Page images
PDF
EPUB

man (fimply considered) is not either of these ; but as he is gathered into, and brought forth in, the root and spirit of either of these. Now every man hath a day for the life of his foul, and power and mercy is near him, to help him to travel from death to life. Happy is he, who is taught of God to make use of it.

And let not men puzzle themselves about the mystery of EleEtion and Reprobation ; which cannot be understood by such as are out of the thing wherein it is made manifest. Only thus, at present: Pharaob and Ifrael, Efau and Jacob, Ilomael and Ifaac, &c. were parables, fignifying somewhat inward. What was Pharaob? Was he not the oppressor of God's Israel? What was Elau? Was he not the first birth, which fold the birth-right and inheritance? What was. Isomael? Was he not the birth after the flesh? These are rejected, and cast off by God for ever; and the fp al Israel, the spiritual Jacob, the spiritual Isaac, are accepted. .

Shall I speak out this thing yet more plain? Why thus then: It is not the creature which is rejected by its Maker ; but fomewhat in the creature, and the creature in that. Nor is it the creature (simply) which is elected; but somewhat in the creature, and the creature in that. And as any man comes into that, the Election is begun in him: and as any man abides in that, he abides in the Election : and as that is made fure to any man, his Calling and Election is made sure to him. But as any man departs from that, he departs from the Election into the Reprobation: and going on in that into the full impenitency and hardness, he will for ever miss of the Election, and the Reprobation, and Sealing up to Condemnation, will be made sure to him. For God is no respecter of persons; but every-where, he that receiveth his holy feed, and therein worketh righteousness, is accepted of him. And he that receiveth the wicked seed, and therein worketh wickedness and unrighteousness, is with it rejected.

Object. But (may the honest heart fay) this may be truth, for aught I know; but indeed I did not apprebend things to be fo:: for I thought man and his works · bad been wholly excluded by the covenant of grace; but this seems to take both him and them in upon a consideration.

Answ. Man is wholly excluded the covenant of grace, as in himself; as he stands in himself, and in his own ability, out of the newness of life and ability which is of the new covenant. But he is not excluded as he is renewed, and receiveth a new being, life, virtue, and ability, in the new covenant. But here much is required of him; and whatever he thus doth, is owned, acknowledged, and accepted by God. Here the true Jew hath praise of God. He is commended for his faith, and for his obedience in the faith: For his loving the Lord his God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself: For his washing his garments in the blood of the Lamb, and keeping them clean in the same blood, while others defile theirs : For his merciful nature and actions to Christ in his members, while others are rough and cruel: For his watching against snares and temptations, while others are running into them: For his crucifying that in himself, which others feed in themselves : Yea, for his denying and turning from all ungodliness and worldly lusts, even of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life; all which are not of the Father (whom he is born of, and seeks after) but of the spirit of the world, which the earthly-minded man is born of, and seeks to please. So that (mark) though man is excluded in his corrupt nature and state, yet not the new man, not man in the regeneration. But man must be regenerated ; and thus man must enter into the covenant of life ; and thus man must abide and be found in the covenant of life, in the nature, in the righteousness, in the holiness, in the power thereof, if ever God own him.

others

Object. But this seems to lay difference on man's act, and not wholly on the grace of God. For the grace, in itself, is equally powerful towards all; but it is my receiving of it, which maketh it effeétual unto me; which others not receiving, it is not so to them.

Anw. The grace, in itself, is of its own nature every-where. This is true. And that it hath power in it every-where, and that this power is over and above sin; this is true allo.. But yet there is a greater or lesser proportion of it given, according to the pleasure and good-will of the giver : and according to the measure of it (which is freely given) and the soul's growth therein, so is the power of it manifested in the heart.

