till faith is wrought in their souls. But if the meaning is, that they have no evidence of the remission of their sins, and the Justification of their persons, till they believe, that is readily granted: But it is denied that this is Justification it self, for it is only the manifestation of Justification. This seems to be all which is intended by some, who say that the elect are actually justified when they believe. Dr. Twisse takes actual Justification in no other sense; for, says he, "What is it that. the remission of sins, and our acceptation, signify, if not inward and immanent acts In God; acts of which kind do not arise in God anew f15?" A little after he speaks of actual Justification, and expresses himself thus: "God erects his tribunal in our hearts; our own conscience, according to the law of God, accuses, terrifies, and wounds us: At length the mercy of God thus shewing it self, the Spirit of God, by the voice of the gospel, raises, comforts, and refreshes us, and pronounces that our sins are forgiven us, for Christ's sake." This is what he intends, when he afterwards says actual Justification is not, unless to such as believe; which, in his sense, is certainly true, for only believers have a sentence of Justification pronounced in their consciences by, the Spirit of God.

Object. 10. "Actual possession, be it of a crown, takes place, according to the constitution of the kingdom, and the methods of government, which in all wife administrations are settled, and not left uncertain and precarious: Now is the order of civil governments great, and God's government of the world of nature yet greater; and is there no such thing as order in the gospel?"

I answer, that without doubt there is a beautiful order in the gospel; and that this gentleman has offered nothing, which in the least degree proves that eternal Justification breaks in upon that order. I hope it will not be said that God's immanent acts do follow upon, or in order succeed, his transient acts, but on the contrary; as for instance, creation follows God's decree to create: Justification is an immanent act, and doth not follow any transient act; nor is there any transient act of God that is our Justification, or which is the execution of his decree to justify us, as creation is the execution of his purpose to create. Again, I can t apprehend what the actual possession of Justification is, unless it be the sense and knowledge of it, which certainly follows faith, for none of the elect can know they are justified till they believe; the consequence of which may easily be gathered from what has been said before.

Object 11. "How expressly are we told in scripture, that in point of actual existence, that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual?" And, if so, the elect not only actually exist, but are actually condemned by the law of God, before they are actually justified."

The answer is, that the inference drawn from the words is not just; for they intend that we first receive a depraved nature from the first Adam, and afterwards holiness, or spiritual life, from Christ the second Adam. Besides, the existence of the elect is no more necessary to their actual and personal Justification, than it is to their actual and personal election. Rutherford speaking of election, hath these words: "But this, i.e. election, is an immanent and eternal act; for no act of God's will is in time, or transient; what God wills, he willed from eternity f16." He observes the very same concerning Justification, in these words: "These acts of imputing, and not imputing, are immanent acts in God, and therefore eternal f17." Farther, we grant that the elect are sententially condemned by the law of God, but this is not inconsistent with their Justification in Christ, and freedom from condemnation in him: For, as the author just now quoted observes, "The elect always, yea, before they believe, are free from condemnation, for, and on the account of, the death of Christ f18." To conclude: That which is called their actual Justification, is no more than the discovery of it, as was before observed.

Object. 12. "Though now we are glorified in Christ, we who believe, hope one day to be glorified together with Christ." The design of our author, in there word, is to suggest, that as our glorification in Christ from everlasting is not actual, so the Justification of the elect in him from everlasting is not actual. In answer to which it may be said, that glorification is a work of God upon us, and is expressive, of a real change in us, and therefore requires our actual existence; but Justification is not such an act, therefore our actual existence is not necessary to it.

Object. 13. "Christ's righteousness is not upon us, in the sense of the gospel, before faith; for the gospel is express, that it is to, or upon us, in a way of believing; and should men or angels tell us the contrary, let us not regard them."

In order to remove this objection, I would observe, that this author himself allows, that the imputation of Christ's righteousness is our Justification, and that this is God's act; which he strongly expresses in there words: "None, save God the judge of all, could make Christ to be sin for us; and none, save God the judge of all, can make any of us the righteousness of God in him." I apprehend him to mean, that as Christ was made sin, by God's imputing our sins to him, so we are made righteous, by God's imputing Christ's righteousness to us: Which, if he does, he is not consistent with himself; for then it follows, that Christ's righteousness is to, or upon us, in a way of imputation, and not in a way of believing.

Therefore, should it be granted that only believers are the objects of Justification (which cannot be, because God justifies the ungodly) yet it would not follow that Christ's righteousness is upon them in a way of believing, or that it is by their faith imputed to them; for if so, they make themselves the righteousness of God in him; which our author justly denies, and grants, that Justification is God's act, and not theirs. Farther, I admire that a person of Mr. B's humility should express himself with so assuming an air as he does, in laying, should men or angels tell us the contrary, let us not regard them. Had an anathema been pronounced against such as assert Justification before faith, this sentence would have had the same force and degree of resentment in it, as that of the Apostle against the perverters of the gospel:"if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Ga 1:9 However, it must be allowed, that his delivering himself in as positive a manner as if he had the infallible guidance of an inspired writer, is going far enough in all reason, without pronouncing any dreadful anathemas against those who differ from him. What is the reason why those must not be regarded, who affirm that the elect of God are justified before faith? Is not Mr. B. as likely to be mistaken as they are? I am indeed tempted to think that he has not much regarded what has been offered for Justification before faith, for if he had, certainly his resentments could never have carried him these lengths.

Object. 14. "Gifts, how freely soever they may be designed for us, and given to us, they are not ours, before we receive them: There must be the receiving, as well as the giving hand, before the poor are actually possessed of the rich man's gift."

I answer to this, it is a mistake, that gifts are not ours before received; for the donor's act of giving makes them ours, and not our receiving act; and we receive them as what we have a proper right because given us by him whose they are, to bestow. Therefore it is not the poor man's receiving a gift that makes it become his, but the act of the giver. Besides, legal possession depends upon a prior right to the thing possessed, for otherwise our possession of it cannot be just and lawful; because legal right is founded either upon purchase or free gift, and not on our receiving any thing we enjoy. Again: This makes our right to, and interest in pardoning, justifying, and sanctifying grace, and glory it self, to depend as much upon our act of receiving these benefits, as on God's act of giving them to us; which is absurd. Moreover, it follows hence that heaven is not the saints, or that they have no right to it whilst here upon earth; which is apparently false, for they are now heirs of the kingdom. To conclude: That which is given by any person's friend into the hand of another for him (he not being present) is as much his, as if he had actually received it at the hand of the donor. Thus all grace and glory was given to the elect in Christ before the world, began; and both as much became theirs, by virtue of God's gift, as if they had been present, and actually received the one and the other at God's hand. I hope it will be allowed that the doctrine of eternal Justification stands unshaken, notwithstanding this author's attack; for all his objections have not weight enough to bear it down. If many of the similes he makes use of, in treating about the doctrine of Justification, should die buried in some dark cavern of the earth, where he makes a supposition of putting the sun, I imagine the danger will not be much to the churches.

2dly, I shall now consider some objections which are raised by others against this doctrine. And it is objected:

Object. 1. "To this purpose, that as sanctification, and all the fruits of the Spirit, perseverance in grace, and eternal glory, were granted to the elect in Christ from everlasting, no less than Justification; so they were not then justified, in any other or farther sense, than they were sanctified, etc. which they could not actually be."

I answer, that sanctification, and glorification, are transient acts of God, and do produce a real change in us. To these acts our personal existence is necessary; we must first be, before we can be made holy by God's grace: Therefore the gift of sanctifying grace, in the eternal covenant, could be no other than a representative sanctification in Christ, not actual. Justification is an act of God's free grace towards us in Christ, and is not productive of any real or inherent change in us; whence it follows, that our personal existence is not necessary to it. Now as Justification is not the implantation of grace in us, but is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, which is an act in God himself, the grant of Justification was not a lodging of grace in Christ's hand for us, to be communicated to us, by which we might become justified, as the gift of sanctification was: Nor could it be a promise to Christ, that God at any certain time would begin to justify us, because justification is an immanent act, and consequently must be eternal. As the nature of this grace greatly differs from sanctification, it ought not, in the promise of it, to be considered in the same light.

Object. 2. "If Adam's sin, and our own personal sins, were imputed to us in time, we were not personally justified from eternity, but do need a true and real Justification in time. But the former is true, therefore the latter. The reason of the consequence is this; where the guilt and charge of sin is, and law-condemnation for it, there Justification is not." I answer, that Adam's sin was imputed to the elect, as well as to the nonelect, before they had a being; and that the elect are under a charge of sin by the law, and a sentence of condemnation for it, as soon as they exist. But all this is not inconsistent with their secret Justification before God, as he considered them in the righteousness of Christ; that being as really imputed to them for their Justification before him, as their sins were to their guiltiness in his sight. Therefore they need no farther justifying act in time, than passed towards them from everlasting.

Object. 3. "God's eternal will to justify or pardon, or non-impute sin, is not Justification." For the support of which two reasons are offered; as, First, that act or benefit, which is not the fruit of Christ's death and bloodshed, is not Justification; but God's will nor to impute sin, is not the fruit of Christ's death and bloodshed, and therefore it is not Justification. I answer, God's will to save, and make his elect happy, is not the fruit, but the cause of Christ's death. But though God's will not to impute sin, and his will not to pardon it without a satisfaction from Christ, to secure the honour of his law, and the glory of his justice, may be distinguished, yet they ought not to be separated; for his will not to impute sin to his elect, intrudes his will to impute it to Christ, and to punish it in him, without any abatement. Therefore it cannot be said that God ever absolutely willed not to charge sin on his people, or without respect to their redemption from it by Christ. Again: God had in his eye, even from everlasting, the atonement made by Christ; and, on the account of Christ's engagement to suffer for the sins of the elect, he acquitted them as really as though Christ had actually suffered the penalty demerited by their transgressions. The second thing, which is offered, is this: "That act of God, which is no discharge or freedom from the law, or the charge thereof, whereto God proceeds not by an external rule, as a law-giver, is not Justification; but God's will not to Impute sin to his elect, is no discharge from the law, therefore it is not Justification. In answer to this, let it be observed, that the charge of sin upon men by the law, is no other than a manifestation that they were under the secret imputation of sin in God's mind, before the open charge of it: And so also the declaration which is in the gospel of believers freedom from a lawcharge of sin, is no other than a discovery of their discharge from all sin in God's eternal mind. God does not then begin to look upon, or consider them as clear from guilt, when the gospel declares they are so in his account. Besides, as on the score of God's imputing sin to us, we are accounted, guilty in his view, and not by the declaration of that act; so, on the score of his non-imputation of sin, and imputation of righteousness, we are accounted justified in his sight, and not by the discovery of those acts. If it is not thus, men before their personal existence are neither accounted guilty, nor righteous, in God's view. Let it farther be observed, that the discharge of the elect from sin, in God's mind, was acted by him as a lawgiver, or with a view to that satisfaction which the law was to receive from Christ their surety. Herein therefore, he proceeded according to the external rule, which he has published, that is to say his law, and not in the least contrary to it.

Object. 4. "The covenant of redemption or grace, as with Christ, is not that whereby sin was charged, or said upon Christ by the Father, and therefore is not our discharge." To this it may be answered, that a surety's engagement to pay a debt makes it become his in the eye of the law, and in the account of the creditor, and therefore he expects payment at his hand. Thus, when God was reconciling the world to himself, or forming the glorious plan and model of our reconciliation by Christ, which was in eternity, he did not then impute sin to his people; for the Apostle says expressly, "not imputing their trespasses to them (2Co 5:19.):" Therefore he imputed sin to Christ their surety; or else it was then imputed to none, neither to the principal debtor, nor the surety, which I imagine none will assert. The imputation of sin is an act in God's mind, and so it might be, and actually was, imputed to Christ upon his undertaking for the elect; for if God did not look upon our sins as Christ's, by virtue of his suretyship engagements, and we were not discharged from sin in God's light upon that account, how could the Old Testament saints have been acquitted of their sins? For if we cannot be discharged, unless our sins be imputed to Christ, and they could not be placed to his account, till he "was made of a woman, and made under the law {Ga 4:4-5}. as is suggested; then not one soul was justified before Christ's incarnation; than which, there is nothing more false. As Christ stood secretly charged with sin from everlasting, as the elects surety, so the open charge of it upon him was in time, when he was incarnate, and made under the law: But what is collected from thence, in there words, is no just inference; "The charge of sin on Christ was by the law: And I think none should venture to say, that Christ was made under the law from eternity: I am sure the scripture speaks otherwise, {Ga 4:5; Isa 53:6} So that neither was he charged, or under any imputation of sin; neither were we discharged from eternity." I answer, it doth not follow, that because Christ was not openly charged with sin by the law from eternity, which indeed he could not be, that he was under no imputation of sin, unless it be denied that there is any such thing as a secret, but real imputation of sin to Christ, or sinners, in God's breast, which I am sure ought not to be denied; for imputation is properly an act in God, and must be eternal, as was before observed. Besides, Christ's suretyship engagements were the proper foundation of the imputation of our sins to him, as they are of the imputation of his righteousness to us. Therefore the charge of sin on Christ bears date from his covenanttransactions with the Father, and must needs be eternal.

 Object. 5. "Suretyship of this sort bringing the charge on Christ from eternity, would prevent our being under the law, and the charge of sin on us thereby, and consequently our redemption therefrom." This is an objection which has, of late, been made use of against the doctrine of eternal Justification: But that it is a great mistake, or that this consequence drawn from eternal Justification is not just, will appear from hence. It is many hundred years, since all the sins of the elect were openly charged on Christ by the law, and he atoned for them, and also was actually acquitted of them by God: Now as all this doth not prevent those of the elect, who have lived since his incarnation, coming under the law, and a charge of sin by it, and also a sentence of condemnation for their sins, the secret charge of sin on Christ from eternity, certainly cannot be attended with any of these consequences. But farther: Redemption is necessary, even where there is no charge of sin by the law, if sin has been committed by such who now stand clear of all guilt. This is evident in the care of Old Testament saints, who were actually glorified when Christ suffered, and consequently were under no imputation of sin; yet their redemption was no less needful than the redemption of other elect person; and it was actually effected by Christ, when they were in glory, as is manifest from those words of the Apostle; "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God Ro 3:25)." It may therefore be strongly concluded, that Justification from eternity doth not set aside redemption in time, since the actual glorification of Old Testament saints, did not make their redemption by Christ unnecessary. Besides, our redemption from the law was what Christ undertook in the covenant of grace; and our discharge from sin in God's mind, did not make it unnecessary for him to fulfil his own engagements, but rather laid him under obligation to perform what he had promised.. Upon the whole, it is plain, that this objection has no weight or force in it.

Object. 6. "That is Justification to which the definition of it belongs; but the definition of it belongs to some declared act, or sentence of God." I answer: If the imputation of sin to us, and a sentence of condemnation conceived in God's mind, is our guiltiness and condemnation in his account, which I hope will be granted; then it ought to be allowed, that the non-imputation of sin, and imputation of righteousness to us, or a sentence of absolution conceived in God's breast, is our real Justification in his sight. Again: As on the score of God's Imputing sin we are accounted sinners, so on the score of his imputing righteousness we are accounted righteous; not by the declaration of that act. Under this head of objection it is said, "That the inward thoughts of a judge concerning a criminal, are neither his condemnation nor Justification, but his passing sentence according to law is so." As an answer to this I would observe, that a sentence of condemnation, conceived in the mind of a judge, is the secret condemnation of a criminal: For when a sentence of condemnation is palled by a judge upon a malefactor, he doth not then begin to look upon him as guilty; but because he concluded him guilty, he formed a sentence of condemnation against him in his mind, and therefore pronounces it according to law. Now, as Dr. Ames observes, "A sentence of Justification was, as it were, conceived in the mind of God by the decree of justifying: f19" "Which sentence of Justification in God's mind, was as real a Justification of the elect before God, as a sentence of condemnation, conceived in the mind of a judge, is the secret, though not open condemnation of a malefactor. As Christ was really made sin by God's act of imputing our sins to him, and not by the declaration thereof in the gospel; so we were really made righteous, or justified by God's imputation of his righteousness to us, and not by the discovery of that act in the gospel. Mr. Eyere thus answers an objection, that is much like what is here advanced: "Though the forgiveness of magistrates be by some published act of oblivion, yet it doth not follow, that God must proceed in the same manner; because the promulgation of an act of grace, is for the direction and limitation of judges and ministers of state, that they do not execute the sentence of the law. Now in the Justification of a sinner, God hath no need of such an act, because he is the sole judge and justifier himself; and therefore the purpose of his will secures the person sufficiently, though his security be not declared, and makes the law of condemnation (which depends wholly on the will of God) to be of no force, in regard of the real execution of it, whether he plead it or no; as in infants, and doubting "Christians, whose hearts do condemn them." He adds: "A judge, that hath the legislative power in his own breast needs no published edict to absolve an offender. Now God is such a judge, as doth not receive, but gives laws unto all. The publishing of acts of grace is for the comfort of the offender, rather than for any need that the supreme magistrate hath thereof, as to the compleating of his act; as, for instance, the act of oblivion was a real pardon when it passed the house; for though delinquents had no knowledge of their immunity, from the penalties which they had incurred before it was published in print, yet the vote or sanction of the house did secure them from danger, and invalidate the statutes that were in force against them; otherwise delinquents would be more beholden to the printer that published the act, than to the parliament that made it. So the publication of the new covenant was for the comfort of God's elect, and not for their security, in faro Dei f20." Wherefore, I cannot but conclude, that it is a mistake, that Justification before God is the declaration of our being righteous in his sight, and consequently that there is no force in this objection.

Object. 7. "If there is some justifying act of God passing upon a man when he believes, then that is the true and very time of his Justification; but the former is true, and therefore the latter." Several things are offered for the proof of this: As, (1.) "Our being in covenant is the rule and measure of our Justification. So far as men are under the covenant of grace, so far they are justified: Now God makes covenant with souls at believing, in their own persons." I answer, that it is a mistake that God actually makes covenant with his elect when they believe, or that at that time they are in the covenant of grace in a farther sense than they were before; for the covenant is only revealed to them at the time of their new birth, and is not then made with them, as will appear from these following things. Those who are not in the covenant of grace, cannot partake of any blessings in that covenant; for their right to the benefits of it, depends upon their interest therein. Again: If God actually makes covenant with his elect, it is either before or after they are regenerated. It cannot be before, for they are full of enmity against God, and are not subject to his law, neither can they be, as the Apostle declares: Therefore at that time they are altogether uncapable of entering into covenant with God. Dr. Ames, in shewing the difference between the old and new covenant, observes that they differ in the efficient cause. His words are these: "For in that, i.e. the old covenant, there were two parties, namely, it was the compact of God and man but in this, i.e. the new, God alone contracts; for man is now dead in sins, and hath no power of entering into a spiritual covenant with God f21." Dr. Chauncy asserts, that the elect are interested in the covenant of grace before they believe, in these words: "All the elect have a real right and interest in the covenant, even before believing; such a right as entitles them to believing: For Christ hath undertaken, that all that the Father hath given him, shall come to him; and it's therefore absolutely necessary they should, as promised in the covenant; not as a condition, as a leading benefit, and no otherwise f22." Elsewhere he expresses himself thus: "It's mightily to derogate from the covenant of grace, to make the promise thereof to depend on a stipulation on our parts: For, if we stipulate with God, we also promise to him, as well as he to us, before performance, and likewise that we do our part before he doth his; for the stipulating is covenanting; and for any man to talk of any such thing, runs upon multitudes of rocks. Our radical stipulation was in Christ; all other stipulations are effects of it f23." He adds, "The covenant of grace is the. act of God; in the person of the Father with us, in the person of Christ in him, we did restipulate. He was the great covenanter on our part, and the condition of this covenant; and when we by virtue of the promise take hold of this covenant, we stand upon this condition with God, and God dispenseth all benefits upon this condition to us: And it is a free and absolute covenant to us, a covenant of promise; because not only the promise is bestowed, without foederal conditions performed by our selves, and the great foederal condition, the Lord Christ, is freely bestowed on us." To these things I subjoin, that all me posterity of Adam were actually in, or under, the covenant of works, when that covenant was made with him, because he then represented them as their public head, wherefore their personal consent was required to that covenant. If this is not granted, it must be denied that we were guilty of Adam's sin; and also, that the corruption of our nature is the consequence of his transgression. Now, if all Adam's off-spring were actually under the covenant of works, immediately upon his consenting to it, and from thence his sin became as really theirs, as though they had been actually present when he committed it, and upon that account they receive inherent this from him; why may it not be allowed, that the elect were actually interested in the covenant of grace, when Christ, as their public head, entered into that compact with the Father? And also, that his righteousness was really imputed to them for their Justification, by virtue of their interest in the covenant of grace, tho' they did not then exist, as Adam's sin was imputed to all his feed, before their personal existence by virtue of their interest in the covenant of works? Not after, or upon believing, doth God make covenant with them, for then they must be supposed to partake of one eminent blessing of the covenant of grace, before they are interested in it; for faith, yea, all regenerating grace, is contained in, and promised by that covenant; as is evident from those words, "A new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you as heart of flesh {Eze 36:24}." Therefore because they are interested in the covenant of grace, even when unregenerate, they are born again, in God's appointed time. Now who can imagine, that if the elect are interested in the covenant of grace before they believe, and that it is from thence they do believe, or receive faith, that that covenant is made with them after, or upon, believing? That would be no less absurd, than to suppose an effect gives being to its cause. Therefore when we read of God's making covenant with his people, it only intends the manifestation of covenant promises and blessings to their souls; which is evident from those words, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew unto them his covenant {Ps 25:14}." This author observes, (2.) "Our Justification follows our union with Christ: Now as there is a legal and representative union of the elect in Christ, which infers their being justified in him; so there is a vital and influential union brought about at believing.." As an answer, let there things be observed. Our vital union with Christ is not the effect, but the cause of our faith; as the union of the felon with the flock, is the cause of its bearing fruit. Again; Vital union with Christ is not the foundation of our Justification, but that legal union which is between Christ and us; that is, as he is our surety, and we are the principal debtors: For it was by virtue hereof that our sins were imputed to him; and from hence it is that his righteousness becomes ours, or is imputed to us. This union is eternal; and so is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, which arises from that union. That which was not necessary to the imputation of our sins to Christ, is not necessary to the imputation of his righteousness; vital union to Christ was not required to the former, therefore it is not to the latter. He farther adds, (3.) "Justification goes with our possession of Christ; that is, all blessings of the covenant go with him." I answer, that the elect are interested in Christ before they believe, though till then they are ignorant of their interest in him. They are his by choice and acceptation, and also by redemption and purchase; and he is theirs by a gracious donation of himself to them, in the everlasting covenant. Farther, Justification depends not upon our possession of Christ, or an application of his grace and righteousness to our souls, by the Spirit of God, though our knowledge of it does, for that is an act in God towards, and not the infusion of grace in us, and is therefore eternal; for no new do, or can, arise in God; he has the same view of us in Christ before we believe, as after believing. He subjoins, (4.) "That believers have a farther discharge in the law and are not so under the sentence of condemnation thereto, as unbelievers, tho' elect" I answer: The elect are under a lenience of condemnation by the law, as was before granted; yet, this notwithstanding, they are justified in their head Christ, as was before observed. The elect who are not called, are justified in God's sight; the called elect are justified, not only secretly, but openly: A declared freedom from condemnations Is no more than Justification revealed. He adds, (5.) "Believers are under the justifying discharge of the gospel." It is true they are so; but this is no more than the manifestation of Justification, and not the thing itself. Under this objection it is farther said, "That when souls are brought under this, i.e. the covenant of grace (which mode of expression I cannot but disapprove, as improper, because they are in the covenant before they believe) then the filthy garments are taken away, and they are clothed, with change of raiment. Which, if true, it follows, that their sins are imputed to them, at least till after the first act of faith is put forth: And also, that Christ's righteousness is not imputed till after the exercise of faith; which makes Justification to follow both the habit and act of faith; and is directly contrary to the express words of the Apostle: "but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly {Ro 4:4}; for no regenerate person is an ungodly person. These objections are to be met with in Mr. Beart's Vindication of the eternal Law and Gospel, second Part. I hope the answers here given to them, will take off all that force which they may seem to carry with them, against the doctrine of eternal Justification. 3rdly, There are some other popular objections, which have lately been advanced against this important truth, which I shall endeavour to answer.

Object. 1. "There cannot be a Justification from sin, till there is a charge of sin; but the one is in time, therefore the other." I answer, this objection is as much levelled against the imputation of sin before time, as against eternal Justification. That God from everlasting did impute sin to his elect, as in themselves considered, is evident by the covenant which God and Christ entered into. Again: The charge of sin upon them by the law, is no more than a discovery of their standing secretly charged with sin in God's sight long before, as has been already observed; neither is their open acquittance by the gospel, any more than a manifestation of their secret Justification in God's mind, as he beheld them in Christ from eternity. It is granted that their open discharge from sin follows the declarative charge of it by the law, and that the one and the other is in time; but this militates not with eternal Justification in Christ.

Object. 2. "If the elect are justified without faith, they may be saved without faith." I answer: It is very bad logic to argue from a part to the whole; that which is true of the whole, is of a part, but not on the contrary; that which is true of a part, may not be so of the whole. Again: It may justly be said, that in some sense the elect are saved before they believe, and consequently without faith, as appears by these words: "who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given us in Christ before the world began." {2Ti 1:9} Salvation in a sense precedes vocation; for the elect are saved with many temporal salvations, before, and in order to, calling; or they are preserved by God's kind providence from many dangers, and recovered out of many afflictions) in order to be called; which I take to be included in those words: "preserved in Jesus Christ, and called {Jude 1}." Besides, they are saved in a spiritual sense, before calling; for Christ hath redeemed them from the curse of the law, the wrath of God; and also has conquered all their enemies, sin, Satan, death, and hell. This was the work which the Father gave him to do, and he came into the world to accomplish; for, "he came to seek and to save that which was lost {Lu 19:10} The distinction of the impetration and application of salvation, which is commonly made by divines, perfectly agrees with this; the impetration of salvation is before, the application of it begins, when we believe. If glorification, or the consummation of salvation, is intended in this objection, as I suppose it is; it follows not, that because we are justified without faith, that we may also be taken to heaven without faith: For it is not only necessary that we have a title to glory, which is the justifying righteousness of Christ; but that also grace be implanted in us, in order to fit us for the actual possession of everlasting life.

 Object. 3. "Some have said they will never believe the doctrine of eternal Justification, unless it can be made appears that we were sinners from everlasting." If there is any thing of weight in this trifling objection, it must be this, That we cannot be justified from sin before we have committed it: I answer, were not the elect of God considered as sinners in the act of election? I am sure the Sublapsarian doctrine necessarily supposes it; and I am inclined to believe that the authors of this objection do not much favour the Supralapsarian notion. Now how the elect of God could be considered as sinners, in God's eternal counsels, and yet no sin be imputed to them, I freely confess that I am not able to conceive: But if sin was imputed from everlasting to the elect, as in themselves considered; why may it not be allowed that they might be discharged from all sin, as God viewed them in Christ in eternity? Again, the actual commission of sin was not necessary to the imputation of it to Christ; this is so manifest, it needs no proof. Now let the authors of this objection make it appear, that though our sins might be, and actually were, imputed to Christ before we had committed them; yet that we cannot be justified from our sins, before the actual commission of them, I am tempted to think that this is a task they will not undertake, because they can't hope to succeed in it. Farther, this objection lies as strong against the complete Justification of believers; for if we cannot be discharged from sin before it is actually committed, we are not perfectly justified upon believing: But Justification is progressive, as sanctification is, which does not suit well with Protestant doctrine.

Object. 4. "Some have farther said, that this doctrine is only speculative, and of no great moment; and that they think it safest to go in the common beaten path of justification by faith." I answer, the same may be objected against other great truths of the gospel. It may as justly be said, what need we trouble our selves about such speculations as the doctrines of election, the eternal covenant of grace; the imputation of our sins to Christ, and his righteousness to us; and of God's eternal love, as the spring and source of these blessings? What reason can be offered, why the doctrine of eternal Justification should be called speculative, any more than these important truths? Again: For any to flirt against a doctrine as speculative, without taking notice of those arguments which are made use of to support it, is, in my opinion, a tacit acknowledgment that they are not able to answer them; or at least that they are unwilling to be at any pains that way, and therefore think to bear down their weight with a magisterial air. This, indeed, is taking the shortest method to end a controversy; but is no instance of a generous temper, or a mind open to conviction. Let such objectors shew us why it is safest to go in the common beaten path of Justification by faith; with submission it may be told them, that some divines, of no less penetration than themselves, could see no danger in holding the doctrine of Justification before faith. Dr. Owen speaks very honourably of some that did, though he differed from them, in these words: "I am imposed on to lay the foundation of all Antinomianism (as Mr. Burgess is also) to maintain Justification from eternity, or at least in the cross of Christ, of all that should believe, and Justification by faith to be but the sense of it in our consciences (which last I know better and wiser men than my self that do, though I do not f24." It is very well known that those, who hold the doctrine of eternal Justification, are reproachfully called Antinomians, by some who differ from them in that point; and it may be equally observed, that many of their opponents are very fond of being thought men of catholic and charitable tempers; to maintain a due respect to such as are not altogether in the same way of thinking with themselves, (which is what they ought to do) but their loading those who are for eternal Justification, with the heavy charge of Antinomianism on that account, is no instance of their justice or charity: For, if I am not greatly mistaken, those who believe that doctrine, are far more clear of what is objected against them, than many of these charitable persons who are forward to asperse, and labour to bring thereunder contempt. It may be presumed, that some of these persons are of opinion that such as be moderate Calvinists, or are somewhat inclined to Arminianism, and Pelagianism, are not to be treated as enemies, but friends; whilst those that embrace the doctrine of eternal Justification, are to be esteemed dangerous adversaries to truth, although they prefers to agree with them in almost all other respects. How well it becomes any men, prosessing Calvinism, to discover an unkind and rancorous disposition towards such as believe, and endeavour to defend this doctrine, let the unprejudiced and impartial reader determine. My design in this, is not to court the favour and respect of such persons, but to observe to them how agreeably they conform their conduct to that moderation and charity, which they sometimes earnestly recommend.

 Object. 5. "It is objected by some, that many who have embraced this doctrine, have been a reproach to religion by their disagreeable conduct, and therefore they cannot judge favourably of the doctrine it self." In answer to this I observe, that we ought not to determine in favour of, or against, any opinion by the conversations of these who believe it; for a regular life is no proof of a person's principles being just, nor is an irregular deportment always an evidence of mistakes in the judgment. Besides, many who never believed this doctrine, have brought an odium upon the gospel by a sinful course and practice; now are we to object against, and recede from, the truths of Christ on that account? surely we ought not. Moreover, corrupt nature abuses the law of God, as well as the gospel of Christ, as appears from those words of the Apostle: "But sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence; for without the law, sin was dead." Ro 7; 7:8 The strict prohibition of sin by the law, irritates our depraved minds; and lust works in us with the greater force and violence. "We strive for that which is forbid, and always desire those things which are denied us f25," as Pareus observes. Therefore should this objection take place, we must regard neither law nor gospel. Farther, I hope it may be justly allowed, that the far greater number of those who believe this doctrine, do adorn their profession by a conversation becoming the gospel. Upon the whole, It appears that neither candor, nor impartiality to truth, is discovered in this objection.

Object. 6. "Say, some suppose this, doctrine is true, what use or service is it of to men?" I answer, it is our indispensible duty to make diligent search after divine truth. We cannot be excused in slight enquiries into what God has revealed in his word, by this vain pretence, that we are unable to conceive what advantage may arise to us from the discoveries we make of some truths contained therein. Again: This objection is a very unbecoming reflection on the infinite wisdom and goodness of God; for it supposes that he has revealed something that is not profitable to his people, which must be esteemed a soul imputation on the divine perfections: For it is not to be imagined that God would, or can, reveal any doctrine to men, which is not in it self advantageous to them, however they may abuse it; wherefore this objection deserves to be treated with contempt. Farther, this doctrine, in my opinion, stands and falls with the important truths of God's everlasting love to his people; their eternal election in Christ, and the eternal covenant of grace. That Christ loved and delighted in his people from everlasting, is evident from these words, "my delights were with the sons of men Pr 8:31)." When did Christ thus delight in his people? The answer is, "before the mountains were settled, before the hills were brought forth; while as yet the earth was not made, nor the fields, nor the higher part of the dust of the earth: That is to say, before the world was formed And the Father then took the same delight in there persons: Now as they stood charged with sin, and under condemnation, or, as considered in themselves, they were not the objects of the divine Persons pleasure, but as clear from guilt, and justified in the perfect righteousness of the Mediator. That they were chosen in Christ, cannot be disputed; and, as viewed in him, they were never objects of condemnation, but always of Justification. If there is an eternal covenant of grace, in which Christ engaged to pay their debts, by virtue of such his engagement they really became his, and the persons of the elect were acquitted of them by God and Christ, and also were justified in their account: Whence it appears that eternal Justification is of the same weight and use as there doctrines are, for it is inseparably connected with them.

 Object. 7. "Those who are objects of God's wrath, cannot be justified at the time they are so. All the elect are objects of God's displeasure and wrath, before conversion, is evident from there words: "And were by nature children of wrath, even as others." Eph 2:3 Therefore they are not justified before they believe. I answer, that they are children full of wrath, or enmity against God, whilst in unbelief: And in that sense they may be called children of wrath, as they are of disobedience. It is therefore true of them in an active sense. Farther, I grant that they are also children of wrath in a passive sense, or that they are under a sentence of condemnation by the law before regeneration. Zanchy has well observed, in his excellent book de natura Dei, that the wrath of God is to be taken in different senses: "First, it signifies the certain and most just will, and decree of God, to avenge or punish the injuries done to himself and his church; thus with Joh 3:36. He that believeth not on the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him: That is, just vengeance against him is confirmed by the decree of God f26." The elect are not objects of God's wrath in this sense, but "are vessels of mercy, which God has afore prepared to glory Ro 9:23)." "Secondly, it intends the threatnings of punishment. Lastly, it imports the effects of wrath, or penalties, and the avenging of injuries f27." Now the elect are secured from the punishment due to their sins, by God's decree; for "they are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ 1Th 5:9):" And also by Christ's satisfaction, "who has made peace for them by the blood of his cross (Col 1:20.)." Therefore it is only in the second sense that they are children of wrath; which is perfectly consistent with their interest in God's love and delight, as they are in, and members of Christ, and with their complete Justification in him, their foederal head. The law doth not consider men as elect, or nonelect, but as transgressors; and, as such, condemns them. But as God put the elect into Christ, or united them to him in eternal election, he views and considers them in him, and so justifies them, and takes infinite pleasure in their persons as members of the Mediator, in whom he always had the fullest satisfaction and delight; tho' they are under a sentence of condemnation by the law, as violaters of it, while in unbelief. Thus I have considered all the objections which I have met with, that seem to have any weight in them against the doctrine of eternal Justification; and have, as I hope, fully answered them; tho' that I freely submit to the judgment of candid and impartial readers; and shall think my self obliged to any such, if they will take the pains to inform me of any mistakes I may have been guilty of: But I shall not, in the least, be concerned at the treatment which this performance may meet with, from a warm and censorious adversary; having this inward pleasure, that it was the cause of truth, and no lower view, which moved me to this undertaking.

FOOTNOTES

ft1 Aphorisms, Thessalonians 56, p. 219.

ft2 Haec fides, quae nobis ad justitiam imputatur, metonymice fumi debet pro Christo ipso side apprehenso; & in quantum justitiam Christi, ceu nostram, nec simpliciter, & omnimodo ut alienam apprehendir, & nobis applicat; prout Paulus, Php 3:9. propria inhaerente & legali abdicata justitia eam quaerit, quae est per fidem Christi, & ex Deo per fidem; unde & etiam justitia Dei appellatur, 2Co 5:21. ita juravit Jacob per pavorem patris fui, Ge 31:53. ubi pavor ponitur metonymice pro Deo, quem timuerat, Hydra Socin. Vol. III c. 21. p. 604.

ft3 Vol. II of Sermons preach'd at Limestreet, p. 153.

ft4 On Eph 1. Part I p. 72.

ft5 Gratia igitur haec qua justificamur coram Deo, data fuit ab aeterno, quia ab aeterno amavit nos in Christo, & in eo nos fibi gratos fecit, zanchy de natura Dei, lib. 4 r. c. p 355.

ft6 Quo tempore Christus factus est vas pro nobis, & peccata nostra ipsi imputata sunt, eo nos sumus absoluti a reatu, & reputati justi; hoc est, active justificati, Maccov. Prwton yeudov, Armin. c. 10. p. 120.

ft7 Neonomianism Unmasked, Part. 2. p. 53. ft7 P. 156.

ft8 By prisagwga<, in  Eph 2:18; 3:12. is intended our admission into God's presence, or freedom of access to the throne of grace, through Christ. For, as we are sinners, we cannot immediately draw draw nigh to God in our own persons, but must as it were be led, or introduced into his presence by Christ. See also 1Pe 3:1 Qew~| that he might bring us to God: That is that he might introduce us into his presence, as the word property signifies.

ft9 Isa 57:8-9. Non sum homo mortalis, ut me durum & implacabilem vobis praebeam, Vid. Calv in loc.

ft10 Peccatum hoc oritur ex peccato imputato, tanquam merito; sive, ut alii loqui amant, demerito. Nam Deus, propter imputatum hoc, plectit, tanquam justissima poena omnes ex Adamo naturaliter propagatos, Loc. Com. p. 463.

ft11 Imputare, esse actum moralem; id est, censeri pro eo ab alique ac si fecisset, hoc vel illud. 2. Actum istum fieri posse, nondum existente objecto, vel potius subjecto, cui quid imputari possit, & habere rationem ad hoc subjectum futurum; sive, posse peccatum alicui nondum existenti imputari, fed certo futuro. Ira verbi gratia: Christo Servatori imputata peccata nostra, qua homini, & imputata simul ac promisius in mediatorem; quare ex co liberi erant a morte acterna, qui ante natum Christum vivebant fideles. His ita fe habentibus, jam respondemus ad quaestionem, imputata peccata omnibus, qui ex Adamo propagandi erant, simul ac Adam peccavit. Nam, quod Scharpius putat imputari, cum homo incipiet esse homo, illud resellitur cx eo, quod materia ex qua homo nasci debet, jam peccato inhaerenti, fit inquinata: Hinc dicitur Spiritus Sanct. fanctisicasse massam ex qua Christus nasciturus erat, quod deducitur ex Luc.i. 35. jam autem peccatum inhaerens posterius est imputato. Anti-Socin, c. 6. p. 76.

ft12 Utrumne Justificatio nostri activa nostri praecedat regene-rationem? Resp. Ira est: Quemadmodum enim imputatum peccatum inhaerens eft, ita & inhaerens justitia prasupponit justitiam imputatam, Maccov. Metahpy. 118.

ft13 Num fieri nan potest, ut actu electus fit, qui actu nondum existit, quandoquidem non entis nullae qualitates, Vorft. Amic. Colossians cum Piscat. 9 112. p. 231.

ft14 An quod, in potentia est habeat essentiam? Resp. Ita est, hinc ens dividitur in ens potentia & actu. Ibid. p. 18.

ft15 Quid quod remissio peccatorum, & acceptatio noseri, no nisi actus internos & immanentes in Deo notant; cujus generis actiones non suboriuntur Deo de novo? Erexit enim Deus tribunal fuum in coraibus nostiris; conscientia propria, juxta legem Dei, nos reos peragit, consternit, & excruciat: Tandem aliquance sic ferente Dei misericordia. Spiritus Dei, per vocem evangelii, crigit, folatur, recreat, & peccata nostra nobis, propter Christum, dimissa esse pronunciat, Vindic. Gratiae, Lib. 2. Crim. 4. § 4. P. 79.

ft16 At vero haec est actio immanens & aeterna; nulla enim Dei volitio est temporaria, aut transiens; quod Deus vult, ab acterno voluit. Rhetorfortis Exercitat. Apolog. c. 2 p. 25.

ft17 Hi actus imputandi, & non imputandi, sunt actus in Deo immanentes, adeoque aeterni. Ibidem, p. 41.

ft18 Semper enim electi, etiam antequam credant, sunt in, & propter Christi mortem, immunes a condemnatione. Ibid. p. 56.

ft19 Sententia haec suit in mente Dei, quasi concepta per decretum Justificandi. Medul Theol. lib. I c. 27. p. 117.

ft20 Free Justification, etc. p. 153, 154.

ft21 In eo enim duarum partium, Dei nempe, & hominis fuit compactum; in isto, verb folus Deus pacifitur; homo enim jam in peccatis mortuus, nullam sacultatem habuit spirituale foedus cum Deo contrahendi. Med. Theolog. lib. I c. 24. p. 102.

ft22 Neonomianism Unmasked, p. 2. & 156.

ft23 Ibid, p. 164.

 ft24 Vindication from the Animadversions of Mr. R.B. p. 4.

ft25 Nitimur in vetituin, semper cupimusque negata, vid. Par. in loc.

ft26 Primum, significat certam eamque justissimam Dei voluntatem, atque decretum ulciscendi, seu puniendi injurias sibi, & fuae ecclesiae sactas; sic apud Joh 3:36. Qui incredulus filio, ira Dei manet super illum: Hoc est, justa decreto Dei firmata vindicta.

ft27 Deinde, significat ipsas poenarum comminationes. Postremo, significat ipsa effecta, feu poenas, & ultiones injuriarum. Lib. 4. c. 6. p. 407.

02 Sermon 2 The Covenant of Grace Opened

 

The Covenant of

Grace Opened

 by John Brine

(London: Aaron Ward, 1734)

 SERMON 2

 THE COVENANT OF GRACE OPENED

 IN A SERMON Occasioned by the DEATH OF Mrs. Margaret

Busfield WHO Departed this Life, May 13th, 1734 By JOHN

BRINE LONDON: 1734 Printed for Aaron WARD at the King’s

Arms, in Little-Britain.

 {2Sa 23:5}.

 Although my House be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: For this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.

 It has pleased God, the Sovereign Disposer of all things, to remove by death an honorable member of this community to whom these words were very useful and instructive: for which reason she desired they might be publicly improved after her decease, with a view to the edification of the saints and conversion of sinners. They are some of the last words which David spoke, as we are informed, in the first verse of the chapter; that is, the last which he spoke by inspiration.f1 There is a very beautiful and elegant Preface to them, in which David gives an account of himself, in these respects: his parentage, David the son of Jesse. This is an eminent instance of his humility. He was not ashamed of his low and mean descent, though an illustrious and powerful monarch. Besides, he mentions his call and unction to the royal station, which he filled up with so much honor. Also he declares his admirable gift of composing sweet and spiritual songs, for the use and edification of the church. Further, he acquaints us Who was the efficient cause of his spiritual composures, and the words now to be considered, viz., God. He spake as he was divinely guided, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his Word was in my tongue. The Holy Ghost was the Author and Inditer. The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spake to me. Some think the Doctrine of the Trinity is not obscurely hinted at in these words: By the Spirit of the Lord, they understand the Third Person; the first by the God of Israel, and the second the Lord Jesus Christ by the Rock of Israel, who really is the Rock of Ages, on which the church is securely built. Then he gives the necessary character of a governor, and describes the happiness and flourishing estate of a prince so qualified; serenity, peace, and increasing glory attend his rule  {2Sa 23:2-3}.f2 Some suppose he intends the Messiah, Who is a King that reigns in Righteousness, and Whose subjects are blessed with peace and prosperity, under His most just administrations.

 The words of the text are now introduced, Although my House be not so with God,” that is to say, I have not so pleasing and happy a prospect in my family, yet that Covenant which God has made with me, is my support and comfort. Many irregularities were in his house; Tamar was ravished by Amnon, who was afterwards murder’d upon the advice of Absolom. He raised an unnatural rebellion against David, banished him from the royal city, and miserably perished in pursuing his traitorous design. Adonijah, a favorite son, attempts to seat himself on the throne by violence, for which usurpation he was slain  {2Sa 13:14; 24:25}; { 1Ki 2:25}. These were melancholy facts, which, doubtless, very much depressed the mind of the Psalmist,” but the Covenant of Grace furnished him with relief and comfort under them. Glassius upon the words says, “The sense is, although in the administration of my kingdom I have, indeed, done many things advantageously, and with great happiness, yet all this glory of my government is perishing and mortal: And if it be compared with the Kingdom of my Son, that is, the Messiah, it is obscure, and as a withered branch and trunk, which doth not sprout. This seems to be the plain meaning of this place.”f3

 This Covenant filled him with solid joy and satisfaction, although he was conscious to himself of many imperfections, because he evidently saw that his salvation was secured by it; wherefore I conclude, that the Covenant of Grace is here designed. My method in treating on the words of the text will be as follows:

 First, I shall shew that the Covenant of Grace was made with the

Elect in Christ, as their public Head and Representative.

Secondly, That this Covenant is of Eternal date.

Thirdly, the wise Order and Disposition of All things in this Covenant.

Fourthly, The Stability and Firmness of this Agreement.

Fifthly, That our Whole Salvation is contained in it.

Sixthly, That this Covenant is equal to the utmost Desires of the saints.

Lastly, That this Covenant furnishes believers with Joy and Comfort, under the most afflictive dispensations of Providence.

  First, The Covenant of Grace was made with the Elect in Christ, as their public Head and Representative.

 It was not personally entered into with them, when we read of God’s making a Covenant with His people, which we sometimes do, as in these Words, I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David { Isa 55:3}. And elsewhere, I will make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I will not turn a way from them to do them good { Jer 32:40}. By such modes of expression we are to understand the discovery of Covenant promises and blessings to the saints, and not taking them into Covenant; for they are interested in the Covenant of Grace, previous to any such act of God upon them; which I apprehend is very evident from these things. If the Covenant of Grace is made with the elect in their own persons, it must be either before or after their regeneration. It cannot be before, because in an unregenerate state they have no proper love to, or desires to fear and obey God; and therefore they are incapable of devoting themselves to His service. There is no disposition in them to such a spiritual act. The carnal Mind is Enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be ( Ro 8:7). If the Covenant of Grace is made with them, after, or upon their regeneration, then they partake of one eminent blessing of that Covenant, before they are interested in it, which is not to be supposed; for a right to the benefits of the Covenant depends upon an interest therein. That faith is a gift, the Apostle expressly affirms; By grace are ye saved, through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God { Eph 2:8-9}. Nor is it less manifest, that it is a blessing secured to the elect by the Covenant of Grace; Faith and all other graces are absolutely promised therein, as we learn from these words, Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power { Ps 110:3}. Therefore those to whom this grace is communicated, must be interested in the Covenant of Grace before, and in order to the production of it in their Hearts. Besides, elect-infants who die in infancy, are incapable of entering into covenant with God; or they cannot give a personal consent unto the Covenant of Grace: They are unable to dedicate and devote themselves to the service of God, and of consequence no covenant can be entered into with them; yet doubtless they are saved by virtue of an interest in the Covenant of Grace, which sufficiently proves that our personal consent to that Covenant is not necessary, in order to partake of its benefits.f4 It is readily granted, that the saints under divine influences give up themselves to the Lord, and engage to serve Him as assisted by His Grace; but such a dedication of themselves, to holiness and the fear of God, gives them no further interest in the Covenant of Grace, than what they had before; for all their sanctification and holiness is derived from that Covenant.

 That there was a covenant entered into between God and Christ, and that that is the Covenant of Grace, I shall now endeavor to clear and prove. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, wherein the one proposes terms and conditions to be performed, the other engages to fulfill those conditions; which agreement is a formal covenant. Such a contract was settled between God and Christ, as the Holy Scriptures sufficiently demonstrate. God the Father is brought in and represented by the Prophet, as proposing to Christ a work wherein His Glory was nearly concerned. Thus, Thou art my Servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified; and at first offers but low terms to Him as a reward for His service, that is to say, the salvation of the elect among the Jews: Whereupon Christ says, I have labored in vain, I have spent My Strength for naught and in vain; yet surely My Judgment is with the Lord, and My Work is with my God { Isa 49:3-4,6}: i.e., if it is Thy Pleasure that My saving benefits should be confined to the elect among that people, I readily submit to Thy Will. After which God the Father enlarges His offer, promises to give Him for a Light to the Gentiles, that he might be his Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: which proposal gave Christ a full satisfaction. Wherefore He readily consented to undertake and finish the work, that the Father assigned to Him, which consists of several branches.

 1. God propounded to His Son, that He should assume our nature into a personal union with Himself, which was absolutely necessary to our redemption: For unless He became man, He could not bear and expiate our guilt. Wherefore, God, to infallibly secure our recovery and salvation, decreed and fore-ordained, that His Son should appear in our nature. Hence the Apostle observes, that Christ was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, and was manifest for us in these last times { 1Pe 1:20}. As I apprehend we have Christ’s full and free consent to this, expressed in these words; Then said I, lo I come  {Ps 40:7}: i.e., since it is Thy Will that I should visit the lower world, and reside among men, I cheerfully agree to it.

 2. Another proposal was, that He should stand in our law place, or stead, and become our Substitute, that He might deliver us from the menaces of the violated Covenant of Works. As the time of His Incarnation was settled in counsel and covenant between Him and the Father, which seems evident from these words of the Apostle, But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son { Ga 4:4-5}, so also His being made under the Law, to redeem them that are under the Law, was a matter pre-determined and before agreed to.

 3. The Father propounded to him to obey the law for us. We are unable to exhibit such an obedience to it, which is absolutely necessary to our justification, because our nature is very much weakened and vitiated by sin. One branch of the Mediator’s Work was to bring in an everlasting Righteousness { Da 9:24}; which He has done. That Righteousness is accepted for and imputed to us, and will always avail to our acceptance in the sight of God.

4. It was the will of God, that Christ should bear our guilt, without which it could not possibly be removed. He proposes this affair to Christ in this manner; When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin { Isa 53:10}. His being a Sin-Offering, necessarily supposes a charge of guilt, which always must be in order to suffering of any penal evil. Thus the same Prophet affirms, that the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all { Isa 53:6}: And the Apostle asserts, that He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him { 2Co 5:21}. The ponderous load of our guilt was not laid on Christ, contrary to His own Will, but with His free and voluntary consent.

 5. God propounded to Christ that He should suffer the demerit of sin, or to die for us, that we might be delivered from eternal death, which is the proper reward demerited by our offenses. To this He freely consented, and laid himself under a federal obligation to become obedient unto death; yea, even the death of the Cross. His crucifixion was what He could not avoid, consistent with fidelity to His own free engagement. Wherefore He observes to His disciples, Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and then enter into his glory { Lu 24:26}? According to the Father’s Will and His voluntary promise, He was to die before His advancement to honor and dignity.

 6. The Father proposed to Christ to take the care and charge of the elect. Those who were the objects of God’s special Love and free choice, He gave into Christ’s Hands. Hence He says unto the Father, Thine they were, and thou gavest them Me { Joh 17:6}. With what view this was done, it is easy to collect from these words of our Lord; I came down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day {Joh 6:38-39}. That is to say, it is the pleasure and fixed determination of my Father, that none of those should perish, whom He has made My care and charge. Christ, with the utmost freedom promised to redeem and preserve them safe; wherefore when He shall have collected all these persons together, he will present them to the Father, with saying, Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me. As Christ consented to fulfill the whole will of the Father, concerning our redemption, the Father promised several things to him, some of which respect Himself, personally considered; such as,

 1. That He would suitably furnish and qualify Him for the work of mediation, to the discharge of which an extraordinary unction of the Holy Ghost, in His graces and gifts were necessary, as well on account of the greatness and difficulty of the undertaking, as for that He was to be an Head of life and influence to all the elect; for of His fulness they were to receive, and grace for grace { Joh 1:16}. Such an uncommon measure of the Spirit He received from the Father, is evident from these words, thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows { Ps 45:7}, the same is affirmed by the Evangelist; for God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him { Joh 3:34}.

 2. Assistance and support in it, of such a nature is this promise; He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the Earth, and the isles shall wait for his law {Isa 42}; which federal engagement on the Father’s part, animated and encouraged Him in the most difficult branch of His Work, at the time of His dolorous sufferings; when, He gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and hid not his face from shame and spitting { Isa 1:6}; for then He said, The Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed { Isa 1:7}.

 3. As a reward for His Service, when He appointed Him work He promised Him wages; for which reason it is said, His reward is with him, and his work before him {Isa 40:10}: which was,

 (1.) The salvation of all His seed. On the condition of making His soul an offering for sin, the Father engaged that He should see His seed, prolong His days, and that the pleasure of the Lord, i.e., the salvation of sinners should prosper in His hand.

 (2.) Everlasting honor and dignity. It was the will of God that Christ should suffer on the Cross; but as a reward for such an eminent instance of obedience to Him, He promised Him an immortal crown; on which account it is said, that his glory is great in the Father’s salvation; (that is to say, which He decreed and contrived) Honor and Majesty are laid upon him { Ps 21:4-5}; because he became obedient unto death; yea, even the death of the cross. God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name { Php 2:8-9}; i.e., a glory far superior to that of men or angels. These things were the joy that was set before him, which caused him to endure the cross with so much cheerfulness and courage, and to despise the shame. There are other promises which have their immediate reference to the elect, though primarily made to the Lord Jesus Christ in their behalf; such as, I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more { Heb 8:12}: All promises of pardon, peace, justification, regeneration, final perseverance and eternal life, concern His members. These transactions of the Father and Son amount unto a full, formal and explicit covenant, which is called a Covenant of Peace; because the terms and articles of our peace were agreed on in it. The mountains shall depart; and the bills shall be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee { Isa 54:10}.

 Some suppose, that this is not the Covenant of Grace, but another distinct from it; though without reason, as a judicious writer observes, who upon this argument delivers himself thus: “It may be asked, whether there is not a real difference, between what several divines call the Covenant of Redemption or Suretyship, made by God the Father with Christ, and that which they call the Covenant of Grace, or Reconciliation, made by God with believers through Christ. To this I answer, custom without reason, has given a kind of sanction of this way of speaking, and many persons of great piety and learning have fallen into it, without considering the bad use men of corrupt minds make of it; turning what they call the Covenant of Grace into a more rigorous Covenant of Works to us than Adam’s Covenant was. The Distinction of the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace, is a distinction without any real or material difference, it is to make two covenants of Grace of one. The Covenant of Redemption, as it is called and described by them, who say it is a distinct Covenant, is of pure Grace.”f5 In order to prove that this is the Covenant of Grace, and not another distinct from it, I would offer these things to be considered,

 1. The Distinction of the Covenant of Redemption from the Covenant of Grace is unscriptural; I cannot apprehend, that the sacred Oracles give any countenance to it; the Word of God is so far from supporting this distinction, that it seems to militate against itf6; we therein read but of two covenants, in which the eternal state of men is concerned, the one is called, a Law or Covenant of Works; the other is called, the Law of Faith { Ro 3:27}; that is to say, a Covenant of Grace; since the Scriptures give us an account but of two covenants wherein the future state of man is interested: It is anti-scriptural to conceive of the covenant which God made with Christ, as the Head of the elect, as distinct from the Covenant of Grace; for hereby an addition of a third covenant is made to the two covenants, of which the Divine Records treat.

 2. This compact is the result of pure Grace; it was merely the Love and free Favour of God the Father, that moved Him to exercise His Wisdom in the contrivance of our Redemption, and to enter into covenant with His Son, to secure this stupendous design: nor can any other reason be assigned, why Christ so voluntarily became our Surety, or undertook for us, than His boundless Goodness and Grace.

 3. It was founded upon a purpose of Grace; the resolution which God fixed upon in His eternal mind to bring us to Glory, was the effect of infinite Love; hence our election is called an Election of Grace { Ro 11:5}. That was an act put forth by God, without any external motive; it was His own Sovereign Will, and nothing else that determined Him in this matter. This purpose of God rose up into a covenant between Him and His Son.

 4. All Grace is promised in this Covenant; doubtless, that Covenant in which all Grace is granted to the elect, is the Covenant of Grace; but thus it is in this compact. The privilege of Adoption in it, is this, God engaged to be the God and Father of Christ, as Mediator and Head of His seed in this Covenant, as is evident from these words, He shall cry unto me, my Father, my God, and the Rock of my Salvation { Ps 89:26}. Now by the same act that God became the Father of Christ as Mediator, He also became the Father of His members; and therefore our Lord says unto His disciples, I ascend to my God and to your God, to my Father and to your Father {Joh 20:17}. Again, remission of sin is contained in this Covenant, as the very nature of it plainly demonstrates; Christ on His part promised to bear our guilt, and suffer the demerit of it; and God the Father on His part engaged fully to acquit and discharge us; for he was in Christ, (i.e., from Everlasting, when this Covenant was entered into) reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them { 2Co 5:19}. Besides, justification is a privilege given in this eternal compact, which we learn from the words of God the Father; by His knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many,” for He shall bear their iniquities {Isa 53:11}. Moreover, the grace of regeneration is treasured up herein, as is manifest from these words, thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power {Ps 110:3}; that is, Thy members who are naturally perverse and obstinate, shall freely bow to Thy scepter, and submit to Thy laws, as King in Zion. Add to these things, final perseverance is insured to the elect, by this Covenant; this gracious benefit is fully and clearly expressed in this sweet promise; As for Me, this is My Covenant with them, i.e., those who turn from transgression in Jacob, and are described by that character in the preceding verse, My Spirit that is upon thee, that is to say, the Redeemer who came to Zion; and my words which I have put into thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds’ seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever {Isa 59:20}. Young converts may be called the seed of the church, because they are born, nourished and brought up there; for of Zion it shall be said, that this and that man was born in her, and the Highest himself shall establish her {Ps 87:5}. The carnal seed of believers are not intended, but the spiritual seed of Christ: I add once more, that everlasting life is given to the elect, in this Covenant; this is very evident, from the words of the Apostle, in Hope of eternal Life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began {Tit 1:2}: thus the members of Christ were blessed with all spiritual blessings in this eternal Covenant, which was entered into by God and Christ before time commenced; therefore it is the Covenant of Grace. For though, as Mr. Petto observes, “In covenants between princes, some articles may be concerning prerogatives and royalties, peculiar to them in their public capacities, which the people share not in, but in them, as striking sail, etc. Other grants may concern the people in their private capacities, as merchants, mariners, etc., yet prince and people are within the same contract: so doubtless there may be divers grants to Jesus Christ in his public capacity, in the office of mediator, and other promises made to his seed; yet king and subjects, head and members, are within the same covenant, as the principal debtor, and the Surety are within the same obligation.”f7

There being some promises in the Covenant which regard Christ, as personally considered, and others that concern His people, is not a foundation sufficient to support the distinction we have been now considering. In the opinion of the Assembly of Divines, this is the Covenant of Grace; thus they express themselves concerning it in their larger Catechism: “The Covenant of Grace was made with Christ the second Adam, and with all the Elect in him, as his Seed.” This is a very full and clear definition of the Covenant of Grace, and plainly shows that they understood the agreement between God and Christ, to be that Covenant; but to proceed.

 Secondly, This Covenant is of Eternal date, which I apprehend may be thus made evident.

 1. It is called an everlasting Covenant: I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David {Isa 55:3}. And elsewhere, Now the God of Peace which brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the Blood of the everlasting Covenant {Heb 13:20}. It is so called, not only because the benefits of it will eternally continue, but also on the account of its being actually entered into, before time began; which will further appear by what follows.

 2. Christ is an everlasting Counsellor: Some of his titles are wonderful Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father {Isa 9:6}. Dr. Goodwin observes, that Everlastingness which is affixed to him as a Father, is also true of him as a Counsellor.f8 It is with relation to this Covenant, that He bears such a character, being jointly concerned with the Father in the contrivance of our salvation, which is agreed on in it. He was in His bosom from all eternity, and privy to the secret purposes of His heart.

 3. He was invested with the office of Mediator before time began, which is manifest from the words of wisdom of Christ: I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was {Pr 8:23}: i.e., I was constituted the Head and Mediator of those persons on whom My delights were fixed. It is the Covenant of Grace, of which He is the Mediator, and therefore the Covenant is of the same date with the office and capacity which he bears in that Covenant: but He stood in the capacity of Mediator before the world was framed; hence it follows, the constitution of this Covenant was in eternity.

 4. Grace was given to the elect in Christ before the world was formed, as I have already shown. God hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own Purpose and Grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began {1Ti 1:9}. All Grace and Glory were granted to Christ as the federal Head and Representative of His people, in the Covenant of Grace; since therefore this was done before the commencement of time, it may be justly concluded, that this Covenant is eternal.

 5. If it was not thus, the Old Testament saints could not be saved by virtue of the Covenant of Grace: They were saved even as we, by the very same Covenant. It was from hence that they were furnished with all necessary supplies of Grace, as believers now are. God did not save them by one Covenant, and under this dispensation brings us to happiness by another. Though Christ had not actually accomplished the work of redemption, yet having re-stipulated and agreed with the Father to perform it in the appointed time; all the blessings of the new Covenant were communicated to the elect of God, as much as if it had been really completed, but with a view to the future Satisfaction of Christ, promised in this Covenant; which seems clear from those words of the inspired writer, And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first Testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance {Heb 9:15}. I pass on,

 Thirdly, To consider the wise Order and Disposition of All things in this Covenant.

 The original word signifies aptly or fitly disposed and ordered.f9 All things relating to our salvation are most wisely and beautifully disposed in this federal agreement, for the Glory of God, abasing the creature, the security of the church, and the confounding of Satan.

 1. This Covenant is most wisely ordered for the Honor of God. The Glory of the Father as the Contriver of our Redemption, is greatly displayed in this compact. He is to be considered as the first Mover in this weighty affair: He drew the plan and model of it, and concerted the best methods to accomplish it. The Honor of the Mediator is herein highly advanced, His Glory is great in our salvation. It was agreed on, that He should perform the work of our redemption, in every branch of it, that all the glory arising from thence might be attributed to Him. Nor is the Honor of the divine Spirit less secured by this Covenant; for as the Father projected the way of our recovery, and the Son completed the work of our redemption, agreeable to his Word and Promise in this great transaction, the Holy Ghost discovers and applies what the Father and Son have done for us. Wherefore the three divine Persons equally divide the glory of our salvation, according to everlasting agreement. Besides, the Perfections of God have a most beauteous display in our recovery, as it was fixed and settled in this Covenant. Wisdom shines with an eminent lustre in the whole affair; hence the revelation of salvation, by a crucified Jesus, or the Gospel, is called the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world to our glory {1Co 2:7}. How the Law might be fulfilled, Justice satisfied, and sinners saved, was worthy of infinite Wisdom to contrive. Again, the Power of God is abundantly discovered in this business, upon which account, Christ as crucified is called the Power, as well as the Wisdom of God {1Co 1:14}.

 A finite or created strength was insufficient to support our Lord under the intolerable pressure of guilt and sufferings which He bare and underwent: Divine Power is also manifest in quickening the souls of the elect in their regeneration, and carrying on that work in opposition to sin and Satan: ‘Tis only by the Power of God that we are kept through faith unto salvation {1Pe 1:5}. Moreover, the Love and Grace of God is gloriously displayed in this Covenant. It was mere favor in God that moved him to ordain Christ to be the Mediator and Surety of it, to give our persons and all spiritual blessings into His Hand: it was pure Grace in Christ which induced Him to undertake for us to secure our eternal felicity: ‘Tis stupendous and boundless Grace that forgives our abounding sins {Ro 5:20-21} according to the full and precious promises of this Covenant. Farther, Justice has an equal shine with all the other attributes of God: The honor of Mercy is not advanced to the prejudice of Justice, but that hath the same Glory with Grace. The Righteousness and Justice of God is clearly seen, and fully vindicated in the pardon of our sins, and the justification of our persons, through the obedience and blood of Christ; so that He appears to be just, in justifying of those who believe in Jesus {Ro 3:26}. Thus there is a perfect harmony between Grace and Justice, Goodness and Holiness in our salvation, which is expressed in these words; Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other {Ps 85:10}. Add to these things, the Faithfulness of God is evidently seen, in fulfilling Covenant promises, and communicating Covenant blessings to His people; for His Faithfulness He will not suffer to fail {Ps 59:17}, but will perform all that He hath promised to the elect, in this Covenant; says the Apostle, Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it {1Th 5:14}. Believers shall bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be fat and flourishing, to shew the Lord is upright; he is their rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him {Ps 92:14-15}. Therefore the attributes of God are greatly glorified in this Covenant.

 2. It is disposed in the best manner for abasing the creature. Man is naturally full of pride and arrogance, entertains a very high opinion of his ability, and the worth of his services; falsely imagines that it is within the compass of his own power to secure his future happiness: He is really poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked {Re 3:17}, yet conceits himself to be rich, and increased with goods, and has need of nothing. This haughty disposition in man, God is determined to bring down, and to lay his glory in the dust. In order to which, every branch of our salvation is of Grace, in direct opposition to works; as the Apostle affirms, By Grace are ye saved, through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast {Eph 2:8-9}. All boasting and pride are entirely excluded by the Covenant of Grace; for where is boasting? it is excluded: by what law? Of works? nay, but by the Law of Faith {Ro 3:27}; that is, by the New Covenant, or the Gospel.

 3. The Covenant is well ordered for the security of the church. Had our Salvation rested on the uncertain will of man, how precarious, nay, impracticable would it have been? But since it is wholly dependent on the immutable Will of God, it is indubitable, certain, and sure. Grace alone could secure it; and therefore it is of faith, that it might be by Grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed {Ro 4:16}. Pardon, peace, nor justification, nay, not any of the blessings of the New Covenant are suspended, fill we have performed conditions on our part; but all of them are effectually secured to us, by the mutual engagements of God and Christ in this everlasting Covenant, which are a solid and firm foundation.

 4. It is most agreeably disposed for the confounding of Satan. When man was in a state of innocence, Satan formed a design against him, resolved to bring him into the same miserable circumstances with himself, if possible; which to effect, he tempts him to violate the Law of his Creator: man unhappily yields to his temptation, acts contrary to the express command of God. It was no small satisfaction to this fallen spirit, to see his malicious design so far succeed; but that which he thought would have issued in the eternal destruction of man, God takes the advantage of, to render His own Glory the more conspicuous, and to advance apostate man to a far higher dignity than that of which he was possessed in his primitive estate. According to the gracious Decree of God, the works of the Devil are destroyed, his design is frustrated, and eternal confusion is thrown upon himself: For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil {1Jo 3:8}.

 Fourthly, The Covenant of Grace is Stable, Firm and Sure.

The Stability and Firmness of it may be concluded from these things:

 1. The Love of God, which gave rise to this Covenant, is invariable: it is without any alteration, and always the same. God freely fixed His favor upon the elect; and not because He foresaw any qualifications in them which recommended them to His Goodness; the direct contrary of that is true: for when He placed His Love upon them, He knew that their necks would be as iron sinews, and their brows brass {Isa 48:4}. As the foreviews of their obstinacy did not prevent His kind thoughts concerning them, their unworthiness cannot cause Him to change. His Immutability is the solid foundation of their security, which is affirmed by Himself in these words; I am the Lord, I change not; and therefore ye the Sons of Jacob are not consumed {Mal 3:6}. His Love admits of no vicissitudes; it is as unchangeable as Himself, yea, it is Himself; and He will as soon cease to be, as cease to love His people, says the Apostle, God is Love {1Jo 4:16}: that is, it is His Nature and Essence. The interest which the saints have in Divine favor, can never be lost; nothing shall ever separate them from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus their Lord {Ro 3:31}: therefore the Covenant of Grace, which is the result of that Love, will eternally remain inviolable and sure.

 2. It is founded upon a steady purpose of Grace. The designs of Love which God has formed in His infinite Mind about His elect are unalterable. They are infinitely more firm than mountains of brass: we have His own Word for it; that His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure {Isa 46:10}. Eternal Election, on which the everlasting Covenant is fixed as its proper basis, is a foundation that standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are His {2Ti 2:19}; from whence the stability of that Covenant may, with very good reason, be inferred.

