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have it; fo, if there be firft a willing mind, difcovered in fincere endeavours, it is accepted of God for the fake of Christ, according to that a man hath, 2 Cor. viii. 12. But if a fervant shall quite neglect to put hand to a thing which he is peremptorily ordered to do, because he cannot do it every way fo as the mafter would have it done; this is construed to be a contempt of the mafter's authority. And what other account can men imagine will be made in heaven of their conduct, in inftances of plain and unquestionable duty, which they quite neglect; and of fin, that they indulge themselves in ?
3. Diftinguish between ability in ourselves for performing obedience in all the parts thereof acceptably, and ability for it in Chrift to be fetched in by faith. Neither faints nor finners have the former, 2 Cor. iii. 5.; but all true believers have the latter : they have fuch ability in Christ their head, Col. ii. 10. Te are compleat in him. Philip. iv. 13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. And it is in the gospel offered to all, fo that whofoever will, may have it: Matth. xi. 28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you reft. verfe 29. Take my yoke upon you. If a difcreet mafter command his fervant to go and do a particular piece of work, it will not excufe the fervant's neglect thereof, that he wanted inftruments neceffary for it; becaufe he will reckon, that his bidding him do the work, did fuppofe his allowing him inftruments, without which it could not be done; and that the fervant ought to have called for them. But here lies a ruining fnare to many. "We can "do nothing of ourselves," say they and hereupon the fluggard puts his hand in his bofom, and does nothing; but, having laid his head on his foft pillow, he fleeps to death on the bed of floth and carnal ease. O that men would open their eyes and fee through this piece of ruining deceit ! No man fhall
be able to excufe himself hereby, for the performance of holy obedience in all the parts thereof. Nay, this his conduct will bring him under a double guilt; one, of neglecting what it was his duty to do; another, of defpifing the grace offered him, to enable him thereto: ́and fo he will be condemned, not because he could not obey, but because he would not. God hath never been a hard mafter to mankind, reaping where he did not fow; but hath always made a fuitable allowance of grace and ftrength to them for his work. In the covenant of works, only perfect obedience could be accepted at the hands of the covenant-people; and there was an allowance of grace and ftrength conform, made to them in it. God made man upright, able to obey the law in perfection. And the law juftly infifts for perfection of obe. dience ftill, upon the ground of that provifion which was made for it, though it is now loft; feeing that it was loft by man's own fault. In the covenant of grace, which is adapted to our fallen ftate, fincere obedience may be accepted, notwithstanding of imperfections attending it. And accordingly, in it there is made a provifion and allowance of fuch a fufficiency of grace and ftrength, as thereby every piece of obedience required of the covenant-people, may be done even in this life; though not as it fhould be done, yet fo as it may be accepted: accepted, I fay, not for his own fake indeed, nor for the worker's fake neither; but for Chrift's fake, in whofe name it is required to be done and offered to God as a fpiritual facrifice, acceptable to God by Jefus Chrift, 1 Pet. ii. 5. This is evident from the forecited paffages, 2 Cor. iii. 5. and xii. 9. Philip. iv. 13. But withal, this fufficiency of grace and ftrength for that effect, is not lodged in the covenant-people themfelves; but in Chrift their head, in whom they have it, as the branches have a fufficiency of fap and juice in the vine, for their bringing
forth fruit in the feafon: Ifa. xlv. 24. Surely, shall one Jay, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. 2 Tim. ii. 1. Thou therefore, my fon, be ftrong in the grace that is in Chrift Fefus. And it is fetched into the foul by faith, believing the promife: Jer. xvii. 5. Bleffed is the man that trufteth in the Lord. Verfe 8. For he fhall be as a tree planted by the waters. Pfal. xxviii. 7. My heart trusted in him, and I am helped. And fo every command of Chrift, in this covenant, fuppofeth an allowance of grace and strength, fufficient for the performing of it in an acceptable manner. Accordingly, the declaration of grace ftands on the front of the ten commandments, Exod. xx. 2. I am the Lord thy God,verfe 3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me, &c. If the law came to us without the gospel, we might have fome excufe for not doing what we are commanded; yet not fo ftrong, but that it would be overthrown, as in the cafe of Pagans, Rom. ii. 12. But fince, with the commands of the law requiring obedience, the gofpel alfo comes to us, fhewing how we may be enabled to obey them acceptably, and offering us that ability in Chrift Jefus; we are inexcufable in that matter: the plea of the wicked and flothful fervant is rejected; and he is condemned, not only for not giving obedience, but for refufing grace and ftrength offered him, to enable him thereto.
