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the grace of God for what he is, so it is becoming and comely, to acknowledge grace, and to look upon it as the least return that we can make. For on our part, there is neither antecedent merit, or after recompence ; we live by grace, and therefore it is come ly for us, to acknowledge grace, Psal. Ixvi. 16. The gracious and ingenuous soul doth not account any thing more reasonable than to be grateful to its benefactor. · I will conclude now with this, that upon this score of magnifying and advancing the grace of God, two things are not to be done, which some that are unwary do interpret as derogatory to the grace of God, and so I hope shall prevent all mistakes. To wit,
1. They are not to be blamedor looked upon as neglecters of God's grace, or undervaluers of it, or to abate it in the least, who vigorously and with all imaginable zeal, call upon men to use, employ, and improve the principles of God’screation: that charge it upon men, as a point of religion and conscience, to use, employ and improve the principles of God's creation. I find that some men take offence, to hear reason spoken of out of a pulpit, or to hear those great words of natural light, of principles of reason, and conscience. They are doubtless in a mighty mistake, for these two things are very consistent, as I shall shew you by and by, and there is no inconsistency between the grace of God, and the calling upon men carefully to use, improve and employ the principles of God's creation, and the telling men they thall meet with no discouragement from
God, forasmuch as he will not leave them, till they first leave him. And indeed this is a very profitable work to call upon men to answer the principles of their creation, to fulfil natural light, to answer natural conscience, to be throughout rational in what they do; for these things have a divine foundation. The spirit in man is the candle of the Lord lighted by God, and lighting men to God. It is from God by way of efficiency, and to God finally. And then
2. For the other, those two great places of fcripture will answer all that I say, to wit, that we may speak clearly and fully to any one that is in a way of religion or in dependance upon God, or in the use of means, that there is no discouragement lies upon him, from any thought or purpose of evil in God against him, or that God will be wanting to him, unless he first fall off from God, and leave him. In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness; is accepted of him, Acts. X. 15. And therefore to speak of natural light, of the use of reason in religion, is to do no differvice atall to grace ; for God is acknowledged in both : in the former, as laying the ground-work of his creation : in the latter, as reviving and restoring it. So that these do agree together, as God doth agree to himself; God laying the religion of conscience, and making man in such a power of judging; and God restoring him to the self fame state again, after he had consented to iniquity, whereby he had marred his principles, and disabled himself; fo that I say, these two do as well agree together, as God doth agree A à 2
with himself; for God is the author of nature, and the restorer of it. By the way I will observe how little there is in many controversies ; if wise and temperate men had the managing of them ; but when once there is fufpicion and jealousy, these make and increase differences. This is in short all that I will say, it is not possible for any one that is a right believer not to depend on the grace of God; it is highly ingenuous for him to make all possible acknowledgements, it becomes him to think that he owes all his hopes to the goodness of God, and that he stood in need of a divine strength for every new motion ; yea to attribute every thing that is good to the grace of God.
But notwithstanding this, first we are to call upon one another, every body is to engage himself to excite all the powers of nature, to act according to reason and to answer all principles of natural light and conscience; and this we are to do in compliance with grace.
And Secondly, We will by no means upon any pretence discourage any one that is in a disposition God-ward ; for we are by scripture warranted to tell men, that God doth not forsake men, till he be first forsaken of men, and that God will not refuse any one that comes unto him ; but is a real friend to fouls, and doth delight in the conversion of finners, and doth his part toward the attaining of it ; and this I have added to take off offence and scandal, that so no one may be mistaken. Men are not.fo far to press the principles of God's creation, as to negleet the grace of God: nor so far to depend on the
373 grace of God as to neglect the principles of God's creation. I put them in conjunction, and they agree as well together, as God doth with himself.
The PRACTICE of those who are
PHILIPPIAN s iii. 15. Let as many of us therefore as be perfeet, be thus mind
ed : and if in any thing ye. be otherwise minded, God Mall reveal even this unto you. I Et therefore as many of us as be perfeEt, be thusIs minded. But had he not denied perfection • before, ver. 12. not as though I had already attained, either were already perfeet : who doth he now speak of? Let as many as be perfect be thus minded, take an account of this in six or seven particulars.
1. It is a supposition of charity; what he had be-. fore denied of himself he doth admit in respect of others. And indeed we feel our own infirmities, and know our own weaknesses, shortness and imperfection ; but we observe other men's graces. The best of men know more hy themselves, than by others. He finds how oft he is out of frame and temper, how oft he is indisposed : but other per- · fons are known only by their excellencies, by their
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virtues ; and we believe better of them, then we know by ourselves. This is that which the apostle faith, charity hopeth all things, believeth all things. Modesty becomes us in respect of ourselves : but charity bids us entertain a good opinion of others. You see he gives to others the greatest advantage, and full allowance ; but he takes no more to himself than is certainly due. Thus doth he practise according to his own rule, Rom. xii. 10. Be ye kindly affe&tioned with brotherly love, preferring one another. That is the first thing.
2. It is a word of encouragement : because we are wont to say to new beginners and learners, well done ; when it is only well begun. Thus God himself, in his goodness, and kindness towards us, for our encouragement doth own Job as a perfect and z?pright man, Job i. 8. and he faith it again, when he was traduced ; and Satan belied him : and yet see what Job faith of himself, Fob ix. 20. If I juftify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me. That is, the second.
3. It is the force of his argument, and then it amounts to this į as you would prove yourselves good proficients, as you would make it appear that you are those that do grow and increase in goodness, do fo and so. And then the notion that it affords us, is this į that the design and intention of perfection so far as it is attainable to human endeavour, is belonging to the state of goodness. The regenerate estate doth not assign to its self manner or matter, or fuch a growth ; but tends to perfection ; so far as the principle of it doth require. And even