DISCOURSES on Variou …
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DISCOURSES on Various Important Subjects,

Nearly concerning the great Affair of the Soul's Eternal Salvation, Viz.

  • I. Justification by Faith alone.
  • II. Pressing into the Kingdom of GOD.
  • III. Ruth's Resolution.
  • IV. The Justice of GOD in the Damnation of Sinners.
  • V. The Excellency of JESUS CHRIST.

Delivered at Northampton, chiefly at the Time of the late wonderful pouring out of the Spirit of GOD there.

By Jonathan Edwards, A. M.

Pastor of the Church of CHRIST in Northampton.

Deut. iv. 8. —Take heed to thy self, and keep thy Soul dili­gently, least thou forget the Things which thine Eyes have seen, and least they depart from thy Heart all the Days of thy Life.

BOSTON: Printed [...] by S. KNEELAND and T. GREEN, in Queen-str [...] [...] against the Prison.

MDCCX [...].

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PREFACE

THE following Discourses were all, excepting the last, delivered in the Time of the late wonderful Work of God's Power and Grace in this Place, and are [...] published on the earnest Desire of those to whom they were preached. These particular Discourses are fixed upon, and designed for the Press, rather than others that were deliver'd in that remarkable Season, by their Election. What has determin'd them in their Choice, is the Experience they hope they have had of special Benefit to their Souls from these Discourses. Their Desire to have 'em in their Hands from the Press has been long manifested, and often expressed to me; Their Earnestness in it is evident from this, that tho' it be a Year of the greatest publick Charge to them that over has been, by rea­son of the Expence of building a new Meeting House, yet they chose rather to be at this additional Expence now, tho' it be very considerable, than to have it delayed ano­ther Year. I am fully sensible that their Value for these Discourses has arisen more from the Frame in which they heard them, and the Good which they hope they, thro' the sovereign Blessing of God, have received by them, than any real Worth in them: And whatever the Discourses are in themselves, yet those that heard them are not to be blamed or wonder'd at, if that is dear to them, that they hope God has made a Means of saving and everlast­ing Benefit to them. They have much insisted on this Ar­gument with me, to induce me to comply with their Desire, viz that they hoped that the reading these Discourses would have a Tendency in some Measure to renew the same Effect in them that was wrought in the hearing, and re­vive the Memory of that great Work of God, which this [Page ii] Town has so much Cause ever to remember; which Argument has been of principal Weight with me, to incline me to think it to be my Duty to comply with their Desire; tho' I can't say there are no other Considerations concur­ring to induce me to it.

With respect to the Discourse on Justification, besides the desire of my People to make it publick, I have been advised to it by certain Rev. Gentlemen, my Fathers, that happen'd to be the Hearers of it; (or, at least, Part of it,) when preached, whose Opinion and Advice, in such an Affair, I thought should be of as great Weight with me as of most that I was acquainted with.

The Beginning of the late Work of God in this Place was so circumstanced, that I could not but look upon it as a remarkable Testimony of God's Approbation of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, here asserted and vindicated:—By the noise that had a little be­fore been raised in this County, concerning that Doctrine, People here seem'd to have their Minds put into an un­usual Ruffle; some were brought to doubt of that Way of Acceptance with God, which from their Infancy they had been taught to be the only Way, and many were en­gaged more thoroughly to [...]ook into the Grounds of those Doctrines they had been educated in:—The following Discourse of Justification, that was preach'd, (tho' not so fully as it is here printed,) at two publick Lectures, seem'd to be remarkably bless'd, not only to establish the Judgments of many in this Truth, but to engage their Hearts in a more earnest pursuit of Justification, in that Way that had been explained and defended; And at that Time, while I was greatly reproached for defending this Doctrine in the Pulpit, and just upon my suffering a very open Abuse for it, God's Work wonderfully brake forth a­mongst us, and Souls began to flock to Christ, as the Sa­viour in whose Righteousness alone they hoped to be justi­fied: So that this was the Doctrine on which this Work in its Beginning was [...]ounded, as it evidently was in the whole progress of it.

A great Objection that is made against the old Pro­testant Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, and the [Page iii] Scheme of those Divines that have chiefly defended it, by those that value themselves upon the new fashion'd Divi­nity, is, That the Scheme is too much incumber'd with spe­culative Niceties, and subtil Distinctions, that, they say, serve only to involve the Subject in endless Controversy and Dispute; whereas, their Scheme, they suppose, is a plain, easy, and natural Account of Things. But their Prejudice against Distinctions in Divinity, I hum­bly conceive, is carried to a great Extreme. So great, and general, and loud a cry has been raised by modern Phi­losophers and Divines, against the subtil Distinctions of the Schoolmen, for their learned Impertinence, that many are ready to start at any Thing that looks like nice Distinction, and to condemn it for Nonsense without Ex­amination. Upon the same Account, we might expect to have St. Paul's Epistles, that are full of very nice Distincti­ons, called Nonsense, and unintelligible Jargon, had not they the good Luck, to be universally received by all Christians, as part of the holy Scriptures.

Our discovering the Absurdity of the impertinent and abstruse Distinctions of the School Divines, may justly give us a Distaste of such Distinctions as have a S [...]ew of Learning in obscure Words, but convey no Light to the Mind; but I can see no Reason why we should also dis­card those that are clear and rational, and can be made out to have their Foundation in Truth; and that altho' they may be such as require some Diligence & Attention of Mind clearly to apprehended them. So much of the Scripture Scheme of Justification as is absolutely necessary to Salva­tion, may be very plain and level with the Understand­ings of the weakest Christians; but it does not therefore follow that the Scripture teaches us no more about it, that it would be exceeding profitable for us to know, and by gaining the Knowledge of which, we may obtain a more full a [...] clear understanding of this Doctrine, and be bet­ter able to solve Doubts that may arise concerning it, and to defend it from the Sophistry & Cavils of subtil Opposers.

'Tis so in most of the great Doctrines of Christianity, that are looked upon as first Principles of the Christian [Page iv] Faith, that tho' they contain something that is easy, yet they also contain great Mysteries, and there is room for Progress in the Knowledge of them, and doubtless will be to the End of the World; but 'tis unreasonable to expect that this Progress should be made, in the Knowledge of Things that are high and mysterious, without accurate Distinction, and close Application of Thought: And 'tis also unreasonable to think that this Doctrine of the Justification of a Sinner by a Mediator, should be without Mysteries. We all own it to be a Matter of pure Reve­lation, above the Light of natural Reason, and that 'tis what the infinite Wisdom of God reveal'd in the Gospel mainly appears in, That he hath found out such a Way of Reconciliation, that neither Men nor Angels could have thought of. And after all, shall we expect that this Way when found out and declared, shall contain no­thing but what is obvious to the most cursory and super­ficial View, and may be fully and clearly comprehended without some Diligence, Accuracy, & careful Distinction?

It the Distinctions I have made use of in handling this Subject are found to be inconsistent, trivial, and unscrip­tural Niceties, tending only to cloud the Subject, I ought to be willing that they should be rejected; but if on due Examination they are found both scriptural & rational, I humbly conceive that it will be unjust to condemn them, meerly because they are Distinctions, under a Notion that Niceness in Divinity never helps it, but always perplexes and darkens it. 'Tis to God's own Revelation that I make my Appeal, by which alone we can know in what Way he will be pleased again to receive into Favour, those that have offended him, and incur'd his Displeasure. If there be any Part of the Scheme here laid down, or any Distinction here made use of, not warranted by Scripture, let it be rejected; and if any opposite Scheme can be found that is more easy and plain, having fewer and more ra­tional Distinctions, and not demonstrably inconsistent with it self, and with the Word of God, let it be received. Let the Arminian Scheme of Justification by our own Vertue, he as plain and natural as it will, if at the same Time 'tis plainly contrary to the certain & demonstrable Doctrine [Page v] of the Gospel, as contained in the Scriptures, we are bound to reject it, unless we reject the Scriptures themselves, as perplexed and absurd, and make our selves wiser than God, and pretend to know his Mind better than Himself.

This Discourse on Justification is printed much larger than it was preached; but the practical Discourses that follow have but little added to them, and now appear in that very plain and unpolished Dress, in which they were first prepared and delivered; which was mostly at a Time, when the Circumstances of the Auditory they were preached to, were enough to make a Minister neglect, forget, and despise such Ornaments as Politeness, & Modishness of Style and Method, when coming as a Messenger from God to Souls, deeply impress'd with a Sense of their Danger of God's everlasting Wrath, to treat with them about their eternal Salvation.—However unable I am to preach or write po­litely, if I would, yet I have this to comfort me under such a Defect, that God has shewed us that he don't need such Talents in Men to carry on his own Work, and that he has been pleased to smile upon and bless a very plain, un­fashionable Way of Preaching. And have we not Reason to think that it ever has been, and ever will be, God's Man­ner to bless the Foolishness of Preaching to save them that beleive, let the Elegance of Language, and Excellency of Style, be carried to never so great a Height, by the Learn­ing and Wit of the present and future Ages?

What is published at the End, concerning the Excellency of Christ, is added on my own Motion; thinking that a Discourse on such an evangelical Subject, would properly follow others that were chiefly legal and awakening, and that something of the Excellency of the Saviour, was pro­per to succeed those Things that were to shew the Necessity of Salvation. I pitched upon that particular Discourse, partly, because I had been earnestly importun'd for a Copy of it for the Press, by some in another Town, in whose hearing it was occasionally preached.

I request every Reader's candid Acceptance, and due Improvement of what is here offered, and especially would earnestly beseech the People of my own Charge, not to fail of improving those Discourses to those Purposes that they [Page vi] have mentioned to me as the Ends for which they desired to have them published, that I may have no cause to re­pent of my Labour in transcribing, nor they of their Cost in printing them▪ Happy would it be for us, and an un­speakable Mercy of Heaven, if God should bless what is here printed, so to revive the Memory of the past great Work of God amongst us, and the lively Impressions and Sense of divine Things that Persons then had on their Minds, and to cause us to lament our Declensions, as that the same Work might renewedly break forth and go on a­mongst us! Surely we have seen much to excite our Long­ings after such a Mercy, and to encourage us to cry to God for it!

ERRATA

PAge 10. line 21. for he, read, the Believer. p. 20. l. 20. r. a Person. p. 21. l. 24. r. infinite. p. 34 l. 18. r. Administration. p. 41. l. 11. r. here. p. 46. 1 24. r. proceeding. p. 55. l. 11. r. Christ should suffer. p. 63. l. 9 for them. r. then. p. 68 l. 35. r. nature. p. 70. l. 15. r. broke. p. 88. l. 30. for because r. that. p. 91 l. 25 r. Graces. p. 98. l. 30. for this r. the. p. 103 l. 5 6, r. worthiness. ibid. l. 11. for. and he be freed, r. that he might be freed p. 105. l. 30. dele, it is. p 107. l. 15 r. refutes. p. 110 l. 18. for should. r. shall. p. 115. l. 31. dele they. p. 119. l. 27. dele that. p. 132. l. 5. dele of. p 133 l 6. r. and actually. p. 205. l. 13. dele what. p. 209 l. 6. r. your own. p. 216. l. 18. r. call'd p. 225. l. 34 r. were no Hope. p. 253. l. 12. r. contemning. p. 254 l. 1, 2, for Heb. 6. 15. After he had patiently endured he obtained the Promise, r. Heb. 12. 2 He endured the Cross, despising the shame. p. 262. l. 31. dele same.

N. B. The Reader is desired to observe that by means of the wrong placing of something sent to be added, after the Copy of these Discourses was gone to the Press, the two last Paragraphs p. 81. are out of their proper Place, much to the Hurt of the Sense, and should follow the Paragraph, p. 78. wherein is mention made of David's Repentance of his Sin in the matter of Uriah.

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JUSTIFICATION BY Faith alone.
DISCOURSE, I.

ROMANS IV. 5.But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his Faith is counted for Righteousness.

THE following Things may be noted in this Verse; 1. That Justification re­spects a Man as ungodly: This is evi­dent by those Words—that justifieth the Ungodly. Which Words can't im­ply less than that God in the Act of Justification, has no Regard to any Thing in the Person justified, as Godli­ness, or any Goodness in him; but that nextly, or imme­diately before this Act, God beholds him only as an un­godly or wicked Creature; so that Godliness in the Per­son [Page 2] to be justified is not so antecedent to his Justification as to be the Ground of it. When it is said that God justifies the Ungodly, 'tis as absurd to suppose that our Godliness, taken as some Goodness in us, is the Ground of our Justification, as when it is said that Christ gave Sight to the Blind, to suppose that Sight was Prior to, and the Ground of that Act of Mercy in Christ, or as if it should be said that such an One by his Bounty has made a poor Man rich, to suppose that it was the Wealth of this poor Man that was the Ground of this Bounty to­wards him, and was the Price by which it was procured.

2. It appears that by him that worketh not in this Verse, is not meant only one that don't conform to the cere­monial Law, because he that worketh not, and the Ungod­ly are evidently synonimous Expressions, or what signify the same; it appears by the Manner of their Connection; if it ben't so, to what Purpose is the latter Expression the Ungodly brought in? The Context gives no other Occasion for it, but only to shew that the Grace of the Gospel appears in that God in Justification has no Re­gard to any Godliness of ours: The foregoing Verse is, Now to him that worketh is the Reward not reckon'd of Grace, but of Debt: In that Verse 'tis evident, that Gos­pel Grace consists in the Rewards being given without Works; & in this Verse which nextly follows it & in Sense is connected with it, 'tis evident that Gospel Grace con­sists in a Man's being justified that is ungodly; by which it is most plain that by him that worketh not, and him that is ungodly, are meant the same Thing; and that therefore not only Works of the ceremonial Law are ex­cluded in this Business of Justification, but Works of Morality and Godliness.

3. 'Tis evident in the Words, that by that Faith that is here spoken of, by which we are justified, is not meant the same Thing as a Course of Obedience, or Righteous­ness, by the Expression, by which this Faith is here deno­ted, viz believing on him that justifies the Ungodly—They that oppose the Solifidians, as they call them, do greatly insist on it, that we should take the Words of Scripture concerning this Doctrine, in their most natural [Page 3] and obvious Meaning; and how do they cry out of our clouding this Doctrine with obscure Metaphors, and un­intelligible Figures of Speech! But is this to interpret Scripture according to it's most obvious Meaning, when the Scripture speaks of our believing on him that justifies the Ungodly, or the Breakers of his Law, to say that the Meaning of it is performing a Course of Obedience to his Law, and avoiding the Breaches of it? Believing on God as a Justifier, certainly is a different Thing from submitting to God as a Lawgiver; especially a believing on him as a Justifier of the Ungodly, or Rebels against the Lawgiver.

4. 'Tis evident that the Subject of Justification is look'd upon as destitute of any Righteousness in himself, by that Expression, it is counted, or imputed to him for Righteousness; the Phrase, as the Apostle uses it here, and in the Context, manifestly imports, that God of his sovereign Grace is pleased in his Dealings with the Sin­ner, to take and regard, that which indeed is not Righ­teousness, and in one that has no Righteousness, so that the Consequence shall be the same as if he had Righteous­ness; (which may be from the Respect that it bears to some thing that is indeed Righteousness.) 'Tis plain that this is the force of the Expression in the preceeding Verses: In the last Verse but one, 'tis manifest that the Apostle lays the Stress of his Argument for the free Grace of God, from that Text that he cites out of the old Testa­ment about Abraham, on that Word counted or imputed, and that this is the Thing that he supposed God to shew his Grace in, viz in his counting something for Righte­ousness, in his consequential Dealings with Abraham, that was no Righteousness in itself. And in the next Verse which immediately preceeds the Text, Now to him that worketh is the Reward not reckoned of Grace, but of Debt; the Word there translated reckoned, is the same that in the other Verses is render'd imputed, and counted: And 'tis as much as if the Apostle had said, ‘As to him that works, there is no need of any gracious Reckoning, or counting it for Righteousness, and causing the Reward to follow as if it were a Righteousness; for [Page 4] if he has Works he has that which is a Righteousness in itself, to which the Reward properly belongs.’ This is further evident by the Words that follow, Ver. 6. Even as David also described the Blessedness of the Man unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without Works; what can here b [...] meant by imputing Righteousness without Works, but imputing Righteousness to him that has none of his own? Ver. 7, 8. Saying blessed are they whose Iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: Blessed is the Man to whom the Lord will not impute Sin. How are these Words of David to the Apostle's Purpose? Or how do they prove any such Thing, as that Righte­ousness is imputed without Works, unless it be because the Word imputed is used, and the Subject of the Impu­tation is mentioned, as a Sinner▪ & consequently destitute of a moral Righteousness? For David says no such Thing, as that he is forgiven without the Works of the Ceremo­nial Law; there is no Hint of the ceremonial Law, or Reference to it, in the Words. I will therefore venture to infer this Doctrine from the Words, for the Subject of my present Discourse, viz.

DOCTRINE, We are justified only by Faith in Christ, and not by any Manner of Vertue or Goodness of our own.

Such an Assertion as this, I am sensible, many would be ready to cry out of as absurd, betraying a great deal of Ignorance, and containing much Inconsistence; but I desire every One's Patience 'till I have done.

In handling this Doctrine I would

  • I. Explain the Meaning of it, and shew how I would be understood by such an Assertion.
  • II. Proceed to the Consideration of the Evidence of the Truth of it.
  • [Page 5] III. Shew how evangelical Obedience is concern'd in this Affair.
  • IV. Answer Objections.
  • V. Consider the Importance of the Doctrine.

I. I would explain the Meaning of the Doctrine, or shew in what Sense I assert it, and would endeavour to e­vince the Truth of it: Which may be done in Answer to these two Enquiries, viz. 1. What is meant by being justified? 2. What is meant when it is said that this is by Faith alone, without any Manner of Vertue or Goodness of our own?

First. I would shew what Justification is, or what I suppose is meant in Scripture by being justified. And here I would not at all enlarge, and therefore to answer in short.

A Person is said to be justified when he is approved of God as free from the Guilt of Sin, and it's deserved Punishment, and as having that Righteousness belonging to him that entitles to the Reward of Life. That we should take the Word in such a Sense, and understand it as the Judges accepting a Person as having both a nega­tive, and positive Righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore, as not only quit, or free from any Obligation to Punishment but also [...]s just and righ­teous, and so entitled to a positive Reward, is not only most agreable to the Etimology, and natural Import of the Word, which signifies to make righteous, or to pass One for righteous in Judgment, but also manifestly a­greable to the Force of the Word, as used in Scripture.

Some suppose that nothing more is intended in Scrip­ture by Justification than barely the Remission of Sins: if it be so it is very strange, if we consider the Nature of the Case; for 'tis most evident, and none will deny, that it is with Respect to the Rule, or Law of God that we are under, that we are said in Scripture to be either justified or condemned: Now what is it to justify a Per­son, as the Subject of a Law or Rule, but to judge him, [Page 6] or look upon him, and approve him as standing right with Respect to that Rule? To justify a Person in a par­ticular Case, is to approve of him as standing right, as subject to the Law or Rule in that Case; and to justify in general, is to pass him in Judgment, as standing right, in a State correspondent to the Law or Rule in general. But certainly in order to a Person's being looked on as standing right with Respect to the Rule in general, [...] or in a State corresponding with the Law of God, more is needful than what is negative, or a not having the Guilt of Sin; for whatever that Law is, whether a new one, or an old one, yet doubtless something positive is needed in order to its being answered. We are no more justified by the Voice of the Law, or of him that judges according to it, by a meer Pardon of Sin, than Adam our first Sure­ty, was justified by the Law, at the first Point of his Ex­istence, before he had done the Work, or fulfilled the Obedience of the Law, or had had so much as any Trial whether he would fulfil it or no. If Adam had finished his Course of perfect Obedience, he would have been justified; and certainly his Justification would have im­plied something more than what is meerly negative; he would have been approved of, as having fulfilled the Righteousness of the Law, and accordingly would have been adjudged to the Reward of it: So Christ our second Surety, (in whose Justification all who believe in him, and whose Surety he is, are vertually justified,) was not justified 'till he had done the Work the Father had ap­pointed him, and kept the Father's Commandments, thro' all Trials, and then in his Resurrection he was justified: When he that had been put to Death in the Flesh was quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet. 3. 18 then he that was ma­nifest in the Flesh was justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3. 16. But God when he justified him in raising him from the Dead, did not only release him from his Humiliation for Sin, and acquit him from any further Suffering or A­basement for it, but admitted him to that eternal and immortal Life, and to the Beginning of that Exaltation, that was the Reward of what he had done. And indeed the Justification of a Believer is no other than his being [Page 7] admitted to Communion in▪ or Participation of the Jus­tification of this Head and Surety of all Believers; for as Christ suffered the Punishment of Sin, not as a private Person, but as our Surety, so when after this Suffering he was raised from the Dead, he was therein justified, not as a private Person, but as the Surety and Repre­sentative of all that should believe in him; so that he was raised again not only for his own, but also for our Justification, according to the Apostle Rom. 4 25. Who was delivered for our Offences, and raised again for our Justification. And therefore it is that the Apostle says as he does in Rom. 8. 34. Who is he that condemneth, it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again.

But that a Believer's Justification implies not only Remission of Sins, or Acquittance from the Wrath due to it, but also an Admittance to a Title to that Glory that is the Reward of Righteousness, is more directly taught in the Scripture, as particularly in Rom. 5. 1, 2. where the Apostle mentions both these, as joint Benefits implied in Justification, Therefore being justified by Faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have Access into this Grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in Hope of the Glory of God. So Remission of Sins, and Inheritance among them that are sanctified, are mentioned together as what are jointly ob­tained by Faith in Christ, Acts 26. 18. That they may receive Forgiveness of Sins, and Inheritance among them that are sanctified, through Faith that is in me. Both these are without Doubt implied in that passing from Death to Life, which Christ speaks of as the Fruit of Faith, and which he opposes to Condemnation, John. 5. 24 Verily I say unto you, he that heareth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation, but is passed from Death to Life. I proceed now

Secondly. To shew what is meant when it is said that this Justification is by Faith only, and not by any Vertue or Goodness of our own.

This enquiry may be subdivided into two, viz 1. How 'tis by Faith. 2. How 'tis by Faith alone, without any Manner of Goodness of ours.

[Page 8] 1. How Justification is by Faith. Here the great Diffi­culty has been about the Import and Force of the Particle BY, or what is that Influence that Faith has in the Affair of Justification that is expressed in Scripture by be­ing justified BY Faith.

Here, if I may humbly express what seems evident to me, tho' Faith be indeed the Condition of Justification so as nothing else is, yet this Matter is not clearly and suf­ficiently explained by saying that Faith is the Condition of Justification; and that because the Word seems am­biguous, both in common Use, and also as used in Divini­ty: in one Sense Christ alone performs the Condition of our Justification and Salvation; in another Sense, Faith is the Condition of Justification; in another Sense, other Qualifications and Acts are Conditions of Salvation and Justification too: there seems to be a great deal of ambiguity in such Expressions as are commonly used, (which yet we are forced to use,) such as Condition of Salvation, what is required in order to Salvation or Justi­fication; the Terms of the Covenant, and the like; and I believe they are understood in very different Senses by different Persons. And besides as the Word Condition is very often understood in the common use of Language, Faith is not the only Thing, in us, that is the Condition of Justification; for by the Word Condition, as 'tis very often, (and perhaps most commonly,) used; we mean a­ny thing that may have the Place of a Condition in a conditional Proposition, and as such is truly connected with the Consequent, especially if the Proposition holds both in the Affirmative and Negative, as the Condition is either affirmed or denied; if it be that with which, or which being supposed, a thing shall be, and without which, or it being denied, a Thing shall not be, we in such a Case call it a Condition of that Thing: But in this Sense Faith is not the only Condition of Salvation or Justification, for there are many Things that accom­pany and flow from Faith, that are Things with which Justification shall be, and without which it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in Scripture in condi­tional Propositions with Justification and Salvation. in [Page 9] Multitudes of Places; such are Love to God, and Love to our Brethren, forgiving Men their Trespasses, and many other good Qualifications and Acts. And there are ma­ny other Things besides Faith, which are directly pro­posed to us, to be pursued or performed by us, in or­der to eternal Life, as those which if they are done, or obtain'd we shall have eternal Life, & if not done or not obtain'd, we shall surely perish. And if it were so, that Faith was the only Condition of Justification in this Sense, yet I don't apprehend that to say that Faith was the Condition of Justification, would express the Sense of that Phrase of Scripture of being Justified BY Faith: there is a Difference between being justified by a Thing, and that Thing universally, and necessarily, and insepa­rably attending, or going with Justification; for so do a great many Things that we ben't said to be justified by: it is not the inseparable connection with justifica­tion that the Holy Ghost would signify, (or that is naturally signified,) by such a Phrase, but some particu­lar influence that Faith has in the Affair, or some certain Dependance that that Effect has on its Influence.

Some that have been aware of this have supposed that the influence or dependance might well be ex­pressed by Faith's being the Instrument of our Justifi­cation; which has been misunderstood, and injurious­ly represented, and ridiculed by those that have deni­ed the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, as tho' they had supposed that Faith was used as an Instru­ment in the Hand of God, whereby he performed, and brought to pass that Act of his, viz. Approving and Justifying the Believer: Whereas it was not intend­ed that Faith was the Instrument wherewith God jus­tifies, but the Instrument wherewith we receive Justifi­cation; not the Instrument where with the justifier acts in Justifying, but wherewith the receiver of Justification acts in accepting Justification. But yet it must be own'd that this is an obscure way of Speaking, and there must certainly be some impropriety in calling of it an Instrument wherewith we receive or accept Justification; for the very Persons that thus explain the Matter speak [Page 10] of Faith as being the Reception or Acceptance it self; and if so how can it be the Instrument of Reception or Acceptance? Certainly there is difference between the Act and the Instrument. And besides by their own Descriptions of Faith, Christ the Mediator, by whom, and his Righteousness, by which we are justified, is more di­rectly the Object of this Acceptance, and Justification which is the Benefit arising therefrom, more indirectly: and therefore if Faith be an Instrument, 'tis more pro­perly the Instrument by which we receive Christ, than the Instrument by which we receive Justification.

But I humbly conceive we have been ready to look too far to find out what that Influence of Faith in our Justification is, or what is that Dependance of this Ef­fect on Faith, signified by the Expression of being jus­tified by Faith, over looking that which is most obvi­ously pointed forth in the Expression, viz. that, the Case being as it is, (there being a Mediator that has purchased Justification,) Faith in this Mediator is that which renders i [...] a meet and suitable Thing, in the Sight of God, that he rather than others should have this pur­chased Benefit assigned to him. There is this Benefit purchased, which God sees it to be a more meet and suitable Thing that it should be assigned to some than others, because he sees 'em differently qualified; that qualification wherein the meetness to this Benefit, as the Case stands consists, is that, in us, by which we are Jus­tified If Christ had not come into the World and died, &c. to purchase Justification, no Qualification what­ever, in us, could render it a meet or fit Thing that we should be justified; but the Case being as it now stands, viz that Christ has actually purchased Justification by his own Blood, for infinitely unworthy Creatures, there may be some certain Qualification found in some Persons, that, either from the Relation it bears to the Media­tor and his Merits, or on some other Account, is the Thing that in the Sight of God renders it a meet & condecent Thing that they should have an interest in this purchased Benefit, and which if any are destitute of, it renders it an unfit & unsuitable Thing that they should have it. The [Page 11] Wisdom of God in his Constitutions, doubtless appears much in the Fitness and Beauty of them, so that those Things are established to be done that are fit to be done, and that these Things are connected in his Constitution, that are agreable one to another: so God justifies a Believer according to his revealed Constitution, without doubt, because he sees something in this Qualification, that as the Case stands, renders it a fit Thing that such should be justified; whether it be because Faith is the Instru­ment, or as it were the Hand, by which he that has purchased Justification is apprehended and accepted, or because it is the Acceptance it self, or whatever. To be justified is to be approved of God as a proper Subject of Pardon, and a right to eternal life; and therefore when it is said that we are Justified BY Faith, what else can be understood by it than that Faith is that BY which we are render'd approvable, fitly so, and indeed, as the Case stands, proper Subjects of this Benefit?

This is something different from Faith's being the Condition of Justification, only so as to be inseparably connected with Justification; so are many other Things besides Faith, and yet nothing in us, but Faith, renders it meet that we should have Justification as­signed to us; as I shall presently shew how, in answer to the next Enq [...]ry, viz.

2. How this is said to be by Faith alone, without a­ny manner of Vertue or Goodness of our own. This may seem to some to be attended with two difficulties, viz. How this can be said to be by Faith alone, without any Vertue or Goodness of ours, when Faith it self is a Vertue, and one Part of our Goodness, and is not only some manner of goodness of ours, but is a very excel­lent Qualification, and one chief Part of the inherent Holiness of a Christian? And if it be a part of our in­herent Goodness or Excellency, (whether it be this Part or any other,) that renders it a condecent or congruous Thing that we should have this Benefit of Christ as­signed to us, what this is less than what they mean that talk of a Merit of Congruity? And moreover, if this Part of our Christian Holiness qualifies us in the Sight of [Page 12] God, for this Benefit of Christ, and renders it a fit or meet Thing, in his Sight, that we should have it, why should not other Parts of Holiness, and Conformity to God, which are also very excellent, & have as much of the Image of Christ in them, and are no less lovely in God's Eyes, qualify us as much, and have as much Influence to render us meet, in God's Sight, for such a Benefit as this? Therefore I answer,

When it is said that we are not justified by any Righteousness or Goodness of our own, what is meant is that it is not out of Respect to the Excellent or Goodness of any Qualifications, or Acts, in us whatsoever, that God judges it meet that this Benefit of Christ should be ours; and it is not, in any wise, on Account of any Excellency, or Value that there [...] in Faith, that it appears, in the Sight of God, a me [...] Thing, that [...] [...]hat believes should have this Benefit [...] Christ assigned to him, but purely from the Relation Faith has to the Person in whom this Benefit is to be had, or as it unites to that Mediator, in and by whom we are justified. Here for the greater Clearness, I would particularly explain my self under several Pro­positions.

