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yet the effects of it are very sensible, and this influence of God's Holy Spirit is common to all Christians in all ages
of the world. This proposition is universally true, and in all ages and times, If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It must be acknowledged, that the Spirit doth not now work upon men in that sudden and sensible man. ner, as it did in the first times of Christianity ;. because then men were strongly possessed with the prejudices of other religions, which they had been brought up in, and therefore as more outward means of convictiou were then necessary, fo likewise a more powerful internal operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, to conquer and bear down those prejudices, and to subdue them to the obedience of faith. But now the principles of religion and goodness are more gradually initilled into the minds of men, by the gentle degrees of pious instruction and education, and with these means the Spirit of God concurs in a more human way, which is more suited. and accommodated to our reason, and offers less vio. lence to the nature of men. So that this promise of God's Holy Spirit is now made good to us, as the necessity and circumstances of our present state do require. God does not use such extraordinary means for the producing of those effects which may be accomplished in a more ordinary way. The aflıstance of God's Holy Spirit is still necessary to men, to incline and enable them to that which is good; but not in that manner and degree that it was necessary at first: because the prejudices against Christianity are not now to great, and many of those advantages which were necessarily wanting at first, are now supplied in an ordinary way; and therefore it is not reasonable now to expect the same extraordinary operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, which we read of in the first beginnings of Christianity.
3. There is likewise the promise of eternal life to reward and crown our obedience. And this the scripture speaks of as the great promise of the gospel, 1 John ii. 25. This is the promise which he hath pro
inised us, even eternal life.
And upon this account, the new covenant of the gospel is preferred before the old covenant of the law, because it is established upon better promises. All the special and particular promiles of the law were of temporal good things, and these were the great encouragements that were given to obedience, under that imperfect dispensation : but now godlinefs hath not only the promise of the life that now is, but of that which is to come; as the Apostle tells us, 1 Tim. iv. 8. The gospel hath clearly revealed to us a happy state of immortality after this life, of which men had but very obscure and doubtful apprehensions. So the fame Apostle tells us, 2 Tim. i, 10. That it is now made manifest, by the appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel. Holy
men had good hopes of it before ; but they had no sure distinct apprehensions of it, no such full assurance concerning it, no such clear and express promises of it, as the gospel hath given us.
Thus you see what those great promises are which the gospel hath given us, namely, the promise of the free pardon and forgiveness of our fins, upon our faith and repentance; the promise of God's grace and Holy Spirit to affift our obedience, and the promise of eternal life and happiness to reward it. These are the three eminent promises of the gospel, and in all probability those which the Apostle here calls great and precious promises; which brings me to the
II. Second thing which I propounded to consider, namely, why they are said to be exceeding great and precious, τα μέγισα και τίμια επαγέλματα, the greateft and the most valuable promises. And to satisfy us that they are such, the very consideration of the blessings and benefits that they carry in them will be sufficient. If we consider the condition that mankind was in when God was pleased to make these gracious declarations to us, we shall see great reason to fet a high value upon every one of these promises.
Mankind was extremely degenerated, all flesh had corrupted its ways, ? and the whole world was guilty before God, and liable
to all that misery which the finner had reason to apprehend from the incenfed justice of the Almighty. We had forfeited that happiness to which our immortal nature was designed, and, which made our condition more sad, we were without strength to recover ourselves out of it, by our repentance for what was past, (if God would have accepted of it), and by our future obedience. Now the promises of the gospel offer relief to us in all these respects, and thereby ob. viate all the difficulties and discouragements which mankind lay under.
The gracious promise of pardon frees us from guilt; and secures us from the terrible wrath of God, which our guilty consciences did so much dread; and with out this promise, mankind' would have been under the greatest doubts and discouragements. For when men are afraid their fins are greater than will be for. given them, they are apt to fall into despair, and de. Ipair is an effectual bar to repentance; for when men think their condition is defperate, they care not what they do.