Now the difference in every man is by the grace. Not of himself: for he can do nothing that is good, as of himself: but only by the grace; which is alone able to work that which is good in him, and to cause him to work in it. Yet thus it is: as the grace reacheth to him, draweth him, quickening and causing him, in the virtue, life, and obedience of che grace, to answer the grace; so doth the work thereof go on in him. And there is matter of condemnation to him, who doth not answer the grace; and there is matter of justification and praise to him; who doth answer the grace. Yet this whole ability arising not from himself, but from the grace; the acknowledgment of what is effected thereby, doth of right and due belong to the grace. And therefore they who are justified, fanctified, and crowned by the grace, do of right and due cast their crowns at the feet of the Lamb, at the throne of grace; giving honour and glory to him who is worthy, and to his grace which hath wrought all in them.

Now if any man would know this thing groundedly and certainly, let him not run into disputes of the mind and brain, but come to heart-experience. Haft thou ever found the work of God's grace in thy heart? Hast thou found thy heart, at any time, believe and obey, in and thro' the strength of the grace ? Hast thou found thy heart at another time negligent of, or rebellious against, the grace? When thou wert rebellious, wert not thou condemned, and that justly too? When thou didft believe and obey, to. whom did the honour thereof belong? to thee, or to the grace ? Canst thou answer this? Why, as it is in thyself, between thee when obeying and dif

obeying;

obeying; the same is the state of the case between godly and wicked men. There was a difference between thee when thou obeyedst the grace, and when thou disobeyedft it: so is there between the unregenerate and regenerate. When thou obeyedst not, that which called for obedience condemned thee; so it doth them. When thou obeyedst, thou dist sensibly feel the praise, was not thine, but belonged to the grace which wrought in thee; fo is it also in the regenerate, in whom the Lord works by his grace, and who work out their salvation through him, and make their calling and election sure in him. Leave brain-knowledge, and come to true fenfe (where the mysteries of God are made manifeft) and this will soon be easy and clear to thee. But these things were never intended by God to be found out by man's disputing wisdom : for God (who giveth the knowledge) hideth them from that part, and giveth them to the innocent simple birth of his own Spirit.

Object. But when the Father draweth, can any man resist or hold off? Dotb not the power of the Lord make any man willing, whom he exercisetb bis power towards ? And is it not thereupon said, Thy people shall be willing in the day % of thy power ?"

Answ. The power of the Lord is great, and hath dominion over all evil spirits that can tempt, and over all the corruptions, backsidings, and withdrawings of the heart. But the Father doth not save man by such an absolute act of his power (for then there would need no more to be done, but an immediate translating of a man from death to life, which if the Lord please to do, nothing could come between to hinder); but the power of the Lord works in and according to the way that he hath appointed. And in this way the Devil hath liberty and power to tempt from, oppose and resist the work of God: and they that hearken to him, and enter into the temptation and snare which he lays, let his power in upon them, and withdraw from the virtue, operation, and strength of the power of God. Yet for all this, the Lord not only begins his work, but also carries it on in the day of his power; giving not only to will, but also to do what is right and pleasing in his eyes : but still in and according to his own way and cove nant.

Object. And so whereas fome men say, If God put forth his power to save, and the Devil interrupt and stop his work; then it seems that the Devil is stronger than God. Is the Devil stronger than God, say they? If he be not, bow can be refijt and withstand him in the work of bis power ?

Answ. Nay; the Devil is not stronger than God; though he is very strong. But if the heart let in the enemy, grieve the Spirit, beat back his power in the way wherein it hath appointed to work, the Devil may be more prevalent with him than the power of God. But in those that believe, and become obedient and subject to the power of God, his power is far stronger in them to defend and carry on his work, than the power of the Devil is to work against and hinder it.

There

y be.be not, how

Burimi Nay; the Devil is not be work of bis power

There are objections also relating to Free-will, and Falling from Grace, which stick much in the spirits of many, and they cannot get over them; but it hath pleased the Lord to clear up these things to us, and to satisfy our hearts concerning them, so that with us there is no difficulty nor doubt about them.