 3. This may be argued from the inviolable Word of God. The blessings of this Covenant are all promised by that God Who cannot lie. If any of the promises of the New Covenant should fail of their accomplishment, the Truth of God would be impeached; but that shall not, nay, never can be: for His Covenant he will not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his Lips {Ps 89:34}). Therefore the Covenant of Grace is more firm than the most immovable things in nature, which is expressly affirmed: The mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the Covenant of my Peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee {Isa 54:10}.

4. God hath confirmed this Covenant with His solemn Oath. Thus He speaks concerning it; Once have I sworn by my Holiness, that I will not lie unto David my Servant {Ps 89:35}. Wherefore the Covenant of Grace is forever established by God’s Word and His Oath. They are the two immutable things wherein it is impossible for him to lie. If the God of Truth cannot break His Promise, nor act contrary to His Oath, then the Covenant is stable and firm; but neither of these He can do, for that were to deny Himself.

 5. Christ has ratified this Covenant, by fulfilling all the Conditions of it. The work which the Father gave him to do, He has fully completed, and thereby confirmed the Covenant of Grace. That no part of the Father’s Will concerning our redemption remains to be fulfilled, our Lord Himself assures us, by the last words which He delivered on the Cross; for just before He resigned His Soul, He said, It is finished {Joh 19:30}; that is, I have now perfected the whole pleasure of My Father, concerning My Sufferings to atone for sin. Now as Christ on His part has punctually performed the utmost of what He promised, Justice requires on the Father’s part, that He make good all His federal engagements to Christ. From the whole we may strongly conclude that this Covenant is stable, firm, and sure. It is sure in its promises; not one of those many sweet and gracious promises, with which it is so well stored, shall fail of its fulfillment; for all the promises of God in him are, yea, and in him, Amen, to the glory of God by us {2Co 1:10}. The blessings of this Covenant are sure, therefore called sure mercies; I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David {Isa 55:3}. The remission of our sins, the acceptance of our persons, effectual calling, final perseverance, and eternal blessedness in the fruition of God are all as certain and sure as the unchangeable Love, steady Purpose, firm Promise, and solemn Oath of the God of Truth, and Faithfulness can make them: wherefore not one good thing shall fail, of all that the Lord hath promised. Let the saints adore the free Grace and infinite Goodness of God, which has rendered their everlasting felicity thus secure.

 Fifthly, All our salvation is contained in this Covenant.

 For this is all my Salvation. Some think Christ is designed,f10 He is sometimes so called. Simeon gives him this character; Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation {Lu 2:29-30}. He may very justly be styled salvation, because there is no other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved {Ac 4:12}. The whole of our recovery and redemption was effected by him: He is our pardon, peace, justification, and sanctification; yea, our all, and in all. Besides, He is given to us, and all things with Him, in this everlasting Covenant. Salvation itself may be intended; all the various Parts of which were fixed and settled in this Covenant. Our acquittance and discharge from guilt was promised by God on the condition of Christ’s suffering the demerit of our crimes. The acceptance of our persons was agreed to upon the terms of Christ’s being made under and obeying the Law for us. Grace and glory were absolutely granted to us in this compact; every branch of our salvation comes within the compass of it. Wherefore it is a very dangerous mistake, that men may safely depend upon the uncovenanted Mercy of God for eternal happiness; because it is only through, by, and in the Covenant of Grace, that Divine Goodness is discovered to poor sinners. But I apprehend it is not necessary to enlarge here, having before observed what promises God made to Christ, concerning our Salvation, when this Covenant was entered into between Them.

 Sixthly, The Covenant of Grace is equal to the largest Wishes, and most extensive Desires of the saints.

 And all my desire, says the Psalmist Some understand this of Christ, in Whom really there is every thing which is excellent and desirable: hence He is called the Desire of all Nations {Hag 2:7}. Infinite Excellencies center in His Person, all Beauties and Perfections reside in Him, and everything that is necessary to our happiness dwells in Him, and flows from Him: the Amiableness of His Person, and the Fulness of His Grace, render Him the proper Object of the saints’ highest love and pleasure. He indeed is all their delight.f11 It may intend that ample and large provision which is made in the everlasting Covenant, for the supply, consolation, and future felicity of God’s people. Under the influences of Grace, they ardently desire the extirpation of sin, and a perfect conformity to Christ; greater nearness to God, more clear and lasting prospects of His Love, and a fuller knowledge of the mysteries of Grace: they cannot but aspire after, yea, they vehemently long for an uninterrupted enjoyment of God; nor can any thing less afford them a full and constant satisfaction. All these things, and far more than we are able to express or conceive, are comprehended in that one promise of this Covenant. They shall be my People, and I will be their God {Jer 32:38}. Therefore it may well be called all our desire, and all our delight.

 Lastly, The Covenant of Grace furnishes the saints with suitable Support and Consolation, under the most afflective dispensations of Providence.

Although He make it not to grow, Some think the Messiah is intended in these words, and take this to be the sense; though the promised Branch of Jesse and David doth not as yet appear, or is not come, yet He is all my salvation, and all my desire; and He certainly will bud, grow, and flourish in the time appointed in this Covenant.f12 Others thus; Christ, Who is all my salvation, and all my desire, shall not grow as the tender grass of the field, which soon fades, decays, and withers, but He shall always reign and govern.f13 There be others who understand it of the disorders and irregularities of David’s family, and of those afflictions that attended him in his royal station,f14 under which the Covenant of Grace was His support and comfort. That this Covenant is well suited to comfort the saints under pressing difficulties and trials, thus appears;

 1. The Covenant of Grace has severed them from all penal evil. No curse attends their afflictions, however great or heavy they may be; for it was agreed and settled by God and Christ in this compact, that the curse due to their offenses should be inflicted on their Surety: therefore there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus {Ro 8:1}. There is not the least drop of wrathful anger, or vindictive displeasure poured into their cup.

 2. They spring from Love, as we learn from these words; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten {Re 3:19}. In the Covenant of Grace a rod is laid up for the correction of Christ’s seed; but from the nature of the Covenant, we must necessarily conclude, that everlasting Love provided it, and that infinite Compassion only uses it.

 3. All afflictions, under the influence of this Covenant, serve the true interest of their souls. The apostle affirms, That all things work together for good to those that love God, and are the called according to his purpose {Ro 8:28}. They are brought nearer to God, are weaned from the things of this world, and their graces, faith, hope, and patience, are exercised by the tribulations which attend them {Ro 5:4-5}.

 4. The Covenant of Grace secures their deliverance out of all afflictions. In this world they shall have tribulation {Joh 16:33}: but to this world, blessed by God, it is limited; for none will invade them in the next. A period will be fixed to their lives and their griefs at the same time. When we say that a believer is dead, we pronounce him so from all sin and sorrow. These things being thus, it may well be allowed that the Covenant of Grace administers suitable comforts under distresses. An instance of which we have in the person, whose decease occasioned this discourse. Many things might be mentioned concerning her, worthy of our imitation; but I shall not enlarge on her character: her manner of life was well known to many of you. This I think may be said of her, without any suspicion of flattery to her honorable memory, that the Grace of God, which bringeth salvation, and has appeared to all men, taught her to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world. Her afflictions were many, which so far as I am able to judge from my acquaintance with her, she bore with patience, resignation, and cheerfulness.

 In her last tedious and heavy one, she was generally comfortable, and the nearer her time of dissolution drew nigh, her faith grew stronger in Covenant-Love. When I paid her my last visit, she spoke very freely of divine things, with a remarkable degree of pleasure: but the state of her body being then very low, I was fearful speaking too much might be prejudicial to her, which I signified: She answered, “What can I say too much about my dear Lord? Can I talk too much about him who has done and suffered such great things for me?” Thus joyful she then was, at the prospect of approaching death. She now is, I doubt not, delivered out of all affliction and trouble, and received into the blessed mansions above, by her dear Saviour, with this rapturous invitation: Come thou blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for thee, before the foundation of the world; where the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne feeds, and leads her to living fountains of water, and God wipes away all tears from her eyes.

 FOOTNOTES

ft1 Vid. Poli Synop. in loc.

ft2 Vid. Poli Synop. in loc.

ft3 Glassius’, Philol. Sac. 1. 3. Gram. Sac. p. 616.

ft4 See my, Defense of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification, pp. 60- 64.

ft5 R. Taylor’s, The Covenant of Grace, pag. 233.

ft6 Neonomianism Unmasked, 2nd Part, pag. 127

ft7 Petto on The Covenant, pag. 20.

ft8 Goodwin, Christ the Mediator, 1. 4, pag. 136.

ft9 A Rad. Ær[ ordinavit, disposuit, aptavit, Roberts’ Lexicon.

ft10 Vid. Poli Synop. in loc.

ft11 xpjlk

ft12 Vid. Poli Synop. in loc.

ft13 Ibid.

ft14 Ibid.

 

03 Sermon 3 God The Defense and Glory of His church by John Brine

 

Created By LeRoy Rhodes

leroyrhodes@comcast.net

2006 

God: the Defense and Glory of His Church

 by John Brine

{London: Aaron Ward, 1734}  

 A SERMON PREACH’D AT DEVONSHIRE-SQUARE  

ON THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER,  

 TO THE SOCIETY, Who Support the Lord’s Day Evening Lecture, In that PLACE Publish’d at the REQUEST of some who heard it. Printed for AARON WARD at the King’s-Arms in Little-Britain. LONDON:


1734.
 

 

 

 

 

{Zec 2:5}.  

 For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a Wall of Fire round about, and will be the Glory in the Midst of her.

 

THIS Prophecy was delivered about the Time of the Jews Return from Babylon, where they were in a State of Captivity seventy Years: In which the Prophet excites them to a speedy Departure out of their Enemies’ Country to their own Land, and incourages them to re-build the City of Jerusalem; assures them of Success in that Undertaking, altho’ it was attended with Difficulties which, to them, might seem insuperable. IN order to obviate an Objection to the Safety of the City, which this People might form from the large Number, great Power, and Nearness of their Adversaries; the Lord, in these Words, declares, that he would be its Protector: For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a Wall of Fire round about; that is to say, I will securely guard and defend it, and consume all those who attempt to destroy it; and adds, that he would fill it with Glory, and will be the Glory in the Midst of her. The great Privileges which are promised, not only refer to this People, for they concern the whole Church in every Age and Period of Time.

 

The Text furnishes us with this Doctrine, that God is the Defence and Glory of his Church: This doctrinal Proposition consists of two Branches.

First, THAT the Church’s Safety and Security is in her God.

Secondly, THAT she derives all her Glory from him.

First, I begin with the first Branch: The Church could not have subsisted in any Age, unless divine Power had been exerted to support and protect her.  

 

The People of God are not in a Capacity to defend themselves, or maintain their Interest, against the violent Attempts of indefatigable Enemies, which is evident from these Things:

1. THEY are much inferior in Number; the Church is but a small Collection of Persons out of the numerous Crowd in the World, hence Christ declares that his Followers are a little Flock; fear not, little Flock, for it is your Fathers good Pleasure to give you the Kingdom. {Lu 12:32.} THE Enemies of real Religion are far more, than its true, hearty, and constant Friends; it is the Multitude that let themselves to oppose the Cause of God, and only an inconsiderable Few, who appear in its Defence.

 

2. THE Church in general, is composed of Persons mean and contemptible; there is but a small Number of the Wealthy and Powerful, that have Humility enough to espouse and defend the despised Interest of a Redeemer. The Apostle’s Observation holds true to this Day, that not many wise Men after the Flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called {1Co 1:26.}: Some indeed of a higher Rank are Instances of sovereign Grace, the Consideration of which should inflame their Zeal for the Honour of God, and quicken their Desires to contribute to the Spread of his Gospel: But the much greater Part of Believers are in low and obscure Life; therefore it is not to be expected that the Cause of Religion can be maintained by the Power and Influence of such as embrace it.

 

3. THE People of God are not equal in Wisdom and Policy to their Enemies: The Generality of those who profess the Name of Christ, are Persons of weak Understandings; therefore our Lord observes, with Thankfulness to the Father, that he had hid the Mysteries of the Gospel from the wife and prudent, i.e. Men Superior Knowledge and Abilities, and revealed them to Babes; that is to say, to such as are of mean Capacities {Mt 11:25.}: Nor will the Circumstances of these Persons allow them to take the Methods for Improvement in Knowledge and Experience, as those in the opposite Interest are capable of; therefore the Cause of Christ is destitute of such temporal Assistance for its Support and Propagation, which the contrary to it is furnished with: These Things being thus, it must necessarily be allowed, that the Churches Defense and Security arises not from within her self.

 

Secondly, HER Enemies are ready to improve every Opportunity and Advantage which offer to disturb and distress her. The carnal Mind of Man is filled with a fixed Aversion to God, and all spiritual Good, as the Apostle affirms, the carnal Mind is Enmity against God, it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be {Ro 8:7.}: And therefore the nearer any Saint approaches to the Likeness of God, the greater as the Hatred of wicked Men to him. Thus Cain slew his Brother Abel, because his own Works were evil, and his Brothers righteous {1Jo 3:12.}. This fettled Enmity in the Hearts of Men to powerful Godliness, pushes them on to treat the Professors of it with the greatest Severity: This Matter is capable of abundant Proof from the many Plots, and Conspiracies, which were formed against the old Testament Church before her Captivity in Babylon: But my Design is briefly to observe the Opposition which her Enemies made to obstruct and prevent the Re-building of the holy City and Temple; in which we shall discover Hypocrisy, Calumny, and inveterate Malice, the common Principles upon which the Churches Opposers act. It was predicted by the Prophet Jeremiah, that Cyrus, King of Persia, should enact a Decree to impower the Jews to return to their own Land, and rebuild the Temple of the Lord, which Prediction had its exact Accomplishment at the Time prefixed, as Ezra informs us: Now in the first Year of Cyrus King of Persia, {that the Word of the Lord, by the Mouth of Jeremiah, might be fulfilled} the Lord stirred up the Spirit of Cyrus King of Persia, that he made a Proclamation throughout all his Kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus King of Persia, the Lord God of Heaven hath given me all the Kingdoms of the Earth, and he hath charged me to build him an House at Jerusalem, which is in Judah {Ezr 1:1-2.}. Whereupon the Principal and Chief of the People joyfully departed from Babylon to execute the Royal Will of Cyrus, who ordered that they should be furnished with every Thing requisite thereto. As loon as this Work was begun, the Samaritans pretended Alliance, and Friendship, with the Jews, and offered to assist them therein; yet not with any real Design to advance it, but to hinder its Progress, as their future Conduct evidently proves: Such Dissimulation and Hypocrisy is not unusual with the Church’s Adversaries, in order to obtain the greater Advantage against her. These very Persons sent a Letter full of heavy and false Accusations to Cambyses {who in Scripture is called Artaxerxes, and Ahasuerus} the Son of Cyrus, against the People to whom they expressed so much Respect, representing them as full of seditious and rebellious Principles, which caused the King to give strict Order that a Stop should be put to the Work; and accordingly there was, with Expedition and great Force {Ezr 4.}: Nor was it revived ‘till the second Year of the Reign of Darius, who succeeded Cambyses on the Throne; at which Time also, the

Enemies of the Church fought how to prevent its farther Success: But Providence over-ruled the Methods they took to strengthen the Hands of those engaged therein {Ezr 5; 5:6.} It is frequent with God, to turn the Measures of the Adversaries of his People to a far different Use, from what they design. THE City and Temple of God were rebuilt, notwithstanding the violent Opposition. made against it by a large Number of implacable and malicious Adversaies, who stuck at nothing that might have obstructed the Work. THUS the Lord was a Wall of Fire round about it; for this Undertaking was not effected by humane Force, or Policy, but by the miraculous Blessing of Providence, as we learn from these Words, “Not by Might, nor by Power, but by my Spirit, faith the Lord of Hosts {Zec 4:6.}.

 

As the Church, in the former Dispensation, was encompassed with Enemies, so under the present, she hath suffered many Afflictions from the Hands of powerful Adversaries. WHEN Christianity was first planted, great Persecutions were raised against it by Rome Pagan, of which History informs us, “Nevertheless, the Purity and Power of Religion exceedingly flourished; and large Numbers embraced the Christian Faith, being incouraged to it by the pious Lives and holy Triumphs of the Saints, when in the most cruel Torments that hellish Rage and Malice could invent”. I am of Opinion that the Interest of Christ never lost Ground by the strongest Oppositions its most inveterate Enemies have been able to make against it; Adversity has always proved more to the Advantage of the Church than Prosperity: This is evident in the different Turn which the Affairs of Religion took in the Reign of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor; for under his Government, Corruptions in Doctrine, and superstition in Worship, were soon introduced by many ambitious Clergy, who valued the Christian Religion no farther than the Profession of it served to promote their temporal Interests. AND to this Cause, I apprehend, are owing the abominable Errors, and detestable Idolatries, of the Romish Church.

 

WHEN it pleased God to set the Reformation on Foot, by Wickliff in England, Huss and Hierom of Prague; How did the Devil rage? What Troubles did he bring upon those, who embarked in this glorious Cause? But it being of God, it prospered in spite of all Opposition; and since the Establishment of the Reformed Religion here, What numerous Methods have been taken to reduce England, the Bulwark of the Protestant Interest, under the Roman Yoke? THIS has been often attempted by open Violence, secret Intrigues, and devilish Projects: The cruel Papists designed to have given a fatal Blow to the Protestant Cause in England, by taking off the King, Lords and Commons, at once: If they had succeeded herein, What Rapine, and barbarous Murders, would have immediately followed throughout the Kingdom? But kind Providence discovered the execrable Plot, at the very Time, when it was to be executed {which was on this Day} to the great Confusion of its Authors, and the inexpressible Joy of the Nation: A memorable Deliverance indeed! which ought never to be forgot by all true Lovers of Religion and Liberty f1. IN many other Instances since, God has eminently appeared for us. In King James the Second’s Reign, a Scheme was laid to inslave the Nation, to introduce Popery and arbitrary Power; but the Design of the Church’s Enemies was, at that Time, also miraculously frustrated by the Prince of ORANGE coming over, and ascending the abdicated Throne.As this Prince was a Hero in the Field, so on the Seat of Government, he was remarkably mild and gentle, always steady in his Principles of Religion, and to the Cause of Liberty. THROUGH the whole of his Reign, he discovered a fervent Zeal for securing the Protestant Interest; and in nothing did he give a clearer Proof thereof, than fettling the Crown on the illustrious House of Hanover: A Family, which he was persuaded would pursue the same generous and noble Designs, that he had in View; nor was he mistaken in his Opinion, as is evident, since the Accession of that House to the Throne. But let us not forget what Measures were taken in a late Reign to deprive us of the happy Prospect of so just and mild a Government; and how seasonably God disappointed the Designs of our Enemies, in making way for GEORGE the First of glorious Memory, to ascend the British Throne, To which he had an indisputable Right. GOD grant that the same Principles which he always stood firm to may fill the Breasts of all the Branches of his noble Family, and that they may continue to wear the English Crown to the latest Posterity: Some useful

 

Observations may be deduced from these Things.  

 

1. THAT the Christian and Reformed Religion are true, or of God, what less than divine Power could have propagated the Christian Faith in the first Ages of the Church, when the whole World was let against it, and resolved to overthrow it; especially as a few ignorant and illiterate Men were employed to spread it: And yet, the Word of the Lord had free Course, and was glorified {2Th 3:2.}. It obtained Conquests over almost all the Nations in the World, but not by humane Force, for of that it was destitute; as it is really very foreign from its Nature: And pretty much the same may be observed of the Reformed Religion. The Persons engaged in the Reformation were very few; their Enemies numerous and potent, who made the most fierce and cruel Oppositions against it: Nevertheless, it gained surprising Advances in a very short Time, which evidently discovers it to be the Cause of God.

 

2. THE great Folly of those, who leek the Ruin of the Church, one would imagine, that as they have often been defeated in their Designs against her, and in such a Manner, as plainly demonstrates that God is resolved upon her Defence. THEY might easily collect, that it is in vain to attempt her Subversion; and that the Consequence will certainly be fatal to themselves. THAT the Church hath sufficient Incouragement in the greatest Dangers to depend upon the Protection of Providence, God is in the Midst of her, she shall not be moved, God shall help her, and that right early {Ps 46:5.}. That the Lord will be the Security of his People may be concluded from these Things:

 

{1} HIS Value for them above all others, the Church is most nearly interested in his Favour, he treats all others with Neglect in Comparison of her: When Nations, or Kingdoms, stand in the Way of his gracious Purposes concerning his Saints, he gives them over to Ruin and Destruction; hence he thus lays unto the Church, I gave Egypt for thy Ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee, I will give Men for thee, and People for thy Life {Isa 43:3-4.}. THERE are none in the World of which he makes any Account but his Children; and therefore he expresses himself after this Manner, What have I here, that my People is taken away for nought {Isa 52:5.}. This Language clearly intimates, that all others are as nothing in his Esteem; his tender Concern for the Church he lets forth in the most moving Way in these Words, He that toucheth you, toucheth the Apple of mine Eye {Zec 2:8.}. THAT is, as a Man is industriously concerned to defend that valuable and useful Member from Injury; so I am thoroughly engaged in your Welfare and Safety from that infinite Love and Value I have for you.

 

{2.} HE has promised it, and his Word may be depended on; the holy Scriptures abound with Promises of this Kind. The Church may expect perpetual Protection from God, as we learn by those Words of his, Sing ye unto her, a Vineyard of red Wine, I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every Moment; left any hurt it, I will keep it Night and Day {Isa 23:3.}. The sacred Oracles declare, that the Saints shall dwell on high; and that the Place of their Defence shall be in the Munitions of Rocks. The Church though a small, is yet a strong City, because God will appoint Salvation for Walls and Bullwarks: Now the gracious Promises of God may be fully relied on; for he is in one Mind, and who can turn him? And what his Soul desireth, even that he doth: God is not a Man, that he should lye; neither the Son of Man, that he should repent: Hath said it, and shall he not do it? Or, Hath be spoken, and shall he not make it good {Job 23:13; Nu 23:19.}.

 

{3.} His own Glory is nearly interested in this Matter: The Welfare of the Church is interwoven with the Honour of her God; his Name is publickly professed by her, his Word is precious to her, and in his Institutions the delights: Her several Members are called Trees of Righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified {Isa 56:3.}. The Lord allures us that they are a People formed for himself, and that they shall shew forth his Praise. The Church is the proper Seat of divine Glory on Earth; hence the Apostle hath these Words, To him be Glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all Ages, World without end, Amen {Eph 2:21.}: Therefore a Regard in God to his own Honour will influence him to protect the Saints.

 

{4.} He will destroy those who seek the Ruin of his Church, none can afflict the Saints without the .greatest Injury to themselves; since God is as tender of them, as a Man is of the Apple of his Eye: The Church is a burdensome Stone, and all that burden themselves with her shall be cut in Pieces, though all the People in the Earth be gathered together against her {Zec 12:3.}. God may for wise Reasons permit the Enemies of his People to harass and distress them, yea, he may use them as his Rod for the Correction of his Children; yet this will not excuse them from his most severe Resentment and Anger, which, I apprehend, to be the Import of these Words, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, I am jealous for Jerusalem, and for Zion with a great jealousy; and I am very sore displeased with the Heathen that are at ease, for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the Affliction. To the Saints the Lord is a Wall for their Security, and round about them, so that they are not any way open to Invasion: As he is a Wall of Fire, it is most certain that he will consume and burn up those who attempt the Destruction of his Church, the City about which he is a Wall of Protection and Defence. However. formidable her Enemies may be, and though they may imagine that it is an easy Thing to devour her, because she is weak and defenceless in her self, as was before observed; yet they will ever find it absolutely impossible, and will eternally sink under the intolerable Weight of divine Vengeance.

 

THEY are but as combustible Matter before devouring Flames, they are comparable to Briars and Thorns, not only on account of the Grief and Pain which they occasion to the Church; but also because they will be consumed in a Moment by the burning Wrath of a provoked God: For to them he will for ever be a consuming Fire {Heb 12:28.}, without any Intermission or Allay.

 

I proceed to consider the second Branch of the Doctrine.  

   

Secondly, The Church derives all her Glory from God: And will be the Glory in the Midst of her. These Words may be understood passively, or actively, as Cornelius a Lapide observes, though he. prefers the latter Sense, “This Glory may be taken in a two-fold Manner; first passively, i.e. in her I will be Glorious, that is, I will be glorified and reverenced with honourable Worship in Jerusalem: Thus several take it, as he tells us; secondly, and better actively; i.e. I will glorify Jerusalem, I will bring Glory to it f2”; in this Light others understand it, as he informs us.

 

 I SHALL consider it in both Senses, God as glorified in the Church by what he works in her; and by that which he enables her to do with a direct View to his Honour.

 

1. God is greatly honoured in the Church by what he works in her. And,

 

{1.} In the Conquests he makes upon the Hearts of rebellious Men. BY his omnipotent Grace, he subdues the stubborn and perverse Will of Man, brings him to submit to Christ as King in Zion, or chearfully to yield Obedience to him in that Capacity. It is true, the Language of every natural Person’s Heart is, I will not have this Man to reign over me {Lu 19:14.}; but God conquers the inflexible Will of the Sinner, according to his Promise in the everlasting Covenant, thy People shall be willing in the Day of thy Power {Ps 110:3.}. FROM this Work abundant Glory redounds to the Riches of God’s Grace,

as is most evident from these Words, But God, who is rich in Mercy, for his great Love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in Sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by Grace ye are saved: That in the Ages to come he might shew the exceeding Riches of his Grace in his Kindness towards us through Christ Jesus {Eph 2:4-5,7.}.

 

{2.} IN upholding of his Saints; they are insufficient of themselves to perform any Thing that is spiritual, their corrupt Part strongly inclines them to back-slide from God; hence the Lord says of them, My People are bent to Back-sliding from me. {Ho 11:7.} THEY are subject to many Temptations, and unable to resist the least; a great many Enticements to Evil frequently present to them, which entangle the Affections, and influence the Will: And therefore they cannot persevere in Holiness in their own Strength; but they shall be kept by the Power of God through Faith unto Salvation {1Pe 1:5.}. In their Support and Preservation the Wisdom of God is display’d; for the greatest Enemies are over-come, Sin, Satan, and the World, by such as are impotent in themselves; and this is readily acknowledged to be all of free Grace by the Saints: Also the almighty Arm of God is most clearly discovered in enabling such weak and feeble Creatures to withstand and conquer potent, subtle, and unwearied Adversaries.

 

2. God is greatly glorified in the Church, by what he enables her to perform with a direct view to his honour.  

 

{1.} BY that Faith she exercises in him: The true Church is composed of Believers in Christ; the is a spiritual House made up of lively Stones, as faith the Apostle, And ye also as lively Stones, are built up a spiritual House {1Pe 2:5.}. THAT is to say, they were Persons endued with supernatural Life, which is the proper Principle of all spiritual Acts: Those who are in a State of Unregeneracy are destitute of such a Principle of Grace; and therefore the Apostle observes to the Ephesians, that they once were dead in Sin, and you hath he quickened who were dead in Trespasses and Sins {Eph 2:1.}. Life must necessarily precede Motion as a Cause doth its Effect; all Acts flow from Life; spiritual Acts proceed from spiritual Life; such an Act is resting on God’s Promise, which is Faith: By the Exercise of that Grace God is highly honoured; hence it is said, that Abraham staggered not at the Promise of God through Unbelief; but was strong in Faith, giving Glory to God {Ro 4:20.}

 

THIS is an excellent Grace, it abases the Creature, and ascribes the Whole of our Salvation, and of every Mercy to God, it adores his incomprehensible Wisdom, admires his infinite and immense Favour, extols his Power, and cheerfully submits to his Sovereign and absolute Dominion in all Things.

 

{2.} THE holy Obedience of the Church advances the Glory of her God, the hath a tender Regard to his Honour, and desires a perfect Conformity to his most righteous Will. SIN is the greatest Burden of the Saints, and it gives them, when it is prevalent in their Souls, inexpressible Disquietude; under divine Influence their Language is really this to their heavenly Father, Teach me to do thy Will, for thou art my God, thy Spirit is good, lead me into the Land of Uprightness {Ps 143:10.}. The Spring of their Obedience is not Selfish and carnal, but evangelical and spiritual; it is not performed with an Expectation of procuring Favours from God, but to acknowledge with a humble Gratitude his undemerited Regard and Love: This is a truly generous and noble Principle, which is formed in the Saints by the holy Ghost, and is cherished by all his Operations upon them.

 

{3.} GOD is honoured by Ascriptions of Glory to him; this will be the delightful Service of the Church in Heaven, without any Interruption; and it is a Work which the Saints begin on Earth, when they have a lively Sense of their own Unworthiness, or view the Impurity of their Hearts, and the Imperfections that attend all their Duties, when they have a Prospect of their aggravated Guilt: And behold how God’s super-abounding Grace rises over their Mounts of Sin and Rebellion, that it has secured to them the most valuable Blessings, they are struck with Wonder, and cannot but give him the Glory thereof in such low and humble Expressions as these, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give Glory {Ps 115:1.} with the greatest Pleasure at such a Time they join with the Apostle in laying, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all Spiritual Blessings in heavenly Places in Christ {Eph 1:3.}: Thus God is glorified in the Church.

 

3. The Words may be understood actively, I will fill her with Glory: The Church’s Glory doth not consist the Multitude of her Members, a Christian Community may be large and numerous, and yet dishonourable; the Riches and Grandeur of her Members are not her Glory, nor are beautiful Edifices for the publick Exercise of religious Duties any Part of her Honour, neither doth it consist in a pompous and gay Mode of Worship; the Church may be truly Glorious, although all these Things are wanting: This must be granted if it be allowed that the purest Church which ever was upon Earth might lay claim to true Honour, which was composed of Christ and his Apostles; indeed, where these are not, the far greater Part of Mankind imagine that the Glory of Religion doth not attend. THE Church’s Beauty is not discoverable by a carnal Eye, for it is spiritual and invisible, fine is truly Illustrious; but internally so, The Kings Daughter is all glorious within, her Cloathing is of wrought Gold {Ps 45:13.}. Her outward Appearance is mean and despicable, yet she possesses inwardly the greatest Glory, upon which Account she thus speaks of her self, I am black, but comely as the Tents of Kedar, as the Curtains of Solomon {Song 1:5.}; the outside of which were coarse and rough, but within they were very beautiful and rich: Her real Beauty and Lustre consists in these Things:

 

{1.} THE Purity of the Principles she embraces and defends. The Gospel is an excellent System of Doctrines, which are calculated for the Honour of God, and that center in the Glory of the Mediator; hence it is called Glorious, according to the glorious Gospel of the Blessed God {1Ti 1:11.}. Now it is to the Advantage as well as Honour of the Saints to preserve the Gospel pure and free from the invented Schemes of Men: The Primitive Church is highly commended for a close Adherence to divine Truth; and they continued stedfastly in the Apostles Doctrine and Fellowship, and in breaking of Bread, and in Prayers {Ac 2:42.}. WHENEVER the Church becomes corrupt in her Opinion, she declines in her true Glory; and therefore let all the Saints, as the Apostle exhorts, stand fast in one Spirit, with one Mind, striving together for the Faith of the Gospel {Php 1:27.}. Such as never discerned the Excellency, felt the Power, nor tasted the Sweetness of Christian Doctrines, may conceive that it is of little or no Moment, what Reception and Entertainment they meet with: But Persons enlightned by divine Grace discover an excelling Glory in them, and pay the strictest Regard to all the Branches of heavenly Truth: For they are sensible that the Doctrines of the free Grace of God are the Source of all their present Consolation, and the Sum of their future Hopes; therefore they cannot but esteem them more than all Things else; they know that they are more to be desired than Gold, yea, than much fine Gold; they are sweeter to them than the Honey, and the Honey-comb {Ps 19:10.} That which heightens the Glory of the Gospel- Revelation is, it contains the fuller Display of the divine Perfections, as they harmoniously agree in the Salvation of lost Man, through the Obedience, Crucifixion, and Death of Christ: If therefore it is to the Honour of the Church to receive and maintain a Set of Doctrines, wherein the Glory of God is most nearly concerned, it must be allowed that it is her peculiar Glory to stand fast in the Truth.

 

{2.} HER Honour lies much in Strictness of Disciple. Christ the Head of the Church hath prescribed the belt of Rules to preserve Unity, Holiness of Life, and Uncorruptness of Opinion, among his Followers, which it is the Glory of every Christian Community strictly to observe.

 

A religious Society cannot countenance Persons of pernicious Principles and scandalous Lives, without Censure from Christ: Thus he reproves the Church at Pargamos, because some of her Members entertained erroneous Doctrines, and were guilty of evil Practices, I have a few Things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the Doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a Stumbling-block before the Children of Israel, to eat Things sacrificed to Idols, and to commit Fornication; so thou hast also them that hold the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Thing I hate {Re 2:14-15.}. THE Enemies of Religion are very forward to improve every irregular Step of the Saints to the Disadvantage of those Truths which they profess, their sinful Actions they charge upon their Sentiments, and represent the Doctrines they embrace as licentious and loose, affirm that they have no good Influence upon the Hearts or Lives of Men; and therefore every particular Congregation of Christ is under an indespensible Obligation to eject all such, whose Conduct is not answerable to their Profession, in order to prevent open Reproach from the World.

 

{3.} ANOTHER Branch of her Glory is the Holiness of her Members. It is certainly her Honour to be conformable to her Lord, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from Sinners {Heb 7:26.}, free from all Blemish in Heart and Life; he did no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth {1Pe 2:22.}; he is the perfect Pattern whom she ought to follow: This he recommends to his People, laying, learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in Heart {Mt 11:29.}; we are to imitate no others any farther than they tread in his Steps. The great Apostle proposes himself as an Example to the Corinthians, but with this Limitation, Be ye Followers of me, even as I also am of Christ {1Co 11:1.}: Looseness and Immorality among Professors is a great Dishonour to the Christian Name; it causes the Gospel, and Ways of Christ, to be evil spoken of, as was before observed. On the contrary, a regular and holy Walk recommends Religion, and vindicates the Doctrine of Grace. from the false Aspersions which are thrown upon it by Opposers; and. is an evident Proof, that what is objected to it, as abating Mens Regard to Holiness, is mere Calumny and Falshood; that it really influences such that have experienced its Power, to shun Vice, and practise Vertue: These were the happy Effects it produced in the Primitive Christians, as the Apostle affirms; for the Grace of God which bringeth Salvation, and hath appeared to all Men; teaching us, that denying Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present World {Tit 2:11-12.}.

 

{4.} THE Church’s Glory consists in Unity and Love. Jars and Contentions, Heats and Animosities among, the Saints, weaken their Hands, and give an Opportunity to the Enemies of the Gospel to prejudice their common Interest; not that all Contention is unlawful, for it is a Duty incumbent upon us to contend for the Faith, we are expressly exhorted to it, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints {Jude 3.}; that is to say, for revealed Truth. When the Doctrine of Christ is opposed and Error is advanced, Providence calls upon his Servants to vindicate the one, and to expose the other, which ought to be done with Zeal and Fervour; but not with undue Heat, or personal Reflections on any: It very ill becomes those, who profess to have a Value for Revelation, to be luke-warm and indifferent about the Doctrines it contains, whatever may be the Opinion of the Generality concerning them. No Branch of sacred Truth ought to be sacrificed to Peace, although some may presume to pronounce it of little Consequence or Weight: If the latter is not to be maintained without giving up the former, Dissension is rather to be chosen: To purchase Peace at the Expence of Truth, is buying it at too dear a Rate; but where the Cause of Truth is not concerned, we are to follow the Things that make for Peace, and the Things wherewith one may edify another {Ro 4:19.}; which is beautiful and excellent, as the Words of the Psalmist plainly intimate, Behold, how good and how pleasant a Thing it is, for Brethren to dwell together in Unity; it is like the precious Ointment upon the Head, that ran down upon the Beard, even Aaron’s Beard, that went down to the Skirts of his Garments; as the Dew of Hermon, and as the Dew that descended upon the Mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the Blessing, even Life for evermore. {Ps 133:1-2,3.}

 

{Lastly.} HER greatest Honour is the Enjoyment of the divine Presence. The Glory of the Christian Religion principally consists in the Influences of God upon his People, and in the Manifestations of his Love to them: The external Part, without these Blessings, is but like the Picture of a Man, In which, though there may be Likeness and Proportion, Life is wanting. IT is only a dead and lifeless Form, without Nearness to, and Fellowship with God, the Object of our Worship; Communion with God, elevates our Souls, strengthens our Graces, and gives Vigour to all our religious Acts. UPON a serious Reflection on the general Disposition of our Minds, and the usual Manner in which we perform the Exercises of Religion, whether in the Closet, and in the Family, or in the House of God; I fear we shall find that we have but too great Reason to confess, that the spiritual and experimental Part of Religion is very much loft amongst us. Is there not in us an in-differency to Duty? Are we not dull, heavy, and wandering from God in the Discharge of it? But little of powerful Godliness is seen, or felt, by us; and therefore our Glory is greatly eclipsed: There is just Occasion for us to say, How is the Gold become dim? How is the most fine Gold changed? The Stones of the Sanctuary are poured out in the Top of every Street; the precious Sons of Zion, comparable to fine Gold, how are they esteemed as earthen Pitchers, the Work of the Hands of the Potter {La 4:1-2.}. May the happy Time be hastened, when the Church shall be a Crown of Glory in the Hand of the Lord, and a royal Diadem in the Hand of her God {Isa 62:3.}. When he will say to Zion, Arise, shine, for thy Light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

 

FOOTNOTES 

 

ft1 The horrid Gunpowder-Treason, which Plot was formed in the third Year of the Reign of King James the First, by Henry Garnet, a Jesuit, Robert Katesby, Thomas Peircey, Thomas Winter, Guy Faux, and other desperate Papists.

ft2 Gloria haec dupliciter accipi potest Primo passive. q.d. In Gloria ero, ideft, glorificabor & colar in Jerusalem; per latriae Cultum, Secundo, & melius active, q.d. glorificabo Jerusalem, gloriam ei asseram. Vid. Loc.

 

 

 

04 Sermon 4 The Believer Trumph Over Death

The Believer’s Triumph Over Death 

by John Brine 

(London: Aaron Ward, 

1735) 

SERMON 4 

THE BELIEVER’S TRIUMPH OVER DEATH CONSIDERED IN A SERMON OCCASION’D BY THE DECEASE 

OF MR. HUGH LLOYD, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE FEB. 11, 1735 

Published at the REQUEST of some who heard it. 

Mortuus Christus sed in morte mors Mortua, quia Vita Mortua occidit 

Mortem Plenitudo Vitae deglutivit Mortem: Absorpta est Mors in Christi Corpore. 

Mors non Vitam rapit, sed reformat.  Augustin. in Joan. Pradentius. 

Printed for AARON WARD at the King’s Arms in Little Britain, 

LONDON: 1735. Price Six-Pence. 

 

{1Co 15:55-56,57}}  

 

O Death, where is thy Sting? O Grave, where is thy Victory? The Sting of Death is Sin, and the Strength of Sin is the Law: But thanks be to God which giveith us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

THE Infinitely wise God, at whole Disposal all Persons are, has been pleased to take from this Society a Member of long Standing and Usefulnes. This mournful Providence I am desired by his surviving Relatives to Improve; for which Purpose I have made choice of these Words. IN this Chapter the Apostle largely treats of the Resurrection of the Dead, and fully proves it by many irrefragable Arguments. This Doctrine cannot be disputed whatever Difficulties may seem to attend it, without giving up the whole Christian Religion; for if there be no Resurrection the Dead Christ is not risen, and if Christ be not risen then is our Preaching vain, and your Faith also is vain; {1Co 15:13-14} says the Apostle. The Earth is but a refining Place to the Bodies of the Saints, they will be railed from thence with unspeakable Advantage, free from Corruption and Death, spiritual and glorious; and therefore there is sufficient Foundation for this holy Triumph of the Apostle over Death, that formidable Enemy, and the devouring Grave. ‘Tis thought by Interpreters, that this is a Quotation of the Septuagint’s Version of those Words in the Prophecy of Hosea; O Death! I will be thy Plague; O Grave! I will be thy Destruction; but with a small Variation which affects not the Sense. The Apostle makes use of a Metaphor, taken either from Spurs and Pricks by which Oxen are driven, or rather from the Stings of Wasps and the like Creatures; from which if you take the Sting they are the same, but are not able to hurt.f1 Thus the Sting being taken from Death, it can do no Injury to Men.

 

In speaking to the words I shall endeavour to do these Things.  

 

First, SHEW that Sin is the Sting of Death.

 

Secondly, THAT the Law is the Strength of Sin.

 

Thirdly, THAT Sin, which is Death’s Sting, is taken away.

 

Fourthly, DEMONSTRATE that the Saints Victory over Sin, Death and the Grave, is the free Gift of God.

 

Fifthly, THAT this Conquest is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Sixthly, OBSERVE that we are under Obligation to praise God on this Account.

 

First, I am to shew, That Sin is the Sting of Death. 

 

 MAN consists of two Parts, Soul and Body, Spirit and Matter: These are widely different in their Nature. The Soul is immaterial, it is not made up of Parts, is invisible, not subject to Corruption and Mortality. THE Body is indeed a most curious Frame, in the Formation of which the infinite Wisdom of God is wonderfully discovered; but its Original is Dust, and to that it naturally tends, as appears from God’s Threatning to our first Parents after the Fall; Dust thou art, and unto Dust thou shalt return.  {Ge 3:19} In Man these two Parts, tho’ so very distant in their Nature, are most nearly united, the Dissolution of which Union is natural Death; ‘tis of that the Apostle here speaks. SIN is any Want of Conformity to, or Transgression of the Law of God, is evident from the Apostle’s Account of it; whosoever sinneth transgresseth also the Law, for Sin is the Transgression of the Law . {1Jo 3:4} It was Sin that subjected the human Nature to Mortality and Death; for by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; and so Death passed upon all Men,in whom all have sinned. {Ro 5:12}

 

THE Bands and Ligaments which keep the Soul and Body together would never have been dissolved, if Sin had not rent them asunder; that is the meritorious Cause of Death. Hence, says the Apostle, the Wages of Sin is Death ; {Ro 6:23} it is the Sting of it also, Death receives all its Poison and Venom from this evil Root; that is it which arms it with Terror and renders it formidable; when Death approaches, and Guilt attends it, what inexpressible Horror and Anguish doth it raise in the Minds of Men! Which Disquietude is but the small Beginning, of an eternal Spring of Sorrow and Distress. That Sin is the Sting of Death thus appears.

 

1. IT is that which makes Death a Curse: In it self it is not so, when it is inflicted with relation to Guilt contracted, as the proper procuring. Cause thereof, it is a penal Evil, and a dreadful Curse; but without respect to Sin imputed, it has nothing really injurious in it. Our Lord, in his Crucifixion and Death, was made a Curse, as the Apostle asserts; Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us. {Ga 3:13} But then this was as he stood in the Sinners Place, and bore the Guilt of his People. The Saints are not exempted from the Stroke of that Enemy: What Man is he that liveth and shall not see Death? Shall he deliver his Soul from the Hand of the Grave ? {Ps 89:48} notwithstanding they are secure from Curse, to them it is not a Token of divine Vengeance and Wrath, all things are theirs, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the World, or Life, or Death, or things, present, or things to come, all are theirs, for they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s ; {1Co 3:21-22,23} it is to them an unspeakable Advantage and glorious Privilege.

 

2. SIN deprives Men of Happiness after Death is executed upon them, It Is that which secludes them from the Presence of God, the Company of blessed Angels and glorified Saints; this is the Bar which eternally keeps the Gates of Heaven shut against them, and for ever prevents their Admission into that Place of perfect and everlasting Bliss, which Christ himself plainly teaches us; many will say to me in that Day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name have cast out Devils? and in thy Name have done many wonderful Works. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me ye that work Iniquity . {Mt 7:22-23}

 

3. THIS is the Weight that sinks them into Hell, that Place of inconceiveable Horror and Torment, where their Worm dieth not, and the Fire is not quenched . {Mr 9:44} It is Sin that causes God to sentence Men to those Regions of Blackness and Despair in which there will be wailing and gnashing of Teeth . {Mt 13:42} And that it is which will for ever hinder their Release from thence.

 

4. SIN draws down upon them the Vengeance of God. All Threatnings of divine Displeasure immediately refer to the commission of Sin; ‘tis that which incurs the Anger of God, and for that only is his Fury poured forth upon any of his Creatures; the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire, to take Vengeance; but it will be solely on such that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting Distraction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power . {2Th 1:7-8,9} The Apostle, after the mention of various Sins, acquaints us, that for those things sake the Wrath of God cometh on the Children of disobedience. {Col 3:6}

 

There is an awful Cup of Anger in God’s Hand for Sinners, but it is of their own filling up; they treasure up Wrath against the Day of Wrath . {Ro 2:5} It is the Guilt that Men contract, which exposes them to the fierce Resentments of an angry God. And therefore, What a dreadful Sting is Sin? which is attended with such Consequences.

 

Secondly, The Strength of Sin is the Law, which, as I conceive, includes in it all those Duties that God hath in joined upon us in his Word; every Branch of Holiness is referable to the Law, and comes within the Compass of it. The Law is to be considered either as it is in the Hand of God, thus it is a Covenant of Works, and has a Curse annexed to the Breach of it; or as it is in the Hand of the Mediator, thus it is not a Covenant of Works, but a Rule of Obedience; in which Sense the Saints are under it, being, not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ . {1Co 9:21} It is in the former View that. we are to take it here, the Law is holy, and the Commandment holy, just, and good ; {Ro 7:12} and therefore it doth not incourage Evil, or communicate Vigour and Strength to the Lusts of Men; yet in some Sense it is the Strength of Sin.

 

1. IT is an Occasion to it: The Heart of Man is full of impure and unlawful Desires, these are strictly forbid and restrained by the Law; but Concupiscence in Men is like to a Torrent of Water, that rises and swells till it bears away all Opposition which is made to its Flow; or the Fire, which grows the more vehement when it is pent up by the cold ambient Air. Thus the Law is an accidental Cause or Occasion of Sin; but not properly, for it is wholly repugnant to all Evil; in this Sense some think, it may be call’d the Strength of Sin. Parcus observes, that “Sin is irritated by the Law, and becomes the more sinful; the Fault is not the Law’s, which forbids, reproves, and condemns Sin; but it is the Fault of our vicious Nature, which with the greater Violence is carried after that that is forbid, as an unruly Horse leapeth, and is the more head-strong in that he is the more held in by sharp Bitsf2.”

 

2. THE condemnatory Power of Sin is lodged in the Law: Hence every Sin subjects us to its Curse; Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the Book off the Law to do them . {Ga 3:10} This condemning Power of Sin is universal, it is extended to all Men without Exception, considered in themselves; Persons of every Rank are obnoxious to it, the Great and Noble as well as the Mean and Low, the Rich no less than the Poor. This Power of Sin to condemn is not to be disputed, for it is supported by the Authority of God the supreme Judge, it is his awful Voice that pronounces the Curse, nor is it a Power that is unjustly exercised; it is a righteous thing with God to recompense Tribulation , {2Th 1:6} to such as sin against him. The Condemnation of a Sinner is equitable, because he acts in direct Opposition to the revealed Will of God; no Exemption can possibly be obtained from it but by the free Grace of God through Christ, which the Psalmist strongly expresses; none can by any Means redeem his Brother, or give to God a Ransom for him; for the Redemption of their Soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever . {Ps 49:5-6}

 

SOME useful Observations may be drawn from hence.  

 

1. THAT it is impossible to attain Happiness by the Works of the Law: There is not any Law given which cloth not furnish Sin with a Curse; all Men are corrupt, end unable perfectly to obey divine Precepts, and of Consequence none can be justified by the Law. It is certain that that Law which condemns Sin, will never justify a Sinner, as so considered; but all Persons are sinful, and therefore by the Deeds of the Law (nomou, a Law without the Particle, i.e. any divine Law whatever) there shall no Flesh be justified in his Sight, for by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin . {Ro 6:20}

 

2. THE Law cannot subdue and conquer Sin, it justly condemns every Sin, but its Office is not to subdue it; the Grace of God alone can do this. So long as a Man is under the Law as a Covenant of Works, Sin retains its Tyranny and Dominion in the Heart; it is not the most dreadful Denunciation of Wrath against Evil, that will influence a Sinner to hate it; nothing less than a Discovery of free and sovereign Grace, which is gloriously displayed in the Pardon of Sin through Christ, can produce an Abhorrence of it: Hence, says the Apostle, Sin shall not have Dominion over you, for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace . {Ro 6:14}

 

3. THE Law is of Service to convince us of Sin, and inform us of its Consequences: To this End the Spirit of God makes Use of it, he impresses its Precepts upon the Mind, and presents its Threats to the View of a Sinner, to acquaint him with his Sinfulness and Misery upon which he dies. This Effect it produced in the Apostle, as he declares; I was alive without the Law once, but when the Commandment came Sin revived and I died . {Ro 7:9} Its Nature is to wound but not to heal; the Curses of it are as so many Arrows fixed in the Heart of a Sinner, which deeply pierce it, nor can any thing heal it but the Name of Christ, which is as Ointment poured forth (Song 1:3}.)

 

Thirdly, The Sting of Death is taken from it: O Death, where is thy Sting? this Mode of Expression strongly implies, that it is taken away. Here I shall observe,

 

1. The Person by whom it is removed, and that is Christ: It was predicted of him, that he should finish Transgression, and make an end of Sin . {Da 9:24} Agreeable to which Old Testament-Prediction, the Gospel assures us, that he has by himself purged away our Sins . {Heb 1:3} John the Baptist with Wonder beheld and spake of him as the Lamb of God, that took away the Sin of the World . {Joh 1:29} Sin was such a Burden that none but himself could stand under, it would have sunk any mere Creature into eternal Ruin; if all created Power had centred in one Subject, yet this Man, or Angel, furnished with all this Strength, would have been infinitely unequal to that Load of Guilt which Christ bore.

 

2. ALL Sin is taken away, no part of Death’s Sting is left remaining: The whole Guilt which the Elect of God contract was imputed to Christ; all we, like Sheep, bare gone affray, we have turned every one to his own Way, and the Lord hath laid on him the Iniquities of us all ; {Isa 3:6} and therefore they are entirely acquitted by divine Justice, no Charge can be justly exhibited against them, and if any is, it will prove invalid, as is most evident from that bold Challenge of the Apostle; Who shall say any thing to the Charge of God’s Elect? It is God that justifies, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again . {Ro 8:33-34} Numerous Offences they commit against God, their Number vastly exceeds their Observation, and yet they are conscious of so large a Multitude, that at some times they very much hesitate concerning the Remission of them; but they are perfectly cleansed from all their Stains and Spots, by Christ’s Blood, for the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth them from all Sin; {1Jo 1:7} none is to be found upon them as Persons justified, so considered, they are as clear from Guilt as if they had never contracted any, which is very manifest from these Words; In those Days, and at that time, saith the Lord, the Iniquity of Israel Shall be fought for, and there shall be none; and the Sins of Judah, and they shall not be found, for I will pardon them whom I reserve . {Jer 50:20} All their Crimes are carried at the greater Distance from their Persons; hence are those Words of the Church; as far as the East is from the West, so far hath he removed our Transgressions from us . {Ps 103:12}

 

3. SIN is taken out of God’s Sight; it must be allowed in some Sense, that God sees no Sin in his People, since it is plainly declared in the divine Word; be bath not beheld Iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen Perverseness in Israel. {Nu 23:21} This is not inconsistent with his Omniscience, for we do not assert that the Sins of God’s People are hid from the Eye of his Knowledge; he is certainly acquainted with every Transgression that any of his commit, and hates Evil in them no less than in. others; but it is the Eye of his Justice that is intended, which beholds them as all fair and without Spot (Song 4:7}.), as washed in Christ’s Blood, and clothed with his most perfect Righteousness. I AM tempted to think, that some who have objected to the Removal of all Sin out of God’s Sight, must have wilfully mistaken the Intention of such as affirm and vindicate it, with an ungenerous Design to calumniate and traduce them, because it is expressly asserted in the holy Scriptures, and doubtless is inseparable from a perfect Justification of the Saints, through Christ.

 

Fourthly, GOD gives his People Victory over Sin, Death, and the Grave. Here I shall consider, 1st, The Conquest they have over these Enemies;

 

2dly, Observe, That it is the Gift of God.

 

1st. THE Saints are Conquerors over all their Adversaries, as the Apostle most clearly teaches us in those exulting Words of his; Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall Tribulation, or Distress, or Persecution, or Famine, or Nakedness, or Peril, or Sword: (As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the Day long, we are accounted as Sheep for the Slaughter:) Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors through him that loved us; for I am persuaded that neither Death, nor Life, nor Angels, nor Principalities nor Powers, nor Things present, nor Things to come, nor Height nor Depth, nor any other Creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Ro 8:35-36,37-38,39}

 

1. BELIEVERS are Victors over Sin, the most formidable Adversary of their Souls; this bore the Sway in their Hearts, before Conversion it exercised Rule and Dominion over them; it subjected them to the Maledictions the Law, and exposed them to the Anger of God, as in themselves; that is it which rendered them deferring of eternal Death: But this cruel Enemy is conquered, condemned and destroyed.

 

(1.) THEY are Conquerors over Sin as a usurping Tyrant, its destructive Reign in their Hearts is taken away by omnipotent Grace, the Spirit of God dethrones it in Regeneration; it is true, the Being of it is continued in Believers, till Death; but it is deprived of its reigning Power, for Grace reigns in the Soul in Opposition to Sin; that as Sin hath reigned unto Death, even so might Grace reign through Righteousness unto eternal Life, by Jesus Christ our Lord; nor will it ever regain that Power which before it possessed, how violently soever it may rage and swell; so long as the Saints are under Grace they are secure from the Reign of Sin, which is the evident Import of these Words; Sin Shall not have Dominion over you, for ye are not under the Law but under Grace . {Ro 6:14}

 

(2.) THEY are above the Reach of its condemning Power: Hence, says the Apostle, There is therefore now no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; from this they are redeemed by Christ’s Blood, and until that loses its Virtue, or becomes of little Worth in God’s Account, the Saints shall be secured from all Condemnation and Curse; which it never will do: Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us . {Ga 3:13}

 

(3.) THEY are raised above all Danger of lying under the Consequences of Sin after Death; something of which you have heard Since Sin it self is expiated there is no ground to fear its fatal Effects for Justification from it secures from all the penal Evils that attend it; as appears by these Words, being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through him .Divine {Ro 5:10} Anger is not poured down upon any but for Sin, those therefore to whom it is not imputed, have an eternal Security from God’s Displeasure.

 

2. THE Saints have Victory over Death by Christ; they are not exempted from its Stroke, but must submit unto it. Persons of the greatest Usefulness in the Church, when they have done their Generation-Work, must lie down in the silent Dust; our Fathers, where are they, and the Prophets, do they live for ever (Zechariah.) But, blessed be God, Death hath lost its Terror, ‘tis deprived of its Sting, it cannot draw after it any hurtful Consequences, which when the Believer views by Faith, he is not terrified at its nearest Approach; no melancholy Apprehensions arise in his Mind, nor would he have this Enemy slacken its Pace, and delay to give the fatal Blow. Thus doth he bespeak this King of Terrors: I am sensible ‘tis in vain to think of withstanding thy Arrest, I am certain that my Soul must be rent asunder from my Body, and enter into an unknown World, and that my fleshly Tabernacle must be dissolved and crumbled into Dust; the Thought of which strikes me with no manner of Dread, for I am comfortably persuaded, that I shall only die to eternally live in the immediate Presence of my heavenly Father and gracious Redeemer, which is a Happiness that infinitely exceeds my most extended Ideas; and that my Body shall certainly be delivered from thy Power, be railed immortal, and never feel the Weight of thy cold Hand any more. I therefore welcome thee as my Friend, and wish not thy Departure: The chillness of my Blood, the lowness of my Pulse, and dimness of my Eyes, are not in the least disagreeable to me. He looks upon this Enemy Death with a pleasant Countenance, and joyfully receives it with open Arms. To see a Believer thus depart, is, in my Opinion, the most glorious Prospect that can be beheld on this side Eternity.

 

3. The People of God are Conquerors over the Grave; the Earth Is to be a Receptacle for the Bodies of the Saints till the Time of the Resurrection. Hence Job says, I know that thou wilt bring me to Death, and to the House appointed for all living . {Job 30:23} But they shall be raised from thence by the almighty Power of God; their Dust is securely kept by the watchful Eye of God upon it, he will collect its scattered Particles, and frame their Bodies spiritual and immortal, make them capable of eternal Duration; the Lord will change this vile Body that it may be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious Body, according to the Working whereby be is able even to subdue all Things to himself . {Php 3:21} Then will Death be swallowed up in Victory. Thus it appears that the Saints are Conquerors over all their spiritual Adversaries, and have sufficient Reason to triumph in the View of Death.

 

2dly, THIS Victory is not obtained by them, but it is the free Gift of God; which is very evident from these Things.

 

1. GOD’S Will to remit Sin is voluntary, free, and sovereign; it was not influenced by any external Motive, his Determination to forgive the Offences of his People arises wholly from his good Pleasure, nothing in them Induces him to it; neither is the divine Will moved to this gracious Act by Christ’s Death. God did not first will that his Son should die, and then resolve to pardon Sin; but, or, the contrary, he first determined not to impute Sin to his Elect, and then fixed upon the Death of Christ as the only Way in which the Honour of his Law, and the Glory of his Justice might be secured in their Discharge; divine Favour is not the Effect, but the Cause of Christ’s Suffering for us, as he himself hath taught us; God so loved the World, that be gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting Life . {Joh 3:16}

 

2. It was infinite Love that gave Christ for us, our Forgiveness is the Purchase of a Redeemer’s Blood; taken in that View it is an Act of Justice; whom God hath let forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God, to declare, I say, at this time his Righteousness: That he might be just, i.e. appear to be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus . {Ro 3:25-26} It is also an Act of free, rich, and glorious Grace, the Price that is paid for our Redemption is so far from being incompatible with the Freeness of it, that it is a greater Illustration thereof than if we had been pardoned without any Satisfaction by a Surety, because free Love provided the Sponsor, and paid the Debt for us. It as a Commendation of divine Goodness towards us, in that while we were yet Sinners Christ died for us . {Ro 5:8} To us our Salvation is altogether as free as if both Law and Justice had been wholly neglected in the Affair. In Christ we have Redemption through his Blood, the Forgiveness of Sins, according to the Riches of God’s Grace . {Eph 1:7}

 

3. GOD justifies us in a Way of free Grace; being justified by his Grace, we are made Heirs according to the Hope of eternal Life , {Tit 3:7} the Righteousness of Christ is our Title to everlasting Life, ‘tis that only can secure us from the second Death. This is the free Gift of God to us, and is an Instance of infinite Love; God justifies us freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Christ.

 

4. HEAVEN and eternal Glory is his gracious Donation; we are wholly unable to do anything which may procure us a Right to future Happiness, if we mull be kept from Heaven till we recommend our Persons to the divine Regard by the Observance of the Law, we shall never come there. The Crown of Glory designed for the Saints is not won by them, but freely given to them. As Death is the Wages of Sin so eternal Life is carisma, the Gift, the free Gift of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 6:23}.), the Saints will live and reign with him for ever, as Conquerors over Sin, Death, and the Grave; but not by Virtue of what they have done: All their Felicity springs merely from undermerited Goodness. Hence are those Words of our Lord, Fear not, little Flock, for it is your Father’s good Pleasure to give you the Kingdom {Lu 12:32}

 

Fifthly, We have this Conquest through Christ. He only fought our Battle, and slew our Enemies  

 

As this Victory is a free Gift of immense Favour, it is the Purchase of Blood, the way in which Christ obtained it is really surprizing.

 

1. He took Sin upon him; all the Sins of all the Elect of God were amassed together, and laid upon him, all we like Sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the Iniquity of us all . {Isa 53:6} In himself he was pure and innocent, free from any Stain or Pollution; he did no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth ; {1Pe 2:22} that of all things was most hateful to him, and yet, in order to condemn, conquer, and destroy it, he must bear it. This was a Weight which would have sunk an Angel into the lower Hell, Christ alone could stand under, and carry it into an eternal Oblivion.

 

2. In him Sin was condemned, for what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the Flesh, God sending his own Son in the Likeness of sinful Flesh, and for Sin condemned Sin in the Flesh . {Ro 8:3} The whole Curse demerited by it, was inflicted on it in the Believers Surety; the fierce Threatnings of the Law are pardoned, not in vain though Sinners are pardoned, for they were all poured down upon Christ, as bearing the Guilt of his People. Oh! amazing indeed! that the most holy and blessed Person, he from whom all Blessings temporal, spiritual, and eternal flow, should be made Sin and a Curse.

 

3. HE bore the Wrath of God against Sin; What a Cup of Anger must the Sins of the Elect fill up! This was put into Christ’s Hand by his Father, he readily received it, and freely drank it. God acted towards Christ as one chargeable with Guilt, having his People’s upon him; Sin could not be imputed to him without his undergoing the whole Penalty demerited by it: As God did not withhold his Son from suffering for the Guilty, he did not make him any Abatement of what Law or Justice might have demanded of the Persons in whose Place and Room he stood; he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all . {Ro 8:32} The Father withdrew from him when on the Cross, which caused him to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? {Ps 22:1} The thick Cloud of our Sins interposed between God and Christ, and hid his smiling Countenance from him; God smote and wounded him with the Sword of Sin-avenging Justice; awake, O Sword, against my Shepherd, and against the Man that is my Fellow, smite the Shepherd , {Zec 8:7} was the awful Language of God. Christ suffered from the Hands of Men and Devils, but infinitely more from the Hand of his Father; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to Grief ; {Isa 53:10} his inconceivable Wrath flowed into the Soul of Christ, and most deeply affected him.

 

4. HE submitted to Death, the painful and ignominious Death of the Cross: Hence the Apostle speaks of it in this emphatical manner, be became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross. Sin subjected us to Death, according to the Law, and therefore it was necessary that Christ, in making Satisfaction for our Offences, should suffer this Part of the Penalty due thereto.

 

5. CHRIST was laid in the Grave, his Body was committed to the Ground; he made his Grace with the Wicked, and with the Rich, in his Death ; {Isa 53:9} but it was perserved from Corruption there; his Soul was not left in Hell, nor did this Holy One see Corruption . {Ps 16:10} He who had a proper Right to Heaven, was for a time shut up in the dark Confines of the Earth, and encompassed with Dust. ‘Tis true, it was not for a long Continuance, because it was impossible he should be retained under the Power of Death. WE have taken a short View of Christ in his Sufferings, or as submitting to the Enemies which he undertook to conquer. Let us now behold him in his Triumph over them all.

 

1st. HE rose from the dead as a compleat Victory over Sin, Death, and the Grave. By dying he was the Death of Sin, and overcame Satan that had the executive Power of it; had he not fully satisfied for the Sins of his People, he would have been held by the Bands of Death; but God being perfectly reconciled, and having no farther Demand to make, dispatched a Messenger of Justice from Heaven to honourably set free the imprisoned Body of Jesus: A shining Seraph descends at the Command of God, and rolls away the Stone from the Mouth of the Sepulchre in which our Lord was interred. {Mt 28:2} An evident Proof was this, that he had finished our Redemption. As the Battle he sought was none of his own, but his People’s, the Victory he has gained is theirs; they were considered in him in his triumphant Resurrection from the Dead, they were raised up together, {Eph 2:6} and are as secure from a Charge of Sin and everlasting Death as Christ himself is, who as he is raised from the Dead, dieth no more, Death hath no more Dominion over him . {Ro 6:9} And because he lives, the Saints shall live also.

 

2ndly. HE is ascended in Triumph to Heaven, having spoiled Principalities and Powers, he made a Shew of them openly, and triumphed over them. {Col 2:15} Satan and all the infernal Spirits were led captive by him in his Ascension to Glory, thou hast led Captivity captive, and this as the Representative of his People. So that they may be assured of a perfect Deliverance from Sin, and that Satan cannot destroy them; as a roaring Lion he walketh about seeking whom be may devious ; {1Pe 5:8} but we may depend upon it, that he will never be permitted to devour those on whose Account Christ engaged with, and conquered him.

 

3rdly, CHRIST sits at the Right Hand of God: When he bad by himself purged away our Sins, he for ever sat down at the Right Hand of the Majesty on high . {Heb 1:3} The Father thus glorified the Son upon his compleating the Work that he undertook. And this Honor is conferred upon him as the Head of his Saints, for they are raised up together, and made to fit together in heavenly Places, in Christ . {Eph 2:6} He is gone to Heaven as their Forerunner, and they shall as certainly follow him as they are now let down in him; ‘tis his Will that they should, nor can the Father in Justice deny it; Father, I will that they also when thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my Glory, which thou hast given me for thou lovedst me before the Foundation of the World . {Joh 17:24} Thus it is evident, that the Believers Conquest over Sin, Death, and the Grave, was obtained by Jesus Christ.

 

Sixthly, We are under the greatest Obligation to praise God for this Victory which may include these things.  

 

1. AN hearty Acknowledgment that we were utterly unable to conquer these our potent Enemies. It was absolutely out of our Power to defend our selves from the fatal Consequences of Sin, that would have involved us into the blackest Horror and Despair, and have drew down upon us the infinite Anger of God. Nor were we capable to withstand and conquer Death, that terrible Adversary, unless we are sensible of our Inability to succour our selves, the Victory we. enjoy will not be properly valued by us, we shall not ascribe that Glory to God for it, which it demands at our Hand.

 

2. THAT we were as unworthy of God’s giving us this Victory, as we are unable to obtain for our selves we deserve nothing but Wrath from God, because our Hearts are impure, full of Sin and Enmity to him; our Conduct is disagreeable to his Law, we have been guilty of many open and direct Breaches of it; in no Action are we perfectly conformable to it, in many things we offend all . {Jas 3:2} If therefore he should treat us according to our Demerit, we must eternally lie under his awful but righteous Vengeance.

 

3. TO admire and adore his free Love, which gives us this Victory. God is resolved upon the Honour of his Grace, he will not suffer its Glory to be lessened or eclipsed, his grand Design in saving Sinners, is to exalt it to the highest Pitch; it is to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace . {Eph 1:5} Nor will he ever raise a Soul to Heaven who will not readily allow it to be an Act of undemerited Goodness, all boasting is as effectually prevented in his People, as their Happiness is eternally secured.

 

4. TO readily allow that the Whole of this Victory is from God. The Design was formed by him in his everlasting Counsels, and the Method of gaining it is entirely his Contrivance; no Creature could ever have thought of the Way in which it is accomplished, his Power was exerted to effect it; all created Strength would have proved infinitely unequal to it. To imagine a Creature might contribute to it, Is a base Detraction from divine Honour.

 

5. TO live as those who have a true Sense of the Conquest obtained, which is to act to the Glory of God, who fared us when sinking into eternal Ruin, delivered us out of the Hands of our Enemies, and placed us far. Above their Reach, we are certainly under Obligation, whether we live to live to the Lord, or whether we die to die to the Lord . {Ro 14:8} This is the Judgment which we ought to form, that if one died for all, then were all dead, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them . {2Co 5:14-15}

 

Lastly. SINCE Christ is the Person Who wrought this Victory for us, let him share in our Praises; Can the Saints refuse him this Honour? when they consider what a Load of Guilt he bore, and dolorous Sufferings he went through; that he was made Sin and a Curse, lay under his Father’s Vengeance, and suffered Death for them; I say, Can they refuse him this Honor? Surely, no. I beg leave to observe here, that the Person whose Death occasioned this Discourse, discovered a just Sense of his own Unworthiness, and Christ’s great Goodness. In his last Affliction, a few Days before his Departure, he said to me, and a Friend who went with me to visit him, That he had sometimes thought he could endure any Sufferings for Christ, or Death it self; but that he found his Heart to be deceitful above all things. That under sharp Pains he could not forbear to complain, yet, says he, not of God, but to God. Under the exquisite Pain that attended him, as I am informed, many sweet Expressions dropt from him, such as these: It is appointed for Men once to die, but what is Death, or the Sufferings of this Life, to the Torments of Hell, blessed be God, for Christ, I am delivered from. At other Times he expressed himself thus: What are the Afflictions that I bear, to the Sufferings of my dear Redeemer? And declared the Steadiness of his Faith in God, as his God, to his Daughter, in these Words: God has been a God and Father to me all my Days, and I am satisfied he will be a God and Father to you and yours. IT has been observed by some Friends among whom he used to exercise his Gift in Prayer, that of late he has improved in Fervency, and Spirituality in that religious Duty.

