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which is ordinarily performed in the daily use of their prayers and other holy offices.
TAKE-o'-TRUST.-But we see, by daily experience, that the dearest of God's children do frequently complain of their corruptions, and bitterly bewail them, and groan under the apprehension and burden of them: “O wretched man that I am !” &c.
Til.-No doubt, it is fit a Christian should entertain such a holy jealousy over himself, as may make him humble, and keep him upon his guard, vigilant and industrious. “Blessed is the man that feareth always.” (Prov. xxviii, 14.) . 1 NarrowGRACE.—Yea, but we find also, that the most eminent
of the saints of God have fallen foully. · Til.-We must walk by precept, not by example ; especially we should take heed we do not transcribe a foul copy, though written by the hand of the greatest saint in heaven, who, we know, had never been admitted thither, had not that hand been washed in the streams of repentance and the blood of Christ. But the truth is, such is the frailty of our human nature, and the lubricity, the flexible and wax-like temper of youth, so apt to receive the impressions of vice, and such the precipitancy of our passions,—that, if we be not bridled by the benefit of a more severe and holy institution, and taught to improve our talents of grace and nature for our own preservation, the deceitful paintry of pleasures, and the snare of occasions, and the witchcraft of ill company and examples, with the sundry stratagems of that politic enemy, (who manageth all the rest to his best advantage,) will surprise, and foil, and most miserably wound us. But as to deny the possibility of preventing this mischief, were a huge disparagement to the power of the Divine grace; so, having that grace so abundantly administered, (as it is under the dispensation of the gospel,) to prevent, and assist, and follow us, not to co-operate therewith, but to let loose the reins unto our lusts, and give way for sin to abound, that grace may much more abound to the working of a remarkable repentance, that, having such a signal experience of sin and misery, we may be able to give a punctual account of the time and manner of our conversion,—what were this but to grow desperate and tempt God!, a ridiculous folly joined with a most execrable impiety. Like a man that sets his house on fire, that he may make light for others to read his evidence by which he holds it, he turns God's grace into lasciviousness, and ventures upon a certain evil for an uncertain good; “whose damnation is just.”
DR. CONFIDENCE.-If a man should do so, wilfully and of set purpose, I grant it: But if you cannot satisfy our question concerning your certainty of being in the state of grace, how will you be able to obey that of the Apostle?, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. iii, 15.)
Til.--That you may not think I have a desire to wave your question, by telling you, “ that I perceive you do many times allege Scriptures very impertinently,” I shall shape my answer directly to what I conceive to be your meaning. We must consider therefore what our Saviour Christ saith, (very applicable to our purpose,) “ The kingdom of God” (in the work we speak of,) “cometh not (always) with observation :” (Luke xvii, 20.) but (many times) it is “as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up, he knoweth not how." (Mark iv, 26, 27.) And therefore, I observe, our Saviour and [his7 Apostle do direct us to make our judgment a posteriori, “from the effects:” “By their FRUITS ye shall know them;" and “let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Gal. vi, 4.) The children of God are called “ Saints of light;" (Col. i, 12.) and the wise man saith, “ The path of the just is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. iv, 18.) It is only the conscience loaded with guilt, and fear, and horror, that, having fire put to it, like a gun charged with powder and shot, makes a bounce when it is discharged. Experience teacheth, that the natural day breaks, without a crack to report it to us; and so does the day of grace too, in many souls. Though the sun rise under a cloud, and so undiscernibly, and the clock of conscience do not strike to give us notice of the hour, yet we may be assured he is up, by the effects; viz. if his influences have dried up the dirt, and made the plants and herbs to spring out and flourish. Grace is more discoverable in the progress than in the dawning of it.
IMPERTINENT. But the Apostle saith, “He that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his.”
· Til. And I say, as the same Apostle to another purpose, “I' think also, that I have the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. vii, 40.) · DR. CONFIDENCE.--You said well even noop from our Saviour, that “the tree is known by the fruits ;" can you give us a good account of the fruits, that the Spirit of Christ hath brought forth in you, so as we may be able to distinguish them from counterfeit, and discern that they proceed from the Holy Spirit, and not (from) a lying one ?
Til.—That I may not deceive myself nor you herein, I think the surest way is, not to go by the common Inventory of the ** world; whereby I find men pretending to godliness, to be generally very partial in their reckoning. If they abhor idols, they think it tolerable enough to commit sacrilege and sedition ; and if they be not drunk with wine or strong drink, they think it is no matter though the spirit of pride and disobedience stagger them into any schism or heresy. I choose therefore to follow the Apostle's catalogue, and (if I can find that in myself, I hope I am safe: “ The fruit of the Spirit,” saith he, “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law :" (Gal. v, 22, 23.) That is, (as I conceive,) “the love of Christ in sincerity,” as it is in Ephes. vi, 24 ; which sincerity discovers and approves itself, in a constant and uniform observation of all his commandments. (John xiv, 15.)