As touching Free-will: We know, from God, that man in his fallen estate is spiritually dead, and hath no free-will to good; but his understanding and will are both darkened and captivated by the enemy. But in Christ there is freedom, and in his word there is power and life: and that reaching to the heart, looseneth the bands of the enemy, and begetteth not only a freedom of mind towards good, but an inclination, desires, and breathings after it. Thus the Father draws; and thus the soul (feeling the drawing) answers in some measure : and the soul, thus coming, is welcomed by Christ, and accepted of the Father. But for all this, the enemy will tempt this soul; and the soul may hearken to, let in, and enter into the temptation, and so draw back from the plough to which it put its hand. Now if any man draw back, my soul mall bave no pleasure in him, saith the Lord. And be that putteth bis hand to the plough, and looketh back, is not fits for the kingdom of beavon.

So concerning Falling away; The Lord shews us what it is that is apt to fall, and what cannot fall. Christ cannot fall; and that which is gathered into him, stands and abides in him (and so partakes of his preservation) cannot fall. There is no breaking in upon that power, which preserves in the way that it hath appointed: but there is a running and perishing out of the way. Out of the limits of the covenant, the preservation and power of the covenant is not witnessed. But in coming to Christ in the drawings of the Father, in the sense and faith which he begets, and abiding with him that drew, in the sense and faith which he daily and freshly begets anew (for he reneweth covenant and mercy daily, and keepeth covenant and mercy for ever) in this is the power felt, the preservation felt; in this the Father's hand encompasseth the foul, which none can pluck it out of. Now he that feels and experiences these things every day, that sees and feels daily how he can fall, and how he cannot fall; how he meets with the preservation, and how he misses of the preservation; how he abides in the pure power (which is the limits of this holy covenant) and how he wanders out of this power, into the limits of another covenant, fpirit, and power; he knows these things, how they are indeed; whereas other men (who are not exercised: in the thing) do but guess at them; striving to comprehend them in that. part which God hath shut out of them.

Now mind a Parable, with which I shall conclude this:

Tho? the natural and outwardly-visible Sun be risen ever fo high upon the earth, yet he that is naturally blind cannot see it, nor partake of the light.

thereof,

thereof. So alto, though the spiritual Sun, the Sun of righteousness, the Sun of the inward world, be risen ever so high, and appear brightly in ever so many clouds; yet they that are spiritually blind cannot discern it, nor reap the benefits of its light, nor partake of the healing which is under his wings.

Some U E RI E S

CONCERNING THE NEW COV E N AN T.

Query 1. UITHAT is the covenant of hell and death, which must of ne

V ceflity be broken, before a foul can be gathered into the covenant of life?

Query 2. What is the covenant of life and peace, into which God gathers the foul ?

Query 3. How doth God gather? By a meer act of power, which none can resist? or in a way wherein his power (though much resifted) shall prevail for the salvation of those, who are faithful in the covenant; who come to Christ, abide in Christ, refift and fight (in Christ) against all that is contrary to his nature and Spirit, and overcome through him? · Query 4. Are there any terms in this covenant? Or can there be any terms in this covenant, suitable to the nature of the covenant? Is believing in the power, as absolutely required in this covenant, as obedience to the law was under the covenant of the law ? · Query 5. If faith in the power, and obedience to the power that redeems, be required as terms in the new covenant; yet if they be not required of the creature in its own capacity and ability, but as strengthened and enabled by the virtue, life and power of the covenant, are they not free terms, noble terms, worthy and becoming a free covenant ?

Query 6. Is not this the gospel, or new covenant, That whosoever believeth, and receiveth the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire (suffering in the flesh, and having his sins and corruptions purged away by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning, and so walketh no longer after the flesh, but after the spirit) I say, is not this the gospel, or new covenant, that he that thus believeth, and is thus baptized, shall not be condemned with the world, but jultified and saved by that Spirit and power which cleanleth him?

Query

and haciiveth the baptihe golpel, or neovenant ?

« PreviousContinue »