1. It is certain that there is some Union or Rela­tion that the People of Christ, stand in to him, that is expressed in Scripture, from time to time, by being in Christ, and is represented frequently by those Metaphors of being Members of Christ, or being united to him as Members to the Head, and Branches to the Stock,* [Page 13] and is compared to a Marriage Union between Husband and Wife. I don't now pretend to determine of what Sort this Union is; nor is it necessary to my present Purpose to enter into any Manner of Disputes about it: if any are disgusted at the Word Union, as ob­scure and unintelligible, the Word Relation equally serves my Purpose; I don't now desire to determine any more about it, than all, of all Sorts, will readi­ly allow, viz that there is a peculiar Relation be­tween true Christians and Christ, or a certain Relati­on between him and them, that there is not between him and others; which is signified by those metaphori­cal Expressions in Scripture, of being in Christ, being Members of Christ, &c.

2. This Relation or Union to Christ, whereby Christians are said to be in Christ, (whatever it be,) is the Ground of their Right to his Benefits. This needs no Proof; the Reason of the Thing, at first Blush, demonstrates it: but yet 'tis exceeding evident also by Scripture, 1 John 5. 12. He that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son hath not Life. 1 Cor. 1. 3. Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us—Righteousness. First we must be in him, and then he will be made Righteousness, or Justification to us. Eph. 1. 6. Who hath made us ac­cepted [Page 14] in the Beloved. Our being in him is the Ground of our being accepted. So it is in those Unions which the Holy Ghost has thought fit to compare this Union to; the Union of the Members of the Body with the Head is the Ground of their partaking of the Life of the Head; 'tis the Union of the Branches to the Stock, which is the Ground of their partaking of the Sap & Life of the Stock; 'tis the Relation of the Wife to the Husband, that is the Ground of her joynt Interest in his Estate, they are looked upon, in several Respects, as one in Law: so there is a legal Union between Christ and true Christians; so that (as all except Socinians allow,) one, in some respects, is accepted for the other, by the su­preme Judge.

3. And thus it is that Faith is that Qualification in any Person, that renders it meet in the Sight of God that he should be looked upon as having Christ's Satis­faction and Righteousness belonging to him, viz. be­cause it is that in him, which, on his Part, makes up this Union between him and Christ. By what has been just now observed, 'tis a Person's being, according to Scripture Phrase, in Christ, that is the Ground of hav­ing his Satisfaction and Merits belonging to him, and a Right to the Benefits procured thereby: and the Rea­son of it is plain; 'tis easy to see how a having Christ's Merits and Benefits belonging to us, follows from our having (if I may so speak) Christ himself belonging to us, or a being united to him; and if so it must also be easy to see how, or in what Manner, that, in a Person, that on his Part makes up the Union between his Soul & Christ, should be the Thing on the Account of which God looks on it meet that he should have Christ's Merits belonging to him; and also that it is a very different Thing, for God to assign to a particular Person, a Right to Christ's Merits and Benefits, from Regard to any Qua­lification in him, in this Respect, from his doing of it for him, out of Respect to the Value or Loveliness of that Qualification, or as a Reward of the Excellency of it.

As there is no Body but what will allow that there is a peculiar Relation between Christ & his true Disciples, [Page 15] by which they are in some sense in scripture said to be one; so I suppose there is no Body but what will al­low, that there may be something that the true Christi­an does on his Part, whereby he is active in coming into this Relation or Union, some Act of the Soul of the Christian, that is the Christian's uniting Act, or that which is done towards this Union or Relation, (or whatever any please to call it,) [...] the Christian's Part: Now Faith I suppose to be this Act

I don't now pretend to define justifying Faith, or to determine precisely how much is contain'd in it, but only to determine thus much concerning it, viz. That it is that by which the Soul, that before was seperate, and alienated from Christ, unites it self to him, or ceases to be any longer in that State of Alienation, and comes into that sore mention'd Union or Relation to him, or to use the Scripture Phrase, that 'tis that by which the Soul COMES TO Christ, and RECEIVES him: and this is evident by the Scriptures using these very Expressi­ons to signify Faith. John 6▪ 35, 36, 37, 38, 39▪ He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you that ye al­so have seen me and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; For I came down from Hea­ven, not to do mine own Will, but the Will of him that sent me ver. 40. And this is the Will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting Life, and I will raise him up at the last Day. Chap. 5▪ 38, 39, 40.—Whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures for—they are they which testify of me: And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have Life ver. 43, 44. I am come in my Fathers name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own Name him ye will re­ceive How can ye believe which receive honour one of another—? Chap. 5▪ 12. But as many as received him, to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his Name. If it be said that these are obscure figures of Speech, that, however [Page 16] they might be well understood of Old, among those that then commonly used such Metaphors, yet they are difficultly understood now. I allow that the Expressions of receiving Christ and coming to Christ, are metapho­rical Expressions; and if I should allow 'em to be ob­scure Metaphors; yet so much at least, is certainly plain in 'em, viz. that Faith is that by which those that before were seperated, and at a distance from Christ, (that is to say were not so related and united to him as his People are;) do cease to be any longer at such a Distance, and do come into that Relation and near­ness; unless they are so unintelligible, that nothing at all can be understood by 'em.

God don't give those that believe, an Union with, or an interest in the Saviour, in reward for Faith, but only because Faith is the Soul's active uniting with Christ, or is it self the very act of Unition, on their Part. God sees it fit, that in order to an Union's be­ing established between two intelligent active Beings or Persons, so as that they should be looked upon as one, there should be the mutual Act of both, that each should receive other, as actively joining themselves one to another. God in requiring this in order to an union with Christ as one of his People, treats Men as reasonable Creatures, capable of Act, and Choice; and hence sees it fit that they only, that are one with Christ by their own Act, should be looked upon as one in Law: what is real in the Union betwen Christ and his People, is the Foundation of what is legal; that is, it is something that is really in them, & between them, uniting them, that is the Ground of the Suitableness of their being accounted as one by the Judge: And if there be any Act, or Qualification in Believers, that is of that uniting Nature, that it is meet on that Account that the Judge should look upon 'em, and accept 'em as one, no wonder that upon the Account of the same Act or Qualification, he should accept the Satisfaction and Merits of the one, for the other, as if it were their Satisfaction and Merits: It necessarily follows, or ra­ther is implied.

[Page 17] And thus it is that Faith justifies, or gives an Interest in Christ's Satisfaction and Merits, and a Right to the Benefits procured thereby, viz. as it thus makes Christ and the Believer one in the Acceptance of the supreme Judge. 'Tis by Faith that we have a Title to eter­nal Life, because, tis by Faith that we have the Son of God, by whom Life is. The Apostle John in those Words, 1 John 5. 12. He that hath the son hath Life, seems evidently to have respect to those Words of Christ that he gives an Account of in his Gospel, Chap. 3. 36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting Life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see Life. And in the same Places that the Scripture speaks of Faith as the Soul's receiving, or coming to Christ, it also speaks of this re­ceiving, or coming to, or joyning with Christ, as the Ground of an Interest in his Benefits: To as many as received him, to them gave he Power to become the Sons of God. Ye will not come unto me that ye might have Life, And there is a wide Difference between its being look­ed on suitable that Christ's Satisfaction and Merits should be theirs that believe, because an Interest in that Satis­faction and Merit is but a fit Reward of Faith, or a sui­table Testimony of God's Respect to the Amiableness and Excellency of that Grace, and it's only being look­ed on suitable that Christ's Satisfaction and Merits should be theirs, because Christ and they are so united, that in the Eyes of the Judge they may suitably be look­ed upon, and taken, as one.

Altho', on the Account of Faith in the Believer, it is, in the Sight of God, fit and congruous, both that he that believes should be looked upon as in Christ, and also as having an Interest in his Merits, in the way that has been now explain'd, yet it appears that this is very wide from a merit of Congruity, or indeed any moral Congruity at all to either. There is a twofold Fitness to a State; I know not how to give them distinguishing Names o­therwise than by calling the one a moral, and the other a natural Fitness: A Person has a moral Fitness for a State, when his moral Excellency commends him to it, or when his being put into such a good State, is but a fit or sui­table [Page 18] Testimony of Regard or Love to the moral Excel­lency, or Value, or Amiableness of any of his Qualifica­tions or Acts. A Person has a natural Fitness for a State when it appears meet and condecent that he should be in such a State or Circumstances, only from the natural con­cord or agreableness there is between such Qualificati­ons and such Circumstances; not because the Qualifi­cations are lovely or unlovely, but only because the Qualifications, and the Circumstances are like one another, or do in their nature suit and agree or unite one to ano­ther. And 'tis on this latter Account only that God looks on it fit by a natural Fitness, that he whose Heart sincerely unites it self to Christ as his Saviour, should be looked upon as united to that Saviour, and so having an Interest in him; and not from any moral Fitness there is between the excellency of such a Qualification as Faith, and such a glorious Blessedness as the having an Interest in Christ. God's bestowing Christ and his Benefits on a Soul in consequence of Faith, out of Regard only to the natural Concord there is between such a Qualification of a Soul, and such an union with Christ, and Interest in him, makes the Case very widely different from what would be; if he bestowed this from regard to any moral Suitableness; for in the former Case, 'tis only from God's Love of order that he bestows these Things on the account of Faith. In the latter God doth it out of Love to the Grace of Faith it self. God will neither look on Christ's Merits as ours, nor adjudge his Bene­fits to us, till we be in Christ: nor will he look upon us as being in him, without an active unition of our Hearts and Souls to him; because he is a wise Being, and delights in Order, and not in Confusion, and that Things should be together or asunder according to their nature; and his making such a Constitution is a testimo­ny of his love of Order: whereas if it were out of re­gard to any moral Fitness or suitableness between Faith and such Blessedness, it would be a Testimony of his Love to the Act or Qualification it self: The one sup­poses this divine Constitution to be a Manifestation of God's regard to the Beauty of the act of Faith, the o­ther [Page 19] only supposes it to be a Manifestation of his regard to the Beauty of that Order that there is in uniting those Things that have a natural Agreement, and con­gruity, and unition the one with the other. Indeed a mo­ral Suitableness or Fitness to a State includes a natural; for 'tis never so that if there be a moral Suitableness that a Person should be in such a State, but that there is also a natural Suitableness; but such a natural Suitableness as I have described, by no means necessarily includes a moral.

This is plainly what our Divines intend when they say that Faith don't justify as a Work, or a Righteousness, viz. That it don't justify as a Part of our moral Goodness or Excellency, or that it don't justify as a Work, in the Sense that Man was to have been justified by his Works by the Covenant of Works, which was to have a Title to eternal Life, given him of God in Testimony of his pleas­edness with his Works, or his regard to the inherent Excellency and Beauty of his Obedience. And this is certainly what the Apostle Paul means, when he so much insists upon it that we are not justified by works, viz. that we are not justified by them as good Works, or by any good­ness, value, or excellency of our Works. For the proof of this I shall at present mention but one Thing, (being like to have occasion to say what shall make it more a­bundantly manifest afterwards,) and that is, the Apos­tles, from Time to Time, speaking of our not being jus­tified by Works, as the Thing that excludes all boasting, Eph. 2 9. Rom 3. 27. and Chap. 4. 2. now which way do Works give occasion for boasting, but as good? What do Men use to boast of, but of something they suppose good or excellent? And on what Account do they boast of any Thing, but for the supposed Excellency that is in it?

From these Things we may learn in what manner Faith is the only Condition of Justification and Salvati­on; for tho' it be not the only Condition, so as alone tru­ly to have the Place of a Condition in an hypothetical Proposition, in which Justification and Salvation are the Consequent, yet it is the Condition of Justification in a [Page 20] Manner peculiar to it, and so that nothing else has a parallel Influence with it; because Faith includes the whole Act of Unition to Christ as a Saviour: The en­tire active uniting of the Soul, or the whole of what is called coming to Christ, and receiving of him, is called Faith in Scripture; and however other Things may be no less excellent than Faith, yet 'tis not the nature of any o­ther Graces or Vertues directly to close with Christ as a Me­diator, any further than they enter into the Constitution of justifying Faith, and do belong to its Nature.

Thus I have explained my meaning, in asserting it as a Doctrine of the Gospel, that we are justified by Faith only, without any manner of Goodness of our own.

I now proceed in the

II. Place, to the Proof of it, which I shall endea­vour to produce in the following Arguments,

First Such is our Case, and the State of Things, that neither Faith, nor any other Qualification, or Act, or Course of Acts does, or can render it suitable or fit that Person should have an Interest in the Saviour, and so a Title to his Benefits, on Account of any excellency therein, or any other way than only as something in him may unite him to the Saviour. It is not suitable that God should give fallen Man an Interest in Christ and his Me­rits, as a Testimony of his respect to any Thing what­soever as a loveliness in him; and that because 'tis not meet till a Sinner is actually justified, that any Thing in him should be accepted of God, as any excellency or a­miableness of his Person; or that God by any Act, should in any manner or degree testify any pleasedness with him, or favour towards him, on the account of any Thing inherent in him; and that for two Reasons, 1. Because the nature of Things will not admit of it. 2. Because an antecedent divine Constitution stands in the way of it.

1. The Nature of Things will not admit of it. And this appears from the infinite Guilt that the Sinner 'till justified is under; which arises from the infinite evil or heinousness of Sin. But because this is what some deny, I would therefore first establish that Point, and shew that [Page 21] Sin is a Thing that is indeed properly of infinite Hei­nousness; and then shew the Consequence, and shew that it being so, and so the Sinner under infinite Guilt in God's Sight, it cannot be suitable, 'till the Sinner is ac­tually justified, that God should by any Act testify any pleasedness with, or acceptance of, any Thing as any ex­cellency or amiableness of his Person, or indeed have any acceptance of him, or pleasedness with him to testify.

That the evil and demerit of Sin is infinitely great, is most demonstrably evident, because what the evil or iniquity of Sin consists in, is the violating of an Obliga­tion, the doing contrary to what we are obliged to do, or doing what we should not do; and therefore by how much the greater the Obligation is that is violated, by so much the greater is the Iniquity of the violation. But certainly our Obligation to love or honour any Be­ing is great in proportion to the greatness or excellency of that Being, or his worthiness to be loved and honour­ed: we are under greater Obligations to love a more lovely Being than a less lovely; and if a Being be infinitely excellent and lovely, our Obligations to love him are therein infinitely great: The matter is so plain it seems needless to say much about it.

Some have argued exceeding strangely against the infi­nite evil of Sin, from its being committed against an in­finite Object, that if so, then it may as well be argued that there is also an infinite value or worthiness in Holi­ness and Love to God, because that also has an infinite Object; Whereas the Argument from parity of Reason will carry it in the reverse: the Sin of the Creature a­gainst God is ill deserving in proportion to the distance there is between [...] God and the Creature, the great­ness of the Object, and the meanness of the Subject aggra­vates it; but 'tis the reverse with regard to the worthi­ness of the respect of the Creature to God. 'tis worthless (and not worthy) in proportion to the meanness of the Subject: so much the greater the Distance between God and the Creature, so much the less is the Creature's re­spect worthy of God's notice or regard. The unwor­thiness of Sin or opposition to God rises, and is great in [Page 22] proportion to the dignity of the Object, & inferiority of the Subject; but on the contrary the worth or value of re­spect rises in proportion to the value of the Subject; and that for this plain Reason, viz. that the evil of disrespect is in proportion to the Obligation that lies upon the Sub­ject to the Object; which Obligation is most evidently encreased by the excellency and superiority of the Ob­ject; but on the contrary the worthiness of respect to a Being is in proportion to the Obligation that lies on him who is the Object, (or rather the Reason he has) to re­gard the Subject, which certainly is in proportion to the Subject's value or excellency. Sin or disrespect is evil or heinous in proportion to the Degree of what it denies in the Object, and as it were takes from it, viz. its ex­cellency and worthiness of respect; On the contrary, respect is valuable in proportion to the value of what is given to the Object in that respect, which undoubtedly, (other Things being equal,) is great in proportion to the Subject's value, or worthiness of regard; because the Subject in giving his Respect, can give no more than himself; so far as he gives his respect he gives himself to the Object; and therefore his gift is of greater or lesser value in proportion to the value of himself.

Hence (by the way,) the Love, Honour, and Obedi­ence of Christ towards God, has infinite Value, from the excellency and dignity of the Person in whom these Qualifications were inherent: and the Reason why we needed a Person of infinite Dignity to obey for us, was because of our infinite comparative Meanness, who had disobeyed, whereby our Disobedience was infinitely ag­gravated: We needed one, the worthiness of whose O­bedience, might be answerable to the unworthiness of our Disobedience; and therefore needed one who was as great and worthy, as we were unworthy.

Another Objection (that perhaps may be thought hardly worth mentioning.) is, that to suppose Sin to be in­finitely heinous is to make all Sins equally heinous; for how can any Sin be more than infinitely heinous? But all that can be argued hence is, that no Sin can be greater with respect to that aggravation the worthiness of the [Page 23] Object against whom it is committed: one Sin can't be more aggravated than another in that respect, because in this respect the aggravation of every Sin is infinite; but that don't hinder but that some Sins may be more hei­nous than others in other respects: as if we should sup­pose a Cylinder infinitely long, it can't be greater in that respect, viz. with respect to the length of it; but yet it may be doubled, and trebled, and made a thousand fold more, by the increase of other Dimensions. Of Sins that are all infinitely heinous, some may be more hei­nous than others, as well as of divers Punishments that are all infinitely dreadful Calamities, or all of them infinite­ly exceeding all finite Calamities, so that there is no finite Calamity however great but what is infinitely less dreadful, or more eligable than any of them, yet some of them may be a thousand Times more dreadful than others. A Punishment may be infinitely dreadful by reason of the infinite Duration of it; and therefore can't be greater with respect to that Aggravation of it, viz. its length of continuance; but yet may be vastly more terrible on other Accounts.

Having thus, as I imagine, made it clear that all Sin is infinitely heinous, and consequently that the Sinner, before he is justified, is under infinite Guilt in God's Sight, it now remains that I shew the Consequence, or how it follows from hence, that it is not suitable that God should give the Sinner an Interest in Christ's Me­rits, and so a title to his Benefits, from regard to any Qualification, or Act, or course of Acts, in him, on the Account of any Excellency or Goodness whatsoever therein, but only as uniting to Christ; or (which fully implies it) that it is not suitable that God by any Act, should in any Manner or Degree, testify any acceptance of, or pleasedness with any Thing, as any Vertue, or Excellency, or any part of loveliness, or valuableness, in his Person, until he is actually already interested in Christ's Merits; which appears by this, that from the Premisses it follows, that before the Sinner is already interested in Christ, & justified, 'tis impossible God should have any acceptance of, or pleasedness with the Person [Page 24] of the Sinner, as in any Degree lovely in his Sight, or indeed less the Object of his Displeasure and Wrath: For, by the Supposition, the Sinner still remains infi­nitely guilty in the Sight of God; for Guilt is not re­moved but by Pardon; but to suppose the Sinner al­ready pardoned, is to suppose him already justified; which is contrary to the Supposition: But if the Sin­ner still remains infinitely guilty in God's Sight, that is the same Thing as still to be beheld of God as infi­nitely the Object of his Displeasure and Wrath, or in­finitely hateful in his Eyes; and if so, where is any room for any Thing in him, to be accepted as some valuableness or acceptableness of him in God's Sight, or for any Act of Favour, of any Kind towards him, or any Gift whatsoever to him, in Testimony of God's Respect to and Acceptance of something of him lovely and pleasing? If we should suppose that it could be so, that a Sinner could have Faith, or some other Grace in his Heart, and yet remain separate from Christ; and it should continue still to be so, that he is not looked upon as being in Christ, or having any relation to him, it would not be meet that that true Grace should be accepted of God as any loveliness of his Person in the Sight of God: If it should be accepted as the loveliness of the Person, that would be to accept the Person as in some Degree lovely to God, but this can't be consistent with his still remaining under infinite Guilt, or infinite Unworthiness in God's Sight, which that Goodness has no worthiness to ballance. While God beholds the Man as separate from Christ, he must behold him as h [...] is in himself; and so his Goodness can't be beheld by God, but as taken with his Guilt and Hatefulness, and as put in the Scales with it; and being beheld so, his Goodness is nothing; because there is a finite on the bal­lance against an infinite, whose Proportion to it is no­thing: In such a Case, if the Man be looked on as he is in himself, the excess of the Weight in one Scale above ano­ther, must be looked upon as the quality of the Man: These Contraries being beheld together, one takes from another, as one Number is substracted from another; and [Page 25] the Man must be looked upon in God's Sight according to the remainder: For here by the Supposition all Acts of Grace of Favour, in not imputing the Guilt as it is, are excluded, because that supposes a Degree of Pardon, and that supposes Justification, which is con­trary to what is supposed, viz. that the Sinner is not already justified: and therefore Things must be taken strictly as they are; and so the Man is still infinitely unworthy, and hateful in God's Sight, as he was before, without diminution, because his Goodness bears no pro­portion to his Unworthiness; and therefore when taken together is nothing.

Hence may be more clearly seen, the Force of that Expression in the Text, of believing on him that justi­fieth the ungodly; for tho' there is indeed something in Man that is really and spiritually Good, that is prior to Justification, yet there is nothing that is accepted as any godliness or excellency of the Person, till after Justifi­cation. Goodness or Loveliness of the Person in the Acceptance of God, in any Degree, is not to be consider'd as prior but posterior in the Order and Method of God's proceeding in this Affair: Tho' a Respect to the natural Suitableness between such a Qualification, and such a State, does go before Justification, yet the Acceptance even of Faith as any Goodness or Loveliness of the Be­liever, follows Justification: The Goodness is on the forementioned Account justly looked upon as nothing, until the Man is justified: And therefore the Man is respected in Justification, as in himself altogether hate­ful.—Thus the Nature of Things will not admit of a Man's having an Interest given him in the Merits or Benefits of a Saviour, on the Account of any Thing as a Righteousness, or Vertue, or Excellency in him.

2 A divine Constitution that is antecedent to that which establishes Justification by a Saviour, (and indeed to any need of a Saviour,) stands in the Way of it, viz. that original Constitution or Law which Man was put under; by which Constitution or Law the Sinner is condemned, because he is a violater of that Law; and stands condemned, till he has actually an Interest in [Page 30] the Saviour, through whom he is set at liberty from that Condemnation. But to suppose that God gives a Man an Interest in Christ in reward for his Righteousness or Vertue, is inconsistent with his still remaining under Condemnation 'till he has an Interest in Christ; because it supposes that the Sinner's Vertue is accepted, and he accepted for it, before he has an Interest in Christ; inas­much as an Interest in Christ is given as a Reward of his Vertue; but the Vertue must first be accepted, be­fore it is rewarded, and the Man must first be accepted for his Vertue, before he is rewarded for it, with so great and Glorious a Reward; for the very notion of a Re­ward is some Good bestowed in testimony of Respect to and Acceptance of Vertue in the Person rewarded. It don't consist with the Honour of the Majesty of the King of Heaven and Earth, to accept of any Thing from a condemned Malefactor, condemned by the Justice of his own holy Law, [...] 'till that Condemnation be removed: and then such acceptance is inconsistent with, and con­tradictory to such remaining Condemnation; for the Law condemns him that violates it, to be totally reject­ed and cast off by God; but how can a Man continue under this Condemnation, i. e. continue utterly reject­ed and cast off of God, and yet his Righteousness or Vertue be accepted, and he himself accepted on the Ac­count of it, so as to have so glorious Reward as an In­terest in Christ bestowed as a testimony of that Accep­tance?

I know that the Answer that will be ready for this is, that we now are not subject to that Constitution that Mankind were at first put under; but that God in Mer­cy to Mankind has abolished that rigorous Constitution or Law that they were under originally, & has put us un­der a new Law, and introduced a more mild Constituti­on; And that the Constitution or Law it self not re­maining, there is no need of supposing that the Condem­nation of it remains, to stand in the Way of the Accep­tance of our Vertue. And indeed there is no other way of avoiding this Difficulty; the Condemnation of the Law must stand in force against a Man 'till he is actually [Page 27] interested in the Saviour, that has satisfied and answered the Law, effectually to prevent any Acceptance of his Vertue, before, or in order to such an Interest, unless the Law or Constitution it self be abolished. But the Scheme of those modern Divines by whom this is main­tained seems to contain a great deal of Absurdity and Self-Contradiction: they hold that the old Law given to Adam, which requires perfect Obedience is entirely re­pealed, and that instead of it we are put under a new Law, which requires no more than imperfect, sincere O­bedience, in compliance with our poor, infirm, impo­tent Circumstances since the Fall, whereby we are unable to perform that perfect Obedience that was required by the first Law: for they strenuously maintain that it would be unjust in God to require any Thing of us that is be­yond our present Power and Ability to perform; and yet they hold that Christ died to satisfy for the imperfecti­ons of our Obedience, that so our imperfect Obedience might be accepted instead of perfect—Now how can these Things hang together.—I would ask what Law these imperfections of our Obedience are a breach of? if they are a breach of no Law, then they ben't Sins; and if they ben't Sins, what need of Christ's dying to sa­tisfy for them? but if they are Sins, and so the breach of some Law, what Law is it? they can't be a breach of their new Law, for that requires no other than im­perfect Obedience, or Obedience with imperfections; and they can't be a breach of the old Law, for that they say is entirely abolished, and we never were under it; and we can't break a Law that we never were under.—They say it would not be just in God to exact of us perfect Obedience, because it would not be just in God to require more of us than we can perform in our present State, & to punish us for sailing of it; and there­fore by their own Scheme the imperfections of our Obe­dience don't deserve to be punished; What need there­fore of Christ's dying to satisfy for them? What need of Christ's Suffering to satisfy for that which is no Fault, and in its own Nature deserves no Suffering? What need of Christ's dying to purchase that our imperfect O­bedience [Page 28] should be accepted, when according to their Scheme it would be unjust in it self that any other Obe­dience than imperfect should be required? What need of Christ's dying to make way for God's accepting such an Obedience, as it would in itself be unjust in him not to accept? Is there any need of Christ's dying to per­suade God not to do unjustly?—If it be said that Christ died to satisfy that Law for us, that so we might not be under that Law, but might be delivered from it, that so there might be room for us to be under a more mild Law; still I would inquire what need of Christ's dying that we might not be under a Law, that (accord­ing to their Scheme) it would in it self be unjust that we should be under, because in our present State we are not able to keep it? What need of Christ's dying that we might not be under a Law, that it would be unjust that we should be under, whether Christ died or no?

Thus far I have argued principally from Reason, and the Nature of Things: I proceed now to the

Second Argument, which is, That this is a Doctrine that the holy Scriptures, the Revelation that God has given us of his Mind and Will, by which alone we can never come to know how those that have offended God can come to be accepted of him, and justified in his Sight, is exceeding full in: Particularly the Apostle Paul is abundant in teaching that we are justified by Faith alone without the Works of the Law: There is no one Doctrine that he insists so much upon, and is so particular in, and that he handles with so much distinctness, explaining, and giving Reasons, and answering Objections.

Here it is not denied by any, that the Apostle does assert that we are justified by Faith, without the Works of the Law, because the Words are express; but only it is said that we take his Words wrong, and understand that by 'em that never entered into his Heart, in that when he excludes the Works of the Law, we understand him of the whole Law of God, or the Rule which he has given to Mankind to walk by; whereas all that he intends is the ceremonial Law.

Some that oppose this Doctrine indeed say, that the [Page 29] Apostle sometimes means that it is by Faith, i. e. an hearty embracing the Gospel in its first Act, only, or without any preceeding holy Life, that Persons are admitted into a justified State; but, say they, 'tis by a persevering Obe­dience that they are continued in a justified State, and it is by this that they are finally justified. But this is the same Thing as to say that a Man on his first embracing the Gospel is conditionally justified and pardon'd.—To pardon Sin, is to free the Sinner from the Punish­ment of it, or from that eternal Misery that is due to it; And therefore if a Person is pardon'd, or freed from this Misery, on his first embracing the Gospel, and yet not finally freed, but his actual freedom still depends on some Condition yet to be performed, 'tis inconceivable how he can be pardon'd otherwise than conditionally: that is he is not properly actually pardon'd, and freed from Punishment, but only he has God's Promise that he shall be pardon'd on future Conditions; God promises him that now, if he perseveres in Obedience, he shall be finally pardon'd, or actually freed from Hell; which is to make just nothing at all of the Apostle's great Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone: such a condi­tional Pardon is no Pardon or Justification at all, any more than all Mankind have, whether they embrace the Gospel or no; for they all have a promise of final Justi­fication on Conditions of future sincere Obedience, as much as he that embraces the Gospel.—But not to dispute about this, we will suppose that there may be something or other at the Sinner's first embracing the Gospel, that may properly be called Justification or Par­don, and yet that final Justification, or real freedom from the Punishment of Sin, is still suspended on Conditions hitherto unfulfill'd; yet they that hold that Sinners are thus justified on embracing the Gospel, they suppose that they are justified by this, no otherwise than as this is a leading act of Obedience, or at least as Vertue and moral Goodness in them, and therefore would be excluded by the Apostle as much as any other Vertue or Obedi­ence; if it be allowed that he means the moral Law, when he excludes Works of the Law. And therefore if [Page 26] that Point be yielded that the Apostle means the moral, and not only the ceremonial Law, their whole Scheme falls to the Ground.

And because the issue of the whole Argument from those Texts in St. Paul's Epistles depends on the de­termination of this Point, I would be particular in the discussion of it.

Some of our Opponents in this Doctrine of Justificati­on, when they deny that by the Law, the Apostle means the moral Law, or the whole Rule of Life which God has given to Mankind, seem to choose to express them­selves thus, that the Apostle only intends the Mosaic Dispensation: But this comes to just the same Thing as if they said that the Apostle only means to [...]lude the Works of the Ceremonial Law; for when they say that 'tis intended only that we ben't justified by the Works of the Mosaic Dispensation, if they mean any Thing by it, it must be that we ben't justified by attending, and observing what is Mosaic in that Dispensation, or by what was peculiar to it, and wherein it differed from the Christian Dispensation; which is the same as that which is ceremonial and positive, and not moral, in that Ad­ministration—. So that this is what I have to disprove, viz. That the Apostle when he speaks of Works of the Law in this Affair, means only Works of the Ceremoni­al Law, or those Observances that were peculiar to the Mosaic Administration.