 

I MAKE no doubt but that as he is removed from the Church Militant on Earth, he is taken to the Church Triumphant in Heaven, and is now perpetually engaged in the Celebration of the Redeemer’s Praise, with the rest of the Saints above who thus express their Gratitude to him for Redemption from Sin. Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our Sins in his own Blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father, to him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

FOOTNOTES

ft1 Haec ex Ose, 13, 14. petita sunt, & quidem ex Versione 70. Cure inversione Vocum, nicov & centron 70 sic, pidich sou, etc. sensueodem qui hic est, verbis paululum mutatis. Metaphora est, sive a stimulis, quibus aguntur boves; vel potius ab Aculeis Vesparum autsimilium Bestiarum, quibus si demas Aculeum, sunt illae quidem, sed nocere non possunt, Vid. Poli synops, in loc.

 

ft2 Peccatum per legem irritatur, & fit magispeccans; non culpa Legis, quaepeccatum prohibet, arguit, damnat; fed. culpa Naturae vitiosae, quaemajore impetu fertur in vetitum: Sicut Equus effrenis magis exultat & est refractarius quo magis constringitur Lupatis. Pare. in loc.

 

 

05 Sermon 5 A Sermon Preached at an Ordination of Deacons by John Brine

 

Created by LeRoy Rhodes

leroyrhodes@comcast.net

2006

SERMON 5

By John Brine

A SERMON PREACHED AT AN

ORDINATION OF DEACONS

MARCH 5, 1735. 

 

Published at the REQUEST of some who heard it. Printed, and 

Sold by AARON WARD, at the King’s-Arms in Little-Britain. 

London 1735. 

 

{1Ti 3:8-9}. 

 

Likewise must the Deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much holding the Mystery of Faith in a pure Conscience. 

I HUMBLY beg Leave of you, my Brethren, who have been at this Time solemnly called to, and invested with the Office of Deacons, to lay before you the Qualifications which are necessary for Persons in that Capacity, the Work that is proper to it, and to offer some Things by way of Encouragement to you therein from these Words. THE Apostle begins this Chapter with observing the Excellency of the Office of a Bishop, Pastor, or Overseer in a Church of Christ; and then gives the necessary Characters of such who are in that Function. AFTER this he proceeds to mention the several Virtues requisite to Persons who serve the Church in the Station of Deacons, most of which are collected in the Words now to be considered.

 

The Method I shall pursue, in my Discourse on this Subject, will be this:

 

First, I SHALL observe the Notation of the Term Deacon, with the various Application of it.

Secondly, SHEW what gave Rise to this Office in the Church.

Thirdly, THE Qualifications of Officers.

Fourthly, THEIR proper Work.

Fifthly, Offer some Things for your Encouragement therein.

 

First, I begin with the Notation of the Word, and the different Application of it: Dia>konov, Deacon, signifies, a Minister; from the Verb diakone>w, to minister speedily. Which imports, that Persons in this Office should closely, and eagerly pursue the Duties of it; that they ought to minister to others, as with Chearfulness, so with Expedition.

 

It is a Title of Office, Service, or Administration, and is variously applied. ‘Tis given to Christ; Now I say, that Jesus Christ was a Minister, Dia>konon, of the Circumcision for the Truth of God, to confirm the Promises made unto the Fathers {Ro 15:8}. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. The Apostle gives this Name to Magistrates; for Rulers are not a Terror to good Works, but to the evil: Wilt thou then not be afraid of the Power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have Praise of the same; for he is the Minister, Dia>konov, of God to thee for good {Ro 13:4}. It is applied to Preachers of the Gospel; Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but Ministers, Dia>konoi, by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every Man {1Co 3:5}? Every true Disciple and Worshipper of Christ hath this Title given to him; if any Man serve me let him follow me, and where I am there shall also my Servant, Dia>konov, be: If any Man serve me, him will my Father honour {Joh 12:26}.

 

The Apostle bestows this Character on Phebe; I commend unto you Phebe our Sister, which is a Servant, Dia>konon, a Deaconess, of the Church which is at Cenchrea. {Ro 16:1}. I am of Opinion, that there were Deaconesses in the primitive Churches, whose Business it was to visit the poor, afflicted, and aged Sisters, and to administer Relief to them; to acquaint the Church with their Necessities, and obtain Help for them. Persons chose to this Work were generally Widows, such who had been married, and behaved in that Station of Life with Chastity, Diligence, and Prudence, who are called Widows indeed {1Ti 5:3}. It was required that they should be Sixty Years of Age when appointed by the Church to attend on this Service; let not a Widow be taken into the Number, under Threescore Years old, having been the Wife of one Man {1Ti 5:9}. The excellent and learned ecclesiastical Historian Mr. Bingham speaking of them hath these Words:

 

"There Is some mention made of them in Scripture, by which it appears, that their Office was as ancient as the apostolical Age; St. Paul calls Phebe, a Servant of the Church at Cenchrea,  {Ro 16:1}. the original Word is Dia>konov, answerable to the Latin Word Ministra; which is the Name given them in Plinys Epistle, which speaks about the Christians. Tertullian and some others, call them Viduae, Widows; and their Office, Viduatus; because they were commonly chosen out of the Widows of the Church. For the same Reason Epiphanius, and the Council of Laodicea, call them II Presbo>tidav elderly Widows; because none but such were ordinarily taken into this Office[i]" Not but that Virgins were sometimes admitted to this Service, as he afterwards observes. And Dr. Cave allows the same, whose Account of them is this: "Their Original was very early, and of equal standing with the Infancy of the Church; such was Phebe in the Church at Cenchrea, mentioned by St. Paul; such were those two Servant-Maids spoken of by Pliny in his Letters to the Emperor, whom he examined upon the Rack[ii]; such was the famous Olympias in the Church of Constantinople, not to mention any more particular Instances. They were either Widows, and then not to be taken into the Service of the Church, under Threescore Years of Age, according to St. Pauls Direction, or else Virgins, who having been educated in order to it, and given Testimony of a chaste and sober Conversation, were set apart at Forty. What the proper Place and Ministry of these Deaconesses was in the ancient Church, though Matthew Blasteres seems to render a little doubtful, yet certainly it principally consisted in such Offices as these; to attend upon the Women at times of publick Worship, especially in the Administration of Baptism, that when they were to be divested, in order to their Immersion, they might overshadow them, so as nothing of Indecency and Uncomeliness might appear; sometimes they were imployed in instructing the more rude and ignorant sort of Women in the plain and easy Principles of Christianity, and in preparing them for Baptism; otherwhiles in visiting and attending upon Women that were sick, in conveying Messages, Counsels, Consultations, Relief #especially in Times of Persecution, when it was dangerous for the Officers of the Church| to the Martyrs, and them that were in Prison. And these Women, no doubt it was, that Libanius speaks of among the Christians, who were so very ready to be imployed in these Offices of Humanity.[iii] " To these Observations the Words of Clemens Alexandrinus agree; We also know what Things Paul requires of Deaconesses in the first Epistle to Timothy[iv]. It has been thought proper by some Congregations of late Years, to appoint faithful Women to such Service among them, as the Primitive Churches did; nor can I apprehend that any thing is justly to be excepted against that Practice, since it appears to be apostolical. THIS Name is especially given to the Stewards of the Church-Treasure, and those who take care of the Poor; which is one considerable Branch of their Work.

 

Secondly, That which gave Rise to these Officers in the Church, was the great Increase of the Disciples through the Apostles preaching.

 

When the Number of Believers was small, the Apostles performed those good Offices which Persons in this Station are called to; but, upon a large Addition of Members to the Church, they were not able to attend on their Ministry, and continue to take care of the poor Saints. Now as they were peculiarly called to preach the Gospel, they judged it improper to engage in other Services, which would unavoidably interrupt them in that their special Business. And therefore they proposed to the Church, to choose Persons who might be thought suitable for that Trust. AN Account of which we have in these Words: And in those Days, when the Number of the Disciples was multiplied, there arose a Murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their Widows were neglected in the daily Ministration. Then the Twelve called the Multitude of the Disciples unto them, and said, It is not Reason that we should leave the Word of God and serve Tables. Wherefore, Brethren, look ye out among your selves Men of honest Report, full of the Holy Ghost and Wisdom, whom we may appoint over this Business. But we will give our selves continually to Prayer, and to the Ministry of the Word.[v]

 

Thirdly, The Qualifications necessary to this Office are many and great.

 

I. Gravity is required in such as serve the Church in this Capacity; likewise must the Deacons be grave. The original Word is semno<v, which is sometimes translated, honest; as for Instance, finally, Brethren. Whatsoever Things are true, whatsoever Things are honest, semna<, {Php 4:8}. It is highly proper that Persons in this Office should be of honest Report, or Men of known Probity and strict Honour, because they are entrusted with the Church’s Treasure, which ought to be faithfully expended in promoting those pious Views, for which it is contributed; no Part of it may lawfully be disposed of to serve other Purposes upon any Pretence whatever. And therefore, in the Choice of Men to this Trust, regard is to be had to their Integrity and inviolable Justice. Farther, the Word is used for Sobriety and Chastity; even so must their Wives be grave, semna<v {1Ti 3:11}.; that is to say, sober, modest, and chaste. This is a very necessary Part of a Deacon’s Character. Levity and Frothiness in Conversation is unbecoming all Professors of Religion, but especially such as are invested with Office-Power in a Church of Christ.

 

II. Freedom from Guile and Hypocrisy, which is intended by these Words, not double tongued, dilo>gouv; the Word signifies one who, out of the same Mouth, breathes heat and cold[vi], that is, contrary things. The Apostle hereby condemns feigned Expressions of Respect; the Heart and the Tongue ought to perfectly agree in our Profession of Friendship to others; we are commanded to love in Reality, love not in Word and in Tongue, but in Deed and in Truth. This apostolical Exhortation is too little regarded by many, who are at sometimes very liberal in their Declarations of Value and Esteem, for such with whom they maintain a Correspondence; and yet, by Methods as ungenerous, as they are sly and designing, detract from their real Worth, and sink their deferred Reputation among Men; which Practice is a Shame to the Christian Religion. Those who are in the Office of Deacons, ought to be free from this abominable Vice: It becomes them, to shew all Tokens of Tenderness and Compassion to the Distressed, and to be as diligent in their Endeavours to relieve them, as they are forward to declare their Sympathy with them under their Troubles; in Imitation of their great Lord and Master, in whom there was no Guile. Is it not an intolerable Imposition upon the Afflicted and Low, to raise their Expectations of Assistance, by fair Speeches, and, notwithstanding, heighten their Distress by a willful Neglect of their Case?

III. Temperance is required in the Character of a Deacon; not given to much Wine. The moderate Use of any of the good Creatures of God, is allowable; Wine is as lawful to be drank as Water, provided it be not to excess. So much is implied in the Words of the Apostle; he doth not forbid drinking of Wine, but only a greedy and excessive Use of it: He advises Timothy to it, drink no longer Water but a little Wine, for thy Stomachs sake, and thine often Infirmities {1Ti 5:13}. Our Lord, who was a perfect Pattern in all Virtues, did not deny himself the Use of this, as may be collected from what the Pharisees maliciously objected to him; the Son of Man is come eating and drinking, and ye say, Behold a gluttonous Man, and a Wine-bibber, a Friend of Publicans and Sinners {Lu 7:34} . Immoderate and excessive drinking is absolutely unlawful, it is a leading Vice, and generally draws after it many great Evils; besides that, it is a shameful Abuse of the Bounty of Providence, and of the Person himself who is guilty thereof; and therefore all Professors of Religion ought to carefully avoid it, but particularly such as are invested with any Office in the Church of Christ.

 

IV. Persons in this Capacity should be clear of Avarice, not covetous. THE same Qualification is necessary to a Bishop: The Apostle gives it as a Part of his Character, mh< acrokerdh> {1Ti 5:3}, the same Word as is here used not greedy of filthy Lucre. It Is very requisite that Persons in this Function should not be of an avaritious Disposition; because that might prove a strong Temptation to them to desert their Service in the Church, it being seldom in their Power to provide for themselves and Families in such a manner as Men of Trade and secular Business are able to do; and they perhaps, not less capable of it, if they thought proper to devote themselves to it. A free and generous Temper is required in a Deacon, no less than in an Elder, for which there are special Reasons: These Officers are to receive the Collections of the Church, and dispose of them to those Ends for which they are made; therefore it is proper that they should excite the Members to true Generosity, by a liberal Contribution according to their Ability; for it is well known, that Example has a far greater Influence upon Men than Precept: Besides this, if they are backward in communicating of their Substance to pious Uses, it must be a Check upon them when called to stir up others to Works of Charity and Beneficence; and an exorbitant love of Money, may tempt them to act an unfaithful Part, in their Distributions of the Church’s Treasure. From whence it is easy to collect, that covetous Persons are wholly unfit for this Office; and, that a Community is guilty of the greater Imprudence in the Choice of those who be so.

 

V. They ought to be such Persons as govern their Families well; let the Deacons be the Husbands of one Wife, ruling their Children and their own Houses well {1Ti 3:12}. In order to which, it is needful that they behave with Prudence, Sobriety and Caution, to be exemplary in real Virtue and Religion. It is the Duty of all Parents and Masters of Families, to instruct their Children and Servants in what manner to demean them selves, to sharply reprove them for Sin, and to cherish all Appearance of Concern about the eternal Welfare of their Souls; as a Connivance at an Evil in those under our Care and Government, necessarily involves us in Guilt, it will certainly occasion the Enemies of the Gospel to reflect on our holy Profession. It is more especially the Duty of Officers in the Church of Christ, to discountenance all unlawful Actions, and to encourage undissembled Piety in those about them; the Man who neglects to maintain a due Decorum in his own, is a very improper Person to be entrusted with any Authority in God’s House; for it is hardly to be supposed, that he who is negligent in exercising his Power over those that are under his immediate and constant Inspection, will be diligent and faithful in his Watch over such as are not so near to him. And therefore it must be allowed, that it is requisite Deacons should govern their Domesticks well, and wisely.

 

VI. IT is necessary that these Officers should be Men of sound Principles, holding the Mystery of Faith in a pure Conscience. Here I shall inquire,

 

1. WHAT is intended by Faith?

2. WHAT a Mystery is?

3. OBSERVE that there are mysterious Doctrines in divine Revelation.

4. THAT these are to be embraced, and stedfastly held by the Deacons of the Church.

5. IN a pure Conscience.

 

1. FAITH is taken in different Senses.

 

1. IT is to be understood of a new and spiritual Principle wrought in the Saints by divine Power, which believes in and accepts of Christ as the alone Saviour of Sinners: Thus, in these Words; by Grace are ye saved through Faith, and that not of your selves, it is the Gift of God {Eph 1:8}. The Nature and Actings of this Grace, cannot be spiritually discerned by any but those who are the Subjects of it: All unregenerate Persons are unacquainted with this Grace, for it far exceeds the Reach of the unsanctified Understanding. It is held in a pure Conscience. The Exercise of this gracious Principle purges our Consciences, which are naturally defiled; and put no Difference between us and them, purifying their Hearts by Faith {Ac 15:9}.

 

2. THE Gospel is sometimes designed by it: As for Instance, Do we make void the Law through Faith, i.e. the Gospel, God forbid; yea, we establish the Law {Ro 3:31}. This is the Sense in which we are to take it here.

 

2. A MYSTERY is something that is incomprehensible and inexplicable: Some affix no other Idea to an evangelical Mystery than, that it is a Matter which has been secret and hid, and suppose, that upon a Discovery of it, we may be able to fully understand and account for it, they will not allow that its Nature is incomprehensible, but think, that it immediately ceases to be a Mystery, when once it is revealed. This is done with a manifest Design to subvert all such Notions or Principles contained in Revelation, which are not to be comprehended by Reason: But this is much too low a Sense of the Word, as it is applied to the Gospel in the inspired Writings. There are many Things of whose Existence in Nature we cannot possibly doubt, which are yet unaccountable, mysterious, and inexplicable; for the proof of which, we need not look any farther than our selves; the Constitution and Frame of human Nature is really so. LET such as object to any Doctrine #which is supposed to be a Branch of revealed Truth| because it is mysterious, and not capable of Demonstration by Reason, first acquaint us, how the Soul, which is Immaterial, is united to the Body, in Man? What are the Bands and Ligaments of that Union, which it is certain there is between these two Parts so very different in their Nature? How the Soul actuates and moves every Member of the Body at pleasure? How it is that the Mind becomes affected with the Indisposition of the Body, and that with the Disorder of the Soul? Which are Things as indisputable as they are inexplicable. I say, let those Persons, before they reject Mysteries in Revelation, clearly explain these things to us. If they decline this as a Task to which they are unequal; must they not grant that their own Make is a standing Evidence against their Incredulity in divine Things? which is cherished by this vain Pretence, that nothing is to be credited that is incomprehensible.

 

3. THE Gospel is a Mystery, or Chain of Truths which far transcend our Reason. We are so far from denying this, that it is our avowed Principle. In this Light it is constantly represented by the Apostle: Thus he speaks of it; even the Mystery which hath been hid from Ages and Generations, but now is made manifest to his Saints, to whom God would make known, what are the Riches of the Glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the Hope of Glory {Col 1:26-27}: And elsewhere; but we speak the Wisdom of God in a Mystery, even the hidden Wisdom which God ordained before the World, to our Glory {1Co 2:7}. The Revelation of the Scheme of Salvation by a crucified Jesus, is in it fell a Mystery; it doth not bear this Name merely because it was eternally hid in the divine Mind where it was formed: If all sacred Truths were reducible to the Reason of Man, it might be justly expected that Persons of superior Understandings would most readily embrace them, and give the best Account of them; whereas the contrary of that is true. Hence are those Words of the Apostle; but the natural Man yuciko<v a]nqrwpov, the Man of Soul {1Co 2:14}, i.e. a Person furnished with the utmost strength of Reason, receiveth not the Things of the Spirit g God; they are Foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned. Which, in my Opinion, is a sufficient Proof, that the Things of God are far above the Reach of the most improved Understanding, and greatest Genius; and discovers the great Vanity of those who plead the Sentiments of polite Persons, in their Favour. Doctrines of the greatest importance are very mysterious and incomprehensible, among which are these:

 

1. THE Doctrine of the Trinity, or the proper Deity and distinct Personality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Concerning the Divinity and Personality of the Father, there is no dispute; and I apprehend, that if the scriptural Account of the Deity of the Son were diligently, and with due Humility attended to, no Objections would ever be advanced against it; because it is as expressly asserted in the sacred Oracles as any Truth therein contained; It; the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God {Joh 1:1}. The Works performed by Christ, the Perfections which reside in him, and the religious Worship which is given to him distinctly from the Father, clearly evince his proper Deity. And since the same Attributes are said to be in the Holy Spirit, as are in the Father and Son, and the same humble Worship is to be paid to him, as distinct from them both, we have no just Reason to doubt of his real Divinity and distinct Personality. This Doctrine is a great Mystery; but because we cannot explain how it is consistent with the Unity of the divine Essence, will it be safe or prudent for us to refuse Credit to the clearest Evidence for it in the Word of God? Surely, No.

 

2. THE Union of the divine and human Nature in the Person of the Mediator, is a glorious Truth, and as great a Mystery; the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld his Glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth {Joh 1:14}. The Man Christ Jesus subsists in God, and God resides in him, in a manner not to be explained or conceived of by us; in him dwelleth all the Fulness of the Godhead bodily {Col 2:9} . The Apostle pronounces this a great Mystery; great is the Mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the Flesh. Let it be observed, that the Thing it self is so; which is more than some seem willing to allow, who suppose that a Mystery in Scripture, only intends something which has lain hid and reefer, and that there is nothing mysterious or inexplicable in its Nature. As for those who grant that the Union of Christ with God, is ineffable and inconceivable, they have the less reason to object to the Doctrine of the Trinity; because that cannot be accounted for and explained by us. Upon the same Reasoning they may as well deny the Union of Christ with God, as his proper Deity, and distinct Personality from the Father; which they would do well to consider.

 

3. THE whole of Salvation by Christ crucified, is a Mystery: The Imputation of our Sins to him, the Infliction of the Punishment due to us upon him, and our Discharge from Guilt on account thereof, the Justification of our Persons by his Obedience, are precious Truths, but very wonderful and mysterious; natural Men, tho’ ever so much improved in Knowledge, esteem them irrational and unintelligible Notions. Thus the Apostle acquaints us, that the Cross of Christ, or the Doctrine of Redemption by his Blood, was treated with Contempt by the wise and learned; we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a Stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness {1Co 2:16}. Reason concludes, that a Charge of Guilt to an innocent Person, and punishing of him as if he was the real Offender, is an unaccountable Method by which the Criminal is to be discharged, and wholly freed from an Imputation of Offence. Nor doth it determine more in Favour of accounting the Righteousness of one perfectly holy, to sinful Men, and acting towards them as righteous therein. There are Mysteries not to be understood without divine Illumination; the Knowledge of them is a free Gift, and he is a happy Person who is enabled to spiritually discern and embrace them. In these Doctrines he clearly fees divine Wisdom and Goodness are most eminently display’d; to him Christ as crucified is the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God.

 

4. THE Doctrine of the Resurrection is a great Mystery. The Body of Man is composed of Dust, to that it returns at Death, and is changed into numerous Forms; how far those Particles of Matter which once made up the Body of a Man may be separated, or with what a Multitude of other Bodies they may be mixed, none can tell. And therefore if Reason is consulted in this Article of Faith, ‘tis no wonder if it be thought an incredible thing. It is only a strict regard to the infinite Knowledge and Power of God, that will bring Men over to the Belief of it, the Difficulties which attend it to human View, are too many and great. And yet this is a fundamental Doctrine, and necessary to be believed, as is most clearly asserted by the Apostle; if there be no Resurrection of the Dead, then Christ is not risen, and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your Faith also is vain. {1Co 15:13-14}.

 

5. THE Change which will pass upon the Saints who shall remain, and be alive at the second Coming of Christ, is a Mystery; Behold, I shew you a Mystery, we shall not all sleep, i.e. die; but we shall be changed in a Moment, in the twinkling of an Eye, at the last Trump #for the Trumpet shall sound| and the Dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed {1Co 15:51-52}. I apprehend the Secrecy of this Matter, before this Revelation of it, is not the only Reason why the Apostle calls it a Mystery; for if so, it must be concluded, that there is nothing wonderful and mysterious in the Thing It fell, which no Person, as I conceive, can imagine; for if our present Frame be considered as mortal, and naturally tending to Corruption and Death, we shall see evident Cause to allow it is exceeding wonderful that all shall not die: As it is impossible Corruption should inherit Incorruption, it is absolutely necessary that our corrupt Bodies should be freed from those Qualities which now attend them. But then, how can we apprehend this wilt be done without our dying, and being reduced to Dust as others are, especially that this surprizing Change should be wrought in a Manner so sudden as the Apostle declares it will be. Certainly there is not any, taking the Thing in this View, but will readily grant it to be a great Mystery.

 

4. IT is necessary that Deacons should embrace, and stedfastly hold these heavenly Truths. Every Officer in a Christian Community, we may reasonably suppose, has some particular Interest in, and Influence upon the Members; and therefore may, with the more care, bring them over to his Opinion; consequently it is very proper that his Sentiments should be just, and, in all things of importance, agreeable to divine Revelation; if not, what less than the Spread of Error can be expected from him? Hence there is special Reason why these Officers should hold the Mystery of Faith. All the Saints are called upon to contend earnestly for the Faith once delivered to them; such as are chosen to Office, are more especially under Obligation to propagate and defend evangelical Doctrines, the Form of sound Words ought to be held fast by them, and not departed from upon any Score whatever.

 

5. THEY ought to hold the Mystery of Faith in a pure Conscience, the Word is sundh>siv, which is sometimes put for the whole Heart, Soul and Spirit, working inwardly upon it fell by way of Reflection; and herein do I exercise my self to have always a Conscience void of Offence toward God, and toward Men {#Ac 24:16}; that is to say, a Heart clear from Guilt upon a most serious Reflection on my Conduct The Heart of every Man is naturally polluted, and the Conscience is defiled by Sin contracted, and cannot be pure but as sanctified by the Grace of God, and cleansed by the Blood of Christ; therefore these Doctrines are to be embraced and held with the Heart, as made holy by the Operations of God’s Spirit upon it. The Head is not the Seat of evangelical Truths when they are received in a spiritual Manner, but the Soul, the Heart, and Mind. Persons who have thus believed them, will never be prevailed upon to part with them, either thro’ the Flattery of pretended Friends, or the ill Treatment of avowed Enemies.

 

Fourthly, The Business of Deacons is to serve Tables Ac 6:2-3; that is to say, those which are to be furnished by the Church.

 

1st. The Table of the Lord. Christ hath instituted a solemn Ordinance, by which his People commemorate his Sufferings and Death; of which Institution the Apostle gives this Account, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same Night in which he was betrayed, took Bread: And when he had given Thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My Body, which is broken for you; this do in Remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the Cup, when he had supped, saying, This Cup is the new Testament in my Blood; this do ye in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew the Lords Death till he come {2Co 11:23-24,25-26}. The great Care, Wisdom, and Love of Christ, appear in this Appointment; his evident Design therein, is the Consolation of the Saints; it is, that their Faith may be strengthened in his Favour to them; and that they may increase in an Abhorrence of Sin, which was the Cause of his Passion and Death. The Deacons are to provide every thing necessary for the Celebration of this Institution, but not at their own private Expence, for that is the common Concern of the Community; therefore nothing more is to be expected from them in this Particular, than to furnish the Table, and acquaint the Church with the Charge, and bear their Part in defraying of it. These Officers are also to communicate the Bread and Wine to the several Members of the Society.

 

2ndly. It is a Branch of their Work to relieve the Poor out of the Church’s Stock raised for that Purpose. The Saints are commanded to shew Tenderness and Compassion to the Afflicted and Low, it is the Will of God that they should assist the Necessitous, that is an acceptable Service to him; to do good and communicate forget not, for with such Sacrifices God is well pleased {Heb 8:13} This is a Duty not only incumbent on those who abound in Riches, tho’ a larger Contribution is justly to be expected from them; because much is required of such to whom much is given: But Persons of a lower Rank are under Obligation to perform Acts of Charity, even those who live by, the Labour of their Hands; let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his Hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth {Eph 4:20}. A warm Affection to Christ, sincere Love to the Saints as his Members, and a true Sense of divine Bounty towards us, will certainly prevail with us to chearfully, and without grudging, practise this Beneficence. It is the Deacon’s Business to receive the Collections made by the Church, and assist such therewith whose Circumstances call for help; and therefore, that the Community may be put to no unnecessary Charge, it is proper that these Officers should visit the Members who apply for Assistance, and examine whether it is needful, or if their Poverty arises from Profuseness and Indolence, which, if they find upon Examination, they must reprove these Persons and exhort them to Frugality and Diligence, that the Church may not be burdened with the Cases of such: Besides, visiting the poor Members is necessary on another Account; viz. that none may suffer by their too great Modesty, which will not allow them to ask for that Assistance which they really want; some such Persons these are, tho’ perhaps their Number is not equal to that of those who are guilty of the other Extream: Again; it may encourage the Indigent and Afflicted, to be visited by their Brethren. If any shall think, that Deacons are not obliged to this by Virtue of their Office, I apprehend they are greatly mistaken. Whatever is given to the Poor, it ought to be with Pity, and sweetness of Disposition; not with sharp and unkind Words, because the Grief occasioned by rough Language, may far exceed the Service done them by what is communicated to them; and then also let it be considered, that the Lord loveth a chearful Giver.

 

3rdly . Another Part of their Business, is to take care of the Minister’s Table. It is very evident, that a Minister of the Gospel ought to be provided for by those who enjoy the Benefit of his Ministrations; let him that is taught in the Word communicate to him that teacheth in all good Things {Ga 6:6}. The temporal Assistance which a diligent Preacher of the divine Word receives from those who attend upon his Ministry, is not to be compared with the Advantage of his Instructions, as is observed by the Apostle, treating on this Argument; if we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things {1Co 9:11}. It belongs to the Deacons to consider, whether the Elder of the Church is agreeably furnished with the Accommodations of Life, and if he is not, to recommend the Consideration of his strait Circumstances to the Members, in order to obtain a more liberal Contribution from them, that he may not be pressed with Difficulties; which, in no small Degree will incommode him for the Discharge of his important Service. And if there be any of the Society that either wholly neglect to bear a Part in the Minister’s Support, or do not contribute to it according to their Ability, they ought to reprove such, and exhort them to a faithful Performance of their Duty in this so just and reasonable a Thing. IT must be confessed, that some considerable Difficulties will attend a strict and religious Regard to the Duties proper to this Office, and therefore that you, my Brethren, who have been now invested therewith, may not conclude that you have undertook a Trust to which you shall prove unequal. I proceed,

 

Fifthly, To offer a few Things for your Encouragement in this Undertaking.

 

1. The Service to which you are called is Christ’s; his Interest, and the Good of his People are concerned in this Matter. That being duly considered, will be sufficient of it self to inspire you with Courage, and raise you above all the Troubles which you are apprehensive will necessarily attend the Execution of your Office. We are all under infinite Obligations to him; how great were the Sufferings to which he freely submitted upon our Account! What a Variety of precious Benefits do we receive from him! our Deliverance from eternal Ruin cost him his Life. A vast Treasure of Grace he expends upon his People to meeten them for Heaven, and will eternally communicate to them, to compleat their Happiness there. Therefore what Work #wherein his Honour is interested| shall we esteem too arduous for us to undertake, or what Difficulties too great to encounter with? so we may but be instrumental in advancing the Cause of one to whom we are thus highly obliged. If these Things have their proper weight upon our Minds, we shall think his Yoke is easy and his Burden is light {Mt 11:30}.

 

2. He that has called you will certainly assist you in his Service, and therefore you have no reason to be discouraged: Christ, the Head of the Church, has a fulness of Grace in his Hands; which is abundantly more than equal to the Wants of his Servants and Members. Whatever Exercises he brings upon his People, he is able and determined to afford them suitable Support; as their Days are, their Strength shall be {De 33:25}. And whenever he directs any in his Providence to engage in his sacred Work, he furnishes them for it. I am apprehensive, my Brethren, that your Minds may be struck with some Concern, by hearing the Qualifications that are necessary for Persons who undertake this Office and the Duties proper to it, as being conscious of your own Inability. But consider that your Lord is able to communicate every needful Virtue, and to carry you through those Difficulties which appear to you insuperable; his Grace is sufficient for you, and his Strength will be made perfect in Weakness {1Co 12:9}. It is with me unquestionable, that your Eyes are directed to him from whom all your Strength is derived. And may you of his Fulness receive, and Grace for Grace {Joh 1:16}.

 

3. The Office is difficult, but the Honour arising from the proper Discharge of it is great. I am very far from thinking that it is prudent or safe for us, to embark in the Cause of Religion with a View to acquire Applause from Men, or to raise our Reputation in the world; that is an evident Sign of a base and low Disposition of Mind. But then, it is lawful to animate and raise our Spirits under a Prospect of the Troubles to which we expose our selves, in an Adherence to the Interest of Christ, by considering, that it is an unspeakable Honour put upon us, to be called to the meanest Post in his House: Thus the Psalmist did, as appears by his own Words; For a Day in thy Courts is better than a Thousand: I had rather be a Door-keeper in the House of my God, than to dwell in the Tents of Wickedness {Ps 84:10}.

 

I UNFEIGNEDLY wish, that you may be enabled to use the Office of deacons well, and so purchase to your selves good Degree, and great Boldness in the Faith which is in Christ Jesus {1Ti 3:13}. 



[i] Origen. Ecclesiast. lib. 2. cap. 22. p. 304,

[ii] Quo magis necessarium credidi ex duabus Ancillis quae Ministrae dicebantur, quid esset veri & per tormenta quaerere. Plini lib. 10. Ep.97.

 

[iii] Primitive Christianity, Part I. chap. 8. p. 157.

 

[iv] Ismen o[sa peri< diakrnwn gunaikw~n th~ eJte>ra pro>v Timo>qeon ojpisolh~ oj ghnai~ov diata>wetai Paulov. Serom. lib. 3. P. 327.

 

[v]   {Ac 6:1-2,3-4}. From this Instance it evidently appears, that the Right of Choosing Officers in the Church is lodged in the Members. The Apostles were very far from assuming such a Power over the Church, as some have usurped since, who could never pretend to their extraordinary Call or Furniture from Christ. They acted upon this just Principle, That all Societies have an undoubted Right to fix upon the Persons who shall serve them in any Office or Capacity. The Election of these Officers was wholly referred to the Community; indeed the Apostles hinted what Qualifications were necessary to Men imployed in this Service, but left the Members to determine among themselves, in whom the excellent Virtues mentioned were found. And therefore they considered the Multitude as capable of judging, without their uncommon Abilities, what Persons were fit to be called to Office among them.

 

[vi] Qui ex uno ore calidum & frigidum Spirat:. Vid. I eigh’s cvit. Sac.

06 Sermon 6 A Discourse on the Prayer of Jabez by John Brine

Created By LeRoy Rhodes 

leroyrhodes@comcast.net 

2006 

A Discourse on the 

Prayer of Jabez 

by John Brine 

London: Aaron Ward, 1736

A DISCOURSE ON THE PRAYER OF JABEZ;

CONTAINING THE SUBSTANCE OF SEVERAL SERMONS 

PREACHED WITHIN CRIPPLEGATE. 

 

Publish’d at the REQUEST of some who heard them. Printed for 

AARON WARD at the Kings Arms in Little Britain. LONDON 

1736. [Price One Shilling.] 

{1Ch 4:10

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, O that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my Coast; and that thine Hand might be with me; and that thou wouldest keep me from Evil, that it might not grieve me. And God granted unto him that which he requested.  

 

THIS Chapter, with several others, contain an Account of the Families of the Children of Israel. The Person whom these Words concern was of that Race, but of what particular Family is not very evident f1 He is declared to be more honourable than his Brethren in the Verse preceding, viz. for his Piety, as we have reason to conclude from these Words, which are taken by some as a Vow, by others as a solemn Deprecation f2 The latter Sense is agreeable to me. In this commendation of Jabez, we may observe: 

I. His solemn Worshipping of God; He called on the God of Israel. 

II. The Favours he humbly asked. 

III. The gracious Answer he received; God granted unto him that  which he requested 

I. We are to consider his solemn Worshipping of God. I shall, First. Attend to the Title the great Jehovah has here given him. 

Secondly. To Jabez, his Adoration of him.

First. It will be proper to take Notice of the Character ascribed to the Divine Being, which is the God of Israel. This Name Israel was given to Jacob upon his wrestling with God by Prayer and prevailing {Ge 32:28}; which Name his natural Posterity afterwards, bore; by it the Body of the Jewish Nation is frequently designed, as in these Words, But Israel which followed after the Law of Righteousness, hath not attained to the Law of Righteousness {Ro 9:31}. Thus also in the same Epistle, Israel hath not obtained that which be seeketh for {Ro 11:7} The Lord stiles himself the God of this People in general; I am the Lord thy God {Ex 20:2}. Which Words refer to the Jews understood collectively, and design taking them under his providential Care and Protection, and conferring upon them such Immunities as no other Nation in the Earth at that Time enjoyed; but are not expressive of God’s standing in an everlasting Relation to, them, by virtue of the Covenant of Grace. In other Places, a peculiar People among them, with many of the Gentiles, are plainly designed: Thus in these Words of the Apostle, And so all Israel shall be saved {Ro 11:26}. The whole Race of the Jews cannot be here intended, for they were not all eternally saved; and since the Apostle in this Place designedly treats of the Calling of the Gentiles, he must intend, by the Term Israel, a special and peculiar Number of Persons, of the Jewish, and Gentile Race: To whom God stands in a new Covenant-Relation, or he is their God in such a Sense, as he is not: the God of any others’; he became so in all that he is and has, by an Act of free Donation.

1. God gave himself to them; which is evident from that comprehensive Promise of the new Covenant; And they shall be my People, and I will be their God {Jer 32:38}. 

1. The Father formed a Resolution in Eternity to render the Elect happy, and in infinite Wisdom fixed upon Methods no less suprizing than effectual, to bring; about this gracious Intention: All his Decrees are subservient to this Purpose, and his Acts in Providence as well as Grace tend to its Accomplishment; so that the Whole of what he does, is wisely calculated, to promote the Happiness of those to whom he stands in a federal Relation. It is his unalterable Determination to enjoy, and for ever to be enjoyed by them, or eternally to communicate consummate Bliss, and inconceivable Glory to them in Heaven. With very good Reason therefore, it may be concluded, that the Person of the Father is theirs. 

2. This is as true of the Son, who, with the Father, concurred in the Design of their eternal Salvation, and is given to them, and for them; For God so loved the World, he gave his only begotten Son {Joh 3:16}. This Donation of Christ was the Result of his own, as it is of the Father’s good Pleasure. All that he did, or acts, is with a manifest View to the Welfare of these Persons: His Assumption of our Nature, obeying the Law, suffering on the Cross, and rising from the Dead, his Ascension to Heaven, and making Intercession there, all directly tend to secure the everlasting Felicity of God’s Chosen. Whence it is easy to observe, that God the Son is become theirs. 

 

3. They have the same Interest in the Holy Spirit, who is also given to them: Because the Love of God is shed abroad in our Hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto us {Ro 5:5} The third Person in the Trinity agrees with the Father and the Son in carrying on the Design of the Salvation of Sinners: He is not less concerned this great Affair; pursuant to the Father’s Purpose in Election, and the Son’s in Redemption, the Holy Spirit quickens the Elect, when dead in Sin, and continues Influences upon them, to ripen the Work of Grace in them, until it is perfected in Glory. At the Time of Regeneration he enters into the Soul, and remains there as a Spirit of Illumination and Consolation: He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever {1Jo 5:21}.Thus all the Persons in the Godhead are the Saints. 

 

2. All the Divine Attributes are the Elects; every Perfection in God displays it self in bringing about their Salvation. 

 

1. Love gave birth to the Design, and runs through every Part of it. Our Predestination to immortal Dignity and Honour, such as is proper to the Sons of God, is to the Praise of the Glory of Free Grace {Eph 1:5-6}. All the Steps that God has took in order to its Accomplishment, are Fruits of the same infinite Goodness, All his Procedures towards these Persons spring from , and are perfectly consistent with his Love to them. 

Hence the Apostle John observes, that God is Love {1Jo 4:16}, i.e. to those who by his Spirit know and believe their Interest in Divine Favour. 

2. The Wisdom of God hath as deeply interested it self in promoting of the Saints Happiness: His Love and Grace formed the Resolution, and Wisdom directed to all the Means leading on to the Execution. As only boundless Grace could give Rise to the stupendous Decree of saving Sinners, so infinite Wisdom alone could surmount the Difficulties attending it, and point out Methods suitable to accomplish it. In our Salvation Sin is pardoned and yet punished; we escape the Curse of the Law notwithstanding its just Menaces are suffered; we are delivered from the awful Stroke of Sin-avenging Justice, and yet it loses nothing of its Demands. We are wholly unable to obey the Law, but yet we are justified by it, and pronounced perfectly righteous; all which is through the Obedience and Sufferings of Christ for us. This Way of securing Divine Honour, in conjunction with our Happiness, sufficiently evinces, that infinite Wisdom contrived our Recovery. For this Reason the Apostle calls the Gospel, which is a Revelation hereof, the Wisdom of God in a Mystery; and the hidden Wisdom, that God ordained to our Glory {1Co 2:7}. 

3. The Power of God has ever acted in favour of the Elect. Such Obstructions attended their Salvation that Omnipotence only could remove; and such Adversaries are engaged against them, that almighty Power alone could conquer. They are naturally in such a State which requires the Exertion of the same unlimited Power to meeten them for Glory. And the Number, Policy, and Vigilance of their Enemies, with their own Weakness, make it necessary for them to expect all their Protection from above, Their Redemption was a Work of Divine Power; hence Christ, as crucified, is laid to be the Power as well as the Wisdom of God {1Co 1:24}. Nor is this Divine Perfection less apparent in their Preservation to Glory, who are kept by the Power of God unto Salvation {1Pe 1:5}. 

 

4. Divine Faithfulness stands engaged for the Security of God’s People. 

Many and full are the Promises that refer to the Salvation of Israel: All which may be safely relied on, because of the eternal Veracity of their infinitely great Author, who it is absolutely impossible should ever fail of accomplishing what he has given his Word to do for any. This the Apostle improves as an Encouragement to Faith, under Sufferings for the Gospel’s sake; If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, be cannot deny himself. {2Ti 2:1}. He is not mutable, as Creatures are, but is eternally above all Variableness or shadow of Turning {Jas 1:17} He never declines in his Favour, nor sinks below his gracious Engagements. Since therefore he designed, and has promised the compleat Happiness of his own, as appears in these Words, In hope of eternal Life, which God that cannot lye promised {Tit 1:2}, it may be justly concluded, that they shall be Sanctified wholly, that their Soul, Body and Spirit, shall be preserved blameless unto the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; as the same Apostle observes, Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it {1Th 5:24}. 

5. The Justice of God acts in favour of the Elect, as well as the other Divine Perfections; that is an Attribute which strikes a guilty Creature, without hope of an Interest in Christ, with the greatest Terror; it speaks nothing but eternal Destruction to a Sinner out of him, and therefore the Consideration of it must be most awful, without a View of his Satisfaction. But as its Demands have been fully answered by Christ, the Surety of his People, it concurs with Goodness in promoting their Salvation; Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and peace have kissed each other {Ps 85:10}. Since plenary Satisfaction is made for the Sins of the Elect, this Perfection in God stands engaged for their Security. Justice to Christ; their Head, who suffered for them, requires their eternal Felicity; and therefore this Divine Attribute, which cannot be thought of, by guilty Creatures as such, without the greatest Emotion, affords solid Peace and Tranquillity, to those who are interested in Christ, because the Honour of it is as much concerned in their Happiness as the Glory of rich Grace; whom God hath let forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness, for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this Time his Righteousness, that be might be just, i.e. appear to be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus {Ro 3:25-26}. 

 

3. All that God has is the Saints: His infinite Treasures of Grace and Glory are all made theirs by an Act of his sovereign Will, in order to their eternal Happiness. 

 

1. His Grace. He is infinitely rich in Mercy in himself; but God who is rich in Mercy {Eph 2:4}. And he has an immense Stock of Grace by him, which he designed to communicate to the Objects of his Favour; hence lays the Psalmist, O! how great is thy Goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the Sons of Men {Ps 31:19}. The Apostle Peter stiles the Lord, the God of all Grace {1Pe 5:10}. There is no Grace the Saints can need, but it is in their Covenant-God, and will be communicated to them. As guilty Creatures Pardon is necessary, this they plentifully receive, yea, equal to the Greatness of their Guilt, how much soever it is aggravated; in whom we bare Redemption through his Blood, even the Forgiveness of Sins, according to the Riches of his Grace {Eph 1:7}. As stripp’d of original Righteousness, a compleat one they must be furnished with from another, in order to their Acceptance; this they have in Christ, according to the same Grace {Tit 3:7}. As polluted Creatures, Holiness is necessary to be wrought in them, to meeten them for everlasting Happiness; this also they partake of, from the same Fountain of God’s Free Grace. Their Regeneration is an Effect of that abundant Mercy {1Pe 1:3} which there is in their heavenly Father. As they are weak or unable to defend themselves, and their Enemies are numerous and potent, continued Supplies of Grace are absolutely needful to preserve them from falling; this shall not be wanting to them, For God will supply all their Needs according to his Riches in Glory, ejn Crisw~|}, in Christ Jesus {Php 4:19}. Thus the God of all Grace, will dispense all that Grace which is necessary for them; he will give Grace {Ps 84:11}, yea, more Grace to the humble {Jas 4:6}, whatever they need. 

{2} Glory is made theirs; a never failing Fountain of which there is in God; hence he is stiled the Father of Glory {Eph 1:17} as he is the Father of Lights {Jas 1:17} because all spiritual Illumination and eternal Rays of Light spring from him. Our Ideas of the happy State of Saints departed, fall vainly below the Greatness of its Glory: It doth not yet appear, i.e. it Is not at present known what we shall be {# The most we are now able to say of heavenly Bliss, is: that it consists in uninterrupted Communion with God and Christ, and transforming Views of his ever glorious Person, who is fairer than the Children of Men {1Jo 3:2}: When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as be is. Christ, the Sun of Righteousness {Mal 4:2}, sheds Beams of Light upon all the Inhabitants of the upper World, which they reflect to their mutual Pleasure and Admiration, as we are fully assured; but while we are here our Conceptions cannot rise up to the Blessedness of that State, the Imperfection of our present, renders us unable to form adequate Ideas of the amazing Glory of our future State: It is not possible to know what the Happiness of Heaven is before its Enjoyment; it is an exceeding and an eternal Weight of Glory {2Co 4:17}; it far exceeds the Compass of our imperfect Understandings, we cannot comprehend it; and the Weakness of our mortal Frame, which must be changed in order to bear it. Now all this inconceivable Glory is absolutely given to God’s Israel, by him who is the Source of it, and is able to perserve them to it: In hope of eternal Life, which God that cannot lye promised before the World began {Tit 1:2}. 

 

4. There are several things concerning the Act of God’s giving himself to his Israel very worthy of our Notice. As, 

 

1. It was an Act of pure Grace, This Procedure of God, in favour of his People, can be resolved into no other Cause, than that of his own good Pleasure. He stands in such a Relation to them which he does not to others; but it is not because they are preferable to those who have no such foederal Interest in him, their Nature is as depraved, and their Actions are as contrary to his Law. The Apostle answers this Question, Are we better than they? in the Negative, no, in no wife {Ro 3:9}; and therefore nothing in them could induce God thus to become theirs in a Covenant way, it’s the Result of his own Free Grace alone. 

 

2. This was an Act of Sovereignty. It was merely owing to the Divine Will that Peter was interested in God, and not Judas. None among the Sons of Men lay claim to so high a Privilege as their Due, for they all deserve to be eternally banished from God, and to lie under his awful Vengeance, on Account of their Corruption and Guilt: Hence it is evident, that the Interest any of them have in God, must be ascribed to his sovereign Determination, thus, to shew Favour to them, while he refuses this Dignity and Happiness to others, not more undeserving of his favourable Notice than they are; agreeable to the Apostle’s Observation, He hath Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and whom he will be hardeneth {Ro 9:18}. 

 

3. It is an irreversible Act. The Elect can never be deprived of that Covenant-Interest which they have in God. The Cause and Spring of it will never cease; that is to say, the Love of God, which is absolutely immutable, and therefore eternally secures their Interest in himself. It is by virtue of a firm Covenant of Grace that God is theirs, in which he engages, they shall be his People, and he will be their God {Jer 32:38}. This Covenant he will not break, nor alter the Thing that is gone out of his Lips {Ps 89:34}. But unless the Covenant of Grace can be violated, the Saints wilt not lose their Interest in its infinitely great Author, which never can be, for the Accomplishment of all its glorious and precious Promises entirely, rests on the Veracity and Faithfulness of God himself: It therefore is a sure Covenant {2Sa 23:5}, and being so, all in that Covenant stand in an inseparable Relation to God. Farther, there is an indissoluble Union subsisting between Christ and the Saints he is their Head, and they are his Members; nor will it ever be in the Power of any to rend them from him, And so long as this Union continues, they may depend upon a peculiar and foederal Interest in the Father; till he ceases to be a God to the Head, he will not cease to be a God to the Members. Christ is ascended to his God and our God, to his Father and our Father {Joh 20:17}. These Things abundantly evince the eternal Duration of Our Interest in the great Jehovah. 

5. From this Doctrine I infer two Things, 

1. That Believers have no cause of Fear: ‘Tis true, their Enemies are very numerous, and their Power, is exceeding great, and they are not capable of defending themselves a Moment; notwithstanding which, they have no reason to be terrified, for Omnipotence it self is engaged their Security, and therefore the Will of their Adversaries shall never be accomplished upon them: Each of them may say with the Psalmist, The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Strength of my Life, of whom shall I be afraid {Ps 27:1}? 

2. Believers only are happy Persons. Happiness all Men are seeking to obtain, but they are either fatally mistaken in their Notions concerning it, or in the Way to arrive at the Possession of it: Many conceive that it consists in Riches, Pleasures and Honours; others imagine, that extensive Knowledge, and Tranquillity of Mind, is true Felicity. These come nearer to it than the former, but yet fall short; ‘tis only the Knowledge of, and Communion with God in a Mediator, a settled Peace, and Composure of Mind arising from thence, that our real Happiness consists in here; and consummate Felicity hereafter will consist in Conformity to, and in the Enjoyment of God and Christ, which is not attainable by any Thing that we can do, as Men naturally conceit. The Children of God are, many of them, poor, afflicted, and despised in this World, yet they alone are truly happy Persons, because they only are interested in God, the Source and Fountain of real and perfect Bliss. Happy is that People whose God is the Lord {Ps 144:15}, to them he will shew the Path of Life; in his Presence is Fulness of Joy, and at his right Hand are pleasures for evermore {Ps 16:11}. 

Secondly. I proceed to consider, Jabez's solemn Worshipping of God, He called on the God of Israel. By this is sometimes intended Worship in general, as in these Words, Then began Men to call upon the Name of the Lord {Ge 4:26}, i.e. to join together in his publick Worship. In other Places; it designs a particular Branch of religious Worship, viz. 

Prayer; thus in these Words, and call upon me in a Day of Trouble {Ps 50:15} This is a Part of natural Religion; or, it is a Duty of a moral Nature, and is incumbent on all Persons; as well on the Unregenerate as on those who are born again; hence the Apostle Peter, at the same Time he tells Simon Magus that be was in the Gall of Bitterness, and Bond of Iniquity, puts him upon the Practice of this Duty; and pray God {Ac 8:22-23}. Although the Prayer of an unregenerate Person, is an Abomination {Pr 28:9}, he is not excusable in the Neglect thereof: Greater Guilt is contracted by the entire Omission of a Duty, than attends the improper Discharge it. If Prayer can be neglected by unregenerate Persons, because they cannot perform it in an acceptable Manner, they may also decline to perform the civil Actions of Life upon the same Principle, for the Plowing of the Wicked is sin {Pr 21:4}; which, I suppose, none will think it proper they should. What I shall farther offer on this Head, immediately concerns the Saints; and it will be contained in shewing this to be their Duty that the Holy Spirit is their Director in it; and, that they have great Encouragements to practise it. 

 

1st. Prayer is the indispensable Duty of Believers. This is so evident, that I imagine I might be excused insisting on the Proof of it, however backward, through various Causes, they may sometimes be to engage in it. 1. Personal and private Prayer is a Duty they are under Obligation conscientiously to regard; Jesus Christ exhorts to this, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy Closet, and when thou hast shut thy Door, pray to thy Father which is secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly {Mt 6:6}. The Variety of our Wants, the Multitude of our Difficulties, the great Number of our Temptations, our own Inability, and absolute Dependence on God, should excite us to a constant Attendance at the Throne of Grace, I am of Opinion, we may best judge of the Care of our Souls, by a Readiness to draw nigh to God in secret Prayer, or Backwardness to approach his Presence in our Closets. If a spiritual Frame is maintained in us we shall closely attend to this Duty; but if we are lukewarm, and sunk in the Exercise of our Graces, we shall be ready to improve every trivial Affair which may occur, as an Excuse for our Neglect in this Thing. This is as well our Privilege as our Duty. In Prayer to God we may use the utmost Freedom in Complaints: We need have no Check upon us, from, an Apprehension that he will take Advantage against us for, or upbraid us with, those Evils we complain of before him; this too frequently is the Manner of poor guilty Creatures towards one another, but it is not the Manner of an infinitely gracious God, we therefore may unbosom our whole Souls to him, and tell him of any, or all the vile Lusts that distress and plague us: We may mention all our Temptations, and freely confess how ready our corrupt Nature is to yield to them, or how far it may have so done, in any Instances, to our unspeakable Grief, without the least Thought of being upbraided therewith hereafter, We also may be full as free in our Petitions: As God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think {Eph 3:20}: He allows us to intreat for whatever is needful to our spiritual Support, Relief, and Consolation. Since we have this liberty of Access to the Throne of Grace, and may use such freedom in our Addresses to our heavenly Father, how base are our Hearts, which frequently tempt us to decline the Practice of this important Duty, and the Improvement of so inestimable a Privilege. 

2. Family Prayer should be constantly attended to. The Worship of God ought to be maintained in all the Families of the Saints. That Family in which solemn and joint Prayer is wholly neglected, is far from being such as it ought to be; in this Particular ‘tis very much unlike a Christian one; happy would it be with us were we wrought up to the same Resolution that Joshua was, who said, As for me and my House we will serve the Lord {Jos 24:15} for we should certainly find our own Advantage in it. The great God will shew very high Resentment against those Families that neglect his Worship: Pour out thy Fury upon the Heathen, that know thee not, and upon all the Families that call not on they Name {Jer 10:25}. It cannot but be thought a Duty incumbent on Matters of Families, to pray with, and for their Children and Servants, whom Providence has put under their Care and Inspection; a faithful Attendance hereon may, at least, strike their Minds with an Awe of God, and lay such a Check upon them, which may prevent their sinning as others do. I doubt not but many can attest to the Truth of this by their Experience. Besides, as we ought to endeavour the Conviction of those under our immediate Notice, we can’t tell how far God may please to succeed the Discharge of our Duty in this Particular that way; however, whether or not the Effect follows, which we should desire, that is to say, the spiritual Good of those about us, we shall keep clear of their Blood, if we are found in the Practice of our Duty towards them. It is not improbable but some may say, they are convinced it is their Duty to pray in their Families, but that they are not furnished with suitable Gifts, and therefore they are obliged to omit it; such I would ask, if they have at all attempted it? If they have not they must allow me to say, it is trifling to urge their Want of proper Furniture, as an Excuse for this Neglect. Besides, it can hardly be thought, that a Person sensible, of himself, his State by Nature, his Need of Christ, and of his Suitableness as a Saviour, can be utterly unable to perform this Branch of religious Worship in his own Family, where strict Method, proper Coherence, and Fluency of Expression, are not absolutely necessary to the useful Discharge of it. Again, Gifts improve by using: I have known some who were not eminently furnished for such a Work, that upon the Exercise of the Abilities they had, a Blessing has attended, and their Improvement has been very visible. I add, that since Family Prayer is a Duty, we ought to be careful, lest we render our selves unfit for it, or uncapable of it, by Conversation, or otherwise, when we are abroad. 

3. Social and public Prayer Believers ought to practise. The Advantages arising from the conscientious Observance of this are more than, perhaps, are commonly thought of; hereby the Saints are mutually edified, comforted and strengthened, their Hearts are strongly cemented together in Love; and it has a wonderful Tendency to promote spiritual Affection to Divine Things. It is no small Part of the Commendation given by the Holy Ghost of the primitive Churches, that they practised this Duty; they continued stedfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine and Fellowship, in breaking of Bread and in Prayers {Ac 2:42}. Such who are in Church-Fellowship are doubtless under Obligation jointly to confess their Imperfections, and intreat the Divine Blessing on the Word and Ordinances preached and administer’d among them, that their Souls may be built up in their most holy Faith, and to pray that Peace maybe within Zion’s Walls, and Prosperity in all her Palaces {Ps 122:7}. There is at this Day a sorrowful Neglect of this Duty, which, among many other Things, makes it but too evident, that the Glory of our Religion is greatly eclipsed: May the Lord hasten a Revival of it, if it be his Will. 

2nd. The Holy Spirit is the Director of the Saints in this Duty; on Account of the Assistance which he gives in the spiritual Performance of this Branch of Worship he is called, the Spirit of Supplications {Zec 12:10}. The Preparation of the Heart in Man for this Duty is from God, as well as the Answer of the Tongue. {Pr 16:1}. 

1. The Divine Spirit teaches us what to pray for: We know not how to order our Speech by reason of Darkness {Job 37:19}. Our spiritual Ignorance renders, it necessary for Us, to depend on heavenly Influence and Guidance, when we draw nigh to God in Prayer, for we know not what to pray for as we ought. Without Instruction from above we are incapable of a proper Discharge of this important Duty; as we are not sufficient of our selves to think any Thing as of our selves; {2Co 3:5}; we must needs be unequal to a Service of this Nature, wherein are required a profound. Reverence of the Divine Majesty, an humble Opinion of our selves, spiritual Ideas of Things naturally unknown, fervent Desires of what we naturally are not disposed to seek after, and our Thoughts intently fixed on, invisible Objects. Hence it is evident, that our spiritual Prayers are effected under a Supernatural Influence; it is the Spirit helpeth our Infirmities, and makes Intercession for us with Groanings which cannot be uttered {Ro 8:26}. 

2. He excites our Desires after those Things which we pray for. Our Supplications consist only of a few cold and formal Petitions, unless our Affections are moved, and our Hearts ascend up to God, whose Name we invocate: It is the Heart he looks at; Lip-Service is far from being acceptable to him. In this Duty our Heart should always be the Guide to our Lips. What we express with our Tongues ought to be the unfeigned Desire of our souls. Now as we are bent to backsliding {Ho 11:7} it is absolutely necessary that we should be divinely attracted: The Church was justly sensible of this when she thus expressed her self, Draw me, we will run after thee {Song 1:4}. The Necessity of such an heavenly Attraction and Influence is evident to every Believer, who finds himself naturally indisposed to Things of a spiritual Kind. The great Difference he experiences in his Soul, in his Solemn Approaches to God, sufficiently convinces him, that all his Dependance ought to be on the Holy Ghost in his Addresses at the Divine Throne. Sometimes his Heart is cold, vain, and wandering, in the Beginning of this Duty; before the Conclusion, it may be, it is greatly enlarged, and is made like to the Chariots of a willing People {Song 6:12}; at other Seasons, when he imagines himself to be in a most suitable Frame for a Work of this Nature, and therefore chearfully engages in it, on a sudden his Affections cool, his Thoughts rove, and his Soul is greatly contracted: Wherefore: he cannot but conclude, it is a vain Thing. to attempt this Duty without a View to. the gracious Operation and Aid of the Spirit of God. 

3. He gives them Liberty and Freedom in Prayer. The People of God have always Liberty of Access to him through Jesus Christ. Under every Temptation, Distress and Affliction, they may freely draw nigh to their heavenly Father, and spread their Case before him; but it is not at every Season they have Liberty in their Access to God; as the Psalmist was they all sometimes are, shut up, and cannot come forth {Ps 88:8}: A Sense of their Guilt fills them with Shame, and almost forces them to Silence. It is only when the Spirit of Christ takes of his Things, and shews them {Joh 16:14} to their Souls, that they have inward Freedom. A View, by Faith, of his Blood, Righteousness, Grace, and Intercession, are the Foundation of the Believer’s Boldness; In whom we have Boldness and Access, with Confidence, through the Faith of him {Eph 3:12}; and the Spirit of Grace is the Efficient, or Author, of that Freedom: Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty {2Co 3:17}. 

 

4. He causes us to hope for what we ask, The Exercise of Faith is necessary in this Duty. Let him ask in Faith {Jas 1:6} is the Direction of the Apostle James, If we have no Expectation Of receiving a Favour, upon an Application to a Friend, we are easily prevailed with to decline it; so, if we. have no Hopes of obtaining a gracious Answer to our, Prayers from God, our Inclination to call upon him will sensibly abate. Without some Encouragement to expect a favourable Audience with God our Petitions to him will be very faint and cool; and therefore the Influence of the Spirit of Faith should always be desired by us when we engage in this sacred Duty, as what is absolutely needful to our comfortable Performance of it. With what Satisfaction, Liberty and Pleasure, as well as Assurance of Faith {Heb 10:22}, do the Saints draw nigh to God, when the Holy Ghost powerfully applies the Divine Promises to their Souls; such as, Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you {Lu 11:9} I the Lord will bear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them {Isa 41:21}. 

 

3rd. The Encouragements to this Duty are many, which, if they have a suitable Influence upon us, will cause us diligently to attend on it. 1. God’s Relation to us. He hath been pleased, of his infinite Goodness, to make us his Children. Behold, what Manner of  Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God {1Jo 3:1}; which our Saviour proposes as an encouraging Motive to Prayer, If ye then, being Evil, know how to give good Gifts your Children, how much more shall your Father, which is in Heaven, give good Things to them that ask him {Mt 7:11}. A tender Parent can’t but be moved with the Intreaties of his Child under Distress, and be ready to give Relief if he is able. The Compassion of God, towards his People, infinitely exceeds the tenderest Bowels of any earthly Parent, and therefore we may call upon him with a full Assurance of obtaining all needful Supplies and Succour from him. 

 

2. His Perfections may encourage us to engage in this important Duty. 

 

1. His Omniscience. That God to whom we pray has a perfect Knowledge of the Frame and Desires of our Souls; which, as it ought to strike us with an humble Awe, when we come before him, to it may justly be improved, as a great Encouragement to Us, in all our solemn Acts of Devotion, to hope for what we ask, however imperfectly we may express our selves to him: He that searcheth the Hearts knoweth what is the Mind of the Spirit {Ro 8:7}. 

 

2. The Omnipotence of God raises our Expectations of Relief in our Addresses to him, A real and intimate Friend may sympathize with us Under Trouble, and be strongly inclined to free us from it, but it is often out of the Power of our best Friends to relieve us when in distress. This cannot be supposed of our heavenly Father, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think {Eph 3:20}. The Saints Help in God is like Water in a Fountain, ever flowing and never dry. Neither the Number, nor the Greatness of their Difficulties, should discourage them in a Dependance on omnipotent Power, because that makes hard Things easy, and pressing Things light. 

 

3. His infinite Goodness. The Ability of a Person to extricate us out of great Troubles, without a Will to do it, affords us no hope of Relief. Now, as God is able to help us, be our Case ever so desperate in it self, his immense Favour will certainly induce him to regard; and seasonably succour us. The infinite Love, which is in his Heart towards his People, will always draw forth his Power to their Support, and speedy Deliverance out of threatening Dangers. What great Encouragement Is this to wait upon him in Prayer! 

 

3. The Promises God has made of hearing the Prayers of his People, may well encourage them closely to attend on this Duty: Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear {Isa 65:24}. Divine Promises are sure and firm; they are all yea and amen to the Glory {2Co 1:20} of their Author. This, among others, the Lord will inviolably keep, and therefore we ought never to be discouraged in praying to him, from an Apprehension that he will deny us a gracious Audience or Answer. 

 

4. Christ’s Intercession wonderfully encourages the Saints to address the Throne of Grace. His Regard to his People, now he is in Heaven, is the same that it was, when he was here on Earth; his Exaltation at.God’s right Hand makes no Alteration in his Affections towards Sinners; He ever lives to make Intercession for them {Ro 8:34}, he is their Advocate with the Father {1Jo 2:1}, and will throughly plead their Cause; {Jer 1:19}; he prays the Father for all necessary Grace to be communicated to his People here, and declares it to be his Will, that they should be with him for ever in Glory hereafter {Joh 17:24}; and therefore they cannot, in their Petitions to God for spiritual Favours, exceed him in his Intercession for them. O! what Encouragement is it to Faith in this Duty, that Christ continually intercedes with God, to grant those Blessings to us, which we pray to him for, as what are requisite to our spiritual Advantage and Comfort. I go on, 

 

II. To consider the Favours he asked. They are various, and very great, 

 

1st. He intreats that God would bless him: O that thou wouldest bless me indeed. It was real Happiness that he was desirous to obtain from God, who is the Fountain and Spring of all true Blessedness. No Creature can be happy in a State of Distance from him, or without Nearness to him, and Communion with him. The Happiness of guilty Creatures, as we are, consists in a Deliverance from that which renders us Unhappy, and in the Communication of special spiritual and eternal Blessings to us. 

 

1. The Felicity of a fallen and guilty Creature consists in a Deliverance from that which renders him unhappy. 

 

1. From Guilt contracted. Sin is the procuring Cause of all Misery and Infelicity; It Is that which exposes us to Afflictions and Death in this World, and that draws down upon Sinners the Vengeance of God in the next. The Wages Sin is Death, i.e. eternal Death, as the Gift of God is eternal Life {Ro 6:23}; and therefore there is no possibility of being Happy without a Discharge from Guilt. Those only are to be esteemed happy Persons, who obtain the Remission of their Sins by Christ’s Blood: Blessed are they whose Iniquities are forgiven, and whose Sins are covered. Blessed is the Man to whom the Lord will not impute Sin {Ro 4:7-8}. Which Words plainly teach us, that Pardon is absolutely necessary to Happiness. Unless a Man’s Sins are forgiven him, whatever his outward Circumstances may be, he is a miserable Person; on the contrary, such who are discharged of their Guilt are truly happy, how much soever they are afflicted and despised in this Life. 

 

2. It necessarily supposes a Freedom from Condemnation. Sin subjects us to a Curse: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all Things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them {Ga 3:10}. God, as a Lawgiver, pronounces dreadful Menaces against guilty Creatures as such; nor is it possible to escape the Malediction denounced, without an Interest in Christ’s Satisfaction; that, indeed, effectually secures us, from it: There is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus {Ro 8:1}. A Charge of Guilt and Condemnation, are inseparable. If a Man is under the Imputation of Sin he is also Condemned; but if he is acquitted of his Crimes, by virtue of Christ’s Blood, he is not liable to any Divine Threatenings. 

 

3. The Happiness of guilty Creatures supposes a Security from Divine Anger, which their Sins have exposed them to. Every Act of Transgression against the Law subjects us to the awful Displeasure of God; and therefore it is the greatest: Unhappiness to lie under a Charge of Guilt. Eternal Misery hangs over such whose Sins are not remitted; but those who obtain a Discharge of their Guilt through Jesus. Christ, are eternally secured from the Stroke of Divine Justice; being justified by Christ’s Blood we shall be saved from Wrath through him {Ro 5:9}. 

 

2. Our Felicity is inclusive of the Communication of all special, spiritual and eternal Blessings. 

 

1. Adoption, or being made Sons to God. This unspeakable Honour and Dignity is conferred upon us who are Vile and sinful Creatures; having predestinated us to the Adoption of Children by Jesus Christ, to himself. {Eph 1:5} By Virtue of this Relation to God we are constituted Heirs of him; If Children these Heirs, Heirs of God, and joint Heirs with Christ {Ro 8:17}. It is an inexpressible Happiness to be interested in this glorious Privilege for hereby we are entitled to Grace and Glory, or are made Heirs of all that God is, and has, who is the Fountain of real Felicity 

 

2. Justification is another Branch of true Blessedness. The Righteousness of Christ being put upon a Person recommends him to, and gives him eternal Acceptance with God. Now such who have the Divine Approbation must necessarily be concluded Happy, according to David, and the Apostle, who quotes his Words, Even as David also describeth the Blessedness of the Man, to whom the Lord imputeth Righteousness without Works {Ro 4:6} This gives us a proper and just Claim to everlasting Happiness; That being justified by his Grace we might be made Heirs, according to the Hope of eternal Life {Tit 3:7}. Those who are justified have an indisputable and unalienable Title to all the Glory of Heaven, and shall certainly be brought to the Enjoyment of it: Moreover, whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom be justified them be also glorified {Ro 8:30}. These Benefits of Adoption and Justification ensure to us Grace here, and Glory hereafter. 