Efficax.-How did the Spirit of God bring forth these fruits in you, if you find them? Did you ever feel it offer a holy violence to your will and affections, so that you were not able to resist the power of it? You have read how Paul was surprised in the height of his rebellion, his spirit subdued and forced to yield, and he cast down to the earth in great astonishment.
Til. Though I have intimated mine opinion in this particular already; yet I shall add, that the conversion of St. Paul was not according to the common way and rule, but extraordinary, in regard whereof he may very well style himself “an abortive." (1 Cor. xv, 8.) For the ordinary course is not for the kingdom of heaven to offer violence to us, and to take us by force; but for us to do so by it. (Matt. xi, 12.)
Efficax.—You speak as if the grace of conversion were resistible ; and so you would make man stronger than God: But the Apostle tells you, that God exerts and putteth forth a
power for the conversion of a sinner, equal to that “which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephes. i, 20.) And indeed there is a necessity of such a power, for the accomplishment of this work; because the sinner is as a dead person,"dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephes. ii, 1.)
Til.-It is a rule we have learned in the schools, that Theologia Symbolica non est argumentativa, “Metaphors never make solid and cogent arguments.” Sinners are like dead men; but no like is the same. If they were absolutely dead, then it were impossible for them to make any opposition or resistance at all, to any the least dispensation of grace. Resistance implies reaction; but the dead have no power at all to act : And yet it is acknowledged, that the sinner hath a power to resist, and doth actually resist. But that which is maintained generally by that side, is, that the power of grace is so prevalent and invincible that at last it will subdue and take away the resisti. bility of man's will. And therefore man is not dead in every sense. We find him sometimes resembled to one half dead; (Luke x, 30.) and sometimes to one asleep: (Ephes. v, 14.) So that you cannot certainly infer the conclusion desired, from such figurative expressions. Besides, [that passage in] Ephes. i, 20, speaketh of God's power towards those that were already believers, and not of his power that works belief in them.
IMPERTINENT. It is said of those that disputed with Stephen, that “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake.” (Acts vi, 10.)
Til.--He speaks of that conviction which the force of his arguments (dictated to him by the Holy Spirit,) made upon their understandings, so that they were not able to answer him in disputation. But he speaks not of any irresistible impression that the internal Divine grace made upon their wills; for there was no such effect wrought in them, as appears in the following verses: but rather the contrary, as you may conclude from St. Stephen's word, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost !” (Acts vii, 51.)
EFFICAX.-By resisting the Holy Ghost there, Stephen's mean, ing is, that they opposed the outward ministry, which was authorized and sent out by the Holy Ghost.
Til.-The words are plain in themselves, and so they are literally clear against you. But that this evasion may not serve your turn, we find the WORD and the SPIRIT both together, in Zach. vii, 12.* Yet it is said, “ they hardened their hearts like an adamant," and resisted both. (Isa. Ixiii, 10.) But (2) men may, and do resist that power of Divine grace which doth effectually and eventually convert others; yea, [they resist] a greater power than that which doth it. " The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah: and behold, a greater than Jonah is here!" (Luke xi, 32.) And as much is implied in those other words of Christ: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt. xi, 21.)-Those Heathen cities would have been wrought upon by these gracious dispensations ; but you, to whom they are so freely and earnestly administered, do resist them. And why should our Saviour work so many miracles to their senses, to induce them to believe and be converted ? Ad quid perditio hæc? “ Why so much pains lost ?" For, if that had been the way, that one superlative miracle,-the irresistible operation of internal grace,--had superseded the necessity of all others, and made them utterly superfluous.
IMPERTINENT.—What say you to that text in Luke xiv, 23?, “Compel them to come in.” Doth not that imply an irresistible power upon them?
Til.-This place in St. Luke speaks of a charge given to a minister, whose office it is to call, invite, and importune, (to say nothing, that it is a part of a parable ;) and I remember even now, when you were urged with that in Acts vii, 51, (“ye always resist the Holy Ghost,") then you could allege, that that was spoken concerning the outward ministry of the word, which, you confessed, might be resisted. But now, you produce a text yourselves, which, though it doth most evidently belong to the outward ministry, yet because it hath the word COMPEL in it, and will serve your interest, it must needs signify
* The passage in Zechariah reads thus : “ Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should bear the Law, and the WORDS which the Lord of Hosts hath seat in his Spirit by the former prophets.”
The next passage from Isaiah is, “But they rebelled, and vexed bis Holy Spirit : Therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them."-Editor,