And here it must be noted, that no Body controverts it with them, whether the Works of the Ceremonial Law ben't included or whether the Apostle don't par­ticularly argue against Justification by Circumcision, and other ceremonial Observances; but all that is in Ques­tion is, whether when he denies Justification by Works of the Law, he is to be understood only of the Ceremo­nial Law, or whether the moral Law ben't also implied and intended; And therefore those Arguments that are brought to prove that the Apostle meant the Ceremoni­al Law are nothing to the Purpose, unless they prove more than that, viz. that the Apostle meant those only.

[Page 31] What is much insisted on is, that it was the judaising Christians being so fond of Circumcision, and other Cere­monies of the Law, and depending so much on them, which was the very Occasion of the Apostles writing as he does against Justification by the Works of the Law. But supposing it were so, that their trusting in Works of the Ceremonial Law, were the sole Occasion of the A­postle's writing; (which yet there is no reason to al­low, as may appear afterwards;) if their trusting in a particular Work, as a Work of Righteousness was all that gave occasion to the Apostle to write, how does it follow that therefore the Apostle did not upon that Occasion write against trusting in all Works of Righteous­ness whatsoever? Where is the absurdity of supposing that the Apostle might take occasion from his observing some to trust in a certain Work as a Work of Righte­ousness. [...]o write to them against Persons trusting in any Work [...] of Righteousness at all, and that it was a very proper Occasion too? yea it would have been anavoid­able for the Apostle to have argued against trusting in a particular Work in that quality of a Work of Righte­ousness, which quality was general, but he must there in argue against trusting in Works of Righteousness in gene­ral Supposing it had been some other particular sort of Works that was the occasion of the Apostle's writing, as for instance, Works of Charity, and the Apostle should hence take occasion to write to them not to trust in their Works, could the Apostle by that be under­stood of no other Works besides Works of Charity? Would it have been absurd to understand him as writing against trusting in any Work at all, because it was their trusting to a particular Work that gave occasion to his writing?

Another Thing that is alledged as an Evidence that the Apostle means the ceremonial Law, when he says we can not be justified by the Works of the Law, is that he uses that Argument to prove it, viz. that this Law that he speaks of was given so long after the Covenant with Abraham, in Gal 3▪ 17. And this I say that the Covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the [Page 32] Law that was four hundred and thirty years after can­not disannul. But say they, it was only the Mosaic Ad­ministration, and not the Covenant of Works that was given so long after.—But the Apostle's Argument seems manifestly to be mistaken by them. The Apostle don't speak of a Law that began first to have being four hundred and thirty Years after; if he did, there would be some force in their Objection; But he has respect to a certain solemn Transaction, well known among the Jews, by the Phrase of the giving of the Law, which was that great Transaction at Mount Sinai, that we have Account of in the 19, and 20 Chapters of Exodus, consisting especially in God's giving the ten Command­ments, which is the moral Law, with that terrible Voice, which Law he afterwards gave in Tables of Stone. This Transaction the Jews in the Apostles Time misinterpre­ted, they looked upon it as God's establishing that Law as a Rule of Justification. This conceit of theirs the Apostle brings this invincible Argument against, viz. That God would never go about to disannul his Cove­nant with Abraham, which was plainly a Covenant of Grace, by a Transaction with his Posterity, that was so long after it, and was plainly built upon it: He would not overthrow a Covenant of Grace that he had long before established with Abraham, for him, and his Seed, (which is often mention'd as the Ground of God's making them his People,) by now establishing a Covenant of Works with them at Mount Sinai, as the Jews and judaizing Christians supposed.

But that the Apostle don't mean only Works of the ceremonial Law, when he excludes Works of the Law in Justification, but also of the moral Law, and all Works of Obedience, Vertue, and Righteousness what­soever, may appear by the following Things.

1. The Apostle don't only say, that we are not justi­fied by the Works of the Law, but that we are not jus­tified by Works, using a general Term; as in our Text it is said, unto him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth, &c. and in the 6. v. God imputeth righteousness without Works, And Chap 11. 6. "And [Page 33] if by Grace, then it is no more of Works, otherwise Grace is no more Grace: But if it be of Works, then it is no more Grace; otherwise Grace is no more Grace. St Eph. 2 8, 9 For by Grace ye are saved, through Faith,—not of Works. By which, there is no Reason in the World to understand the Apostle of any other than Works in general, as correlates of a Reward, or good Works, or Works of Vertue and Righteousness. When the Apostle says we are justified or saved not by Works, without any such Term annexed, as the Law, or any other Addition to limit the Expression, what War­rant have any to confine it to Works of a particular Law, or Institution, excluding others? Are not Obser­vances of other Divine Laws Works, as well as of that? It seems to be allowed by the Divines in the Arminian Scheme, in their Interpretation of several of those Texts where the Apostle only mentions Works, without any Addition, that he means our own good Works in gene­ral; but then they say, he only means to exclude any proper merit in those Works. But to say the Apostle means one Thing when he says we ben't justified by Works, another when he says we ben't justified by the Works of the Law, when we find the Expressions mixed. and used in the same Discourse, and when the Apostle is evidently upon the same Argument, is very unreasonable, it is to dodge, and fly from Scripture, rather than to open and yield our selves to it's teachings.

2. In the third Chapter of Romans, our having been guilty of Breaches of the moral Law, is an Argument that the Apostle uses why we cannot be justified by the Works of the Law; Beginning with the 9th v There he proves out of the Old Testament, that all are under Sin; There is none righteous, no not one [...]. Their Throat is an open Sepulchre: With their Tongues they have used deceit: Their Mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; and their Feet swift to shed Blood. And so he▪ goes on mentioning only those Things that are Breaches of the moral Law, and then when he has done, his Conclusion is, in the [Page 34] 19th, and 20th ver. Now we know that whatsoever Things the Law saith, it saith to them that are under the Law, that every Mouth may be stopped, and all the World may become guilty before God. There­fore by the Deeds of the Law, shall no Flesh be justi­fied in his Sight. This is most evidently his Argu­ment, because all had sinn'd, (as it was said in the 9th ver.) and been guilty of those Breaches of the moral Law, that he had mentioned, (and it is re­peated over again, afterward ver. 23.) For all have sinn'd and come short of the Glory of God. Therefore none at all can be justified by the Deeds of the Law: Now if the Apostle meant only that we are not justified by the Deeds of the ceremonial Law, what kind of arguing would that be, Their Mouth is full of [...] cursing and bitterness, their Feet are swift to shed Blood, therefore, They can't be justified by the Deeds of the Mosaic Administration▪ They are guilty of the Breaches of the moral Law, and there­fore they can't be justified by the Deeds of the ceremonial Law? Doubtless the Apostle's Argu­ment is, that the very same Law that they have broken and sinn'd against, can never justify 'em as Observers of it, because every Law don't justify, but necessarily condemns it's Violaters: And therefore our Breaches of the moral Law, argue no more, than that we can't be justified by that Law that we have broken.

And it may be noted, that the Apostle's Argu­ment here is the same that I have already used. viz. That as we are in our selves, and out of Christ, we [...] under the Condemnation of that original Law, or Constitution that God established with Mankind; and therefore 'tis [...]o Way fit that any Thing that we do, any Vertue or Obedience of ours, should be ac­cepted [...] accepted on the Account of it.

[...] Apostle, in all the preceeding part of this Epistle, wherever he has the Phrase, the Law, evi­dently intends the moral Law principally: As in the 12th ver. of the foregoing Chap. For as many as have [Page 35] sinn'd without Law, shall also perish without Law. 'Tis evidently the written moral Law, the Apostle means, by the next ver. but one. For when the Gentiles, which have not the Law, do by Nature the Things con­tained in the Law,—That is, the moral Law that the Gentiles have by Nature: And so the next ver. Which shew the Work of the Law written in their Hearts. 'Tis the moral Law, and not the Ceremonial that is written in the Hearts of those that are destitute of Divine Revelation. And so in the 18th ver. Thou approvest the Things that are more Excellent, being in­structed out of the Law. 'Tis the Moral Law, that shews us the Nature of Things, and teaches us what is Ex­cellent. 20th, ver. Thou hast a form of Knowledge, and truth in the Law. 'Tis the Moral Law, as is evident by what follows, ver. 22. 23. Thou that sayeth a Man should not commit Adultery, dost thou commit Adultery? Thou that abhorrest Idols, dost thou commit Sacriledge? Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God. Adultery, Idolatry and Sacriledge, surely are the breaking of the moral, and not the ceremonial Law. So in the 27th ver. And shall not uncircumcision which is by Nature, if it fulfil the Law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the Law. i e. The Gentiles, that you despise because uncircumcised, if they live moral and holy Lives, in Obedience to the Moral Law, shall con­demn you tho' circumcised. And so there is not one Place in all the preceeding part of the Epistle, where the Apostle speaks of the Law, but that he most ap­parently intends principally the moral Law: And ye [...] when the Apostle, in continuance of the same Discourse, comes to tell us that we can't be justified by the Works of the Law, then they will needs have it, that he means only the ceremonial Law; yea tho' all this Discourse about the moral Law, shewing how the Jews [...] well as Gentiles have violated it, is evidently [...], and introductory to that Doctrine, Chap 3 20. That no Flesh, that is none of Mankind, neither Jews nor Gentiles, can be justified by the Works of the Law.

[Page 36] 4. 'Tis evident that when the Apostle says, we can't be justified by the Works of the Law, he means the Moral as well as ceremonial Law, by his giving this Reason for it, that by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin, as Rom 3. 20. By the Deeds of the Law shall no Flesh be justified in his Sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of Sin. Now that Law by which we come to the knowledge of Sin, is the moral Law chiefly and prima­rily.—If this Argument of the Apostle be good, that we can't be justified by the Deeds of the Law, because it is by the Law that we come to the knowledge of Sin, then it proves that we can't be justified by the Deeds of the Moral Law, nor by the Precepts of Christianity; for by them is the Knowledge of Sin. If the Reason be good, then where the Reason holds, the Truth holds.—'Tis a miserable Shift, and a violent Force put upon the Words, to say that the meaning is, that by the Law of Circumcision is the Knowledge of Sin, because Cir­cumcision signifying the taking away of Sin, puts Men in mind of Sin. The plain meaning of the Apostle is, that as the Law most strictly forbids Sin, it tends to convince us of Sin, and bring our own Consciences to condemn us, instead of justifying of us; that the Use of it is to declare to us our own Guilt and Unworthiness, which is the reverse of justifying and approving of us as virtuous or worthy. This is the Apostle's meaning, if we will allow him to be his own expositor; for he himself in this very Epistle explains to us how it is that by the Law we have the Knowledge of Sin, and that 'tis by the Law's forbidding Sin Chap. 7. 7. I had [...] known Sin, but by the Law, for I had not known Lust, except the Law had said, thou shalt not covet. There the Apostle determines two Things, First, That, [...]he Way in which, by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin, [...] by the Law's forbidding Sin: And Secondly, which [...] more directly still to the Purpose; he determines [...]at 'tis the Moral Law by which we come to the knowledge of Sin; for says he, I had not known Lust except the Law had said, thou shalt not covet: Now 'tis the moral, and not the ceremonial Law, that says thou [Page 37] shalt not covet: Therefore when the Apostle argues that by the Deeds of the Law no Flesh living shall be justifyed, because by the Law is the knowledge of Sin, his Argument proves, (unless he was mistaken as to the force of his Argument,) that we can't be justifyed by the Deeds of the Moral Law.

5. 'Tis evident that the Apostle don't mean only the ceremonial Law, because he gives this Reason why we have Righteousness, and a Title to the Privilege of God's Children, not by the Law, but by Faith, that the Law worketh Wrath, Rom. 4. 13, 14, 15, 16. For the promise that he should be the Heir of the World, was not to Abraham, or to his Seed through the Law, but through the Righteousness of Faith: For if they which are of the Law be Heirs, Faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the Law worketh Wrath; for where no Law is there is no Transgression. Therefore it is of Faith that it might be by Grace. Now the way in which the Law works Wrath, by the Apos­tles own Account, in the Reason he himself annexes, is by forbidding Sin, and aggravating the Guilt of the Transgression; for, says he, where no Law is there is Transgression: And so, Chap 7 13. That Sin by the Commandment might become exceeding sinful.—If there­fore this Reason of the Apostle be good, it is much stronger against Justification by the moral Law, than the ceremonial Law; for 'tis by Transgressions of th [...] moral Law chiefly that there comes Wrath; for they are most strictly forbidden, and most terribly threaten'd.

6. 'Tis evident that when the Apostle says, we be [...] justified by the Works of the Law, that he excludes all our own Vertue, Goodness, or Excellency, by that Reason that he gives for it, viz. That boasting might be excluded. Rom. 3. 26, 27, 28. To declare I say at this Time his Righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. Where is boas [...] ­ing then? It is excluded. By what Law? of Works Nay; but by the Law of Faith. Therefore, We conclude that a Man is justified by Faith without the Deeds of the Law, Eph. 2. 8. 9. For by Grace are we saved through [Page 38] Faith; and that not of your selves, it is the Gift of God: Not of Works left any Man should boast.—Now what are Men wont to boast of, but what they esteem their own Goodness, or Excellency?—If we are not justified by Works of the ceremonial Law, yet how does that exclude boasting, as long as we are justified by our own Excellency, or Vertue and Goodness of our own, or Works of Righteousness which we have done?

But it is said that boasting is excluded, as Circumcisi­on was excluded, which was what the Jews especially used to glory in, and value themselves upon, above other Nations.

To this I answer, that the Jews were not only used to boast of Circumcision, but were notorious for boast­ing of their moral Righteousness. The Jews of those Days were generally Admirers, and followers of the Pharisees, who were full of their Boasts of their moral Righteousness, as we may see by the Example of the Pharisee mention'd in the 18th of Luke, which Christ mentions as describing the general Temper of that Sect; Lord, says he, I thank thee, that I am not as other Men, an Extortioner nor Unjust, nor an Adulterer. The Works that he boasts of were chiefly moral Works: He depended on the Works of the Law for Justification; and therefore Christ tells us that the Publican, that renounced all his own Righteousness, went down to his House justified rather than he. And elsewhere we read of the Pharisees praying in the cor­ners of the Streets and sounding a Trumpet before 'em when they did A [...]ms: But those Works which they so vainly boasted of were moral Works▪ And not only so, but what the Apostle, in this very Epistle, is condemning the Jews for▪ is their boasting of the moral Law. Chap. 2. 22, 23. Thou that sayeth a Man should not commit Adultery dost thou commit Adultery! Thou that ab­horrest Idols, dost thou commit Sacriledge. Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking the Law dishonourest thou God The Law here mentioned that they made their boast of, was that of which Adultery, [Page 39] Idolatry, and Sacriledge, were the breaches, which is the moral Law: So that this is the boasting which the Apostle condemns them for; and therefore if they were justified by the Works of this Law, then how comes he to say that their boasting is excluded? And besides, when they boasted of the Rites of the ceremonial Law, it was under a Notion of it's being a Part of their own Goodness or Excellency, or what made them holier and more lovely in the sight of God than other Peo­ple; and if they were not justified by this Part of their own supposed Goodness, or Holiness, yet if they were by another, how did that exclude boasting? How was their boasting excluded, unless all Goodness or Excel­lency of their own was excluded?

7. The Reason given by the Apostle why we can be justified only by Faith, and not by the Works of the Law, in the 3d Chap. of Gal. viz. That they that are under the Law are under the Curse, makes it evident that he don't mean only the ceremonial Law. In that Chapter the Apostle had particularly insisted upon it that Abraham was justified by Faith, and that it is by Faith only, and not by the Works of the Law, that we can be justified and become the Children of Abra­ham, and be made Partakers of the Blessing of Abra­ham: And he gives this Reason for it, in the 10th v. For as many as are of the Works of the Law are under the Curse; for it is written cursed is every one that conti­nueth not in all Things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them. 'Tis manifest that these Words cited from Deuteronomy, are spoken not only with Regard to the ceremonial Law, but the whole Law of God to Mankind, and chiefly the moral Law; and that all Mankind are therefore as they are in themselves under that Curse, not only while the ceremonial Law lasted, but now since that has ceased: And therefore all that are justified, are redeemed from that curse, by Christ's bearing it for them; as there in the 13. ver. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; For it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a Tree.—Now therefore, either it's [Page 40] being said so, that he is cursed that continueth not in all Things which are written in the Book of the Law to do them, is a good Reason why we can't be justified by the Works of that Law, of which it is so said, or it is not; if it be, then it is a good Reason why we can't be justified by the Works of the moral Law, and of the whole Rule which God has given to Mankind to walk by; for the Words are spoken of the moral as well as ceremonial Law, and reach every Command, or Pre­cept which God has given to Mankind, and chiefly the moral Precepts, which are most strictly enjoin'd, and the Violations of which in both New Testament and Old, and in the Books of Moses themselves, are threat­ned with the most dreadful Curse.

8. The Apostle does in like Manner argue against our being justified by our own Righteousness, as he does against being justified by the Works of the Law; and evidently uses the Expressions of our own Righteous­ness, and Works of the Law, promiscuously, and as sig­nifying the same Thing It is particularly evident by Rom. 10▪ 3. For they being ignorant of Gods Righteous­ness, and going about to establish their own Righteous­ness have not submitted themselves to the Righteousness of God ▪ Here 'tis plain that the same Thing is asserted as in the two last Verses but one of the foregoing Chap. But Israel which followed after the Law of Righteous­ness, hath not attained to the Law of Righteousness: Wherefore: Because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the Works of the Law. And 'tis very unrea­sonable, upon several Accounts, to suppose that the A­postle by their own Righteousness, intends only their ceremonial Righteousness. For when the Apostle warns us against trusting in our own Righteousness for Justification, doubtless it is fair to interpret the Ex­pression in an Agreement with other Scriptures where we are warned not to think that 'tis for the sake of our own Righteousness, that we obtain God's Favour and Blessing; as particularly that in Deut. 9▪ 4, 5, 6▪ Speak not thou in thine Heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, for my Righ­teousness [Page 41] the Lord hath brought me in, to possess this Land; but for the wickedness of these Nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee: Not for thy Righ­teousness, or for the uprightness of thy Heart, dost thou go to possess their Land; but for the wickedness of these Nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which he sware unto thy Fathers, Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Understand therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good Land to possess it, for thy Righteousness, for thou art a stiff necked People. None will pretend that hear the Expression thy Righteousness, signifies only a ceremonial Righteousness, but all Virtue or Goodness of their own; yea and the inward Goodness of the Heart as well as the outward Goodness of Life; which appears by the beginning of the 5 ver. Not for thy Righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy Heart,—and also by the Antithesis in the 6. v Not for thy Righteousness, for thou art a stiffnecked People. Their stiffneckedness was their moral Wickedness, Obstinacy, and perverseness of Heart: By Righteousness, therefore, on the contrary, is meant their moral Vertue, and rectitude of Heart, and Life.—This is what I would argue from hence, That the Expression of our own Righteousness, when used in Scripture, with Relation to the favour of God, and when we are warned against looking upon it as that by which that Favour, or the Fruits of it are obtained, don't signify only a ceremonial Righteousness, but all manner of Goodness of our own.

The Jews also in the New Testament are condemned for trusting in their own Righteousness in this Sense; Luke 18. 9 &c.—And he spake this Parable unto cer­tain that trusted in themselves that they were Righte­ous.—This intends chiefly a moral Righteousness, as appears by the Parable it self, in which we have an Account of the Prayer of the Pharis [...]e, wherein the Things that he mentions, as what he trusts in, are chiefly moral Qualifications and Performances, viz. That he was not an Extortioner, unjust, nor an Adul­terer, &c.—

[Page 42] But we need not go to the Writings of other Pen­men of the Scripture; but if we will allow the Apostle Paul to be his own Interpreter, he when he speaks of our own Righteousness as that which we are not justi­fied or saved by, don't mean only a ceremonial Righte­ousness, nor does he only intend a Way of Religion, and serving God▪ of our own choosing and fixing on, without divine Warrant or Prescription; but by our own Righteousness he means the same as a Righteous­ness of our own doing, whether it be a Service or Righ­teousness of God's prescribing, or our own unwarranted performing: Let it be an Obedience to the ceremonial Law, or a Gospel Obedience, or what it will, if it be a Righteousness of our own doing, it is excluded by the Apostle in this Affair, as is evident by Titus 3, 5. Not by Works of Righteousness which we have done.—But I would more particularly insist on this Text; and therefore this may be the▪

9. Argument, That the Apostle when he denies Jus­tification by Works, and by Works of the Law, and by our own Righteousness, don't only mean Works of the ceremonial Law viz. What is said by the Apos­tle in Tit 3. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7▪ For we our selves also were sometimes foolish disobedient, deceived, serving divers Lusts and Pleasures, living in Malice, and Envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the Kindness and Love of God our Saviour, toward Man, appeared, not by Works of Righteousness which we have done, but ac­cording to his Mercy he saved us, by the washing of rege­neration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ Our Saviour; that being justified by his Grace, we should be made Heirs, according to the Hope of eternal Life. Works of Righte­ousness that we have done, are here excluded, as what we are neither saved, nor justified by. The Apostle ex­presly says, we are not saved by 'em; and 'tis evident that when he says this, he has respect to the Affair of Justification, and that he means, we are not saved by 'em in not being justified by 'em, by the next verse but one, which is part of the same Sentence, That be­ing [Page 43] justified by his Grace we should be made Heirs accor­ding to the hope of eternal Life.

'Tis several Ways manifest that the Apostle in this Text, by Works of Righteousness which we have done, don't mean only Works of the ceremonial Law. It appears by the 3d v. For we our selves also were some­times foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers Lusts and Pleasures, living in Malice and Envy, hateful, and ha­ting one another. These are Breaches of the moral Law, that the Apostle observes they lived in before they were justifyed: and 'tis most plain that 'tis this that gives Occasion to the Apostle to observe as he does in the 5 ver. That it was not by Works of Righteousness which they had done, that they were saved or justified.

But we need not go to the Context, 'tis most ap­parent from the Words themselves, that the Apostle don't mean only Works of the ceremonial Law: If he had only said, it is not by our own Works of Righ­teousness; what could we understand by Works of Righteousness, but only Righteous Works, or which is the same Thing, good Works? And to say that it is by our own righteous Works, that we are justified, tho' not by one particular kind of righteous Works, would certainly be a Contradiction to such an Assertion. But the Words are render'd yet more strong, plain, and determined in their Sense, by those additional Words, which we have done; which shews that the Apostle intends to exclude all our own righteous or vertuous Works universally. If it should be asserted concerning any Commodity, Treasure, or precious Jewel, that it could not be procured by Money, and not only so, but to make the Assertion the more strong, it should be asserted with additional Words, that it could not be procured by Money that Men possess; how unreasonable would it be after all to say, that all that was meant was, that it could not be procured with Brass Money?

And what renders the interpreting this Text of Works of the ceremonial Law, yet more unreasonable is, that these Works were indeed no Works of Righteousness at all, but were only falsly supposed to be so by the [Page 44] Jews; and that our Opponents in this Doctrine suppose is the very reason why we ben't justified by 'em, be­cause they are not Works of Righteousness, or because (the ceremonial Law being now abrogated) there is no Obedience in 'em: But how absurd is it to [...] that the Apostle when he says we are not justified by Works of Righteousness that we have done, meant only Works of the ceremonial Law, and that for that very Reason because they are not Works of Righteousness. To illu­strate this by the forementioned Comparison; If it should be asserted that such a Thing could not be procured by Money that Men possess, how ridiculous would it be to say that the meaning only was, that it could not be procured by counterfeit Money, and that for that Rea­son, because it was not Money.—What Scripture will stand before Men, if they will take liberty to manage Scripture thus? Or what one Text is there in the Bible that mayn't at this rate be explain'd all away, and per­verted to any Sense Men please.

But then further, if we should allow that the Apostle intends only to oppose Justification by Works of the ceremonial Law in this Text, yet 'tis evident by the Ex­pression he uses that he means to oppose it under that Notion, or in that quality, of their being Works of Righteousness of our own doing. But if the Apostle argues against our being justified by Works of the cere­monial Law under the Notion of their being of that Nature and Kind, viz. Works of our own doing; then it will follow that the Apostle's Argument is strong against, not only those, but all of that Nature and Kind, even all that are of our own doing

If there were no other Text in the Bible about Justification but this, this would clearly and invincibly prove that we are not justified by any of our own Goodness, Vertue, or Righteousness or for the Excel­lency or Righteousness of any Thing that we have done in Religion; because 'tis here so fully and strongly asserted: But this Text does abundantly confirm other Texts of the Apostle, where he denies Justification by Works of the Law: There is no doubt can be ration­ally [Page 45] made but that, when the Apostle here shews that God saves us according to his Mercy, in that he don't save us by Works of Righteousness that we have done, v. 5, And that so we are justified by Grace. v. 7. herein opposing Salvation by Works, and Salvation by Grace, he means the same Works as he does in other Places, where he in like manner opposes Works and Grace, the same Works as in Rom 11. 6▪ And if by Grace then it is no more of Works; otherwise Grace is no more Grace: But if it be of Works, then it is no more Grace; otherwise Work is no more Work. And the same Works as in Rom. 4. 4▪ Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of Grace but of Debt. And the same Works that are spoken of in the Context of the 24. v. of the foregoing Chapter, which the Apostle there calls Works of the Law, being justified freely by his Grace—And of the 4 Chap. 16. v. Therefore 'tis of Faith, that it might be by Grace. Where in the Context, the Righteousness of Faith, is opposed to the Righteousness of the Law: For here God's saving us according to his Mercy, and justifying us by Grace, is opposed to saving us by Works of Righteousness that we have done, in the same manner as in those Places justifying us by his Grace, is opposed to justifying us by Works of the Law

10. The Apostle could not mean only Works of the ceremonial Law, when he says we are not justi­fied by the Works of the Law, because 'tis asserted of the Saints, under the Old Testament, as well as new If Men are justified by their sincere Obedience, it will then follow that formerly, before the ceremonial Law was abrogated, Men were justified by the Works of the ceremonial Law, as w [...]ll as the moral. For if we are justified by our sincere Obedience then it alters not the Case, whether the Commands be moral, or positive, provided they be God's Commands, and our Obedience be Obedience to God: And so the Case must be just the same under the Old Testament, with the Works of the moral Law, and ceremonial, according to the measure of the Vertue of Obedience, there was in either. [Page 46] 'Tis true their Obedience to the ceremonial Law would have nothing to do in the Affair of Justificati­on, unless it was sincere; and so neither would the Works of the moral Law: Obedience to the moral Law would have been concerned in the Affair of Justi­fication, if sincere; and so would Obedience to the ceremonial. If Obedience was the Thing, then Obe­dience to the ceremonial Law, while that stood in Force, and Obedience to the moral Law, had just the same [...]ort of concern, according to the Proportion of Obe­dience that consists in each. As now under the New-Testament, if Obedience is what we are justified by, that Obedience must doubtless comprehend Obedience to all God's Commands now in Force, to the positive Precepts of Attendance on Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as well as moral Precepts. If Obedience be the Thing, it is not because 'tis Obedience to such a kind of Commands, but because 'tis Obedience. So that by this Supposition, the Saints under the Old Testament were justified, at least in Part, by their Obedience to the ceremonial Law.

But 'tis evident that the Saints under the old Testa­ment were not justified in any measure, by the Works of the ceremonial Law. This may be proved proceeding on the Foot of our Adversaries own Interpretation of the Apostle's Phrase of the Works of the Law; and supposing him to mean by it only the Works of the ceremonial Law. To Instance in David, 'tis evident that he was not justified in any wise, by the Works of the ceremonial law, by Rom. 4▪ 6, 7, 8▪ Even as David also described the blessedness of the Man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without Works, saying, blessed are they whose Iniquities are forgiven▪ and whose Sins are covered; blessed is the Man to whom the Lord will not impute Sin. 'Tis plain that the Apostle is here speaking of Justification, by the preceeding Verse, and by all the Context; and the Thing spoken of, viz. forgiving Iniquities, and covering Sins, is what our Ad­versaries themselves suppose to be Justification, and even the whole of Justification. This Dav [...] speaking of [Page 47] himself, says (by the Apostle's Interpretation,) that he had without Works. For 'tis manifest that David in the Words here cited, from the beginning of the 32d Psalm, has a special Respect to himself: He speaks of his own Sins being forgiven and not imputed to him: as appears by the Words that nextly follow, When I kept Silence, my Bones waxed old, through my roaring all the Day long; for Day and Night thy Hand was heavy upon me, my moisture is turned into the drought of Summer I acknowledged my Sin unto thee, and mine Iniquity have I not hid: I said I will confess my Transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the Iniquity of my Sin. Let us therefore understand the Apostle which way we will, by Works, when he says, David describes the blessedness of the Man to whom the Lord imputes Righteousness without Works, whether of all manner of Works, or only Works of the ceremonial Law, yet 'tis evident at least, that David was not justified by Works of the ceremonial Law. Therefore here is the argument; if our own Obedience be that by which Men are justified, then under the Old Testament, Men were justified partly by Obedience to the ceremonial Law, (as has been proved;) but the Saints under the Old Testament were not justified partly by the Works of the ceremonial Law; therefore Mens own Obedience is not that by which they are justified.

11. Another Argument that the Apostle when he speaks of the two opposite Ways of Justification, one by the Works of the Law, and the other by Faith, don't mean only the Works of the ceremonial Law, may be taken from that place, Rom 10. 5, 6. For Moses describeth the Righteousness which is of the Law, that the Man which doth those Things shall live by them; but the Righteousness which is of Faith speaketh on this wise, &c ▪ Here two Things are evident,

First, That the Apostle here speaks of the same two opposite Ways of Justification, one by the Righte­ousness which is of the Law, the other by Faith, that he had treated of in the former Part of the Epistle; and therefore it must be the same Law that is here spo­ken [Page 48] of: The same Law is here meant as in the last Verses of the foregoing Chapter, where he says the Jews had not attained to the Law of Righteousness: Wherefore, because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the Works of the Law. As is plain, because the Apostle is still speaking of the same Thing, the Words are a Continuation of the same Discourse, as may be seen at first Glance, by any one that looks on the Context.