 

3. Regeneration and Sanctification. We are naturally dead in {Eph 2:1}, and under the Dominion of Sin {Ro 6:14}, and are also in Bondage to Satan, which is a very unhappy Condition; but God of his rich Mercy quickens us {Eph 2:1}, or communicates spiritual Life to our Souls, and delivers us from the Power of Darkness, and translates us into the Kingdom Of his dear Son {Col 1:13}; he implants a Principle of Holiness in us who are naturally carnal and sold under Sin {Ro 7:14}; devoid of any Inclination to, or Ability to perform spiritual Good: God hath saved us, and called us with an holy Calling {2Ti 1:9};. This Work is the Beginning of everlasting Life: It is Glory begun in us; he that believeth hath everlasting Life {Joh 6:47}; that is to say, in the Seed or Beginning of it. And this Work shall be cherished and carried on by the same Hand that formed it, notwithstanding all Opposition from Sin within us, and from Satan, or the World without us; being confident of this very Thing, that he which hath begun a good Work in you, will perform it until the Day of Christ {Php 1:6}. Those who are the Subjects of true Grace are at some Times admitted to sweet Communion and Fellowship with God and Christ: Truly, says the Apostle John, our Fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ {1Jo 1:3}; which fills them with far greater Satisfaction, Joy and Pleasure, than can possibly arise from the Enjoyment Of all sublunary Things: Thou hast put Joy and Gladness in my Heart more than in the Time that their Corn and their Wine increased {Ps 4:7}. The largest Affluence of the Things of this Life is not comparable to a Prospect of, and Communion with God through a Mediator. 

 

4. Perfect and consummate Happiness consists in the eternal Enjoyment of God in Heaven, which it is the Will of Christ, all that the Father hath given him should be brought to enjoy; wherein are several Things to be observed. 

 

[1.] The Removal of all that Darkness and Ignorance which at present attends the Understandings of the Saints. Through Divine Illumination they are now enabled to form some Ideas of heavenly Things, but their Conceptions thereof are low and imperfect, by reason of that Darkness which remains in them; hence says the Apostle, We know in part, and prophesy in part. Perhaps never had any Servant of God a more clear, distinct, and extensive Knowledge of Divine Mysteries, than this great Apostle had, if ever any were equal to him therein, and yet he acknowledges, that his Acquaintance with the deep Things of God, was but partial and imperfect, when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away {1Co 13:9-10}. The Excellency of the human Nature principally consists in its rational Powers, or a Capacity to form Conceptions of God, and what is good. Knowledge therefore, with suitable Affections, is our chiefest Glory. If Knowledge is to be esteemed more or less excellent, as it hath Objects lower, or more sublime, certainly that of which God is the Object must be accounted infinitely the Best. The greatest Skill in the Secrets of Nature, is to be valued only as it strikes us with a Reverence of its infinitely great Author, and induces us to love him, who, it is manifest from his Works, is a Being of immense Goodness and unlimited Power. In this Philosophy is exceedingly defective; ‘tis only the Revelation of Salvation to lost Creatures by Jesus Christ, that is suited to conquer the Rebellion of our Hearts; and in this there is a fuller Display of the Benignity, Wisdom, Power and Purity of God, than appears in the Works of Creation or Providence. For which Reason it may justly be concluded, that. The Knowledge of evangelical Doctrines far transcends in Excellence and Worth, the most extensive Acquaintance with natural Things; these are the refined Subjects about which the Faith of a Believer is now conversant, and which he shall eternally contemplate upon, and form perfect Conceptions of, in the blessed State above; then shall he know even as he also is known {1Co 13:12}, and see his Covenant-God as he is {1Jo 3:2}: This is a Happiness which infinitely exceeds the most raised Ideas our present State admits of. 

 

[2.] No Perverseness, or bias to Evil, will then attend the Will. Believer’s are Persons possessed of Flesh as well as Spirit: Whilst they are in this mortal State, they are bent to backsliding {Ho 11:7}; the Law of their Members too frequently prevails against that of their Minds, and brings them into Captivity to the Law of Sin {Ro 7:23}, which is in their Members. The Disquietude and Grief which the Deceitfulness, Strength, and Motions of Lusts within them, often occasion to their Souls, are not to be expressed, they can’t but say, O wretched Persons that we are, who shall deliver us from the Body of this Death {Ro 7:24}; they groan within themselves, and with longing Expectation wait for the Adoption, to wit, the Redemption of their Body {Ro 8:23}. In the future State they shall enjoy a perfect Freedom from all Impurity and Corruption. As soon as they put off their mortal Bodies their Souls will be perfected in Glory. When no sinful Thoughts will ever arise within them to their Disturbance and Grief, as now they do, even such Times when they most desire, to be delivered from them, the whole Heart Will then be intently fixed on God and Christ, and a holy Flame of Love to their dear Saviour, will be eternally glowing in their Breasts, who that considers the Happiness of such a State, can be without earnest Breathings after the Profession of it? May God, of his infinite Goodness, prepare us unworthy Creatures for it, and safely conduct us to it. 

 

[3.] No Corruption will then remain in our Affections, which at present are very impure. Now we are apt to set them on Things on the Earth {Col 3:2}: Although we are convinced that invisible Objects infinitely better deserve our Regard, yet through the Imperfection that attends us, the Things of Time and sense deeply affect us, and engross far too large a Share of out Thoughts, Desires and Affections but then we shall be entirely delivered from all such Rovings that break our Peace, and damp our spiritual Joys in this Life; no irregular Motions, or disorderly Passions, will then find any room in our Hearts, but we shall for ever be transported with rapturous Views of the dazzling Glories which shine in the Mediator’s adoreable Person. 

 

[4.] No Discomposure of Mind will attend us in the heavenly State. Here our Souls are ruffled and perplexed by various Causes; by none so much, as by the Sin which dwells in us; but that we shall be completely delivered from, when we enter into that pure Place, where nothing is admitted that defiles {Re 21:27}. The Disappointments, Losses and Afflictions which occur in this State of Uncertainty, give us great and frequent Uneasiness; but when once we are arrived to the happy Shore of the other World, no Storms will ever any more at all arise upon us, or tempestuous Waves of Trouble overwhelm us. Now we are attended with Spiritual Darkness and Desertions, Clouds interpose between God and our Souls, and hide his Face from us; but when we are above we shall always behold him in his Son; nothing shall then intercept or prevent the Rays of his Favour from shining upon us. Those happy Regions above are all Serenity and Peace, and every joyful Inhabitant these, possesses eternal and undisturbed Rest and Tranquillity; all Sorrow is eternally banished from that Place; no Signs of Grief will ever appear in the Faces of those who are in Heaven, for God will wipe away all Tears from their Eyes {Re 7:17; 21:4}. 

 

[5.] That is a State of uninterrupted Communion with God. His spiritual Presence that is enjoyed by Believers here, is attended with an Agreeableness and Pleasure which rises far above our Expression; but yet it is infinitely below the Delight that springs from his immediate Presence in Heaven, where there is a Fulness of Joy, and at whose right Hand are Rivers of increasing Pleasures for evermore {Ps 16:11}. The Fellowship which the Saints have with their heavenly Father in this State is often interrupted by Sin, Unbelief, and Temptations; but that which will subsist between God and them above, will not be broke by any of these Things: They Will be eternally swallowed up in the boundless Ocean of his everlasting Love. 

 

[6.] Their Views of him will then be clear, permanent, and abiding. Now they see him by Faith, and beholding the Glory of the Lord, they are changed into the Same Image from Glory to Glory. But these Prospects are inconstant, seldom and short; then, as they will be clear, distinct and full, not as through a Glass darkly {2Co 3:18; 1Co 13:12}, so they will be invariable and never ceasing. No small Part of our Happiness hereafter, will consist in viewing the Glory of our Redeemer, who is exalted at God’s right Hand. Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me may be with me, that they may behold my Glory {Joh 17:24}. The Pleasure which will attend this View of our dear Saviour, as crowned with Glory and Honour {Heb 2:9}, far transcends our Comprehension at present. It must certainly be an exquisite Delight to the Saints, to see their Redeemer, who once wore a Crown of Thorns {Mt 27:29} for their sakes, have a never ceasing Crown of Glory on his Head; and to view him, who was once clothed with Shame on their Account, inverted with shining Robes of Majesty and Light. 

 

[7.] They will receive inconceivable Glory from Christ. The Father has given him Power over all Flesh, that he might give eternal Life to as many as are given him {Joh 17:2}. He will always be the Medium of God’s communicating Favours to us, which is greatly to his Honour. Our Glory will very much consist in a Conformity to Christ. It was this God resolved upon in Predestination; He predestinated us to become conformed to the lineage of his Son {Ro 8:29} And this seems to comprehend the Utmost of that Glory which God designed to bring us to the Enjoyment of; the Greatness of which we are unable fully to conceive of or describe. Since the Happiness of the future State will be thus surprizingly great, it is not to be wondered at, that the Believer, in the Exercise of a lively Faith upon it, cries out, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly {Re 22:20}. Persons appointed to this State tour be accounted really happy ones. From this Petition of Jabez we may easily collect, that his Heart was chiefly set upon those Things which are of a solid and durable Nature; he prays for Blessings that out-last Time, and which would accompany him beyond the Grave. And thus it becomes us all, to pray for a View of our Discharge from Guilt, Security from the Law’s Curse, and from eternal Vengeance, which our Sins render us justly deserving of; and also, that we may be meetened for the Enjoyment of God and Christ, and be safely brought to that Happiness, when with respect to us, Time shall be no more. 

 

2ndly. His second Petition is, and enlarge my Coast. It is probable that his Possession or Inheritance was too strait and narrow, not equal to the Number of his Family, which drew this Supplication from him. This was the Care with the Children of Dan, who were obliged to enlarge their Coast by Violence, as we are informed, in the Book of Joshua {Jos 19:47}. It appears by this Branch of this Prayer, that Jabez considered God as the Disposer of all Things, as he who fixes the Bounds of our Habitations, as his Protector, and as his beneficent Benefactor. 

 

1. He considered God as the Disposer of all Things. He framed the Universe, and gave Being to every Thing that exists; he is the Creator of the Ends of the Earth {Isa 40:28}. The whole Frame of Nature is dependent on him, and supported by him, and therefore every Thing is under his Direction, and at his Disposal: The Earth is the Lord’s, and the Fulness thereof; the World, and they that dwell therein {Ps 23:1}. The almighty and universal Creator, it is highly reasonable to suppose, has all Things under his Management and Influence. It is irrational to conceive, that he who made the World doth not govern it. Whatever God created doubtless he rules. Divine Providence is conversant about the minutest Parts Of the Creation; a Sparrow, two of which are sold for a Farthing, doth not fall to the Ground without the Permission Of our heavenly Father {Mt 10:29}. We may therefore strongly conclude, that God exercises a special Care about, and Rule over Man, who is the Chief of the lower Creation. The Commencement of our Being, the Circumstances of our Life, whether they be high or low, the Time and Manner of our Death, are all under Divine Direction. 

 

2. Jabez considered God as his Protector. His humble Application to God for the enlarging of his Coast, may direct us to conclude, that he was sensible of the Necessity of Divine Protection, to preserve him in a safe and quiet Possession of what was his present Property. If we are persuaded, that the Increase of our temporal Favours is from God, we cannot doubt of our holding whatever we may enjoy, by virtue of his governing Will. The peaceable Enjoyment of what Providence has made our own, is owing to the watchful Care, and powerful Protection of the great God; Safety is of the Lord {Pr 21:31}. He causes the Needy, that is to say, such as are poor, weak, and defenceless, to lie down in safety {Isa 14:30}. The Psalmist expresses his deep Sense of Divine Preservation in these Words, I will both lay me down in Peace, and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety {Ps 4:8}. 

 

3. He acknowledged the Lord to be his bountiful Benefactor. None can suitably apply to God for an Addition to their temporal Estate, but such who believe his universal Providence, and know that what they already enjoy, be it less or more, is the Beneficence of the supreme Being. A right Application to the Lord for such an Increase of our Substance as we apprehend to be necessary, carries in it a just Sense of all the Accommodations of Life, being his Gifts, and what we are wholly undeserving of Believers, when they humbly and spiritually look up to their heavenly Father, for the Communication of what is needful for them, gratefully acknowledge it is he who giveth them richly all Things to enjoy {1Ti 6:17}. This Petition gives us a proper Occasion to enquire, whether it be lawful to desire more than we possess, if our necessary Wants are supplied? or, if having daily Bread, we may be justified in desiring more? I apprehend there are some Things, which, if they attend those Desires, render them absolutely unlawful; and that there are different Views Which may make such Desires strictly justifiable. 

 

1. Those Things which, I conceive, render these Desires unlawful, are as follow: 

 

[1.] A Diffidence and distrust of the continued Care of Divine Providence about us. It is too Commonly seen, that after Men have had a long Experience of the Goodness of God discovered in providing for them, they rink into a lamentable Distrust of the Continuance of his beneficent Regard to them, and foolishly propose to defend themselves from Penury, by advancing their Circumstances to such a height as may be thought to raise them to an Independance on Providence.; that is to say, they diligently attempt to lay up so much Store by them as they think will be sufficient to prevent their ever being Necessitous, Such a Conduct is exceedingly blameable; for, besides the Uncertainty of human Life, which ought to check all such anxious Desires, what Reason can be assigned, why we should scruple that the Providence which has suitably supplied us for thirty, forty, or fifty Years, will not take the same Care of us the short Time we may longer continue in Life? But oftentimes to such an excessive Pitch does this Temper arise in many, that they entirely lore all agreeable Relish of those Mercies they are favoured with, because they are disappointed in their Views of this low and diffident Kind. This covetous Disposition is very unbecoming those who profess Faith in Christ; it is what he severely censures, as the Effect of Unbelief, or of a weak Faith: Shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little Faith? Therefore take no Thought, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed {#for after all these Things do the Gentiles seek|} for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these Things. {Mt 6:31-32}Having Food and Raiment we ought to be therewith content, and not distress our selves with Thoughts of what we have no just Reason to fear, viz. the want of Divine Beneficence towards us. 

 

[2.] If Ambition and Pride give rise to, or cherish these Desires, we cannot acquit ourselves of Guilt in this matter. I imagine that Persons of ambitious and aspiring Views, are under a strong Temptation too eagerly to pursue the enriching of themselves; to such the Want of Respect and Honour from others is intolerable, And as Riches frequently recommend a Man in the room of good Sense, strong Parts, Affability, and strict Probity, except to the judicious Few.; it is no wonder, that some Men are seen to labour after the amassing of Wealth together, who are not able to make Pretensions to Honour {but can’t be easy without it} above what others in lower Life may claim by the Qualifications and Virtues which adorn their Mind, and Conduct. Men of this Cast cannot patiently bear, that any should exceed, if equal them, in Gaiety and Grandeur; but are far from imitating, such as are superior to them in the brighter Excellencies that beautify a Person. 

 

[3.] If we aim at enriching our selves with a View to indulge a sensual Appetite, we are highly culpable. Ease, Luxury, and Wantonness, are Vices, that often captivate Persons of plentiful Fortunes; numerous Temptations attend those of a superior Rank, which such that are below them are not subject to. The Pleasure that arises from the Abundance of Wealth is far from over-balancing the many Dangers to which it exposes Men: A thorough Conviction of which caused. Agur wisely to decline seeking of it; he knew that the Corruption of our Nature prompts us to Pride and Insolence, if we are in elevated Circumstances, as it tempts. us to Actions fraudulent and, unjust when we are in the Reverse; which drew this Prayer from him, who, perhaps in this Particular is imitated but by few; Give me neither Poverty nor Riches, but feed me with Food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord?. Or lest I be poor and steal, and take the Name of my God in vain {Pr 30:8-9} If we desire to be rich, from an Inclination to gratify our carnal Affections, Providence is infinitely kind in denying us what would be unspeakably to our Disadvantage: Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your Lusts {Jas 4:3} 

 

[4.] When our Endeavours this Way are accompanied with oppressive Designs towards others, we are guilty of a very great Evil. Oppression is a cruel and inhuman Vice; but many whose circumstances enable them to it, seldom discover the Want of an inclination to practise it. Do not rich Men oppress you {Jas 2:6}? Says the Apostle James. The Heart of Man is so abominably wicked, as to abuse that to the Detriment of others, which he ought to improve to their Assistance and Advantage. But thine eyes and thine Heart are not but for thy Covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood; and for Oppression, and for violence to do it. {Jer 22:17} Too many, whose Ability renders them capable of relieving the Distressed and Necessitious, are so far from Christian Generosity, as to increase the Poverty of their Dependants, by abating them of their Wages, without any manner of Necessity, but merely from an insatiable Desire after adding to their own Wealth. I can’t tell, whether the Frequency of this may not have so far blinded the Minds of some Men, as to make them think it no Crime: If any Check is given by the Conscience for such a Conduct, it is presently silenced by this pitiful and shameless Excuse, If I do it not others Will. It would be well if those Words were seriously considered by such, I will be a swift Witness against those that oppress the Hireling in his Wages {Mal 3:5}. Let not any think to join with others in Sin, and imagine that they shall not share with them in the Punishment. If any of these Things attend our Desires of enlarging our Treasure, those Desires proceed from a low and base Principle. 

 

2. There are some very justifiable Reasons that may be mentioned in favour of such Desires, and which sufficiently defend us in cherishing of them. 

 

[1.] That we may be able to assist others who are in want. This is a Duty incumbent upon us all; we are required to do good to all Men, especially to them who are of the Household of Faith {Ga 6:10}. In this we ought to imitate the Beneficence of our heavenly Father, who causes his Sun to rise on the Evil and on the Good; and sendeth Rain on the Just and on the Unjust {Mt 6:34}. Now, if we use our Diligence to render our selves capable of this Charity and Benevolence, it is to our Commendation.; to this we are, directed, Let him. that stole, steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with. his Hands the Thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth {Eph 4:28} We are under Obligation to be. industrious, with a View to the Service of our Fellow-Creatures, but more especially, that we may enable our selves to relieve poor and distressed Saints. As in all other Things; so in this, perhaps our treacherous Hearts too frequently deceive us; We may sometimes think, that we would be extensively charitable, if our Circumstances were but once advanced to such a Height; an eager Desire of which holds our hand, and prevents our present Liberality; and if, so, we may be assured, that our Desire of encreasing our Stock is not for the sake of others, but wholly for our selves; or, that it is a selfish Principle, which governs us. 

 

[2.] It is lawful, to desire an Increase of our Substance, with a View to our Improvement in useful Knowledge. There is a great Variety of Subjects that well deserve Your diligent Study, in order to any considerable Acquaintance with which such Helps are necessary, that cannot be obtained without great Expence; and therefore Persons in low Circumstances, though they may have an excellent Genius, or their Intellectuals maybe such as fit them for sublime Studies, yet their Situation of Affairs does not furnish them with suitable Opportunities, and necessary Advantages, for that Improvement of which they are capable. In the Opinion of Solomon, an Advancement in Knowledge is far preferable to the Increase of Riches. How much better is it to get Wisdom than Gold; and to get Understanding rather to be chosen than Silver {Pr 16:16}. The Works of Nature are very worthy of our diligent Enquiries, for those Discoveries Which are to be made of the Order, Dependance, Beauty, and Harmony of natural Things, may justly lead us to adore the great Creator, whose infinite Wisdom and Power will visibly appear to us in all our Disquisitions of this kind. But the gracious Design of the Salvation of Sinners, or evangelical Mysteries, best deserve our assiduous Studies, because the Divine Perfections are more eminently displayed therein, and our dearest Interest is most nearly concerned in our Acquaintance with those heavenly Things. Now it is lawful to desire an Increase of our temporal Substance, in order to capacitate us for Improvement {by obtaining of necessary Helps} in such valuable Knowledge. 

 

[3.] We may lawfully desire an Enlargement of our Treasure, out of a Regard to the Interest of Religion: The Promotion of Christ’s Kingdom, and the Propagation of his Gospel, challenge our warmest Zeal. If we have a deep Sense of the many Obligations we are under to Christ, we shall certainly be influenced to contribute all we can to the Support and Spreading of his Cause in the World: We cannot neglect, and be indifferent towards his Interest, without involving our selves in Guilt. Besides, a proper use of what Providence entrusts us with, is very likely to be attended with a Blessing. It is to be questioned, whether Liberality tends to impoverish us, but we are assured, that to withhold more than is meet tends to Poverty {Pr 11:24}. Honour the Lord with thy Substance, and with the First-Fruits of all thine Increase, so shall thy Barns be filled with new Wine {Pr 3:9-10}. Now, though these Views may justify us, in desiring an Addition to our temporal Riches, yet our Application to God for it ought to be with entire Submission to his Will, as considering, that he knows what is most proper for us, and best  understands how we should use what we might be entrusted with, For my Part, I freely confess, that I apprehend Riches are no farther desirable than as they subserve these valuable Ends mentioned; and what Account those will be able to give hereafter, who are possessed of them, and do not improve them to these Purposes, they will do well seriously to consider. I imagine it must be much such a one as that Servant gave, who laid up his Pound in a Napkin {Lu 19:20}, and neglected to occupy it. 

 

3dly. The third Branch of this Prayer is, and, That thine Hand might b e with me. By the Hand of God may be intended his powerful Grace; as it is in these Words, The Hand of the Lord was with them, and a great Number believed {#Acts 11:2l|}; which God promises to turn upon his People; and I will turn mine Hand upon the little ones {Zec 13:7}. These Words are expressive of God’s gracious and effectual Influence in and upon his Saints. Jabez was sensible that this was necessary to his Assistance, Protection, Guidance, and Consolation, and therefore intreats that he might be favoured therewith. 

 

1. The Hand of God’s Love and Favour is necessary to our Aid and Assistance. We are unable to excite, or put into Exercise, and maintain the Vigor of those Graces, that are formed in us, which yet are very needful to the Comfort and Joy of Our Souls. Our spiritual Vivacity and Liveliness is wholly dependant on Christ, with whom is the Fountain of Life {Ps 36:9}. As Branches in the natural Vine cannot bear Fruit without a continued Communication of Nourishment from it, for Believers, who are Branches of Christ, the true Vine, cannot bring forth any spiritual Fruit to God’s Glory, unless they have a constant Supply of Grace from him; without me ye can do nothing {Joh 15:5}. Again, they are unequal to a spiritual Performance of any Duty, without Divine Assistance: Their religious Exercises are gone through in a very cold, dull, and heavy Manner; if heavenly Influences are with-held, a Sense of which drew this Request from the Church, Draw me {#Cant. 1:4|}. Various Temptations attend the Saints; and their corrupt Part is very ready to comply therewith. Nor are they, of themselves, able to repel the Force of the least which may befal them. All our Ability to withstand Satan’s urgent Solicitations to Evil is derived from Christ, who is our Strength, as well as Righteousness {Isa 45:25}. A Multitude of Snares surround us in this sinful World, which is, as it were, a Land of Deserts and Pits {Jer 2:6}; and therefore super-natural Assistance is absolutely requisite to our comfortable Walking, where we can’t but be sensible that manifold Difficulties and Dangers are before us. Besides, many Afflictions seize upon us while we are here, which are not joyous but grievous {Heb 12:13}, though they yield the peaceable Fruits of Righteousness in the End. How necessary it is that Christ’s left Hand should be under our Head {Song 2:6}, to keep us from sinking, those fully know, over whom the surging Waves of deep Distresses have rolled. 

 

2. Omnipotent Grace is necessarily required to our Protection. It is not to be imagined, that we are furnished with a Power sufficient to defend our selves against the violent Assaults of that roaring Lion, Satan, who walketh about, reeking whom he may devour {1Pe 1:8}. The treacherous and powerful Enemies which are within our own Breasts would certainly prevail against us, and involve us in endless Destruction, if Divine Power did not frond engaged for our Defence. Our Ruin would be inevitable, if Christ was not as well a Shield to defend us as a Sun {Ps 84:11} to enlighten us: So great is our Danger, which arises from the Deceit and Power of Sin in our Hearts. The Number, Malice, and Rage of the Saints Adversaries in the World, would strike them with the greatest consternation were they left to defend themselves; it is only the Knowledge of their having an impregnable Place of Defence to retreat to in all Dangers; which bears up their Courage and Fortitude of Mind. The Name of the Lord is a strong Tower; the Righteous runneth into it and is safe {Pr 18:10}. It is by the Power of God alone that they are kept through Faith unto Salvation {1Pe 1:5}. 

 

3. The Skilfulness of God’s Hand {Ps 78:72} is very heedful to our Guidance and Direction. We are full as defective in Wisdom as in Strength; The Way of Man is not in him self; it is not in Man that walketh to direct his Steps {Jer 10:23}. We are often at as great a Loss how to conduct our selves under difficult Circumstances, as we are unable to act the Part which becomes us; hence the Psalmist entirely depended on Direction from above; Thou shalt guide me with thy Counsel {Ps 73:24}. The true Knowledge of what is our Duty is a Gift from Heaven, as well as the Ability to perform it, Teach me to do thy Will, is a Petition suitable to the Condition of us all. The Path in which we should walk is frequently out of our View; we know not where or how to take one Step. So far as our Actions are agreeable to the Character of good Men they are directed by God; the Steps of a good Man are ordered by the Lord {Ps 150:6}. We should turn aside, and eternally wander, if a gracious God did not say to us, when we decline to the right Hand, or to the left, this is the Way, walk ye in it {Ps 37:23}. 

 

4. The kind Influences of God upon us are necessary to our Consolation. All our spiritual Comfort takes its Rise from rich Grace, and is effected by the good Hand of God upon us {Ne 2:8}: Hence the Lord is stiled the God of Consolation {Ro 15:5}. Believers never have any solid Peace and Joy but when they are favoured with the Smiles of their heavenly Father: He only can comfort them when they are cast down {2Co 7:6}. This he graciously promises to do for them, As one whom his Mother comforteth so will I comfort you {Isa 66:13}. And this his free Promise he effectually makes good, by shewing to them the Immutability of his Counsel, concerning their Salvation, which he has confirmed by an Oath, That by two immutable Things, wherein it is impossible for him to lye, they might have a strong Consolation {Heb 6:17-18}. Through a Contraction of Guilt they sometimes are deprived of their spiritual Joys, their Graces grow languid, and their Hearts are exceedingly troubled: This was David’s Case, when he thus expressed himself to his God, Restore unto me the Joy of thy Salvation {Ps 51:12} What he earnestly desired on his own Account, God will indulge his distressed Children with, notwithstanding their Backslidings from him. I have seen his Ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore Comforts to him, and to his Mourners {Isa 57:18} 

 

4thly. Jabez prays to be kept from Evil: And that thou wouldst keep me from Evil. He urges a Reason for this Petition, it is this, That it may not grieve me. I shall, 

1. Consider the Request. 

2. Observe the Argument or Reason he pleads for obtaining the Favour he asked. 

1. I am to consider the Request, which is, And that thou wouldest keep me from Evil In this Branch of his Prayer are three Things to be enquired into. 

1. What is designed by Evil. 

2. What is supposed by Jabez his applying to God to be kept from it. 

3. How the Lord keeps his People from Evil. 

 

1. Evil sometimes designs Penalty; thus in these Words, I will bring Evil upon them which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me I will not hearken unto them {Jer 11:11}. In other Places it intends Affliction; as in these Words, and comforted him over all the Evil, i.e. Affliction that the Lord had brought upon him {Job 42:11}. All Punishment is Affliction; but all Affliction is not Penalty. Job’s Affliction had nothing of a penal Nature in it. Evil is elsewhere taken for Sin; as here, Ye that love the Lord hate Evil {Ps 97:10}, i.e. Sin. This I apprehend to be principally designed at least; in this Place, under our Consideration. It is not improbable but Jabez might have in View Afflictions, and desire to be delivered from them, which are grievous in their Nature. But I imagine it was Sin that he chiefly had Respect to, and was desirous of being kept from. A very evil Thing it is. 

 

[1.] It is Evil in its Nature. It is contrary to God; It’s the abominable Thing that he hates {Jer 44:4}. It is a Transgression of the Divine Law; Whosoever committeth Sin, says the Apostle John, transgresseth also the Law, for Sin is the Transgression of the Law {Joh 3:4}. In sinning we act in direct Opposition to the Will of God, despise his Authority, and strike at his Government; who therefore will ever be able fully to describe the disagreeable Nature of this hideous Monster? 

 

[2.] Since Sin is thus vile in its Nature it can’t be imagined to be good in its Effects. The Consequences arising from it have been fatal to all chargeable with it. Man’s Apostasy from God, or his first Breach of the Law, involved us all in Misery and Woe. By that Sin the Rectitude and Purity of our Nature was loft, and we are become polluted, and prone to all Iniquity. Besides, it is Sin that exposes us to the Curse and Condemnation of the Law, and renders us liable to God’s eternal Vengeance; for which Things sake {#i.e. the Lusts mentioned above|} cometh the Wrath of God upon the Children of Disobedience {Col 3:6}. That is the cursed Fountain from which all penal Evils spring here, and from whence everlasting Destruction will arise hereafter; eternal Death is the Wages {Ro 6:23} of it, or that is properly demerited by it: 

Its Nature therefore must be inconceivably vile and abominable. 

 

2. Jabez having a proper Sense of the evil and odious Nature of Sin, applies to the Lord to be kept from it. Thus all Believers do; as David, who expresses himself after this Manner, Cleanse thou me from secret Faults; keep back thy Servant also from presumptuous Sins, let them not bare Dominion over me {Ps 19:13}. Christ gives us Advice to this in his Directory for Prayer, Lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from Evil {Mt 6:13}. The Necessity of a Dependance on God for Preservation from the Commission of Sin, thus appears. 

 

[1.] Sin dwells in every Believer. ‘Tis true, the Saints are born from above {Joh 1:8}, or a Principle of Holiness is implanted in them {2Ti 1:9}, which influences them to desire a perfect Conformity to Christ; but their Experience sufficiently convinces them, that it is far from being attainable in this Life: Whoever shall conceit that he hath attained to Perfection already, will give bur too evident a Proof of his being under a dreadful Delusion; If we say that we have no Sin, we deceive our selves, and the Truth is not in us {Joh 1:13}. There is a carnal and fleshly, as well as a spiritual Part in every Child of God; contrary and jarring Principles reside in his Breast; The Flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other {Ga 5:17}, According to the carnal Part he is bent to Backsliding {Ho 11:7}: The natural Turn and Biass of his Will is to Evil; hence the Apostle thus complains, In me {#that is in my Flesh|} dwelleth no good Thing {Ro 7:23}. The Danger we are in of being overcome by the Deceitfulness and Power of indwelling Corruption, is far greater than many, who would be esteemed Christians, seem to be aware of. It is difficult to determine, whether the Deceit, or the Strength of Sin, is the greatest. Its Deceitfulness appears many Ways. It often hides the Vitiosity and sad Consequences of a sinful Action, to which the Will is solicited to yield, and endeavours to keep the Thoughts, wholly exercised about the Pleasures, or imaginary Advantages that will attend it: It offers many Things to extenuate the Nature of a Crime, and strongly insists upon it, that there cannot be any great Harm in indulging such a particular Desire that may arise in the Soul; that at least some Advances may be made towards what our carnal Affections are desirous of, without the Contraction of any great Guilt. Thus by gradual and slow Steps, if the Grace of God doth not prevent, it gains considerable Ground in our Hearts. The Power and Prevalence of it is equal to its Treachery; this the Apostle sets forth by calling it a Law, and a Law that wars against the Law of the Mind; and, as he observes, not without Success, for it brings us into Captivity {Ro 7:21-23}; or prevails against us, which, if we duly consider, we must allow it is highly necessary for us, earnestly to pray to God, to be kept from Evil. 

 

[2.] We are liable to a great Variety of Temptations. Satan is an unwearied Adversary, and hath had long Experience in tempting of Men; whence it is reasonable to conclude, that he may be capable of guessing, what our Constitutions principally incline us to, or what Temptations are most likely to prevail with us: It is not to be questioned, but he diligently considers our Age, Circumstances in Life, natural Inclinations, and the different Occasions to Sin which may turn up, and thereby takes us at great Disadvantages, and without a Standard is lift up against him we are carried away as with an impetuous and violent Flood {Isa 59:19} The Craft of this old Serpent {Re 12:9}, in soliciting us to the Commission of Evil, is as great as the Sting, that attends his accusing us of those Sins which we have committed. His Subtlety is not unequal to his Poison, and therefore it becomes us to depend on Christ for Preservation from, and Aid under his Temptations, who hath bruised his Head {Ge 3:15} , and Will shortly bruise him under our Feet {Ro 16:20}. 

 

[3.] We are unable to check and subdue the Motions of Evil in our Hearts, or to withstand Temptations. A Person may at some Times think of a Crime with the greatest Detestation, and imagine himself to be Proof against all Enticements to it, and say as Hazael did, Am I a Dog that I should do this great Thing, i.e. Evil {2Ki 8:13}, and yet be prevailed on to commit it. Peter imagined, that he should much rather choose Death than deny his Master; but not withstanding his Abhorrence of so vile a Fact, he became guilty of it, with dreadful Aggravations attending it. And why we should suppose, that we are furnished with an Ability sufficient to guard and defend us, in a Time of Temptation, any more than that Servant of Christ was, I know not, If we conceit that there is no Danger of our committing any Evil, because at present our Souls rise up against it, let us not be too confident, but be humble, knowing that our Hearts are deceitful above all Things, and desperately wicked {Jer 17:9}, left the Lord leave us to our selves, to check our Vanity, as he did Hezekiah, who after a Recovery from a threatening Sickness, was guilty of very great Pride and Vain-Glory, upon which It is said, That God left him, to try him, and that he might know all that was in his Heart {2Ch 32:31}. He was a good Man, but entertain’d either too high an Opinion of the Exactness of his former Conduct, or cherished improper Thoughts concerning his own Strength; or it may be both, and therefore God permitted him to fall, to humble and abase him, by his Grace, in recovering of him from his Sin. If the Lord saw it meet, that a humble Paul, who thought himself less than the least of all Saints {Eph 3:8}, should be grieved with a Thorn in his Flesh, or be buffeted by a Messenger from Satan, left he should be exalted above Measure {2Co 12:7}; certainly we cannot think too meanly of our selves, nor have too strict a Dependance on Divine Grace, to keep us from Evil, to which we are naturally inclined, and are often strongly tempted to commit. We never walk so rarely as when we Walk humbly. May the Lord therefore enable us to watch, and to join Prayer to Watchfulness, which is no less necessary; Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation {Mt 26:41}. 

 

3. God keeps his People from falling into the Commission of gross Evils. 

Thus, 

 

[1.] By maintaining in their Souls a proper Sense of Sin. If an Apprehension of the vile Nature of Sin declines in us, we are in great Danger of being overcome by it. Slight Thoughts concerning a Crime certainly pave the Way for the Commission of it, be it what it will. If once our Conscience is so far overcome by the Strength of our Passions, as to abate of its Testimony against any particular Vice, nothing can possibly prevent our thinking into it, but special and seasonable Influences of Divine Grace, to awaken the Conscience out of that Lethargy Sin has thrown it into; for it is certain we are not far from the Perpetration of that Evil, how great soever it may be. It is only at such a Time that we make a proper Resistance against Sin, in which we say as Joseph did, How can we do this great Wickedness and sin against God {Ge 39:9}. 

 

[2.] By keeping up a just Sense of our own Weakness in our Hearts. If once we so far forget our selves, as to imagine that we shall be able to stand in a Time of Temptation, without a strict Dependance on Christ for Strength, it is very much if we do not make bold, even with Occasions to Sin; for presuming on our own Ability, naturally tends to takes us off from necessary Caution, and therefore at is a Miracle of Grace, if we do not perpetrate the Evil which we begin to make Advances towards; this, perhaps, may have been the Case with some, but they have been preserved, yet it can hardly be supposed, without the Contraction of a great Degree of Guilt; and they have infinite Cause of Thankfulness, that they were not fully drawn on to the Finishing of Sin {Jas 1:15}. An humble Reliance on Christ for Preservation from Evil, directs us to avoid all Occasions to Sin, as well as best fortifies us against all Temptations to it. Let us therefore say with the Psalmist, I will go in the Strength of the Lord {Ps 71:16}; and take the Advice which the Apostle gave to Timothy, Thou, therefore, my Son, be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus {2Ti 2:1}. 

 

[3.] Abiding Thoughts of our Union with Christ directly tend to keep us from sinning. The Relation in which we stand to him is our greatest Honour, and the inn-moveable Foundation of our Security. Christ is our Head, and we are his Members; He is the Head of the Body the Church {Col 1:18}; and we are said to be Members of his Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones {Eph 5:20}; which the Apostle improves as an Argument to Purity and Charity of Life, Shall I then take the Members of Christ and make them the Members of an Harlot, God forbid {1Co 6:15}. It is exceeding disagreeable in a Member of Christ to act in direct Opposition to his Will; he is the Husband of the Church, from hence her Duty is inferrable, as much as her Dignity. This conjugal Relation of Believers to Christ, plainly suggests the great Obligations they are under to love, submit to, and reverence him; according to the Strength of their Faith in this Union, they will certainly be desirous of action agreeable to his Command. 

 

2. I proceed to consider the Reason which Jabez renders of this his Petition; which is, That it may not grieve me. Sin is a certain Occasion of Grief sooner or later; however bold Men may make with it now, they will undoubtedly find it {#if rich Grace prevent not|} to be the Cause of inexpressible and eternal Anguish and Sorrow. The Grief arising from it here, is either legal or evangelical. 

 

1. It is the Occasion of legal Sorrow, which discovers it self in these two Things. 

 

[1.] A Dread of God’s Anger; something of which may frequently attend a Believer; thus Asaph informs us, that he remember’d God and was troubled {Ps 77:5}. An Apprehension of God’s immense Knowledge, infinite Purity, and omnipotent Power, when attended with a Sense of our own Guilt, raises the greatest Confusion, and deepest Distress in our Minds; for hence we collect, that he is fully acquainted with all our Disobedience to him; that as Sin is contrary to his pure Nature, he cannot but hate it; and as his Power is boundless, to our increasing Sorrow, we can’t but be sensible that he is able to inflict upon us the Punishment we deserve; that it is impossible we should screen our selves from Justice before such a Judge; let not any be deceived, for God is not mocked {Ga 6:7}. 

 

[2.] A Departure from God. Guilt drives Men from making an Application to him, who alone can save them. Thus when Adam had sinned, and saw his Nakedness, or that he had lost the Rectitude of his Nature; and that he had, by his Transgression, exposed himself to the just Displeasure of his Creator, he was so far from humbly prostrating himself before him, acknowledging his Guilt, and asking of Pardon, that he turns his Back upon him; nor. would he ever have returned, if God had not fought him {Ge 3:8-10}. A Sense of Guilt forces all his Posterity to act such a Part, without a View of Mercy. These Things attend a legal Sorrow, or Grief arising from Sin and Guilt, which it is to be feared too many take to be Repentance Unto Life. 

 

2. There is an evangelical Grief on account of sin, which the Grace of God produces in Believers, by enabling them to act Faith on a crucified Jesus; They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn, as a Man mourns for his only Son; and be in Bitterness for him, as one is in Bitterness for his First-born {Zec 12:10}. Many Considerations maintain the Flow of this kind and ingenuous Sorrow in the Heart of a Believer. As, 

 

[1.] That Sin is committed against a gracious God and Father. The Guilt of those Sins is highly aggravated which are committed after Discoveries of Grace and Mercy, which when duly weighed by the Saints, it troubles them exceedingly to think, that they have so often offended the Lord, after Intimations of his Love have been given to their Souls. With deep Humility, and flowing Grief, they acknowledge their Unworthiness, as did the Prodigal, saying, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee {Lu 15:18}. Thus David seems to be pierced very much, with the Consideration of his having sinned against a God of infinite Mercy; According to the Multitude of thy tender Mercies blot out my Transgressions {Ps 51:10}. God’s great Mercy was the only Foundation of his Hope of Pardon; and the Sense he had of sinning, against such a God went very near him; Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this Evil in thy sight {Ps 51:4}. There is this great Difference between legal and evangelical Sorrow for Sin, the former arises from an Apprehension and Dread of God’s Anger; the latter springs from the Exercise of Faith on his infinite Grace and Goodness. 

 

[2.] When a Believer considers that he has sinned against a kind and gracious Redeemer, a large Vent is given to this Gospel-Sorrow. It was a Sense of Christ’s Love which Peter had, that melted him into Tears: Immediately upon his great and dreadful Fall, he received a Look of Love from his suffering Saviour; the Lord turned and looked upon Peter {Lu 22:61}; this caused him to depart from those vile Persons who were the Occasion of his Sin, and to seek a private Place where he might give free Vent to his swelling Grief; he went out and wept bitterly {Mt 26:75}. Could you over-hear a Believer in his private Devotion, when under a broken Sense of his Guilt, I imagine you would find him to confess and mourn over it much, after this Manner. How exceedingly vile and ungrateful is my Heart, which has led me to the Commission of Sin, although I have seen that to be the meritorious Cause of all those dolorous and cruel Sufferings. that my dearest Saviour underwent upon my Account, to deliver me from deserved Vengeance? O wretched Ingratitude that I have been guilty of, to sin against thee my precious Redeemer, who didst shed thy Blood, and make thy Soul an Offering for my Sin. {Isa 53:10}! The Aggravations that attend my Guilt arising from hence, are far beyond my Expression or Conception; however, still permit me to prostrate my self at thy Feet, and humbly hope in thy Merits for Pardon, and depend on thy Grace for the Destruction, of those abominable Lusts that dwell, in my Heart. I greatly long for the entire Extirpation of them, that I might sin against thee no more, to the Grief of my Soul, nor to thy Dishonour. 

 

[3.] The Saints are very much troubled that they have grieved the Holy Spirit by their Sin: It was by him that they were convinced of their natural Corruption and Danger, their Need of Christ, and of his Suitableness as a Saviour; by his Influences were they enabled to hope in him, and to commit the Keeping of their Souls to him. Also as a Comforter and Witness he gave them an Evidence of their Interest in Christ, and of their being Sons to God; The Spirit it self beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children Of God {Ro 8:16}. All which being considered by a Believer, When under a Sense of his Guilt, inexpresssibly wounds him, because he clearly apprehends that he has grieved the Holy Spirit, by whom he has been sealed to the Day of Redemption {Eph 4:30}. 

 

[4.] The Reproach that is brought upon Religion, by the unbecoming Conduct of a Believer, is the Occasion of deep Distress to his Soul. A virtuous Life is an Ornament to the Gospel which we profess to believe, and justifies the Doctrine of Grace from the foul Aspersions that are thrown upon it, by such as are opposite to it on the contrary, an irregular Conduct gives Occasion to those, who are not Favourers of that Doctrine, to load it with Calumny and Odium. When any are suffered, through the Strength of disorderly Passions, and powerful Temptations, to fall, who have tasted the Sweetness of those Doctrines, they are exceedingly troubled that the Truths and Interest of Christ should be reproached through their Sin and Folly. 

 

[5.] That Darkness, which follows upon the Commission of Sin, in the Soul of a Believer, is very grieving to him. It is the Happiness of the Saints that they are inseparably interested in the Divine Favour; that nothing shall be able to separate them from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus {Ro 7:25,25}; and that they are indissolubly united with Christ. For their eternal Security is wholly dependent thereupon. But tho’ their Interest in the favourable Regard and Love of God can never be lost, yet the Sense and Apprehension of that Interest may be interrupted by Sin for a Time. Now, as the Enjoyment of the Divine Presence is the chiefest Joy of the Saints: When their Guilt separates God and them, with respect to present and gracious Communion {Isa 59:2}; or when it veils his Face, and hides the Light of his Countenance from them, and they are covered with Clouds and Darkness; great Sorrow fills their Hearts; Weeping endures for such a Night {Ps 30:5}, of black and melancholy Desertion, as David found by Experience, which gave rise to this Petition of his, at the Time in which he confessed his Guilt, Restore unto me the Joy of thy Salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit {Ps 51:12}. 

[6.] The Weakness which the Commission of Sin occasions to the Graces of the Saints, is the Cause of great Distress to their Souls. The Work of Grace upon the Heart of a Believer cannot, shall not be destroyed, but be carried on until the Day of Christ {Php 1:6}; notwithstanding he is liable to spiritual Decays, with respect to the Exercise of Grace, and the Comfort he may have enjoyed. Sin naturally tends to interrupt the Exercise of Faith, to cool our Love, and to abate the Vigor of our Hope, as, I imagine, must be evident to every true Christian. The Irreverence which the Church at Corinth was guilty of, in the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, was much to their disadvantage; their coming together was not for the better but for the worse {1Co 11:17}; on Account thereof many among them were weak and sickly, and many slept {1Co 11:30}. Which Words either intend bodily Indisposition and Death, or spiritual Weakness, Disorder, and slumbering, drowsy Frames. I see no Inconvenience to attend the latter Sense. Since such Consequences follow upon Sin, certainly it becomes us, as we regard the Comfort of our own Souls, and the Credit of Religion, to pray, that we may be kept from it, that it may not grieve us. 

But to proceed, 

 

III. Jabez received a gracious Answer; God granted unto him that which he requested. The Lord will hear and answer the Prayers of his People. The Church expresses her Faith in this Matter thus; My God will hear me. Here I shall observe, 

 

First. That several Things may serve to encourage us to believe, that we shall be favourably regarded in our Petitions at the Divine Throne. 

 

Secondly. The Nature of God’s answers, 

 

Thirdly. That we should not conclude the Lord doth not regard us, if we are not speedily answered. 

 

First. To begin with the first, several Things may serve to encourage us to believe, that we shall be favourably regarded in our Petitions at the Divine Throne. 

 

1. The special Love and Grace of God, The Saints are interested in the peculiar Favour of the most High; for having loved them with an everlasting Love, therefore with Loving-kindness be draws them {Jer 31:3}, His Love to them is such, that it has prevailed with him to give his Son to them, and for them {Isa 9:6; Joh 3:16}, which was the greatest Gift that could be bestowed upon the Saints; from whence the Apostle concludes, that God will communicate all Things needful to us: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, bow shall he not with him also freely give us all Things {Ro 8:32}? We are easily persuaded to grant a Favour to a Person for whom we have a particular Respect; and much more may it be thought, that the Lord, who bears an infinite Love to his People, will hear their humble Supplications to him, and give the Blessings which they shall ask. 

 

2. Their Relation to God may justly be improved as an Argument that he will regard their Prayer: They are his Children, and the Objects of his tenderest: Compassion. An earthly Parent, who is not become inhuman, will not be unmindful of the Petitions of his Child, when in Distress, but will give Relief if he is able; then certainly, much more, our heavenly Father will not turn a deaf Ear to our Cries, and refuse to grant us the necessary Favours we crave at his Hand. 

 

3. Divine Promise’s may assist our Faith in this Thing. God calls upon us to attend to this Duty of Prayer, and promises to hear us; Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you {Mt 7:7}. We ought to credit the Word of God, and upon a firm Persuasion of the Stability of his Promises of this kind, come boldly to the Throne of his Grace, that we may obtain Mercy, and find Grace to help us in Time of need {Heb 4:16}. 

 

4. The Glory of God himself is concerned in communicating those spiritual Favours to us for which we ask, as well as the Consolation of our Souls. The Happiness of the Saints is inseparably connected with Divine Honour, which is a wonderful Support to their Faith; for hence they may safely conclude upon their eternal Security. The Christian’s Fruitfulness is to the Glory of his God: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much Fruit {Joh 15:8}. But the Commission of Sin is to his Dishonour; and therefore we have sufficient Ground to hope, that the Lord will hear our Voice, and that his Ears will be attentive to the Voice of our Supplications {Ps 130:2}, when we pray for an increase of Grace, and the subduing of our Iniquity. 

 

5. The spiritual Prayers of the Saints are directed by the Holy Spirit, as has been already observed; it is he who makes Intercession for us with unutterable Groanings, and this agreeable to the will of God {Ro 8:25-26}. Now it may be justly concluded, that the Lord will attend to those Cries of his People which he influences them to, and answer those Prayers in his own Way and Time that his Spirit enables them to put up to him. 

 

6. God has promised to give those spiritual Blessings to his People which they pray to him for. It is impossible that our Prayers should exceed, or equal Divine Promises. God hath engaged to pardon our Guilt, to justify our Persons, to support and defend us, and to thoroughly sanctify and cleanse us: From all your Filthiness, and from all your Idols, will I cleanse you {Eze 36:25}. He will gave Grace and Glory; no good Thing will he with-hold from them that walk uprightly {Ps 134:3}: More than which could not be promised, nor ever can be enjoyed; and therefore we have no Occasion to imagine, that our Petitions of a spiritual Kind will not be answered, because of their great Extent, for the Compass of our Prayers is not equal to that of the Divine Promises. 

 

7. Christ presents our Supplications to God, which in themselves are very mean, but they find Acceptance through him; he is the Intercessor of the Saints at God’s right Hand, and he strengthens their Petitions to him, by praying for them, and offering up their Prayers to the Father, as perfumed with the sweet Incense of his prevalent Intercession; and thus they come up before God with Approbation, which affords sufficient Ground of Encouragement to believe, that we shall receive Answers of Peace from him, although we chatter but as a Crane, or a Swallow {Isa 38:14} when we pray unto him. 

Secondly. Some Things may be observed concerning the Nature of those Answers, which God gives to our Prayers. 

 

1. Sometimes he answers very speedily and quick; thus he did Daniel, And whiles I was speaking in Prayer, the Man Gabriel talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee Skill and Understanding; at the Beginning of thy Supplications the Commandment came forth {Da 9:21-22,23}. As soon as this Man of God began to pray to the Lord, a Commission was given to the Angel Gabriel to go and comfort him, and inform him of the favourable Designs he had about his People the Jews, who were then in Captivity, The Psalmist desired, and was favoured with a speedy Answer to his Prayer from God, in the Day when I call, answer me speedily {Ps 102:2} In the Day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with Strength in my Soul {Ps 138:3} 

 

2. It is the Pleasure of the Lord, at some Seasons, to defer giving us an Answer to our Prayers: We may call, and not be sensible that we are regarded, for a considerable Time; this was the Case with the Church: Says she; speaking of her Beloved, I sought him, but l found him not; I called him, but he gave me no Answer {Song 5:6}; which was a just Reproof for her ill Treatment of him. God’s acting thus towards the Church, caused her bitterly to complain elsewhere, When I cry, and shout, he shutteth out my Prayer: Thou hast covered thy self with a Cloud, that our Prayers should not pass through {La 3:8-44}. When God thus delays to answer our Petitions, let us not imagine that he is regardless of them, since he has acted in this Manner by his Saints heretofore, nor think of neglecting to call upon him, but as enabled, wait patiently for him {Ps 40:1}: The Vision may. be for an appointed Time, but at the End it shall speak, it shall not lye; though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry {Hab 2:3}. God defers his Answer to exercise the Faith, Hope, and Patience, of his People. 

 

3. In some Instance the Lord’s Answers to the Saints Prayers have been direct and full: Thus David was. not only immediately, but fully answered, or God granted him that very Favour he asked. He had been guilty of Sin in numbering the People, and God, to shew his Resentment, sent the Pestilence among them, which swept away Seventy Thousand, and taught David, that the vast Multitude of his Subjects might soon be reduced to a very small Number; upon this he confesses his Sin, and earnestly intreats of the Lord, to put a Stop to the Raging of the Plague, and is answered according to his Desire {1Ch 21:28}. 

 

4. Some Divine Answers to the Prayers of the Saints are not direct and full, but yet they are sufficient and satisfactory. The Apostle, when he had a Thorn in his F1esh, the Messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, he applies himself to God for Relief; he prays a first and second Time and receives no Answer, and the third God doth not grant him what he desired, which was, that he might be delivered from his present Distress, but the Answer given, Was My Grace is sufficient for thee, my Strength shalt be made perfect in thy Weakness {2Co 12:7-8,9}. So that the Lord deferred to give any Answer at all for a Time, and when he did it was not directly suited to the Apostle’s Prayer, but yet it was a gracious one, and fully satisfied Paul. God’s all-sufficient Grace is a sufficient Support under the heaviest Trials and Temptations; and therefore, if he doth not immediately deliver us out of a particular Affliction, or from a particular Temptation, it will be enough if he is but pleased to say, My Grace is sufficient for thee. 

This leads me to observe, 

 

Thirdly. That we should not conclude the Lord is unmindful of our Prayers, if we do not receive an immediate and direct Answer from him in some Instances. As, 

 

1. When we are under great afflictions we may earnestly intreat the Lord to deliver us Out of those Distresses, but not have our Desires fulfilled. God designs to answer the best Purposes by afflicting of his Children. All Occurrences of Providence, however afflictive they may be, work together for the Good of those who love God, and are the Called according to his Purpose {Ro 8:28}. He knows infinitely better than we do, what is best for us, whether Adversity or Prosperity: He intends to wean us from this World, by the Troubles he suffers to invade us, and to bring us nearer to himself by all our Trials. When the wise Designs that he has in view in afflicting of us are brought about, he will stay his Hand, and say it is enough. Since we are incapable of forming a Judgment, when it will be proper that we should be delivered out of any Affliction, we ought to ask for it with an entire Submission to the Will of God; and if he continues it longer upon us than we imagine may be necessary to our Advantage, although we have fervently pray’d for its Removal, let us not from thence infer, that God is unmindful of our Petitions, or that it is in vain to call upon him. 

 

2. The same may be observed concerning a particular Temptation attending a Believer. All the Methods that Satan makes use of to provoke the People of God to Commit Sin, are very destressing to their Souls; sometimes when they are violently pushed on to the Commission of Evil, they conceive that it will be impossible for them to avoid it, which causes them to say, Lord save, or I perish. A Saint may cry earnestly to God for a Deliverance from Temptation, and yet be suffered to labour under it for a considerable Time longer. But this is no Indication, that the Lord is unmindful of our Petitions; he had a merciful Regard to Paul’s Prayer, though he did not immediately free him from his Trouble. 

 

3. If a particular Evil which we may have often prayed against is not subdued, so far as we expect it should be, this is not to be improved as an Objection to the Lord’s regarding our Prayer. To instance in Unbelief: The Believer, it may be, has been frequently thrown into deep Distress by the Prevalence of that Evil, not-withstanding he has made a fervent Application to God, for the Strength and Power of it to be reduced; and to his Apprehension it has been so, he has flattered himself it would never more gain such Advantage against him, as formerly it did, but on a sudden he finds himself to be greatly mistaken; for whereas but a little Time since he thought his Mountain flood strong, yet now, being under Divine With drawings, be is troubled {Ps 30:7}, not only loses, in a great Measure, the Sweetness of those gracious Discoveries he has been favoured with, but also very much hesitates, whether those Comforts were really from God or not, is afraid that they were not the Produce of powerful Grace: Which may hold true of other Evils, for ought I know, though I chose to instance in this. 

 

4. If the Lord doth not give us such a Degree of Comfort as we have intreated for, yet he may mercifully hear our Prayer. It is the Pleasure of God to favour some of his Children with much of his spiritual Presence, so that their Consolation aboundeth by Christ {2Co 1:5}. He gives to them clear and distinct Conceptions of his everlasting Love, and of the Designs of that Love; and also of the surprizing Steps which he has taken, in order to accomplish those Designs: He assists them to act a strong and lively Faith on these Things: Thus they are blessed with an Eminency of Knowledge of, and Faith in, the deep Things of God {1Co 2:10}. Weaker Christians may be discouraged because their Experience is not so enlarged and ripened; especially when they have applied to the Throne of Grace, and earnestly prayed, that God’s Comforts might in the same Manner delight their Souls {Ps 94:19}. But we ought to consider, that in God’s Family there are some Fathers, or such who are more grown and experienced; and, that there are young Men and Babes {1Jo 2:12-13} whose Acquaintance with heavenly Mysteries is not so great. Christ hath Lambs, as well as full grown Sheep, in his Fold, and under his Care; there he acts tenderly towards, for he gathers them with his Arms, and carries them in his Bosom {Isa 40:11}. Now, if we are not equal in Understanding and Faith to some Believers; or, if we are not Fathers in God’s House, this should not discourage us, but rather we ought to be thankful, that we are Babes in Christ; or that we do partake of the same Life and Grace with those who are Fathers, though not in the same Degree. 

 

5. If our Gifts are not enlarged equal to our Desires, we are not to infer from thence, that the Lord is regardless of our Prayers. A Believer, when he has a lively Sense of Christ’s Love to him, and his Heart glows with Love to Christ, he may ardently desire such a Communication of Gifts from him that might fit him for eminent Service, and yet not have these Desires answered; this is no Objection to God’s favourably accepting of them. As David’s Desire, and Intention to build an House for the Lord, was approved of by him {2Sa 12:7}, so these Desires of his People, to be furnished with such Gifts as would render them extensively useful, are far from being unacceptable to him, although he may not design them to that extensive Usefulness; as he did not intend that David should erect his Temple, though he approved of his Inclination to do it. 

 

6. God may not see meet to make us of that Service in the World, and in the Church, which we desire to be; but neither should this occasion us to think he is unmindful of our Petitions. He is resolved upon carrying on his own Interest, in spite of all Opposition; and he makes use of what Instruments he pleases in doing it. Sometimes he effects the most wonderful Things by such Means that we should imagine are very unlikely to be attended with Success; nay, which certainly would not be, but that they are used by Omnipotence, which puts Efficacy into the Means it uses, how much soever they may seem unsuited to the Nature of the Work for which they are designed. It may be the Pleasure of the Lord to make some of his Servants more eminently serviceable in his Interest than others, to whom they are far inferior in Gifts; this he does to hide Pride from Man {Job 33:17}, and to teach us, that Whatever our Abilities be, the Success attending the Exercise of them is wholly from God. If we are not of that Service which we desire to be, it ought to keep us humble; but we should not sink into Diffidence and Unbelief on that Account. The Lord may not see it proper to answer us in these Particulars mentioned, in that Manner or Degree which we could be glad of; but hence we ought not to infer, that our Prayers are unacceptable to him, or that he will not hear us, in what more immediately concerns our Welfare and Happiness. The Reason of which is plainly this, he hath not given us such clear Evidence of his Designs concerning us in these Things, as he has given of his kind Thoughts about us, respecting our Felicity hereafter. The Divine Word doth not inform us, how far we shall be afflicted and tempted whilst here; nor how far Sin shall be subdued, or what Degrees of Grace we shall have, how large our Gifts shall be, nor of what Service we shall be in this World, but it gives us clear Evidence concerning those Things which relate to our eternal State; such as, 

 

1. The Knowledge we have of our Danger and Misery by Nature. Whilst Men are unregenerate they are insensible of their spiritual Wretchedness and Poverty, and Blindness, and Nakedness; they imagine themselves to be rich, and increased with Goods, and to have need of nothing {Re 3:17}; in their own Esteem they are whole, and have no need of the Physician {Mt 9:12}; but when born again, or divinely enlightened, they behold the exceeding Corruption of their Nature {Ro 7:18}, the great Transgressions of their Lives {Ro 5:20}, their own Inability to perform any Duty in an acceptable Manner {Ro 8:8}, the Necessity of a perfect Righteousness, in order to Justification before God, and the Imperfection that attends their own, that it’s no better than filthy Rags {Isa 64:6}; hence they conclude, that they are entirely in themselves, or Irrecoverably soft, unless Divine Favour interposes, and prevents their sinking into eternal Ruin. 

 

2. The Apprehensions we have of Christ: as a Saviour. An Acquaintance with the excelling Glory of his Person is a free Gift {2Co 4:6}. The Knowledge of his Merits being the only and effectual procuring Cause of the Remission of Sins; of his Righteousness, as being available to, and the alone Matter of a Sinner’s Justification before God; and a Sense of the Fulness of his Grace being solely equal to the Supply of our spiritual Needs, are owing to the Influences of the Holy Spirit upon us {Joh 16:14}. 

 

3. An entire Dependance on him, as thus suited to our Case, is an Effect of powerful Grace; for he expressly tells us, That no Man can come to him, except the Father, which hath lent him, draw him {Joh 6:44}. And therefore if we have experienced such a Work, we may be assured that we are passed from Death to Life {1Jo 3:14}, or are spiritually quickened, though we were once dead in Trespasses and Sins {Eph 2:1}; and may say with Manoah’s Wife, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a Burnt-Offering, and a Meat-Offering at our Hands; neither would he have shewed us all these Things, nor would, as at this Time, have told us such Things as these {Jg 13:23}. It will be no Presumption to conclude, that God has loved us with an everlasting Love, if he has thus drawn us with Loving- Kindness {Jer 31:3}; or, that God has predestinated us to become conformed to the Image of his Son {Ro 8:29}; for he has really begun to accomplish such a gracious Decree upon us, and will fully perfect it. Our Confidence hereof is securely built upon the never-failing Foundation of his unalterable Love, and steady Purpose {Ps 103:1; Ro 8:30}; Being confident of this very Thing, that be which hath begun a good Work in you will perform it, until the Day of Christ {Php 1:6}, when he will present us faultless before the Presence of his Glory with exceeding Joy {Jude 20}. 

 

FOOTNOTES 

ft1 Quis hic fuerit non constat, neque quis Pater vel Avus ipsius. 

ft2 Votum fait conditionale, quid vero promicium fit eo voto recicetur. Nameficut Hebraei in jurando, Poenam quam in. Eimprecantur faepe omittunt; ita etiam quandoque, votum sive promissum tacent in precibus eorum. Alii volunt esse formulam deprecativam & to siaffirmative capieadum pro utinam. Poli Synops. in loc. 

 

 

07 Sermon 7 Doctrine In The Supralapsarian Scheme

Created By LeRoy Rhodes 

leroyrhodes@comcast.net 

2006
Remarks Upon a Pamphlet, Intitled, 'Some  

Doctrines in the Supralapsarian Scheme 

Impartially Examined by the Word of God'  

Containing a Defense of Several Evangelical  

Doctrines Therein Objected To 

by John Brine 

SERMON 7 



REMARKS UPON A PAMPHLET, INTITLED,  

'SOME DOCTRINES IN THE SUPERLAPSARIAN 

SCHEME IMPARTIALLY EXAMIN’D BY THE 

WORD OF GOD' 

CONTAINING A DEFENCE OF SEVERAL EVANGELICAL 

DOCTRINES THEREIN OBJECTED TO. 

Printed for AARON WARD, at the King’s-Arms in Little-Britain. 

London 1736. 

 

I HAVE lately met with a Pamphlet, intitled, Some Doctrines in the Superlapsarian Scheme impartially examined by the Word of God, which does not bear the Name of its Author: For what Reason he chose to conceal his Name, I don’t pretend to determine; only conjecture, it might be to keep clear of a publick Imputation of the Want of Skill in the sublime Subjects of which he treats, and of a due Deference to some worthy Persons on whom he pours Contempt. My firm Regard to religious Liberty, and Desire of Improvement in Knowledge, will not permit me to be offended with any who shall think proper to animadvert upon what I publish to the World; and, if treated with Decency and Respect, by such as examine my Opinions, I shall esteem It as an additional Favour done me. How much I am indebted to this Author, on this Account, the Reader will easily determine. It might be justly thought, from the Title this Performance bears, that Impartiality and Ingenuity, with a steady Regard to the Holy Scripture, run through the whole; but any may readily see, that Fronti nulla Fides is a very proper Motto for it.

 

This Writer militates against the Supralasarian Way of stating the Doctrine of Election; which, he imagines, has run its Savourers into many false Opinions and great Absurdities. 

 

Here he opposes it under these Considerations: As a Doctrine destitute of Scripture-Support; repugnant to God’s Foreknowledge; as It lessens the Grace of God; and is injurious to his Justice. The Supralapsarian Opinion, in itself, doth not labour under the Difficulties with which this Author endeavours to clog it. Those who state the Doctrine of Election in this Way, think that the Objects of God’s Choice were considered by him in their Election to the End, that is to say, to eternal Glory, as in massa pura, or as unfallen; but that in Election to the Means tending to that End, they were view’d, as in massa corrupta, as fallen, guilty Creatures.f1 And therefore it is sufficient, to obviate the Objections he advances against their Sentiments in this Point, to give a just Account of them. However, I shall briefly consider his Objections: And,

Object. 1.

He charges this Opinion with the Want of Scripture-Support. In Answer to this, let it be observed: That the Supralapsarians think their Opinion receives some Evidence from these Words, Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the Image of his Sonf2: And also from these Words of the same Apostle, As he hath chosen us in him {Eph 1:4}: Which plainly suggest, that Christ is the Object of Election, as Mediator. Now he could not be considered but as pure; and it is reasonable to suppose, that his Members were so considered, who were chosen in him. This Author’s Sense of these Words is certainly unnatural: He supposes, God chose us to the Enjoyment of spiritual Blessings, in order to effect our Sanctification . Is not Sanctification one of those Blessings? How then can it be said, that we are chosen to the Enjoyment of Sanctification, in order to effect it? The effecting of a Thing is, doubtless, prior to the Enjoyment of it. It is unblameable Holiness, or absolute Perfection in Heaven, that is intended in these Words. And therefore, the Supralapsarians are not guilty of a Contradiction, when they say, that God chose us that we might be holy and not because he foresaw we would so be, previous to that his eternal Choice, as he asserts they are: When they thus speak, they design Election to the Means.

The Decree of God to sanctify his Elect necessarily supposes, that they were considered as sinful Creatures; but his Purpose of their standing before him in un-blameable Holiness in Heaven does not, which is the Holiness designed in these Words. Again, it will be very difficult to prove, that the Elect were ever considered as guilty, sinful Creatures, in Christ. Farther, Christ is laid to be chosen from out of the People {Ps 89:18}. Now, as he was considered pure in his Election, to be an Head to the Church, it is not unreasonable to conceive that those, from among whom he was chosen, were also so considered. Moreover, it is manifest, that Esau and Jacob were not considered as having contracted any Guilt in God’s eternal Decree; when the latter was chosen to everlasting Life, and an Act of Preterition was passed upon the former: For the Children being not yet born, neither having done any Good or Evil, that the Purpose of God according to Election might stand, not of Works, but of him that calleth {Ro 9:11}.

Object. 2.

This Doctrine of theirs is repugnant to their own Opinion of God’s eternal Fore-knowledge. The Supralapsarians freely allow the Doctrine of God’s eternal Prescience; that by one Act of his infinite Understanding, he foresaw all the differing Scenes the Objects of his Election would run through, perfectly consistent with their Opinion of his considering them as pure in their Election to the End, but as fallen in their Election to the Means tending to that End: And this, without the Supposition of Priority, or Posteriority in God, whose infinite Mind conceived of all Things at once; the End, and the Means: Known unto God are all his Works, from the Beginning {Ac 15:18}.

Object. 3.

This Doctrine tends to lessen the Grace and Mercy of God in Election. This is a great Mistake; for, though God chose his People to eternal Glory above the Consideration of the Fall, he decreed to permit it in order to render his free Grace eminently glorious in bringing them to Happiness.

Object. 4.

He conceits it is contrary to God’s Justice. This Way of Reasoning fixes the Damnation of poor Souls on God’s Act of Preterition; if they are rejected as Creatures only, and not as sinful Creatures. In answer, let it be observed, an Act of Preterition was pass’d on the apostate Spirits, considered as unfallen; yet this was not the Cause of their Damnation, but the Sin which they voluntarily committed: Thus, as to the Non-elect among Men, God’s Act of Preterition past upon them, is not the Cause of their Damnation, but their own Guilt. Besides, Pre-damnation, or an Ordination to Punishment, supposes the Consideration of the Fall and Guilt contracted by those who are the Objects of this Ordination to Penalty. The Act of Preterition, or negative Election, was no other than a Determination not to confer such Grace upon the Non-elect, which was no way due to them: And Pre-damnation, or Ordination to Punishment, was only a Decree to inflict upon them the Demerit of their Crimes. In all which there is not the least Injustice.  