Wherefore, let us firmly believe this promife of the gospel-covenant, that we may give obedience to the commands of the law: for where there is no hope of performing acceptably what is required, there can be no fuitable endeavour after it. If the heart is hopeless in that matter, the hands will certainly hang down and the iffue muft needs be, either a ceafing from the duty altogether, or elfe a very faint performance thereof, unacceptable to God. But the faith of this promife will remove the cover of floth, animate to every good work, and bring in grace and
ftrength for all holy obedience: Having therefore thefe premifes, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, 2 Cor. vii. 1.
Since God hath not given to the church the command of fanctification to be obeyed, without the promife of fanctification to be believed; but he that hath faid, Wafb ye, make you clean, hath faid also, I will fprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; no man hath ground to imagine, that he doth fo much as endeavour to comply with the true defign of the command of fanctification, who doth not first believe and embrace the promise of sanctification; but falls to work with the nitre and foap of his own faithlefs endeavours, to wash himself clean. Such a one mistakes the true intent and import of the command of fanctification as it stands in his Bible; and that as far as the command of a difcreet master would be mistaken by a foolish fervant, who being bid to go and dig a parcel of ground, fhould thereupon fall a digging it with his nails, never looking after a spade, mattock, or any other instrument proper to dig with.
Now, the promife of fanctification, with its feveral branches, is grafted upon the promise of a refurrection made to Chrift. For the condition of the covenant being fulfilled, he, as the head, was, according to the promise, brought again from the dead, and lives unto God, death having no more dominion over him: and in virtue hereof again, his members are brought to repentance from dead works, and unto newness of life. Hence we are faid to be begotten again, by the refurrection of Jefus Chrift from the dead, 1 Pet. i. 3.; forafmuch as we are raised with him (Col. iii. 1.) unto newness of life (Rom. iv. 4, 5. according to the promife, Ifa. xxvi. 19. Thy dead men fhall live, together with my dead body fall they arife.-The earth fhall caft out the dead; namely, in the first place, the head
Chrift Jefus, the first born from the dead, Col. i. 18. and then his myftical members after him in their order. Compare Hof. vi. 2. In the third day he will raife us up, and we fball live in his fight.
Thus far of the promise of fanctification. Follows,
IV. The Promife of Perfeverance in Grace.
The promise of eternal life doth, in like manner, comprehend the promise of perfeverance in grace, to be conferred on all the covenant-people, being juftified, new related to God, and fanctified; fo that being once brought into the state of grace, they fhall never fall away from it totally nor finally. This promife we have, Jer. xxxii. 40. And I will make an everlafting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they fhall not depart from me. Here they are fecured on both fides; that God will never caft them off, and that they shall never defert him. And that this benefit is included in the promife of eternal life, is clear from the apostle's adducing this last to prove it, Heb. x. 38. Now the just fball live by faith. Such is the malice of Satan, and the advantage he hath against the faints in this life; fo manifold are the fnares for them in the prefent evil world; fuch a tender bud of heaven is the implanted grace of God in them; and fo corrupt, fickle, and inconftant are the hearts of the beft, while here: that if their perfeverance had not been fecured by. promife in the covenant, but made the condition of the covenant, and left to the management of their own free-will, they would have had but a forry restoration of it into the state of grace; much as if they had got a fpark of fire to keep alive in the midst of an ocean. At that rate they might all have perished; and Jefus Chrift, notwithstanding of the shedding of his blood for them, might have eternally remained a head without members, a king without fubjects: But the