Secondly, 'Tis manifest that Moses when he describes the Righteousness which is of the Law, or the Way of Justification by the Law▪ in the Words here cited, He that doth those Things shall live in them, don't speak only, nor chiefly, of the Works of the ceremonial Law; For none will pretend that God ever made such a Co­venant with Man, that he that kept the ceremonial Law should live in it, or that there ever was a Time that it was chiefly by the Works of the ceremonial Law, that Men lived and were justified. Yea, 'tis mani­fest by the forementioned Instance of David, menti­oned in the 4th of Romans that there never was a Time wherein Men were justified in any Measure, by the Works of the ceremonial Law, [...] has been just now shewn. Moses therefore in those Words, which the Apostle says, are a Description of the Righteousness which is of the Law, can't mean only the ceremonial Law. And therefore it follows that when the Apostle speaks of Justification by the Works of the Law, as op­posite to Justification by Faith, he don't mean only the ceremonial Law, but also the Works of the moral Law, which are the Things spoken of by Moses, when he says he that doth th [...]se Things shall live in them; and which are the Things [...] the Apostle in this very Place is arguing that we can't be justified by; as is evi­dent by the Context, the last Verses of the preceeding Chapter, But Israel which followed after the Law of Righteousness, hath not attained to the Law of Righteous­ness: Wherefore? Because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the Works of the Law, &c. And in the 3d v, of this Chap For they being ignorant of God's [Page 49] Righteousness, and going about to establish their own Righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the Righ­teousness of God.

And further, how can the Apostle's Description that he here gives from Moses, of this exploded Way of Justification by the Works of the Law, consist with the Arminian Scheme of a Way of Justification by the Vertue of a sincere Obedience, that still remains as the true and only Way of Justification, under the Gospel. 'Tis most apparent that 'tis the design of the Apostle to give a Description of both the legal rejected, and the evangelical valid Ways of Justification, in that wherein they differ, or are distinguished the one from the other: But how is that, that he that doth those Things shall live in them, that wherein the Way of Justification by the Works of the Law, differs, or is distinguished from that in which Christians under the Gospel are justified, ac­cording to their Scheme; for still, according to them, it may be said, in the same Manner, of the Precepts of the Gospel, he that doth these Things shall live in them: The difference lies only in the Things to be done, but not at all, in that that the doing of them is not the Con­dition of living in them, just in the one Case, as in the other. The Words, He that doth them shall live in them, will serve just as well for a Description of the latter as the former.—By the Apostle's saying, the Righteousness of the Law is described thus, he that doth these Things shall live in them, but the Righteousness of Faith, faith thus, plainly intimates that the Righteous­ness of Faith faith otherwise, and in an opposite man­ner.—But besides, if these Words cited from Moses, are actually said by him of the moral Law as well as ceremonial, as 'tis most evident they are, it renders it still more absurd to suppose them mentioned by the A­postle, as the very Note of Distinction between Justifi­cation by a ceremonial Obedience, and a moral sincere Obedience, as the Arminians must suppose.

Thus I have spoken to a second Argument, to prove that we are not justified by any manner of Virtue or [Page 50] Goodness of our own, viz. That to suppose otherwise is contrary to the Doctrine that is directly urged, and abundantly insisted on by the Apostle Paul, in his Epistles.

I proceed now to a

Third Argument, viz That to suppose that we are justified by our own sincere Obedience, or any of our own Virtue or Goodness, derogates from Gospel Grace.

That Scheme of Justification that manifestly takes from, or diminishes the Grace of God, is undoubtedly to be rejected; for 'tis the declared Design of God in the Gospel to exalt the Freedom and Riches of his Grace, in that Method of Justification of Sinners, and Way of admitting them to his Favour, and the blessed Fruits of it, which it declares. The Scripture teaches that the Way of Justification that is appointed in the Gospel Covenant, is appointed, as it is, for that end, that free Grace might be express'd, and glorified; Rom. 4. 16▪ Therefore it is of Faith, that it might be by Grace. The exercising, and magnifying the free Grace of God in the Gospel contrivance for the Justification and Salvation of Sinners, is evidently the chief Design of it: And this Freedom and Riches of the Grace of the Gospel is every where spoken of in Scripture as the chief Glory of it. Therefore that Doctrine that dero­gates from the free Grace of God in justifying Sinners, as it is most opposite to God's Design, so it must be ex­ceeding offensive to him.

Those that maintain that we are justified by our own sincere Obedience, do pretend that their Scheme does not diminish the Grace of the Gospel; for they say that the Grace of God is wonderfully manifested in appointing such a Way and Method of Salvation, by sincere Obedience, in assisting us to perform such an O­bedience, and in accepting our imperfect Obedience, instead of perfect.

Let us therefore examine that Matter, whether their Scheme of a Man's being justified by his own Vertue, and sincere Obedience, does derogate from the Grace of God or no; or whether free Grace is not mo [...] exalted, [Page 51] in supposing as we do, that we are justified without any [...] of Goodness of our own. In order to this, I [...] down this self evident

[...] position, That whatsoever that be, by which the abundant Benevolence of the giver is express'd, and Grati­tude in the receiver is obliged, that magnifies free Grace. This I suppose none will ever controvert or dispute.

And it is not much less evident, that it doth both shew a more abundant Benevolence in the Giver when he shews kindness without Goodness or Excellency in the Object, to move him to it; and that it enhanses the Ob­ligation to gratitude in the Receiver.

1. It shews a more abundan [...] goodness in the Giver, when he shews kindness without any Excellency in our Persons or Actions that should move the giver to Love and Beneficence. For it certainly shews the more abun­dant and overflowing Goodness, or Disposition, to com­municate Good, by how much the less Loveliness or Excellency there is to entice Beneficence: The less there is in the receiver to draw good Will and Kind­ness, it argues the more of the Principle of good Will and Kindness in the Giver; For one that has but a lit­tle of a principle of Love and Benevolence, may be drawn to do Good, and to shew Kindness, when there is a great deal to draw him, or when there is much Excellency and Loveliness in the Object to move good Will; when he whose Goodness and Benevolence is more abundant, will shew Kindness, where there is less to draw it forth; for he don't so much need to have it drawn from without, he has enough of the principle within [...] move him, of it self. Where there is most of the principle, there it is most sufficient for itself; and stands in least need of something with­out to excite it: For certainly a more abundant Good­ness, more easily flows forth, with less to impell or draw it. Than where there is less; or which is the same Thing, the more any one is disposed of him­self, the less he needs. From without himself, to put him upon it, or stir him up to it. And therefore his Kindness and Goodness appears the more exceeding [Page 52] great, when it is bestowed without any, Excellency or Loveliness at all in the receiver, or when the receiver is respected in the Gift, as wholly without Excellency: And much more still when the Benevolence of the Giver not only finds nothing in the receiver to draw it, but a great deal of Hatefulness to repel it: The abun­dance of Goodness is then manifested, not only in flowing forth without any Thing extrinsick to put it forward, but in overcoming great Repulsion in the Ob­ject. And then does Kindness and Love appear most Triumphant, and wonderfully Great, when the receiver is respected in the Gift, as not only wholly without all Excellency or Beauty to attract it, but altogether, yea infinitely vile and hateful.

2. 'Tis apparent also that it enhanses the Obligation to Gratitude in the Receiver. This is agreeable to the common Sense of Mankind, that the less worthy or excellent the Object of Benevolence, or the receiver of Kindness is, the more he is obliged, and the greater Gratitude is due. He therefore is most of all obliged, that receives Kindness without any Goodness or Ex­cellency in himself, but with a total and universal Hate­fulness. And as 'tis agreeable to the common Sense of Mankind; so 'tis agreeable to the Word of God: How often does God in the Scripture insist on this Argument with Men, to move them to love him, and to acknow­ledge his Kindness? How much does he insist on this as an Obligation to Gratitude, that they are so sinful and [...]deserving, and illdeserving.

Therefore it certainly follows, that that Doctrine that teaches that God, when he justifies a Man, and shews him that great Kindness, as to give him a Right to eter­nal Life, don't do it for any Obedience, or any manner of Goodness of his; but that Justification respects a Man as ungodly, and wholly without any manner of Vertue, Beauty, or Excellency. [...] say, this Doctrine does cer­tainly more exalt the free Grace of God in Justification, and Man's Obligation to Gratitude to him, for such a Favour, th [...]n the contrary Doctrine, viz. That God in shewing this Kindness to Man, respects him as sin­cerely [Page 53] obedient and vertuous, and as having some­thing in him that is truly Excellent, and Lovely, and Acceptable in his Sight, and that this Goodness or Ex­cellency of Man is the very fundamental Condition of the bestowment of that Kindness on him, or of the dis­tinguishing him from others by that Benefit. But I hasten to a

Fourth Argument for the Truth of the Doctrine, That to suppose that a Man is justified by his own Vertue or Obedience, derogates from the Honour of the Mediator, and ascribes that to Man's Vertue, that belongs only to the Righteousness of Christ: It puts Man in Christ stead, and makes him his own Saviour, in a respect, in which Christ only is his Saviour: And so 'tis a Doctrine con­trary to the Nature, and Design of the Gospel which is to abase Man, and to ascribe all the Glory of our Sal­vation to Christ the Redeemer.—It is inconsistent with the Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ's Righ­teousness, which is a Gospel Doctrine.

Here I would

  • 1. Explain what we mean by the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness.
  • 2. Prove the Thing intended by it to be true.
  • 3. Shew that this Doctrine is utterly inconsistent with the Doctrine of our being justified by our own Vertue, or sincere Obedience.

First, I would explain what we mean by the Imputati­on of Christ's Righteousness. Sometimes the Expression is taken by our Divines in a larger Sense, for the Im­putation of all that Christ did and suffered for our Re­demption, whereby we are free from Guilt, and stand Righteous in the sight of God; and so implies the Im­putation both of Christ's Satisfaction, and Obedience. But here I intend it in a stricter Sense, for the Imputa­tion of that Righteousness, or moral Goodness, that consists in the Obedience of Christ. And by that Righ­teousness being imputed to us, is meant no other than this, that that Righteousness of Christ is accepted for us, and admitted instead of that perfect inherent Righteousness that ought to be in our selves: Christ's perfect Obedi­ence [Page 54] shall be reckoned to our Account, so that we shall have the Benefit of it, as tho' we had performed it our selves: And so we suppose that a Title to eternal Life is given us as the reward of this Righteousness. The Scripture uses the Word impute in this Sense, viz. For reckoning any Thing belonging to any Person, to ano­ther Person's Account: As Philem. v. 18. If he have wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine Account. In the Original it is [...] impute that to me. 'Tis a Word of the same Root with that which is translated impute, Rom 4. 6. To whom God imputeth Righteousness without Works. And 'tis the very same Word that is used, Rom. 5. 13. that is translated impute; sin is not imputed, where there is no Law.

The opposers of this Doctrine suppose that there is an absurdity in it: They say that to suppose that God imputes Christ's Obedience to us, is to suppose that God is mistaken, and thinks that we perform'd that Obedi­ence that Christ performed. But why can't that Righ­teousness be reckoned to our Account, and be accepted for us, without any such absurdity? Why is there any more absurdity in it, then in a Merchant's transferring Debt or Credit from one Man's Account to another, when one Man pays a Price for another, so that it shall be accepted as if that other had paid it? Why is there any more absurdity in supposing that Christ's Obedience is imputed to us, than that his Satisfaction is imputed? If Christ has suffered the Penalty of the Law for us, and in our stead, then it will follow, that his suffering that Penalty is imputed to us, i. e. That it is accepted for us, and in our stead, and is reckon'd to our Account, as tho' we had suffered it. But why mayn't his obeying the Law of God be as rationally reckon'd to our Ac­count, as his suffering the Penalty of the Law? Why may not a Price to bring into Debt, be as rationally trans­ferr'd from one Person's Account to another, as a Price to pay a Debt—Having thus explain'd what we mean by the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness, I proceed,

[Page 55] Secondly, To prove that the Righteousness of Christ is thus imputed.

1. There is the very same need of Christ's obeying the Law in our stead, in order to the Reward, as of his suffering the Penalty of the Law, in our stead, in order to our escaping the Penalty; and the same Reason why one should be accepted on our Account, as the other▪ There is the same need of one as the other, that the Law of God might be answered: One was as requisite to answer the Law as the other, This is certain, that that was the Reason why there was need that Christ suffer the Penalty for us, even that the Law might be an­swered; for this the Scripture plainly teaches: This is given as the Reason why Christ was made a curse for us, that the Law threatned a curse to us, Gal. 3, 10, 13. But the same Law that fixes the curse of God, as the consequent of not continuing in all Things written i [...] the Law to do them, (v. 10.) has as much fixed doing those Things as an antecedent of living in them, (as v. 1. the next Verse but one;) There is as much of a Co [...] ­nection established in one Case as in the other. The [...] is therefore exactly the same need from the Law of per­fect Obedience being fulfill'd, in order to our obtaining the Reward, as there is of Death's being suffered, in order to our escaping the Punishment, or the same Necessity by the Law, of perfect Obedience preceeding Life, as there is of Disobedience being succeeded by Death: The Law is without doubt, as much of an established Rule in one Case as in the other.

Christ by suffering the Penalty, and so making At­tonement for us, only removes the Guilt of our Sins and so sets us in the same State that Adam was in the first Moment of his Creation: And it is no more fit, that we should obtain eternal Life, only on that Ac­count, than that Adam should have the Reward of eter­nal Life, or of a confirmed and unalterable State of Hap­piness, the first Moment of his existence, without any Obedience at all.— Adam was not to have the Reward meerly on the Account of his being innocent; if so, he would have had it fixed upon him at once, as soon [Page 56] as ever he was created; for he was as innocent then as he could be: But he was to have the Reward on the Account of his Activeness in Obedience; not on the Account meerly of his not having done ill, but on the Account of his doing well.

So on the same Account we han't eternal Life meerly on the Account of being void of Guilt, (as Adam was at first existence,) which we have by the Attonement of Christ; but on the Account of Christ's activeness in Obedience, and doing well. Christ is our second [...]ede­al. Head, and is called the second Adam. 1 Cor. 15, 22. because he acted the Part for us, that the first Adam should have done: When he had undertaken for us to stand in our stead, he was looked upon, and treated as tho' he were guilty with our Guilt; and by his satisfy­ing, or bearing the Penalty, he did as it were free himself from this Guilt. But by this, the second Adam did only bring himself into the State that the first Adam was in on the first Moment of his Existence, viz a State of mee [...] freedom from Guilt; and hereby indeed was free from any Obligation to suffer Punishment: But this be­ing supposed, there was need of something further, even a positive Obedience, in order to his obtaining, as our second Adam, the Reward of eternal Life.

God saw meet to place Man first in a State of Trial, and not to give him a Title to eternal Life, as soon as he had made him: because it was his will that he should first give Honour to his Authority, by fully sub­mitting to it, in Will and Act, and perfectly obeying his Law. God insisted upon it that his holy Majesty and Law should have their due Acknowledgement, and Honour from Man, such as became the Relation he stood in to that Being that created him, before he would be­stow the Reward of confirmed and everlasting Happi­ness upon him; and therefore God gave him a Law when he created him, that he might have Opportunity, by giving due Honour to his Authority in obeying it, to obtain this Happiness. It therefore became Christ, seeing that in assuming Man to himself, he [...]ought a Title to this eternal Happiness for him, after he had [Page 57] broken the Law, that he himself should become sub­ject to God's Authority, and be in the Form of a Servant, that he might do that honour to God's Authority for him, by his Obedience, which God at first required of Man, as the Condition of his having a Title to that Reward. Christ came into the World to that end, to render the Honour of God's Authority and Law, con­sistent with the Salvation and eternal Life of Sinners; he came to save them, and yet withal to assert and vin­dicate the Honour of the Lawgiver, and his holy Law. Now if the Sinner after his Sin was satisfied for, had eternal Life bestowed upon him, without active Righ­teousness, the Honour of his Law would not be suffici­ently vindicated. Supposing this were possible, that the Sinner himself could by suffering pay the Debt, and afterwards be in the same State that he was in before his Probation, that is to say, negatively righteous, or meerly without Guilt; if he now at last should have eternal Life bestowed upon him, without performing that Condition of Obedience, then God would recede from his Law, and would give the promised Reward, and his Law never have Respect and Honour shewn to it, in that Way of being obeyed▪ But now Christ by subjecting himself [...] the Law and obeying of it, has done great Honour to the Law, and to the Autho­rity of God who gave it: That so glorious a Person should become subject to the Law, and fulfil it, has done much more to honour it, than if meer Man had obeyed it: It was a Thing infinitely honourable to God that a Person of infinite Dignity was not ashamed to call him his God, and to adore and obey him as such: This was more to God's Honour than if any meer Crea­ture, of any possible Degree of Excellency and Dignity, had so done.

'Tis absolutely necessary that in order to a Sinner's being justified, the Righteousness of some other should be reckoned to his Account; for 'tis declared that the Person justified is looked upon as (in himself) ungod­ly; but God neither will nor can justify a Person with­out a Righteousness; for Justification is manifestly a [Page 58] forensick Term, as the Word is used in Scripture, and the Thing a judicial Thing, or the act of a Judge: So that if a Person should be justified without a Righte­ousness, the Judgment would not be according to Truth: The Sentence of Justification would be a false Sentence, unless there be a Righteousness performed that is by the Judge properly looked upon as his. To say, that God don't justify the Sinner without sincere, tho' an imperfect Obedience, don't help the Case; for an imperfect Righteousness before a Judge is no Righte­ousness. To accept of something that falls short of the Rule, instead of something else that answers the Rule, is no judicial Act, or act of a Judge, but a pure Act of sove­reignty. An imperfect Righteousness is no Righteousness, before a Judge; For ‘Righteousness [as one observes] is a relative Thing, and has always Relation to a Law: The formal Nature of Righteousness, properly under­stood, lies in a conformity of Actions to that which is the Rule and Measure of them.’ Therefore that only is Righteousness in the Sight of a Judge that answers the Law* [Page 59] The Law is the Judges Rule: If he pardons and hides what really is, and so don't pass Sentence according to what Things are in themselves, he either don't act the Part of a Judge, or else judges falsly. The very Notion [Page 60] of judging, is to determine what is, and what is not, in any one's Case. The Judge's Work is two fold, it is to determine first what is fact, and then whether what is in fact be according to Rule, or according to the Law. If a Judge has no Rule or Law established before Hand, by which he should proceed in judging, he has no Foundation to go upon in judging, he has no Opportu­nity to be a Judge; nor is it possible that he should do the Part of a Judge. To judge without a Law or Rule by which to judge, is impossible, for the very Notion of judging is to determine whether the Object of Judgment be according to Rule; and therefore God has declared that when he acts as a Judge he will not justifie the Wicked, and cannot clear the Guilty; and by parity of Reason cannot justify without Righteousness.

And the Scheme of the old Law's being abrogated, and a new Law introduced, won't help at all in this difficulty; for an imperfect Righteousness cannot an­swer the Law of God that we are under, whither that be an old one or a new one; for every Law requires perfect Obedience to it self: Every Rule whatsoever requires perfect conformity to it self; 'tis a Contradicti­on to suppose otherwise; for to say, that there is a Law that don't require perfect Obedience to it self, is to say that there is a Law that don't require all that it re­quires. That Law that now forbids Sin, is certainly the Law that we are now under, (let that be an old one, or a new one;) or else it is not sin: That which is not for­bidden, and is the Breach of no Law, is no Sin: But if we are now forbidden to commit Sin, then 'tis by a Law that we are now under, for surely we are neither under the forbiddings, nor commandings of a Law that we are not under. Therefore if all Sin is now forbid­den, then we are now under a Law that requires per­fect Obedience; and therefore nothing can be accepted as a Righteousness in the sight of our Judge, but per­fect Righteousness So that our Judge cannot justify us, unless he sees a perfect Righteousness, some way be­longing, to us, [...] performed by our selves, or by another, and justly and duly reckon'd to our Ac­count.

[Page 61] God doth in the Sentence of Justification pro­nounce a Man perfectly Righteous, or else he would need a further Justification after he is justified: His Sins being removed by Christ's Atonement, is not suf­ficient for his Justification; for justifying a Man, as has been already shewn, is not meerly pronouncing him in­nocent or without Guilt, but standing Right, with regard to the Rule that he is under, and righteous unto Life; But this according to the established Rule of Nature, Reason, and Divine Appointment, is a positive perfect Righteousness.

As there is the same need that Christ's Obedience should he reckon'd to our Account, as that his Atone­ment should; so there is the same Reason why it should. As if Adam had persevered, and finished his course of Obedience, we should have received the Benefit of his Obedience, as much as now we have the Mischief of his Disobedience; so in like Manner, there is Reason that we should receive the Benefit of the second Adam's Obedience, as of his Atonement of our Disobedience: Believers are represented in Scripture as being so in Christ, as that they are legally one, or accepted as one, by the supreme Judge: Christ has assumed our Nature, and has so assumed all, in that Nature, that belong to him, into such an Union with himself, that he is become their Head, and has taken them to be his Members: And therefore what Christ has done in our Nature, whereby he did honour to the Law and Authority of God by his Acts, as well as the Reparation to the ho­nour of the Law, by his sufferings, is reckon'd to the be­lievers Account; so as that the believer should be made happy, because it was so well, and worthily done by his Head, as well as freed from being miserable, because he has suffered for our ill and unworthy doing.

When Christ had once undertaken with God, to stand for us, and put himself under our Law, by that Law he was obliged to suffer and by the same Law he was obliged to obey: By the same Law, after he had taken Man's Guilt upon him▪ he himself being our Surety, could not be acquitted, till he had suffer'd, nor [Page 62] rewarded 'till he had obey'd: But he was not acquitted as a private Person, but as our Head, and Believers are acquitted in his Acquittance; nor was he accepted to a Reward for his Obedience as a private Person, but as our Head, and we are accepted to a Reward in his Ac­ceptance. The Scripture teaches us, that when Christ was raised from the dead, he was justified; which Justi­fication as I have already shewn, implies, both his Ac­quittance from our Guilt, and [...]is Acceptance to the Exaltation and Glory that was the Reward of his O­bedience: But believers, as soon as they Believe are admitted to partake with Christ in this his Justification: Hence we are told that he was raised again for our Justification, Rom 4. 25. Which is true, not only of that Part of his Justification that consists in his Acquit­tance; but also his Acceptance to his Reward: The Scripture teaches us that he is exalted, and gone to Heaven, to take Possession of Glory in our Name, as our forerunner. Heb 6 20 We are as it were both raised up together with Christ, and also made to set to­gether with Christ, in heavenly Places, and in Him. Eph 2. 6.

If it be objected here, that there is this Reason, why what Christ suffer'd should be accepted on our Account rather than the Obedience he performed, that he was obliged to Obedience for himself, but was not obliged to suffer but only on our Account. To this I answer, that Christ was not obliged on his own Account, to under­take to obey. Christ in his original Circumstances, was in no subjection to the Father, being altogether equal with him: He was under no Obligation to put himself in Man's stead, and under Man's Law, or to put himself into any State of Subjection to God what­soever. There was a Transaction between the Father and the Son, that was antecedent to Christ's becoming Man▪ and being made under the Law, wherein he un­dertook to put himself under the Law, and both to obey and to suffer▪ in which Transaction these Things were already vertually done in the sight of God; as is evident by this, that God acted on the Ground of [Page 63] that Transaction, justifying and saving Sinners, as if the Things undertaken had been actually performed long before they were performed indeed▪ And therefore, without doubt, in order to the estimating the value, and validity of what Christ did and suffered, we must look back to that Transaction, wherein these Things were first undertaken, and vertually done in the sight of God, and see what Capacity and Circumstances Christ acted in then, and then we shall find that Christ was under no manner of Obligation, either to obey the Law, or suffer the Penalty of it. After this he was equally under Obligation to both; for henceforward he stood as our Surety or Representative: And therefore this consequent Obligation, may be as much of an Objection against the validity of his suffering the Penalty, as against his Obedience. But if we look to that original Transaction between the Father and the Son, wherein both th [...]se were undertaken and ac­cepted, as vertually done in the sight of the Father, we shall find Christ acting with Regard to both, as one perfectly in his own Right, and under no manner of previous Obligation, to hinder the validity of either.

2. To suppose that all that Christ does is only to make Atonement for us by suffering, is to make him our Saviour but in Part. 'Tis to rob him of half his Glory as a Saviour. For if so, all that he does is to de­liver us from Hell, he don't purchase Heaven for us. The adverse Scheme supposes that he purchases Heaven for us, in this Sense, that he satisfies for the imper­fections of our Obedience, and so purchases that our sincere imperfect Obedience might be accepted as the Condition of eternal Life; and so purchases an op­portunity for us to obtain Heaven by our own Obedi­ence. But to purchase Heaven for us, only in this Sense, is to purchase it in no Sense at all; for all of it comes to no more than a Satisfaction for our Sins, or removing the Penalty by suffering in our stead: For all the purchasing they speak of, that [...] imperfect Obedience should be accepted, is only his satisfying [Page 64] for the sinful imperfection of our Obedience, or (which is the same Thing) making Atonement for the Sin that our Obedience is attended with. But that is not pur­chasing Heaven, meerly to set us at Liberty again, that we may go, and get Heaven by what we do our selves: all that Christ does is only to pay a Debt for us; there is no positive Purchase of any Good.—We are taught in Scripture that Heaven is purchased for us, 'tis called the purchased Possession, Eph. 1. 14. The Gospel pro­poses the eternal Inheritance, not to be acquired, as the first Covenant did, but as already acquired and purcha­sed: But he that pays a Man's Debt for him, and so de­livers him from Slavery, can't be said to purchase an Estate for him, meerly because he sets him at Liberty, so that henceforward he has an opportunity to get an Estate by his own hand Labour. So that according to this Scheme, the Saints in Heaven have no Reason to thank Christ for purchasing Heaven for 'em, or re­deeming them to God, and making them King's and Priest's, as we have an Account that they do in Rev.5. 9

3. Justification by the Righteousness and Obedience of Christ, is a Doctrine that the Scripture teaches in ve­ry full Terms. Rom. 5. 18, 19. By the Righteousness of one, the free Gift came upon all Men unto Justificati­on of Life. For as by one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners, so by the Obedience of one shall many be made Righteous. Here in one verse we are told that we have Justification by Christ's Righteousness; and that there might be no room to understand the Righ­teousness spoken of meerly of Christ's Atonement, by his suffering the Penalty, in the next verse, 'tis put in other Terms, and asserted that 'tis by Christ's Obedience that we are made Righteous. 'Tis scarce possible any Thing should be more full and deter­mined: The Terms, taken singly, are such as do fix their own meaning, and taken together, they fix the meaning of each other: The Words shew that we are justified by that Righteousness of Christ, that consists in his Obedience, and that we are made righteous or justi­fied [Page 65] by that Obedience of his, that is his Righteousness, or moral Goodness before God.

Here possibly it may be objected, that this Text means only that we are justified by Christ's passive O­bedience.

To this I answer, whether we call it active or pas­sive, it alters not the Case as to the present Argument, as long as 'tis evident by the Words that 'tis not meerly under the Notion of an Atonement for Disobedience, or a Satisfaction for Unrighteousness, but under the Notion of a positive Obedience, and a Righteousness, or moral Goodness, that it justifies us, or makes us righte­ous; because both the Words Righteousness, and Obedi­ence are used, and used too as the Opposites to Sin and Disobedience, and an Offence. Therefore, as by the Of­fence of one, Judgment came upon all Men to Condemnati­on; even so by the Righteousness of one, the free Gift came upon all Men to Justification of Life. For as by one Man's Disobedience▪ many were made Sinners; so by the Obedience of one, shall many be made Righteous. Now what can be meant by Righteousness, when spoken of as the Opposite to Sin, or moral Evil, but only moral Goodness? What is the Righteousness that is the Op­posite of an Offence; but only the Behaviour that is well pleasing? and what can be meant by Obedience, when spoken o [...] as the Opposite of Disobedience, or go­ing contrary to a Command, but a positive obeying and an actual complying with the Command? So that there is no Room for any invented Distinction of active and passive, [...]o hurt the Argument from this Scripture, as long as 'tis evident by it as any Thing can be, that Believers are justified by the Righteousness and Obedi­ence of Christ under the Notion of his moral Goodness, and his pos [...]ive obeying, and actual complying with the Commands of God, and that Behaviour of his, that, be­cause of it's Conformity to his Commands, was well-pleasing in his Sight. This is all that ever any need to desire to have granted in this Dispute.

By this it appears, that if Christ's dying be here inclu­ded in the Words, Righteousness and Obedience, it is [Page 66] not meerly as a Propitiation, or bearing a Penalty of a broken Law in our stead, but as his voluntary sub­mitting and yielding himself to those Sufferings, was an Act of Obedience to the Father's Commands, and so was a Part of his positive Righteousness, or moral Good­ness.

Indeed all Obedience considered under the Notion of Obedience or Righteousness, is something active, something that is done in active and voluntary Com­pliance with a Command; whether that which we do in Obedience is something easy, and something that may be done without Suffering, or whether it be some­thing hard and difficult; yet as 'tis Obedience, or Righteousness, or moral Goodness▪ it must be consider­ed as something voluntary and active. If any one is commanded to go through Difficulties, and Sufferings, and he in Compliance with this command voluntarily does it, he properly obeys in so doing; and as he vo­luntarily does it, in Compliance with a Command, his Obedience is as active as any whatsoever: 'Tis the same sort of Obedience, a Thing of the very same Na­ture, as when a Man in Compliance with a Command, does a piece of hard Service, or goes through hard Labour; and there is no Room to distinguish between such Obedience and other that is more easy, and to make a different sort of Obedience of it, as if it were a Thing of quite a different Nature, by such opposite Terms as active and passive: all the Distinction that can be pretended, is that which is between obeying an easy Command and a difficult one: But is not the Obe­dience it self of the same Nature, because the Commands to be obeyed, are some of 'em more difficult than others? Is there from hence any Foundation to make too Species of Obedience, one active and the other passive?—There is no Appearance of any such Distinction ever entring into the Hearts of any of the Penmen of Scrip­ture.