Our Author proceeds to take Notice of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification; which he ignorantly imagines naturally springs from the Supralapsarian Opinion:  

Whereas this is a Sublapsarian Doctrine, or follows upon the Consideration of the Fall, as every judicious Reader will easily, observe: For, if we were not unrighteous in ourselves, we should not stand in need of Christ’s Righteousness to justify us. To that Doctrine he objects, that we no where read of being justified before Faith. Though we do not read this syllabically, or in such Terms expressly, yet we read that which is equivalent to it, as will be seen hereafter.  

He goes on to observe some dangerous Opinions, as he apprehends, that follow upon the Doctrine of Eternal Justification:  

Such as these; that we are only to pray for a Manifestation of the Pardon of Sin; and that Sin was imputed to Christ: Two other Things he mentions; that God was eternally reconciled to the Elect, which I shall presently consider; and that God loved and delighted in his People while in Sin, the Defence of which I leave to Mr. Gill; he being more particularly concerned in that Part of the Argument. And therefore, I shall only consider what he offers on the Head of praying for the Pardon of Sin, the Imputation of it to Christ, and Reconciliation.

1st. To begin with, Praying for the Pardon of Sin

And it will be proper to consider what Remission, or the Pardon of Sin is: Which I take to be this; The Will of God, to acquit and discharge us of the Guilt that we contract, or the Non-imputation of it; as seems dear from the Apostle’s Words, Who shall say anything to the Charge of. God’s Elect? it is God that justifies {Ro 8:33}; i.e. he acquits and discharges them. Now God eternally willed not to impute Sin to his Chosen: For, when he was in Christ reconciling the World unto himself, i.e. drawing the Plan of their Reconciliation, it was thus; Not imputing their Trespasses unto them {2Co 5:19}: And therefore, their Pardon is as ancient as God’s Decrees. See this more fully vindicated in my Defence of eternal Justification. If God’s Will, not to impute Sin to his People, or his Will, not to charge their Guilt upon them, is their Pardon or real Discharge, which this Author has not thought proper to deny; and this Will is eternal in God, as all the Acts of his Will most certainly are; then, when we pray for Pardon, it ought not to be with Ideas of God’s beginning to will not to impute that Sin to us, which we pray for the Remission of; but only an Application of Pardon to our Souls, through Christ’s Blood, can be justly intended by us in our Petitions of this Kind. The Instances of Saints praying for Pardon, and the Directions given to us so to do, this Author should have proved intend more than this, in order to establish what he designed: Since he has not, they are of no Service to his Cause; nor do they militate with our Opinion in this Article. I freely confess, I think myself under Obligation humbly to pray to God for Pardon, i.e. a View of it; although I conceive, if I am so happy as to be of the Number of God’s Elect, he has forgiven me all Trespasses {Col 2:13}, past, present, and to come. Let not our Author start, as one in a Surprize, at complete Remission; for ‘tis an Evangelical Truth, whatever he may think of it.

2nd. He opposes the Doctrine of the Imputation of Sin to Christ;  

in which I wish he had shewn more Temper and Moderation: I imagine, the Reader can’t but think him guilty of intemperate Zeal, how knowing soever he may conceive him to be. I apprehend, this Doctrine receives evident Proof from the Sacred Scriptures; which declare, that our Iniquities were laid on Christ {Isa 53:6}; that he, who knew no Sin, was made Sin for us {2Co 5:21}; and that he bore our Sins in his own Body on the Tree {1Pe 2:24}: Which intend a Charge, or Imputation of our Guilt to Christ, as our Surety, as what was necessary to his suffering the Penalty due to us. Our Author does not fairly represent our Opinion, when he makes us say, it cannot consist with the Justice of God to wound his Son, if he is not really the Sinner; for we say punish his Son, not merely wound him: An Innocent Person may suffer, but he cannot be punished, without manifest Injustice, unless some Crime is charged upon him. Since, therefore, Christ was made a Curse {Ga 3:13} in his Sufferings, or the Punishment due to us was inflicted on him, the Imputation of those Crimes to him, that were the meritorious Cause of that Penalty, is necessarily supposed.

This Writer thinks, that when Christ is said to be made Sin, it is to be taken in a metonymical .Sense: And in his Margin gives us this Account of that Trope; A metonomy is a changing of, or putting one Thing, or more, for another. I excuse his bad Orthography; it ought to be Metonymy. It is not the putting of any Thing in the room of another, as the putting of one Contrary for another, which he conceives: Unbelief is not put for Faith in these Words, Lord, I believe, help thou mine Unbelief {Mr 9:24}. The Sense of which is not, Lord help my Faith, but assist me against my powerful Unbelief. Since Christ’s being made Sin is a scriptural Mode of speaking, he ought to have treated It with greater Decency than he has done. It is not designed thereby, that he became impure, either in his Nature, or in any of his Actions; but a Sinner, or Guilty, by Way of Imputation only. As the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to us works no Change in our Nature, from sinful to holy, so the Imputation of our Sins to him effected no Alteration in his pure and holy Nature: That remained untainted, notwithstanding this Imputation of our Guilt to him. He imagines, sin cannot be imputed, be-cause tis not Substance; by which it appears, he is ignorant of the Nature of Imputation. A Substance, or Body, as Stone, may be cast at, or let fall upon a Person, but cannot be imputed to him, or placed to his Account. Farther, The Filthiness of our Nature was imputed to, and atoned for by Christ; or else it will prove our Destruction: And so also, the perfect Holiness of Christ’s Nature is imputed to us; though I do not take this to be our Sanctification, but a Branch of our justifying Righteousness: The Law requiring Purity of Heart, as well as Conformity in Life, in order to our Justification. It is true, that Christ healed distempered Persons of their bodily Disorders, not by taking them upon himself; but it doth not thence follow, that he did not bear away Sin,. By having it imputed to him, and atoning for it, as this Author suggests. It is no other than a Socinian Gloss he puts upon the Words of the Prophet: The Lord hath laid on him the Iniquities of us allf3. Christ was not in all Respects separate from Sinners, except in the blasphemous Accounts of his Enemies, as he asserts: For Sin was as really imputed to Christ, as his Righteousness is imputed to us for our Justification: But this Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness he seems as averse to, as to that of the Imputation of our Sins to him; for he tells us, We are made Saviours thereby. To let aside which, it is sufficient to observe, that we contribute nothing, either to the Being or Value of this Righteousness; nor to its Imputation: And how, therefore, the Imputation of it to us, in order to our Salvation, infers that we are Saviours, will be very difficult for him to demonstrate.

The Liberty he takes with Dr. Crisp is very indecent: Let not this low Defamer conceit, it will ever be in his Power to risk the Reputation of that excellent Person, who has been well defended by such as are no way inferior to him in Learning, good Sense, and Knowledge in Divinity; the Doctor’s own Son, ‘Squire Edwards, and Dr. Chauncyf4. In the Writings of which learned Gentlemen, such Arguments are advanced in Favour of Christ’s being made Sin by Way of Imputation, in which Sense only Dr. Crisp understood it, that, perhaps, he may never dare attempt an Answer to. If some particular Expressions have dropp’d from his Pen, that are not so well guarded as might be wished, the Substance of his Doctrine is solid, Spiritual, and evangelical; infinitely more valuable than what the Performance of this Author can boast. Next he is pleased to treat the learned and great Mr. Hussey in a very scurrilous Manner; him he calls a ridiculous Writer. It might have been thought that his great Learning, extensive Knowledge, and Zeal for Truth, would have raised him, at least, above the Contempt of this Person; who, it will hardly be allowed, is equal to that learned Author in any Respect. The Charge he brings against him, of endeavouring to prove that Christ was not only guilty by way of Imputation, but filthy too, hath no more Truth in it, than the Author of the Charge has Modesty: For he is so far from suggesting any Thing like this, that he very cautiously guards against it. The Simile he makes use of, and which this Examiner mentions, is a sufficient Vindication of him in this Particular: It is this; suppose, says he, a Drop of Ink, or Poison, falls upon a fiery Globe  {Mr 1:1-16}|} could that Ink, or Poison, leave any sullying Mark behind itf5?

Now, though Mr. Hussey, in his Simile, mentions only a Drop of Ink, or Poison, it was not with a Design to extenuate the Sin Christ bore, or the Greatness of the Filth there is in the Sins of the Elect: For he calls it, a Deluge of Corruption, and a Sea of Filthiness to us; though but as a Drop, in comparison with Christ’s infinite Power to Subdue Sin: Which, if this Writer had observed, it might have prevented his making the first Remark upon the Simile, as it effectually answers it. His second is; He should have mentioned the polluting Stuff as poured into the Globe, and not as dropped upon it . I answer, Mr. Hussey did not design a Communication of Sin or Filthiness to Christ; but the Imputation of Sin, with all its Filthiness to him, and the quick Sense Christ had of the Father’s charging Sin upon him, and of the Pollution of that Sin imputed to him; all which was, without his being, in the least, defiled by it: And therefore, our Author is altogether mistaken, in supposing the Doctrine of the Imputation of Sin to Christ: to be Blasphemy, and vile Nonsense. I hope he is one interested in the Intercession of Christ, and shall therefore obtain the Pardon of the Guilt he may have contracted, by his too warm and ignorant Opposition to the Doctrine of the Imputation of Sin to Christ; who, when on the Cross, prayed thus to the Father, in behalf of those of his People, who, through Ignorance, were concerned in his Death, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do {Lu 23:34}: Which cannot, I think, be urged in his Favour, to abate the Greatness of his Crime, in charging Mr. Hussey with making Christ inherently filthy.

If the Evil he has been guilty of in defaming those, who believe and defend the Doctrine of the Imputation of Sin to Christ, should lie on his Conscience, as what was not imputed to, and atoned for by him, whatever he may think of the Matter, now it will inexpressibly wound him. Sin, which Christ was made, stands opposed to Righteousness, which we are made {2Co 5:20}. Now suffering for Sin, or the Penalty due to it, is not to be opposed to God’s Righteousness, or Faithfulness: But Sin, which Christ is laid to be made, may very justly be opposed to that Righteousness which we are made; if we understand by Sin our Guilt, and by Righteousness Christ’s perfect Obedience, which is the true Sense of the Text: For the Apostle certainly intends two Contraries, by Sin and Righteousness. Christ’s being made an Offering for Sin {Isa 53:10}, designs his being made Sin, or Guilt; when thou shalt make his Soul, µça, that is, Guilt; which plainly suggests the Imputation of Sin. The Word is sometimes rendered Trespass; and he shall recompense, wmça, his Trespass. It is used to express Guiltiness; and thou be found Guilty {Nu 5:7}, tmµa Therefore, that it was Guilt or Sin that Christ was made, appears from these Words.

It is very unaccountable, that he should pronounce this Doctrine as absurd and vile, if not more vile than Transubstatiation. In his next Performance, let him prove it to be so, in a single Instance, if he can; he has done nothing towards it in this. I now proceed to consider what he offers on the Doctrines of Reconciliation, Justification and Adoption.

3rd. I shall attend to what he delivers on the Article of Reconciliation:  

And to prevent Mistakes, the Reader will please to permit me to state my Opinion in this Point; I readily allow, that Sin has caused a Distance between God and the Elect, as considered in themselves, on God’s Part, which I need only consider. It supposes,

 

I. A Disapprobation of their Persons, as viewed in themselves: Herein I conceive God is to be considered as a Lawgiver.

II.

That God, by his Law, pronounces a Curse against them on account of their Transgressions: So that God’s Justice, or infinitely pure Nature, and holy Law, stand engaged against them. These two Things, I apprehend, are designed, where they are said to be Children of Wrath {Eph 2:3}., and nothing more. A Purpose of inflicting any Part of the Penalty, demerited by their Sins, cannot be intended; for the Apostle says expressly, God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ {1Th 5:9}. Besides, Christ bore the whole Punishment due to their Crimes; or else he is not a complete Saviour, which he certainly is; for the Father has made him the Captain of his Peoples Salvation, perfect through Sufferings {Heb 2:10}, that is to say, a perfect Saviour: And therefore, Reconciliation cannot design either of these two Things;

1.

That God did not love his People prior to Reconciliation made. Such a Supposition is subversive of the Doctrine of God’s Love to the Elect, as the Cause of the Gift of his Son for them; which is a Truth our Saviour himself plainly teaches us {Joh 3:16}.

2.

It does not intend a Change in his Thoughts concerning them. It is not to be imagined, that God entertained a Purpose in his Heart to take Vengeance on Sin in the Persons of the Elect; but was diverted from such an Intention, by the Sufferings and Death of his Son; for he is not liable to any Change in his Resolutions: The Council of the Lord standeth for ever, and the Thoughts of his Heart to all Generations {Ps 33:11}. And therefore all that can be designed by Reconciliation, is the Satisfaction of Law and Justice; that the former might be magnified, and the Glory of the latter be effectually secured in the Salvation of God’s Chosen: No Alteration in the Affections, or Disposition of the divine Mind, can be intended.

This Author strenuously opposes eternal Reconciliation; and very justly, if he had designed Christ’s making Reconciliation in Eternity: But, since he intends the Reconciliation of God, or of divine Justice, to the Persons of the Elect, he is egregiously mistaken; for the present Being of Christ’s Satisfaction is not necessary to Reconciliation: Divine Justice, or God, as a Law-giver, was reconciled to the Elect, upon Christ’s undertaking to suffer and die for them; although he did not then lay down what Justice demanded. Nor can I apprehend any Difficulty to attend this, more than may be thought to attend God’s punishing of his Son for Millions of Sins that were not as yet committed: Actual Reconciliation doth not necessarily suppose the present Being of Christ’s Satisfaction, is evident; for, doubtless, God, or divine Justice, was reconciled to the Old Testament Saints, who were glorified before the Time of Christ’s Crucifixion. Now, as actual Reconciliation to those of the Elect, did not set aside the Necessity of his making Satisfaction for their Sins, or answering the Demands of Law and Justice in their behalf; Why should it be thought, that actual Reconciliation to them, and all the Elect before Time, renders Christ’s making Satisfaction, or answering the Demands of Law and Justice unnecessary, and makes what he did and suffered ineffectual, yea, needless? Let our Author shew this if he can. But, in order to remove this Difficulty, which expresses his Opinion very hard, let him not imagine, that Abraham, Isaac end Jacob, with other Believers, were not admitted to Heaven till Christ had suffered. When he shall demonstrate, that actual Reconciliation to them, was consistent with the Necessity of Christ’s acting in the mediatorial Character, and dying for their Sins, I shall be able to prove, that the Doctrine of Reconciliation to all the Elect, before Time, perfectly agrees therewith. If he pleases, I will acquaint him with my Notion in this Matter: It is this; Reconciliation to the Persons of the Elect, is founded upon the foederal Engagements of Christ; and therefore, the Certainty of his Suffering was necessarily supposed. From whence it follows, that, unless that which supposes the certain, though future Being of a Thing, destroys the Necessity of its Being, this Doctrine renders not Christ’s Death, and Satisfaction to Law and Justice, or to God, as a Lawgiver, unnecessary. Thus, all our Author’s Reasoning on this Subject sinks at once, which fills up so many Pages. Some Time since, I published a Defence of the Doctrine of eternal Justification, from some Exceptions made to it by Mr. Bragge, and others; several Things in which, this Author has thought proper to take Notice of: He begins with what I have advanced in Favour of actual Reconciliation before Faith. The Words cited by me, as an evident Proof of that Doctrine, are, If, when we were Enemies, we were reconciled to God by the Death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life. The Sense of which, I take to be this; That Paul, and all the Elect of God, were reconciled while Enemies by Virtue of Christ’s Death; and that, in Consequence of this Reconciliation, they become reconciled in themselves, or the Enmity of their Hearts is slain; and, being thus reconciled, they may be assured of eternal Happiness by Christ’s ever living to intercede for them: So that Reconciliation, in the first Branch, intends the Satisfaction of Justice by the Death of Christ; and Reconciliation, in the second, designs the conquering of our perverse Minds by omnipotent Grace. Herein the Apostle’s Reasoning appears very clear and strong; which stands thus: If Law and Justice were satisfied for our Sins by Christ’s Death, when we were in open Rebellion against God; much more, since the Perverseness of our Hearts is subdued, we may steadily expect everlasting Happiness by his Life of Intercession for us: This doth not make the Apostle guilty of Nonsense, or bad Divinity, as our Examiner weakly imagines. It is not a little observable, that, though this Writer militates so much against Reconciliation before Faith, he is yet obliged to grant it: When he comes to give his own Sense of the Words, it is thus; God was hereby reconciled to the Elect, by Virtue of the Price of our Redemption, etc. Doth he allow, that God was reconciled by Virtue of Christ’s Death! How then could he assert, that Reconciliation is not before Faith? Perhaps, he may find it no easy Matter to reconcile Petitions so clearly opposite. Unless I am mistaken, he has, in these few Words, overthrown all that he offers against the Doctrine of Reconciliation before Faith: It may be, hereafter, he will write with a better Guard, and deny, that Satisfaction is made by Christ’s Death, in order to destroy the Doctrine of Reconciliation before Faith; since he is so great an Adversary to it. He conceives, that the Price of Pardon, or the Atonement, must be pleaded either by the believing Soul, or else by his Advocate above for him. But, to what End? Surely, not in order to Satisfaction; for that wholly arises from the infinite Dignity of the Person who suffered: Christ’s Intercession with God, in behalf of his People, adds no Efficacy to his Death, as a Propitiation for their Sins; but his Intercession is founded upon the Compleatness of his Satisfaction. Besides, doth not the Elects Advocate plead his Sufferings in their Favour, while in Unbelief, in order to their believing? And can he imagine, that Christ’s urging his Death, in Favour of his People, is less prevalent with God, than their pleading it when they believe? Moreover, Faith, in pleading the Sufferings of Christ, considers divine Justice as fully satisfied thereby, for the Sins of those Persons on whose Account he suffered; which the Apostle designs in Part, at least, by receiving the Atonement {Ro 5:11}. And if so, it necessarily follows, that Reconciliation has not the least Dependance on Faith, but is prior to it, and doth not commence with the Being of that Grace.

4th. I go on to answer what he objects to the Doctrine of Justification before Faith  

It has been thought, that these Words afford full Evidence thereof: But believeth on him, that justifieth the ungodly. Whereupon he thus delivers himself: I understand, that what Faith applies to, and lays hold of, is intended hereby, and not the Act of Faith only. Not the Act of Faith only; is Faith then, in his Account, a Part of our justifying Righteousness? This is not sound Protestant Doctrine, which teaches that Christ’s Righteousness alone is the Matter of a Sinner’s Justification before God. Those, who favour the Doctrine of Justification before Faith, think it is strongly maintained in this Text; because it is expressly said, that God justifieth the Ungodly: By which they conclude, Believers cannot be designed; nor has this Gentleman thought proper to suggest, that they ever pass under such a Character: And if they do not, then Unbelievers are the Objects of Justification, how unwilling soever he may be to allow it. Why, therefore, does he affirm, that Justification before Faith is a mere human Conjecture, that hath not Scripture to support it? Unless he can prove, that Believers are ungodly Persons, this Text will remain an immoveable Bar to the Truth of what he asserts with such an Air of Assurance: He supposes the Difficulty may be removed; but it is a very odd Method he takes to do it; not by proving that Believers are designed, but charges the Apostle with down-right Contradiction. It is thus: The Apostle, says he, by a long Train of Arguments, is proving that our Justification is by Faith; therefore, it is highly, irrational to suppose, that he should intend here, that the Believer was pardoned, or accepted of God, while be was in Unbelief. If this is not to make the Apostle contradict himself, it will be difficult to determine what Self-contradiction is: He grants, that the Apostle designs Unbelievers, by the Term ungodly; and yet represents him as proving, by a long Train of Arguments, that the Believer was not accepted of God, or justified, while in Unbelief. He adds, This would render the Apostle’s Meaning as remote from good sense as possible, and as ridiculous, as if be should say, If you believe, you shall have Righteousness imputed to you for your Justification; because that Righteousness was imputed to you while you were Unbelievers, or ungodly Sinners. If this is not the native Style of their Doctrine the Supralapsarians then will I submit to be censured for an Idiot. He may be assured, I shall never censure him for an Idiot; yet, I cannot think his Talent, in Disputation, will be much admired; not but he might have succeeded better, if he had understood the Subjects upon which he writes. In order to clear the Supralapsarians, as he loves to call those who entertain the Doctrine of Justification before Faith, from supposing the Apostle guilty of such bad Sense, I need only observe, that they think their Opinion of the Commencement of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness before Faith, is clear from his affirming, God justifieth the ungodly, and that he only can intend the Knowledge of Justification, when he declares it is by Faith; and therefore, they are far from imagining it is, as if he should say, if you believe, you shall have Righteousness imputed to you for your Justification: They think, that cannot consist with his Declaration of God’s justfying the Elect, while ungodly; but allow, it is agreeable enough to the Apostle’s Sense, That, upon believing, the Elect, by Faith, apprehend the Righteousness of Christ imputed to them; and are ready still to maintain, that the Apostle designs nothing more, when he says, we are justified by Faith; if Faith is to be taken in a proper Sense, and the Object of it is not intended. Again, he farther observes, that some-times Justification is spoken of as future: By the Obedience of one, shall many be made righteous. I suppose, by this, he means it cannot be an Act which was past upon the Elect before Faith; but, if he considers that to be, frequently intends the Manifestation of what is; as for Instance, in those Words of Christ, So shall ye be my Disciples {Joh 15:8}; i.e. appear to be; I say, when he shall consider this, perhaps, he may conceive such Modes of Expression, he here refers to, make not so much for his Opinion as he imagines they do. Next he informs us, that Mr. Henry would have the Text read, but believeth on him that justifieth that ungodly one; meaning Abraham, who was an Idolater.

The words are not thus rendered by any learned Person that I know of; Arias Montanus, Beza; Calvin, Pareus, and Hutter, in his Hebrew Version, all read as we do, and the Syriac reads Sinners; and, what Mr. Henry says, will hardly be thought of greater Weight, than the Authority of so many learned Men; nor is there any Necessity for this reading: t ajsebh is, indeed, in the singular Number, but it is not unusually taken in a collective Sense; as in these Words, If the Righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the Ungodly? OJ ajebhv, in the singular Number, as here, yet it designs all the Non-elect; and the Sinner appear {1Pe 4:18}. Besides, if that Reading be admitted, unless it is proved that the Apostle considered Abraham as ungodly when a Believer, the Argument loses nothing of its Force; if he respects him as an Idolater, and not as a Believer, then God justified him prior to his Faith; and, if he thus justified Abraham, he also does every other elect Person.

He objects to Faith being a Manifestation of our Justification, thus: Certainly we must be very uncharitable to the greatest Part of exemplary Christians, if we will not admit any to be true Believers, but such as have the undoubted Manifestation of their being in a justified State. I do not dissent from him in this: But, I think, he will not be capable of proving, that the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, in our Sense of it, involves such Uncharitableness in it: For, though we understand Justification by Faith to be the Evidence, or Perception of Justification, we do not assert, that this must arise to an undoubted Manifestation of our Interest in Christ’s justifying Righteousness. What we maintain is, that Faith acting on the Righteousness of Christ alone, for Acceptance with God, is, in itself, a clear Evidence of the Imputation of that Righteousness to us; inasmuch as it is a Branch of the Spirit’s Work to convince us of the Necessity of an Interest in that Righteousness, in order to our Justification; although, through Unbelief, we may be prevented of apprehending this to be such an Evidence. We farther maintain, that Hope ever acts in Conjunction with Faith; when the latter is wholly out of Exercise, it will be difficult to discover any Actings of the former. Besides, the good Measure of Hope that a Believer has of an Interest in Christ, and his justifying Righteousness, has some Degree of Evidence of such an Interest, or else it would be entirely without Foundation to support it; altho’ that Evidence is not so strong as to carry him to a full Assurance of Faith. Thus it appears, that Faith is an Evidence of Justification by Christ, and that that Evidence is clearer, or less evident, according as that Grace is weaker or stronger: And therefore, this Author mistakes us, if he thinks we assert Justification, by Faith, to be art undoubted Manifestation of our Interest in that Benefit. He tells us, that {Eze 16:8}. is urged in favour of Justification before Faith, but does not acquaint us by whom; perhaps, he met with it in Conversation with some Persons upon the Subject: Which if he did, and thinks it impertinent, Why does he expose it to publick View? Can he be ignorant, that, if every Thing which is offered in Defence of Truth in private Converse among Christians should be made publick, it would not be much to its Advantage? However, I shall consider his Observations on the Text; and he thus remarks upon it, If this Verse is to be understood, as let it be so God’s imputing the Righteousness of Christ, when he is said to spread his Skirts over the Sinner, then I presume, that that Day of the Sinner’s being born, refers to the new Birth, or Regeneration in the fifth Verse. ‘Tis not a little strange, that the allegorical Representation of our filthy, miserable, and helpless Condition by Nature, should be thought by this Author to refer to our Regeneration; for that is all that is designed in the 4th and 5th Verses. I imagine, every judicious Reader will easily see that the Birth mentioned cannot be the new. The 6th and 8th Verses give us an Account of our Regeneration, as a Work that passes upon us when in the deplorable Condition that is let forth in the 4th and 5th Verses. He is very much mistaken in thinking the Soul is represented in the 5th Verse, as conscious of its own miserable State; that is a plain Account of our natural Condition, but not of our Apprehension of that State. Besides, he is as far from the Truth, in supposing, that when God says to us, live, we have such just Apprehensions of our natural Condition; the true Knowledge of that, follows upon the Communication of spiritual Life, and doth not precede it: We are very far from that Humility, and Self-abasement, which this Author suggests to be in us, when God says to us, live. Farther, I apprehend, the justifying Righteousness of Christ may be intended in the 8th Verse, and that, by spreading of it over us, respect is had to a Ceremony used by the Jews in their Nuptialsf6. But this designs not the Commencement of the Imputation of that Righteousness, only the Discovery of it to our Souls for our Consolation and joy; as that Phrase, and thou becamest mine, does not intend that God’s Interest in us commences upon our believing, but only the Manifestation of that Interest, which I shall more particularly consider hereafter. Upon the whole, although this Text doth not furnish us out with a Proof of justification before Faith, it contains nothing inconsistent with it, as this Author imagines.

5thly. I shall consider his Remarks on what I have offered in favour of Adoption before Faith

. The Scripture I quoted to support this was; Because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your Hearts, crying, Abba, Father {Ga 4:6}. I pass over his insinuating that I am infatuated with a blind Zeal, as below my Notice; all such Insinuations will meet with a Contempt from me, equal to that with which he can possibly deliver them. He observes, the Apostle informed the Galatians of the Medium of their Adoption in these Words, For ye are all the Children of God, by Faith in Christ Jesus {Ga 3:26}. How Faith is the Medium, or Mean of Adoption, I am utterly unable to conceive; it is certain, that Adoption is God’s Act, or he fixes us in the honourable Relation of Sons to himself. Now, it is not to be conceived, that God makes use of Faith in this Act of his, it cannot be; for, as we are the Subjects of this Grace, all the Actings of it are proper to us: Unless, therefore, we make ourselves the Sons of God by Faith, or Believing, Adoption itself cannot be by this Grace. Whence it follows, that the Apostle must design by these Words, that Faith is that Grace by which we know our Adoption, and receive the Immunities arising from that Relation. Faith is the Medium, Mean, or Instrument, by which we partake of the Benefits of Adoption, but it cannot be the Medium of Adoption itself; the manifest Reason of which is, that is God’s Act, and not ours. I cannot tell, whether some of his Readers may not think him chargeable with rash Boldness, which he is very forward to fix upon others, when he says, That there is not one Word in the Text that favours the Opinion of Adoption before Faith. He adds, If it had been written to suit their Scheme, it must have read in the past Tense, thus; and because ye were Sons, etc. Had it been thus wrote, the bold Maintainers of Sonship before Faith might have made their Triumphs with a better Grace. Our Author seems to take a peculiar Pleasure in representing the Savourers of the Opinions he opposes, as bold, daring, and insulting Persons: How much to the Advantage of his Argument, it is not difficult to determine. ‘Tis not improbable, but many, at least, may conclude, that his contemptuous Way of Writing carries no great Force of Reasoning in it. He should have considered, that we apprehend our Sonship, or filial Relation to God, is the Cause of the Mission of the Holy Spirit into our Hearts; and that these Words are an evident Proof of it, though expressed in the present, and not in the part Tense. We conceive, the Design of the Apostle is to shew, that the Mission of the Spirit results from this our Relation of Sons to God, which this Author has not so much as attempted to disprove; and of Consequence, that we must be Sons before the Holy Spirit is sent into our Hearts; for the Cause is previous to its Effect. Its being expressed in the present Tense, is no Objection to this, as may be evinced by this Supposition: Suppose a Father having a rebellious Son, yet continues to confer Favours upon him, it should be observed to the Son, that his Carriage renders him undeserving of his Father’s paternal Affection, notwithstanding such a Favour he has bestowed upon you, because you are his Son; would not every one clearly discern that the Relation was the Cause of the Favour being granted to him, no less than if it had been laid, because you were a Son? As easy it is to discover this to be the true Meaning of the Apostle’s Words: And, I am persuaded, this Author will never be able to fix any other upon them; though, through his warm Opposition to the Doctrine irrefragably supported by them, he may be induced to stretch his Thoughts to the utmost, in order to it.

I must confess my way of Reasoning to be very unhappy, if it is justly Rated by this Writer: It is thus; Because the believing Galatians were adopted Children of God, when Paul writ his Epistle to them; therefore Paul was in the same State when he was a Persecutor, and an Enemy to God. He might well ask, if there is any good Divinity, or Reasoning in this Way of Arguing? But, it may be, the impartial Reader will acquit me of such a Way of Disputing, when he considers, that my Design was to argue for Adoption before Faith, from the Million and Work of the Spirit upon the Hearts of the Galatians, as an Effect of their Sonship to God, and so applied it to Paul, it being no less true of him, than of them; and think him either ignorant of the Force of my Argument, or which is worse, highly disingenuous in hating it. Since the Communication of the Holy Spirit follows upon our Adoption, as an Effect doth its Cause; that Observation of mine is true, Regeneration doth not make us Sons; but; because we are Sons, we are regenerated; although he is pleased to call it a daring Assertion. Nor are these Words opposite to it: But to as many as received him, to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God {Joh 1:12-13}: Which intend not Adoption, but the Benefits arising from it: To Believers Christ gives a Liberty, Power, or Right, to claim and enjoy such Privileges as are proper to Children. Neither is this Text; And were by Nature Children of Wrath, even as others. These Words consider the Elect as in their natural Condition; thus they are under a Sentence of Wrath or Condemnation by the Law, which is not at all inconsistent with their Relation to God by Grace; as the Descendants of Adam, they are Children of Wrath; as in, and Members of Christ, they are the Children of God: Nor is it any Contradiction to affirm each of these Things concerning them at the same Time; because they are considered in a two-fold Respect, as what they are by Nature, and what they are by Grace, or as they have Christ for their foederal Head.

He tells us, That the Act of Adoption is the owning us to be Children: But he is greatly mistaken; for, if that is Adoption, it is repeated as often as the divine Spirit witnesses to a Believer that he is a Child of God, that is, God’s owning him for a Son, and evidencing to his Conscience, that he stands in such a Relation to him: But the Act of Adoption is not reiterated, tho’ the giving Evidence of such a Relation is in infinite Mercy repeated. Adoption is an Act in God himself towards his People, it is not a transient Act upon them; and therefore is eternal, as all God’s immanent Acts are. It is no other than an Act of his Will, or a gracious Resolution within himself to account them his Children, and to confer such Privileges upon them, as are suitable to the Nature of so great a Privilege. And therefore, I am very far from being scrupulous to affirm, that there is no Necessity for the Change that Conversion makes, in order to prepare us for Adoption; nay, farther, that Regeneration is so far from being our Meetness for Adoption, that it properly springs from it. The Elect are no less Heirs of regenerating Grace, prior to that Work upon their Souls, than they are Heirs of all future Supplies of Grace and Glory, by Virtue of God’s eternal Will, that they shall be his Sons; which Act of the divine Will constituted them Heirs of God, and joint Heirs with Christ.

I do not except against the Account he gives of Regeneration, and the Actings of a regenerate Person, as consequent upon such a Work in his Heart: That he thinks it supposes a thorough Conviction of Sin, and of the Necessity of a perfect Righteousness, and an Apprehension of Christ as the only suitable Saviour, I am glad to find. But he is guilty of a great Mistake, in thinking Adoption to be God’s acknowledging the new-born Soul to be a Son or Daughter of his own begetting; that respects the sealing Work of the Spirit upon a Believer, and cannot be Adoption itself, as was before observed. The Scriptures which he mentions, to support his Assertion, carry no such Meaning in them; the one is, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God {Ro 8:14} ; that is, says he, they, and none but they. This is too free Addition of his own words to the Apostle, {#as he understands them|}, who lays down the Leading or Instruction of the Holy. Spirit, as a certain Evidence of Adoption: If therefore, he had said, that none but such as are led by the Spirit have the Evidence of their Adoption, it would have been agreeable to the Apostle’s Design. Neither do these Words militate with the Doctrine of Adoption before Faith: Now, if any Man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his {Ro 8:9}. Can this Author imagine, That Christ has no Interest in the Elect, before the Time of their believing? when they were given to him by the Father, he laid down his Life for them; they are called his People by the Father, tho’ unwilling, or in a State of Rebellion against him {Ps 110:3}; and are also acknowledged by Christ himself to be his, even while in that State: Other Sheep I have, which are not of this Fold, them also I must bring {Joh 10:16}. Surely, he cannot thus think; these Things so clearly evince the Elect to be Christ’s before the Time of their Regeneration: And therefore, it is not our Interest in him, or his in us, that the Apostle intends, but the Evidence of that Interest. The next Scripture which our Author takes Notice of, that is urged in favour of Adoption before Faith, is; And not for that Nation only, but that also he should gather together in one, the Children of .God that were scattered Abroad. Upon which he thus remarks; If we should grant for Argument’s Sake, that, by the Children of God, is intended all elect People of God, whether the uncalled, or unborn, as well as them that are called. This he must be obliged to allow, not merely for Argument’s Sake, but as the real Sense of the Words; for all those, whom Christ gathers together in one, are plainly designed by the Children of God: And therefore, the uncalled, and unborn of the Elect, are no less intended, than those who were living at that Time, and called by divine Grace. Yet, says he, I suppose these Men will find no small Difficulty, to engage it on their Side; because this is a Prophecy: And it it well known, that the Nature of prophetic Writings it to speak often of Things to come as present, or past, by calling those Things that are not, as though they were. As for Instance, we read in the 22nd Psalm, 16th and 18th Verses, {Ps 22:16,18} of our Saviour’s Hands and Feet being pierced, as if past and over . The Force of which Reasoning stands thus; Since it is usual in Prophecy to speak of Facts, that are to be accomplished hereafter, as if they were already done, we may nor conclude, from such prophetick Writings, that God, at the present, stands in Relation to the Elect; although such Characters are given to them, in those Writings, which are expressive of his Relation to them. If this Manner of Arguing be allowed of, we may deny, that Christ stood in the Capacity of a King to .the Old Testament Church, from his being so called in a Prophecy {#to which our Author has Reference|} that mentions his riding to Jerusalem on an Ass {Zec 9:9}; which, I presume, he will not think proper to do. Evangelical Prophecies contain Doctrines, as well as Predictions of future Events. Now, though we are not to conclude, that those Events, or Facts, are past and done, because the Prophecy is delivered in the present, or past Tense; yet, certainly, we may be allowed to conceive of the Doctrines, those Prophecies contain, as present Truths: Therefore, though this is a Prophecy, in which all the Elect at, called the Children of God, it is not to be objected to their present Adoption any more than Christ’s being called a, King, in a Prophecy that relates to a future Fact, may be improved as an Objection to his present standing that Capacity. ‘Tis not a little strange, that our Author should be unable to distinguish between Doctrines and Facts, as he seems not to do in his Observations here.

What he offers farther, concerning its being as reasonable to attempt to prove, that Judas had actually sold Christ in Eternity, etc. as that the chosen Number were actually adopted in Eternity, is altogether impertinent, and deserves little Consideration. If his Observations of this Kind are just, I allow, that I am very unhappy in my Way of Arguing, and must be concluded guilty of the greatest Absurdities: But, he may be pleased to observe, I maintain that Adoption is God’s Act, and an Act of his Will, or within himself, and therefore must be eternal. Now, ‘tis not a little unaccountable, that any should imagine, it is as reasonable to suppose the Acts of a Creature are eternal, as that God’s immanent Acts are so. If this Author shall think proper to reply, I desire he would either allow Justification and Adoption to be immanent Acts of God, or else prove them transient Acts; or demonstrate, that, though they are immanent Acts, they are not eternal; every Thing short of this will be nothing to the Purpose. Let him shew us, that there is an Exertion of divine Power, in order to our Adoption, or that a transient Act of God is put forth, which gives Being to this Benefit, or else freely grant, that it is an Act of his Will only. He goes on to observe, that the Doctrine of Adoption before Faith, receives no Countenance from these Words; This, my Son, was dead, but is alive again: He imagines the Difficulties attending this Account of the Prodigal, taken as a Parable, are exceeding great; and also, that he is able to prove, that, if it is so to be understood, the Doctrine of Justification before Faith is destroyed by it {Lu 15:24}; which, I should think, might reduce him to take it in that View, in order to the Service of his Cause. One of the Difficulties he mentions is this; If they understand by the younger Son, the Gentiles, and by the elder, the Jews; How will this comport with the believing Jews giving Glory to God, for his giving Repentance to Life unto the Gentiles? This Difficulty as mutely removed by observing, that not believing Jews are intended, but pharisaical, self-righteous Ones; such as were offended at Christ’s receiving Sinners, and eating with them. Another is started by him.: It is this; If they will have it to be a Spiritual Life that is intended in the Text, then certainly it must refer to one who was formerly possessed of that Life, and so can only relate to a Backslider returned to his God, and to his Obedience; since the Text faith, that be is alive again; which supposeth, that he once, or before his Rambles, was alive. I answer, a backsliding Believer loses not his spiritual Life, though his Liveliness and Vigour may be abated very much by his Backslidings; therefore, Believers cannot be intended. Besides, it may be truly said of Sinners upon their

Regeneration, that they are alive again, who were once dead in Trespasses and Sins; because Regeneration is a Communication of spiritual Life to them: But it is not necessary to understand, that the Life they receive, is of the same Nature with that which they lost; any more than it is, that the Life which the Saints will be possessed of at the Resurrection, when they shall live again, will be of the same Kind with that mortal and perishing one they now live in this World. If he has no greater Difficulties to raise against this being a Parable, it may be taken for one, as far as I am able to conceive; and, since the Prodigal was considered as a Son when dead and lost, it has a very favourable Aspect upon the Doctrine of Adoption before Faith. Our Author is pleased to assert, that Predestination is not Adoption. True, the Act of Predestination is not Adoption, or our Relation of Sons to God; I never met with any who conceived it is. He adds; Nor does it make them Sons, but is an Appointment to Sonship only, appears plain by Ephesians 1:5, Having predestinated us to the Adoption of Children by Jesus Christ to himself, This is too freely affirmed, and without any Proof; Adoption is to be distinguished into the Relation of Sons, and the Benefits proper to that Relation: It is frequently taken for the latter, as in these Words, That we might receive the Adoption of Sons {Ga 4:5}; so also in these, Waiting for the Adoption, to wit, she Redemption of our Body {Ro 8:25}. The Saints are not in Expectation of becoming Sons to God, though they are of receiving that eternal Glory, which arises from their being Sons; according to the Words of the Apostle John, Now we are the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is {1Jo 3:2}. In Predestination we became Sons to God; because God’s Will, that we should be his Sons, gave Being to that Relation; although it did not give present Being to us, or to the Privileges proper to Adoption, and is to be considered as an Ordination, or Fore appointment, of our Participation of those great Immunities only. This is so far from militating with eternal Adoption, that it involves it: For Predestination to the Honour, Dignity, and Privileges of Children, supposes us to be so considered in that Act. That  {Ro 8:9}. is not inconsistent with Adoption, has been already observed. He asks, If it is agreeable either to Scripture or Reason, to call any of our sinful Race Children of God, before they are either born or begotten of God? I hope it has been made evident from Scripture, that the Elect Part of the sinful Race of Mankind, are the Children of God before Regeneration: But, I think, Reason is not to be a Judge in evangelical Mysteries, which are above it; though, at the same Time, I affirm, that it is beyond the Ability of this Author to prove this Doctrine to be contrary to Reason.

I have one Thing more to take Notice of: It is this; Can they be Members of Christ, and yet barren of all Good, but fertile in all Evil? Can this be, when our Lord informs us, that all fruitless Branches are so far from being respected that his heavenly Father taketh them away? Does he then think, that the Elect, while unregenerate, or unfruitful, have no Interest in divine Favour and Respect? or, that God deals with them., as with formal, barren, and hypocritical Professors, who are only in Christ by Profession? This is not impartially to examine our Opinions by the Word of God, but plainly to contradict it; which acquaints us, that, because God loved his People with an everlasting Love {Jer 31:3}, therefore he communicates Grace to them here, in order to Fruitfulness, and crowns them with Glory hereafter, as the certain Effect of the same Love.

To conclude, it will be of great Advantage to this Author in his Writing, if he replies, closely to consider the true Nature of the Subjects upon which he shall treat.

The Want of that, in this Performance, has occasioned him to be guilty of very great Mistakes, in stating the Opinions of those whom he opposes; in drawing such Consequences from them, that are intirely foreign to their Nature; and in advancing such Objections, as do not, in the least, affect the Argument under Consideration: Greater Blemishes than which, can hardly be thought to attend a Polemical Writer.

 

FOOTNOTES 

ft1 Vid. Twiss. Vindic. Gratiae. lib. I. p. I. Digr. I. Sect. 4. P. 16. Digr. 3. Sect. 4. P. 32. Maccov. loc. Com. p. 222, 223. Polan. Syntag.Theolog. 1. 4. c. 9. P. 691.

ft2 Romans 8:29. Keckerman, as cited by Dr. Goodwin in his Discourse on Election, 1. 2. c. 1. p. 81. thus comments on those Words: The Apostle distinguisheth the Decree of God into two Acts; I. Foreknowledge of such as are his. 2. Of Predestination. Which when I weigh, I understand, by the Fore-knowledge, his Decree simply considered of giving to Men eternal Life; as Man is considered without the consideration of the Fall: But, by Predestination. I understand God’s Decree concerning Man fallen; as he was to be raised up again, and to be brought to eternal Life.

ft3 Isaiah 53:6. Vid. Socin. de Servat. p. 2. cap. 4. inter Opera, Vol. II. p. 149.

ft4 Christ made Sin, by Mr. Crisp. Enquiry into Gospel-Truth, by Thomas Edward, Esq; Neonomianism Unmask’d, by Dr. Chauncy.

ft5 Glory of Christ Unveil’d, p. 497, 498.

ft6 Ruth 3:9. Vid. Buxtor. Synagog. Judai. c. 28.

 

 

08 Sermon 8 The Christian Religion not Destitute of Arguments Sufficent to Support it By John Brine

Created By LeRoy Rhodes

Leroyrhodes@comcast.net

2006 

The Christian Religion not Destitute  

of Arguments Sufficient to Support It  

by John Brine  

{London: Aaron Ward, 1743}  

 

SERMON 8  

 

THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION NOT DESTITUTE OF  

ARGUMENTS SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT IT  

IN ANSWER TO A PAMPHLET, INTITLED, 'CHRISTIANITY  

NOT FOUNDED ON ARGUMENT, etc.'  

 

A Testibus dicemus secundum Auctoritatom, & Vitam Testium & Constantiam Testimoniorum — Cum multa concurrant Argumenta, & Signa, quae inter fe consentiant, Rem peripicuam, non suspiciosam videri oportere. CICERO Heren. Lib. 2.

 

Printed, and sold by A. WARD, at the King’s Arms in Little  

Britain 

 

LONDON  

 

{Price Six-Pence.}  

 

In this Age, great Liberties are taken with the Holy Scripture, in order to lessen its Authority, and bring its peculiar Doctrines into Disesteem. The Penmen of it have been represented in the most invidious Light: Their Characters have been used in a most unjust Manner, and a false Turn has been given to almost every Thing they acted. All Rules of Decency, Good-Manners, and Justice, due to the Memory of the Deceased, have been violated, by Gentlemen, whose highest Pretensions are, to Politeness, good Sense and Honour: And if we were to be determin’d, in our Opinion concerning them, by what they say of themselves, no doubt could possibly arise in our Minds: respecting the Justness of their Claim, to the beautiful Characters they profess to be enamour’d with, viz. rational, polite, and ingenious but if we may be allow’d Freedom of Thought and Enquiry on our Part, in making use of that Liberty, we can’t fail of discovering, that they are not the Men, they are extravagantly fond of being accounted.

 

The Author of Christianity not founded on Argument does not indeed proceed altogether in this Method; but it is his apparent Design, to prove that we are Christians, without being able to assign any convincing Reason why we are so, and that Christianity is really destitute of Arguments sufficient to support it. How he succeeds in this laudable 

 

Attempt, I purpose, under the Assistance of him, whose the Scripture is, to impartially weigh and consider. And I promise him all the Advantage that a Searcher after Truth can desire: I will not crave more in Favour of Revelation than, I presume, he will readily allow in everything else, and leave him to determine, why that which is thought a proper and rational Evidence of Truth and Fact, in any Thing but Christianity, must not be so esteemed, where that is concerned.

 

I freely grant him, that Reason is to judge of the Truth of Revelation, and that when rational Proofs are not to be produced in Favour, of any pretended heavenly Discovery, its no better than Enthusiasm, to be persuaded of its divine Original Farther, I allow that Reason is to judge of the Terms and Expressions, used in that Revelation, which it hath been the Pleasure of God to afford to Men. And surely it is just and proper, to interpret the Language of Scripture, agreeable to those Ideas, which are commonly intended to be conveyed by it, when we use the Words and Expressions of which it consists.

 

First. This Writer strenuously contends that Christian Faith cannot be rational f1. Several Things he advances against it.

 

I. We are required to think all alike. This he supposes is impossible; but I am of Opinion that it is far from being so, that, on the contrary, it is very practicable. If we consider what is necessary to Unity of Sentiments among Christians, how different soever their Capacities are, we shall easily discover, that it might reasonably be hoped for. The Scripture contains the Sum of what they are required to believe, and if the Word of God, which is the only Rule of their Faith, in its Terms and Expressions was duly attended to, and their natural and obvious Interpretation, was freely allowed of by all, there would not be any material Difference among Christians.

 

For Instance, the holy Scripture affirms that God is one, and that he alone is to be worshipped. The Lord thy God is one Lord. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Farther, it as expressly requires us to worship three, Father, Son, and Spirit, in the Commission given to the Apostles, to teach and baptize {Mt 28:19}. Hence it is easy to see, that Unity of Sentiments, in this Doctrine, upon the Evidence of Revelation, relating to it, is no difficult Matter: It is as easy, as to understand, that in Numbers, one is not three, and that three consist of three times one. It is not difficult to discover, that there is but one God, and that these three, Father, Son, and Spirit, are the one only living and true God. The Scripture doubtless, has a proper and determinate Sense, and that Sense certainly is, what the Words and Expressions of it properly import; and therefore, when Christians are required to be of one Mindf2 no more is design’d, than, that it is a Duty common to them all, to interpret sacred Writ, without any Force or Violence, and to readily allow, those Ideas to be true, which are therein express’d. If this was done, it seems evident to me, even to a Demonstration, that very little Difference in Opinion would be found among them. And such is the Language of the Bible, that a Reader of ordinary Capacity, and unfurnished of Learning and Science, may understand it, and form a true Judgment of its Doctrines.

 

II. Men are threatened into Consequences, says he. If by Threatening, he means human Threats of Punishment, in case they form not their Judgments, agreeable to the Opinion of others, as that is foreign to the true Nature of Christianity; I have no Concern with it, shall not defend, but condemn it, as much as himself. But if he intends the divine Expression of Displeasure, in Case Men disbelieve that Doctrine to be true, which they can’t but know, is agreeable to the Language of Scripture, and is the proper Import of the Words and Expressions, It uses, it is highly just. For surely if God condescends to reveal his Will to Men, and addresses them in such Language, as is in common Use among them, and which they are capable of understanding, it is nothing unreasonable to threaten them with Punishment, and actually inflict it, if they refuse to believe, that when he speaks of one, he means as he speaks, and that when he speaks of three, he intends as he expresses himself.

 

III. He observes, that we are baptized into Christianity when we are Infants, and know nothing of the matter. As I think this Practice not agreeable to Christianity, and can’t but esteem it an Innovation, I shall not say any thing to it. Let them defend it whose Practice it is, if they are able.

 

IV. Praying for Improvement in Christian Knowledge, he thinks inconsistent with a Conviction of the Truth of Christianity, upon rational Evidence. Is Prayer then needless, where we are to exercise our reasoning Powers? It is by our Faculty of Reasoning, that we discover the Difference between Right and Wrong, Truth and Falsehood. Now is it an improper Thing, to pray to God, to bless the means, which in Providence he hath afforded us, of the Conviction of our Duty, for our Increase in the Knowledge of it: And to pray, that our corrupt Habits and evil Inclinations, may not influence us to act a Part, for which our Consciences would certainly condemn us? Is it then preposterous to offer him our Praises, for the good Influence our Knowledge, under his Providence, has over our Lives, to make us virtuous, wife and just in our Conduct? Of this Opinion indeed was Cicero, and some other Philosophers, and also Poetsf3 But this immediately strikes at the Root of all Religion, not only revealed, but also natural, and perhaps, by so much the more, it may gain the Approbation of this Infidel.

 

V. Says he, The rational Christian, whoever be he, must have originally set out a Sceptic, and hesitated for a Time, whether that Gospel were true or false. But why is this necessary, is there nothing, that we rationally believe, but what we doubt of the Truth of for a Time? If so then let me become a Sceptic in some other Matters, besides Christianity. For Instance, let me doubt whether Language had the same, and not a contrary Meaning, in the Times of Plato, Cicero and Epicetus, etc. as it hath now, and call upon this Man to prove it had the same, if he is able: This I assure him is done with a favourable View to those Philosophers, and he may thank me for it, because if we fall into the Opinion, of a Change of Language, Plato and some others may be defended from allowing the detestable Practice of the promiscuous Use of Wivesf4, and Cicero may be acquitted of Pleading for Obscenity and Uncleanness, and by this means Epictetus may be cleared of encouraging Dissimulation and Hypocrisy in the Worship of Godf5. And therefore I should think this Gentleman, who it is probable has a great Veneration for these extraordinary Men, may consider this as a happy and ingenious Thought, and deferring his Thanks. But the Mischief is, if it should be allowed, that Language had in those Times a contrary Meaning to what it now hath, then we must understand those excellent Philosophers, to recommend Vice, when they condemn it, and to condemn Virtue when they extol it. Then it will follow, that in their Opinion, not the wife and virtuous Man is happy, but the Fool and the Knave. Then we may prove, that when they deliver the best Sense, they express the greatest Nonsense.

 

This would lead us to conclude, that Xenophon thought God knows nothing of Things part, nor present, nor Things to come f6. Again if Doubting is necessary to rational Belief, then why may I not doubt, whether it is unlawful to take away this Man’s good Name if he has one to loose, whether it is unlawful to deprive him of his Property, or even of Life itself? Why should I think, that Slander is a criminal Thing, or that Theft is unjust, or that Murder is sinful, before I have examined upon what Principles I am to view these Actions in such a Light? And, if while I am undetermined in my Opinion, and am only upon the Enquiry, I should do either or each of these Acts against him, why should I expose my self to Censure and the Penalty of the Law, for doing what I have received no Conviction, is criminal, but so far as I can discover, is, if not virtuous, at least indifferent? Farther then, why may I not doubt, whether there is a first Cause of all Things, whether there is indeed a God, and if, while I am in Scruple, {#which by the Way may be the whole of my Life|} I deny him all Honour, Worship and Adoration, surely I am nothing Criminal, in this Matter, for however evident it is in itself, that the World rose not into Being, without the Exertion of an infinite Power, I am uncapable of seeing that Evidence; and therefore, it is nothing at all to me, and by Consequence, I may lead my Life, without any Fear of God, without paying him any Honours, or Desires of his Favour and Protection, and beperfectly innocent all the while.

 

To proceed no farther in this wild and extravagant Manner of speaking, as there is, a rational and irrational Belief, so there is a rational and irrational Doubting. If it be the Character of a Sceptic, to doubt without Reason, whatever he may think of it, he excels not in Wisdom and good Sense the Enthusiast, who believes without Reason. One is as irrational as the other. And to speak freely, the Sceptic is that in Doubting, which without Reason, he charges upon the Christian in Believing, not the wife and understanding Man, but the foolish and unreasonable one. To doubt whether there is any Difference, between Right and Wrong, Truth and Falsehood, Virtue and Vice, whether Right, Truth and Virtue are amiable, and Wrong, Perfidy and Vice are monstrous and evil, will hardly be allowed rational, and if not, then there are some Things rationally believed, where Doubting cannot reasonably take the least Place. And question not, but Christianity will appear to have such Evidences and Arguments in its Favour, as will necessarily oblige every rational and unprejudiced Enquirer, to allow, that no Doubt can reasonably be admitted concerning Its Truth and great Importance.

 

VI. He objects that, Morality is of no esteem without this Christian Belief. In answer to which, I observe, that Virtue and a good Life, are certainly very advantageous, a Person who indulges not to Pride, Coveteousness, Uncleanness, Malice and Revenge, will not be attended with the uneasy Consciousness of having so done. But if Men-actually are defective in Morality, if they still are not what they ought to be, if they have in any Instances, acted what they ought not to have done, they are justly liable to the awful Resentment of that God to whom they are, accountable in their Conduct in all Things. And, if Men in Fact are such in their Behaviour, either thro’ Defect in Duty, or in acting contrary to it, as that they on account thereof, deserve the Displeasure of why should it be thought unreasonable, that they are not accepted and rewarded by him, for an Obedience, which is allowed to be deficient and stain’d with Guilt? If indeed, any Man, this Writer for Instance, is as pure and regular in all Things, as he ought to be, I am free to grant he will not be condemn’d, but be approved by his Maker, and receive Happiness from him. But if he is not the Man he ought to be, in every Branch of his Conduct, he will find nothing contrary to Goodness or Justice in his Condemnation.

 

Here he seems to discover a Dislike of expecting Pardon, alone through the Mediation of Christ, if Revelation had not recommended that Doctrine to us, I suppose this Author would not have represented it as destitute of Arguments and Evidences, sufficient to support its divine Authority. In this Place he also observes that we may not live long enough to go through with a proper Enquiry, into the Evidences of Christianity, and that, that may prove of fatal Consequence. Prodigious Labour, great Pains and long Study it seems, are necessary to a rational Belief of Christianity! Labour as great, as to learn the Import of the Terms, God, Sin, Punishment, Saviour, Mediation and Suffering, to which how few are equal! Labour as difficult as to discover, that none but God can foreknow the free Actions of Men, and declare the Parts they will act, Centuries of Years before they exist, that none but God is able to alter the Course of Nature, raise the dead to Life, and work Miracles of the like kind. A Talk attended with as great Difficulty, as discovering that Men existed more than seventeen Hundred Years ago, and what Proof can be given of that, which may be thought a proper Foundation for a rational Belief of it? Extraordinary Labour this, doubtless! to which every Man of common Sense is equal, and may, and must, be assured of the Truth of Christianity, if he exercises Reason, the very Moment he takes into Consideration the Evidences of it, upon such Testimonies, as he would believe any else in the World, better Testimonies than which, he has not, to found his Belief upon, that the World existed, so long a time since, as Christianity is supposed to have been introduced into it.

 

VII. Few Men, says he are qualified for Reasoning. This Writer would doubtless be esteemed of the Number of the happy Few, who have this rare and uncommon Qualification. He is able, by his superior Penetration to discover that Works proper to God, are not clear and sufficient Proofs of the Exertion of his Power, that Predictions of the Parts Men Will act Hundreds of Years before their Appearance on the Stage of Life, which he only can be acquainted with, is no infallible Evidence of his conveying to us the Knowledge of his Willf7. He is able to prove, by his admirable Talent of Reasoning, that we have no certain Ground to believe, that there ever were such Men in the World as Alexander, Plato, Cicero, or Julius Caesar: Nay, that it is a Thing disputable, whether the World is two Centuries old, for we have it only upon Report and Hearsay, which are very fallible and uncertain Things. And if indeed the World is of such Standing, as the Times in which these Men are supposed to have liv’d, he can teach us, that it is uncertain whether Language has not passed under an entire Change, that those Terms which now stand for Virtue might then mean Vice, and these Words which now express Valour, might then be used to express Cowardice, and therefore, we learn from this accomplished Reasoner, that it is uncertain, when we read Plato, or Cicero, Quinius Curiius, or Caesar’s Commentaries, whether we are to understand them of recommending Virtue or Vice, whether Alexander was a Coward, or a bold and resolute Man, whether Currius and Caesar speak of Flight or of Victory. Rare Discoveries these indeed, and truly worthy of a Free-thinker or Infidel.

 

VIII. The Reasonableness of Religion in Speculation nothing to the purpose, says he: It is one Thing whether a Proposition be indeed true in it self, and another whether a Man be bound to apprehend and believe it. A Man is bound to believe where doubting is unreasonable, for Diffidence is unsupported by Reason, is as irrational, as Faith without Evidence, and Foundation. And with Respect to the Proofs of the Truth of the Christian Revelation, they are such, as admit not of rational doubting. Works, which men really must and cannot but know, to be truly divine: And discoveries of future Events, which depend on the free Actions of men, are incontestable Proofs of a heavenly Appearance and Instruction: And if we have such Evidence, of Works of this Sort, being performed, and such Discoveries being made, as is thought sufficient to support us in the belief of other Facts done, as long a Time since, it is here doubtless, altogether as valid and sufficient, and it is not Reason to scruple that Evidence, but downright Madness and Obstinacy. Besides, no uncommon Degree of Knowledge and Improvement, are requisite to enable a Man, to discover that, interrupting the Course of the sun, or of the Earth, is a Work proper to him, who gave Motion to the one, or to the other; whether it is a Work truly divine and proper to God, the Fountain of Life, to raise a Person from the State of the Dead. A Man must as certainly, and as soon be persuaded of this, as that God formed the World, and upholds the Frame of Nature.

 

IX. Says he, The ablest and best of Men are disqualified for fair Reasoning, by their natural Predjudices. How! yes, how! The ablest and the best Men disqualified, etc. I ask how Man came to be rid of all his natural Predjudices and Prepositions, is he so happy? Why then may not some others also enjoy that Happiness? Does he think, that he is the only Person in the World who possesses this most desirable Privilege? After this, surely, we may credit him, if not our Savior, or his Apostles. Here is a Man divested of all Predjudices, the thing which prevents the ablest and best, of Men {#well then he is not of that Number|} of finding Truths: That to believe a doctrine attested by supernatural Works to be true, is sound and credulous: That to yield an assent to the Truth of Facts; which all the Reason we have, dictates to us are indisputable, upon the Evidence afforded us in Confirmation of those Facts, is unreasonable. In short, let us give up ourselves to the Instruction, of this singularly happy Man, and let him enjoy an Honour, which the ablest and best of Men, because of their natural Predjudices, have no just Claim to viz. to be esteemed fair and impartial in Reasoning. He is no doubt an Interpreter of Ten thousand. Had he not conceal’d his Name, what Honours would have been paid him, and what humble Submissions, would have been made to him! How in the World came this non-such Man to affect Secrecy? If thro’ Humility, he is more modest, in my Opinion; than he is discerning, whoever he be; but I don’t take it, that this is the Fact: I rather think somewhat else, viz. a Consciousness of endeavouring to shock the Christian in his Faith, upon Grounds, far from being rational or just.

 

X. A rational Faith when attained would not answer the Ends. He instances in several Things,

 

1. It would not work Miracles. A mighty Discovery! Who ever thought that a Persuasion of the Truth of Christianity, upon the most reasonable Conviction, would enable a Man to perform miraculous Works? Christianity requires it not, suggests it not.

2. It would prove too cold. This is also granted without any Prejudice to the Cause of Christianity.

3. Too changeable. That some have altered in their Sentiments, with relation to very important Doctrines the Christian Religion, is well known; and it is equally well known, that they have so chang’d, without reasonable Grounds and Motives: As did Dr. Whitby, to whom this Writer has Reference.

4. Would not administer that Spirit of Comfort, in the Reflection. This is freely granted.

5. Not of Force, sufficient, to command the Passions. This is also readily allow’d.

6. Much left to suffer Martyrdom. This is not denied. But what are all these Things to the Point in View? What if a Persuasion, upon the most rational Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion, will not influence a Person to all, or any of these Things: but something must be superadded to that Persuasion, is this any Proof, that the Belief of Christianity, is without rational Ground and Evidence?. Because Men act not up to their Principles, is that to be objected to the Reasonableness, of the Belief of those Principles? A small Degree of Reason, far less to be sure, than this Author is Matter of, will enable a Person to discover the Absurdity of such an Imagination.

 

Secondly. This Writer undertakes to prove, that Christ and his Apostles, never proceeded in this Method of giving rational Evidence of the Truth of those Doctrines they taught, but constantly required Men to believe without it.  

 

Before I enter upon the Consideration of what he offers, on this Head, I desire it may be carefully observed, that those Things which were Proofs of the divine Mission of Christ, or of his being a Teacher come from God, ought to be allow’d Proofs of the Truth of those Doctrines he delivered: And that if his Apostles failed not to give full Evidence, of their having a heavenly Commission to teach, it is Unreasonable, not to allow that Evidence to be a Proof of the Truth of those Points of Doctrine they inculcated. Now Christ gave the fullest Proof of his divine Mission, such as would not admit of the least reasonable Doubt. He proves it by the Writings of the Prophets, who all spake of him, of his Family and Birth, of his Circumstances and Wisdom, of his surprizing Works, of his Sufferings, Death and Resurrection, all which Particulars were exactly fulfilled in him, and therefore, were evident and undeniable Proofs, of the extraordinary Mission of those Prophets, as well as of the divine Mission and Authority of our Saviour himself. Again, he confirms it by his Works, the miraculous Works which he performed bore witness of him, he healed the sick, gave Sight to the Blind, cleansed Lepers, cast out Devils, and raised the Dead to Life; which were the Works of such a Nature, as could only be effected by divine Power, and therefore, not to be performed by a Person who had not a divine commission. To these Works Christ appeals, and urges them as Proofs of his being sent by God, both with the Jews and with his Disciples. With the Jews, If I do not the Works of my Father, believe me not: But if I do, tho’ ye believe not me, believe the Works: That ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. {Joh 10:37-38} In the same Manner he reasons with his Disciples: The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the Works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me: Or else believe me for the very Works sake. {Joh 14:10-11} Since our blessed Redeemer gave abundant and unexceptionable Proof, of his being clothed with divine authority, is it reasonable to think he was too assuming, when he taught as one having Authority, and not as the Scribes, who were not invested with such heavenly Powers? Surely not. And since his disciples had clear and full Evidence, of his divine Mission, was it unreasonable to expect, that they should readily assent to the Truth of what he taught: And were they not justly blamed for not believing him to be the Person, they had the highest Reason to conclude he was? Christ’s reproving them for Incredulity, when the had all reasonable and sufficient Ground to believe, is objected to the Clearness and Sufficiency of the Evidence afforded to them, in order to the Faith. And if they had appeared forward of Belief, then, no doubt, this Man would have represented them, as credulous, and disposed to believe, without a solid and substantial Ground for Faith, and have argued that, for that Reason their Testimony is less deferring of our Notice. — This Man’s Sneer at the Disciples of our Lord, how much soever he may be delighted with the fine Turn of Wit it contains in it, is as bold and impious, as ‘tis low and trifling: It is this, they knew nothing of Reasoning, it was quite out of their Element; they had had their Education on the Water, and tho’ they understood their Trade so far as to be well versed in mending their own Nets, would go near it is likely to be entangled themselves, when they had to do with the figurative ones of sophistry or Syllogism. The Art of Logic is doubtless of Use in Reasoning; but that Men know nothing of Reasoning, who have not made themselves Masters of that Art, is an Observation, that a Man of the least Degree of good Sense or Modesty, would even blush to make. But why does this Man mention Sophistry? I hope he don’t think that every Syllogism is a Sophism; if he does, he is not much better acquainted with Logic, than the most credulous Christian he despises. Sophisms either express what is not true, or less than is true, or more than is so, and therefore, Truth is not to be taught or demonstrated by Sophisms; and by Consequence, a Teacher of Truth only, as our great Lord was, can’t be supposed to make use of Sophisms. Besides, Christ reasoned in the most clear and nervous Manner, infinitely better than this Man any where does; and if he pleases, he may, put his Reasoning into a syllogistical Form, if that will give him Satisfaction: Thus, Whatever God gives Testimony to, is true; he gives Testimony to my Doctrine by his Word and by Works, and therefore nay Doctrine is true. This is the Manner of Christ’s Reasoning in {Joh 5:36-37}, The Truth of the Proposition or Major must be evident to every Man, I suppose to this Author, and the Truth of the Minor cannot be call’d into Question, without giving the Lie to Christ, who is Truth; and at the same Time offering Violence to Reason, and therefore, the Assumption; I should think must necessarily be allow’d.

 

Again, tho’ the Disciples were Persons unprovided with Learning in the common. Way, they did not remain illiterate, for by a Miracle they became such Linguists, as this Author may despair of ever being {Ac 2:4,8-9,10}; which by the way is an evident Proof of their divine Mission. And Christ, who sent them to preach; was a Mouth and Wisdom to them, which all their Adversaries were not able to gain say nor resist. Farther, is it to be expected of a divine Teacher. that he shall evidence the Truth of his Doctrine, by Argumentation and, Reasoning from natural Principles? What Need. is there, for a Teacher, who proceeds in this Way only, to prove his Call to teach, by a pompous Shew of Miracles, since he advances no other Doctrines, than what he confirms by Argument and Logic? Is there any Necessity to excite Men’s Belief of such Principles, by supernatural Works, which when clearly stated and fairly propos’d, they must needs know to be true by the Light of Nature? This surely is unnecessary. But, as our Saviour taught Doctrines, which, Reason could never discover, tho’ they are not contrary to it, it was proper and necessary, that his Mission from Heaven should be well-attested, as it really was, that no Ground of Scruple might remain concerning the Truth of those Doctrines. Moreover, since many of the Principles, our blessed Lord and his Apostles preached, were not discoverable by Reason, it is irrational to expect, that he or they should prove them by Reasoning and Logic: For that is arguing from some known and allowed Principle of Truth, to the Truth of Some Other Thing connected with it, dependent on it, and necessarily arising from it.

 

This Author charges Our Lord with being backward of explaining to his Disciples the Doctrine he taught, but without the least Foundation, for tho’ he reprov’d them sometimes, for their Incredulity, as he very justly might, he was never wanting to favour them with farther Instruction and Explication, upon Application to him for that Purpose. Another false Charge this bold Man dares to exhibit against him, viz. that he expected Conviction to precede Evidence, as the germs of a Favour consequently to be enjoyed: Because in some Instances he asked Persons desiring a Miracle to be wrought by him, in their Favour: Believest thou that I am able. But how is this a Proof, that he expected Conviction to precede Evidence? He only call’d upon them to express that Faith they acted on him, supported by preceding Evidences of his divine Power and Mission. Farther, whereas he infers the same Thing, from the Pharisees requiring a Sign, and Christ’s blaming them for it, he is quite beside the Truth, It by no Means appears, that Christ consider’d it Presumption and wanton Curiosity to expect Evidences of his heavenly Power and Authority, in order to believe in him, for many such he gave, to that End; But the Case in Fact was this, they wanted a Sign from Heaven {Mt 16:1}, they would chouse the Sign themselves. Most unreasonable and impious! What if divine Power is exerted to confirm the Truth of any Doctrine, in working a great Variety of Miracles, shall Men refuse to believe, because such a particular Miracle is not wrought, as they desire, and take upon them to dictate to the Almighty what Sort of Wonders he shall work, if he gains their Credit? Well might our Saviour call them an adulterous Generation, for this daring Presumption and Impiety, Yet let it be observed, that our Lord gave at the same Time, Assurance of such a Sign, Which is an unexceptionable Proof of his divine Misson, viz, his Resurrection from the Dead, which was attended with an Appearance of Angels from Heaven.

