Page images

Faith, This not of our selves, it is the Gift. of God; and upon every good Action that we do, that of the same Apostle elsewhere, yet not I but the Grace of God that is in me. 1 Cor. 15. 10. But this Grace tho' mighty to instruct, to help, to invite, to persuade, yet is not violent to force or compell either the Afsent of the Understanding, or the Co-operation of the Will. The Grace of God like the Wisdom of God (as it is express'd in the Book of Wisdom) acts Fortiter sed Suaviter, Mightily yet Sweetly do's She order all things, is Powerful but not Irrefiftable. It requires to be kindly entertain'd, and obsequiously comply'd with, and by repeated applications to the Throne of Grace diligently and incessantly to be pray'd for, that it may be continu'd to Us and encreas'd in Us. We must Ourselves Co-operate with it, and not think to be wholly Pallive, Unactive, and Unconcern'd in the great Work of our Own Salvation. Because God is Powerful in Working in us and for us,

this is so far from being a Reason why We should be Idle, and, leaving all to his mighty Operation, be utterly careless of Ourselves, that it is very juftly urgʻd by St Paul as a forcible Motive and strong Reason to the contrary, Work out your Own Salvation with Fear and Trembling, For it is God that Worketh in You both to will and to do according to his good Plea

Q 2 · sure.


sure. Thus God in the Law commands, San&tify Your felves, for it. is I the Lord that Sanctify You; as on the other hand we find his Saints praying God to do that, which they know to be their Duty to do themfelves, Wall me throughly from my Sins and cleanse me from my Wickedneß, is the Prayer of One, tho''tis God's command to All. Walh You, make you Clean, and Turn ye, turn ge, why will ye dye, o house of Israel, is God's Peremptory Command and Affectionate Expoftulation to the fame People, in whose behalf the Prophet as Earnestly prays Turn Thou us, o Good Lord, and so fall we be turned. Which with innumerable Instances of the like Nature, every where to be met withal in Scripture, what do they teach us but that the same Work is sometimes apply'd. to God and sometimes to Us, to signifie that as God by his preventing, and following, and aflifting, and confirming Grace, is the first Author and laft Finisher of every Holy Purpose and Righteous Work in Us; so there is requir’d on Our part a Concurrence of Will and ready Obedience to the Motions and Suggestions of his Blessed Spirit,else this Grace (which meeting with an Obsequious Heart would be productive of

every good Work to our Endless Salvation) might by perverseness and obstinacy be rendred fruitless and ineffectual, and at


[ocr errors]

last for Our Unworthiness be wholly taken from Us to Our Just and Endless Condemnation. Hence it is that the Apostle fo earnestly beseeches the Corinthians that they Receive not the Grace of God in Vain, That he is so sollicitous in the Epistle to the Hebrems That they look diligently Left any Man fall from the Grace of God, which by a long and contemptuous Resistance of it, he both supposes to be possible and aggravates the horrible guilt and unspeakable danger of such contempt from the Impoflibility

of Repentance. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightend, and have tasted of the heavenly Gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the Powers of the World to come ; if they fall fall away, to renew them to Repen-. tance. And if he that despised Moses's Law, dy'd without Mercy, of how much forer Punishment shall be be thought wortby, who hath troden under foot the Son of God, and bath counted the Blood of the Covenant wherewith he was fan&tified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of Gráce.

But lastly, as Grace if not by us refifted, and despitefully us’d, is the firft Çause and principal Worker of every Virtuous and holy A&ion in us, so it is Grace also that not only at present accepts, but finally re

Q_3 wards

wards what it self at.first enabled us to perform: 0 Lord, thou wilt ordain Peace for us, for thou also hast wrought all our Works in us, Isaiah 26. 12.

And when we consider the glorious Reward laid up for us, we must here especially be convinc'd and acknowledge, that We are sav'd by Grace. Not of Works certainly, left any Man soould boast, as if so unconceivable an Exaltation as the Incom- , prehenfible Glories of Eternal Life could possibly be claim'd as Due upon the score of the Worth and Value of our most excellent Performances. Heaven is our Inheritance, not our Purchase; not our Purchase by Works, but our Inheritance by Adoption. The Doctrine of Merit, as taught in the Church of Rome, is so contradictory to Reason as well as Scripture, that just to hint at the Absurdities of it, is to confute it. To make a Work Meritorious these Conditions are requir'd,

First, That it be not a Debt, for what thanks is there for paying what was long before due; Yet what Service is it possible for the Holieft Creature to pay, which from his first Creation was not by a moft just Title indispensibly due to his Creator all that we have, all that we are, is his by Eternal Right; and when we have pay'd all that we can pay, we have pay'd no more,


nay not so much, as we owe; when we have done all that we can do, we must own ourselves to be but unprofitable Servants.

2dly, That any Work may merit, it should confer some Good, fome Advantage to the Person towards whom it is perform’d. Bat can a Man be profitable to God? says holy Fob; and again, If thou be righteous, what givest thou him, or what receiveth he' of thy band?

3dly, In order to merit of any Person, the Services we present him with ought to be our Own, at least not His, to whom we present them: whereas it has been sufficiently before shown, that we have of ourselves no Ability to do any Good, that whatever of that kind we offer unto God, was first his Own Gift to us; and if it has any Value with him, it is because it proceeded from him. Not only Heaven, but all the Graces that are necessary to purify and

prepare us for it, we receive from Undeserved Mercy; so that God, when he confers Eternity of Bliss upon Us, crowns not in Us Our Works, but his own Grace.

4thly, Where Merit is pretended, there ought to be some Proportion between the Service and the Reward; but alas! who sees not the infinite Distance between that Eternal Weight of Glory, and the momentary and light Performances of the greatest Saint that eyer liv'd upon Earth?


« PreviousContinue »