'Tis true that of late, when a Man refuses to obey the Precept of an human Law, but patiently yields him­self up to suffer the Penalty of the Law, it is called [Page 67] passive Obedience; but this I suppose is only a modern Use of the Word Obedience; besure it is a Sense of the Word, that the Scripture is a perfect Stranger to; and it is improperly called Obedience, unless there be such a Precept in the Law, that he shall yield himself pa­tiently to suffer, to which his so doing shall be an ac­tive voluntary Conformity. There may in some Sense be said to be a Conformity to the Law in a Person's Suffering the Penalty of the Law; but no other Con­formity to the Law is properly called Obedience to it, but an active voluntary Conformity to the Precepts of it: The Word obey is often found in Scripture with Respect to the Law of God to Man, but never in any other Sense.

'Tis true that Christ's willingly undergoing those Suf­ferings which he endured, is a great Part of that Obedience o [...] Righteousness by which we are justified. The Suffer­ings of Christ are respected in Scripture under a two­fold Consideration, either meerly as his being substituted for us, or put into our stead, in suffering the Penalty of the Law; and so his Sufferings are considered as a Satis­faction and Propitiation for Sin: Or as he in Obedience to a Law, or Command of the Father, voluntarily sub­mitted himself to those Sufferings, and actively yielded himself up to bear them; and so they are considered as his Righteousness, and a Part of his active Obedience. Christ underwent Death in Obedience to the Command of the Father, Psalm 40 6, 7, 8. Sacrifice and Offering thou didst not desire: mine Ears hast thou bored. Burnt Of­fering and Sin Offering thou hast not required: Then said I, so I come; in the Volume of the Book it is written of me: I delight to do thy Will, O my God, and thy Law is within my Heart. John 10. 17, 18. I lay down my Life that I may take it again: No Man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of my self: I have Power to lay it down, and I have Power to take it again: This Com­mandment have I received of my Father▪ John 18. 11. The Cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? And this is Part, and indeed the prin­cipal Part of that active Obedience that we are justified by▪

[Page 68] It can be no just Objection against this, that that Com­mand of the Father to Christ that he should lay down his Life, was no Part of the Law that we had broken, and therefore that his obeying this Command could be no Part of that Obedience that he performed for us, be­cause we needed that he should obey no other Law for us, but only that which we had broken or fail'd of obey­ing▪ For altho' it must be the same legislative Autho­rity, whose Honour is repair'd by Christ's Obedience, that we have injured by our Disobedience; yet there is no need that the Law that Christ obeys should be pre­cisely the same that Adam was to have obeyed, in that Sense that there should be no positive Precepts wanting, nor any added: There was wanting the Precept about the forbidden Fruit, and there was added the ceremonial Law. The Thing required was perfect Obedience: It is no Matter whether the positive Precepts were the same, if they were equivalent. The positive Precepts that Christ was to obey, were much more than equivalent to what was wanting, because infinitely more difficult, particularly the Command that he had received to lay down his Life, which was his principal Act of Obedience, and which above all others, is concern'd in our Justification. As that Act of Disobedience by which we fell, was Disobe­dience to a positive Precept that Christ never was under, viz. that of abstaining from the Tree of Knowlege of Good and Evil, so that Act of Obedience by which prin­cipally we are redeemed, is Obedience to a positive Pre­cept that Adam never was under, viz the Precept of laying down his Life▪ It was sutable that it should be a positive Precept that should try both Adam's and Christ's Obedience: Such Precepts are the greatest and most proper Trial of Obedience, because in them, the meer Authority and Will of the Legislator is the sole Ground of the Obligation, (and nothing in the Nature of the Things themselves;) and therefore they are the great­est Trial of any Person's Respect to that Authority and Will.

The Law that Christ was subject to, and obeyed, was in some Sense the same that was given to Adam: There [Page 69] are innumerable particular Duties that are required by the Law only conditionally; and in such Circumstances, are comprehended in some great and general Rule of that Law. Thus for Instance, there are innumerable Acts of Respect and Obedience to Men, which are required by the Law of Nature, (which was a Law given to Adam,) which yet ben' [...] required absolutely, but upon many pre­requisite Conditions; as that there be Men standing in such Relations to us, and that they give forth such Com­mands, and the like: So many Acts of Respect and Obe­dience to God, are included, in like manner, in the moral Law conditionally, or such and such Things being sup­posed▪ as Abraham's going about to sacrifice his Son, the Jews circumcising their Children when eight Days old, and Adam's not eating the forbidden Fruit; they are virtually comprehended in that great general Rule of the moral Law, that we should obey God, and be subject to him in whatsoever he pleases to command us. Cer­tainly the moral Law does as much require us to obey God's positive Commands, as it requires us to obey the positive Commands of our Parents▪ And thus all that Adam, and all that Christ was commanded, even his ob­serving the Rites and Ceremonies of the jewish Worship, and his laying down his Life, was virtually included in this same great Law.*

[Page 70] 'Tis no Objection against the last mention'd Thing, even Christ's laying down his Life, its being included in the moral Law given to Adam, because that Law it self allowed of no Occasion for any such Thing; for the mo­ral Law virtually includes all right Acts, on all possible Occasions, even Occasions that the Law it self allows not: Thus we are obliged by the moral Law to mortify our Lusts, and repent of our Sins, tho' that Law allows of no Lust to mortify, or Sin to repent of.

There is indeed but one great Law of God, and that is the same Law that says, if thou sinnest thou shalt die, and cursed is every one that continues not in all Things contain­ed in this Law to do them: All Duties of positive Insti­tution, are virtually comprehended in this Law: and therefore if the Jews brake the ceremonial Law, it ex­posed 'em to the Penalty of the Law, or Covenant of Works, which threaten'd, thou shalt surely die. The Law is the eternal and unalterable Rule of Righteousness, be­tween God and Man, and therefore is the Rule of Judg­ment, by which all that a Man does shall be either justified or condemn'd; and no Sin exposes to Damna­tion, but by the Law: So now he that refuses to obey the Precepts that require an Attendance on the Sacra­ments of the New-Testament, is exposed to Damnation, by Virtue of the Law or Covenant of Works.—It may moreover be argued, that all Sins whatsoever, are Breaches of the Law or Covenant of Works, because all Sins, even Breaches of the positive Precepts, as well as others▪ have Atonement by the Death of Christ: But what Christ died for, was to satisfy the Law, or to bear the Curse of the Law; as appears by Gal. 3. 10, 11, 12, 1 [...]. and Rom 8. 3, 4

[Page 71] So that Christ's laying down his Life might be Part of that Obedience by which we are justified, tho' it was a positive Precept, not given to Adam. It was doubt­less Christ's main Act of Obedience, because it was Obe­dience to a Command that was attended with immensely the greatest Difficulty, and so to a Command that was the greatest Trial of his Obedience; his Respect shown to God in it, and his Honour to God's Authority, was pro­portionably great: It is spoken of in Scripture as Christ's principal Act of Obedience. Philip. 2. 7, 8. But made himself of no Reputation, and took upon him the Form of a Servant, and was made in the Likeness of Man, and be­ing found in Fashion as a Man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross Heb. 5. 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he Obedience by the Things that he suffered. It was mainly by this Act of Obedience, that Christ purchased so glo­rious a Reward for himself; as in that Place in Philippi­ans 2. 8, 9. He became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name, which is above every Name: And it therefore follows from what has been already said, that it's mainly by this Act of Obedience, that Believers in Christ also, have the Reward of Glory, or come to partake with Christ in his Glory. We are as much sa­ved by the Death of Christ, as his yielding himself to die was an Act of Obedience, as we are, as it was a Pro­pitiation for our Sins: For as it was not the only Act of Obedience that merited, he having performed meritori­ous Acts of Obedience through the whole Course of his Life; so neither was it the only Suffering that was pro­pitiatory; all his Sufferings through the whole Course of his Life being propitiatory, as well as every Act of Obedience meritorious: Indeed this was his principal Suffering; and it was as much his principal Act of Obe­dience.

Hence we may see how that the Death of Christ did not only make Atonement, but also merited eternal Life; and hence we may see how by the Blood of Christ we are not only redeemed from Sin, but redeemed unto [Page 72] God; and therefore the Scripture seems every where to attribute the whole of Salvation to the Blood of Christ: This precious Blood is as much the main Price by which Heaven is purchased, as 'tis the main Price by which we are redeemed from Hell. The positive Righte­ousness of Christ, or that Price by which he merited, was of equal Value with that by which he satisfied; for in­deed it was the same Price: He spill'd his Blood to satis­fy, and by Reason of the infinite Dignity of his Person, his Sufferings were looked upon as of infinite Value, and equivalent to the eternal Sufferings of a finite Creature: And he spill'd his Blood out of Respect to the Honour of God's Majesty, and in Submission to his Authority, who had commanded him so to do, and his Obedience there in was of infinite Value; both because of the Dignity of the Person that performed it, and because he put him­self to infinite Expence to perform it, whereby the infi­nite Degree of his Regard to God's Authority appear'd.

One would wonder what Arminians mean by Christ's Merits: They talk of Christ's Merits as much as any Body, and yet deny the Imputation of Christ's positive Righteousness: What should there be that any one should merit or deserve any Thing by, besides Righte­ousness or Goodness? If any Thing that Christ did or suffered, merited or deserved any Thing▪ it was by Vir­tue of the Goodness, or Righteousness, or Holiness of it: If Christ's Sufferings and Death merited Heaven, it must be because there was an excellent Righteousness, and transcendent moral Goodness in that Act of laying down his Life: And if by that excellent Righteousness he merited Heaven for us, then surely that Righteous­ness is reckon'd to our Account, that we have the Benefit of it, or which is the same Thing, it is imputed to us.

Thus I hope I have made it evident, that the Righte­ousness of Christ is indeed imputed to us. I proceed now to the

Third, and last Thing under this Argument, That this Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness is utterly inconsistent with the Doctrine of our being [Page 73] justified by our own Virtue, or sincere Obedience. If Acceptance to God's Favour, and a Title to Life, be gi­ven to Believers, as the Reward of Christ's Obedience, then it is not given as the Reward of our own Obedience. In what respect soever, Christ is our Saviour, that doubt­less excludes our being our own Saviours, in that same respect. If we can be our own Saviours in the same re­spect that Christ is, it will thence follow that the Salva­tion of Christ is needless, in that respect; according to the Apostle's reasoning, Gal. 5. 4. Christ is render'd of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law. Doubtless 'tis Christ's Prerogative to be our Saviour, in that Sense wherein he is our Saviour: And therefore if it be by his Obedience that we are justified, then it is not by our own Obedience.

Here perhaps it may be said, that a Title to Salvation is not directly given as the Reward of our Obedience; for that is not by any Thing of ours; but only by Christ's Satisfaction and Righteousness; but yet an In­terest in that Satisfaction and Righteousness is given as a Reward of our Obedience.

But this don't at all help the Case; for this is to as­cribe as much to our Obedience, as if we ascribed Sal­vation to it directly, without the Intervention of Christ's Righteousness: For it would be as great a Thing for God to give us Christ, and his Satisfaction and Righte­ousness, in Reward for our Obedience, as to give us Heaven immediately; it would be as great a Reward, and as great a Testimony of respect to our Obedience. And if God gives as great a Thing as Salvation, for our Obedience, why could he not as well give Salvation it self directly? And then there would have been no need of Christ's Righteousness. And indeed if God gives us Christ, or an Interest in him, properly in reward of our Obedience, he does really give us Salvation in reward for our Obedience; for the former implies the latter; yea it implies it as the greater implies the less. So that indeed it exalts our Vertue and Obedience more, to suppose that God gives us Christ in reward of that Vertue and Obedience, than if he should give Salva­tion without Christ.

[Page 74] The Thing that the Scripture guards, and militates against, is our imagining that 'tis our own Goodness, Vertue, or Excellency, that instates us in God's Ac­ceptance and Favour. But to suppose that God gives us an Interest in Christ [...] in Reward for our Vertue, is as great an Argument that it instates us in God's Favour, as if he bestowed a title to eternal Life, as it's direct reward. If God gives us an Interest in Christ, as a reward of our Obedience, it will then follow, that we are instated in God's Acceptance and Favour by our own Obedience, antecedent to our having an Interest in Christ. For a rewarding any one's Excellency, ever-more supposes Favour and Acceptance on the Account of that Excellency: It is the very Notion of a reward, that it is a good Thing, bestowed in Testimony of re­spect and Favour for the Vertue or Excellency reward­ed. So that it is not by Vertue of our Interest in Christ and his Merits, that we first come into Favour with God, according to this Scheme; for we are in God's Favour before we have any Interest in those Merits; in that we have an Interest in those Merits given as a Fruit of God's Favour for our own Vertue. If our In­terest in Christ be the Fruit of God's Favour, then it can't be the Ground of it. If God did not accept us, and had no Favour for us, for our own Excellency, he never would bestow so great a Reward upon us, as a Right in Christ's Satisfaction and Righteousness. So that such a Scheme destroys it self, for it supposes that Christ's Satisfaction and Righteousness are necessa­ry for us to recommend us to the Favour of God; and yet supposes that we have God's Favour and Accep­tance▪ before we have Christ's Satisfaction and Righte­ousness, and have these given as a Fruit of God's Fa­vour

Indeed, neither Salvation it self, nor Christ the Savi­our, are given as a Reward of any Thing in Man: They are not given as a Reward of Faith, nor any Thing else of ours: W [...] are not united to Christ as a Reward of our Faith, but have Union with him by Faith, only as Faith is the very Act of uniting, or closing on our Part. [Page 75] As when a Man offers himself to a Woman in Marriage, he don't give himself to her as a Reward of her receiv­ing him in Marriage: Her receiving him is not consi­der'd as a worthy Deed in her, for which he rewards her▪ by giving himself to her; but 'tis by her receiving him, that the Union is made, by which she hath him for her Husband: 'Tis on her Part the Unition it self.—By these Things it appears how contrary to the Scheme of the Gospel of Christ, their Scheme is, who say that Faith justifies as a 'Principle of Obedience, or as a leading Act of Obedience; or (as others) the Sum, and Comprehen­sion of all evangelical Obedience: For by this 'tis the Obedience or Virtue that is in Faith, that is the Thing, that gives it its justifying Influence; and that is the same thing as to say, that we are justified by our own Obedi­ence, Virtue or Goodness.

Having thus considered the Evidence of the Truth of the Doctrine, I proceed now to the

IIId Thing proposed, viz. To shew in what Sense the Acts of a christian Life, or of evangelical Obedience, may be looked upon to be concern'd in this Affair.

From what has been said already, it is manifest that they cannot have any Concern in this Affair as good Works, or by Virtue of any moral Goodness in them; not as Works of the Law, or as that moral Excellency, or any Part of it, that is the answering or Fulfilment of that great, and universal, and everlasting Law or Co­venant of Works, that the great Lawgiver has estab­lished, as the highest and unalterable Rule of Judg­ment; which Christ alone answers, or does any Thing towards it.

And it having been shown, out of the Scripture, that 'tis only by Faith, or the Soul's receiving, and uniting to the Saviour, that has wrought out Righteousness, that we are justified; it therefore remains that the Acts of a christian Life can't be concerned in this Af­fair any otherwise, than as they imply, and are the Expressions of Faith, and may be looked upon as so many Acts of Reception of Christ the Saviour.

[Page 76] But the determining what concern Acts of christian Obedience can have in Justification in this Respect, will depend on the resolving of another Point, viz Whe­ther any other Act of Faith besides the first Act, has any Concern in our Justification, or how far Perseverance in Faith, or the continued and renewed Acts of Faith, have Influence in this Affair.

And it seems manifest that Justification is by the first Act of Faith, in some Respects, in a Peculiar Manner, because a Sinner is actually and finally justified as soon as he has performed one Act of Faith; and Faith in its first Act does, virtually at least, depend on God for Perseverance, and intitles to this among other Benefits. But yet the Perseverance of Faith is not excluded in this Affair; it is not only certainly connected with Justifi­cation, but it is not to be excluded from that on which the Justification of a Sinner has a Dependance, or that by which he is justified.

I have shown that the Way in which Justification has a Dependance on Faith, is that it is the Qualification on which the Congruity of an Interest in the Righteous­ness of Christ depends, or wherein such a Fitness con­sists. But the Consideration of the Perseverance of Faith, can't be excluded out of this Congruity or Fitness, for it is congruous that he that believes in Christ should have an Interest in Christ's Righteousness, and so in the eternal Benefits purchased by it, because Faith is that by which the Soul hath Union or Oneness with Christ, and there is a natural Congruity in it, that they that are one with Christ, should have a joint Interest with him in his eternal Benefits; but yet this Congruity depends on its being an abiding Union. As it is needful that the Branch should abide in the Vine, in order to its receiv­ing the lasting Benefits of the Root, so it is necessary that the Soul should abide in Christ, in order to its re­ceiving those lasting Benefits of God's final Acceptance and Favour. John 15. 6, 7. If a Man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a Branch. If ye abide in me, and my Words abide you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Verses 9, 10. Continue ye in my Love: If [Page 77] ye keep (or abide in) my Commandments, ye shall abide in my Love, even as I have kept my Father's Command­ments, and abide in his Love. There is the same Reason why it is necessary that the Union with Christ should remain, as why it should be begun, why it should con­tinue to be, as why it should once be: If it should be begun without remaining, the beginning would be in vain. In order to the Soul's being now in a justified State, and now free from Condemnation, 'tis necessary that it should now be in Christ, and not only that it should once have been in him. Rom. 8. 1. There is no Con­demnation to them are in Christ Jesus. The Soul is saved in Christ, as being now in him, when the Salvation is bestowed, and not meerly as remembring that it once was in him. Philip. 3 9. That I may be FOUND IN HIM, not having mine own Righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the Righteousness which is of God by Faith. 1 John 2. 28. And now little Children abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have Confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his Coming. In order to Persons being blessed after Death, 'tis necessary not only that they should once be in him, but that they should die in him. Rev. 14. 13. Blessed are the Dead that die in the Lord

And there is the same Reason why Faith, the uniting Qualification, should remain, in order to the Union's re­maining, as why it should once be, in order to the Uni­on's once being.

So that altho' the Sinner is actually, and finally justi­fied on the first Act of Faith, yet the Perseverance of Faith, even then, comes into Consideration, as one Thing on which the Fitness of Acceptance to Life de­pends▪ God in the Act of Justification, which is passed on a Sinner's first believing, has Respect to Perseverance, as being virtually contain'd in that first Act of Faith; and 'tis looked upon and taken by him that justifies, as being as it were a Property in that Faith that then is: God has Respect to the Believer's Continuance in Faith, and he is justified by that, as tho' it already were, be­cause by divine Establishment it shall follow; and it be­ing [Page 78] by divine Constitution connected with that first Faith, as much as if it were a Property in it, it is then consider'd as such, and so Justification is not suspended; but were it not for this it would be needful that it should be suspended, till the Sinner had actually per­severed in Faith.

And that it is so, that God in that Act of final Justi­fication that he passes at the Sinner's Conversion, has Respect to Perseverance in Faith, and future Acts of Faith, as being virtually implied in that first Act, is fur­ther manifest by this, viz. That in a Sinner's Justificati­on at his Conversion, there is virtually contained a For­giveness as to eternal, and deserved Punishment, not on­ly of all past Sins, but also of all future Infirmities and Acts of Sin, that they shall be guilty of; because that first Justification is decisive and final. And yet Pardon, in the Order of Nature, properly follows the Crime, and also follows those Acts of Repentance and Faith that respect the Crime pardoned, as is manifest both from Reason and Scripture. David in the beginning of Psalm 32. speaks of the Forgiveness of Sins of his, that were doubtless committed long after he was first godly, as being consequent on those Sins, and on his Repentance and Faith with Respect to them; and yet this Forgive­ness is spoken of by the Apostle in the 4th of Romans, as an Instance of Justification by Faith. Probably the Sin David there speaks of is the same that he commit­ted in the Matter of Uriah, and so the Pardon the same with that Release from Death, or eternal Punishment, that the Prophet Nathan speaks of, 2 Sam 12. 13. The Lord also hath put away thy Sin; thou shalt not die. Not only does the Manifestation of this Pardon follow the Sin in the Order of Time, but the Pardon it self, in the Order of Nature, follows David's Repentance and Faith with Respect to this Sin; for it is spoken of in the 32nd Psalm as depending on it.

And besides, if no other Act of Faith could be con­cerned in Justification but the first Act, it will then fol­low that Christians ought never to seek Justification by any other Act of Faith. For if Justification is not to be [Page 79] obtain'd by after Acts of Faith, then surely it is not a Duty to seek it by such Acts: And so it can never be a Duty for Persons after they are once converted, by Faith to seek to God; or believingly to look to him for the Re­mission of Sin, or Deliverance from the Guilt of it, be­cause Deliverance from the Guilt of Sin is Part of what belongs to Justification. And if it ben't proper for Converts by Faith to look to God through Christ for it, then it will follow that it is not proper for them to pray for it, for christian Prayer to God for a Blessing is but an Expression of Faith in God for that Blessing; Prayer is only the Voice of Faith. But if these Things are so, it will follow that that Petition of the Lord's Prayer, for give us our Debts, is not proper to be put up by Disciples of Christ, or to be used in christian Assem­blies, and that Christ improperly directed his Disciples to use that Petition, when they were all of them, ex­cept Judas, converted before. The Debt that Christ directs his Disciples to pray for the Forgiveness of, can mean nothing else, but the Punishment that Sin deserves, or the Debt that we owe to divine Justice, the ten thou­sand Talents we owe our Lord. To pray that God would forgive our Debts, is undoubtedly the same Thing as to pray that God would release us from Obligation to due Punishment; but releasing from Obligation to the Punishment due to Sin, and forgiving the Debt that we owe to divine Justice, is what appertains to Justifi­cation.

And then to suppose that no after Acts of Faith are concerned in the Business of Justification, and so that it is not proper for any ever to seek Justification by such Acts, would be forever to cut off those Christians, that are doubtful concerning their first Act of Faith, from the Joy and Peace of Believing. As the Business of a justi­fying Faith is to obtain Pardon and Peace with God, by looking to God and trusting in him for these Blessings, so the Joy and Peace of that Faith, is in the Apprehen­sion of Pardon and Peace obtain'd by such a Trust. This a Christian that is doubtful of his first Act of Faith, can't have from that Act, because, by the Supposition, [Page 80] he is doubtful whether it be an Act of Faith, and so whether he did obtain Pardon and Peace by that Act: The proper Remedy, in such a Case, is now by Faith to look to God in Christ for these Blessings; but he is cut off from this Remedy, because he is uncertain whether he has Warrant so to do, for he don't know but that he has believed already; and if so, then he has no Warrant to look to God by Faith for these Blessings now, because by the Supposition no new Act of Faith is a proper Means of obtaining these Blessings▪ And so he can never proper­ly obtain the Joy of Faith; for there are Acts of true Faith, that are very weak Acts, and the first Act may be so as well as others; it may be like the first Motion of the Infant in the Womb, it may be so weak an Act that the Christian by examining of it, may never be able to determine whether it was a true Act of Faith or n [...]; and it is evident from Fact, and abundant Experience, that many Christians are forever at a Loss to determine which was their first Act of Faith. And those Saints that have had a good Degree of Satisfaction concerning their Faith, may be subject to great Declensions and Falls, in which Case they are liable to great Fears of eternal Punishment; and the proper Way of Deliverance is to forsake their Sin by Repentance, and by Faith now to come to Christ for Deliverance from the deserved eternal Punishment; but this it would not be, if Deli­verance from that Punishment, was not this Way to be obtain'd.

But what is a still more plain and direct Evidence of what I am now arguing for, is that that Act of Faith that Abraham exercised in the great Promise of the Co­venant of Grace that God made to him, of which it is ex­presly said, Gen 15. 16. It was accounted to him for Righteousness; which is the grand Instance and Proof, that the Apostle so much insists upon throughout the 4th Chapter of Romans, and 3d. Chapter of Galatians, to confirm his Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, was not Abraham's first A [...] of Faith, but was ex [...]ted long after he had by Faith forsaken his own Country, Heb. 11. 8. and had been treated as an eminent Friend of God.

[Page 81] Moreover, The Apostle Paul in the third Chapter of Philippians, tells us how earnestly he sought Justifi­cation by Faith, or to win Christ and obtain that Righ­teousness which was by the Faith of him, in what he did after his Conversion. Verses 8, 9 For whom I have suffered the loss of all Things, and do count them but, Dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having on mine own Righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the Faith of Christ, the Righ­teousness which is of God by Faith. And in the two next Verses he expresses the same Thing in other Words, and tells us how [...]e went through Sufferings, and became conformable to Christ's Death, that he might be a Par­taker with Christ in the Benefit of his Resurrection; which the same Apostle elsewhere teaches us, is especi­ally Justification: Christ's Resurrection was his Justifi­cation; in this, he that was put to Death in the Fl [...]sh, was justified by the Spirit, and he that was delivered for our Offences, rose again for our Justification. And the Apostle tells us in the Verses that follow, in that third Chapter of Philippians, that he thus fought to at­tain the Righteousness which is through the Faith of Christ, and so to partake of the Benefit of his Resurrec­tion, still, as tho' he had not already attain'd, but that he continued to follow after it.

But in as much as a Sinner, in his first Justification, is forever justified and freed from all Obligation to eternal Punishment, it hence of necessity follows, that future Faith and Repentance are beheld in that Justification, as virtually contained in that first Faith and Repentance; because Repentance of those future Sins, and Faith in a Redeemer, with Respect to them, or, at least, the Con­tinuance of that Habit and Principle in the Heart, that has such an actual Repentance and Faith, in it's Nature and Tendency, is now made sure by God's Promise.

If Remission of Sins, committed after Conversion, in the order of Nature, follows that Faith and Repentance that is after them, then it follows that future Sins are re­spected in the first Justification, no otherwise than as future Faith and Repentance are respected in it. And [Page 82] future Repentance and Faith are looked upon by him that justifies, as virtually implied in the first Repentance and Faith, in the same Manner as Justification from future Sins, is virtually implied in the first Justification; which is the Thing that was to be proved.

On the whole, it appears that the Perseverance of Faith is necessary, even to the Congruity of Justification, and that not the less, because a Sinner is justified, and Perseverance promised on the first Act of Faith, but God in that Justification has Respect not only to the past Act of Faith, but to his own Promise of future Acts, and to the fitness of a Qualification beheld as yet only in his own Promise.

And, that Perseverance in Faith is thus necessary to Salvation, not meerly as a sine qua [...]non, or as an universal Concomitant of it, but by Reason of such an Influence and Dependance, seems manifest by many Scriptures; I would mention two or three; Heb. 3. 6. Whose House are we, if we hold fast the Confidence, and the Rejoycing of the Hope, firm unto the End. Verse 14. For we are made Partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our Confidence, stedfast unto the End. Chap. 5 12. Be ye fol­lowers of them, who through Faith and Patience inherit the Promises. Rom 11. 20. Well, because of Unbelief they were broken off, but thou standest by Faith: Be not high­minded, but fear.

And as the Congruity to a final Justification depends on Perseverance in Faith, as well as the first Act, so of­tentimes the Manifestation of Justification in the Con­science, arises a great deal more from after Acts, than the first Act. And all the difference whereby the first Act of Faith has a Concern in this Affair that is peculiar, seems to be as it were only an accidental Differ­ence, arising from the Circumstance of Time, or its be­ing first in Order of Time; and not from any peculiar Respect that God has to it, or any Influence it has of a peculiar Nature, in the Affair of our Salvation.

And thus it is that a truly christian Walk, and the Acts of an evangelical, child like, believing Obedience, are concerned in the Affair of our Justification, and seem [Page 83] to be sometimes so spoken of in Scripture, viz. as an Ex­pression of a persevering Faith in the Son of God, the only Saviour. Faith unites to Christ, and so gives a Congruity to Justification, not meerly as remaining a dormant Principle in the Heart, but as being, and ap­pearing in its active Expressions.

The Obedience of a Christian, so far as it is truly evan­gelical, and performed with the Spirit of the Son sent forth into the Heart, has all relation to Christ the Medi­ator, and is but an Expression of the Soul's believing Unition to Christ: All evangelical Works are Works of that Faith that worketh by Love; and every such Act of Obedience, wherein it is inward, and the Act of the Soul, is only a new effective Act of Reception of Christ, and Adherence to the glorious Saviour. Hence that of the Apostle, Gal 2. 20. I live, yet not I; but Christ liveth in me; and the Life that I now live in the Flesh, is by the Faith of the Son of God. And hence we are directed, in whatever we do, whether in Word or Deed▪ to do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Col. 3. 17.

And that God in Justification has respect, not only to the first Act of Faith, but also to future persevering Acts, in this Sense, viz as expressed in Life, [...] seems manifest by Rom 1. 17. For therein is the Righteous­ness of God revealed, from Faith to Faith: As it is writ­ten, the Just shall live by Faith. And Heb. 10. 38, 39. Now the Just shall live by Faith; but if any Man draw back, my Soul shall have no Pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto Perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the Soul.

So that as was before said of Faith, so may it be said of a child like, believing Obedience, it has no concern in Justification by any Vertue, or Excellency in it; but only as there is a Reception of Christ in it. And this is no more contrary to the Apostle's frequent Assertion of our being justified without the Works of the Law, than to say that we are justified by Faith; for Faith is as much a Work or act of christian Obedience, as the Ex­pressions of Faith, in spiritual Life and Walk. And [Page 84] therefore as we say that Faith don't justify as a Work, so we say of all these effective Expressions of Faith.