And the promise of God's grace and Holy Spirit; to allist and enable us to do our duty, does fully anfwer all the discouragements and objections from our own weakness, and the power of temptation. We may do all things through Christ strengthening us; and how weak foever we are of ourselves, we are strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. If God be for us, who, or what, can stand against us? The devil is a very powerful enemy, and much too strong for flesh and blood to encounter in its own strength ; but there is another principle in the world, which is mightier and more powerful than he, the Holy Spirit of God, who is always ready to help, when we do not repulse and refuse his asistance : Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world, says the Apostle, i John iv. 4. The Spirit of God dwells in all those who are willing to admit him, and is ever ready to assist those who comply with his blessed motions, and do vigorously put forth their own endeavours,
And then the promise of eternal life, that answers all the difficulties of our obedience, and sets us above any thing that the world can threaten us withal, for our constancy to God and his truth.
A wise man will be content to suffer any thing, or to quit any thing, upon terms of far greater advantage : and what greater confideration can be offered to encourage our constancy and obedience, than an eternity of happiness? so that the Apostle had reason to call these exceeding great and valuable promises ; so valuable, that if any one of them had been wanting, our redemption and recovery had either been abrolutely impossible, or extremely difficult. I proceed to the
III. Third thing I propounded, which was to consider the tenor of these promises; that is, whether God hath made them absolutely to us, without requiring any thing to be done on our part, or upon certain terms and conditions to be performed by us. That God may (if he please) make an absolute premise of any blefling or benefit to us, there is no doubt; and that God's grace does prevent many, and is before-hand with them, is as little to be doubted: the Spirit of God goes along with the gospel, moving and inclining men to yield obedience to it, many times before any inclination and disposition thereto on their parts. But as to this promise of God's grace and Holy Spirit, the great question is not about the first motion of it, but the continuance of this affistance, and the increase of it; and this, I think, may fafely be affirmed, is promised only conditionally, as also the pardon of fin and eternal life. And concerning each of these, the matter may quickly be decided, by plain texts of fcripture.
Concerning the promise of the grace and assistance of God's Holy Spirit, the scripture takes notice of two conditions. First, That we beg it earnestly of God: and this our Saviour expresseth by asking , seeking, and knocking, which signifies the importunity of our requests : Õur heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that thus ask it. And then, secondly, That we improve and make use of the grace
which God affords us : To him that hath, Mall be given, and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he seems to have : that is, (as appears plainly from the scope of the parable), to him that ufeth that grace, and those advantages which God affords him, more shall be given ; but from him that makes no use of them, and therefore is as if he had them not, shall be taken away that which he but feems to have, because he makes no use of it.
Concerning the pardon of fins, the scripture plainly suspends that upon the general condition of repentance and the change of our lives: Repent, that your fins may be forgiven you; and upon the condition of our forgiving others : If ye forgive men their trefpasses, then will your heavenly Father also forgive you ; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespases, says our Saviour, Matth. vi. 14. 15.
And then the promise of eternal life, is every where in scripture suspended upon the condition of faith and repentance, and perseverance in well-doing : He thar believes (fays our Saviour) shall be saved, which in. deed implies the whole condition of the gospel. He that believes ; that is, he that effe&ually assents to the doctrine of Christ, and is so persuaded of the truth of it, as to live according to it, shall be saved. But if obedience were not included in the scripture-notion of faith, yet the fcripture elsewhere expressly makes it the condition of our eternal salvation. Heb.v.
9. Christ is there faid to be the author of eternal salvation to them that obey him; thereby implying, that none shall be saved by Christ, but those that obey the.go. spel. Heb. xii. 14. Follow holiness, without which no man hall see the Lord. Rom. ii. 7. 8. 9. To therit who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, God will give eternal life; but to them that are contentious, and obey not the aruth, (that is, the gospel), but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguis upon. every faul of man that doth evil.