We now come to the Apostles: This Writer might have spared every Word he here expresses, He observes they had not Leisure, nor Qualifications for Reasoning. And what then, if they’ had not Leisure nor Qualifications, for doing what it was not their Business to do, no Damage will thence arise to the Cause of Christianity. They brought Doctrines agreeable, to, and of which, Reason was capable of making some feebler and less evident Discoveries. And they discoursed of those Doctrines, in a much better Manner, than ever any Philosopher did, or than this Man, who despises them and their Writings, is able to do; and urged the Practice of all moral

Virtues, upon the Command and Authority of God, and the Pain of his Displeasure, if Men did not; which Manner of treating on moral Subjects, is, I suppose, exceeding disagreeable to the Taste of this extraordinary Man. It is farther to be observed, that they taught some Doctrines, quite cut of the Verge of Reason, concerning God, and his Purposes, concerning Sin and its Consequences, and a Deliverance from all the dreadful Effects of it, by the Mediation and Death of Christ: Things out of the Reach of Reason, and which it could never have discovered; it is therefore irrational, to expect Demonstration from Reason of their Truth. What the Apostles had to do, as Teachers of Mankind, was to prove their heavenly Mission and Authority, which when done, as it actually and fully was done: For God bore them Witness both with Signs and Wonders, and divers Miracles, and Gifts of the Holy Ghost; they might lawfully claim a Right to be heard and credited, without Wrangling and Dispute. But this Person will not allow Miracles to be a sufficient Proof of Doctrine, because, as he is pleased to assert confidently enough, they have Time out of Mind undoubtedly been performed in Favour of false Doctrines. I find however incredulous the Author is, with Relation to Bible History, he is not so with Respect to other Histories, it requires, as he pretends, an extraordinary Degree of good Sense, and the Acquisition of a considerable Share of Learning, to be able to form a true Judgment of the Facts, recorded in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles: And they at most have only a. Probability of Truth; but other Histories are easily understood, and the Facts reported in them may be proved true, and relied on, without that labour’d Reasoning necessary to prove the Truth of those Facts related in the Holy Scripture. I must take the Freedom to tell him, that as he is a Sceptic, with regard to Revelation, I am so with Respect to this confident Assertion of his, I doubt of its Truth, and challenge him to prove, that real Miracles were ever wrought in favour of false Doctrines: Let him tell us of what sort, by whom, when, in what Place, upon whom, and before whom, they were performed. He who is so incredulous himself, where the Authority of Scripture is concerned, may surely allow another, not to take up with a Thing, upon his have Affirmation, without proper Vouchers. I am tempted to think, how reasonable soever this Demand is, he will excuse himself of the Labour, from a Consciousness of the Difficulty attending it. Let him not take lying Wonders for real and true Miracles, as here he does: This, says he, the Scripture it self confesses, when it warns us of lying Wonders, and false Christs. We see a Man of distinguished Capacity, and singular Accomplishments may mistake, where the rude and unpolish’d would not, he takes false Christs for the true Christ, and lying Wonders, for real and true Miracles: If he does not, he argues most impertinently. He is speaking of true Miracles, the Scripture speaks of lying Wonders, of Things that seem to be of an extraordinary Nature, but are not in Fact: what they seem to be. But, because lying Wonders and feigned Miracles, may be performed by Imposters and false Teachers, it by no means follows, that real and true Miracles. may, such as were wrought by Christ and his Apostles. Lying Wonders may be done by lying Teachers, but true Wonders can only be effected by Teachers of Truth, in Confirmation of their Doctrines. I can no more believe, that God would exert his Power to work Wonders, to confirm a Lye, than I can think, he is able to express a Falshood, the former seems to my Understanding, as irrational as the latter, and as much contrary to the Rectitude and Truth of the divine Nature. Next follows a very extraordinary Observation, in our Author’s Performance, viz, The Miracles of Christ and his Apostles, says he, were natural Effects of Gospel, Benevolence. And what then, do they lose any thing of their Force, because of that? What, because they were Works of Mercy, as well as of Power, is the Evidence they afford less clear and shining? It may be it would have greatly gratified this Writer, if the Miracles of our Saviour and of his Apostles had been of a contrary Nature, if Men had been rendered miserable instead of being made happy: If they had been delivered into the Hand of Satan to torment and rack them, instead of being rescu’d out of his power, if they had been kill’d instead of being raised to Life when dead: I say perhaps, Wonders of such a Sort would have highly gratified him, that he might have had an Opportunity of objecting to the Christian Religion, as introduced with Cruelty and Vengeance, and not suitable to the Goodness. of God, and therefore not likely to be any Religion supported by his Authority, Let this Man perform Works of the same Nature, and display the same Benevolence as Christ and his Apostles did, in healing the sick, giving Sight to the Blind, cleansing Lepers, and raising the dead to Life, if he is able, and I will acknowledge him to have a better Title to being credited in his bold Assertions, than at present, I can persuade myself, he has a just Pretension to. Again, he observes, especial Care was taken not to have them made public. Our Lord then was not ostentatious and ambitious of popular Applause. So far sure he may be intitled to the Characters of humble and modest. It had been happy for this Man, if in any Degree, his Temper and Conduct had given him a Claim in Characters like these. But, what this Person aims at, in this Observation, he will never be able to prove, viz. that our Saviour did not work Miracles, in the Presence of a sufficient Number of Men, to give an undeniable Testimony to their Truth: For various of his Miracles were done in the Presence of many Witnesses, yea in the View of his Enemies, and they were obliged to confess the Truth of them; that is to say, such of his Miracles, as he intended should stand in the Face of the World, for Proofs of his Authority and heavenly Powers. And his forbidding those on whom miraculous Cures were wrought in private, spreading them abroad, is an Evidence, that he was resolved the Proof of his divine Power and Authority, should not rest on Facts, which, on Account of their Secrecy might be disputed; but on such Facts, as were well known and might be attested, beyond all Possibility of Contradiction.

 

Farther, he remarks that, seeking them was discouraged, and instances in Herod. This is recorded in {Lu 23:8}. If an extraordinary Person appears in the World, and gives Proof of his heavenly Mission, in the Presence of many Witnesses, shall it be Matter of Charge against him, or thought a Defect in the Evidence of his Authority, if he will not satisfy the vain Humour and Curiosity of every one who shall expect it, and take upon him to demand it? Is it fit that infinite Wisdom should be directed by the unreasonable Will of Man, and Almighty Power be called forth to work Wonders, to gratify the Curiosity of every impertinent Seeker of Signs. Apprehensions of this Sort, cart only be agreeable to such kind of Men as this Writer as, who have less of Reason than Incredulity.

 

His principal Objection is still behind, and he seems to expect its Weight will bear down all before it, ‘tis this: Miracles are no longer Evidences of the Truth of any Doctrine than they are continued: Nor, to any other Persons, than those who see them. By Age, it seems they lose all their glaring Evidence, and by Time intervening the whole of their Force sinks and vanishes. Fine Reasoning indeed and suitable enough to a Freethinker, i.e. a Man free from Prejudice it may be in every Thing except Religion, wherein, in an especial Manner he ought to be: But, in that, deeply and perhaps irrecoverably sunk into the basest and most unreasonable Prejudices. This Person of free Enquiry, thinks it, I suppose, reasonable to conclude, that the World has existed more than seventeen Hundred Years, that such Men as Alexander, Cicero and Julius Caesar really were, and that the last named was assassinated by Brutus and others. And yet he cannot know. either of these Particulars, upon other or better Testimonies, than he may know the Certainty of the Miracles of Christ, which are related not only by his Friends, but by Enemies also. If we consider that the Disciples of Jesus were not credulous, but diffident, and with great Difficulty were persuaded who Christ was, and what was the true Nature. of his Work, and not without the fullest Evidence: If we consider, that they had nothing to expect in embracing his Religion, {that is to say in this World} but Hatred, Reproach, Contempt and the most cruel Persecution, and Death itself: Things which Men don’t usually chuse, except for some very important Reasons; and that they chearfully took up with the greatest Afflictions, and voluntarily submitted to Death, out of a religious Regard to their great and good Master, and to seal the Truth of their Testimony concerning him, and the Truth of those Doctrines, they had learned from him: If we consider that one of his Apostles was a Zealot in a Religion as corrupted in that Age opposite to his, was miraculously converted to it, readily embraced it, and bravely defended it, tho’ he hereby expos’d himself to the greatest Dangers and Sufferings, to Perils by Sea, to Perils by Land, yea that Bonds and Afflictions attended him Wherever he went, and that at length he also sealed the Truth of his Testimony concerning his Lord, in whom he gloried, with the Loss of his Life: If we consider the Predictions of future Events Concerning the Nation Of the Jews, the Destruction of their Temple, and of their Polity and Government, and their Dispersion in the World; and the Predictions of future Events relating to the Church of Rome, in her Principles and Manners, delivered in the Gospels and Epistles; and the exact Accomplishment of those Predictions: I say if we consider these Things, we must surely be unreasonably incredulous, if we hesitate a single Moment concerning the Truth of Christianity. As I have before observed, it is as irrational to doubt without Reason, as it is to believe without Evidence. He who does the latter is an Enthusiast, and he who does the former, acts a Part equally absurd and unreasonable.

 

Now, what is it that the Sceptic with any plausible Shew, can object to the Evidences of Christianity? Were those Evidences few? No, but numerous. Were they performed in a Corner and in the Presence of Friends only? No, but publicly and in the View of Enemies, and the Truth of the Facts they attest, tho’ they ascribe them to a wrong Power. Did the chosen Witnesses of Christianity gain Ease, Wealth, Honour, or Power, by their Testimony? No, it exposed them to Disgrace, Poverty, Loss of Liberty and Life it self; if therefore, they imposed upon the World, it was without any Temptation, nay even contrary to all their own Interests, {#that is supposing their Testimony is false|} and consequently we must think they acted not only a fraudulent, but a most foolish Part, and ran upon their own Destruction, without any thing of Moment, or Weight to invite them to it. This Man, inconsistent as he is., when he thinks that he shall gain some Advantage to the Cause of Infidelity, and do prejudice to the Interest and Truth of Christianity by it, can observe a rational conviction of the Evidences of the Christian Religion, will not enable Men to part with present Good and Pleasures, for distant Hopes and future Enjoyments: And now he can be content to suppose, that the Apostles resigned all their Ease, Pleasures, and the Enjoyments of Life, without and future Good in Hope or Expectation.

 

Is there a Disagreement in the Testimony of these Witnesses, do they contradict one another? No, their Relations of Facts agree in all material Circumstances. Was there any Age, in which the Christian Religion was unknown, and in which there were none of that Sect: Or can any other Account be given of their Rise and Spread, of their Principles, Conduct and Sufferings, sufficient to let aside the Account of them in all these Respects, which is transmitted down to us, in those Pages they esteem sacred? No. Do those Writings contain any thing absurd, that is to say, which contradicts our Senses, and is repugnant to Reason? Not so: They indeed inform us of some Things, we could never have known, without such heavenly Intelligence; but tho’ those Things are undiscoverable by Reason, they are not repugnant to it. Are their moral Rules defective, do they make any Allowances for the Weaknesses and Foibles of Mankind, do they spare a darling Lust and permit Men to indulge a favourite Passion? No, but their Precepts of Morality are pure and strictly rigid, and such as might be expected to come from God. Were they immoral and dissolute in their Behaviour? No, they had a true Fear of God, a zealous Concern for his Glory, ador’d serv’d and obey’d him, even to the Hazard of their Lives. They were inoffensive, meek, patient, submissive, temperate, compassionate, just and humble in their Deportment. These are the true Characters of the Men this Infidel would persuade us, palm’d a Forgery upon God, and put a Cheat on the World, and to their Disadvantage in this State, and to their certain Destruction in a future one, if this Man in Reality will allow us to think that Men do and will exist after Death. What Reason therefore can be offered, why these Evidences and Testimonies of the Truth of Christianity should not be credited? No solid, no substantial one can be assign’d, and therefore he is not a wise Man, who withholds his Assent, when such Evidences demand it; he is not governed by Reason, how much soever he boasts of it; but Humour and the most unreasonable Prejudice.

 

Miracles are necessary to confirm a Doctrine, that is absolutely  

undiscoverable by Reason; but that when Miracles are done to that End, to suppose there must be a Succession of other Miracles, to support the Truth of those before done, is a wild Imagination. The Miracles already wrought, ought to be eternally allowed what they are in Fact, viz. sufficient Evidences of the Truth of those Doctrines they were perform’d in Confirmation of. The Intervention of Time changes not the Nature of these Evidences and Testimonies, as this Person urges it does; they were truly divine, and cannot become human, Which he asserts they do. The utmost which can be pleaded by this Infidel, or any other on this Head, Is, that our Knowledge of these supernatural Proofs of the Christian Religion, is acquired in the same Way we get the Knowledge of other Facts done as long a Time since; but this proves no Change in the Nature of those Evidences. I find our Author’s Logic fails him sometimes, as great a Proficient as he is in that Art. To believe Doctrines concerning God, his Purposes, and his Methods of Procedure towards offending Creatures, either in a Way of Penalty or Mercy, which Reason could not discover, or the Light of Nature could not point out to us, without any supernatural Evidences, or divine Testimonies of their being true, might I think, be very justly censured and pronouc’d Enthusiasm: But, to expect the Continuation of such Evidences, or to require a perpetual working of Miracles, in order to our yielding an Assent to those Doctrines, is bold and impious. It is sufficient that in our Age, we have such Proof that Miracles, great and wonderful, were once wrought to confirm the Truth of Christianity, as we allow to be full and convincing in any Thing else. And why that Proof may not be thought so here, I should be glad if this Infidel, or any other, would plainly tell us. Will this Man believe nothing but what he has seen, or does see? Does he think it any unreasonable Thing so to do? I imagine not. Does he think the World to be no larger in Compass, than what has fallen under his View? Can he persuade himself that more Men have not liv’d, or do live upon the Earth, than he has seen, or does see? Would he scruple to punish a Person, as the Law directs, that should privately steal his Property, upon the Testimony of credible Witnesses, tho’ it was done in his Absence? Would he decline to bring a Murderer of a Friend or of a Relative to Justice, because he did not see the horrid Fact committed? I can’t think he would be so incredulous, as not to prosecute such a Wretch, upon the Testimony and Evidence of others: That Kind of Evidence which he will not allow to be a rational Proof of a divine Testimony, being often given to the Truth of Christianity, will serve his Turn, yea far less, I doubt not, where Life is concern’d. And therefore, he is most unreasonable, not in grant, That that Kind of Proof is here rational, certain, and every Way sufficient. I cannot think that he would have his Manner of Reasoning take place in any Thing besides Christianity, or, that he would stand to the Consequences of it, in any one Thing else. That seeing indeed is believing, has ever been allow’d Reasoning, says he, but that I am to believe a Thing because another says he saw it, and it is not in my Power to prove a Negative, and contradict him, is surely a very unprecedented and new fort of Logic. Not so unprecedented and new, but this Infidel has acted, doth and will act upon it, in the most weighty Affairs which can occur in Life, or else he really is a Noun Substantive, and differs from all the rest of Mankind.

 

Thirdly. I now proceed to consider what he offers under his third Head of Discourse. Here he sets up for an Interpreter of Scripture, the Authority of which he disputes and therefore, according to him nothing is to be proved by it. In this Place he labours exceedingly to render it ridiculous, and puts such a Sense upon the Terms and Expressions of the Word of God, as he thinks will effectually answer his Design. This Infidel contends, that the Scripture makes it the Privilege of every Man in the World to be infallible, that every Individual of Mankind, is immediately, and at once render’d perfect in heavenly Knowledge, without the Exercise of his reasoning Faculties, or taking into Consideration, what Discoveries are made in the Bible of divine Truths. But what if this Man mistakes the Scripture, and the Principle he advances, and palms upon it, is not there found; but is as contrary to that, as it is to all Experience and good Sense? Then his Sneer upon the Bible, and its holy Doctrines, Will appear as groundless as it is impious. And that this is the Fact, will quickly be evident.

 

The Word of God, is the Rule of our Faith, or it contains all those important Truths, which it concerns us to know, in order to Our Happiness; it is able to make us wise unto Salvation: For as it is the only Rule we have, by which we are to form our Judgments of divine Things, it is a perfect one. — It is plain and explicit, and suited to the Capacities of Persons unfurnished with Learning and Science. Its Doctrines, are sublime and mysterious, but the Language in which they are there express’d, tho’ not destitute of the greatest Beauties, is easy to be understood: So, admirably are Simplicity, Elegance; and Majesty attempered together in the sacred Style. — It is the Duty of all Men to read and study the Bible; they ought to search the Scriptures, and search them daily, and compare Spiritual Things with spiritual, i.e. one Part of holy Writ with another.

 

And it is their indispensable Duty, to pray that they may have Hearts disposed to conform their Conduct to the excellent Rules therein prescrib’d. — And therefore, no immediate Inspiration is to be expected from Heaven, to instruct us into the Knowledge of Truth, That is absolutely unneedful, according to the scriptural Account of Things: For every heavenly Truth we are required to believe and embrace, is therein discovered and proposed to our Enquiry: To the Law, and to the Testimony: If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them. Hence it is evident, that this Writer puts a forced and unnatural Sense upon various Texts, to introduce he knew to be absurd and false in Fact, and must of Necessity expose Christianity to the greater Contempt. The holy Scripture gives us no Reason to expect: an immediate Revelation of any divine Truth to our Understanding, as he confidently affirms it does; but whatever we are oblig’d to believe, by Vertue of its Authority, is already therein reveal’d, and proposed to our serious Consideration and free Enquiry. Indeed we have need of divine Illumination, to enable us to discover the Excellency, Glory, and Importance of those momentous Doctrines, the Scripture teaches us, and which we, as Men, by a due Exercise of our reasoning Powers, without this Illumination, may discover are therein contain’d: This is graciously promised, and is certainly communicated, to whomsoever it is agreeable to the Will of God so far to favour. What then becomes of all the curious Observations of this Infidel, with Relation to a Conveyance of heavenly Knowledge, in an immediate Manner to the Soul? As of universal Influence, of proper Weight, of instant Effect, of absolute Certainty, and such as Books could never furnish. This is no Principle of Revelation: Nor will he ever be able to prove, that it countenances Enthusiasm, which he so eagerly charges it with, and with an uncommon Assurance palms upon it, to promote his wicked Design of bringing it under Disgrace. This is no other than a Notion of his Invention, and therefore, he is only exposing a Brat of his own fertile Brain. The Christian Religion is not in the least affected by all he is pleased to say upon this Head. The Infidel is guilty of the most flagrant Contradiction, when he says, the Tender of this Conviction. greatly depends upon the Disposition of our Minds to give it Reception, for its Efficacy. It seems after all, it is not an actual Conveyance of Light, to the Soul, but is only an Offer of it: Just now it was so strong a Light flashing into the Mind, that it was of instant Effect, and bore away all Prejudices and Darkness before it. But by this Time it is sunk into a bore Tender of Knowledge, if Men will receive it. Can this Man expect to be in the least regarded, when he so egregiously trifles, and manifestly contradicts himself? Infidelity is a Crime, and may be so proved, but not in the Way he points out. If Men have the same rational Grounds to believe that Christianity is true, as they have that the World has existed so long a time, as that is supposed to have been introduc’d it, they must be guilty of Perverseness and Obstinacy, to call the Truth of it into question: And that they have such rational Grounds, is unquestionably Fact. That Men are culpable in embracing of Heresies is certainly true: For if the Scripture expresses its Doctrines, in Words easy to be understood, but Men will not allow them their proper Meaning, because they disrelish the Doctrine, they must in that case grant to be true; they act a very criminal Part; and this is really the Fact. — The Infidel speaks of the sudden Conversion of some Persons as a Thing ridiculous. But he ought to have proved, that those Conversions were without rational Grounds; since he has not done this, he truly becomes what he falsely represents them to be, exceeding ridiculous.

 

The Samaritans had just Reason to conclude that Person to be endued with

heavenly Powers, who could give a Woman a Narrative of her Life, whom, till that Time, he had not seen, and with whom he had not before conversed. The Writings of the Prophets plainly foretold the Sufferings and Death of the Messiah, and his Resurrection from the Dead, and therefore, the Disciples of our Lord, were culpable in not believing what they had such Means of knowing to be true, consequently they were justly reproved by Christ for their Incredulity, notwithstanding all this Infidel offers to prove the contrary.

 

The next Thing he labours to prove is that there is a Repugnancy between Religion and Reason. It is allowed that the Christian Religion contains Mysteries, which are above and not discoverable by Reason; such are the Doctrines of the Trinity, of the Incarnation of the Son of God, his Substitution in the Sinner’s Room, bearing his Guilt and Punishment, etc. But neither of these Things is repugnant to Reason, nor will ever be prov’d opposite and contrary to it, by this Man, or any other breathing. It is no Prejudice to the Cause of reveal’d Religion, or Evidence that it is destitute of rational Proof, that Philosophers have opposed it, because they could not comprehend it. All that in Justice can be demanded to a rational Proof of its Doctrines, is, that it is a Revelation from God; that once prov’d, it is unreasonable to hesitate concerning the Truth of its Doctrines, how much soever those Doctrines may exceed our Comprehension. The Conduct of the Philosopher, who disbelieves Revelation, because he finds it contains Principles that transcend his Reason, speaks the Language of his Heart to be this: That if God will reveal his Will to Men, if he expresses more, or any other Thing, than what might be known and demonstrated, before and without this Revelation of himself, the Truth he expresses can lay no Claim to his Assent. This is the impious Principle of Philosophy and vain Deceit, which the Scripture warns us against. And hence arises all the Philosopher’s Opposition to the Gospel of Christ. The holy Word of God contains nothing, teaches not any Thing contradictory to Reason, tho’ it discovers some Things that Reason could not come at the Knowledge of, without this Revelation of them; which Things therefore, it is not to be expected should be proved by Argumentation, or Reasoning from such Principles, as the Light of Nature leads us to acknowledge are true. Nor is it to be thought strange, that revealed Religion should contain Principles mysterious and incomprehensible, since natural Religion obliges us to believe what we are unable to comprehend, viz. the eternal Existence of God, his Immensity and Infinite Knowledge: And the Production of all Things out of nothing, by an Act of his almighty Power. But why do I mention natural Religion, when I am considering what this Infidel objects to revealed; since he seems to give very little Credit even to that? I have sometimes thought it is impossible, that any one in human Shape can be an Atheist: in Opinion but, perhaps, I may be mistaken in that: For this Infidel seems to apprehend that the Being of God, will not admit of evident and unexceptionable Proof: It seems to be a Question with him, whether natural Religion hath rational and sufficient Evidence to support it. I own, I hardly thought it possible, that a Creature possess’d of the lowest Degree of Reason, could advance any Thing so irrational. Dr. Clarke, it seems, by producing ingenious Arguments to prove the Being of God, has, in the Opinion of this Infidel, contributed to Atheism, and thrown Men into Doubting and Scruples about it; what Sort of Men they are, is easy to guess, such as this Man is, or who have as little Reason as himself, and really are a Disgrace to human Nature.

He thinks that a Christian’s Examination of Christianity is absurd. But why must it be thought so? A Man has undoubtedly a Right to examine the Evidences of the Christian Religion; but then, as he may examine freely, I hope it Will be allo’d he ought to examine impartially, and admit those Evidences to be sufficient here, which he will not deny to be so in any Thing else, if such Evidences are here to be found, and that they are not this Infidel will never be able to prove. — Infallibility he makes a necessary Qualification of a Christian Preacher. But very absurdly, for as the Preacher and the Hearer have one and the same Rule of Faith, the Hearer, tho’ he may not be capable of expressing so well, and illustrating those Ideas of divine Truths, which he forms in his Mind, and discovers are contained in the Word of God, yet he is able to discern, when that Doctrine the Preacher delivers, is agreeable to the holy Scripture, for all divine Truths are therein express’d in such Language as he understands himself. And therefore an infallible Interpreter of this infallible Rule is unnecessary. Farther he asserts that, Examination can’t be under any Obedience. Strange! no, what if the Evidences of the Thing examined are clear, full, and every way sufficient? Then a Man is not bound to believe, where his Reason demands a ready and firm assent of him. What may be examined may be rejected, says he, May it so? I hope not merely because it may be examined. The Opinion of the Being of God may be examined, but a Man is not at Liberty to reject it: And he must be a Fool that does. The Opinion of God’s creating the World may be examined, or the Evidences of it may be enquired into, but it may not be rejected. The Opinion of the Immortality of the Soul may be examined, but it may not be rejected; and a Man must offer Violence to Reason, if he will reject it. The Opinion that intelligent Creatures stand obliged to honour God and practice Virtue may also be examined; but it may not be rejected: Nor is it necessary a Man should doubt of the Truth of either of these things, when he begins to examine into the Evidences of them. Christianity may doubtless be examin’d; but it ought not to be rejected: For it hath such Evidences and Arguments in its Favour, as would certainly be allowed sufficient, to prove the Truth of any one thing else in the World. Neither is it necessary for a Man to become an Infidel, in order to his being a rational Christian: as it is not necessary to become an Atheist, in order to discover with Certainty the Being of God. And as a Man wou’d not be excusable in becoming an Atheist, when he examines the Evidences and Arguments of the Existence of Deity; so he would be inexcusable in becoming an Infidel, when he sets him self about the Examination of the Evidences of Christianity. And yet a Man can’t be suppos’d to believe the Being of God without Evidence; nor the Truth of the Christian Religion without it. For as soon as a Man knows, what Idea the Words God and Deity stand for, so soon he must necessarily discern the Evidences of the Existence of God, and therefore, cannot reasonably admit any Doubt concerning it. And as soon as a Man can frame an Idea of what Christianity is, or understand what it means, so soon must he necessarily discover sufficient Evidences of its Truth, and by Consequence cannot reasonably be in doubt about it. I dare say, if a Man will but allow that to be sufficient Evidence and Proof here, which he will not deny to be so in any thing else, he will not, he cannot hesitate concerning the Truth of Christianity a single Moment. — And tho’ we esteem the Religion of Jesus the most sacred Thing in the World, as we have nothing to fear from a fair Opponent, {if such it can possibly have} we are not against the most rigid {let it be but impartial} Examination, of the Evidences and Arguments on which we form our Persuasion of its Truth. Neither will we ever call upon the civil Magistrate, to put a stop to the Reasoning of Infidels against Christianity: For ‘tis Pity but they should be allowed the free Exercise of the little Reason they have, and from which we know, no Prejudice can ever arise to the glorious Cause we defend, Yet we can’t but wish {for their own sakes} that their Talents in arguing were better employ’d. — With Respect to what this Man observes, of its being the Opinion of Bishop Beveridge, that a Conveyance of heavenly Light is necessary to a saving Knowledge of the Doctrines of Christianity; it is a Truth which Revelation abundantly teaches us. A Man may know those Doctrines to be true, by the bare Exercise of his reasoning Faculties, upon the Word of God; but he cannot enter into the Spirit, Importance and Glory of them, without the Super addition of heavenly Light. This gracious Influence upon the Mind is not a Discovery of Truths which Men had not Means of knowing before, and which they could not by the Help of such Means discover without it. For those Doctrines, which under this benign Influence and heavenly Guidance, are apprehended to be of the greatest Importance, glorious, and every way worthy of their divine Author, are express’d in the holy Scripture, in such Language as Men may easily understand, and therefore may learn that those Doctrines are Truths, by a proper Exercise of their reasoning Powers, upon Revelation, without this Supernatural Light and Influence.

 

I. Let me instance in the Doctrine of the Deity of our Saviour. He is represented to have been, or existed in the Beginning, and is asserted to be God: In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God {Joh 1:1}. He is called the mighty God {Isa 9:6}, the true God {1Jo 5:20}, over all, God blessed for ever {Ro 9:5}. He hath ascribed to him those Perfections, which are incommunicable to a Creature, and are certainly proper to a Deity, viz. Eternity {Joh 1:1}, Immutability {Heb 13:8}, Omniscience {Joh 21:9}, Omnipresence {Joh 3:13}, Omnipotence {Re 1:8}. He is affirmed to have made all things, and ‘tis denied that any Thing was made without him that was made {Joh 1:3}. He is declared to have laid the Foundations of the Earth, and the Heavens are asserted to be the Works of his Hands {Heb 1:10-11,12}: Even in those very Records, which constantly make Creation a Work proper to God, and argue his Being, Power and Wisdom from it. He is propos’d as the Object of Worship, in those very Writings which throughout condemn the Worship of a Creature. He is thy Lord and worship thou him {Ps 45:11}. Again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the World, he saith and let all the Angels of God worship him {Heb 1:6}. Christians are to be baptized into his Name eiv to onoma {Mt 28:19}. Prayer is directed to him jointly with the Father {2Th 1:12}. And of him Grace and Peace are implor’d {Eph 1:2}. Doxologies of Praise are ascribed to him {Jude 24}. And together with the Father he is adored {Re 7:10}. These Particulars concerning our Saviour are asserted in the Scripture, in Language, so plain, explicite and full, that Art and Criticism are not necessary to understand it. Much of both indeed are required to evade the Force of these clear Testimonies, in Favour of this fundamental

Truth of the Christian Religion. And the Use Men of Letters make of both, to obscure the Light of these Evidences, only serves to shew us, that learned Accomplishments enable them to argue in such a. perverse and unreasonable Manner upon the Scripture, as a Man of Sense would even blush to do, upon any human Writings in the World. But I suppose it is excusable to argue most perversely here, provided it is learnedly.

 

II. I desire to instance in the Doctrine of Atonement and Satisfaction, by the Death of Christ. He is said to have bore our Sins in his own Body on the Tree {1Pe 2:24}. The Lord laid on him the Iniquities of us all {Isa 53:6}. For he hath made him to be sin, for us, who knew no Sin {2Co 5:21}. Christ was wounded for our Transgressions he was, bruised for our Iniquities {Isa 53:5}. The Messiah was cut off, but not for himself {Da 9:26}. Our blessed Saviour was made a Curse for us {Ga 3:13}. It pleased the Lord to bruise him, and he hath put him to Grief {Isa 53:10}. The Chastisement of our Peace was upon him, and with his Stripes are we healed {Isa 53:5}. He gave his Life a Ransom for many {Mt 20:28}. Our gracious Redeemer purges our Consciences from dead Works, in Consequence of his offering himself throthe eternal. Spirit, without Spot to God {Heb 9:14}. Once in the End of the World hath he appeared to put away Sin, by the Sacrifice of himself. {Heb 9:26}. Unto him who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own Blood {#d|}, The Blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin {1Jo 1:7}. Christ has made Peace by the Blood of his Cross {Col 1:20}. He has made Reconciliation for Iniquity {Da 9:24}. Much more then being now justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath thro’ him {Ro 5:9}. When we were Enemies we were reconciled to God, by the Death of his Son {Ro 5:10}, He is the Propitiation for our Sins {1Jo 1:2}. A Man who shall tell us, that Art and Criticism are necessary to discover the Truth of the Satisfaction of Christ, which is to clearly and explicitly declared, in these Scriptures, may with equal Reason tell us, that the Sun is not visible, when it shines brightest upon us, and we are unable to bear its dazzling Rays, and that a Telescope is necessary to discover it. Men of Learning have long endeavour’d, by Art and Criticism, to darken and hide from View the strong Light, which flows in upon us, from these and other sacred Testimonies, in Favour of this important Doctrine, but all in vain. Their Endeavours this Way, only evidence, that their Acquirements enable them to argue against the clearest Testimonies, which can possibly be given of divine Truths, that approve not themselves to their Likeing and good Opinion.

 

III. I beg leave to instance in the Doctrine of the Necessity and Efficacy, of the Operations of the Spirit of God, upon the Souls of Men, in order to their Regeneration and Sanctification. Except a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God {Joh 3:3}. No Man can come to Christ, except the Father. draw him {Joh 6:44}. The carnal Mind is Enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be {Ro 8:7} They who are in the Flesh cannot please God {Ro 8:8}, Without Faith it is impossible to please God {Heb 11:5}. Who were born not of Bloods, nor, of the Will of the Flesh, nor of the Will of Man, but of God {Joh 1:13}: Who of his abundant Mercy hath begotten us, again, to a lively hope {1Pe 1:3}. Thro’ Faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the Gift of God {Eph 2:8}. We are his Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works {Eph 2:10}. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good Pleasure {Php 2:13}. Not by Works of Righteousness, which we have done; but of his Mercy hath he saved us by the washing of Regeneration, and the Renewing of the holy Ghost {Tit 3:5}. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy Calling, not according to our Works, but according to his own Purpose and Grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the World began {2Ti 1:9}. I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these Things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto Babes: Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy Sight {Mt 11:25-26}. God who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, hath shined in our Hearts, to give the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face, or Person of Jesus Christ {2Co 4:6}. A new Heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony Heart out of your Flesh, and I will give you an Heart of Flesh {Eze 36:26}. Thy People shall be willing in the Day of thy Power {Ps 110:3}. For thou also hast wrought all our Works in us {Isa 26:12}. And what is the exceeding Greatness of his Power, to us-ward, who believe, according to the Working of his mighty Power; which be wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead {Eph 1:19-20}. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in Trespasses and sins {Eph 2:1}.

The Evidence which these numerous Texts with many others, afford to prove the Doctrine of the Necessity, Efficacy, and gracious Effects, of the Operations of the Grace and Spirit of God upon us, has cost many learned Men great Pains and Labour, in Art and Criticism to obscure it; but altogether in vain. For like the Sun will shine thro’ the thickest Clouds, they will ever be able to raise in order to darken and keep it from our Sight. Here again I must observe, that Art and Criticism are absolutely unnecessary to discover that shining Evidence. Persons of mean Capacities, and unfurnished with Learning and Science may discover it. Upon the whole, it is very apparent that, this Writer dreadfully abuses the Scripture, and puts a forced and unnatural Sense upon it, with relation to what it delivers concerning the heavenly Influence of the Spirit of God, upon the Souls of Men. That is not a Conveyance of the Knowledge of any divine Truths, which Men had not Means of discovering before, and which they were uncapable of knowing to be such: But by this Influence, they are enabled to see the Excellency of, and to discern the Goodness, Wisdom, Holiness and Faithfulness of God, which are therein displayed in the fullest Manner. To imagine that God now affords such Light, as will enable us to make Discoveries of Truths, not already revealed to us, in his Word, is real Enthusiasm; and has nothing to support it in the holy Scriptures: On the contrary, such a wild Conceit stands there awfully condemn’d But that he communicates Light and Grace, to assist us in our Enquiries into those Truths, he hath graciously been pleas’d to inform us of, in his Word, and by the Help of which, we discern the Glory of these Truths, is a precious Doctrine the Bible contains, and is at a great Remove from Enthusiasm, and is not in the least absurd or irrational.

 

It is Time for me to recapitulate and sum up what I have before observ’d, and I must take leave to give the Reader this Infidel’s Recapitulation revers’d: or to assert the contrary of what he does in every Particular. ‘Tis evident that Men would very little differ in their Sentiments, relating to Christian Doctrines, if the Language of the Scripture, which is plain and easy to be understood, was interpreted in its obvious and natural Sense — That such Accomplishments, as require Time and Pains to attain, are not necessary to understand the Scripture, in the most momentous Points of Doctrine, it requires us, to believe That the Proofs of a Christian Faith are such, and so clear, and so full, that a Course of Study to apprehend them is not necessary: Those Proofs may be understood as soon as Men have learn’d to know, what Ideas the Terms and Expressions used in the holy Scripture stand for — That a rational Conviction therefore, of the Truth of the Christian Revelation, is not the Privilege only of a few Students and Speculatists — That there is a certain Connection betwixt the Notion of Duty, and assenting rationally to a Proposition well supported. The Reason is plain, a Man is inexcusable to disbelieve that which he sees evident Reason to conclude is true. — That tho’ Arguments are but Motives to Assent, it is not a Contradiction to assert, that we are oblig’d to let them be conclusive, if they are clear and justly founded, and regularly drawn. — That there is not such a Complication of Circumstances to be determined upon, Consequences regularly drawn, and a summoning of Evidence in order to the Proof of Christianity, that should hinder the Certainty of the Event, in an impartial Enquirer, and therefore, it may be foretold and prescribed That the Proofs of Christianity are so evident, and of such Force, that they are calculated to produce an Assent, from every Man, to whom they are proposed, as soon as understood. And those Proofs are of so easy and plain a Nature, that it is a Dishonour, to the Names of Locke and Newton, to suggest that Capacities like theirs, are necessary to understand their Force and Weight — That Christianity may not only be enforced, as a Fact, but it may also be prov’d true as a Gospel, in Vertue of such Arguments, as approve themselves to that Reason, of which all Men are proffess’d — That all Men have Leave and Right to examine the Evidences of Christianity, and determine of its Truth, as the Matter shall appear to their Reason; but it is to be observ’d, that those Evidences are such, that they must necessarily appear pregnant Proofs of its Truth. And therefore, by granting Men Liberty to examine these Evidences and Proofs, we are in no Danger of authorizing Infidelity in Form, and setting it upon the same Footing, in Point of Conscience, with the Profession Christianity itself, as this Author affirms we are. The Man has ill Success indeed, for he has not proved one single Point, with all these Pains and Labour. He might therefore, have very well spared the whole of his pathetic and moving Expostulation, with the Oxonian, whom he addresses, for it is entirely founded on Principles unprov’d and false; it therefore demands no Regard from me, or any other Christian, let the unreasonable Infidel, such as this Man himself is, pay his Respect to it, and make the best of it, he is heartily welcome.

 

FOOTNOTES  

ft1 Christianity not founded on Argument, p. 8.

ft2 Some learned Men seem inclined to give up this Sense, and to understand it of Unity in Affecion; but I humbly apprehend, that suits not the Design of the inspired Writer: oronew is indeed a Word of general Signification, and. sometimes denotes the Act of the Will, and Affections, but then it is also put for the Act of the Understanding or Judgment in several Places; thus in {Ac 28:22}. A froneiv, what thou thinkest; so in {Php 1:7}. Kaqwv esi dikaion emoitouto fronein uper pantwn umwn, as it is meet to think this of you all; and unless it is understood in this Sense in Chap. 2:2. the Elegance and Beauty of the Apostle’s Language, will not so evidently appear. Verbum autem fronein modo Voluntatis, modo ad Intellectus Actiones resertur. — Ab Animorum id est Voluntatum Conjunctione, transit ad Doctrinae Consensum ut picna justaque fit Concordia. Beza in loc.

ft3 Num quis, quod bonus Vir effet, Gratias Diis egit unquam? Cicero de Nat. Deor. Lib 3. C. 36. — Quid Votis Opus est? Fae te ipse felicem: Facies autem, si intellexeris bona esse, quibus admixta est Virtus: Turpia, quibus Malitia conjuncta est. Seneca Ep. 31. Quam stultum est optare, cure possis a te impetrare. Ep. 41. Haec satis orare Jovem, quae donat et ausert, Det Vitam, det Opes, aequum est mi Animum ipsa parabo. Hor. Ep, Lib. I, Ep. 18. Monstro quid ipse tibi possis dare: Semita certe, Tranquilla per Virtutem pater unica Vitae. Juv. Sat. 10.

 ft4 Aresken de autoiv kai koinav einai tav gonaikav dein paratoiv sofoiv wste ton entukonta th entukoush crhsqai kaqafusi Zhnwn en th politeia kai Crusippov en tw peripoliteiav alla te Diogenhv o Kunikov kav Platwn. Diog. Laert. on the Life of Zeno

 

ft5 Verum fi quis est, qui etiam meretriciis Amoribus interdictum Juventuti putet: Est ille quidem valde feverus; negare non possum: Sed abhorret non modo ab hujus faeculi licentia, verum etiam a majorum Consuetudine, atque Concessis. Quando enim hoe factum non est? Quando reprehen-sum? Quando non permissum? Quando denique suit, at, quod licet, non liceret. Cicero Orat. pro Cerlio. Spendein de kai qusin kai aparcesqai kata patria. Epict. Enchr. Cap.

ft6 Qeov de w pai aiei ontev panta isasi ta ghgenhmenna kai taonto kai o ti ex ekasou autwn apwbhsetai Zenop. de Cyri 

Instit. Lib. 1. Cap. 24.

 ft7 Cicero is against him in this Matter; says he, Signa ostenduntur a Diis Refum futuraram, de Nat. Deor. Lib. 1. C. 4. From the foretelling of Things to come, he argues the Certainty of the Existence of Deity. And from the Predictions of future Events delivered in the Bible, we may justly argue in Favour of its divine Original. Nor have we the least need to make Excuses for the Sacred Writers, which the Philosopher it obliged to do for his Diviners.

 

 

09 Sermon 9 A Refuation of Arminian Principles

Created By LeRoy Rhodes 

leroyrhodes@comcast.net 

2006

A Refutation of Arminian Principles, 

Delivered in a Pamphlet, Intitled, 

'The Modern Question concerning Repentance and Faith, 

Examined 

With Candor, etc.,' In a Letter to a Friend 

In a Letter to a Friend 

In a Letter to a Friend 

 

 

In a Letter to a Friend

by John Brine 

London: Aaron Ward,

1743 

SERMON 9 

 

Lhs

A REFUTATION OF ARMINIAN PRINCIPLES 

DELIVERED IN A PAMPHLET, INTITLED, 

'THE MODERN QUESTION CONCERNING REPENTANCE AND 

FAITH, EXAMINED WITH CANDOUR, ETC.' 

IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND. 

Printed for, and Sold by 

 

A. WARD, 

at the King’s-Arms in Little-Britain,

 London 1743. 

 

 

WORTHY SIR,

My Opinion of your solid and accurate Judgment in divine Things,

and of your Candour and generous Disposition towards those who differ from you, in Articles not affecting the Fundamentals of Christian Doctrine, as well as of your firm attachment to the Truths of the Grace of God; Determines me to give you, an Account of the Rise of the Controversy, relating to evangelical Repentance, and special Faith, being the immediate Duties of unregenerate Men; an Account of my own Apprehensions with relation thereto, and my Thoughts of the Performance, intitled, The modern Question, concerning Repentance and Faith, examined ,with Candour. I hope, Sir, this Liberty, I take with you, will not be thought too bold or indecent, and as I desire to submit the whole to your Examination, which I am assur’d will be fair and impartial, the Result of your Thoughts, will be received with all that Regard, which your great Abilities, singular Modesty, Christian Charity, and pious Zeal for the Truths of Christ, may justly challenge, from one fully sensible of these your rare and uncommon Qualifications.

 

The Rise of the Controversy was this. A Lecture had been carried on for some Years, with great Success, in a Village called Brigstock, in Northamptonshire. Many young Persons were converted, among whom were several Relations of mine; upon hearing of which, I determined, that when I went into that Part of the Country, I would pay them a Visit, and accordingly I did. When I was with them, and the rest of the good People there, at that Time, I thought them some of the most happy Persons, I have ever had the Pleasure of converting with, in this Day of Lukewarmness and Division among Professors. The Conversion of these young People, was a happy Means of Revival to the elder Christians there residing. With Zeal and Fervour they attended the public Worship of God, on Lord’s Days, tho’ the Places where they had Opportunity of so doing, were five Miles distant from them, and but a few of them enjoyed the Convenience of riding. Upon their Return Home in the Evening, after a little Refreshment, they met together in private; and Exercises of Prayer and Christian Conference, were carried on with perfect Unanimity, spiritual Affection and mutual Edification. Besides which, they had three or four of the like Evening-Meetings in a Week; but what is justly to be observed to their Honour, is, they diligently attended their Business, and the Management of the Affairs of Life: So well was their pious Zeal tempered with Prudence, and honest Industry. — Would to God, That that Harmony, sincere Love, and holy Zeal, had flourished among them to this Day. But, alas, oh unhappy Change! Now there are Divisions, Contentions and animosities fomented, among that once very happy Number of Christians. The Occasion of which, in short, was this: Some of the worthy Persons concerned in carrying on the said Lecture, had different Apprehensions about the Manner of addressing Sinners, with Relation to evangelical Repentance, and special Faith in Christ: I say about the Manner of it, for with Respect to the Necessity, Nature, Object, Author, and the genuine Effects of Faith, as far as I am able to learn, they were fully agreed. Some of the Lecturers were of Opinion, that special Faith is the immediate Duty of unregenerate Persons, who hear the Gospel. Others of them, apprehended, that unregenerate Persons are not bound to exercise this special Faith in Christ. But were fully convinced of, and constantly asserted and inculcated, the Necessity of Faith in Christ, and were not wanting in the Explanation of its Nature, and proper Fruits. This Matter, was at length controverted by the Pen, between two of the Lecturers, not without too much Heat on one Side, and a great many very ill and dangerous Consequences, were affirmed to follow the latter Opinion. This caused a Dissension among those serious Christians, some taking one Side of the Question, and some the other. At length, the Opposition rose to such a Height, in those who took the Affirmative Side In this Debate, that they formed a Resolution to set up another Lecture, in which Antinomian Principles were to be exposed, and this Opinion particularly. This Design was put into Execution; another Lecture was opened by Dr. Doddridge, who is well known for his remarkable Candour of Temper, and Catholic Sentiments: Which was therefore, thought very strange by many, who had not, as yet observed, that but a small Mistake, in those Persons who steadfastly adhere to Principles, which have heretofore been esteemed the Doctrines of free Grace, in Opposition to Arminianism, raises the keen Resentment of Persons, of great Reputation for their extensive Charity and Catholicism: When large Advances towards general Grace and universal Redemption are highly applauded, by those very pacific Gentlemen. That this Lecture was set up in Opposition to the former, Sir, you cannot doubt, when you are told, that it was proposed that the Gentlemen who carry it on, should come into the old Lecture, and take their proper Turns, with the former Lecturers, to the End that Peace, Unity and Love might be still preserved, which it was apprehended might very well subsist, notwithstanding this Difference in Judgment, with relation to that particular Point: But this amicable and friendly Proposal, was not agreed to by those on the Affirmative Part. A Person of your Penetration and Impartiality, will soon discover; and as readily allow, on which Side Christian Love and Forbearance were attempted to be maintain’d.

My Apprehensions, of the Point controverted, I shall very briefly lay before you, Sir, and submit them to your Enquiry and Censure.

I.

I apprehend, that whatever was, or would have been the Duty of Man, upon the Supposition of a Revelation, super-added to what he enjoyed in his Creation-State, is the Duty of Men in their fallen State, upon the said Supposition.

II.

That Man in his perfect State was bound to love, reverence and adore God; and that Men in their lapsed State are obliged to these Acts, notwithstanding their present Want of Ability, in Consequence of the Fall.

III.

That it was the Duty of Man in his primitive State, to believe the Truth and Importance of every Revelation, he should receive from God; and that it is the Duty of Men in their fallen State so to do.

IV.

But with Respect to special Faith in Christ, it seems to me, that the Powers of Man in his perfect State were not fitted and disposed to that Act. My Reasons for this Thought are these:

1.

The Communication of such a Power to Man, in his primitive State, would have been in vain; for there was no Necessity, nor Use of believing in Christ: in that State; and I humbly conceive, that Man was not furnished with a Power, the Exertion of which was unnecessary, so long as he should remain in his perfect State.

2.

Because God could not require Man, while in a perfect State, to put forth such an Act, as special Faith in Christ is. The Reason is evident, this Act necessarily supposes a Dependence on Christ for Salvation, as Creatures lost and miserable in ourselves; but ’till Man was fallen and become miserable, he could not exercise such a Trust in Christ, as a Redeemer. And therefore, if it is supposed that God furnished Man, in a State of Innocence, with a Power of acting this special Faith in a Mediator, it must, I think, be allowed that he gave Man an Ability, which so long as he continued to possess it, he could not require him to exert. Whether this is likely, I leave to your judicious and impartial Enquiry.

3.

My third Reason is, special Faith in Christ belongs to the new Creation, of which he as Mediator between God and his People, is the Author, and therefore, I apprehend, that a Power of acting this special Faith in him, was not given to Man, by, or according to the Law of his first Creation.

4.

It seems to me a very extraordinary Dispensation, that Man should be furnished with a Power, he could not exercise in his perfect State; and in his corrupt State be deprived of that Power, wherein alone the Exertion and Exercise of it can be necessary or useful. The Substance of these Reasons, Arminius delivers in his Apology, Article the Nineteenth. Maccovius endeavours to answer them, but in my humble Opinion, his Answer is not sufficient. His Answer, Sir, is, that there was in Man, in his innocent State, Justice as to the Nature of it, which we now call punishing, and yet he could not punish others in a State of Integrity; and there was that in Man which we call Mercy, as to the Nature of it, and yet he could not exercise Mercy, because there is no Place for Mercy, except in a State of Miseryf1 This Answer, Sir, Is by no Means satisfactory to me, because Man might have exercised both Justice Punishing, and Mercy, while in his innocent State, in Care of proper Subjects for the Exercise of this Justice, and this Mercy. But the Exercise of special Faith in Christ, necessarily supposes the Subject of that Act, to be himself a guilty and miserable Creature; and therefore, the Fall of Man must precede this Act, but a perfect Creature, may reasonably be supposed capable of exercising punitive Justice towards the Guilty, and of exercising Mercy towards the miserable, as the holy Angels doubtless do towards miserable and helpless Men.

 

I shall now, Sir, consider, The Arguments this Gentleman advances to prove that evangelical Repentance and saving Faith, are the Duties of all who hear the Gospel. He begins with the Institution of Sacrifices.

f2 It is readily granted, that they were of divine Appointment, vicarious, Types of Christ, and of that real Atonement he has made by his Death for Sin. They also directed to an Acknowledgment of Sin, and that Men deferred Death; and to Christ: as the Object of Trust and Hope for Remission and all spiritual Benefits; but these Things afford no Proof, that all who offered Sacrifices stood obliged to exercise that Repentance and Faith whereof we speak; for if so, then none but true Penitents and Believers had a Right to offer Sacrifices, which cannot be thought. Christ: as a suffering Saviour was typically represented by those Sacrifices, and it was a Duty incumbent on all who offered Sacrifice, to believe the fulfilment of the divine Promises, concerning the Appearance, Work and Sufferings of the Messiah; but I apprehend it can never be proved, that the Exercise of special Faith in him, was required of all, who offered Sacrifices; or, that the Offering of Sacrifice obliged any to the Exercise of this special Faith. It cannot be pleaded that this Faith was enjoyned, as a Qualification on those who offered Sacrifices; for then, none but Believers might lawfully do it, which we know is not true: and therefore, the Institution of Sacrifices, can only be considered, as a typical and external Representation of the Messiah, and by Consequence could be only a proper Foundation for common, and not special Faith.

The Proof he brings from the general Exhortations to Repentance, delivered to the People of the Jews in the Writings of Moses and the Prophets,

is altogether impertinent in my Opinion. ‘Tis to be observed, that the Jews were a People separated from all others, they dwelt alone and were not reckoned among the Nations, and God became their God providentially, to confer temporal Favours upon them, to protect them; he entered into a Covenant with them, as a Nation, and required on their Part, that they should worship him only, observe his Laws, exercise Justice shew Benevolence and Kindness one to another; on his Part, he promised them a peaceable Possession of the good Land, Plenty, Victory over their Enemies, and their Multiplication in that Land, and long Life, on Condition of their Observance of his Statutes and Judgments, which they on their Part promised; God threatened them with Evils of the forest Nature if they did not, viz. the Sword, Famine, noisome Beasts and Pestilence, and with Captivity; but at the same Time assured them, that if they humbled themselves under these Judgments, and turn’d to him, he would remove those Evils, and restore to them Peace, Plenty, and Security from their Enemies, and that he would not totally destroy them. {Le 26}; {De 4}; Chap. {De 28} and {De 29} Agreeable to the Plan of this Covenant, the Prophets treat with that People, remonstrate against their national Crimes, exhort to national Repentance, Humiliation and Reformation, denounce temporal Evils, promise temporal Blessings, in Case of Amendment, as may be abundantly seen in their Writings. {Isa 1:19-20}. {Eze 18}. {Am 2:3-4,5-6} But it is not to be proved, that spiritual and eternal Blessings were promised in that Covenant, nor, that evangelical Repentance and special Faith were therein required, it will as soon be made evident, that when the Land of Canaan, and Affluence and Plenty therein are promised, that Heaven is intended or included in those Promises, as that, when the People of the Jews are exhorted to Repentance and turning to the Lord, evangelical Repentance is designed and implied in those Exhortations. That Covenant contained not spiritual Blessings, neither did it oblige to any spiritual Acts, such as evangelical Repentance, and special Faith are. It will as soon be proved, that Earth is Heaven, as that the Repentance required and enjoyned by Vertue of that Covenant, was of a heavenly Kind. This Writer, Sir, sometimes makes a great Difficulty of admitting the Distinction of natural and evangelical Repentance, of historical and special Faith; but here he is obliged. to allow of it, tho’ he pleads that natural Repentance and historical Faith, were not the whole of the Duty required and enjoyned by the Law of Sacrifices, on the Nation of the Jews; this he argues from God being represented as their Redeemer in Christ. When he is able to prove this fine Point, I shall freely grant his Work is done. This contains, if I mistake not, a tacit Acknowledgment, that evangelical Repentance and special Faith, are the Duties only of such Persons, to whom God reveals himself in his Word, as their Redeemer through Christ He seems to suppose, that God so revealed himself the Body of the Jewish Nation, than which nothing is more false in Fact; and therefore all his Reasoning on this Head is impertinent, groundless, and inconclusive. There is not any thing advanced from the Old Testament, which amounts to the Proof of the Point.

Let me now observe to you, what he brings from the New Testament.

He begins with the Preaching of John the Baptist, who exhorted to Repentance, repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. 1. Repentance was required of the Jews, as a Nation, for all the Blood of the Prophets which had been shed amongst: them, and for that Opposition they made to the true Interest and spiritual Kingdom of the promised Messiah; the Want of that Repentance proved their Destruction, which soon followed the Introduction of the New Testament State.

 

2.

Evangelical Repentance was the Duty of particular Persons, which he also preached, and show’d the Necessity of, but it can’t, I think, Sir, be proved, that he ever asserted it to be the Duty of unregenerate Persons, to exercise that Grace. This becomes the Duty of Men, when they have Warrant from the divine Word, to consider God as their Redeemer in Christ, which no unregenerate Men have any Warrant to do. It is not question’d, but he also preached Faith in the promised Messiah, but what Proof does this afford, that Faith is the Duty of such Persons, as have not at present Warrant to consider God, as their Redeemer through Christ? None at all. Christ in his Ministry also preached Repentance.

 

1.

A general and national Repentance.

2.

Evangelical, as did also his Apostles; but pray, Sir, do you think, that there is no preaching of Repentance evangelical, and special Faith in Christ, without allowing that Men unregenerate stand obliged to exercise that Repentance and Faith? To me it seems very evident there may. This Writer produces a Multitude of Texts to prove the Point he contends for, but in many of them Repentance and Faith are not so much as mentioned; it will be sufficient to refer you to those Scriptures in the Margin {Ac 4:10-11,12; 5:42; 13:46-47}; {Ac 18:5-6; 20:26-27; 28:24,31}. In others, where Repentance and Faith are exhorted to, it evidently appears, that the Persons addressed were the happy Subjects of a Conviction of their Misery by Nature, and therefore not to be considered in a State of Unregeneracy; to these Places I will also refer you in the Margin {Ac 2:37; 13:26}. He farther observes, that Men will be condemned for the Want of Faith in Christ, and brings several Texts in confirmation of this Observation; which are also referred to in the Margin {Joh 3:18-19,36; 2Th 1:7-8}; {Heb 10:28-29}. But because he who believes not is condemned now by the Law, under which he is, as a Covenant of Works, and not under Grace; it follows not, that his Want of Faith is the Cause of that Condemnation. With Respect, Sir, to what the Author observes of all Men being commanded to repent, it intends a forsaking of Idolatry, and embracing the Worship of the true God alone {Ac 17:30-31}. F3 The Distinction of natural and evangelical Repentance, of common and special Faith, which he before allowed, he now denies, and demands Proof that John the Baptist uses the Distinction, when he preached Repentance; I think, Sir, I may demand of him to prove that this Distinction, cannot take Place in his Discourses, since it is evidently found in Scripture; and if he is not able to give Proof that his Scope and Design, will not admit of this Distinction, however positive he may be, of being in the Right, at least, it is possible he may be in the wrong. I beg leave to observe to you, Sir, that our Saviour manifestly speaks of Repentance, when evangelical Repentance is not intended. The Place I now refer to is {Mt 11:21}, they would have repented long ago in Sackcloth and Ashes. Upon no Scheme can Repentance here mean evangelical; it cannot upon the Calvinistical Scheme is certain, this is so evident that nothing is required to evince it. Nor can it intend such Repentance upon the Arminian and Baxterian Schemes, for if God foresaw that they would have repented, in Case such Works had been done among them, he would have wrought those Works in their View to bring them to Repentance; upon the Foresight of which, he decreed the Happiness of Men, according to these Schemes, and therefore this Writer, who is no Calvinist, but a Baxterian, I should think must grant that evangelical Repentance, is not there intended; for ‘tis strange to suppose God to decree the Happiness of Men, upon Condition of Repentance and Faith, and yet determine to withhold those Means from them, which he foresees would bring them to Repentance and Faith.

The Author, Sir, makes the Calvinist: object to him, that special Faith cannot be the Duty of all; because it is said, that some believed not, because they were not of Christ’s Sheep; the Meaning must be this: That as those who believed were of Christ’s Sheep, so they believed because, they were so; i.e. they believed because they were chosen to Faith and Salvation. And if others believed not, because they were not of Christ’s Sheep, they believed not, because they were not chosen to Faith. And then saving Faith could not be their Duty, but must belong to the Sheep of Christ alone. I confess I do not see the Force of this Objection, for Men not being chosen to Faith, is no solid Objection, as I apprehend, to that being their Duty. The Author was in the right, not to start a Difficulty which he could not remove; it is no Point of Prudence, to frame an Objection to one’s Opinion, which will not admit of a full Answer. But, perhaps, Sir, this was done with a Design to introduce Arminianism, rather than confirm the Opinion of special Faith being the Duty of unregenerate Men: For, says he in Answer, you cannot but know it has been very much doubted, whether these Words have any immediate Reference to the Decree of Election. When those that believed are called the Sheep of Christ, this may be as they were of a more teachable Disposition than the others. So say the Socinians and Arminians, whom Dr. Doddridge, in his Family-Expositor has followed.f4 This Gentleman insists much upon the obvious and literal Sense of Scripture, when it makes for his own Opinion; but here, Sir, you see, he can allow that the Disposition of Persons, is put for the Persons themselves, and such a Disposition as is not natural, but given to and created in them, when the Scope of the Place requires not this improper Sense but only his anti-evangelical Sentiments. Christ’s People are not called Sheep, because of a natural Disposition in them to Goodness, for that they have not, and if this Character is expressive of their natural Temper, it is a wandering one: All we like Sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own Way. ‘Tis evident, that the Words are expressive of this, that there Persons believed not, because they were not of the Number of such, who were made the Care and Charge of Christ, and in Consequence of that, hear his Voice, follow him, to whom he gives eternal Life, do not perish, and whom none can pluck out of Christ’s Hand, nor out of the Father’s Hand. This is clear from the very Scope of the Place. However, says he, your Conclusion from there Words, is directly contrary to the Intention of them. For, when the Jews demand an open and direct Declaration from Jesus, whether he was the Christ, v.23. be blames their Unbelief in there Words, v. 24. I told you, and ye believed not: The Works that I do in my Father’s Name bear Witness of me. And pray let it be observed, that it is one and the same Object of Faith, viz. Christ Jesus in his Character of the promised Messiah, which is here spoken of; which one Sort are blamed for not believing in, and which the Sheep of Christ did believe in. And therefore the Duty must be one and the same to both. I answer, the Jews Question is, whether Christ was the Messiah, he observes he had told them that he was, and that his Works testified it, and ye believed not, i.e. ye did not think it true that I am the Messiah, which they might have done without special Faith. Special Faith includes common, but common Faith includes not special. And then he asserts, that they believed not, because they were not of his Sheep, in which Words special Faith is intended, or more than common Faith, as appears by what follows; but in the preceding, Faith is put for common Faith, or a bare Persuasion of his being the Messiah, so that this is no Proof, that it was the Duty of these Jews to exercise special Faith. Not content with this Arminian Observation, he proceeds farther and says, others that believed not, were left to their own Prejudices and Perverseness, for opposing and resisting the Light, and the Means of Conviction. And this is what Enmity will eternally do, which the Heart of Man is, against God and all spiritual good.

He very artfully pretends, that he differs not from the Calvinists, except in some lesser Circumstances,

 concerning the Nature of the divine Decrees in Election and Reprobation, the Condition of Man by the Fall, his standing under the Covenant of Works, the absolute Freedom of the divine Agency and Operations in saving Souls. This, Sir, is an Observation absolutely false in Fact, as his own Reasoning will fully convince you, who are not to be imposed on by any artful Pretences, to maintain the Doctrines of Grace, when the Salvation of Men is made to rest on the Determination of the human Will, not brought to this Determination by the Grace of God alone, but only excited and stirr’d up by divine Influence. This, Sir, you know to be the very Soul of the Arminian Cause, you are sensible, that the Arminians deny not the Aids and Influences of divine Grace, but allow of such Influences, and urge that the Will of Men is left to chose Good or Evil, without the Infusion of spiritual Principles, to effectually determine them in the Choice they make. Some weaker Christians may possibly be led into a Mistake, by this Author’s Pretences of believing and maintaining the Doctrines of Grace, but Persons of your Penetration and Acquaintance with the Arminian Controversy, will easily discover the Absurdity of all these Pretences. Had not this Writer attempted to build up Arminianism, upon the Foundation of the Opinion of evangelical Repentance and special Faith, being the Duties of unregenerate Men, I had not given you and the World this Trouble, for tho’ I apprehend that Opinion is not to be supported by Scripture, and the Analogy of Faith, it seems not to me to be of such Consequence, but that Persons differing in this Point, may fully agree about the Doctrines of the Grace of God, tho’ those who are for the Affirmative may find it somewhat difficult to defend the Justice of God, in damning Men eternally, for not doing, what Man in no State, was furnished with a Power to do.

 

He tries various Methods to prove the Point.

I. By observing, that the Law, i.e. the moral Law, must command Repentance, or at least include it, in case of Sin, because Men cannot return to Duty without a Sense of and Sorrow for Sin. This seems self evident. But it will not prove the Truth of the Thing contended for. Heathens, who never heard a Word of Christ and Salvation by him, stand obliged to Repentance for Sin, and Reformation in Life. Farther he observes, that God in the Renewal and Republication of his Law, under the old as well as new Dispensation, has commanded Men to repent and believe. True, but then, in order to prove, that Men unregenerate stand obliged to exercise evangelical Repentance and special Faith, it must be made evident, that such Repentance and such Faith, are intended in those Precepts, which as I think is not yet done. He cannot, Sir, rest in this Account of the Matter, not because {#as I suspect|} it fails of proving the Thing he pleads for; but because this State of the Case would prove an unsurmountable Difficulty, to what he has greatly at Heart to introduce, viz Arminianism, and would force upon us, under the Notion of pleading the Cause of Repentance and Faith, against all such Antinomians as you, and I, Sir, are accounted. And therefore he asserts, that the Law demanded perfect Obedience, nothing left. {#very true so far|}. He adds And therefore, neither in express Terms, nor by any secret Implication could it command Repentance. To suppose this, would directly contradict the Perfection of the Law, and effectually enervate the Obligation and Design of it. This is strange indeed! What if a Creature offends against God, hath the Law no Power still to command him to practice his Duty? And is not natural Repentance necessarily included in a Return to Duty, when the Creature has revolted? If not, then, no Remorse or Sorrow for Sin, can justly be expected of those who hear not the Gospel: Nor is Repentance in any Sense their Duty. But he seems to provide an Answer for this, in what he immediately subjoins, which is, As for the Law of Reason and Equity, resulting from the Nature and Relation of Things between God and Man in his fallen State, this is no Law of Innocency or Covenant of Works; has no positive Seal or Sanction, unless you will make a new Law of it. To which I answer, is this a Law? So he calls it, and is it not the same Law with the Law of Innocency, or Covenant of Works, but distinct from it, which he asserts it is? Then it is another and a new Law. Did not the Law of Innocency provide for what should or might be expected of Man in his fallen State, in a Way of Duty, upon the Supposition of no Provision being made for his Salvation? If not, Man upon his Sin became free from the Obligation of that Law, ‘till a Discovery made of Salvation by the promised Seed; and the Heathen World who are absolute Strangers to Christ, are not now under the Command and Power of the Law, which will not be granted him, Sir, as I think. For, what he calls the Law of Reason and Equity, is that Law which the Apostle affirms to be written in their Hearts, and is the Law of Innocency, {#in its Remains|} or Covenant of Works,  {Ro 2:15}, according to which they were sensible they became obnoxious to Death,  {Ro 1:32}, for their dreadful Sins. He thinks it a Contradiction to say, that Repentance and Faith cannot be the Duties of Believers by the same moral Law, how, says he, shall the standing perpetual Obligation of the moral Law be made to agree with this? Methinks, this makes the Obligation to arise from the Gospel and the Grace of it. For here it seems the Law, tho’ the only Rule of Duty, has no Force without the Gospel; and the Duties of Faith and Repentance only take Place, and become Duties from Gospel Grace. These Things look a little perplexed, as if they would not hang together. To these Particulars I answer,

 

1.

That natural Repentance is a Duty inferrible from the Law, without the Supposition of a Revelation of Gospel Grace.

2.

It is certain, That that Law which obliges Men to adore God, as a Being of all possible and infinite Perfections, lays them under Obligation to assent to the Truth of what, at any Time, he shall please to reveal.

3.

The Gospel is a Revelation of divine Truths not discovered to Man in his State of Innocence, and in that State therefore, it cannot be supposed he was oblig’d to assent to them.

4.

Man stood obliged to exercise Repentance for his Sin by the Law, immediately and before a Revelation of a Saviour.

5.

But before God had revealed to him a Saviour, it was not his Duty to believe in him. The Gospel proposes the Object of Faith, and the Law obliges to the Act of Faith, suited to the Nature of the Revelation of that Object.

6.

Men enjoying an external Revelation merely of Christ, are bound to believe the Truth of his Appearance in the World, and the Truth of those Doctrines relating to him, as a suffering Redeemer.

7.

Such who receive an internal Revelation of Christ, are bound to exercise special Faith, suitable to the Nature of this supernatural Revelation. Thus it appears, that these Things are far from being perplexed in themselves, they only seem so to this Author, they hang together very well. The Gospel presents the Object of Faith, and the Law obliges to the Act, upon the Presentation of the Object, and the Nature of that Presentation, to common Faith if it is only external, to special, if it be internal and supernatural. He represents it as the Opinion of the Calvinist, that Sinners are shut up under the Law, and makes him explain himself as to that Point after this Manner. 1 suppose the perpetual Obligation of the moral Law; not only for Obedience, but Sinners lie under the Penalty and Curse of it. The Calvinist then, Sir, I should think can’t justly be accounted an Antinomian. They have only to do with the God of Nature, and him as an offended angry God. They are shut out from the Gospel of Salvation, ‘till Gad by the sovereign Hand of his Grace brings them in. Have nothing to do with God, as the God of Mercy and Grace in Christ, — have nothing to do for themselves, nor to be done with them for Salvation. No Day of Grace, before God’s Day of effectual Grace, — no Offers, nor Tenders of Mercy end Salvation, before Salvation is brought Home to them by the Spirit.