This is the reverse of the Scheme of our modern Di­vines▪ who hold that Faith justifies only as an Act, or Expression of Obedience; whereas in Truth▪ Obedience has no concern in Justification, any otherwise than as an Expression of Faith.

I now proceed to the

IV. Thing proposed, viz To answer objections.

Object 1 We frequently find Promises of eternal Life and Salvation, and sometimes of Justification itself, made to our own Vertue and Obedience. Eternal Life is promised to Obedience, in Rom. 2 7 To them who by patient Continuance in well doing, s [...]ek for Glory, Ho­nour and Immortality, eternal Life. And the like in in­numerable other Places. And Justification it self is promised to that Vertue of a forgiving Spirit or Tem­per in us, Mat. 6 14 For if ye forgive Men their Tres­passe, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not Men their Trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your Trespasses. All allow that Justifica­tion in great Part consists i [...] the forgiveness of Sins.

To this I answer,

1 These Things being promised to our Vertue and Obedience, argues no more, than that there is a Con­nection between them and evangelical Obedience; which I have already observed is not the Thing in dis­pute. All that can be proved by Obedience and Salva­tion being connected in the Promise, is that Obedience and Salvation are connected in fact; which no body de­nies, and whether it be own'd or denied, is as has been shewn, nothing to the Purpose. There is no need that an Admission to a Title to Salvation, should be given on the Account of our Obedience, in order to the Pro­mises being true. If we find such a Promise, that he that obeys shall be saved, or he that is holy shall be justi­fied, all that is needful in order to such Promises being true, is that it be really so, that he that obeys shall be saved, and that Holiness and Justification shall indeed go together: That Proposition may be a Truth, that [Page 85] he that obeys shall be saved, because Obedience and Sal­vation are connected together in fact; and yet an Ac­ceptance to a Title to Salvation not be granted upon the Account of any of our own Vertue or Obedience. What is a Promise, but only a Declaration of future Truth, for the Comfort and Encouragement of the Per­son to whom it is declared? Promises are conditional Propositions; and as has been already observed, it is not the Thing in Dispute, whether other Things besides Faith mayn't have the Place of the Condition in such Propositions wherein Pardon and Salvation are the con­sequent.

2. Promises may rationally [...]e made to Signs and Evi­dences of Faith, and yet the Thing promised not be upon the Account of the Sign, but the Thing signified. Thus for Instance, human Government may rationally make Promises of such and such Priviledges, to those that can shew such Evidences of their being free of such a City, or Members of such a Corporation, or descended of such a Family; when it is not at all for the sake of that which is the Evidence or Sign, in it self consider'd, that they are admitted to such a Priviledge, but only, and purely, for the sake of that which it is an evidence of.

And tho' God don't stand in need of Signs to know whether we have true Faith or not, yet our own Con­sciences do; so that 'tis much for our Comfort that Promises are made to Signs of Faith. A finding in our selves a forgiving Temper and Disposition, may be a most proper and natural Evidence to our Consciences that our Hearts have, in a Sense of our own utter unworthiness, truly closed▪ and fallen in, with the way of free, and infinitely gracious forgiveness of our Sins, by Jesus Christ; whence we may be ena­bled, with the greater Comfort to apply to our selves the Promises of forgiveness by Christ.

3. It has been just now shown▪ how that Acts of evangelical Obedience are indeed concern'd in our Justification it self, and are not excluded from that Condition that Justification depends upon, without the least Prejudice to that Doctrine of Justification by [Page 86] Faith, without any Goodness of our own, that has been maintain'd, and therefore it can be no Objection against this Doctrine, that we have sometimes in Scripture, Promises of Pardon and Acceptance, made to such Acts of Obedience.

4. Promises of particular Benefits implied in Justifi­cation and Salvation, may especially be fitly made to such Expressions and Evidences of Faith, as they have a peculiar natural Likeness and Suitableness to: As for­giveness is promised to a forgiving Spirit in us; obtain­ing Mercy is fitly promised to mercifulness in us, and the like: And that upon several Accounts; they are the most natural Evidences of our Heart's closing with those Benefits by Faith; for they do especially shew the sweet Accord and Consent that there is between the Heart and these Benefits; and by Reason of the na­tural Likeness that there is between the Vertue and the Benefit, the one has the greater Tendency to bring the other to mind; the Practice of the Vertue tends the more to renew the Sense, and refresh the Hope of the Blessing promised; and also to convince the Conscience of the justice of being denied the Benefit, if the Duty be neglected.

And besides the Sense and Manifestation of divine Forgiveness in our own Consciences; yea and many Ex­ercises of God's forgiving Mercy, as it respects God's fatherly Displeasure, that are granted after Justification, thro' the course of a christian's Life, may be given as the proper Rewards of the Vertue of a forgiving Spirit, and yet this not be at all to the prejudice of the Doc­trine we have maintain'd; as will more fully appear, when we come to answer another Objection hereafter to be mention'd.

Object. 2. Our own Obedience, and inherent Holi­ness, is necessary to prepare Men for Heaven; and therefore is doubtless what recommends Persons to God's Acceptance, as the Heirs of Heaven.

To this I answer,

1. Our own Obedience being necessary, in order to a Preparation for an actual bestowment of Glory, is no [Page 87] Argument that 'tis the Thing, upon the Account of which we are accepted to a Right to it. God may, and does, do many Things to prepare the Saints for Glory, after he has accepted them as the Heirs of Glory. A Parent may do much to prepare a Child for an Inheri­tance in it's Education, after the Child is an Heir: yea there are many Things necessary to fit a Child for the actual Possession of the Inheritance, that ben't necessary in order to it's having a Right to the Inheritance.

2. If every Thing, that is necessary to prepare Men for Glory, must be the proper Condition of Justifica­tion, then perfect Holiness is the Condition of Justifi­cation. Men must be made perfectly Holy, before they are admitted to the Enjoyment of the blessedness of Heaven; for there must in no wise enter in there any spiritual Defilement: And therefore when a Saint dies he leaves all his Sin and Corruption, when he leaves the Body.

Object 3. Our Obedience is not only indissolubly connected with Salvation, and Preparatory to it, but the Scripture expresly speaks of bestowing eternal Blessings as Rewards for the good Deeds of the Saints. Math. 10 42. Whosoever shall give to drink, unto one of these little ones, a Cup of cold Water, only in the Name of a Disciple, he shall in no wise lose his Reward. 1 Cor. 3. 8. Every Man shall receive his own Reward, accord­ing to his own Labour. And in many other Places. This seems to militate against the Doctrine that has been maintain'd, two Ways, 1. The bestowing a Re­ward carries in it a Respect to a moral Fitness, in the Thing rewarded, to the Reward: The very Notion of a Reward being a Benefit bestowed in Testimony of Acceptance of, and respect to, the goodness or amiable­ness of some Qualification or Work, in the Person re­warded. And besides the Scripture seems to explain it self in this Matter, in Rev. 3. 4. Thou hast a few Names, even in Sa [...]dis, which have not defiled their Gar­ments; and they shall walk with me in Whi [...]e; for they are Worthy This is here given as the Reason why they should have such a Reward, because they were Wor­thy: [Page 88] Which, tho' we suppose it to imply no proper Merit, yet it at least implies a moral fitness, or that the excellency of their Vertue in God's Sight, recommends them to such a Reward; which seems directly repug­nant to what has been supposed, viz That we are ac­cepted, and approved of God, as the Heirs of Salvation, not out of Regard to the Excellency of our own Vir­tue or Goodness, or any moral fitness therein to such a Reward, but only on the Account of the Dignity, and moral fitness of Christ's Righteousness. 2 Our being eternally rewarded for our own Holiness, and good Works, necessarily supposes that our future Happiness will be greater or smaller, in some Proportion, as our own Holiness and Obedience is more or less; and that there are different Degrees of Glory, according to dif­ferent Degrees of Vertue and good Works, is a Doc­trine very expresly, and frequently taught us in Scrip­ture. But this seems quite inconsistent with the Saints all having their future blessedness as a Reward of Christ's Righteousness: For if Christ's Righteousness be imputed to all, and this be what entitles each one to Glory, then 'tis the same Righteousness that entitles one to Glory, which entitles another: But if all have Glo­ry as the Reward of the same Righteousness, why han't all the same Glory? Don't the same Righteousness me­rit as much Glory, when imputed to one, as when imputed to another.

In Answer to the first Part of this Objection. I would observe, that it don't argue that we are justified by our good Deeds, because we shall have eternal Blessings in Reward for them; for 'tis in Consequence of our Justi­fication, that our good Deeds become rewardable, with spiritual and eternal Rewards. The acceptableness, and so the rewardableness of our Vertue is not antecedent to Justification, but follows it, and is built entirely upon it; which is the reverse of what those in the adverse Scheme of Justification suppose, viz That Justification is built on the Acceptableness and Rewardableness of our Vertue. They suppose that a saving Interest in Christ is given as a Reward of our Vertue, or (which is [Page 89] the same Thing,) as a Testimony of God's Acceptance of our Excellency, in our Vertue. But the contrary is true; that God's respect to our Vertue, as our amiable­ness in his Sight, and his Acceptance of it as reward­able, is entirely built on our Interest in Christ already established. So that that Relation to Christ, whereby Believers in Scripture Language, are said to be in Christ, is the very Foundation of our Vertues, and good Deeds, being accepted of God, and so of their being rewarded; for a Reward is a Testimony of Acceptance. For we, and all that we do, are accepted only in the beloved, Eph 1. 6. Our Sacrifices are acceptable, only through our Interest in him, and through his Worthiness, and Preciousness, being as it were made ours. 1 Pet. 2. 4 5. To whom coming as unto a living Stone, disallowed in­deed of Men, but chosen of God and precious; ye also as lively Stones, are built up a spiritual House, an holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual Sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Here a being actually built on this Stone, precious to God, is mentioned as all the Ground of the Acceptableness of our good Works to God, and their becoming, also precious in his Eves. So Heb. 13 [...] 21. Make you perfect in every good Work, to do his Will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his Sight, through Jesus Christ▪ And hence we are di­rected, whatever we offer to God, to offer it in Christ's Name, as expecting to have it accepted no other Way, than from the Value that God has to that Name. Col. 3. 17. And whatsoever ye do, in Word or Deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving Thanks to God, and the Father by him To act in Christ's Name, is to act under him, as our Head, and as having him to stand for us, and represent us to God ward.

The Reason of this may be seen, from what has been already said, to shew that it is not meet that any Thing in us, should be accepted of God▪ as any Excel­lency of our Persons, until we are actually in Christ, and justified through him. The Loveliness of the Ver­tue of fallen Creatures, is nothing in the Sight of God, till he beholds them in Christ, and clothed with his [Page 90] Righteousness. 1. Because till then we stand condemn­ned before God, by his own holy Law, to his utter Re­jection, and Abhorrence, And, 2. Because we are infinitely Guilty before him, and the Loveliness of our Vertue bears no Proportion to our Guilt; and must therefore pass for nothing before a strict Judge. And, 3 Because our good Deeds, and vertuous Acts them­selves, are in a Sense corrupt, and the hatefulness of the Corruption of them, if we are beheld as we are in our selves, or seperate from Christ, infinitely outweighs the Loveliness of the Good that is in them: So that if no other Sin was considered, but only that which attends the Act of Vertue itself, the Loveliness vanishes into no­thing in Comparison of it: And therefore the Virtue must pass for nothing, out of Christ. Not only are our best Duties defiled, in being attended with the Exercises of Sin and Corruption, that precede them and follow them, and are intermingled with holy Acts; but even the holy Acts themselves, and the gracious Exercises of the godly, tho' the Act most simply considered is good, yet take the Acts in their Measure, and Dimensions, and the manner in which they are exerted, and they are corrupt Acts; that is, they are defectively corrupt, or sinfully defective; there is that defect in them, that may well be called the Corruption of them; that de­fect is properly Sin, an Expression of a vile Sinfulness of Heart, and what tends to provoke the just anger of God; not because the Exercise of Love and other Grace, is not equal to God's loveliness; for 'tis impos­sible the Love of Creatures (Men or Angels) should be so; but because the Act is so very disproportionate to the Occasion given for Love or other Grace, consider­ing God's loveliness, and the Manifestation that is made of it, and the exercises of Kindness, and the capacity of human Nature, and our Advantages, (and the like) together. A negative Expression of Corruption may be as truly Sin, and as just Cause of Provocation, as a positive. Thus if a Man, a worthy & excellent Person, should from meer Generosity and Goodness, exceeding­ly lay out himself, and should with great Expence and [Page 91] Suffering, save another's Life, or redeem him from some extream Calamity; and when he had done all, that other Person should never thank him for it, or express the least Gratitude any way; this would be a negative Expression of his Ingratitude and Baseness; but is E­quivalent to an Act of Ingratitude, or positive exercise of a base unworthy Spirit; and is truly an Expression of [...], and brings as much Blame, as if he by some positive Act, had much injured another Person. And so it would be, (only in a lesser Degree,) if the Gratitude was but very small, bearing no Proportion to the Be­nefit and Obligation; as if for so great and extraordi­nary a Kindness, he should express no more Gratitude than would have been becoming towards a Person that had only given him a cup of Water when thirsty, or shewn him the Way in a Journey, when at a loss, or had done him some such small Kindness: If he should come to his Benefactor to express his Gratitude, and should do after this manner▪ he might truly he said to act un­worthily and odiously; he would shew a most ungrate­ful Spirit: And his doing after such a Manner might justly be abhorr'd by all: And yet the Gratitude, that little there is of it, most simply considered, and so far as it goes, is good. And so it is with respect to our exercise of Love, and Gratitude, and other Graces to­wards God, they are defectively corrupt and sinful, and take 'em as they are, in their Manner, and Measure, might justly be odious, and provoking to God, and would necessarily be so, were we beheld out of Christ: For in that this Defect is Sin, it is infinitely hateful; and so the hatefulness of the very Act, infinitely out weighs the Loveliness of it; because all Sin has infinite hate­fulness and heinousness; but our Holiness has but little Value and Loveliness, as has been elsewhere demonstra­ted.

Hence, tho' it be true that the Saints are rewarded for their good Works, yet it is for Christ's sake only, and not for the Excellency of their Works in themselves [Page 92] considered, or beheld seperately from Christ; for so they have no excellency in God's sight, or acceptableness to him, as has now been shewn. 'Tis acknowledged that God in rewarding the Holiness and good Works of Be­livers, does in some respect give them Happiness as a Testimony of his Respect to the Loveliness of their Holiness and good Works in his Sight; for that is the very Notion of a Reward: But in a very different Sense from what would have been▪ if Man had not fal­len; which would have been to bestow eternal Life on Man, as a Testimony of God's Respect to the Loveliness of what Man did, considered as in it self, and as in Man, seperately by himself, and not beheld as a Member of Christ: In which Sense also, the Scheme of Justification we are opposing, necessarily supposes, the Excellency of our Virtue to be respected and rewarded; for it supposes a saving Interest in Christ it self to be given as a Re­ward of it.

Two Things come to pass, relating to the Saints Re­ward for their inherent Righteousness, by Virtue of their Relation to Christ. 1. The Guilt of their Persons is all done away, and the Pollution and Hatefulness that at­tends, and is in, their good Works, is hid. 2. Their Relation to Christ adds a positive Value and Dignity to their good Works, in God's Sight. That little Holiness, and those faint and feeble Acts of Love, and other Grace, receive an exceeding Value in the Sight of God, by Vir­tue of God's beholding them as in Christ, and as it w [...]e Members of one so infinitely Worthy in his Eyes; and th [...] because God looks upon the Persons, as Persons of greater Dignity on this Account. Isai 43. 4 Since thou wast precious in my Sight, thou hast been honourable. God, for Christ's Sake, and because they are Members of his own righteous and dear Son, sets an exceeding Value upon their Persons; and hence it follows, that he all sets a great Value upon their good Acts and Offerings. The same Love and Obedience, in a Person of greater Dignity and Value in God's Sight, is more valuable his Eyes, than in one of less Dignity. Love and Respe [...] [Page 93] (as has been before observed,) is valuable, in Proportion to the Dignity of the Person, whose Love it is; because, so far as any one gives his Love to another, he gives himself, in that he gives his Heart: But this is a more excellent Offering, in Proportion as the Person whose self is offered, is more worthy. Believers are become immensely more honourable in God's Esteem, by Vir­tue of their Relation to Christ, th [...]n Man would have been, considered as by himself, tho' he had been free from Sin; as a mean Person becomes more honourable when married to a King. Hence God will probably reward the little weak Love, and poor and exceeding imperfect Obedience of Believers in Christ, with a more glorious Reward, than he would have done Adam's perfect Obedience. According to the Tenour of the first Covenant, the Person was to be accepted and re­warded, only for the Work's Sake; but by the Covenant of Grace, the Work is accepted and rewarded, only for the Person's Sake; the Person being beheld antecedent­ly, as a Member of Christ, and clothed with his Righte­ousness. So that tho' the Saints inherent Holiness is re­warded, yet this very Reward is indeed, not the less founded on the Worthiness and Righteousness of Christ: None of the Value that their Works have in his Sight, nor any of the Acceptance they have with him, is out of Christ, and out of his Righteousness; but his Wor­thiness as Mediator, is the prime and only Foundation on which all is built, and the universal Source whence all arises. God indeed doth great Things out of Regard to the Saints Loveliness, but 'tis only as a secondary and derivative Loveliness, as it were.—When I speak of a derivative Loveliness, I don't mean only, that the Qualifications themselves, that are accepted as lovely, are derived from Christ, and are from his Power and Pur­chase; but that the Acceptance of them as a Loveliness, and all the Value that is set upon them, and all their Connection with the Reward, is founded in, and derived from Christ's Righteousness and Worthiness.

[Page 94] If we suppose that not only higher Degrees of Glory in Heaven, but Heaven it self, is in some Respect given in Reward for the Holiness, and good Works of the Saints, in this secondary and derivative Sense, it won't prejudice the Doctrine we have maintain'd 'Tis no Way impossible that God may bestow Heaven's Glory wholly out of Respect to Christ's Righteousness, and yet in Reward for Man's inherent Holiness, in different Res­pects, and different Ways It may be only Christ's Righ­teousness, that God has respect to, for its own Sake, the independent Acceptableness, and Dignity of it being sufficient of it self, to recommend all that believe in Christ, to a Title to this Glory; and so it may be only by this that Persons enter into a Title to Heaven, or have their prime Right to it: And yet God may also have Respect to the Saints own Holiness, for Christ's Sake, and as deriving a Value from Christ's Merit, which he may testify in bestowing Heaven upon them. The Saints being beheld as Members of Christ, their Obedience is looked upon by God, as something of Christ's, it being the Obedience of the Members of Christ; as the Suffer­ings of the Members of Christ, are looked upon, in some Respect, as the Sufferings of Christ. Hence the Apostle speaking of his Sufferings, says Col 1. 24. Who now re­joyce in my Sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the Afflictions of Christ in my Flesh. To the same Purpose is Matth 25. 35, &c. I was an hungred, na­ked, sick, and in Prison, &c. And so that in Rev. 11. 8. And their dead Bodies shall lie in the Street of the great City, which spiritually is called Sodom, and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

By the Merit and Righteousness of Christ, such Fa­vour of God towards the Believer may be obtained, as that God may hereby, be already, as it were disposed to make them perfectly and eternally happy: But yet this don't hinder, but that God in his Wisdom, may choose to bestow this perfect and eternal Happiness, in this Way, viz. in some Respect, as a Reward of their Holi­ness, and Obedience: 'Tis not impossible but that the Blessedness may be bestowed as a Reward for that which [Page 95] is done after that an Interest is already obtain'd in that Favour, which (to speak of God after the Manner of Men) disposes God to bestow the Blessedness. Our heavenly Father may already have that Favour for a Child, whereby he may be thoroughly ready to give the Child an Inheritance, because he is his Child; which he is by the Purchase of Christ's Righteousness; and yet that don't hinder but that it should be possible, that the Fa­ther may choose to bestow the Inheritance on the Child, in a Way of Reward for his Dutifulness, and behaving becoming a Child. And so great, and exceeding a Re­ward, may not be judged more than a meet Reward for his Dutifulness, but that so great a Reward is judged meet, don't arise from the Excellency of the Obedience, absolutely considered, but from his standing in so near, and honourable a Relation to God, as that of a Child, which is obtained only by the Righteousness of Christ. And thus the Reward, and the Greatness of it, arises properly from the Righteousness of Christ; tho' it be indeed in some sort the Reward of their Obedience. As a Father might justly esteem the Inheritance, no more than a meet Reward for the Obedience of his Child, and yet es­teem it more than a meet Reward for the Obedience of a Servant. The Favour whence a Believer's heavenly Father bestows the eternal Inheritance, and his Title as an Heir, is founded in that Relation he stands in to him as a Child, purchased by Christ's Righteousness; tho' he in Wisdom, chooses to bestow it in such a Way, as there­in to testify his Acceptance of the Amiableness of his Obedience in Christ.

Believers having a Title to Heaven by Faith antece­dent to their Obedience, or it's being absolutely pro­mised to them before, don't hinder but that the actual Bestowment of Heaven may also be a Testimony of God's Regard to their Obedience, tho' performed after­wards. Thus it was with Abraham, the Father and Pattern of all Believers: God bestowed upon him that Blessing of multiplying his Seed as the Stars of Heaven, and causing that in his Seed all the Families of the Earth should be blessed, in Reward for his Obedience, in Of­fering [Page 96] up his Son Isaac, Gen. 22. 16, 17, 18. And said by my self have I sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this Thing, and hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son, that in blessing I will bless thee; and in multiplying I will multiply thy Seed, as the Stars of Heaven, and as the Sand which is upon the Sea Shore, and thy Seed shall possess the Gate of his Enemies, and in thy Seed shall all the Nations of the Earth [...]e blessed; because thou hast obeyed my Voice. And yet the very same Blessings had been from time to time promised to Abraham, in the most positive Terms, and the Promise with great Solemnity, confirmed and sealed to him; as Chap. 12. 2, 3 Chap. 13. 16. Chap. 15. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, &c. Chap. 17. throughout. Chap. 18 10, 18.

From what has been said we may easily solve the Difficulty arising from that Text, in Rev. 3. 4 They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. Which is parallel with that Text in Luke 20. 35. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that World, and the Resurrection from the Dead—. I allow (as in the Ob­jection) that this Worthiness does doubtless denote a moral Fitness to the Reward, or that God looks on these glorious Benefits a meet Testimony of his Regard to the Value which their Persons and Performances have in his Sight.

1. God looks on these glorious Benefits as a meet Testimony of his Regard to the Value which their Per­sons have in his Sight. But he sets this Value upon their Persons purely for Christ's Sake: They are such Jewels, and have such Preciousness in his Eyes, only be­cause they are beheld in Christ, and by Reason of the Worthiness of the Head, they are the Members of, and the Stock they are grafted into. And this Value that God sets upon them on this Account is so great, that God thinks meet from Regard to it to admit them to such exceeding Glory The Saints on the Account of their Relation to Christ are such precious Jewels in God's Sight, that they are thought worthy of a Place in his own Crown. Mal. 3. 17. Z [...]h. 9 16. So far as the Saints are said to be valuable in God's Sight, upon what­ever [Page 97] Account they are so, so far may they properly be said to be worthy, or meet for that Honour that is ans­werable to that Value or Price which God sets upon them. A Child, or Wife of a Prince, is worthy to be treated with great Honour, and therefore if a mean Per­son should be adopted to be a Child of a Prince, of should be espoused to a Prince, it would be proper to say that she was worthy of such and such Honour and Respect, and there would be no Force upon the Words in saying that she ought to have such Respect paid her, for she is worthy, tho' i [...] be only on the Account of her Relation to the Prince that she is so.

2. From the Value God sets upon their Persons, for the Sake of Christ's Worthiness, he also sets a high Va­lue in their V [...]i [...]ue [...] and Performance. Their meek and quiet Spirit is of great Price in his Sight. Their Fruits are pleasant Fruits, their Offering are an Odou [...] of sweet Smell to him: And that because of the Value he sets on their Persons, as has been already observed and ex­plained. This Preciousness, or high Valuableness of Be­lievers is a moral Fitness to a Reward, and yet this Va­luableness is all in the Righteousness of Christ, that is the Foundation of it▪ The Thing that Respect is had to, is not the Excellency that is in them, seperately by themselves, or in their Virtue by it self, but to the Value that in God's Account arises thereto on other Considera­tions; which is the natural import of the Manner of Expression in Luke 20 35. They which shall be account­ed worthy, to obtain that World. &c And Luke 21 36. That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these Things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. 2 Thess 1. 5 That ye may be accounted wor­thy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer

There is a vast Difference between this Scheme, and what is supposed in the Scheme of those that oppose the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. This lays the Foundation of first Acceptance with God, and all actual Salvation consequent upon it, wholly in Christ and his Righteousness. On the contrary, in their Scheme, a Re­g [...]d to Man's own Excellency or Virtue is supposed to [Page 98] be first, and to have the Place of the first Foundation in actual Salvation, tho' not in that ineffectual Redemption, which they suppose common to all: They lay the Foun­dation of all discriminating Salvation in Man's own Vir­tue and moral Excellency: This is the very bottom Stone in this Affair; for they suppose that it is from Re­gard to our Virtue, that even a special Interest in Christ it self is given. The Foundation being thus contrary, the whole Scheme becomes exceeding diverse and con­trary; the one Scheme is an evangelical Scheme, the other a legal one; the one is utterly inconsistent with our being justified by Christ's Righteousness, the other not at all.

From what has been said we may understand what has been before mention'd, viz. How that not only is that Forgiveness of Sin that is granted in Justification indissolubly connected with a forgiving Spirit in us, but there may be many Exercises of forgiving Mercy that may properly be granted in Reward for our forgiving those that trespass against us: For none will deny but that there are many Acts of divine Forgiveness towards the Saints, that don't presuppose an unjustified State im­mediately preceeding that Forgiveness; none will deny that Saints, that never fell from Grace or a justified State, do yet commit many Sins which God forgives afterwards, by laying aside his fatherly Displeasure. This Forgive­ness may be in Reward [...] Forgiveness, without a­ny Prejudice to the Doctrine that has been maintained, as well as other Mercies and Blessings consequent on Justification.

With Respect to the second Part of the Objection, that relates to the different Degrees of Glory, and the seeming Inconsistence there is in it, that the Degrees of Glory in different Saints should be greater or lesser ac­cording to their inherent Holiness and good Works, and yet that every ones Glory should be purchased with the Price of the very same imputed Righteousness.

I answer, That Christ by his Righteousness purchased for every one, compleat and perfect Happiness, accord­ing to his Capacity: But this don't hinder but that the Saints being of various Capacities, may have various [Page 99] Degrees of Happiness, and yet all their Happiness be the Fruit of Christ's Purchase. Indeed it can't be properly said that Christ purchased any particular Degree of Happiness, so that the Value of Christ's Righteousness in the Sight of God, is sufficient to raise a Believer so high, in Happi­ness, and no higher; and so that if the Believer were made happier, it would exceed the Value of Christ's Righteousness: But in general, Christ purchased eternal Life, or perfect Happiness for all, according to their se­veral Capacities. The Saints are as so many Vessels, of different Sizes, cast into a Sea of Happiness, where eve­ry Vessel is full; this Christ purchased for all: But af­ter all 'tis left to God's sovereign Pleasure to determine the Largeness of the Vessel; Christ's Righteousness meddles not with this Matter. Eph. 4. 4. 5, 6, 7. There is one Body, and one Spirit; even as ye are called in one Hope of your Calling; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, &c.—But unto every one of us, is given Grace accord­ing to the Measure of the Gift of Christ. God may dis­pense in this Matter according to what Rule he pleases, not the less for what Christ has done: He may dispense either without Condition, or upon what Condition he pleases to fix. 'Tis evident that Christ's Righteousness meddles not with this Matter; for what Christ did, was to fulfil the Covenant of Works; but the Covenant of Works did not meddle at all with this: If Adam had per­sever'd in perfect Obedience, he and his Posterity would have had perfect and full Happiness; every ones Hap­piness would have so answer'd his Capacity, that he would have been compleatly blessed; but God would have been at Liberty to have made some of one Capa­city, and others of another as he pleased. The Angels have obtained eternal Life, or a State of confirmed Glo­ry by a Covenant of Works, whose Condition was per­fect Obedience; but yet some are higher in Glory than others, according to the several Capacity that God, ac­cording to his sovereign Pleasure, hath given them. So that it being still left with God, notwithstanding the perfect Obedience of the second Adam, to fix the De­gree of each ones Capacity, by what Rule he pleases, [Page 100] he [...]gree of each ones Capacity, by what Rule he please; he hath been pleased to fix the Degree of Capacity, and so of Glory by the Proportion of the Saints Grace and Fruitfulness here: He gives higher Degrees of Glory, in Reward for higher Degrees of Holiness and good Works, because it pleases him; and yet all the Happiness of each Saint is indeed the Fruit of the Purchase of Christ's Obedience. If it had been but one Man, that Christ had obeyed and died for, and it had pleased God to make him of a very large Capacity, Christ's perfect Obedience would have purchased that his Capacity should be fill'd, and then all his Happiness might properly be said to be the Fruit of Christ's perfect Obedience; though if he had been of a less Capacity, he would not have had so much Happiness, by the same Obedience; and yet would had as much as Christ merited for him. Christ's Righteousness meddles not with the Degree of Happi­ness, any otherwise than as he merits that it should be full, and perfect, according to the Capacity: And so it may be said to be concern'd in the Degree of Happiness, as perfect is a Degree, with Respect to imperfect; but it meddles not with Degrees of perfect Happiness.

