Page images

Holy Spirit that should apply both that Satisfaction and Pardon. Peradventure for å Good Man, says St Paul, some would even dare to dye, Rom. 7, 8. But God commendeth his Love towards us , in that while we were yet Sinners, Christ died for us, the Righteous for the Ungodly, v. 6. We were in open Hoftility and Rebellion against God, yet even then, says the same Apostle, when we were Enemies we were reconcild to God by the Death of his Son, Rom. s. 10. Our Saviour tells us truely, Greater Love bath no Man shewn than this, that a Man lay down bis Life for his Friends, Joh. 15.13. But behold a greater than Man is here,and consequently a greater Love than Man's Love, a Love that lays down its Life for its Enemies. Here is Love, not that we loved God, but that He loved Vs, and sent bis Son to be a Propitiation for our Sins, 1 John 4. 10. This is a Love so far exceeding all that was ever calld by that Name, that St Paul himself, even when he prays for the Ephesians, that they may be able to comprehend the breadth and length and height of the Love of God in Christ, yet is forc'd immediately to fubjoin, which passeth all Knowledge, Eph. 3.19. This is that ineffable, that unconceivable Grace, which is in God, and which is God. For it is This that first mov'd God to Create and then to redeem the World, and since God is by all confess’d to be the first Mover, moving all things Himself, from without Immovable ; it unavoidably follows, that whatever can be properly said to move God, can be no Other than God himfelf. This is that Original Spring and Eternat Source of that Gracious Dispensation, which in time God was pleas’d to reveal to Mankind in the Adorable Mysteries of our Redemption, which is

aly. A second Acceptation of the Word in Scripture, wherein Grace is often taken for the Manifestation of Grace, that is the Gospel, the Covenant of Grace, the Grace wbich came by Jesus Christ, as St. John speaks, C. 1. V. 17. The Grace of God which has appear'd to all Men, bringing Salvation, as also St Paul,

[ocr errors]

Tit. 2. II.

And this moft Glorious, as well as Gracious Display of the Divine Goodness in the Means of Reconciliation tender'd to Mankind in the Gospel, as it is the chiefeft of all the gifts of God, (for herein he gives us his Own Son, and if he spares not him, bow pall he not with him also freely give us all things) fo by us it may be justly esteem'd, it must be look'd upon as a Gift, that has in it all the Qualities that can make a Gift supereminently perfect. In a Gift there are three things to be consider'd, The Giver, The Person to whom it is given, and the Manner of giving,


In the first place then, He that gives, to do it in Sovereign Perfection must give of his Own, and he must have also both Power and Will to give all that he can give, as far as the capacity of the Receiver is able to bear; He must therefore be Infinitely good that he may give with the greatest readiness of Will, and infinitely Powerful that he may give to the full extent of the wants of the Receiver, and Sovereignly Independant that he may give without hopes of Return, otherwise whatsoever is given would not be a Gift, but a Bargain.

2dly, That a Gift may be said to be in full Perfection, he to whom it is given mustMérit nothing from the giver, for that were rather the payment of a Debt, than bestowing of a Gift, if there were any Merit in the Receiver. He ought also to be in the extreameft need of what is given, or else he might be excusable if he slighted and refused the Offer.

Lally, as to the manner of giving, That ought to be free, for whatsoever things are given by Compulsion, are not Gifts, but Spoils. And since as before was said, the Gift must prevent all manner of deserts, that it be not a Reward, it ought to precede also even the Hopes, or Desires, or Petitions, of the Receiver, because by these means he may in some manner be said to deserye.



All these Qualities concurring and eminently shining forth in the Covenant of Grace tender'd to us in the Gospel, make it a Gift sovereignly Perfect, perfe&t even as He Himself, the great Donor, is Perfect,

Especially, if we consider God's infinite Condescenfion in the favourable Terms propos'd to us in this Word of Reconciliation; in which, contrary to the extreme Rigour of the Old Law, the Voice of which was, Do this and live, fail in the least Tittle and dye, he is accounted just in the Eyes of God, not whose Righteousness is manifeft, but whose Sin is cover'd. He whose uniform and serious and conscientious, tho nat absolute and unerring and finless Obedience, is for the sake of that perfect Righteousness of Christ approv'd by God, who knowing our Frame, and pitying our Weakness, is graciously pleas'd to accept of hearty Endeavours instead of exact Performances, Repentance instead of Innocence, and Sincerity instead of Perfection. And


further, These Endeavours, and This Repentance, and This Sincerity he do's not only accept of Us, but give to Us. For it had not been sufficient to have contriy'd so wonderful a Method of Salvation, and to have communicated to Mankind the Knowledge, and offer'd to him the Advantage of it by Jesus Chrift, unless he had also endu'd him



from above with a Power to lay hold of it, by enlightning his Understanding, and enfaming his Will, and so enabling him by Faith to embrace this Covenant, and by Obedience to fulfill the Conditions of it.

And this is another Acceptation of the Word, according to which, by Grace is signify'd that Divine Principle infus'd into our Souls by God's good Spirit, quickning us, and raising us from the Death of Sin to the Life of Righteousness, that Participation of the Divine Nature, by which we are made conformable to the Divine Will. For of Our selves alas! and from Our Own Nature, not only weaken'd but deprav'd, we are not able to conceive one good Thought, much less to bring forth any righteous Work. It is from Grace alone preventing our Wishes, and stirring up our Wills, and working with those Willy when stirr’d up, that all holy Desires, all good Counsels, and all just Works do proceed. Not only the Execution of the Hand, and the Contrivance of the Head, but the Preparation of the Heart is from the Lord, Prov. 16.1. The very first Difpofitions and Tendencies of our Minds towards God, the very Defire of Grace is from Grace, from his Spirit that worketh in us both to will and to do. So that it is but Justice upon every good Quality that we possess, to inscribe what is here particularly said to

« PreviousContinue »