And even then

, Salvation is not properly OFFERED, but given, — and not received ‘till after it is given. To these Things I answer thus: Men in a State of Enmity against God, as all unregenerate Persons are, cannot justly be supposed, to have proper Ground and Warrant to look upon God, as reconciled to them in Christ. What he makes the Calvinist say of Sinners, being shut out from the Gospel, I cannot well understand, nor do I know of any who so say. If by it is intended, that they are not to hear the Gospel; it is as remote from the Judgment of the Calvinist, as it is from the Opinion of the Arminians, whole Cause, this Writer, is an Advocate for: But if by it is designed, that unregenerate Persons have no open Claim to Gospel Benefits and Privileges, he will I think never be able to disprove it. Sinners have many Things to do, viz. to pray to God, hear his Word, read the Scripture, and meditate upon it; yet not with a View to become the Authors of their Salvation, surely. But who says nothing is to be done with them for Salvation. None as I know of; Calvinists whole Opinion this is supposed to be, think it their Duty to inform Sinners that they stand condemned by the Law, for their Sins, that Salvation from Wrath and Hell, is only in Christ, and that unless they believe in him, and are made conformable to him, they will perish for ever without Remedy, and is this doing nothing with a View to the Salvation of Sinners? It is not indeed telling them, that the Grace of God, is extended to all without Exception, that Christ died with an Intention to save every individual of Mankind, that God and Christ have done their Part, and that if they will not be wanting to themselves, but will exert their natural Powers, they shall have Aids and Assistances of divine Grace, sufficient, if duly improved, to enable them to secure their eternal Welfare. These Arminian Tenets, the Author, manifestly intends to make Way for and introduce, to the Dishonour of him Grace of God, the Subversion of Christ’s Satisfaction by his Death, and the Overthrow of the Doctrine of the Efficacy, of the gracious Operations of the Spirit upon the Souls of Men. What he means by a Day of Grace, before God’s Day of effectual Grace, he should, Sir, have told us, if he means a Season in which God willed that Sinners should with his Aids convert themselves, but they would not, ‘tis downright Arminianism, and it may justly be enquired, whether when one Season or Day of Grace Is over, a Day of effectual Grace will succeed? This he seems to suggest, which I cannot understand to be either Calvinism, or Arminianism, it seems to me to suit no Scheme at all. With Respect to Offers and Tenders of Mercy and Salvation to Sinners I observe: That Christ and his Salvation are to be proposed for Acceptance, to all who see their Need of him, that this includes an Offer in it, but is more than an Offer, and that he is graciously given to them, and ‘tis their Duty to embrace and receive him. This Subject I have more largely treated of, in my Answer to the Author of Ruin and Recovery. No Absurdity attends the Supposition of Christ being given before received, and being given in order to be received.

 

This Author, Sir, apprehends, that Sinners may be under the Law, and yet under the Dispensation of Mercy and Reconciliation in Christ Jesus too. What he means by the Dispensation, etc. I cannot understand, and therefore am unable to answer him, if he had said that Sinners may be under the Law or Covenant of Works, may stand condemned by the Law, and yet be under Grace, i.e. the Covenant of Grace, and be thereby acquitted of their Guilt, freed from Condemnation and Death, and appear to have a Right to eternal Life, I should have perfectly understood him to have advanced most manifest Contradictions; but as he uses ambiguous Words and Phrases, I am at a Loss to frame an Idea of his Design. If by a Dispensation of Mercy and Reconciliation, etc. he intends the Season in which Grace and Mercy and Reconciliation are published to Men, the Sense is plain and natural enough; but this makes nothing for the Arminian Principles he artfully endeavours to introduce among Christians. He, Sir, represents the Calvinist as starting a new Turn of Thought, to prove Repentance cannot be of the Law. ‘Tis strange he should make Men say, what is contrary to their avowed Principles: Calvinists are persuaded, that all Duties belong to the Law, and here he represents it as their Opinion, That the Duties of Repentance and Faith belong not to the Law. But let us hear this new Turn of Thought. It is this; all that the Law of Creation commanded, it commanded to the first Adam. End if there are Duties of this Tenure, they must have been the Duties of innocent Adam. But it has been proved already, that on this supposition the Perfection of the Law cannot be maintained. And if they were not the Duties of the first Adam in this Way, they cannot be the Duties of his fallen posterity, because the Law is the same to both. I answer, the Law did not command all to Adam in his innocent State, which became his Duty in a fallen State, by Vertue of that very same Law: It was not his present Duty to shew Compassion to miserable objects, or to love his Enemies, for he had no Objects of Misery to pity, in his perfect State, or Enemies to love, and yet if I mistake not, Christ’s Interpretation of the moral Law in his Sermon upon the Mount, proves that our Obligation to pity the distressed, and to love our Enemies arises from the moral Law. Hence it appears: That that becomes the Duty of Man in his lapsed State by the Law, which it could not command of him for Want of Objects suitable in his perfect State. And thus, tho’ Repentance could not be required of innocent Man by the Law, because Sin had not taken Place in him, nor could he consider God as an Object offended, yet upon his sinning and looking on God as an Object displeased, Repentance became his immediate Duty by the Law, i.e. natural Repentance or Concern for his Sin, his Obligation to this Repentance, arises not from a Discovery of Salvation, it would have been his Duty, if he had been left without any Provision of Recovery by divine Grace. And is the Duty of all his Descendants, yea, I am persuaded it is the Duty of the Devil himself to repent, this I think must be allowed, if Repentance necessarily attends forsaking of Sin, which I imagine none will deny. Again, if the Obligation to Sorrow and Concern for Sin, arises from a Provision of Salvation for offending Creatures, and the Discovery of that Provision, then, the Devil is under no Obligation to Remorse for his Offence, nor are such of Mankind, who know nothing of Salvation by Christ, under any Obligation to repent of their Vices, how contrary soever to the Light of Nature.

 

He makes the Calvinist argue very unphilosophically in what he subjoins, representing him as saying, Men must have new Faculties in order to evangelical Repentance and special Faith. But, Sir, I am persuaded that Calvinsits may be as good Philosophers as himself, if any thro’ Weakness or Inadvertency have so expressed themselves, it is ungenerous and unkind to urge it as the Opinion of the Party. They know perhaps, full as well as he does, that new Faculties are not given or created in Believers, the Mind, the Will and Affections, they consider not as Qualities, but Powers of the Soul, and essential to it, and know that the Supposition of giving new Faculties necessarily implies the Introduction of a new Soul. This is so mean a thing in him, that he may be ashamed of the mention of it. Calvinists know that the reasoning Powers of Men, are the same before and after Conversion; before Conversion, the Mind is the Subject of natural Principles only, and therefore is incapable of supernatural Acts: At, or upon Conversion, it becomes the happy Subject of heavenly and supernatural Principles, and is able to put forth supernatural Acts, suitable to the heavenly Objects presented to View by the Gospel, and which Adam in his State of Innocence was a Stranger to. What the Author proceeds to observe, of the Law opening and enlarging itself, into what we call the Law of Reason and Equity, immediately upon the Fall, Is a mere Invention to serve a Turn; the Law of Reason and Equity, what is it but the moral Law, or Law of Innocence? So far as known to Men, it is no Law distinct, and different from it. Is this Law perfect or imperfect? If imperfect, it is I am sure no Law of God, for he cannot be the Author of any imperfect Law: We Calvinists will have nothing to do with it; let Socinians, Arminians and Baxterians take it to themselves, who are all disposed to make the Power of fallen Man, with common Helps, the Measure of his Duty; we are of another Mind. If it is a perfect Law, it is the moral Law, or Law given to Man in his innocent State, and is the irrepealable and eternal Rule of Righteousness, by which Men will be hereafter tried and judg’d. The poor Calvinists is farther represented, as supposing Adam in his perfect State, incapable of discerning and understanding Objects above what the Law or Dispensation, under which he then was, presented to him.

 

This Person tells us in his Preface, he has taken the Liberty to represent the Opinions of others, in his own Words; so that, Sir, you are to observe, if the Opinions of the Calvinists are not very properly expressed, the Impropriety of Expression, Is to be imputed to this Writer, not to them. But if he would not express their Sentiments, in their own Words, {#Reasons for which I can guess at, but will not name them|} he should have given their true Sense. I know none who have said, or do say, that Man in his innocent State, could not understand the Nature of Objects above what the Law discovers. For, as the Angels who are perfect Creatures, can discern and understand evangelical Truths, so could Man, I question not, if a Discovery had been made of them to him in his primitive State: And have yielded a firm Assent to their Truth, as revealed by God his Creator. But special Faith in those heavenly Mysteries, the Powers of Man in a State of Innocence, it is apprehended were not disposed to, and fitted for, by his Creation Principles, and therefore it is concluded, that special Faith becomes a Duty, only upon the Supposition of the Infusion of super-Creation-Principles, into the Souls of Men. He repeats the Nonsense of the Necessity of new Faculties; for Shame why is this done? Calvinists insist upon the Necessity of new and supernatural Principles, but are far from urging the Necessity of new reasoning Powers, they are not for two Souls in Men; their Opinion is, that Believers are the Subjects of two Principles, Sin, and Grace; but they have no Notion of two Souls in one Man. As I before said, if any have so expressed themselves, it was thro Weakness or Inadvertency, and the Candour and Ingenuity of the Author, Sir, appear in this Representation of the Calvinists Opinion in this Point.

 

The Author, Sir, argues from a Delay of Punishment, and a Communication of temporal Favours, and enjoying an external Revelation of the divine Will, to a Purpose of saving Men in general. So his old Friends the Arminians have always argued, but very impertinently and inconclusively. Providential Dispensations towards Men are no Interpretation of God’s Purposes about them, with Relation to their eternal State, whether he designs to punish them hereafter for their Sins, or to fare them from endless Misery, thro’ his Son Jesus Christ. ‘Tis true natural Duties are not to be performed merely upon the Foot of natural Religion, as distinguished from revealed, by Men who enjoy Revelation, but as heightened, and improved, and enforc’d by that Revelation, and as required by Jesus Christ, who is constituted the Ruler and Judge of all Men. And this is from the mere Sovereignty of God. To which he objects thus, to suppose that God acts thus with Sinners, by mere Sovereignty out of Christ, and at the same Time by the Hands of Christ, this is what I cannot possibly understand. Strange! no, God will do that hereafter by Christ towards Men, which he will not do in Christ, viz. try, judge and condemn them to eternal Punishment; if he can understand this latter, I should think without any Difficulty, he may conceive of the former; for the former is in Order to the latter, and leads to it. Says he, please to tell us directly why the Sentence upon transgressing Sinners, according to the broken Law, is not fully executed; but sinners in common are spared long? The Apostle, if he will believe him, resolves this Question; it is because God is willing to shew his Wrath, and make his Power known, endured with much long-suffering the Vessels of Wrath fitted to Destruction. The Answer is direct and full, as he requires it to be; but I suspect his Approbation of it: Tho’ the Justice and Equity of the awful Procedure, it is far beyond his Power to disprove. He makes the Calvinist give him this Answer: It is for the Elect’s Sake. He enquires, but how for the Elect’s Sake? Are they the Purchasers and Procurers hereof? Or is it for their Sakes, throthe Merits and Purchase of Christ? If the latter is not the meritorious Cause hereof, then the Elect are thus far properly Mediators for Sinners, and something is done for their Sakes, which is not done for Christ’s Sake.

 

Out of Reverence to our Lord, who has told us, that the Days of Distress brought upon the Jewish Nation, should be shortened for the Elect’s Sake, one might have expected a more sober Reply from this Writer. Our Saviour did not intend, that the Elect were Mediators for that People: Neither do Calvinists mean any Thing like it, when they so express themselves. Our Lord suggested, That that People should not become extinct, because Elect Persons were to arise from among their Descendants; and we mean, that Mankind are not destroyed, because God’s chosen ones of the human Race, must all be born or rise into Existence, and that for this Reason, Men are permitted to live, and to live under such Circumstances, as will admit of the Execution of this gracious Design concerning the Elect. I am, Sir, surprized at what follows in the Author, which is this, he pretends that he agrees in the Doctrines of God’s free Grace with those Calvinists, who think that evangelical Repentance and special Faith are the Duties of unregenerate Men, and apprehend that the Obligation to those Duties arises from the moral Law; whereas there is nothing more false.

 

They suppose that God has chosen a certain Number of Men to everlasting Life; that for there Christ died in order to save them, and for no others, with that view, that Grace in order to Life and Happiness is given to the Elect alone. He supposes, that God conditionally decreed the Happiness of all, and that the Death of Christ is of unlimited Extent, that Grace is given to the Non-elect in order to Happiness, and that they may obtain Life, through a proper Improvement of this common Grace. Light and Darkness therefore, are not more contrary, than his Sentiments and those of the Calvinists, in many Respects, notwithstanding this pretended Agreement.

For this Reason, Sir, I flatter myself, that those of the Calvinists, who are of the Opinion before expressed, will not long join Issue with him; but oppose as heartily, at least, his Arminian Principles, as some of them have opposed the Opinion, that Sinners are not bound to exercise evangelical Repentance and special Faith. May the Lord, of his infinite Mercy grant, that his People may discern, into what Tenets this Person and some others are about to lead them, before Arminianism takes Root, in Societies, where it has long had no Place; but been rejected, as a Scheme of Doctrines not calculated to promote the Honour of God, the Glory of a Redeemer, nor the Comfort of the Saints. When he calls the Opinion he opposes a novel Scheme, he speaks very improperly, for it is not of itself Scheme, it is indeed, in the Opinion of some, it is so in my Apprehension, a proper Method to more clearly answer the Arminian Cavils and Exceptions to the Doctrines of the Grace of God, and carries not that Harshness and Severity in it, which the other Opinion does, of God’s damning Men, for not doing, what Man never had a Power in any State to do.

 

The next thing he labours, is to prove that a Day or Season of Grace is afforded to Men in general.

 He produces various Scriptures in favour of it; some of which are to be understood of the Permission of Men living a considerable Time before the Infliction of heavy and grievous Judgments. Others are Calls to a reverential Regard to the Gospel, Interest and Kingdom of Christ. Some are Exhortations to the Church and People of God. Others are Calls to external Reformation, in order to escaping temporal Evils and civil Death. And some are Exhortations to an Attendance on the Worship and Word of God. Some are not addressed to Sinners, nor spoken of Men in general, but of some in particular. It will be sufficient to refer you to them in the Margin for your Perusal {Ge 6:3; 2Pe 2:5; Lu 19:41,41}; {Ps 2:12; Isa 55:6; Eze 18:31-32}. Chap. {Eze 33:11; Mt 20:6; Lu 13:24-25}. Chap. {Lu 14:16-17,22-23}; {2Co 6:2; Heb 3:7,13}; {2Pe 3:9; Re 2:21}.

 

The Calvinist is represented as answering that, the Time allowed the old World, was not for their Repentance unto Life, but only for the reforming from Gross Wickedness; and so to avert and keep off the threatened Destruction of the Deluge. And the Time granted to the Jews, was only to ward off by external Reformation, the fore Calamity which afterwards befell them in their Destruction by the Romans. To which he replies thus, we are under no Necessity of denying this altogether; but may rarely grant, that what you plead was in Part the Design of Providence, but it lies upon you to prove, from evident Circumstances in the Accounts given of there Things, that what you say was the whole of the Design. You, Sir, will I persuade myself, account this a new Way of Reasoning, to desire the Proof of a Negative, in order to oblige a Disputant to give up the Affirmative. I apprehend it always lies upon him who affirms, to prove what he asserts, from the Scope and Circumstances of the Place, which he urges in Favour of the Opinion he advances from it, and if he is not able to do this, he too hastily draws his Conclusion from it. If Texts of Scripture speak of temporal or civil Death, to be avoided by a national and external Reformation, it would be very improper to argue, from that, eternal Death is to be avoided the same Way; which is the Manner of this Author’s Reasoning. This is applying Texts to Subjects, of which they do not speak, and therefore cannot be their Meaning and Sense.

Again, if the Scriptures speak of an external Call to the Duties of natural Repentance and historical Faith, to interpret them of evangelical Repentance and special Faith, is applying them to a Sense far beyond what they Design, and therefore it cannot be true, which is also what this Person does. In order to prove, that this cannot be the Sense of those Scriptures, he produces, one of these two things is necessary to be done.

 

1.

Either to prove, that such a Sense is foreign to the Scripture and is no where expressed, and therefore cannot be the Meaning of the Places alledg’d.

2.

Or, to prove from the Scope and Circumstances of those Passages, that this cannot be the true and full Sense of them. The Proof of the first, I suppose he will never attempt: And the Proof of the second, I am, Sir, of Opinion is beyond his Ability. But if he cannot do this, the Sense he contends for will never be solidly supported. Besides, Sir, the Opinion of a Day, or Season of Grace, appointed to Men in common, supposes that God loves them, that he willed their Happiness, and has provided for it; that Christ died for them to save them, and that the Holy Spirit works upon them with the same gracious Design; but thro’ their Folly and Obstinacy, God’s Love is turned into Hatred, his Purpose to save them, is changed into a Resolution to damn them, that Christ died in vain with Respect to them, that the Holy Spirit is disappointed of the End he proposed to himself, in his benign Influences upon them. There are not, Sir, you well know the Doctrines of the free Grace of God, which this Writer pretends to have an Approbation of. They are as contrary to those Doctrines, as Light is to Darkness: you see that under a Pretence of maintaining the Opinion of evangelical Repentance and special Faith being the Duties of Sinners, he is for conducting us into rank Arminianism.

 

He acquaints us, that the Calvinist inclines to the Belief of the Doctrine of absolute Reprobation as the Counter-Part of Election; but the least said of it in the Pulpit is best,

 for there is no knowing who are reprobate till they prove themselves so by their openly wicked and abominable Lives. But why the least laid of it in the Pulpit is best? If it be a scriptural Doctrine it surely is, at least, a harmless one; nay it is a profitable one, for there is no useless unprofitable Doctrine contained in the Word of God. Some perhaps may think too, it would have been better, if it had not had a Place in the Bible. If Men abuse this Doctrine, through Unbelief or Lust, that is no Objection to the Truth, Importance or Usefulness of the Doctrine itself; and I am well assured, a proper Explanation of it will never be attended with any hurtful Consequences to Men religious or profane, but thro’ their Unbelief or carnal Lust. Farther, why should it be concluded, that Men of openly wicked and abominable Lives are the Objects of Reprobation? Since Christ came into the World to save the Chief of Sinners; Men’s present Wickedness therefore, is no Proof at all, that they are appointed to Wrath: It is only final Impenitence which can be a Proof of that. He supposes, that a Provision of Mercy and Grace is made for the Nonelect. Then surely God loved them, and if so, how comes it to pass that he ever hates them? If once he willed not to punish them, how is it he inflicts Punishment on them? He then knew, what Manner of Persons they would be; this seems therefore, to necessarily suppose a Change in God. Besides, either the Salvation of Men is wholly to be resolved into the Will of God, and his Influence upon them, or, it is in Part owing to the Will of Men, if it is wholly and solely the Effect of the divine Will; then it manifestly follows, that God did not will the Salvation of those who perish, and if he willed not their Salvation, he must be supposed to decree or purpose their Misery. If Salvation is in Part of the Will of Man, then it can’t be said, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy; then Men are born of the Will of the Flesh, in Part, and not altogether of God, in Regeneration. Besides, this conditional Decree respects either all, or some of the Non-Elect; if all, then all must be supposed to hear the Gospel, for the Conditions of Faith and Repentance, at cannot be thought are expected of them who never hear of the Object of Faith. Again, either there Conditions of Salvation are possible, or they are not, without the Infusion of gracious Principles, into the Souls of Men; is possible, then, they who are in the Flesh may please God, and the carnal Mind may be subject to his Law, which I don’t take to be true. If they are impossible Conditions to Men unregenerate, then God decreed to save Men upon Conditions absolutely out of their Power, and yet determined not to give them that Grace, which is necessary to enable them to perform those Conditions: which betides the Absurdity of it, leaves them under an Impossibility of Salvation.

 

He observes, that many strict Calvinists have allowed, that God’s Hatred of Esau must be taken in a comparative Sense, and can mean no more than this, that Esau was not loved and regarded in the same extraordinary Way with Jacob. I thought: Hatred was the contrary of Love, and could not properly be put for a less Degree of it. Besides, the Apostle professedly treats of God’s Purpose to lave some and punish others, and produces Jacob and Esau as Instances of it; his Design, therefore, is to shew that the Salvation of Jacob, proceeded from divine Love, and that the Destruction of Esau was a righteous Effect of divine Hatred. If therefore, by Hatred the Apostle means a lesser Love, it was a Love of such a Nature in God, from which the Infliction of Punishment for Sin proceeds, and by Consequence, from that Love, a Decree to inflict Penalty might be formed; an Interest in such a Kind of Love, can afford but little Hope of Salvation to a guilty Creature. He adds, the Apostle Jude doth not speak of any Decree of Reprobation, v.4, but only that God has ordained Condemnation to be the Consequence of Sin, and the Portion of evil Doers. But, Sir, you will please to observe, that the Apostle is speaking of Persons, who were, says he, fore-appointed, or forewritten, oi progrgrammhnnoi, to this Condemnation; all the Difference between the Apostle Jude and this Writer is, Jude speaks of Men as the Objects of a divine Appointment or forewriting to Condemnation; and this Author speaks of Punishment as the Consequence of Sin in general, without Relation to any particular Persons. This Difference, great as it is, is not unusually found between the Scriptures, and the Writings of the Arminians, whose Cause the Author defends {#as I suppose,|} in the best Manner he can.

 

The Author endeavours to clear himself of the Charge of holding the Opinion of a New Law.

The Method he takes to do it, is this: We maintain, says he, the Perfection and perpetual Obligation of the moral Law of God, and plead for no new Law in the Room of that, so as to annul it. We don’t make Repentance and Faith a Covenant of Works, nor Salvation to depend only on these as Man’s Duties. But the Gospel we call a new Dispensation, built upon God’s Act of Grace in Christ. And as the Fall occasioned a new Relation between God and Man, new Duties necessarily arise from hence. The moral Law is not only kept up in its Perfection, but it is put into the Hands of Christ, as the appointed Lord and King in the Church; and it is also attemper’d to the State and Condition of Sinners and Gospel Grace. The Place which Repentance and Faith hold in the new Covenant, is all of Grace; and there Duties are to be performed by the Help and Strength of God’s Grace, and must be accepted thro’ Christ. Where then is the Charge of a new Law? Upon which I thus remark: It seems to be allowed, that a new Law is introduced, yet not so as to annul the old Law; that, notwithstanding retains its Power and Force, only Men are also under another Law, which if they keep, they shall not suffer that Punishment the old Law threatens; but in Case they keep not this new Law, they are delivered over to the Curse of the old Law. Again, if Repentance and Faith are proper Conditions of Salvation, they are made a Covenant of Works; all the Difference is, the old Law required perfect Works as Conditions of Happiness, here imperfect Works serve the Purpose. Farther, it is plainly allowed, that Salvation depends on Faith and Repentance, {#tho’ not only|} as Man’s Duties: And therefore Men are in Part causes of their Salvation. I add, I suppose the Act of God’s Grace mentioned, is dispensing with the rigorous Demand of Perfection in the moral Law, as a Condition of Life, upon which the Gospel Dispensation is laid to be built, which lowers the Condition to imperfect Obedience. Moreover, if Repentance is one of those Duties, which necessarily arise from the new Relation, occasioned by the Fall, between God and Man, then it would have been the Duty of Men, in Case no Provision had been made for their Recovery, which is what the Author has more than once seemed to disallow. I cannot understand what new Relation between God and Man takes Place upon the Fall. Before the Fall, God was Creator, a Lawgiver and Judge to Man: So he was upon the Fall; Man before it, was his Creature, the Subject of his Rule and Government, and so he is after it; but now a Creature chargeable with Guilt, and obnoxious to Death, these are new Circumstances to the unhappy Creature Man; but in no Sense, as I can at present apprehend, may they be denominated a new Relation to God. I subjoin, it is granted, that the moral Law is put into the Hands of Christ, and he uses that Law, either as a Saviour, or as a Judge merely; in the former Sense, he acquits his People upon the Foundation of his Obedience and Sufferings, and flees them from it as a Covenant of Works: In the latter Sense, he retains Men under the Curie and Condemnation of it now, and will hereafter try, judge and condemn them to endless Misery, according to that Law. I deny, that the old Law is attempered to the State, and Condition of Sinners and Gospel Grace, it commands the same Holiness it ever did, and threatens the same Punishment in Case of Sin, or Defect in Obedience; otherwise its Perfection and perpetual Obligation cease, which this Writer a few Lines above professes to maintain perfectly inconsistent with what is here said, unless I mistake. To say that Repentance and Faith are Conditions of Life, as an Effect of divine Grace, will not acquit the Opinion, of being contrary to the Doctrine of the Apostle, who constantly denies, that Salvation is of a Law, or of Works. And tho’ these Duties are said to be performed by the Help and Strength of God’s Grace, and that they are accepted thro Christ; yet it is easy to see, that the promised Benefit of Life, becomes due upon the Foot of Right, on the Performance of those Duties, and therefore, the Reward is not of Grace, but of Debt; and that these Duties are to be considered, as the Matter of our Justification before God for Christ’s Sake. To the Author’s Enquiry therefore, I must take leave to say, Sir, the new Law is here, and that he will never be able to clear himself of so heavy but just a Charge. All the Art he has used, in the Choice of ambiguous Phrases, could not cover his Design, it was a vain Thing in him to expect it; for if Men deliver Principles, which necessarily resolve themselves into the Opinion of a new Law, it can’t reasonably be thought, That that Opinion should long remain out of View. But what follows is exceeding strange, he tells the Calvinist it would not be difficult to make Reprisals. For you must grant, says he, that the Law is no longer in Force as a Covenant of Works, for the Justification of Sinners: This infers so far an Alteration from the original Law; and therefore one might say you make a new Law. The Answer is, that it is not merely as a Law, it requires Obedience of Men as a Condition of Life, but as it is a Covenant. Their Freedom from it, as requiring Obedience to such an End, infers no Change in it as a Law, for it is not essential to it as a Law, to command Obedience to such an End; but it is essential to it as a Law to require Obedience, and if it now demands of Men imperfect Obedience, it is altered in what is essential to It as a Law, and therefore, is not the same Law it was. Farther, it is still in force, as a Covenant requiring perfect Righteousness in Order to Acceptance with God: Believers have such a perfect Righteousness in Christ, and therefore, they stand perfectly justified in the Sight of God, according to this Law, fulfilled for them, by Christ their great Surety and Saviour.

I proceed, Sir, to give you an Account of the Manner of his treating on the Work of the Spirit.

 And, he observes, that it is God’s usual and ordinary Way to work on such by whom preparatory Works to Conversion are performed, as assisted by his preventing Grace. Various Scriptures he produces to prove, that there is such a Thing as a preparatory Work, to which I shall refer you in the Margin {1Ki 14:13; Mt 3:7}; {Mt 10:11,13; 13:20-21}; {Mr 10:17}; {Mr 12:34; Lu 5:31; 13:24}; {Ac 2:5,37; 8:27; 10:1; 16:30; 17:4; 26:28}. Some of those Places intend the Work of Grace itself, and others have no Reference at all to it. As to the Opinion of a preparatory Work, I cannot but be of the Mind of Witsius, that there is no such Thing, he assigns these Reasons for it.

 

1.

Our Nature became as an evil Tree upon eating of the forbidden Fruit, can bear no Fruits really good and acceptable with God, and can act nothing by which it may prepare itself for the Grace of Regeneration: Unless any one should be thought to prepare himself by Sins for Grace.

2.

Those who seem best disposed to Regeneration, it is found are most distant from it. Which the Example of the young Man very clearly demonstrates; who seemed full of good Intention, and burning with a Desire of Heaven, and of unblameable Life before Men, insomuch, that Jesus himself, when he beheld him loved him, yet notwithstanding all these Dispositions, he departed from the Lord sorrowful

3.

On the contrary, those in whom there hath been nothing, not a Shadow of Preparation, as Publicans and Harlots, have gone before the civilly just, and externally religious, into the Kingdom of God; for these believed not John preaching the Way of Righteousness; but Publicans and Harlots really believed.

4.

God testifies, in the first Influence of his Grace, he is found of them; that fought him not, and asked not after him {Jer 52:34} Excellently Fulgentius, says he, whom he quotes, we receive not Grace because we desire; but while we desire not Grace is given. Milton well expresses the important thought. Grace, —

 

 

 

Comes unprevented, unimplor’d, unsought, 

Happy for Man so coming; he her Aid 

Can never seek, once dead in Sins and loft. 

Paradise Lost, Book III. ver. 231. 232, 233. 

 

For there Reasons, I say, with Witsius, who puts the Question, are there no preparatory Dispositions to Regeneration? I answer confidently none, and subscribe with him to Fulgentius, As in the natural Birth, the Formation of the divine Work precedes the whole Will of the Man born: So it is in the spiritual Birth, by which we begin to lay aside the old Man.f5 Of the same Judgment was the great Charnock, and the late Dr. Ridgley. The Author, Sir, represents the Calvinist as objecting to him, that he makes upon this Supposition the Salvation of Sinners possible indeed, but barely so. Which he endeavours to answer, by referring to Angels and to Man who fell; his arguing here, I shall take no farther Notice of, than just to observe, the Cafes are far from being parallel, and therefore, his Reasoning has little Force in it. I must take Liberty to affirm, that the Salvation of Men, upon this Principle, is absolutely impossible, unless it can be proved, that without Faith it is possible to please God, and that those who are in the Flesh may please their Maker. He makes the Calvinist object to his Opinion, that supposing the Death of Christ to be of universal Extent, implies he died in vain. To which he answers thus: As often as I meet with this Objection, I cannot find any just Reason or Foundation to support it. There certainly is a twofold Design and Intention in the Redemption wrought out for Sinners. One is, that the Patience and Forbearance, the rich Goodness, Mercy and Grace of God, might be manifested and glorified in his Dealing with Sinners. And the ether is, that his righteous Government, his Power, his Holiness and Justice might be also glorified. Now if thro’ the Redemption which is in Christ Jesus, the Patience and Forbearance of God, and the Riches of his Mercy and Grace are displayed and glorified, in his present Dealings with Sinners, which is the Case on our Side of the Question. And if his Holiness, Justice and Power are glorified to the full, in the Condemnation and Destruction of the impenitent and ungodly hereafter; this is not in vain, but exactly of a Piece with God’s great and complicated Designs in Providence and Redemption. Where Grace is rejected and despised, punishing Justice will be glorified. To which I reply, Sir, thus.

 

1.

This seems to suppose, it was a Thing indifferent to God, whether his Mercy is glorified in the Salvation of Sinners, or whether his Justice is glorified in their Destruction, upon the Foundation of the Redemption of Christ; that his End is as fully answered in the Gift of his Son for Sinners in their Damnation, as it is in their Salvation; whereas it was his Intention that his Grace and Mercy might be glorified in their Salvation, and therefore, if they are not saved he is disappointed of his End in this extraordinary Transaction, and his Son suffered Death in vain, or the End intended, in his Death is unaccomplished. That this was the End designed is evident; for God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life. The Reader may see this more largely insisted on, in the Answer to the Author of Ruin and Recovery.

 

2.

The Justice and Holiness of God are fully vindicated, and gloriously displayed, in the Remission of Sin, and in the eternal Salvation of Sinners, upon the Foundation of Christ’s Death, {Ro 3:25-26}; and therefore, the Infliction of Penalty on those for whom Christ died, cannot be to the Glory of his Justice.

3.

It would be contrary to Justice; for Christ having made Satisfaction for the Sins of those, for whom he suffered, it cannot consist with Justice to punish them for their Offences.

4.

How are the Riches of divine Grace now glorified in God’s Dealings with the Heathen, whom he suffers to live in gross Darkness and in the Shadow of Death? How can his Justice be hereafter glorified in punishing of them for Impenitence, who never had an Opportunity of hearing of Christ, and by Consequence, could not believe in him nor reject him. The Author, Sir, again advances his Opinion of preparatory Works to Regeneration, but offers nothing worth Consideration to support it. I would just observe to you, Sir, that he objects, if the Soul is intirely passive in all the Steps of the saving Change, how can you assert any thing about the Manner of it. And represents the Calvinists as saying, this is a Point which is divinely revealed to the believing Son. Answer, as the Implantation of spiritual Principles in the Mind is Regeneration, the Soul is passive in it, and it is instantaneous or wrought at once, it is not gradual and progressive, and therefore, it is improper to speak of Steps in this Change. Again, I can’t, Sir, but complain here of great Unkindness done to the Calvinist, to represent him as an Enthusiast, there is no Candour in this; Calvinists believe in this Matter, upon the Light and Evidence of God’s Word, and not upon an imaginary Revelation, which he makes the Calvinist to express. He seems to flatter himself with having fully proved, that evangelical Repentance and special Faith are the Duties of Sinners, and that he has brought over, at least very nearly so, one of the Disputants in the Dialogue. How much soever he may be satisfied with his Performance, I can’t think it will gain the Approbation of many of those, who agree with him in there Points. A great Number of ill Consequences are drawn from that Opinion, in Answer to which, it is sufficient to observe, that Sinners ought to pray, to read the Word of God, to hear it preached and consider of the dreadful Effects of Sin. That Ministers ought to let before them the Danger of their State by Nature, and the Necessity of an Interest. in Christ, and the Necessity of Faith in him.

 

That Sinners, sin against God, as the God of all Grace, when they oppose the Doctrines of his Grace, — against Christ as a Saviour, when they oppose their own Works to his Merits and Righteousness, — against the Holy-Ghost, as the Author of all gracious and sanctifying Influences, when they oppose the Necessity of his Influences, — against the Gospel of Salvation, when they oppose the important Doctrines of it, as this Writer does. Sinners are condemn’d for abusing the Gospel. Parents and Heads of Families ought to warn and exhort their Children and Servants, — to call them to their Bibles, to send them to their Knees before God, or put them upon Prayer, to offer up a Desire, a Cry, to Heaven for Mercy and Salvation for them, — and with Importunity and holy Wrestling. — After he has said, none of these Things can be practised, consistent with this Principle, and made a Supposition of a Visit by the pious Soul of a departed Minister, and his observing, how Things are going with us, what a dismal Report he must carry back to the World above. One might make the same Supposition upon his Principles I am afraid, says he, of every Offence against the royal Law of Charity; I can easily admit, that great Mistakes and real Godliness may inhabit the same Breast: — I would always love and honour every good Christian, tho’ not exactly of my Size, and in my Way. And yet I am at a loss to account for it, how Tenets so formidable in their Aspect, can sit easy upon serious and good Minds. But without farther Aggravation, as there Objections are just, and attended with a Train of Consequences no Way favourable to practical Religion, {#all there dismal Consequences are entirely false, and far from being justly drawn|} I leave them to your own Contemplation, and Repentance, and Faith, to the Word and Blessing of God. Magna est Veritas, & prevalebit. You, Sir, will observe his Candour and Charity, which I am sure will be highly agreeable to you, for that Kindness and Charity to those who differ from you, which inspire your Breast, must certainly gain your Approbation, when exercised by others. Whether the Consequences he draws are just, as I think the contrary, I desire you to inform me, whether you concur with me in that Opinion, and pray, let me know, wherein you may think me mistaken: I the more desire this Favour of you, because I suppose, I am a Person too contemptible, to be favoured with a Correction of my Mistakes, by the Author of the Performance.

 

The Qualifications he requires in one, who should undertake to animadvert on his Work, are most desirable indeed; may the Lord of his infinite Mercy make me a real and fervent Lover of Truth, Peace and Godliness. Whether I have acted the Part of an angry Scribe, I submit to your Judgment, and conclude this Address, with hearty Desires, that Truth may prevail, with whomsoever it is found.

I am

, Sir, Your most obliged, and humble Servant

JOHN BRINE.

 

JUST PUBLISH’D, BY THE SAME AUTHOR,

THE Certain Efficacy of the Death of Christ, asserted: Or, the Necessity, Reality, and Perfection, of his Satisfaction are pleaded for: The Objections of the Socinians, and Arminians are answered: The Moral Law proved to be in full Force: And the unconditional Nature of the new Covenant is demonstrated; in Answer to a Book, called, The Ruin and Recovery of Mankind; the Mistakes of the Author, on various Subjects are Discovered and Corrected, viz. The Annihilation of Infants. The Imputation of Original Sin to Men. The Charge of Sin on Christ. The Imputation of his Righteousness to his People. Also, The Necessity, and Nature of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration, are treated of: The Scriptural Account of there important Doctrines is clearly stated, and vindicated from his, and the Exceptions of some others. With a Postcript, proving that a Charge of Guilt is inseparable from Punishment. Secondly, The Christian Religion not Destitute of Arguments sufficient to support it. In Answer to a Pamphlet, intitled, Christianity not founded on Argument, etc.

 

FOOTNOTES 

ft1 Ecce enim erat in Homine primaevo Justitia quoad Naturam, quae jam vocatur puniens, fuit enim in ipso perfecta Jusitia, & tamen inepte, quis inferret ex hoc hanc Conclusionem, ergo Potuit Homo punire alios in Statu Integritatis. Item in Homine primaevo erat perfecta Charitas. Ergo, suit hoc quod Misericordia vocatur quoad Naturam; Non tamen bene quis intulerit hanc Conclusionem ex isto antecedente; ergo Homo potuit Misericordiam exercere in Statu Integritatis, quia Misericordiae Locus non erat nisi in Statu Miferiae, qui Status diversus est: a Statu Integretatis. Loc. Comm. Cap. 44 p. 419.

ft2 Modern Question, etc. P. 13, 14.

ft3Note, this Point I have more fully considered, in my Answer to Ruin and Recovery.

ft4 Causam adsert tantae illorum Contumaciae: Quafi dicat, quia non estis Homines probi, & veri, ac recti amantes, & sic minime idonei ut fiatis Ores meae. Slichting in Loc. But you do not believe, because you are not Persons such Simplicity and Sincerity, as I have described under the Character of my Sheep. Family Expositor Vol. 2. p 218

ft5 1. Etenim Natura notstra, quum mala Arbor port gusta tam Arborem vetitam facta fit, nullos Fructas vere bonos Deoque gratos proferre potest, nihilque agere, quo fe praeparet ad Gratiam Regeneratonis: Nifi quis Peccatis fe ad Gratiam praeparare cenfeatur. 2. Eos, qui quam optime ad Regenerationem dispositi videri poterant, ab illa tamen quam longissime absuisse compertum est:. Quod Juvenis istius Exemplum luculentissime demonstrat; qui bonae, ut videbatur, Intentionis plenus; & Coeli Doliderio flagrans, & Vitae coram Hominibus inculpatae, usque adeo ut Jesus ipse eum intuitus eum deligeret, non obsiantibus tamen omnibus illis Dispositionibus tristis a Domino recessit. Marc. 10:21, 22. 3. Contra autem 2, in quibis nihil suit, quod vel Umbram Praeparationis haberet, ut Publicani & Meretrices caeteros civiliter justos & externe religioses praecesserunt in Regno Dei: quippe hi Johanni annuncianti Viam Justitiae non cre. diderunt; Publicani autem & Meretrices omnino crediderunt.

{Mt 21:31-32}. 4. Denique testatur Deus, in primo Appulsu Gratiae inveniri se ab iis, qui ipsum non quaerunt, & de ipso non interrogant, {#Jeremiah65:1|}. Optime Fulgentius Lib. I. De Verit. Praedest. p. 62. Non ubique quia volumus Gratiam accepimus; sednecdum volentibus nobts Gratia data est. Quid ergo, inquies, nullaene ad Regenerationem primam dantur Dispositiones praeparatoriae? Respondeo confidentur nullae. Et subscribo, Fulgentio, de Incarnatione & Gratia Christi. Cap. I2. Sicut Nativitate carnali omnem nascentis Hominis Voluntatem praecedit Operis Divini Formatio; sic in Spirituali Nativitate qua veterem Hominem deponere incipimus: de Oecon. Foed. Lib 3. Cap. 6. p. 333 — 336.

Sir, What this Writer produces from the British Divines, in Favour of Works preparatory to Regeneration, you may find very well explained by Witsius, who observes, that they took Regeneration either for the first Work of Grace, or, for the State of passive Justification, when understood in the former Sense, they did not think, that Works preparatory are done by Men; but when understood in the latter Sense only. So that the Author’s Opinion, receives no Support from them, if Witsius understands them truly, in this Point.

 

 

10 Sermon 10 The Chief of Sinners Saved Through Jesus Christ by John Brine

Created By LeRoy Rhodes

leroyrhodes@comcast.net

2006


The Chief of Sinners Saved Through 

Jesus Christ 

by John Brine 

{London: Aaron Ward, 1747} 

 

SERMON 10 

THE CHIEF OF SINNERS, SAVED THRO' 

JESUS CHRIST 

 

A SERMON, OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF  

MRS. ANNE WILDMAN, WHO DIED JULY 12, 1747.  

PREACHED JULY 19.  

Printed for and fold by AARON WARD, at the King’s-Arms in Little- 

Britain, London 1747. 

{Price SIX-PENCE.} 

 

{1Ti 1:15},  

This is a faithful Saying, and worthy of all Acceptation, That Christ Jesus came into the World to save Sinners; of whom I am Chief.

THE Apostle, in some preceding verses expresses the grateful Sense he had of being called to the ministerial Work: And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the Ministry. Next to his being a Subject of divine Grace, he esteemed it his Honour to be employed in the Work of Preaching the Gospel. Unto me, who am less than the least of all Saints, is this Grace given; that I should preach among the Gentiles,. the unsearchable Riches of Christ. {Eph 3:8} The Consideration of his Behaviour before Conversion, caused him to admire greatly at both. Who was before a Blasphemer, and a Persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained Mercy, for I did it ignorantly and in Unbelief and the Grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with Faith and Love, which is in Christ Jesus. He is not content to say of that Grace by which he was called, that it was abundant; but he adds to it the Epithet exceeding. Grace exceedingly abounded towards him, in making him a Minister and a Saint, who had been so great an Offender. 

In treating on the Words, I propose to shew,  

I. That All Men are Sinners. 

II. That the Apostle thought himself to be the Chief, or greatest of Sinners. 

III. That Sinners are lost, miserable, and helpless and unworthy. 

IV. That Christ Jesus came into the World, to save Sinners, the chief, or greatest of them. 

V. That an Assurance of Salvation thro’ Christ, is very consistent with an Apprehension of our being the chief of Sinners. 

VI. That the Report of Christ’s coming into the World to save the chief of Sinners is true, and worthy of the most grateful Reception. 

I. All Men are Sinners. By one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; and Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sinned. {Ro 5:12} Adam was our Head and Representative, and, therefore, his Act of Disobedience is reckoned to us. By one Man’s Disobedience many were made Sinners. {Ro 5:21} In Consequence of our sinning in him, and falling with him, in his first Transgression; we derive a corrupt Nature from him. We are shapen in Iniquity and Conceived in sin. {Ps 51:5} That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. We are naturally Flesh, the contrary of that which is produced by the Holy Spirit: And, therefore, we are the Subjects of putrid and carnal Lusts: which the Apostle distinguishes into Lusts of the Flesh and of the Mind. Among whom also we all had our Conversation in Times past, in the Lusts of our Flesh fulfilling Desires of the Flesh and of the Mind. {Eph 2:3 

 

By the Lusts of the Flesh, he designs those corrupt Inclinations, which are agreeable to our animal Nature, or inferior Part; and by the Lusts or Desires of the Mind, he intends, those unlawful Inclinations, Whereof our superior and intellectual Part is the subject. So that our whole Nature is corrupt and vicious, even that Part of us, which distinguishes us from the Brute-Creation, and which we glory in. The truth is, we are the Subjects, not only of brutal, but also of diabolical Lusts; and have a larger Capacity of sinning than the apostate Spirits have. Besides all those vicious Lusts which are agreeable to our inferior Part, and which immaterial Beings cannot be the Subjects of, nor act; we are the Subjects of those abominable Lusts, which are the Depravation of impure Spirits. Such as Pride, Envy, Malice, Hatred and Revenge; and, therefore, Men are not only capable of sinning in those Ways the Devil is, but in a greater Variety also. As our Nature is thus corrupt, our Conduct is criminal. We have a Disposition to what is evil, and Sin is the governing Principle in us. Duties we omit, or practise them in art improper Manner, neither from a right Principle, nor to a right End, nor under the Influence of spiritual Motives and Considerations; and, consequently, tho’ they are materially good, they have the Nature of Sin in them. Our carnal Mind is Enmity against God, and it is not subject to his Law, neither indeed can be. Not so much as a spiritual and holy Desire can arise in our unsanctified Hearts; hence it necessarily follows, that those who are in the Flesh cannot please God. Until a divine Principle is wrought in our Souls, we cannot perform any Service in an acceptable Manner to our Maker: For without Faith it is impossible to please God. {Heb 11:6} So long, therefore, as Men are in a State of Unregeneracy, their Actions are either materially or circumstantially sinful. Those which the Law forbids, are materially evil, and those which it commands, are circumstantially so, or they have the Nature of Sin in them, and, consequently, our Guilt must be very great: But, some are more criminal than others. I confess, that I have no good Opinion of distinguishing upon Sins, or of calling some great and some little Sins. for no Sin is little; thus to distinguish upon sins; has no good Influence on our Minds; under various Circumstances, before and upon the Commission of Evil. Yet some it must be allowed may justly be accounted greater Sinners than others; viz. who continue longer in a State of Rebellion, and indulge to the Gratification of a greater Variety of evil Lusts, and abide in a sinful Course against Knowledge, and sharp Remonstrances from the natural Conscience, improved in its Light by the Word of God. Such are great Offenders. 

 

II. The Apostle thought himself to be the Chief, or greatest of Sinners, 'Of whom I am chief'  

 

1. He was a virtuous Person before his Conversion to Christianity. A Pharisee of the Pharisees, a Student in the Law, and stricty attended to the Duties it required, so far as he understood it, and touching the Righteousness which is in the Law, he was blameless, living in all good Conscience before God. He did not allow himself in the Omission of known Duties, nor in the Commission of known Sins. And yet, 

 

2. He was guilty of very great Evils. This he confesses in there Words, who was before a Blasphemer, and a Persecutor, and injurious. Full of Rage and Fury against Christ, and all who adhered to his Interest. He was exceedingly mad against the Saints, and punished them in every Synagogue, compelling them to blaspheme. Not satisfied with blaspheming himself, he forced them to do the same. As he injured them in their Persons and Liberty and Property, he also. compelled them to act a Part contrary to their Persuasion and Conscience; at least, he attempted it, and they could not decline it, without increasing the violent Flame of his cruel Rage and Fury against them. But, 

 

3. In all this he acted not against Knowledge, or a Conviction of Mind and Conscience. These his Sins, were Sins of Ignorance. For what he did in Opposition to the Interest of Christ, he did it ignorantly and in Unbelief. he verily thought with himself that he ought to do many Things contrary to the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. {Ac 26:9} And, therefore, he was sincere in perfecting the Church. This plainly shews us, that Sincerity, if it is not exercised about Truth and Duty, is of no Advantage to the Souls of Men. A Zeal of God, without Knowledge, will never profit any; and it is very likely to grow into a furious Rage, against the Interest of divine Truth, as it did in our Apostle and the carnal Jews. 

 

4. He now considered himself the Chief of Sinners. Grotius, that great Perverter of the Word of God, in his Annotations, understands the Phrase hyperbolically. He conceits, that the Apostle uses an Hyperbole, or that his Language was much stronger than the Nature of the Thing he expresses would bear.f1 But this was his Figment only. Our Apostle retains a Sense of what he was, before his Conversion, and the Consideration of it greatly humbled his Soul. Thus he practiced what he exhorted others to do, viz. to remember what they were in their Nature, State, and Conduct before divine Calling. So he exhorts the Ephesians to remember, that they were Gentiles, in the Flesh. {Eph 2:11} We Ought never to forget, What was our deplorable Condition by Nature,. and what was our Deportment, while Sin had the Dominion over us. The Apostle doth not say, I have been the chief; but I am the chief of Sinners: Every Saint in this World is a Sinner. It cannot be said of every Sinner, that he is a Saint; but it is true of every Saint in this militant State, that he is a Sinner; If not, he hath no Combat in him between Flesh and Spirit. In all Believers here, the Flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh. There is not a just Man upon Earth that doeth Good, and sinneth not. I am not insensible, that some have pretended, and that some do pretend to great Degrees in Holiness; and a Freedom from the Power of Sin; that if they are not wholly clear of Sin, they are very near it. But I am persuaded, that none will think themselves more holy, than Abraham, David, and Peter, and other good Men, of whom we read in, the Scripture, except such, who have no Holiness at all, and know not what it is, nor wherein it consists. A fuller Evidence of being under the Dominion of Sin, cannot be given, than an Imagination of a Freedom from the Being and Working of it in the Heart is. If we say that we have no Sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us. Paul was very eminent in Holiness, and by the Grace of God, he was enabled to conduct himself in such a Manner, as that he could say, I know nothing by myself, i.e. I am not sensible, that in any Instance, I have acted unsuitably to my Character, as a Minister, or a Christian: And yet he thought himself the chief of Sinners. He found himself to be the Subject of Sin, as well as of Holiness, of Flesh, as well as of Spirit. He experienced to his Sorrow, that Sin was always present with him; that it attended him in the Closet, and in the Pulpit, and that, therefore, he could not pray without sinning, nor preach without sinning, nor discharge any Christian Duty without a sinful Defilement attending it. Persons most eminent in Holiness, have always had the deepest Sense of their Sinfulness. They look not upon themselves, nor on Sin, in the fame Light, as others do. And, therefore, they think and know that to be Sin in itself, and in themselves, which others do not esteem to be so, nor accuse themselves of sinning on Account of. ‘Tis not because they are more sinful, or less holy, than Others; but because they are more acquainted with themselves, and with what Sin is, that they esteem themselves the chief of Sinners. The Apostle’s Sense of his Imperfection and Sins, caused him to sigh and groan, and consider himself as wretched. Oh! wretched Man that 1 am, who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death.? It is an excellent Observation of one, viz. that our Sense of Sin, is not according to what it is in itself, but according to what Impression God is pleased to make of it upon us. Those who are most favoured with heavenly Influences, as they above others aim at Spirituality in Obedience, they best discern their Carnality, and, therefore, think themselves less holy, and more vile than others. Besides, the peculiar Aggravations, which they discover in their Sins, greatly increase their Guilt, in itself, and in their View, and for that Reason, they think themselves the chief of Sinners. 

III. Sinners are lost, miserable, helpless and unworthy.  

1. They are condemned by the Law. Every Breach of the holy Law of God subjects us to a Curse. Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all Things, which are written in the Book of the law to do them {Ga 3:10}. Which is not the Curse of a Creature, but of God himself. Every vain Imagination, every irregular and inordinate Desire, all disorderly Motions of our corrupt Affections, expose us to the Condemnation of the Law, which requires perfect Purity of Heart. And, therefore, since our Hearts are a Fountain of Impurity, from which continually spring defiled and defiling Streams, how many must those penal Threatnings be, that the Law breathes out against us. Multiplied Transgressions, bring us under multiplied Curses. 

2. We are obnoxious to the Vengeance of God: Whose Wrath is as his Power, i.e. infinite. As we are not able to say what infinite Power is, so we cannot declare what infinite Wrath is: Both have no Measure or Limits. Our Obnoxiousness to the vindictive Displeasure of God, is a Misery not to be expressed. It far exceeds the Reach of Language and Thought too. This is our sad State by Nature. What Things soever the Law saith, it saith to them, that are under the Law; that every Mouth may be stopped, and all the World may become guilty before God {Ro 3:10}. We deserve to be punished with everlasting Destruction from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power. Which includes the Loss of the Enjoyment of the highest Good, and suffering the extremest Torture and Pain, our Make can be supported under, and that for ever. 

 

3. We are absolutely helpless, and unworthy of Succour, in these our sad Circumstances. We cannot atone for a single Offence, much less are we capable or satisfying a violated Law and offended Justice, for our numerous Transgressions. The Weight of one Sin would sink us deeply into the infernal Pit; much more, therefore, must our vast and accumulated Guilt, press us down into unfathomable Depths of Misery. We are without Strength, and unable to do any thing towards our Recovery from Ruin. The Redemption of our Soul is precious, and ceases for ever {Ps 49:8}, with respect to what we are able to do towards it. We are irrecoverably lost as to ourselves. We are wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked {Re 3:17}. And .we are not more miserable, and unable to help ourselves, than we are undeserving of Succour from him, who alone can deliver us from this Ruin. For our Nature is corrupt, and vile, and our Conduct is a continued Provocation to the most high, and yet blessed be his Name, he has in infinite Goodness and Wisdom, effectually provided for our Recovery, and Happiness, in the Fruition of himself. This leads me to discourse of the next Thing proposed to be considered, that 

 

IV. Christ Jesus came into the World to save Sinners, the chief of them  

 

1. He was before he came into this World. He existed in another and higher Nature, than that, in which he dwelt with Men, before his Entrance into the World. Hence he tells the Jews, that Abraham rejoiced to see his Day; he saw it, and was glad: they answer, thou art not yet fifty Years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Our Lord replies, Before Abraham was, I .AM {Joh 8:56-57}. They were much displeased at this Reply, for they well understood him to assert his Existence in another Nature than what they conversed with, or would own him in, viz. a Nature truly divine. The Name I AM, they were sensible, belonged to God alone, who revealed himself to Moses, under that Name, when he was about to deliver their Fathers out of Egyptian Bondage: I AM hath lent me you {Ex 2:24}. He al-ways was in the Form of God, and, therefore, thought it no Robbery to be equal with God {Php 2:4}. In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All Things were made by him, and without him was not any Thing made, that was made {Joh 1:1-2,3}. He, himself, must therefore, be uncreated, and, consequently, he existed in that increated Nature, before he was made of a Woman, in another Nature infinitely inferior to that. 

 

2. His coming into the World, includes his Assumption of our Nature into Union with himself, his Subjection to the Law, his Obedience, his low Estate, and Sufferings, and Death for us. 

 

(1.) He assumed our Nature into Union with himself. The Word that was in the Beginning with God, and was God, was made Flesh, and dwelt among us {Joh 1:14}: This was not by a Conversion of the divine Nature into the human, for that was absolutely impossible: That which is infinite, can never become finite and limited, or other than it is. Nor was it by a Confusion or blending of these infinitely distant Natures together. They continue distinct, and neither Nature possesses those Properties, which are peculiar to the other. The divine Nature does not become finite and limited, nor the human become infinite and unlimited, by this Union: Some who lie in wait to deceive, or at least endeavour to Conceal their Disbelief of the Deity of our gracious Redeemer, say, that he exercises the divine Perfections for the Good of the Church, and that this is the Meaning of those Words, I and my Father are one {Joh 10:30}. But can our Lord exercise Perfections which he don’t posses? Or can his human Nature become the Subject of infinite Perfections? Some who seem to suppose this, charge us with holding absurd Notions; And cannot they discover the Absurdity of there Imaginations? that Christ, as Man, may exercise Perfections, he neither does, nor can possess; Or, that a finite Nature can become the Subject of infinite Perfections: I say, have they not Sense enough to know, that neither can possibly be? If they have not, they are very unfit Persons to determine what is, or what is not absurd. I question not, but they are capable enough of judging in so plain a Case; but they say, that Christ is so one with the Father, as to exercise his Perfections for, the Good of his People, that they may conceal from the View, of some, their Denial of his proper Deity. I can never be persuaded, that this Art will meet with Approbation in an aweful Time, that is hastening, however Men may please themselves in this Disguise. This Assumption of our Nature by the Word, is its personal Union therewith. And this is one principal Branch of the Mystery of Godliness. Without Controversy great is the Mystery of Godliness, God was manifest the Flesh. And this is the Foundation of the Merit which attended the Obedience and Sufferings of Christ. For my Part, I shall never contend about the Dignity and Use of his Obedience to the Law, nor concerning, the End and Efficacy of his Sufferings and Death; if his proper Deity is not granted, and the Union of his human Nature with his divine, is not allowed; because the Obedience and Death of a mere Man, can never be of saving use to me, or any other poor Sinner in the World. 

(2.) Christ became subject to the Law; And the Law is to be considered as a Law, merely, or as it is a Covenant. In the latter Sense, it requires Obedience in Order to Life; and threatens Death in Case of Disobedience. Do this and live, sin and die, are the Terms of it. As our Saviour was not a natural Descendant of Adam, and not included in him, nor represented by him, the Covenant of Works made with Adam, had no Concern with Christ, nor was he included in it, by Virtue of its original Constitution. And as he had a Right to Life and Glory in his human Nature, in Consequence of his Union with the Son of God, he could not become subject to the Law, as a Covenant; but by Vertue of a peculiar Appointment of the Father’s, with his own free Consent. Nor could his Subjection to that Covenant, be upon his own Account, it must wholly be on Account of others, to redeem them from it, who, otherwise, inevitably would have perished under its Curse. Each of there Things is clearly expressed in these Words: but when the Fulness of the Time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a Woman; made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law {Ga 4:8}. As the Manner of the Production of his human Nature, was extraordinary and peculiar, the Way of his coming under the Law was peculiar to himself, in order to a special End, wherein others are concerned, and not himself, viz. their Redemption from the Law, in the Form of a Covenant. 

 

(3.) Our Redeemer obeyed the Law; or fulfilled the Terms of the Covenant. He was pure and holy in his Nature; holy, harmless and undefiled, and separate from Sinners. In his Conduct he was unblemished, for he did no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth {Isa 53:9}. And he is the End of the Law for Righteousness to every Believer: And the Father is well pleased for his Righteousness sake. We are justified in him, and in him we have a proper Foundation to Glory. 

 

(4.) He submitted to a very low and mean Condition. Our Saviour was rich; but for our Sakes he became poor, that we, throhis Poverty might be made rich. He was Lord of Glory, and Heir of all Things; but possessed Nothing, hence, he says: The Foxes have Holes, and the Fowls of the Air have Nests; but the Son of Man bath not where to lay his Head. And this was one Part of that Curse our Sins demerited. 

 

(5.) The blessed Jesus was the Object of the greatest Contempt, Scorn and Reproach. He was despised and rejected of Men, a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with Griefs. In a Way of Contempt he was called this Fellow, and Deceiver, and a. gluttonous Man, and a Wine-bibber, a Friend of Publicans and Sinners. On which Account he is represented, in Prophecy, as saying, Reproach hath broken my Heart {Ps 69:20}. Oh! The amazing Condescension of Christ, to endure such Contradiction of Sinners, against himself, with this kind View to save the chief of them. 

 

(6.) His Sufferings and Death are included. His Visage was so marred, more than any Man, and his Form more than the Sons of Men. He suffered from Men, from Devils, from God himself, as a righteous Judge, taking vengeance on Sin in him; not his own, for he had none; but the Sins of others, which were imputed to him, or laid on him. He suffered in his Body the most acute Pains, and he suffered in his Soul: and those Sufferings of his Soul were far more grievous than his bodily Pains: My Soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto Death {Mt 26:38}: And, now is my Soul troubled, and what shall I say? {Joh 12:27} was the mournful Language of the suffering Redeemer. The extremest Pain, the greater Shame, and the forest Vengeance, all met in the Death of our gracious Saviour. And he for that Joy, that was set before him, endured the Cross, and despised the Shame. 

 

3. Salvation is effected by these Things. This Was not an unsuccessful and fruitless Attempt to save Sinners; but real, full and everlasting Salvation is secured by Christ’s coming into the World. If he had not obtained eternal Redemption for us, he had never entered into Glory. To suppose, that certain Salvation is not effected, by this astonishing Transaction, is to eclipse the Glory of divine Grace, to impeach divine Wisdom, and to arraign and censure divine Justice, in the most stupendous of all its Acts. 

 

(1.) Sin is expiated. The Removal of the Guilt of Sin, is a considerable Part of Salvation, and that is done by the Death of Christ. When he had by himself purged our Sins {Heb 1:3}. Once in the End of the World hath he appeared to put away Sin, by the Sacrifice of himself {Heb 9:26}. And therefore, Sin is not imputed to those Persons, for whom Christ died. God was in Christ reconciling the World unto himself not imputing their Trespasses unto them {2Co 5:19}. 

 

(2.) Peace is made. One Branch of the Work of the Messiah, was to make Reconciliation for Iniquity. And this he did by his Sufferings and Death. Having made Peace by the Blood of his Cross {Col 1:20}. So that both Law and Justice are satisfied, and either hath any farther Demand to make. God as our righteous Judge is pacified towards us, for all that we have done: And there is no fury in him. It was not a procuring of Terms or Peace, that our Saviour died for us; but it was a making Peace. And Peace with God is a certain and immediate Effect of his Death, and, consequently, we are not obnoxious, to divine Wrath and Vengeance. Being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath throhim {Ro 5:9}. The Chastisement of our Peace was upon him, and with his Stripes we are healed {Isa 53:5}. There is now no Threatening of Punishment to the Saints, for there is now no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus: And hereafter, Penalty will not be inflicted on them, because complete Atonement is made for all their Sins, by the penal Sufferings of their Surety in their Stead. His Death is a full Security to them, from all Condemnation. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died {Ro 8:34}. 

 

(3.) An everlasting Righteousness is brought in Christ’s Subjection to the Law, as in Form of a Covenant, could not be on his own Account His Dignity, State and right to Glory, arising from the Union of his two Natures, render’d that impossible; and, therefore, it was solely on the Account of others, whose Surety he was. His Obedience to the Covenant was commensurate to its Commands. And that Obedience he yielded to that Covenant, wholly for the sake of his People. The Father accepts it for them, imputes it to their Persons, and this Imputation of that, Obedience makes them righteous: By one Man’s Obedience shall many be made righteous {Ro 5:19}. These Particulars the Messiah was to do for his People. According to divine Promise and Prophecy he was to finish Transgression, to make an End of Sin, to bring in an everlasting Righteousness, and to make Reconciliation Iniquity {Da 9:24}. He has finished the Work which the Father gave him to do, and, therefore, all there Things are done. And these Things being accomplished, real, full, and certain Salvation is obtained for all those Persons, on whose Account he was made under the Law; and, they all shall certainly receive the Adoption of Sons. This leads me to observe, farther, 

 

(4.) Christ has a Right to demand Grace and Glory of the Father, in Behalf of all those Persons, for whom he obeyed and died. This Right arises from his punctual Performance of what was required of .him to do, on Condition of which, the Father promised him, that he should see his Seed, prolong his Days, and that his Pleasure should prosper in his Hand. The fulfilling of the Conditions, whereon Benefits are promised, gives Right to those Benefits. And, therefore, since our Lord has exactly fulfilled the Conditions, on which these Promises were made to him, he has a Right to demand the Benefits those Promises express; and accordingly he does: Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my Glory which thou hast given me {2Co 5:19}. This not merely a Request, it is a Demand. I will. And this is comprehensive of Grace, by Which we are made meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light: And of such Supplies of Grace, as are necessary to preserve us safe to the heavenly Kingdom and Glory. It includes the Whole of that Perfection and Blessedness whereof the Saints will eternally be possessed in their entire Persons. Their Bodies will be made like to Christ’s most glorious Body, fit Receptacles of their perfected Spirits, and capable of beholding the Glory of their exalted Redeemer at the Father’s Right Hand. It is the Will of the Father, that of all which he hath given to Christ he should loose nothing; but that he shou’d raise it up again at the last Day. This is an Obligation upon our Saviour, to take care, even of the Bodies of the Saints; Nor will he fail of executing the Will of the Father, in raising them from the State of the dead, with unspeakable Advantage. Besides, their Bodies are a Part of his Purchase, as Well as their Souls, and what he bought, at the Expence of his Blood, he certainly will take especial Care of: And, therefore, he will .gather the scattered Particles of their precious Dust, and form their Bodies, which are now corruptible, and often dreadfully emaciated, by wasting Sickness, before their Dissolution, immortal, spiritual, and inconceivably glorious. Christ will collect them all together, and bestow upon them all that Glory designed for them: And the View he will then have of his Seed, will fill him with the highest Pleasure. Then will he present them to the Father, saying, Behold, I and the Children whom thou hast given me. And this Presentation of them, will be made, with exceeding Joy {Jude 24}. Then will be accomplished fully, the glorious Contrivances of eternal Love and infinite Wisdom concerning the Person of Christ and all his Members, wherein the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Church, and Angels will eternally rejoice. This Salvation is not only a Deliverance from the lowest Depths of Misery; but it is an Advancement to the greatest Heights of Glory, our Nature is capable of enjoying. It is a Glory suitable to the Relation of Sons, and is called the Adoption, i.e. the Dignity, Honour, and Blessedness of sons. It is a Glory suitable to the conjugal Relation between Christ and the Church, and that certainly must be very great. It is reasonable to think, that the Glory of the Saints, will exceed in Greatness that of the Angels. Because their Relation to God and Christ is nearer, than that those blessed Spirits enjoy. They are Sons to God, by Creation; but Believers are his Sons by Adoption, which constitutes them Heirs of God, and Fellow-Heirs with Christ, which Creation doth not. Besides, as the Church is the Bride of Christ, and Angels are not taken into so near a Relation to him, there is Reason to conclude, that a Glory superior to that which Angels enjoy, will be conferred upon her, corresponding with her nearer Relation to the glorious Mediator. The more close and intimate the Union is, which is enjoyed with Christ, the Glory arising from it, doubtless, is the more abundant. It is proper, that the Spouse should be favoured with greater Nearness to her Husband, than Servants: Angels are Servants to Christ; but the Church is the Lamb’s Wife; and, therefore, shall she be nearer to him, and enjoy his kinder Embraces, while the Angels will keep at a respectful and humble Distance both from him and her. And what adds much to the Wonder, and is a proper Ground of Encouragement, under a Sense of our Unworthiness, is this: 

 

(4.) The chief of Sinners share in, or are the Subjects of this great Salvation. Christ came, not only to save such who were lost; but to save those who are guilty of the foulest Crimes, whose Offences are attended with the most aggravating Circumstances, and who have long continued in Rebellion against God. Publicans and Sinners, i.e. notorious Offenders, are the Objects of his Compassion, and obtain the Remission of their Sins thro’ his Blood. He never did refuse, he never will refuse to receive kindly, the greatest Criminal, applying to him for Pardon, Peace, Grace, and eternal Salvation. Whosoever will may take the Water of Life freely {Re 22:17}. The greatest Unworthiness is no Objection with Christ, to a most welcome Reception of those, who come unto him, on a Conviction of the Necessity of an Interest in him. Nothing is required to a Participation of his Benefits, but a Sense of Our Need of them, and a Will to receive them, as he communicates them, viz. freely, without Money and without Price {Isa 55:1}. The Salvation of the Chief of Sinners is agreeable to the impulsive, the meritorious, and final Causes of it. 

 

1. It well suits with the impulsive Cause, and is a glorious Display of it. That is no other than the free and rich Goodness, Grace and Mercy of God: By Grace are we saved. And the Pardon of Sin and Redemption thro’ the Blood of Christ, is according to the Riches of the Grace of God {Eph 1:7}. Infinite Compassion alone, could so far extend itself, as to forgive the Worst of Sinners. The abounding Sinfulness and Sins of notorious Offenders, require the Exercise of superabounding Grace. What but the exceeding Riches of the Grace of God could raise and cherish in the Breast of a Sinner, conscious of heinous, repeated, and highly aggravated Crimes, the least Hope of Forgiveness? Nothing. This was David’s Ground of Hope, and the Matter of his Plea. Have Mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving Kindness: According unto the Multitude of thy tender Mercies blot out my Transgressions {Ps 51:1}. Since we are required to forgive an offending Brother, not only until seven Times, but until seventy Times Seven, who are too backward thro’ the Scantiness of our Compassion to a forgiving Temper; surely God, whole Mercy is immense, will extend Pardon to the greatest Sinners. Where Sin has abounded, Grace will much more abound; that as Sin has reigned unto Death, even so Grace may reign thro’ Righteousness unto eternal Life, by Jesus Christ our Lord {Ro 5:20-21}. God will stand as much distinguished from all his Creatures in Acts of Pardon, as in Acts of Power. If the Chief of Sinners should not be saved, it might be thought that divine Grace hath its Limits which it can’t exceed; but no Room shall be left to Men to admit a Thought so derogatory to its Glory, which appears as much in its extensive Exercise in pardoning, as it does, in its Freedom and Sovereignty. 