This Matter may be yet better understood, if we con­sider that Christ and the whole Church of Saints, are as it were, one Body, of which he is the Head and they Members, of different Place and Capacity: Now the whole Body, Head and Members, have Communion in Christ's Righteousness, they are all Partakers of the Be­nefit of it; Christ himself the Head is rewarded for it, and every Member is Partaker of the Benefit and Re­ward: But it does by no Means follow, that every Part should equally partake of the Benefit; but every Part in Proportion to its Place and Capacity; the Head par­takes of far more than other Parts, because it is of a far greater Capacity; and the more noble Members partake of more than the Inferiour. As it is in a natural Body that enjoys perfect Health, the Head, and the Heart, and Lungs have a greater Share of this Health, they have it more seated in them, than the Hands and Feet, because they are Parts of greater Capacity; tho' the Hands and Feet are as much in perfect Health as those nobler [Page 101] Parts of the Body: So it is in the mystical Body of Christ, all the Members are Partakers of the Benefit of the Righteousness of the Head; but 'tis according to the different Capacity and Place they have in the Body; and God determines that Place & Capacity as he pleases; he makes whom he pleases the Foot, and whom he pleases the Hand, and whom he pleases the Lungs, &c. 1 Cor. 12 18 God hath set the Members, every one of them, in the Body, as it hath pleased him. And God ef­ficaciously determines the Place, and Capacity of every Member, by the different Degrees of Grace, and Assis­tance in the Improvement of it, here in this World: Those that he intends for the highest Place in the Body, he gives them most of his Spirit, the greatest Share of the divine Nature, the Spirit and Nature of Christ Jesus the Head, and that Assistance whereby they perform the most excellent Works, and do most abound in them.

Object 4 It may be objected against what has been supposed, viz. That Rewards are given to our good Works only in Consequence of an Interest in Christ, or in Testimony of God's Respect to the Excellency or Value of them in his Sight, as built on an Interest in Christ's Righteousness already obtain'd, that the Scrip­ture speaks of an Interest in Christ it self, as being given out of Respect to our moral Fitness. Matth. 10 37,38,39. He that loveth Father or Mother more than me, is not worthy of me: He that loveth Son or Daughter more than me, is not worthy of me: He that taketh not up his Cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his Life shall lose it, &c. Worthiness here, at least signifies a moral Fitness, or an Excellency or Vir­tue that recommends: And this Place seems to intimate as tho' it were from Respect to a moral Fitness that Men are admitted, even to an Union with Christ, and Interest in him: And therefore this Worthiness cannot be consequent on a being in Christ, and by the Impu­tation of his Worthiness, or from any Value that is in us, or in our Actions in God's Sight, as beheld in Christ.

To this I answer, That tho' Persons when they are accepted, are not accepted as worthy, yet when they are [Page 102] rejected, they are rejected as unworthy. He that don't love Christ above other Things, that treats him with such Indignity, as to set him below earthly Things, shall be treated as unworthy of Christ; his Unworthiness of Christ, especially in that Particular, shall be marked against him, and imputed to him: And tho' he be a professing Christian, and live in the Enjoyment of the Gospel, and has been visibly ingrafted into Christ, and admitted as one of his Disciples, as Judas was, yet he shall be thrust out in Wrath, as a Punishment of his vile Treatment of Christ. The foremention'd Words don't imply that if a Man does love Christ above Father and Mother, &c. that he would be worthy; the most they imply is, that such a visible Christian shall be treat­ed, and thrust out, as unworthy. He that believes is not received for the Worthiness, or moral Fitness of Faith; but yet the visible Christian is cast out by God, for the Unworthiness and moral Unfitness of Unbelief. A being accepted as one of Christ's, is not the Reward of Believing; but being thrust out from being one of Christ's Disciples, after a visible Admission as such, is properly a Punishment of Unbelief. John 3. 18, 19. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that be­lieveth not is condemned already, because he hath not be­ [...]ed on the Name of the only begotten Son of God: And this is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and Men loved Darkness rather than Light, be­cause their Deeds were Evil. Salvation is promised to Faith as a free Gift, but Damnation is threaten'd to Unbelief as a Debt, or Punishment due to Unbelief. They that believed in the Wilderness, did not enter in­to Canaan, because of the Worthiness of their Faith; but God sware in his Wrath that they that believed not should not enter in, because of the Unworthiness of their Unbelief▪ The admitting a Soul to an Union with Christ is an Act of free and sovereign Grace; but an excluding at Death, and at the Day of Judgment, those Professors of Christianity that have had the Offers of a Saviour, and enjoyed great Privileges as God's Peo­ple, is a judicial Proceeding, and a just Punishment of [Page 103] their unworthy Treatment of Christ. The Design of this Saying of Christ is to make sensible of the Unwor­thiness of their Treatment of Christ, that pro [...]ess'd him to be their Lord and Saviour, an [...] [...] him below Fa­ther and Mother, &c. and not to perswade of the Un­worthiness of loving him above Father and Mother. If a Beggar should be offer'd any great and preciou Gift, but as soon as offer'd, should trample it under his Feet, it might be taken from him, as unworthy to have it: Or if a Malefactor should have his Pardon offered him, and he be freed from Execution, and should only scoff at it, his Pardon might be refused him, as unworthy of it; tho' if he had received it, he would not have had it for his Worthiness, or as being recommended to it by his Virtue; for his being a Malefactor supposes him unworthy, and its being offered him to have it only on accepting, supposes that the King looks for no Worthi­ness, nothing in him for which he should bestow Par­don as a Reward.—This may teach us how to un­derstand Acts 13 46 It was necessary that the Word of God should first be spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge your selves unworthy of everlasting Life, [...]o we turn to the Gentiles.

Object. 5 'Ti [...] objected against the Doctrine of Justi­fication by Faith alone, That Repentance is evidently spoken of in Scripture as that which is in a special Man­ner the Condition of Remission of Sins: But Remission of Sins is by all allowed to be that wherein Justifica­tion does, (at least) in great Part consist

But it must certainly arise from a Misunderstanding of what the Scripture says about Repentance, to sup­pose that Faith and Repentance are two distinct Things, that in like manner are the Conditions of Justification. For 'tis m [...]st plain from the Scripture that the Conditi­on of Justification, or that in us by which we are justi­fied, is but one, and that is Faith▪ Faith and Repen­tance are not two distinct Conditions of Justification, not are they two distinct Things, that together make one Con­dition of Justification; but Faith comprehends the whole of that by which we are justified, or by which we come [Page 104] to have an Interest in Christ, and there is nothing else has a parallel Concern with it, in the Affair of our Sal­vation. And this the Divines on the other Side them­selves are sensible of, and therefore they suppose that that Faith that the Apostle Paul speaks of, which he says we are justified by alone, comprehends in it Re­pentance.

And therefore, in Answer to the Objection, I would say, That when Repentance is spoken of in Scripture as the Condition of Pardon, thereby is not intended any particular Grace, or Act, properly distinct from Faith, that has a parallel Influence with it, in the Affair of our Pardon or Justification; but by Repentance is in­tended nothing distinct from active Conversion, (or Conversion actively considered,) as it respects the Term from which. Active Conversion is a Motion or Exercise of the Mind, that respects two Terms, viz. Sin and God: And by Repentance is meant this Conversion, or active Change of the Mind, so far as it is conversant about the Term from which, or about Sin▪ This is what the Word Repentance properly signifies; which in the Ori­ginal of the New Testament is Metanoia which signifies a Change of the Mind, or which is the same Thing, the turning or the Conversion of the Mind. Repentance is this turning, as it respects what is turned from Acts 26. 20. Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I shewed unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the Coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God▪ Both these are the same turn­ing, but only with Respect to opposite Terms; in the former is express'd the Exercise of Mind that there is about Sin in this Turning, in the other the Exercise of Mind towards God.

If we look over the Scriptures that speak of evange­lical Repentance, we shall presently see that Repen­tance is to be understood in this Sense; as Matth. 9. 13. I am not come to call the Righteous, but Sinners to Re­pentance. Luke 13 3. Except ye repent, ye shall all like­wise perish; And Chap 15. 7, 10. There is Joy in Hea­ven over one Sinner that repenteth, i. e. over one Sinner [Page 105] that is converted. Acts 11. 18. Then hath God, also to the Gentiles, granted Repentance unto Life. This is said by the Christians of the Circumcision at Jerusalem, upon Peter's giving an Account of the Conversion of Cornelius and his Family, and their embracing the Gos­pel, tho' Peter had said nothing expresly about their Sorrow for Sin. And again, Acts 17. 30. But now commandeth all Men, every where, to repent. And Luke 16. 30. Nay Father Abraham, but if one went to them from the Dead, they would repent. 2 Pet. 3. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his Promise, as some Men count Slackness, but is Long-suffering to us ward not wil­ling that any should perish, but that all should come to Re­pentance▪ 'Tis plain that in these and other Places, by Repentance is meant Conversion.

Now, 'ti true, that Conversion i [...] the Condition of Pardon and Justification: But [...]f it be so, how absurd is it to say that Conversion is one Condition [...]f Justifi­cation, and Faith another; as though they were two distributively distinct and parallel Conditions? Con­version is the Condition of Justification, because it is that great Change by which we are brought from Sin to Christ, and by which we become Believers in him: Agreeable to Matth. 21. 32. And ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards that ye might believe him. When we are directed to repent that our Sins may be blotted out, 'tis as much as to say, Let your Minds and Hearts be changed that your Sins may be blotted out: But if it be said, Let your Hearts be changed that you may be justified; and [...] also said, Believe that you may be justified; does it therefore follow that the Heart's being changed is one Condition of Justification, and Be­lieving another? But our Minds must be changed, that we may believe, and so may be justified.

And besides, evangelical Repentance, being active Conversion, is not to be treated of as a particular Grace, properly and entirely distinct from Faith, as by some it seems to have been. What i Conversion, but the sin­ful, alienated Soul's closing with Christ or the Sinner's being brought to believe in Christ? That Exercise of [Page 106] Soul that there is in Conversion, that respects Sin, can­not be excluded out of the Nature of Faith in Christ: There is something in Faith, or closing with Christ that respects Sin, and that is evangelical Repentance: That Repentance which in Scripture is called Repentance for the Remission of Sins, is that very Principle or Operation of the Mind it self, that i called Faith, so far as it is conversant about Sin. Justifying Faith in a Mediator, is conversant about two Things: It is conversant about Sin or Evil, to be rejected and to be delivered from by the Mediator, and about positive Good to be accepted and obtained by the Mediator; as conversant about [...]he former of these, it is evangelical Repentance or Repen­tance for Remission of Sins. Surely they must be very ignorant, or at least very inconsiderate, of the whole Te­nour of the Gospel, that think that that Repentance by which Remission of Sins is obtained, can be compleated, as to all that is essential to it, without any Respect to Christ, or Application of the Mind to the Mediator, who alone has made Atonement for Sin: Surely so great a Part of Salvation as Remission of Sins, is not to be ob­tained, without looking, or [...] to the great and only Saviour. 'Tis true Repentance in its more gene­ral abstracted Nature, is only a Sorrow for Sin, and for­saking of it, which is a Duty of natural Religion; but evangelical Repentance, or Repentance for Remission [...] Sins, hath more than this essential to it; a Dependance of Soul on the Mediator for Deliverance from Sin is of the Essence of it.

That justifying Repentance has the Nature of Faith seems evident by Acts 19 4. Then said Paul, John veri­ly baptised with the Baptism of Repentance, saying unto the People, that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. The latter Words, Saying unto the People, that they should believe on him &c. are evidently exegetical of the former, and explain how he preached Repentance for the Remission of Sins: When it is said that he preached Repentance for the Remission of Sin, saying that they should believe on Christ, it can't be supposed but that 'tis intended, that his saying that [Page 107] they should believe on Christ, was as directing them what to do that they might obtain the Remission of Sins. So 2 Tim. 2. 25. In Meekness instructing those that op­pose themselves, if God peradventure will give them Re­pentance, to the acknowleging of the Truth. That acknowleging of the Truth which there is in Believing, is here spoken of as what is attained in Repentance. And on the other Hand, that Faith includes Repen­tance in its Nature, is evident by the Apostle's speaking of Sin as destroyed in Faith, Gal. 2. 18. In the pre­ceeding Verses, the Apostle mentions an Objection a­gainst the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, viz. that it tends to encourage Men in Sin, and so to make Christ the Minister of Sin: This Objection he rejects and refuses with this, If I build again the Things that I destroyed, I make my self a Transgressor. If Sin be destroyed by Faith, it must be by Repentance of Sin included in it; for we know that it is our Repentance of Sin, or the Metanoia, or turning of the Mind from Sin, that is our destroying our Sin.

That in justifying Faith, that directly respects Sin, or the Evil to be delivered from by the Mediator, is as fol­lows, A Sense of our own Sinfulness, and the Hatefulness of it, and an hearty Acknowlegement of its Dese [...] of the threaten'd Punishment, looking to the free Mercy of God in a Redeemer, for Deliverance from it and its Punish­ment.

Concerning this, here described, three Things may be noted, 1. That 'tis the very same with that evangelical Repentance to which Remission of Sins is promised in Scripture. 2. That 'tis all of it of the Essence of jus­tifying Faith, and is the same with that Faith, so far as it is conversant about the Evil to be delivered from by the Mediator. 3 That this is indeed the proper and peculiar Condition of Remission of Sins.

1. All of it is essential to evangelical Repentance, and is indeed the very Thing meant by that Repentance, to which Remission of Sins is promised in the Gospel. As to the former Part of the Description, viz A Sense of our own Sinfulness, and the Hatefulness of it, and an hearty [Page 108] Acknowlegement of its Desert of Wrath, none will deny it to be included in Repentance: But this don't compre­hend the whole Essence of evangelical Repentance; but what follows does also properly and essentially be­long to its Nature, looking to the free Mercy of God in a Redeemer, for Deliverance from it, and the Punishment of it. That Repentance to which Remission is promised not only always has this with it, but it is contained in it, as what is of the proper Nature and Essence of it: And Respect is ever had to this in the Nature of Re­pentance, whenever Remission is promised to it; and it is especially from Respect to this in the Nature of Re­pentance, that it has that Promise made to it: If this latter Part be missing, it fails of the Nature of that evan­gelical Repentance to which Remission of Sins is pro­mised: If Repentance remains in Sorrow for Sin, and don't reach to a looking to the free Mercy of God in Christ for Pardon, 'tis not that which is the Condition of Pardon, neither shall Pardon be obtained by it Evan­gelical Repentance is an Humiliation for Sin before God; but the Sinner never comes and humbles himself before God, in any other Repentance, but that which includes an hoping in his Mercy for Remission: If his Sorrow be not accompanied with that, there will be no coming to God in it, but a flying further from him. There is some Worship of God in justifying Repentance; but that there is not in any other Repentance, but that which has a Sense of, and Faith in the divine Mercy to forgive Sin. Psalm 130 4. There is Forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared. The Promise of Mercy to a true Penitent, in Prov. 28. 13. is expressed in these Terms, Whoso confesseth, and forsaketh his Sins, shall have Mercy. But there is Faith in God's Mercy in that confessing. The Psalmist in Psalm 32 speaking of the Blessedness of the Men whose Transgression is forgiven, and whose Sin is co­vered, to whom the Lord imputes not Sin, says, that while he kept Silence, his Bones waxed old, but then he acknow­leged his Sin unto God, his Iniquity he did not hide, he said he would confess his Transgression to the Lord, and then God forgave the Iniquity of his Sin. The Manner of [Page 109] Expression plainly holds forth that then he began to en­courage himself in the Mercy of God, when before his Bones waxed old, while he kept Silence; and therefore the Apostle Paul in the 4 of Romans brings this In­stance, to confirm the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, that he had been insisting on. When Sin is a­right confess'd to God, there is always Faith in that Act: That confessing of Sin that is join'd with Despair, such as was in Judas, is not the Confession to which the pro­mise is made. In Acts 2. 38. the Direction that was given to those that were pricked in their Heart, with a Sense of the Guilt of Sin, was to repent & be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the Remission of their Sins. A being baptised in the Name of Christ for the Remission of Sins, implied Faith in Christ for the Remission of Sins. Repentance for the Remission of Sins, was typifi­ed of old by the Priests confessing the Sins of the Peo­ple over the Scape-Goat, laying his Hands on him, Lev. 16. 21. denoting that 'tis that Repentance and Confes­sion of Sin only that obtains Remission, that is made o­ver the Scape-Goat, over Christ the great Sacrifice, and with Dependance on him. Many other Things might be produced from the Scripture, that do in like manner confirm this Point, but these may be sufficient.

2. All the foremention'd Description is of the Essence of justifying Faith, and not different from it, so far as it is conversant about Sin, or the Evil to be deliver'd from, by the Mediator. For it is doubtless of the Essence of justi­fying Faith, to embrace Christ as a Saviour from Sin and its Punishment, and all that is contain'd in that Act is contain'd in the Nature of Faith it self: But in the Act of embracing Christ as a Saviour from our Sin and its Punishment, is implied a Sense of our Sinfulness, and a Hatred of our Sins, or a rejecting them with Abhorrence, and a Sense of our Desert of their Punishment. An em­bracing Christ as a Saviour from Sin implies the contrary Act towards Sin, viz. rejecting of Sin: If we fly to the Light to be delivered from Darkness, the same Act is contrary towards Darkness, viz. a rejecting of it. In Proportion to the Earnestness or Appetite with which [Page 110] we embrace Christ as a Saviour from Sin, in the same Proportion is the Abhorrence with which we reject Sin, in the same Act. Yea if we suppose there to be in the Nature of Faith as conversant about Sin, no more than the hearty embracing Christ as a Saviour from the Punishment of Sin, this Act will imply in it the whole of the abovemention'd Description. It implies a Sense of our own Sinfulness: Certainly in the hearty embracing a Saviour from the Punishment of our Sinfulness, there is the Exercise of a Sense of our Sinfulness, or that we be sinful: We can't heartily embrace Christ as a Sa­viour from the Punishment of that which we are not sensible we are guilty of. There is also in the same Act, a Sense of our Desert of the threaten'd Punishment: We can't heartily embrace Christ as a Saviour from that, which we be not sensible that we have deserved: For if we are not sensible that we have deserved the Punish­ment, we should not be sensible that we have any Need of a Saviour from it, or at least, shall not be con­vinced but that the God that offers the Saviour, unjust­ly makes him needful; and we can't heartily embrace such an Offer. And further, there is implied in a hearty embracing Christ as a Saviour from Punishment, not only a Conviction of Conscience, that we have deser­ved the Punishment, such as the Devils and Damned have; but there is a hearty Acknowlegement of it, with the Submission of the Soul, so as with the Accord of the Heart, to own that God might be just, and wor­thy in the Punishment. If the Heart rises against the Act or Judgment of God, in holding us obliged to the Punishment, when he offers us his Son as a Saviour from the Punishment, we cannot with the Consent of the Heart receive him in that Character: But if Persons thus submit to the Righteousness of so dreadful a Pu­nishment of Sin, this carries in it an Hatred of Sin.

That such a Sense of our Sinfulness, and utter Un­worthiness, and De [...]ert of Punishment, belongs to the Nature of saving Faith, is what the Scripture from time to time seems to hold forth; as particularly in Matth. 15. 26, 27, 28. But he answered and said, it is not not [Page 111] meet to take the Children's Bread, and to cast it to Dogs. And she said, truth Lord: yet the Dogs eat of the Crumbs which fall from their Master's Table. Then Jesus answer­ed, and said unto her, O Woman, gre [...] thy Faith. And Luke 7. 6, 7, 8, 9. The Centurion sent Friends to him, saying unto him, Lord trouble not thy self, for I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my Roof: wherefore neither thought I my self worthy to come unto thee, but say in a Word, and my Servant shall be healed: for I am a Man set under Authority, &c.—When Jesus heard these Things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about and said unto the People that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great Faith, no not in Israel. And also Verses 37, 38. And behold a Woman in the City, which was a Sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at Meat in the Pharisees House, brought an Ala­baster Box of Ointment, and stood at his Feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his Feet with Tears, and did wipe them with the Hairs of her Head, and kissed his Feet, and anointed them with the Ointment. Together with Verse 50 He said unto the Woman, thy Faith hath saved thee; go in Peace.

These Things don't necessarily suppose that Repen­tance and Faith are Words of just the same Significati­on; for 'tis only so much in justifying Faith, as respects the Evil to be delivered from, by the Saviour, that is called Repentance: And besides, both Repentance and Faith, take them only in their general Nature, and they are entirely distinct; Repentance is a Sorrow for Sin, and forsaking of it; and Faith is a trusting in God's Sufficiency and Truth: But Faith and Repentance, as evangelical Duties, or justifying Faith, and Repentance for Remission of Sins, contain more in them, and imply a Respect to a Mediator, & involve each others Nature*; [Page 112] though it be true, that they still bear the Name of Faith and Repentance, from those general moral Virtues, that Repentance which is a Duty of natural Religion, and that Faith that was a Duty required under the first Co­venant, that are contained in this evangelical Act; which severally appear, when this Act is consider'd with Respect to its different Terms and Objects, that it is conversant about.

It may be objected here, that the Scripture sometimes mentions Faith and Repentance together, as if they were entirely distinct Things; as in Mark 1. 15 Re­pent ye, and believe the Gospel. But there is no need of understanding these as two distinct Conditions of Salva­tion, but the Words are exegetical one of another: It is to teach us after what Manner we must repent, viz. as believing the Gospel, and after what Manner we must believe the Gospel, viz. as repenting: These Words no more prove Faith and Repentance to be entirely distinct, than those forementioned Matth. 21. 32 And ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, that ye might believe him. Or those 2 Tim. 2. 25. If peradven­ture God will give them Repentance, to the acknowleging of the Truth. The Apostle in Acts 19 4 seems to have Reference to these Words of John the Baptist, John baptised with the Baptism of Repentance, saying unto the People, that they should believe, &c. where the latter Words▪ as we have already observed, are to explain how he preached Repentance.

Another Scripture, where Faith and Repentance are mentioned together, is Acts 20 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks. Repentance towards God, and Faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be ob­jected. that in this Place. Faith and Repentance are not only spoken of as distinct Things, but having distinct Objects.

To this I answer, That 'tis true that Faith and Re­pentance in their general Nature▪ are distinct Things: And Repentance for the Remission of Sins, or that in justifying Faith that respects the Evil to be delivered from, so far as it regards that Term, which is what espe­cially [Page 113] denominates it Repentance, has Respect to God as the Object, because he is the Being offended by Sin, and to be reconciled, but that in this justifying Act, whence it is denominated Faith, does more especially re­spect Christ.—But let us interpret it how we will, the Objection of Faith being here so distinguished from Repentance, is as much of an Objection against the Scheme of those that oppose Justification by Faith alone, as against this Scheme; for they hold that the justify­ing Faith that the Apostle Paul speaks of, includes Re­pentance, as has been already observed

3. This Repentance that has been described. is indeed the special Condition of Remission of Sin. This seems very evident by the Scripture, as particularly, Mark 1 4. John did baptise in the Wilderness, and preach the Baptism of Repentance, for the Remission of Sins. So, Luke [...] And he came into all the Country about J [...]an, prea­ing the Baptism of Repentance for the Remission of [...] Luke 24 47 And that Repentance, and Remission of Sins, should be preached in his Name among all Nations. Acts 5 31. Him hath God exalted with his own Right Hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give Repen­tance unto Israel, and Forgiveness of Sins Chap 2, 38 Repent, and be baptised every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the Remission of Sins. And, Chap. 3. 19. Repent, ye therefore and be converted, that your Sins may be blotted out. The like is evident by Lev. 26 40, 41, 42 Job 33. 27, 28. Psalm 32. 5 Prov. 28 13. Jer. 3. 13. And 1 John 1. 9 and other Places.

And the Reason may be plain from what has been said. We need not wonder that that in Faith, that espe­cially respects Sin, should be especially the Condition of Remission of Sins; or that this Motion, or Exercise of the Soul, as it rejects and flies from Evil, and embraces Christ as a Saviour from it, should especially be the Con­dition of being free from that Evil; in like manner as the same Principle or Motion, as it seeks good, and cleaves to Christ as the Procurer of that Good, should be the Condition of obtaining that Good. Faith with Respect to Good is accepting, and with Respect to Evil it is reject­ing; [Page 114] Yea this rejecting Evil, is it self an Act of Ac­ceptance; 'tis accepting Freedom or Seperation from that Evil; and this Freedom or Seperation is the Bene­fit bestowed in Remission. No Wonder that that in Faith which immediately respects this Benefit, and is our Acceptance of this Benefit, should be the special Condition of our having it: 'Tis so with Respect to all the Benefits that Christ has purchased. Trusting in God through Christ for such a particular Benefit that we need, is the special Condition of obtaining that Benefit. When we need Protection from Enemies, the Exercise of Faith with Respect to such a Benefit, or trusting in Christ for Protection from Enemies, is especially the Way to obtain that particular Benefit, rather than trust­ing in Christ for something else; and so of any other Benefit that might be mentioned. So Prayer, (which is the Expression of Faith) for a particular Mercy needed, is especially the Way to obtain that Mercy.*

So that we see that no Argument can be drawn from hence against the Doctrine of Justification by Faith a­lone. And there is that in the Nature of Repentance, which peculiarly tends to establish the Contrary of Justi­fication by Works: for nothing so much renounces our own Worthiness and Excellency, as Repentance; the very Nature of it is to acknowlege our own utter Sin­fulness and Unworthiness, and to renounce our own Goodness, and all Confidence in self; and so to trust in the Propitiation of the Mediator, and ascribe all the Glory of Forgiveness to him.

Object. 6 The last Objection I shall mention, is that Paragraph in the second Chapter of James, where Per­sons are said expresly to be justified by Works; Verse 21. Was not Abraham our Father justified by Works? Verse 24. Ye see then how that by Works a Man is justi­fied [Page 115] and not by Faith only. Verse 25. Was not Raha [...] the Harlot justified by Works?

In Answer to this Objection, I would

1. Take notice of the great Unfairness of the Divines that oppose us, in the Improvement they make of this Passage against us. All will allow that in that Proposi­tion of St. James, By Works a Man is justified, and not by Faith only, one of the Terms, either the Word Faith, or else the Word justify, is not to be understood pre­cisely in the same Sense, as the same Terms when used by St. Paul; because they suppose, as well as we, that it was not the Intent of the Apostle James to contradict St. Paul, in that Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, that he had instructed the Churches in: But if we un­derstand both the Terms, as used by each Apostle, in precisely the same Sense, then what one asserts is a pre­cise, direct, and full Contradiction of the other, the one affirming and the other denying the very same Thing. So that all the Controversy from this Text comes to this, viz. Which of these two Terms, shall be understood in a Diversity from St. Paul. They say that it is the Word Faith; for they suppose, that when the Apostle Paul uses the Word, and makes Faith that by which a­lone we are justified, that then by it is understood a Compliance with, and Practice of Christianity in gene­ral; so as to include all saving christian Virtue and Obe­dience. But as the Apostle James uses the Word Faith in this Place, they suppose thereby is to be understood only an Assent of the Understanding to the Truth of Gospel Doctrines, as distinguished from good Works, and that [...] may exist seperate from them, and from all saving Grace. We on the other hand suppose that the Word Justify is to be understood in a different Sense from the Apostle Paul. So that they are forced to go as far, in their Scheme, in altering the Sense of Terms from Paul's Use of them, as we. But yet at the same Time, that they freely vary the Sense of the former of them, viz. Faith, yet when we understand the latter, viz. Justify, in a different Sense from St. Paul, they cry out of us, What Necessity of framing this Distinction, but [Page 116] only to serve an Opinion? At this Rate a Man may main­tain any Thing, tho' never so contrary to Scripture, and elude the clearest Text in the Bible! Tho' they don't shew us why we have not as good Warrant to under­stand the Word Justify in a Diversity from St. Paul, as they the Word Faith. If the Sense of one of the Words must be varied on either Scheme, to make the Apostle James's Doctrine consistent with the Apostle Paul's, and the varying the Sense of one Term or the other, be all that stands in the Way of their agreeing with either Scheme, & the varying the Sense of the latter be in it self as fair as of the former, then the Text lies as fair for one Scheme as the other, and can no more fairly be an Objection against our Scheme than theirs. And if so, what becomes of all this great Objection from this Pas­sage in James?

2. If there be no more Difficulty in varying the Sense of one of these Terms than another, from any Thing in the Text it self, so as to make the Words sute with either Scheme, then certainly that is to be chosen, that is most agreable to the Current of Scripture, and other Places where the same Matter is more particularly and fully treated of; and therefore that we should under­stand the Word Justify, in this Passage of James, in a Sense in some Respect diverse from that in which St. Paul uses it. For by what has been already said it may appear, that there is no one Doctrine in the whole Bible is more fully asserted, explained, and urged than the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, without any of our own Righteousness.

3. There is a very fair Interpretation of this Passage of St James, that is no Way inconsistent with this Doc­trine of Justification, which I have shown that other Scriptures do so abundantly teach, which Interpretation the Words themselves will as well allow of, as that which the Objectors put upon them, and much better agrees with the Context; and that is, that Works are here spo­ken of as justifying as Evidences. A Man may be said to be justified by that which clears him, or vindicates him, or makes the Goodness of his Cause manifest. When [Page 117] a [...] has a Cause tried in a civil Court, & is justified or [...] he may be said in different Senses to be justified or cleared, by the Goodness of his Cause, & by the Goodness of the Evidences of it. He may be said to be cleared by what evidences [...]his Cause to be good; but not in the same Sense as he is by that which makes his Cause to be good. That which renders [...] Cause good, is the proper Ground of his Jus­tification [...] 'tis by that that he is himself a proper Sub­ject of it [...] but Evidences justify, only as they manifest that his Cause is good in Fact, whether they are of such a Nature as to have any Influence to render it so or no. 'Tis by Works that our Cause appears to be good; but by Faith our Cause not only appears to be good, but be­comes good; because thereby we are united to Christ. That the Word Justify should be sometimes understood to signify the former of these, as well as the latter, is agreable to the Use of the Word in common Speech; as we say such an one stood up to justify another, i. e. he endeavour'd to shew or manifest his Cause to be good. And 'tis certain that the Word is sometimes used in this Sense in Scripture, when speaking of our being justified before God: as where it is said we shall be justified by our Words; Matth. 12 37. For by thy Words thou shalt be justified, and by thy Words thou shalt be condemned. It can't be meant that Men are accepted before God, on the Account of their Words; for God has told us nothing more plainly, than that 'tis the Heart that he looks at, and that when he acts as Judge towards Men, in order to justifying or condemning, he tries the Heart, Jer. 11.20. But, O Lord of Hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the Reins and the Heart, let me see thy Vengeance on them; for unto thee have I revealed my Cause. Psalm 7. 8. 9. The Lord shall judge the People: judge me, O Lord, according to my Righteousness, and according to mine Integrity that is in me. O let the Wickedness of the Wicked come to an End; but establish the Just; for the righteous God trieth the Hearts and Reins. Verse 11. God judgeth the Righteous. And many other Places to the like Purpose. And therefore Men can be justified by their Words, no otherwise than as Evidences or Manifes­tations [Page 118] of what is in the Heart. And 'tis thus that Christ speaks of Words in this very Place, as is evident by the Context. Verse 34, 35 Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth speaketh. A good Man out of the good Trea­sure of the Heart, &c. The Words, or Sounds themselves, are neither Parts of Godliness, nor Evidences of Godli­ness, but as Signs of what is inward.