2. The Salvation of the Chief of Sinners is to the Glory of the meritorious Cause. That is the Blood of Christ. The infinite Dignity of his Person, gives infinite Worth to his Sufferings; and, therefore, they were as sufficient to discharge a Debt of ten thousand Talents, as of fifty Pence. ‘Tis not the Nature of our Sins, nor their Number, nor their Aggravations, can hinder our Pardon and Salvation, since a Sacrifice of immense Value has been offered to God for their Atonement. He who is the mighty God, is mighty to save; able to save even to the uttermost; so that no Guilt is so great; but the Death of the Son of God is sufficient to atone for it. The Blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin. 

 

3. This suits with the final Cause of our Salvation. {1.} Respecting God. His supreme End in the Scheme of our Recovery is his own Glory. The Glory of all his infinite Perfections. His Wisdom, Holiness and Justice, and Truth and Faithfulness; but he peculiarly aimed at the Display of the Glory of his Grace and Mercy. The Salvation of any sinner, as to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace; but the Salvation of the Chief of Sinners is eminently to the Praise of that Glory. 2. The End relating to Christ is his Honour, in the Character of a Redeemer. His Glory is great in our Salvation  

{Ps 21:5}. And to Christ: Unto him, that hath loved and washed us from our Sins in his own Blood, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father; be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever, Amen {Re 1:5-6}. These Ends are all brought about; by the Salvation of the Chief of Sinners, and they are such as it became the Wisdom of God to design in this wonderful Transaction. 

 

V. An Assurance of Salvation thro’ Christ is very consistent with an Apprehension of our being the Chief of Sinners.  

 

The Apostle accounted himself the Chief, or greatest of Sinners, and yet, the Life lived, it was by the Faith of the Son of God. He doubted not of an Interest in a Saviour, under the deep Sense he had of his Sins and Sinfulness. It is not unusual with those, who enjoy the clearest Evidence of an Interest in divine Favour to consider themselves most deserving. of divine Vengeance. The strongest Faith may very well consist with a Sense of the greatest Unworthiness; because it is founded on infinite Grace, and infinite Merit, to which no Difficulties are insurmountable. 

 

This Assurance is not essential to Faith. True Faith may be where that is not. 

 

1. Faith is a Dependance on Christ alone for Salvation, upon a Conviction of our Misery. A Conviction and Sense of our Misery necessarily precedes the Act of Faith on Christ, as a Saviour. Until we are sensible of our being miserable and helpless in ourselves, we shall not be persuaded, of the Necessity of a sole Trust in another for Help and Succour. They that be whole need not the Physician, but they that are sick This Conviction is becoming dead to the Law, and it, is effected by a Work of the Law upon the Heart, in the Hand of the blessed Spirit. I thro’ the Law, am dead to the Law, The Mind of a Sinner is impressed with a. wounding Sense of his Guilt. His Sins are fit in order before him. And he clearly discerns, that he stands righteously condemned by the holy Law of God, for his numerous Violations of it. Upon which he acknowledges, that it would be just with God to punish him, in particular, with everlasting Destruction from his Presence, and from the Glory of his Power. In this Work upon him he is convinced the Plague of his Heart, as well as of the Transgressions of his Life. In that divine Light which is communicated to the Soul, he discovers the exceeding Sinfulness of Sin, and the exceeding Sinfulness of his Heart; and the Spirituality, Purity, and Extent of the Law; whereupon, he concludes, that it is absolutely impossible, that one so vile as he is, should ever be able to recommend himself to, or interest himself in, the Approbation of God his righteous Judge, Thus he sees his lost and miserable, and helpless Condition in himself, and dies to all Hope of Life, by his own Righteousness and Works. When the holy Spirit hath in this Manner, convinced a Man of his deplorable State by Nature; and his Heart is overwhelmed, he leads him to the Rock that is higher than he. He makes a gracious Discovery of Christ to the Soul, in his Blood, Righteousness, and in the Fulness of his Grace. And, then the Language of a poor trembling Sinner is: My Sins are many, great, and dreadfully aggravated; but the Blood of Christ hath a Sufficiency of Merit in it to atone for them all. In myself I have no Righteousness, nor can have, whereby I may be Justified in the Sight of God; but the Righteousness of Christ , is every way sufficient to justify me before God, and to give me a Right to Life, who am worthy of Death. My Heart is impure, and without Holiness I shall never see the Lord. That Treasure of Grace which is in Christ, it is sufficient to make me holy, and meet to be a Partaker of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light. Besides, in the Light of this Grace, a Person discerns, in some Measure, how God is glorified; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and all the divine Perfections, Goodness, Grace, Mercy, Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, Truth and Faithfulness, in this Way of Salvation; and herein he rejoices, even tho’ himself should not be a Sharer in it. The holy Resolution of the Soul upon this View of Things, is, to renounce, all other Ways of Relief, which may be proposed to its Consideration, and to cleave to Christ alone, as the only proper Object of his Hope; this it is to flee to him for Refuge, to lay hold on the Hope set before us. And this is that Faith, which is of the Operation of God and is peculiar to the Objects of a divine Choice toeternal Salvation, for which Reason, it is called the Faith of God’s Elect. 

And, therefore, we observe,  

 

2. Where there is this Dependence, there is a proper Foundation for Assurance. Persons thus wrought upon, and influenced to such holy Actings of Soul towards Christ, as a Saviour, have that in them, which is in itself, a clear and sufficient Evidence of an Interest in him, and in his Salvation, tho’ they may not discern that Evidence; nor be so ready to allow it an Evidence, as they ought to be, thro’ Darkness, Jealousy of themselves, and Fears of being mistaken, in an Affair of so great Importance. This solemn and humble Application to Christ, for Pardon, Peace, Righteousness, Grace and Holiness, under a Sense of our Misery and Helplessness, is the Effect of a super-natural Work upon us: Coming to Christ follows upon divine Drawing. For no Man can come to Christ, except the Father draw him. .And this heavenly Attraction is a Fruit of everlasting Love: Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting Love, and, therefore, with loving Kindness have I drawn thee. If we are drawn with the Cords of Love; with the Bands of a Man, ‘tis because we are Objects of Love. If we come to Christ, approve of him and cleave to him, it is a certain Consequence of our having seen, and heard, and learned of the Father. And, therefore, it must necessarily be an Evidence, that we are passed from Death to Life, and that we shall not come into Condemnation. Besides, Christ has declared expressly, that he will in no wise, i.e. upon no Consideration, on any Accounts, cast. out those who come to him. If therefore, he should not receive and save us, his Veracity would be impeach’d. With Reverence, I desire to speak it, If any one Soul, at the last Day, shall be able to stand up and say to him, upon a Conviction of my Sins; Sinfulness, and Inability to help myself, I applied to thee for Salvation, being encouraged so to do, by thy Declaration, that thou wouldest not cast out him that comes to thee; but I am now lost for ever, because thou hast refused to receive and save me, Christ would be proved guilty of a Breach of Truth in the View of Angels and Men. But this can never be, we are confident. And, consequently; this gracious Work upon the Soul, is in itself, a full and certain Evidence of an Interest in his Love, Care, Tenderness and Compassion, and is a proper Foundation of Assurance of Salvation by and thro’ him. 

 

3. Faith sometimes rises up to this Assurance of Salvation. Some lately risen up among us, who have had the Vanity to take to themselves the Name of Reformers, assert that it is of the Essence of Faith, and that there is nothing of Faith, or Holiness, where there is not a Confidence of being saved. And many of them make large Pretensions to such an Assurance. But ask them what Convictions of Sin, what a Sense of their Misery and Helplessness, what Views of Christ and spiritual Things have preceded this their Confidence? And they can give you but a very slender Account of either of these Things. Ask them how they came by this Assurance? By what Means it was begotten in them, and what is the Foundation of it? They are not able to return you any solid Answer. Assured and confident of being saved they are, but they cannot tell how they came to be so assured. Ask them what Effects this their Assurance has produced in them? They are at a stand, and can make you no Reply; which ought to be satisfactory to a Christian. This among many other Things, make it evident, that we are referred to live in Times, wherein Errors of all Kinds abound. I make no Question, but that some Saints are favoured with this full Assurance of Faith, and are able to say with the Apostle, concerning their dear Redeemer, who loved me and gave himself for me, and as the Church my beloved is mine and I am his. The Happiness they desire, they see to be theirs. And, that Christ has set them as a Seal upon his Heart, and as a Signet upon his Arm. That he neither will, nor can forget them, nor cease to employ his Power in their Protection and Defence. They know and believe the Love that God hath to them. They dwell in his Love, and in him, and are persuaded, that nothing shall separate them, from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Thus the Holy Spirit bears witness with their Spirits, that they are Sons of God. And, therefore, they enjoy much of Heaven in their Way thither. But this is not the Case of all the Saints; and Faith of the Operation of God, often is, where this Assurance is not. Tho’, as I have said, there is a proper Foundation for it, in the Souls of all those whose Dependence is on Christ for Salvation, upon a Sense of their Misery, a View of his Glory and Suitableness, as a Saviour, to the Wants of their Souls in particular. Farther, frequent Actings of the Faith of Recumbency on Christ, usually raise in the Mind, some Degree of this Assurance, or a comfortable Hope of obtaining Salvation thro’ him. 

 

VI. The Report is true, pisov o Logov, a true Saying, and worthy of the most grateful Reception, that Christ came into the World, to save the Chief, or greater of Sinners.  

 

1. This Report is true, and may safely be depended on. Abundant Proof is given of its Verity, and in a Variety of Ways. 

 

(1.) By the Testimony of Angels. A Multitude of those blessed Spirits, descended from Heaven, at the Birth of our Saviour, and celebrated, with an holy Adoration, the gracious Design of his Incarnation, and declare that it was to render sinful Men happy, as an Effect of the good Pleasure of God towards them. And suddenly there was with the Angel, a Multitude of the heavenly Host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on the Earth Peace, and Good-Will towards Men {Lu 2:13-14}. 

 

(2.) The Truth of this most astonishing Report is fully proved by Divine Promises. Remission of Sin is promised in the most full and explicite Manner, by God himself, who cannot lye. And not only Pardon but multiplied Pardon. God so expresses himself upon this Subject, as is sufficient to convince us, if we are to be convinced, that his Design in the Exercise of forgiving Mercy, far transcends those limited Thoughts, we are apt to form and cherish concerning it. Let the wicked forsake his Way, and the unrighteous Man his Thoughts: Let him return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my Thoughts are not your Thoughts, neither are your Ways my Ways, saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my Ways higher than your Ways, and my Thoughts than your Thoughts {Isa 55:7-9}. When we have stretched our Conceptions as far as we can, concerning the pardoning Grace of God, we are as much below its real Extent, as the Distance of the Heavens is from the Earth: So he plainly tells us, who will not, nor can deceive us. And, therefore, there is not the least Room left us, to admit a Scruple concerning the Pardon and Salvation of the chief of Sinners. His Promise is a sufficient Security, for he cannot violate it; but he has confirmed it, with his Oath, that by two immutable Things, wherein it is impossible for him to lye, we. might have strong Consolation, who have fled for Refuge, to lay bold on the Hope set before us. This is amazing Condescension and Goodness! 

 

(3.) Divine Predictions may be offered in Confirmation of this Truth. The Prophet Isaiah not only describes in a very particular Manner the Sufferings of the Messiah, when he should appear; but he gives the Character of the Persons, for whom he was to suffer, and for whom he would intercede with God. And made Intercession for the Transgressors {Isa 53:12}. µy[çp, i.e. for the rebellious. For such who were his Murderers, and imbrued their Hands in his Blood. According unto this Prediction of the Prophet, our Saviour, when on the Cross, put up this Request to God: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do {Lu 23:24}. 

 

(4.) Many stupendous Miracles were wrought to confirm this Truth. That great Salvation whereof the Gospel is a Report, so far exceeds our Imagination, that we are very slow in giving Credit to it. To the End, that the Truth of this Report might be established, beyond all modest Contradiction, the holy Spirit hath given his Witness to it, by a Multitude of miraculous Operations. God also bearing them witness both with Signs and Wonders, and with diverse Miracles, and Gifts of the holy Ghost, according" to his own Will {Heb 2:4}. 

 

(5.) The Author of this Salvation, has not been wanting to give in his Testimony to this most precious Truth. And we know that his Witness is true; for he is the Truth, and, therefore, his Testimony cannot be false: He is the faithful Witness {Re 1:5}. Christ has plainly and fully informed us, that the largest Debts are forgiven: Or that Pardon is extended to the greatest Sinners; And, that in Consequence of much being forgiven; much Love is ingenerated in the Hearts of pardoned ones. Five Hundred Pence are as freely forgiven as fifty, our Lord assures us {Lu 8:41}. And, consequently, Pardon is not limited to smaller Offenders; but it is extended to the greatest Transgressors. He certainly knew, whole Sins are remitted, thro’ whole Blood Remission is obtained. Shall we then admit the least Doubt of the Salvation of the Chief of Sinners? Surely not; since we cannot do it, without invalidating the Testimony of him, thro’ whom Salvation is enjoyed. 

 

(6.) The State and Work of Christ when he was here, give the fuller Evidence, that his coming was to accomplish such a Design. He was constituted Heir of all Things, and was Lord of Glory, when he possessed nothing; and became the Object of Scorn, Reproach and Shame among Men. His Subjection and Obedience to the Covenant of Works, which we have violated, were not on his own Account; to imagine, that he came under that Covenant, upon his own Account, divests him of that Right to Life, Happiness, and Glory, which is inseparable from his Person, as God and Man; and subverts all our Hope of Salvation, by any Thing he did or suffered. He was made under the Law, not only to obey it, but also to suffer its Curse; or to endure the Penalty it threatens upon a Breach of its Precepts. This could not have been with a View to himself, if he had been no more than a Man, since he was innocent. For it is contrary to Justice to make Innocency subject to a Curse, and, therefore, his being made a Curse, is in itself a clear Demonstration, that so he was made for Sinners, in order to their Redemption from it. 

 

(7.) The Exaltation of Christ, and the Glory which followed upon it, is a pregnant Proof of this Truth. When he had completed the Work of our Redemption on Earth, he ascended to Heaven, and took Possession of that Glory which was his due. And he is to be considered as our Fore-runner in his Entrance into the World above, and as the public Head and Representative of all those for whom he had offered himself as a Sacrifice to God, Hence, we are laid to fit together in heavenly Places in Christ. He is entered not into the holy Places made with Hands, which were the Figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the Presence of God for us {Heb 9:24}. This Admission of Christ to Heaven, and his taking the Possession of Glory in the Name, and as the Forerunner of Sinners, is an undeniable Proof of his having obtained Salvation for them. For which Reason the Apostle Peter makes it a Ground of Christian Trust and Confidence. Who by him do believe in God that raised him up from the dead and gave him Glory that your Faith and Hope might be in God {1Pe 1:22}. Consequent upon this Exaltation of our Saviour, an eminent Glory attended his Church below. The Holy Spirit was poured forth in an extraordinary Manner, both in his Graces and Gifts, which was a clear Proof, that he had done every thing requisite to the Salvation of Sinners. And, that the Father highly approved of his executing his Will, in the Redemption of the Objects of his Favour from Misery. What an admirable Concurrence of the most cogent Proofs are given of this glorious Truth, that Jesus Christ came into the World to save the chief of Sinners? If therefore we disbelieve it, we must be exceedingly culpable, for we shall make God himself a Lyar, who has in such a Variety of Ways given his Testimony in Confirmation of this most precious Truth. And this is an Instance of his infinite Condescension, Goodness, Compassion and tender Care of his People! that their Souls may have Support, Relief, and Consolation, under a Sense of what above all Things occasions their Minds the greatest Distress, viz. their Guilt and Sinfulness. 

 

2. This Report is worthy of the most grateful Reception. It consists of Principles, which are calculated to promote the Glory of God, in a most eminent Manner. The Glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the Glory of all the divine Perfections, far above any other of the Designs of God. Besides, it is the Foundation of all the spiritual Peace, Rest, Consolation and Joy, which the Saints are favoured with, in this World, and it is the Ground of their Hopes of the Enjoyment of future Blessedness; and, therefore, it is highly deserving of the most grateful Reception. But, 

 

(1.) Some reject it, yea the most, the Generality. Christ as crucified, is a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of Offence, to many who make Pretensions to Christianity. The Mysteries relating to his Person, Work, and the admirable Effects of his Mediation, are accounted unintelligible and absurd Notions. And the Saints Experience of Consolation, Peace and Joy, in believing in him, as the Gospel represents him, as pronounced a fond Imagination and Enthusiasm, by Multitudes, who yet would be esteemed Christians. No unregenerate Man receives the Things of the Spirit of God, nor is he able to understand them. Without supernatural Light Men may know the Truth of the sublime Doctrines of the Christian Revelation; but that greatly differs from an Understanding of the Things themselves. The Truth of the Things of the Spirit hath such Evidence in the Scripture, as is suited and sufficient to procure an Assent to it from all Minds, which are free from Prejudice, and, therefore, unregenerate Persons may, and it is reasonable to require and expect them to yield an Assent to the Truth of those Things. But the Things themselves they can never understand. No, not the most intelligent and knowing Part of Mankind. The Things themselves often are hid from the wise and prudent, while they are revealed unto Babes, i.e. Persons of mean Capacities, and of little Improvement. The most learned among Mankind are not more capable of understanding heavenly Things, than the weakest, silliest Creatures in the World are. Nor is any Branch of what we call Learning, possessed in how great Eminency soever, suited to increase our Knowledge of this Kind. A Consideration sufficient this is, one would think, to humble the Pride of Men’s Hearts, which springs up in them on Account of their learned Accomplishments. He must be an absolute Stranger to the theological Writings of learned Men, or not exercise his Reason in reading them, who does not discern, that Learning is not a sufficient Preservative, even from Dotage, Childishness and Absurdity in the Things of God. They deliver themselves so foolishly, on many of those Subjects, that if they were not had in Repute for Learning, what they say would be despised, and themselves would fall under Contempt, and not unjustly, for, not to say, reasoning, but cavilling, as they do. If we have no supernatural Principle in us, we shall not, we will not, we cannot approve, embrace, adhere to, nor take the least Delight in Spiritual Things themselves. The natural Man receiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God, for they are Foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. The learned, therefore, have no Advantage above the unlearned, as to the understanding of the Mysteries of the Kingdom. And, consequently, the rude and unpolished, may know those Mysteries, and such, who on Account of their Superior Talents are greatly admired, may be as blind to those Things, as Bats, or Moles. An high Way shall be there, and a Way, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness, the unclean shall not pass over it; it shall be for those, way-faring Men, tho’ Fools, shall not err therein. 

 

(2.) A few receive this Report most joyfully, with the highest Gratitude, approve of it, admire and adore it. By a Communication of divine Light to our Understanding, we become capable of seeing our true State by Nature; the Excellency and Glory of this Way of Salvation by Christ. And that gracious Work upon us, which furnishes our Minds with spiritual Knowledge, sanctifies our Wills to chuse, and causes our Affections to cleave to, and delight in those Things, which our Minds discern the Excellency and Glory of. For Grace conveyed in Regeneration, is a sanctifying Principle, to our whole Souls, and, therefore, every Faculty acts in a spiritual Manner, about, towards, and upon spiritual Things, in Consequence of this Work in us. That which is Light in the understanding, is Holiness in the Will, and it is Spirituality in the Affections. If this had been duly attended to, some unprofitable Disputes concerning Faith, would never have taken place among learned Men. Those Truths which many; yea the Generality of such who are called Christians, esteem Foolishness, Persons spiritually enlightened, account most sacred. They discover the infinite Riches of divine Grace, the unfathomable Depths of divine Wisdom, and the Holiness, Justice, and Truth, and Faithfulness of God, which have a most illustrious Display therein, and, therefore, their holy Souls approve of, admire and adore those blessed Truths, which they plainly see are incomprehensible. Some there are, I dare say, who take the highest Satisfaction in there Things, because of that peculiar Glory, Which arises to God from them; and will still continue so to do, let a Generation of formal and nominal Christians, call them by what Names they shall please, on Account of this their Faith and Hope, in God and Christ. Of this Number was the Person whose Death occasioned this Discourse. She was many Years a Member of this Community. Her Character was ornamental to her Profession, without any Fear of being charged with a Breach of Truth, I may say, that her Conversation was as it becometh the Gospel of Christ. It is, If I remember right, now near nine Years since she had a very fore Fit of Sickness, which in the Apprehension of others, and in her own, was likely to have issued in her Dissolution. It was the Pleasure of God, at that Time, to favour her With extraordinary Discoveries of his Love, and with an Assurance of everlasting Salvation thro’ Christ, under a most humble Sense of her own great Unworthiness, The Words on which I have been discoursing, she then pronounced with a very striking Accent, and declared her Desire, that they might be preached from on the Occasion of her Death, if she was removed; and this has been her Desire ever since. She never lost the Sweetness and Savour of those gracious Visits she then enjoyed. She had not a great Deal of Conversation, nor did she desire much; because, but little which is spiritual to be met with. She would often say, I am the chief of Sinners, and have the greatest Reason to admire at the Grace of God, in saving me. And my Praises in Heaven will have the highest Note of any there. Her Soul was frequently filled with an adoring Sense of distinguishing Favour, and she expressed it in the Language of the inspired Writer. He takes One of a Family, Two of a Tribe, and brings them to Zion. Her last Illness Was long and heavy, in which she was very comfortable. In a Visit I made her some time before her Death, I found her filled with Joy, at the Thoughts of its being near. I am going, said she, I hope, in a few Hours. It might be {#that is the Sentence|} depart from me, thou Worker of Iniquity; but it will be, Come thou blessed of my Father. Strike, Death, strike; not that I want to be out of my Pain, but I want to be praising my Lord. Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son, Glory to the Holy Spirit, three Persons but one God. She said again thus, Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son, Glory to the Holy Spirit, three Persons but one God. And now I must deliver what may not improperly be called her dying Request; it was this: Do you tell the Saints, that the Sweet Doctrine of the free Grace of God, which you have preached has been the Comfort of my Soul, and is now on a Death-bed: and, while you are preaching, I shall be singing. It can’t be otherwise, for his Covenant he will not break. He cannot deny himself. I have nothing to carry, not a Thought, but Sin, and that I shall drop. Thus the exulted, when she thought Death to be very near. I saw her several Times after this, and tho’ she was not so full of Triumph, she enjoyed solid Peace and Comfort; and declared, that she did not desire in the least a Return. Taking Notice of her poor emaciated Body, she sometimes said, it is the Purchase of Christ, and be will change this vile Body, and fashion it like unto his most glorious Body. Thus she lived by Faith, and departed in the steady and vigorous Exercise of that Grace. Oh! the Happiness of those pious Souls, whole Trust is in Christ, thro’ him they are more than Conquerors over all their Spiritual Enemies. And in the Exercise of Faith upon him, they can triumph in the Views, and at the nearest Approach of Death. May we be enabled through divine Grace, to follow those, who thro’ Faith and Patience inherit the Promises. 

 

FOOTNOTES  

ft1 So I call him and not unjustly, for there is scarcely any Thing, relating to the Grace of God, the Person of Christ, his Work, and the Benefits arising from thence; which in his Annotations, he does not pervert and corrupt. For which Reason a Socinian Writer says, that his Annotations contain a complete System of Socinianism. And Schichtingius, another of that Tribe, affirms, that the Church had waited for such a Man, for more than fifteen Ages since the Apostles, as Lubieniecius observes, de quo dicere solebat, Orbem Christianum per 15 amplius post Apostolos fecula, talem expectasse virum: 

 

 

11 Sermon 11 The Nature of True Holiness

Created By LeRoy Rhodes 

leroyrhodes@comcast.net 

2006 

The Nature of True Holiness 

Explained 

by John Brine 

SERMON 11 

THE NATURE OF TRUE HOLINESS EXPLAINED 

IN A DISCOURSE, DELIVERED 
AT A MONTHLY EXERCISE OF PRAYER, WITH A SERMON,
ON THE TWENTIETH OF APRIL, 1749.
 

Published at the Request of the MINISTERS, and others, who heard it.
Printed and Sold by JOHN WARD, at the King’s-Arms in Little-Britain.
 LONDON. 1749.
 

 

PREFACE. 

   

IT is an Observation, which I have long made, that those who are charged with being licentious in their Principles, at least, because of their firm Attachment to the Doctrines of the true Grace of God, always express an Approbation of real Holiness: And that Discourses of Evangelical Obedience, are sure to meet with a cordial Reception from them, when others of different Sentiments about the Doctrines of the Grace of God, discover a Dislike to such Discourses. The Reason of which is, I am persuaded, the former really understand the Nature of Holiness, approve of, and aspire after true Purity, and that the latter are both ignorant of it, and Enemies to it. The Consideration of this alone, prevented my being Surprized that I should be desir’d to publish this Discourse. I believe, that those whole Desire this was, are much concerned to promote true Holiness, both of Heart and Life; and that, under the Influence of this Principle, they moved for this Publication, as what, in their very candid Opinion, might, thro’ the divine Blessing, in some Measure, be subservient to that important Purpose. That this pious View may be answered by it, I trust, is the sincere Desire and Prayer of its unworthy Author,  

 J . B.  

{Heb 12:14} 

Follow Peace with all Men, and Holiness; without which no Man shall See the Lord. 

 

 The inspired Writer, in this Chapter, offers various Things to the Consideration of the Hebrews, in order to animate and encourage them under those Afflictions which they suffered, viz. that God was their compassionate Father, that he was determined to do them Good by all his Dispensations towards them: Particularly, that he designed to make them Partakers of his Holiness, by those Afflictions. And he exhorts them to endeavour to strengthen one another’s Hands under Weakness and Fainting. In the Words which we have read, he recommends to them, the cultivating of Peace with all Men, and a Pursuit after Holiness, as what is necessary to future Happiness.  

 

 I. We ought diligently to cultivate Peace with all Men. The Saints are the Children of the God of Peace, and the Subjects of the Prince of Peace, and therefore it becomes them to be careful to promote Amity and Friendship with all. This is to be done,  

 

 1. By declining every thing which may irritate and provoke both in Words and Actions: All just Occasions of Offence are carefully to be avoided: A wrathful and injurious Temper is not by any means to be indulged, if we would preserve Peace among those with whom we are conversant.  

 

 2. We must be ready to perform all good Offices for all. It is not enough, that we be inoffensive and harmless in our Behaviour, but we must do Good to all: ‘Tis our Duty to imitate our Heavenly Father, by the Exercise of universal Benevolence and Goodness. He maketh his Sun to rise on the Evil and on the Good, and sendeth Rain on the Just, and on the Unjust; and we ought to love our Enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do Good to them that hate us, and pray for them which despitefully use us, and persecute us. {Mt 5:44-45}. Farther,  

 

 II. The inspired Writer recommends an earnest Endeavour after Holiness. It was my Design principally to insist on this second Part of the Subject, and, therefore, I have thus hastened to it. And, I propose,  

 First, To consider the Causes of Holiness.  

Secondly, The Nature of it, or what it is.  

Thirdly, I would shew, that we ought diligently to endeavour after it.  

Fourthly, That without it no Man shall see the Lord  

 

 First, I am to consider the Causes of Holiness.  

 We have loft that which was the true Glory of our Nature, viz. our original Rectitude and Righteousness; The Crown is fallen from our Head; woe unto us, for we are spoiled! Let us then attend unto the Consideration of the Causes of Holiness, wherein consists the true Exaltation of our Nature, which is dreadfully debased by Sin; the impulsive, procuring, efficient, and instrumental Causes or Means of that Purity which is absolutely necessary to future Blessedness.  

 

 1. The impulsive Cause, is the eternal Goodwill and Grace of God exerting itself in the Election of our Persons to everlasting Life; God hath from the Beginning chosen us to Salvation, through Sanctification of the Spirit {2Th 2:13}: And the Apostle affirms, that he chose us, that we might be holy. Our holy Vocation is according to his Purpose and Grace, which was given us in Christ before the World began {2Ti 1:9}: Hence the Character of the Saints is, the Called according to his Purpose. Let some suggest what they please against the Doctrine of Election, as calculated to encourage Sloth, Negligence, and Carelessness in the Minds of those who believe themselves to be included in that gracious Decree; since it is an Appointment to a Participation of Holiness in order to Happiness, that is an entirely groundless Calumny; it is the Origin from which true Holiness springs; nor is there any thing of it in this World, but what is derived from that Fountain; and that which is the Cause of Holiness, cannot reasonably be thought of a Nature suited to encourage the Practice of its direct Contrary, viz. Sin.  

 

 2. The procuring Cause of real Holiness, is the Death and Satisfaction of Christ. Tho’ it is true, that the Sufferings of our Saviour did not cause a Will in God to communicate the Blessings of Grace and Glory to his People, yet his Atonement is the Foundation on which they are all conveyed to them. Hence is that Prayer of the inspired Writer in Behalf of the Hebrews: Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the Dead the Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, thro’ the Blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect to do his Will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his Sight {Heb 13:20-21}. In that eternal Covenant which was entered into by the Father and Christ, it was a Condition required of him, and agreed to by him, to make his Soul an Offering for Sin, and a Promise was made him, that on this Condition he should have the Satisfaction of seeing his Seed Participants of Holiness and Happiness. This Condition is fulfilled, hence he has a Right to expect the Fulfilment of that Promise relating to them all; nor can the Father, in Justice, fail of the Performance of his Promise. That invaluable Price which was paid for the Redemption of our Persons from Misery, ascertains our Participation of Holiness here, and complete Happiness hereafter.  

 

 3. The efficient Cause of true Holiness is the Spirit of God; Grace in the Mind of a poor Sinner, is his Production; hence we are said to be born of the Spirit. Some speak of Grace, as being partly acquired, and partly infused: I greatly question whether this agrees with good Sense, and the Nature of Things in relation to Habits of the Mind. It may be, that no Habit of our Minds is partly infused, and partly acquired; but that all Habits are either wholly infused, or wholly acquired. That a Man may be assisted in the acquiring of Habits, is easy of Apprehension; but that because Assistance is afforded to a Person in the acquiring of an Habit, it should be said that, that Habit was partly infused, and partly acquired, seems not to me to agree with good Sense, and the Nature of Things. However, this is not the Case here; so far as any Habit is acquired, it is not infused: And if Holiness of Heart is partly infused, and partly acquired, then it will follow, not only that in Part we make ourselves to differ; but also, that holy Acts may be performed, where there is no holy Principle, which cannot be. The Saints are said to be new Creatures, because they are the Workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works, and the Holy Spirit is the Author of our Regeneration. Grace in the Heart is the Effect of his gracious Operation upon us; That which is born of the Flesh is Flesh, that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. If there is any Thing in us of a truly spiritual Nature, it is the Produce of the Spirit of God, for we are naturally Flesh; the very Reverse of what is holy and Spiritual 

 

 4. The instrumental Causes, or Means of our Improvement in Holiness are various, viz. the Gospel; that alone is the Food of the new Creature, and suited to feed and nourish, and invigorate the Principle of Grace in the Hearts of Believers, and, therefore, the Apostle exhorts us, as new born Babes, to desire the sincere Milk of the Word, that we may grow thereby {1Pe 2:2}: And our dear Lord prays the Father to Sanctify, his People thro’ his Truth, whose Word is Truth {Joh 17:17}. It is in vain to hope for an Increase of Grace in the Heart, without receiving, feeding upon, and digesting the Doctrines of Grace. Again, The sacred Institutions of Christ are appointed to this End. In those sacred Rites, Christ Is represented in his Person, Offices, Work, and Benefits, and Grace; and, therefore, they are adapted wifely to corroborate the Heaven-born Principle in our Souls. Farther, the afflictive Dispensations of Providence are graciously designed to this Purpose .Sometimes, it is the Pleasure of God to throw his Children into the Furnace of Affliction, there to try them, as Gold is tried. In their better Part they suffer no Loss, but are Gainers; all his Corrections are intended for their Good, and, under his Blessing, are subservient to that End; thereby, as it is declared in the Context, they become Partakers of his Holiness. And, they are purified from their Dross; By this shall the Iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the Fruit, to take away his Sin {Isa 27:9}; a blessed Fruit of Affliction this. The Christian, if he does not give Thanks to God for the Matter of the Affliction, he will for the Advantage which he gains to his nobler Part thereby. Besides, spiritual and holy Conversation tends to promote Holiness; No corrupt Communication ought to proceed out of our Mouths; but such as is good to the Use of edifying, that it may minister Grace to the Hearers: There are the Causes of Holiness, supreme and subordinate. The Nature of true Holiness, as I apprehend, is very much mistaken by many, and that is thought to be Holiness, which hath not any Thing of that Kind in it, and, therefore, an Enquiry into the Nature of Holiness, which we are exhorted to follow after, may be proper and beneficial. I proceed then,  

 

 Secondly, To shew what true Holiness is: And I would do this negatively and positively.

 

 1. Negatively: This is to be done in several Particulars, viz 

 

 [1.] What Men usually call Virtue, is not Holiness. By this I intend the Propriety and Impropriety of Things, in relation to human Actions; this is very often called, in our Times, the Fitness and Unfitness of Things; this Action is fit to be done, and the other is unfit. Now this is an abstracted Consideration of Actions, as in themselves, without Regard to the governing Authority of God in his Law; and, therefore, it is at a very great Remove from Holiness, which is an Obedience to the Will and Command of that infinite Being, on whom we are absolutely dependent. Hence it follows, that a Man may be virtuous, or practise what is fit to be done, and decline doing what is unfit to be acted, without the least Degree of that Holiness, concerning which the Enquiry is.  

 

 [2.] Legal Obedience, which rises higher than the former, is not Holiness. The Light of natural Conscience may be much heightened and improved by the Word of God, and a Man’s Sins may be let in Order before him: He also may have an awful View of their Demerit, which will awaken dreadful Fears, and influence him to make an Enquiry how he may escape the Damnation of Hell. In this Enquiry he presently apprehends and concludes, that an Alteration in his Behaviour is necessary, and he determines with himself, that he will immediately change the Course of his Actions, decline what is evil, and perform what is good. Upon doing which, he begins to cherish Hopes of regaining an Interest in divine Favour; on this Principle, that God is a merciful Being, and will make all reasonable Allowances for his necessary and unavoidable Imperfections, and for all those numerous Temptations, wherewith he finds himself surrounded in every State. This indeed is the common Doctrine of our sad Times. Such Persons doubt not, but that if they do the best they are able in their present Circumstances, God will be favourable to them in Judgment, and cry to themselves, Peace, Peace, tho’ certain Destruction, if rich and sovereign Mercy prevents not, awaits them. Sometimes, they proceed so far as to celebrate the sacred Rites of Christianity, and in their own, and in the Opinion of others also, they commence true Christians; whereas all their Obedience is carnal, and arises from the Flesh. As one well observes, they obey, not because they love the Gospel; but because they fear the Law. This it is to follow after the Law of Righteousness, as the Jews did, who attained not to the Law of Righteousness, because the fought it not by Faith, but as it were by the Works of the Law {Ro 9:31-32}. Lust, notwithstanding this Change in a Person, if it retains its Dominion in the Heart, and will so do, until sovereign and efficacious Grace takes it away, and brings a Man to submit to be saved in the Way of God’s Appointment. Sin still perserves its Rule in the Mind, tho’ the Form of its Government is altered, and none of the Actions of such a one are holy, they all spring from a selfish Principle, and are directed to selfish Ends, which is not serving God, but is a Man’s Aim to serve himself. This legal Obedience, therefore, hath not any Thing of true Holiness in it.  

 

 [3.] The Knowledge of the Truth of Evangelical Doctrines is not Holiness; Orthodoxy is not Grace; nor is Soundness of Judgment, Holiness. The Perception of the Evidence of divine Truths, is the Business of Reason, not of Grace. A Man, therefore, who hath no Principle of Holiness in him, may discern that Evidence, and the strict Connection, Dependence and Harmony of the several Branches of Evangelical Truth, and give an assent unto those Truths, tho’ the Things themselves he is wholly unacquainted with. It is a sad Mistake to think that we are holy Persons, because we are persuaded of the Truth of Gospel Mysteries, for that Persuasion springs up in the Mind from Acts merely rational upon the Evidence Revelation affords of the Truth of those mysterious Doctrines. Where there is not a spiritual understanding of spiritual Things, and a Savour and Relish of them as such, there is no true Holiness.  

 

 [4.] Gifts, and the Exercise of them, is not Grace or Holiness. By Gifts, I mean an Ability to discourse of Gospel Doctrines in such a Manner, as may be very instructive and beneficial to others. And it is with me unquestionable, that a Man may be what we call an accurate Divine, and yet not have the least Measure of Grace; such a one, of what Use soever he may be to others, for their Edification, he is of none to himself, by all he expresses. There are awful Words of our Lord’s, Many will say to me in that Day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name have cast out Devils? and in thy Name done many wonderful Works? They seem to flatter themselves, that their eminent Gifts, and the Exercise of them, would procure them an Admission into Heaven. Very awful indeed is the Answer they receive from Christ: Depart from me, ye that work Iniquity {Mt 7:22-23}. As Gifts and Grace are distinct Things, it is very necessary for those who are employed in public Work, to look as well to their Graces, as to their Gifts: Without this, a Minister, while he is improving in his Gifts, may, and will, I think, dwindle sadly in his Graces. Other Acts are necessary, and Diligence of another Kind is needful to an Improvement in Grace and Holiness, than those which will serve to the Improvement of our Gifts. Having observed what Holiness is not: I go on to shew,  

 

 2. In a positive Sense, what it is: And it is to be considered as a Principle, and Acts flowing from that Principle.  

 

 [1.] True Holiness is a new, spiritual Principle or Spring of Action in the Mind. It is new, for which Reason, it is called a new Heart, and the Subject of it is laid to be a new Creature; If any Man is in Christ, he is a new Creature: Old Things are passed away, behold, all Things are become new {2Co 5:17}. This is called new, in Opposition to the Flesh, or corrupt Habits of the Mind, and it is the very Reverse, and direct contrary of all that was in a Person before. Grace is not corrupt Nature mended, but it is a Disposition opposite and contrary to it. Flesh and Spirit are distinct Principles in the Mind, two Opposites in the same Person; That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh; that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. The Flesh still remains what it was, and its Nature will never be changed. From these contrary Principles proceed contrary Acts, and there is a mutual Opposition between them; The Flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh, there are contrary the one to the other {Ga 5:17}. Again, this Principle may be called new, tho’ not in Opposition to, yet in Distinction from, that original Righteousness, which Man possessed in a State of Innocency. There is an Agreement in their general Nature, as the one and the other are truly holy; but, in some Respects, there is a Difference between there two Principles: This latter was not due to Man by the Laws of Creation, and, therefore, as Men have it not in Fact, they never had it in Right; and God may communicate this Principle to whomsoever he pleases, upon the Foot of Sovereignty. The former was not a Life upon God, considered in a Mediator, nor was it, in its Nature, disposed and fitted to such a kind of Life; but this latter is such a Life, agreeable to the Nature of that new Covenant-relation, in which the Saints stand to God. Farther, it is a spiritual Principle; for this Reason it is called Spirit; That which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit; and all the Acts which arise from it, are of a pure and spiritual Kind, and of the same Nature with itself. This Principle alone is the Spring of holy Actions in a Believer; none of his Acts are heavenly, but those which take their Rise from it; his Mind, or spiritual Part only, serves the Law of God. That is a Service into which the Flesh will never enter.  

 

 [2.] This Principle exerts itself various Ways, to the Glory of God who wrought it in the Soul, and to the Comfort and Advantage of those in whom it is, viz 

 

 [1.] In believing; or in Acts of Faith on Jesus Christ. It discerns our Need of him, his Suitableness to our Condition; applies to him, and receives him, as he of God is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption {1Co 1:30}; yea, as our all in all {Col 3:11}: And this Faith purifies the Heart: Putting no Difference between us and them, purifying their Hearts by Faith. It influences unto a cheerful and holy Obedience, for which Reason it is called the Obedience of Faith, which is alone acceptable and pleasing unto God, thro’ Christ, For without Faith it is impossible to please him {Heb 11:6}; and we are no farther truly holy and spiritual in the Discharge of Duty, than Faith is acted therein.  

 

 [2.] This gracious Principle loves and delights in heavenly Things. In the Understanding, it is a Perception of their infinitely excellent and glorious Nature. In the Will, it is a closing with, and Adherence unto them. In the Affections, it is a Delight and Complacency in them, as pure, holy, and spiritual, and congruous to its own Nature; no Acts of which Kind can ever arise in an unsanctified Mind. A natural or unregenerate Person cannot know, nor relish and favour the Things of the Spirit of God, to him they are Foolishness, and, therefore, it is not possible that they should be the Objects of his Choice and Pleasure.  

 

 [3.] Grace hopes for better Things than it hath in present Possession. They are good Things it now enjoys, but they are far better which it hath in Right and Prospect. It is an humble Expectation of celestial Glory and consummate Happiness, in the immediate Presence of God and a dear Redeemer; on account of which, that glorious State bears the Name of Hope; Looking for that blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ {Tit 2:13}. The Christian, in the Exercise of Grace, enters into that within the Vail whither the Forerunner is for him entered {Heb 6:19-20}, and hath his Conversation in Heaven. Where he shall actually be, hereafter, there he now is, sometimes, in Desire, and in a way of gracious Communion 

 

 [4.] This spiritual Principle exerts itself in a holy Reverence of God. It adores him on account of his infinite Perfections and Glory, in the religious Services which the happy Subject of it performs: Let us have Grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with Reverence and godly Fear {Heb 12:28}; And there is no true Reverence of God in a Mind destitute of this holy Principle, for from that alone it springs; and there is more or less of this Fear of the Divine Majesty, as this gracious Principle is more or less lively and vigorous.  

 

 [5.] Grace disposes the Mind to submit to the Will of God, in the various Dispensations of his Providence, whether prosperous or adverse. It is an Acquiescence in his Pleasure concerning us, who knows what is best for us, and whole infinite Love to our Persons, will always so order every Occurrence, as to issue in our Advantage, if not as Men, yet as we are Christians; We know, that all Things work together for Good, to them who love God, and are the Called according to his Purpose {Ro 8:28}. And,  

 

 [6.] This holy Principle is a Disposition to practice all the Branches of Righteousness in our Conversation in the World; Sobriety, Justice, Compassion, Benevolence, and whatever else Morality includes; The Grace of God, which bringeth Salvation, and hath appeared to all Men, teaches the Saints to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present World. True Grace in the Heart is a solicitous Care to maintain good Works in the Life. Farther,  

 

 [7.] The regenerate Part of a Believer casts a holy Contempt on the World, and all the most delectable Things in it. It is of a Nature far more sublime than the best of earthly Treasures, and it elevates the Mind towards, and fixes it on Objects infinitely more glorious than the gayest and most splendid Things, which please the Fancy, and attract the Affections of an unsanctified Person. This Heaven-born Principle aspires towards unseen and heavenly Objects. From Heaven it came, that is its proper Centre, and thither it tends. So far as our Affections are under its Influence, they are raised above sublunary Things, and placed on the noble Objects, which Angels, and the Spirits of just Men made perfect, constantly view with Wonder and Delight; Seek those Things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the Right Hand of God. Set our Affections on Things above, not on the Things on the Earth {Col 3:1-2}. True Grace refuses the latter with a holy Disdain, because it is of a Nature far more noble and refined, than the most eligible of them all. Once more,  

 

 [8.] This Principle aims at the Glory of God in all its Acts. Real Grace is the most generous Principle in the World: Nay, I am bold to affirm, that there is no truly generous Principle in the World, but this gracious one: It is disinterested. Grace is not a selfish Thing; it seeks not its own Honour, but the Glory of the God of all Grace, from whom it is derived. Unless we design the Glory of God in our Acts of Obedience, there is nothing of true Holiness in what we do. It is not enough that the Matter of our Actions is good: Works truly good spring from Love in the Heart, are directed to the Glory of God, as their End, and are performed under the Influence of spiritual Considerations and Motives. We may pray, read the Word of God, attend on his Worship, and discharge the Duties of Civil Life in a blameless Manner, as to Men’s Observation, and yet not have the least Degree of Grace. Whatever we think of ourselves, and what Opinion soever others may have of us, we are no farther truly holy, than Grace is acted in our Obedience. If our Graces are not exercised in holy Duties, no Holiness attends them.  

 

 This Account of Holiness, I am sensible, would not be pleasing to many, who are professed Advocates for what, as it is usually called, practical Religion. I have sometimes thought, that it is a little hard, however, it is unjust, they are pleased to object to us, when we treat of the Doctrines of the Grace of God, that we have no Concern for Holiness and practical Religion: And when we discourse of real Holiness, they are disgusted, and say, that we are too precise, strict, and rigid in our Account of it. This is a sufficient Testimony, even from themselves, that they abuse us, when they say, that we have no Regard to practical Holiness, because we assert the Doctrines of Free Grace; they have forgot, as I suppose, what they object to us of this Kind, when they declare themselves to be displeased with our Account of Holiness, as too strict and rigid. But why are they dissatisfied with that Account? the Reason is, they thought themselves rich, and increased with Goods, and had Need of nothing: And, therefore, to be pronounced and proved Bankrupts and Beggars, very much displeases them. All their Gold, on which they valued themselves, if indeed our Explanation of Holiness agrees with Truth, they find that it is mere Dross. This gives them much Uneasiness, and is what they cannot bear with. As was before observed, Lust maintains its Rule in the Heart, even when it is checked by Conviction, under which there Persons are supposed to act. The Form of its Government in the Mind is altered, but its Dominion is not taken away, nor the Extent of it diminished. Holiness is indeed a great, yea, a most excellent Thing. I fear, that but little of it is found with many, who, yet, go on in a constant Course of religious Duties: And the best among us are very defective herein. Those who most study the Nature of Holiness, and keep the strictest Watch over their Hearts, will best discern their Defects and Imperfections, and be much stirred up to practise the great and necessary Duty here recommended, viz. Following after Holiness, which I proceed to consider,  

 

 Thirdly, We ought to follow Holiness, i.e. in an earnest Manner we should endeavour after our Improvement therein.  

 

 The original Word diwkw is elsewhere rendered, I press {Php 3:14}. It signifies a Fervency of Desire, and an Earnestness in Endeavour. If we are desirous of an Improvement in Grace, we must, in order to it, make it our Scope and Aim; not rest satisfied with our present Measure of Grace, but use a holy Diligence to increase it; without this, we cannot reasonably expect and hope for an Advancement in Holiness and Spirituality.  

 

 1. We must oppose, and make no Provision for the Flesh. So far as we gratify and feed the carnal Part in us, we prejudice our nobler Part. Grace is always a Sufferer by those Acts of the Mind, which spring from, and are pleasing to its opposite; for as Corruption and Grace are contrary Principles in the same Subject, whatever serves the Interest of the one, prejudices the other. If, therefore, we are not careful to deny the Flesh those Gratifications, which it is continually reeking after, we shall diminish the Vigour of the Spirit, and greatly interrupt its Exercise. Hence, we must, I think, be convinced of the Necessity of observing the Nature and Tendency of our Thoughts, whereby we may, without much Difficulty, form a true Judgment of their Origin; from what Spring of Action, in us, they take their Rise, whether from the Flesh, or from the Spirit. All vain Imaginations, all irregular Thoughts, all corrupt Motions of the Will and Affections, arise from the Flesh. Now, if we really design and desire an Improvement in Grace and Holiness, we must be observant of the Acts of our Souls, and oppose those which are vain and carnal; Negligence in this Matter, will issue in unspeakable Advantage to the Flesh, and necessarily end in great Damage to our spiritual Part, which it is our Wisdom, Interest, and Duty, to be solicitously careful of , that we no way prejudice it. The noxious Weeds of Corruption in our Hearts, cannot be nourished without Injury to the precious Seed of true Grace. Worldly, selfish, ambitious, and covetous Thoughts, when countenanced and cherished in the Mind, greatly hinder the Exercise of Grace, and assuredly prevent its Growth. There is great Reason to fear, that many, who go on in a Round of religious Duties, are not able to say, that they are much spiritual in those Duties, thro’ the abounding of such kind of Thoughts in their Hearts; and yet there religious Performances give them Satisfaction at least, if they are not with them the Occasion of Self-Admiration and Applause. We shall never arrive to any Emminency in Holinesss, without much Self-Denial, and a strict Watch kept upon Lust, which hath numberless Ways of exerting itself, and a constant Opposition to it, in What Manner soever it acts its Part in us.  

 

 2. We must make it our Scope and Aim, in religious Exercises, to act our Graces, if we would improve in Holiness: Attendance to them is a necessary Branch of our Duty, and the Neglect of that Attendance is inexcusable; but a bare external Performance of those Exercises, will be of no Efficacy towards our Improvement in Grace. As there is no greater Degree of Holiness in our religious Services, than what consists in the Actings of the spiritual Principle in our Souls; so all our Advancement in Holiness in those Services, is from the Exercise of this holy Principle.  Unless, therefore, we aim at performing Spiritual Duties, in a spiritual Manner, our Expectations of gaining Advantage to our spiritual Part thereby, must be disappointed, because we have no Ground for such Expectations.  

 

 3. We ought to desire the Sincere Milk of the Word. The Grace of the Gospel alone is suited to feed and nourish our heavenly Part. The Doctrine of the Law acquaints us what Holiness is; but it is only the Grace of the Gospel which disposes us to the Practice of it. Let us not flatter ourselves with a Hope of increasing the Vigour of the gracious Principle in us, by any other Doctrine, than that of free Grace; for if we do, we shall certainly meet with a Disappointment. Because the Doctrine of Grace is that Food which God has provided and appointed for the Support and Nourishment of the Principle of Grace, and no other than what infinite Wisdom has provided for that Purpose, will ever, in the least Degree, {#let some suggest what they please|} serve to that important End. Real Holiness, and the Practice of true Religion, by sinful Men, can only be promoted by those Principles which are peculiar to the Gospel; the Reason is, that Holiness, and that Religion, is no other than the Exercise of Grace in the Hearts of Believers. the Strength and Vigour of which wholly arises from that Nourishment it receives, by digesting the glorious Truths of the Gospel. Evangelical Obedience, than which no other deserves the Name of Holiness, nor is the Thing, can only be promoted by Evangelical Doctrines. Indeed, a Disposition to a merely moral Obedience may be excited by Discourses of Morality and Virtue; but that is not Holiness, or a Meetness for future Blessedness, whereof I am to treat in the last Place.  

 

 Fourthly, Without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord .  

 

  Two Things must be attended unto, in this Branch of the subject, viz. the Sight of God, and, that no Man who is not the Subject of Holiness, shall have this happy Vision of him. In discoursing on the former, I would shew, what are the Properties of this View, and then the Objects, which are beheld with a Joy to us, at present inconceivable.  

 

1. I begin with the Properties of this Vision of God . And they are such as must be exceedingly delightful to every one who truly desires to enjoy it. For,  

 

 [1.] It will be immediate, clear, and full. Here the Saints sometimes have spiritual Views of God by Faith, which fill them with Joy unspeakable, and full of Glory: But these Prospects are far inferior to that View they will have of God in the heavenly State. They are attended with a double Disadvantage, at present, which renders it impossible to have the sameView of God now, that they will enjoy hereafter. So long as they are in this State, they will be Subjects of Darkness, which incapacitates them to discern the Glory of heavenly Objects in a full and perfect Manner. They are Subjects of the Light of Grace: For, God who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, hath shined into their Hearts, to give them the Light of the Knowledge of his Glory in the Person of Christ {2Co 4:6}. But, then, they are also Subjects of Darkness, and, therefore, must be incapable of taking a complete View of spiritual Things. Besides, they only discern those Objects thro’ a Medium at present. Now we see thro’ Glass darkly. It is not an immediate View of those glorious Objects we now enjoy, but a Representation of them in the Glass of the Word: And this Representation of them is below their true Nature, for Language cannot fully express it. The Beauty and Glory of those bright Objects, Words can give us but an imperfect Image of. Since, in this State, we are attended with this double Disadvantage, our Prospects of heavenly Things, must be far inferior to that View we shall have of them in the blessed World When we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known. And, if the present imperfect View fills our Minds with inexpressible Delight, what Joy! what Pleasure! what Complacency must possess our Souls, when we shall have an immediate, clear, and full View of those inconceivably glorious Objects!  

 

 [2.] The Saints will enjoy an uninterrupted View of God hereafter. Their Prospects of him by Faith, in this State, are often interrupted by Unbelief, and numerous other Causes: But no Interruptions will take place in their future Views of their heavenly Father, thro’ the Interposition of any Clouds. No Shades of Darkness will ever pass over them in the World above, which is all Light and Glory; nor will their Minds at all be diverted from beholding God and a dear Redeemer, by a Presentation of any other Objects, which now too frequently is the Case. This Consideration, added to the former, gives us a most delightful Idea of the heavenly State. I subjoin,  

 

 [3.] This Prospect will be endless. That State of Happiness is permanent, and will continue forever. Here we have no continuing City; but we seek one to come, a City which hath Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. The Saints will ever be with the Lord, in whose Presence is Fulness of Joy, and at whose Right Hand are Pleasures for evermore. As their Existence will be eternal, so their Views of God will be without a Period. As no Change can possibly happen in the Nature of that blissful State, so it shall never have an End. If we consider the infinitely glorious Nature of the Objects seen; if we consider the Properties of this heavenly Vision, viz. that it is clear and full, that it is uninterrupted, and without End; surely we must conclude, that this State is most desirable, and perfectly blessed. 

  

 2. This is a Vision, or Sight of God.  

 

 [1.] We shall distinctly discern what each Person in the adorable Trinity hath acted, in order to our eternal Salvation and Happiness.  

 

 [1.] The kind Part the divine Father hath acted in our Favour. Our Election to everlasting Life, was his gracious Act. He chose us in Christ before the Foundation of the World; and this Choice of us, was unto perfect Holiness. The Contrivance of the Way of our Recovery from that Ruin brought on us by Sin, is his. He appointed Christ to be our Mediator, Head, and Surety, and decreed his taking upon him our Obligation to the Law. It was his sovereign Purpose, that he should bear our Guilt, and suffer that Penalty to which it rendered our Persons obnoxious, according to the just Constitution in the Law, and, thereby, satisfy its equitable Demands, and fully maintain the Rights of Justice, to whose terrible Resentment our Crimes exposed us. He gave all the invaluable Treasures of Grace and Glory into the Hand of Christ for us; and on the Foundation of his Atonement, he dispenses the Blessings of Grace to us in Time, and will communicate to us the Blessings of Glory in Eternity. He will give Grace and Glory, and no good Thing will he withhold from us {Ps 84:11}. Since he spared not his own Son, age delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all Things? If the imperfect Views we have at present of the stupendous Acts of the Father in our Favour, yield us inexpressible Pleasure, what transcendent Delight will be produced in our Minds, by the future Prospect of them?  

 

 [2.] We shall forever have in View the compassionate Part, which the eternal Son hath performed in our Favour. His undertaking for us, in the eternal Covenant transacted between the Father and himself, and the Holy Spirit. His Assumption of our Nature, in the Fulness of Time, coming under the Law to redeem us from it, agreeably to the fore-reign Purpose of the Father, and his own free Engagement. His Susception of our Guilt, and voluntary Submission to the Father’s Pleasure, in making his Soul an Offering for our Sins, whereby he expiated our Guilt, made Peace for us, and secured our Persons from that direful Vengeance, which we, in Consequence of our Sins, were liable unto. Besides, he brought in for us an everlasting Righteousness, which justifies our Persons, and gives us an unalienable Right to eternal Life. And now he is in Heaven, it is his continual Employ to make Intercession for us, as a sympathizing and compassionate High Priest, under all our Difficulties, Temptations, and Sorrows, in this State of Imperfection, and Snares and Dangers. The imperfect View we have of these Things now, affords us the highest Pleasure; the clear, distinct, and endless Prospect of them hereafter, therefore, must possess our Souls with a Delight, that far surpasses our present Comprehension. For, since ineffable Joy arises from those low and imperfect Views of heavenly Objects, which this State admits of; certainly  unknown and inconceivable Delight will result from the clear and perfect, and uninterrupted Prospects of those Objects, in the happy World above.  

 

 [3.] We shall eternally behold what a gracious Part the blessed Spirit acts in our Favour, who inspires us with spiritual Life, when we are dead in Trespasses and Sins; infuses heavenly Light into our Souls, which are naturally Darkness; operates on us in a Way of spiritual Conviction; gives us a Sense of the Evil of Sin; shews us the exceeding Sinfulness of our Nature; presents us with a View of our inevitable Misery, as in ourselves  considered; discovers to us the Ability and Suitableness of Christ, as a Saviour; encourages and assists us to make a humble Application to him for Life and Salvation; applies his Blood to our Souls, to ease us of the pressing Load of our Guilt, and heal the Wounds it gives us; shews us the Glory of his Righteousness, and enables us to lay hold on it, and embrace it, as the Matter of our Acceptance with God, our righteous Judge; open, to our View the Secrets of the Almighty, relating to the stupendous Design of our Recovery, and powerfully applies to us the precious Promises of his Word, whereby we are encouraged to hope in him, and draw near to him, as our gracious Covenant-Father, and in this Character to ark of him all that is needful to our Support, Guidance, and Consolation: He bears with all our Provocations, heals all our Backslidings, reduces our Souls when we go astray, revives the good Work under its Decays, and restores to us the Joy of God’s Salvation, and establishes us afresh in the Ways of Holiness and Peace, and will continue so to do, until we arrive safe to the heavenly World, where we shall see the Wonders of his Love, in that perspicuous Manner the present State admits not of.  

 

 [2.] We shall enjoy a constant View of the divine Perfections, as they are exercised and displayed in our eternal Salvation. Everlasting, free and sovereign Love gave Rise to the Design, and runs thro’ every Part of it: That is the Fountain from which all our Salvation, and the whole of our Happiness spring. Infinite Wisdom concerted the fit Methods of our Recovery, fate for us, and glorious to God. Who could ever have thought that Sin might be pardoned, and yet punished; that the Sinner might be saved, and yet Justice executed? This Contrivance is the highest Effect of the Wisdom of God, how much soever an ignorant and proud Generation of Men despise it as Folly. It is the Wisdom of God in a Mystery, the hidden Wisdom, which he ordained before the World to our Glory. Besides, in this Affair, the infinite Rectitude and Righteousness of God most evidently appear. His Love to our Persons is not more conspicuous, than his just Abhorrence of, and Indignation against our Sins, in this Method he has took to pardon and save us. He appears to be just in justifying those who believe in Jesus, on the glorious Foundation of his Atonement and Satisfaction. This is saving us in a Way becoming himself; It became him for whom are all Things, and by whom are all Things, in bringing many Sons to Glory, to make the Captain of their Salvation perfect thro’ Sufferings. Again, the Truth and Faithfulness of God, shine most eminently in the Accomplishment of his Promises, relating to our everlasting Salvation and Happiness; and his absolute Immutability, on which our Security rests, is fully manifested. Much of the Glory of Heaven will consist in clear, distinct, and endless Views of the infinitely glorious Perfections of God, as exercised in our Redemption, and as they shine thro’ the Person of the Mediator.  

 [3.] We shall always behold the Glory of Christ our dear Redeemer. He who was crowned with Thorns for our Sakes, we shall have the Satisfaction of viewing seated on a Throne of Majesty, and crowned with Glory, and surrounded with the whole Number of the Elect of God, and Myriads of holy Angels, all uniting in joyful Songs of Praise to him for his redeeming Love to us miserable and worthless Creatures. For this he prays, and this he demands of the Father for us, which he has a Right to do; Father, I will, that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am, that they may behold my Glory, which thou hast given me 

 

 [4.] We shall have a constant and full Perception of the Love of each divine Person to us, and of the infinite Delight Father, Son, and Spirit will eternally take in our complete Felicity. It is Matter of Joy to the divine Persons to do us Good now, and when the Design of our Salvation shall be completed, our Souls will have a ravishing Sense of that Pleasure, which arises to them from the Accomplishment of that gracious Design. The divine Persons rejoice over us to do us Good, as we are the Objects of their infinite Affection and Love. The Design of our Salvation was infinitely pleasing to the Father, Son, and Spirit; and the Accomplishment of that Design will be Matter of eternal Delight unto each of them. When we have once arrived to the heavenly World, we shall enjoy a perfect and constant Sense of that Pleasure which God takes in our Felicity, and that Sense must be productive of a most exquisite Joy.

 

 The Knowledge which the Saints now have of heavenly Things, they shall never lose. All Gifts and Acquirements, on account of which Men are very apt to value themselves, will cease in that State, as there will be no need of their Exercise; but our spiritual Knowledge of spiritual Things shall then be fully ripened and brought to Perfection; We know in Part, and prophecy in Part, when that which is perfect is come, that which is in Part shall be done away. The Objects are the same we now see by Faith, that we shall have an immediate, clear, full, and endless Prospect of in the World above; Glory, therefore, is Grace in its full Maturity, or our spiritual Knowledge of spiritual Things grown up to its intended Perfection. A most pleasing Thought this, and it is what may very justly be considered as a most persuasive Motive, diligently to study those sacred Truths. Who that considers this, and is acquainted with the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ, and of God, in and thro’ him, wilt not be excited to use the utmost Diligence to increase and enlarge his Acquaintance with those sublime and heavenly Truths? If we really desire to possess future Glory, surely it must be a most eligible Thing, in our Esteem, to enjoy as much as we can, of that Satisfaction and Delight, which arise from a spiritual Perception of the Nature of those Objects, in the perfect Knowledge of which, will consist our complete Felicity, when with us Time shall have an End. Unless somewhat of this Kind is found in us, I know not of any Evidence we can possibly have of a Right unto, or of a Meetness in us for the Enjoyment of the blissful Vision of God. For, if we have no Inclination to be separate from the World, and all Things in it, in our Thoughts, Desires, and Affections, whilst here we dwell, what solid Foundation can we be supposed to have, to support a Hope, that the heavenly State is really desirable to us? None at all, as I think. If the First-Fruits are not valued and fought after, why should it be thought, that reaping the plentiful Harvest is really desired? Are we at great Pains to acquire Knowledge which will vanish, as useless, at Death, and shall we not labour to add to that Knowledge, which will never be lost; but ripen into Glory, when our Souls shall be dislodged of our mortal Bodies. And, if it be so, our Approbation of, and Delight in those Things, may be allowed as a good Evidence of our Meetness for the Enjoyment of this glorious State. On the other Hand, can we think, that those Persons are in the Way to Heaven, or desire to enjoy it, who discern no Excellency and Glory in there Things; but flight and despise them, as mere Foolishness? No surely; it is not Heaven they desire the Enjoyment of, but a mistaken Image which they have framed to themselves of that glorious State. An unregenerate Person neither knows what Heaven is, nor can desire it. That alone desires the Enjoyment of Heavenly Glory, which is a true Preparation for it, and is the real Commencement of it in the Soul, viz. that gracious, holy, and spiritual Principle which is implanted in a Person, at the Time of Regeneration, and is Regeneration itself. This leads me to observe,  

 

 Lastly, That no Man, without Holiness, shall have this happy Sight of God. 

 

 No Man whatever, let him be what he may, as to Descent, Education, State Gifts, Usefulness to others, whether in the Civil or Religious Life, unless he partakes of Holiness in this, he shall not participate of Happiness in the next. As God designed all to become Subjects of Holiness in this World, whom he appointed to eternal Salvation; so holy Persons only are capable of that Glory, which consists in the Vision of him, Communion with him, and in a constant Adoration of him, which is maintained in the Mind by a Perception of his infinitely glorious Excellencies and Perfections; and, consequently, no Man, without Holiness, shall ever see the Lord. Some, it may be, will be ready to fear, from the Consideration of what has been observed concerning the Nature of real Holiness, that they are not the subjects of it, and may say, if that Spirituality enters into the Nature of true Holiness, which you have expressed, I am afraid that, for my Part, I am a Stranger to it; I find, to my Sorrow, so much of the contrary of it in me. To such I would observe, that every Man in this World, who is the Subject of Holiness, he also is the Subject of Sin: Tho’ every Man that is the Subject of Sin, is not the Subject: of Holiness; every one here, who is a subject of Holiness, is likewise a Subject of Sin: Do not, therefore, think, because you have Sin, that you have no Holiness. What is it in you, that prays, watches, and strives against Sin, as Sin? Is it the Flesh? No, that will never become an Opposer of itself. What is it in you that approves of the Law, as holy, just, and good? Is it corrupt Nature? No; that is not subject to the Law, of God, nor ever will be; these are Acts proper to a Principle of Holiness and Grace. The Flesh will still serve the Law of Sin, and you will be deceived if you think otherwise, for it is only the spiritual Part of a Believer that serves the Law of God. Hence, the Apostle resolves the contrary Actings of his Heart, into these two contrary Springs of Action in himself; Flesh and Spirit, or Corruption and Grace: So then with my Mind, I myself serve the Law of God; but with the Flesh the Law of Sin. The Being of Corruption in the Mind as an active Principle, engaged in the Service of the Law of Sin, is not to be considered as an Evidence, that there is not present in the Soul, a holy Principle, which is disposed unto, and engaged in the Service of the divine Law. It is the Dominion of Sin that is such an Evidence, and not the Presence of it, as an active Principle, always ready to exert itself in an Opposition to what is truly good, or of a spiritual Nature, and inclined to act what is evil. Regeneration neither takes away the Being of Sin, nor deprives it of a Power to act in Opposition to what is holy: And as Sin in the Regenerate does exert itself in Opposition to that which is holy, so it is a Disposition to do what is sinful. A Principle of Grace really takes away the Reign of Sin, but leaves it existent in the Mind, and changes not its Nature, it still is, and will always continue to be what it was; Conviction doth not that: The Flesh, as has been observed, how much soever it is checked by Conviction, as to the Manner of exerting itself, it preserves its Rule entire: Tho’ the Form of its Government is altered, it still maintains its Dominion in the Unregenerate. If, therefore, there is any Thing at all of this Spirituality and Subjection to the Law’, in you, and Approbation of heavenly Things themselves, there is a Principle of Holiness in your Hearts, and you have proper Foundation for a holy Confidence, that he who hath begun a good Work in you, will perform it until the Day of Christ 

 

 ADVERTISEMENT.  

 

 IF that assistance which is necessary to finishing of a Work that I have under my Hand, shall be graciously afforded, and the Design meet with Encouragement, I shall present the Reader with a Treatise on various Subjects, viz On the original Purity of human Nature. On its present Depravity Of the Defects which attended the Doctrine of Morality, as taught by Philosophers and Poets. Of Regeneration, Conversion, and Sanctification.The Life of Faith. Growth of Grace. The Difference between real Conversion. and the Semblance of it. Of Declension in the Power of Religion; its Causes, and the Ways and Means of a happy Revival under Decays of Grace. Of the Temptations of the present Age, and Cautions against them. Of Communion with Gad in the Course of that Obedience we are required to yield to him, etc. Wherein I shall endeavour to give Resolutions to difficult Cases of Conscience, as they occur on the various Subjects treated of.  

 

 

 

12 Sermon 12 An Antidote Against a Spreading Antinomiam Principle By John Brine

Created By LeRoy Rhodes

leroyrhodes@Comcast.net

2006

 

THE SERMONS 

 OF 

 JOHN BRINE 

 

An Antidote Against a Spreading 

Antinomian Principle 

by John Brine 

(London: John Ward, 1750) 

 

SERMON 12 

 

AN ANTIDOTE AGAINST A SPREADING 

ANTINOMIAN PRINCIPLE 

 

Printed for JOHN WARD, at the Kings’s Arms, in Cornhill, against 

the Royal- Exchange: And Sold by GEORGE KEITH, at Mercers’