God himself when he acts towards Men as Judge, in Order to a declarative Judgment, makes use of Eviden­ces, and so judges Men by their Works. And therefore at the Day of Judgment, God will judge Men accord­ing to their Works: For tho' God will stand in no Need of Evidence to inform him what is right, yet 'tis to be considered that he will then sit in Judgment; not as earthly Judges do, to find out what is right in a Cause, but to declare and manifest what is right; and there­fore that Day is called by the Apostle, the Day of the Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God, Rom. 2 5.

To be justified is to be approved and accepted: But a Man may be said to be approved and accepted in two Respects; the one is to be approved really, and the o­ther to be approved and accepted declaratively. Justi­fication is twofold; 'tis either the Acceptance and Ap­probation of the Judge it self, or the Manifestation of that Approbation, by a Sentence or Judgment declared by the Judge, either to our own Consciences, or to the World. If Justification be understood in the former Sense, for the Approbation it self, that is only that by which we become fit to be approved: But if it be under­stood in the latter Sense, for the Manifestation of this Approbation, it is by whatever is a proper Evidence of that Fitness. In the former, only Faith is concerned; because 'tis by that only in us, that we become fit to be accepted and approved: In the latter, whatever is a [...] Evidence of our Fitness, is alike concerned And therefore take Justification in this Sense, and then Faith, and all other Graces, and good Works, have a common and equal Concern in it: For any other Grace, or holy Act, is equally an Evidence of a Qualification for Acceptance or Approbation, as Faith.

[Page 119] To justify has always, in common Speech, signified indifferently, either simply Approbation, or testifying that Approbation; sometimes one, and sometimes the other: And that because they are both the same, only as one is outwardly, what the other is inwardly. So we, and it may be all Nations, are wont to give the same Names to two Things, when one is only declarative of the other. Thus sometimes judging, intends only judging in our Thoughts; at other Times, testifying & declaring Judgment. So such Words a justify, condemn, accept, reject, prize, slight, approve, renounce, are sometimes put for mental Acts, at other Times for an outward Treatment. So in the Sense in which the Apostle James seems to use the Word justify, for manifestative Justification, a Man is justified not only by Faith, but also by Works; as a Tree is manifested to be good, not only by immediately examining the Tree, but also by the Fruit. Prov. 20 11. Even a Child is known by his D [...]ings, whether his Work be pure, and whether it be right.

The Drift of the Apostle don't require that he should be understood in any other Sense: For all that he aims at, as appears by a View of the Context, is to prove that good Works are necessary. The Error of those that he op­posed was this, That good Works were not necessary to Salvation; that if they did but believe that there was but one God, and that Christ was the Son of God, and the like; and were baptised; [...] they were safe, let them live how they would: which Doctrine greatly tended to Licentiousness. The evincing the contrary of this, is evidently the Apostle's Scope.

And that we should understand the Apostle of Works justifying as an Evidence, and in a a [...]clarative Judgment, is what a due Consideration of the Context will natu­rally lead us to For 'tis plain that the Apostle is here insisting on Works in the Quality of a necessary Ma­nifestation and Evidence of Faith, or as what the Truth of Faith is shewed or made to appear by: As Verse 18. Shew me thy Faith without thy Works, and I will shew thee my Faith by my Works. And when he says, Verse 26. As the Body without the Spirit is dead, so Faith with­out [Page 120] Works is dead also. 'Tis much more rational and na­tural, to understand him as speaking of Works as the proper Signs and Evidences of the Reality, Life and Goodness of Faith. Not that the very Works or Actions done are properly the Life of Faith, as the Spirit in the Body; but 'tis the active, working Nature of Faith, of which the Actions or Works done are the Signs, that is it self the Life and Spirit of Faith. The Sign of a Thing is often in Scripture Language said to be that Thing. As it is in that Comparison by which the Apostle illus­trates it. 'Tis not the Actions themselves of a Body, that is properly the Life or Spirit of the Body; but 'tis the active Nature, of which those Actions or Motions are the Signs, that are the Life of the Body. That which makes Men call any Thing alive, is that they observe that it has an active operative Nature in it; which they observe no otherwise than by the Actions or Motions that are the Signs of it. 'Tis plainly the Apostle's Aim to prove that Works are necessary from that, That if Faith hath not Works, 'tis a Sign that 'tis not a good Sort of Faith; which would not have been to his Pur­pose, if it was his Design to shew that it is not by Faith alone, tho' of a [...]ight Sort, that we have Acceptance with God, but that we are accepted on the Account of Obedience as well as Faith. 'Tis evident by the Apo­stle's Reasoning, that the Necessity of Works that he speaks of, is not as having a parallel Concern in our Salvation with Faith; but he speaks of Works only as related to Faith, and expressive of it; which after all leaves Faith the alone fundamental Condition, with­out any Thing else having a parallel Concern with it in this Affair, and other Things Conditions, only as se­veral Expressions, and Evidences of it.

That the Apostle speaks of Works justifying only as a Sign, or Evidence, and in God's declarative Judgment, is further confirmed by Verse 21. Was not Abraham our Father justified by Works, when he had offered up Isaac his Son upon the Altar? Here the Apostle seems plainly to refer to that declarative Judgment of God, concern­ing Abraham▪ Sincerity, manifested to him, for the [Page 121] Peace and Assurance of his own Conscience, after his offering up Isaac his Son on the Altar, that we have Account of, Gen 22. 12 Now I know that thou fearest God; seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me. But here it is plain, and expressed in the very Words of Justification or Approbation, that this Work of Abraham's, his offering up his Son on the Altar, justified him as an Evidence. When the Apostle James says we are justified by Works, he may, and ought to be understood in a Sense agreeble to the Instance he brings for the Proof of it: But Justification in that In­stance appears by the Words of Justification themselves refer'd to, to be by Works as an Evidence And where this Instance of Abraham's Obedience is elsewhere men­tion'd, in the New Testament, 'tis mention'd as a Fruit and Evidence of his Faith. Heb. 11. 17. By Faith Abra­ham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the Promises, offered up his only begotten Son.

And in the other Instance which the Apostle men­tions, Verse 25. Likewise also was not Rahab the Har­lot justified by Works, when she had received the Messengers, and had sent them out another Way? The Apostle refers to a declarative Judgment, in that particular Testimony which was given of God's Approbation of her as a Be­liever, in directing [...]hua to save her, when the Rest of Jericho was destroyed, Josh. 6. 25. And Joshua saved Rahab the Harlot alive, and her Father's Houshold, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this Day; because she hid the Messengers which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho This was accepted as an Evi­dence and Expression of her Faith. Heb 11 31 By Faith the Harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the Spies with Peace The Apostle in saying, Was not Rahab the Harlot justified by Works? by the Manner of his Speaking has Reference to something in her History; but we have no Account in her History of any other Justification of her but this

4. If notwithstanding, any choose to take Justification in St. James, precisely as we do in Paul's Epistles, for God's Acceptance or Approbation it self, and not any [Page 122] Expression of that Approbation, what has been already said concerning the Manner in which Acts of evangeli­cal Obedience are concerned in the Affair of our Justifi­cation, affords a very easy, clear, and full Answer: For if we take Works as Acts or Expressions of Faith, they are not excluded; so a Man is not justified by Faith only, but also by Works; i. e. he is not justified only by Faith as a Principle in the Heart, or in its first and more immanent Acts, but also by the effective Acts of it in Life, which are the Expressions of the Life of Faith, as the Operations and Actions of the Body are of the Life of that; agreable to Verse 26.

What has been said in Answer to these Objections, may also, I hope, abundantly serve for an Answer to that Objection, that is often made against this Doctrine, viz. That it encourages Licentiousness in Life. For, from what has been said, we may see, that the Scripture Doc­trine of Justification by Faith alone, without any Manner of Goodness or Excellency of ours, does in no wise di­minish, either the Necessity, or Benefit of a sincere evan­gelical universal Obedience: In that Man's Salvation is not only indissolubly connected with it, and Damnation with the Want of it, in those that have Opportunity for i [...], but that it depends upon it in many Respects; as 'tis the Way to it, and the necessary Preparation for it, and also as eternal Blessings are bestowed in Reward for it, and as our Justification in our own Consciences, and at the Day of Judgment, depends on it, as the proper Evidence of our acceptable State, and that, even in accepting of us as intitled to Life in our Justification, God has Respect to this, as that on which the Fitness of such an Act of Justification depends: So that our Salvation does as tru­ly depend upon it, as if we were justified for the moral Excellency of it. And besides all this, the Degree of our Happiness to all Eternity is suspended on, and de­termined by the Degree of this. So that this Gospel. Scheme of Justification is as far from encouraging Li­centiousness, and contains as much to encourage and ex­cite to strict and universal Obedience, and the utmost possible Eminency of Holiness, as any Scheme that can be devised, and indeed unspeakably more.

[Page 123] I come now to the

V. and last Thing proposed, which is to consider the Importance of this Doctrine.

I know there are many that make as tho' this Contro­versy was of no great Importance; that it is chiefly a Matter of nice Speculation, depending on certain subtil Distinctions, which many that make use of them don't understand themselves; and that the Difference is not of such Consequence, as to be worth the being zealous about; and that more Hurt is done by raising Disputes about it, than good.

Indeed I am far from thinking that it is of absolute Necessity that Persons should understand, and be agreed upon, all the Distinctions needful particularly to ex­plain and defend this Doctrine, against all Cavils and Objections; (tho' all Christians should strive after an Increase of Knowlege; and none should content them­selves without some clear and distinct Understanding in this Point:) But that we should believe in the Gene­ral, according to the clear and abundant Revelations of God's Word, that 'tis none of our own Excellency, Vir­tue, or Righteousness, that is the Ground of our being received from a State of Condemnation into a State of Acceptance in God's Sight, but only Jesus Christ, and his Righteousness, and Worthiness, received by Faith. This I think to be of great Importance, at least in Appli­cation to our selves; and that for the following Reasons.

1. The Scripture treats of this Doctrine, as a Doctrine of very great Importance. That there is a certain Doc­trine of Justification by Faith, in Opposition to Justifi­cation by the Works of the Law, that the Apostle Paul insists upon as of the greatest Importance, none will de­ny; because there is nothing in the Bible more apparent. The Apostle under the infallible Conduct of the Spirit of God, thought it worth his most strenuous and zealous disputing about and defending. He speaks of the con­trary Doctrine as fatal and ruinous to the Souls of Men, in the latter End of the ninth Chapter of Romans, and beginning of the tenth. He speaks of it as subversive of the Gospel of Christ, and calls it another Gospel, and [Page 124] says concerning it, if any one, though an Angel from Hea­ven preach it, let him be accursed. Gal 1. 6, 7, 8, 9. com­pared with the following Part of the Epistle. Certainly we must allow the Apostles to be good Judges of the Importance and Tendency of Doctrines; at least the Holy Ghost in them▪ And doubtless we are safe, and in no Danger of Harshness and Censoriousness, if we on­ly follow him, and keep close to his express Teachings, in what we believe and say of the hurtful and pernici­ous Tendency of any Error.—Why are we to blame, or to be cried out of, for saying what the Bible has taught us to say, or for believing what the Holy Ghost has taught us to that End that we might believe it?

2. The adverse Scheme lays another Foundation of Man's Salvation than God hath laid. I don't now speak of that ineffectual Redemption that they suppose to be universal, and what all Mankind are equally the Subjects of; but, I say, it lays intirely another Foundation of Man's actual, discriminating Salvation, or that Salvation where­in true Christians differ from wicked Men. We suppose the Foundation of this to be Christ's Worthiness and Righteousness: On the contrary, that Scheme supposes it to be Men's own Virtue; even so, that this is the Ground of a saving Interest in Christ it self. It takes away Christ out of the Place of the bottom Stone, and puts in Men's own Virtue in the Room of him: So that Christ himself in the Affair of distinguishing actual Salvation, is laid upon this Foundation. And the Foun­dation being so different, I leave it to every one to judge whether the Difference between the two Schemes con­sists only in Punctilios of small Consequence. The Foundations being contrary makes the whole Scheme exceeding Diverse and Opposite; the one is a Gospel Scheme, the other a legal one.

3. 'Tis in this Doctrine, that the most essential Differ­ence lies, between the Convenant of Grace, and the first Covenant. The adverse Scheme of Justification suppo­ses that we are justified by our Works, in the very same Sense wherein Man was to have been justified by his Works under the first Covenant. By that Covenant [Page 125] our first Parents were not to have had eternal Life given them, for any proper Merit in their Obedience; because their perfect Obedience was a Debt that they owed God: Nor was it to be bestowed for any Proportion between the Dignity of their Obedience, and the Value of the Reward; but only it was to be bestowed from a Regard to a moral Fitness in the Virtue of their Obedience, to the Reward of God's Favour; and a Title to eternal Life was to be given them, as a Testimony of God's Pleasedness with their Works, or his Regard to the inherent Beauty of their Virtue. And so it is the very same Way that those in the adverse Scheme suppose that we are received into God's special Favour now, and to those saving Benefits that are the Testimonies of it. I am sensible the Divines of that Side, intirely disclaim the popish Doctrine of Merit; and are free to speak of our utter Unworthiness, and the great Imperfection of all our Services: But after all, 'tis our Virtue as imper­fect as it is, that recommends Men to God, by which good Men come to have a saving Interest in Christ, and God's Favour, rather than others; and these Things are bestowed in Testimony of God's Respect to their Goodness. So that whether they will allow the Term Merit or no, yet they hold that we are accepted by our own Merit, in the same Sense, tho' not in the same De­gree, as under the first Covenant.

But the great and most distinguishing Difference be­tween that Covenant, and the Covenant of Grace is, that by the Covenant of Grace we are not thus justified by our own Works, but only by Faith in Jesus Christ. 'Tis on this Account chiefly that the new Covenant de­serves the Name of a Covenant of Grace, as is evident by Rom 4 16 Therefore it is of Faith, that it might be by Grace. And, Chap. 3 20, 24 Therefore by the Deeds of the Law there shall no Flesh be justified in his Sight;—Being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And, Chap. 11. 6. And if by Grace, then it is no more of Works, otherwise Grace is no more Grace: But if it be of Works, then it is no more Grace, otherwise Work is no more Work. Gal. 5 4 Who­soever [Page 126] of you are justified by the Law, ye are fallen from Grace. And therefore the Apostle when he in the same Epistle to the Galatians, speaks of the Doctrine of Justification by Works as another Gospel, he adds, which is not another, Chap 1. Verse 6, 7. 'Tis no Gos­pel at all; 'tis Law: 'Tis no Covenant of Grace, but of Works: 'Tis not an evangelical, but a legal Doctrine. Certainly that Doctrine wherein consists the greatest and most essential Difference between the Covenant of Grace and the first Covenant, must be a Doctrine of great Importance. That Doctrine of the Gospel by which above all others it is worthy of the Name of Gos­pel, is doubtless a very important Doctrine of the Gospel.

4 This is the main Thing that fallen Men stood in Need of divine Revelation for, to teach us how we that have sinn'd, may come to be again accepted of God; or which is the same Thing, How the Sinner may be justi­fied Something beyond the Light of Nature is necessa­ry to Salvation, chiefly on this Account. Meer natural Reason afforded no Means by which we could come to the Knowledge of this, it depending on the sovereign Pleasure of the Being that we had offended by Sin. This seems to be the great Drift of that Revelation that God has given, & of all those Mysteries it reveals, all those great Doctrines that are peculiarly Doctrines of Revelation, and above the Light of Nature. It seems to have been very much on this Account that it was requisite that the Doctrine of the Trinity it self should be revealed to us; that by a Discovery of the Concern of the several divine Persons, in the great Affair of our Salvation, we might the better understand and see how all our Dependence in this Affair is on God, and our Sufficiency all in him, and not in our selves; that he is all in all in this Business, agreable to that in 1 Cor. 1. 29, 30, 31. That no Flesh should glory in his Presence: But of him, are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God, is made unto us, Wis­dom. & Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption. That according as it is written, he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord. What is the Gospel, but only the glad Tidings of a new Way of Acceptance with God, un­to [Page 127] Life, a Way wherein Sinners may come to be free from the Guilt of Sin, and obtain a Title to eternal Life? And if when this Way is revealed, it is rejected, and another of Man's devising, be put in the Room of it, without Doubt, it must [...] an Error of great Importance, and the Apostle might [...] say it was another Gospel.

5. The contrary Scheme of Justification derogates much from the Honour of God, and the Mediator. I have already shewn how it diminishes the Glory of the Mediator, in ascribing th [...] to Man's Virtue and Good­ness, which belongs alone to his Worthiness and Righ­teousness. By the Apostle's Sense of the Matter it ren­ders Christ needless. Gal. 5 4 Christ is become of no Effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law. If that Scheme of Justification be followed in it's Con­sequences, it utterly overthrows the Glory of all the great Things that have been contrived, and done, and suffered in the Work of Redemption. Gal 2 21. If Righteousness come by the Law, Christ is dead in vain. It has also been already shewn, how it diminishes the Glory of divine Grace; (which is the Attribute God hath especially set himself to glorify in the Work of Redemption;) and so that it greatly diminishes the Ob­ligation to Gratitude in the Sinner that is saved: Yea that, in the Sense of the Apostle, it makes void the dis­tinguishing Grace of the Gospel. Gal. 5 4. Whosoever of you are justified by the Law, are fallen from Grace. It diminishes the Glory of the Grace of God and the Re­deemer, and proportionably magnifies Man: It makes him something before God, when indeed he is nothing: It makes the Goodness and Excellency of fallen Man to be something, which I have shewn are nothing I have also [...] already shewn that 'tis contrary to the Truth of God in the Threatning of his holy Law, to justify the Sinner for his Virtue. And whether it were contrary to God's Truth or no, it is a Scheme of Things very un­worthy of God, that supposes that God, when about to lift up a poor forlorn Malefactor, condemned to eternal Misery, for sinning against his Majesty, out of his Misery, and to make him unspeakably and eternally happy, by [Page 128] bestowing his Son and himself upon him, as it were sets all this to Sale, for the Price of his Virtue and Excellen­cy. I know that those that we oppose do acknowlege that the Price is very disproportionate to the Benefit bestowed; and say that God's Grace is wonderfully manifested in accepting so little Virtue, and bestowing so glorious a Reward, for such imperfect Righteousness. But seeing we are such infinitely sinful and abominable Creatures in God's Sight, and by our infinite Guilt have brought our selves into such wretched and deplo­rable Circumstances, and [...] our Righteousnesses are nothing, and ten thousand times worse than nothing, (if God looks upon them as they be in themselves) is it not immensely more worthy of the infinite Majesty and Glory of God, to deliver and make happy such poor fil­thy Worms, such wretched Vagabonds and Captives, without any Money or Price of theirs, or any Manner of Expectation of any Excellency or Virtue in them, in any wise to recommend them? Will it not betray a foolish exalting Opinion of our selves, and a mean one of God, to have a Thought of offering any thing of ours, to recommend us, to the Favour of being brought from wallowing like filthy Swine in the Mire of our Sins, and from the Enmity and Misery of Devils in the low­est Hell, to the State of God's dear Children, in the everlasting Arms of his Love, in heavenly Glory; or to imagine that that is the Constitution of God, that we should bring our filthy Rags, and offer them to him as the Price of this?

6. The opposite Scheme does most directly tend to lead Men to trust in their own Righteousness for Justi­fication, which is a Thing fatal to the Soul. This is what Men are of themselves exceeding prone to do, (and that tho' they are never so much taught the con­trary) through the exceeding partial and high Thoughts they have of themselves, and their exceeding Dulness of apprehending any such Mystery, as our being accept­ed for the Righteousness of another. But this Scheme does directly teach Men to trust in their own Righteous­ness for Justification; in that it teaches them that this [Page 129] is indeed what they must be justified by, being the Way of Justification that God himself has appointed So that if a Man had naturally no Disposition to trust in his own Righteousness, yet if he embraced this Scheme, and act­ed consistent with it, it would lead him to it. But that trusting in our own Righteousness, is a Thing fatal to the Soul, is what the Scripture plainly teaches us: It tells us that it will cause that Christ shall profit us nothing, and be of no Effect to us, Gal. 5. 2, 3, 4. For tho' the Apostle speaks there particularly of Circumci­sion, yet (I have shown already, that) it is not meerly being circumcised, but trusting in Circumcision as a Righ­teousness, that the Apostle has Respect to. He could not mean that meerly being circumcised would render Christ of no Profit or Effect to a Person; for we read that he himself for certain Reasons, took Timothy and circumcised him, Acts 16 3. And the same is evident by the Context, and by the Rest of the Epistle. And the Apostle speaks of trusting in their own Righteous­ness, as fatal to the Jews, Rom. 9 31, 32. But Israel, which followed after the Law of Righteousness, hath not attained to the Law of Righteousness: Wherefore? Be­cause they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the Works of the Law; for they stumbled at that stumbling Stone. Together with Chap. 10. Verse 3. For they be­ing ignorant of God's Righteousness, and going about to establish their own Righteousness, have not submitted them­selves unto the Righteousness of God And this is spoken of as fatal to the Pharisees, in the Parable of the Pha­risee and the Publican, that Christ spake to them, to re­prove them for trusting in themselves, that they were Righteous. The Design of the Parable is to shew them that the very Publicans shall be justified, rather than they; as appears by the Reflection Christ makes upon it, Luke 18. 14 I tell you this Man went down to his House justified, rather than the other That is, this and not the other.—The fatal Tendency of it might also be proved from its Inconsistence with the Nature of justifying Faith, and also its Inconsistence with the Na­ture of that Humiliation that the Scripture often speaks [Page 130] of, as absolutely necessary to Salvation; but these Scrip­tures are so express, that it is needless to bring any fur­ther Arguments.

How far a wonderful and mysterious Agency of God's Spirit, may so influence some Men's Hearts, that their Practice in this Regard may be contrary to their own Principles, so that they shall not trust in their own Righ­teousness, tho' they profess that Men are justified by their own Righteousness; or how far they may believe the Doctrine of Justification by Men's own Righteous­ness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular Application of it to themselves; or how far that Error, which they may have been led into by Education, or cunning Sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing Disposition of their Hearts, and contrary to their Practice: Or how far some may seem to maintain a Doctrine contrary to this Gospel Doctrine of Justification, that really do not, but only express themselves different­ly from others; or seem to oppose it through their Mis­understanding of our Expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real Sentiments are the same in the Main; or may seem to differ more than they do, by using Terms that are without a precisely fix'd and deter­minate Meaning; or to be wide in their Sentiments from this Doctrine, for Want of a distinct Under­standing of it; whose Hearts at the same Time intirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explain'd to their Understandings, would immediately close 'with it, and embrace it: How far these things may be I won't determine, but am fully perswaded that great Allowances are to be made, on these, and such like Accounts, in innumerable Instances; tho' it is manifest from what has been said, that the teaching & propagating contrary Doctrines and Schemes is of a pernicious and fa­tal Tendency.

[Page 131]

Pressing into the Kingdom of GOD.
DISCOURSE, II.

LUKE XVI. 16.‘THE Law and the Prophets were until John: Since that Time the Kingdom of GOD is preach­ed, and every Man presseth into it.’

IN these Words two Things may be observed; First, Wherein the Work and Office of John the Baptist consist­ed, viz. preaching the Kingdom of God, to prepare the Way for it's In­troduction to succeed the Law and the Prophets. By the Law & the Prophets, in the Text, seems to be intended the ancient Dispensation under the Old Testament, which was received from Moses and the Prophets. These [Page 132] are said to be until John; not that the Revelations given by them are out of Use since that Time, but that the State of the Church founded and regulated, under God, by them, the Dispensation of which they were the Ministers [...], and wherein the Church depended mainly on Light received from them, fully continued till John; who first began to introduce the New Testament Dis­pensation, or Gospel-State of the Church; which with its glorious spiritual and eternal Privileges and Blessings, is often called the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God John the Baptist preached that the Kingdom of God was at Hand. That is the Account that we have of his Preaching, by the Evangelists, Repent, says he, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand: Since that Time, says Christ, the Kingdom of God is preached. John the Baptist first began to preach it; and then after him, Christ, and his Disciples, preached the same. Thus Christ preached, Matth. 4. 17. From that Time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand. So the Disciples were directed to preach, Matth. 10. 7. And as ye go preach, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is an Hand. It was not John the Baptist, but Christ that fully brought in, and actually established this Kingdom of God; but he as Christ's Forerunner, to pre­pare his Way before him, did the first Thing that was done towards introducing it. The old Dispensation was abolished, and the new brought in by Degrees; as the Night gradually ceases, and gives Place to the increasing Day, which succeeds in it's Room: First the Day Star rises; next follows the Light of the Sun it self, but dim­ly reflected, in the dawning of the Day; but this Light increases, and shines more and more, and the Stars that served for Light during the foregoing Night, gradually go out, and their Light ceases, as being now needless, till at length the Sun rises, and enlightens the World by his own direct light, which increases as [...]e ascends higher above the Horizon, till the Day [...]ar it self is gradually put out, and disappears; agreeable to what John says of himself, John 3. [...] He must increase; but I must decrease. John was the Forerunner of Christ, and [Page 133] Harbinger of the Gospel-Day; much as the Morning-Star is the Forerunner of the Sun. He had the most honourable Office of any of the Prophets; when as the other Prophets foretold Christ to come, he revealed him as already come, & had the Honour to be that Servant that should come immediately before him & actually introduce him, & even to be the Instrument concern'd in his solemn In­auguration, as he was in Baptizing him. He was the great­est of the Prophets that came before Christ, as the Morning-Star is the brightest of all the Stars, Matth. 11. 11. He came to prepare Men's Hearts to receive that Kingdom of God, that Christ was about more fully to reveal and e­rect. Luke 1. 17. To make ready a People prepared for the Lord.

Secondly, We may observe wherein his Success appear­ed, viz. in that since he began his Ministry, every Man pressed into that Kingdom of God that he preached. The Greatness of his Success appeared in two Things;

1. In the Generalness of it, with Regard to the Sub­ject, or the Persons in whom the Success appeared; every Man: Here is a Term of Universality; but 'tis not to be taken as universal with Regard to Individuals, but Kinds; as such universal Terms are often used in Scrip­ture. When John preached there was an extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit of God, that attended his preaching; and an uncommon Awakening, and Con­cern for Salvation, appeared on the Minds of all sorts of Persons; and even in the most unlikely Persons, and those from whom such a Thing might least be expected; as the Pharisees, who were exceeding proud, and self­sufficient, and conceited of their own Wisdom and Righ­teousness, and looked on themselves fit to be Teachers of others, and used to scorn to be taught; and the Sad­ducees, who were a kind of Infidels, that denied any Re­surrection, Angel, or Spirit, or any future State: So that John himself seems to be surprized to see them come to him, under such Concern for their Salvation; as in Mat. 3. 7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sad­ducees come to his Baptism, he said unto them, O Gene­ration of Vipers, Who hath warned you to flee from the [Page 134] Wrath to come? And besides these, the Publicans who were some of the most infamous sort of Men, came to him, inquiring what they should do to be saved. And the Soldiers, that were doubtless a very profane, loose, and profligate sort of Persons; they made the same In­quiry Luke 3 12▪ & 14. Then came also Publicans to be baptised, and said unto him, Master, What shall we do? And the Soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?

2. His Success appear'd in the Manner in which his Hearers sought the Kingdom of God, they pressed into it: It is elsewhere set forth by their being violent for the Kingdom of Heaven, and taking it by Force. Matth. 11. 12 From the Days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers Violence, and the Violent take it by Force.

The DOCTRINE that I observe from the Words is this.

IT concerns every one that would obtain the Kingdom of God, to be pressing into it.

In discoursing on this Subject, I would

First, Shew what is that Way of seeking Salvation that seems to be pointed forth, in the Expression of pressing into the Kingdom of God.

Secondly, Give the Reasons why it concerns every one that would obtain the Kingdom of God, to seek it in this Way.

And then make Application.

I. I would shew what Manner of seeking Salvation seems to be denoted by pressing into the Kingdom of God.

1. This Expression denotes Strength of Desire. Men in general, that live under the Light of the Gospel, and be not Atheists, do desire the Kingdom of God; that is, they desire to go to Heaven rather than to Hell; but most of them are not much concerned about it; but on [Page 135] the contrary live a secure and careless Life. And there are those that are many Degrees above these, that are under some Degrees of the Awakenings of God's Spirit, that yet are not pressing into the Kingdom of God. But they that may be said to be truly so have strong Desires to get out of a natural Condition, and to get an Interest in Christ: They have such a Conviction of the Misery of their present State, and of the extreme Necessity of ob­taining a better, that their Minds are as it were possessed with, and wrapt up in Concern about it: To obtain Sal­vation is desired by them above all Things in the World: This Concern is so great that it very much shuts out o­ther Concerns: They used before to have the Stream of their Desires after other Things, or it may be had their Concern divided between this and them; but when they come to answer the Expression in the Text, of pressing into the Kingdom of God, this Concern prevails▪ above all others; it lays other Things low, and does in a Man­ner engross the Care of the Mind.—This seeking eternal Life should not only be one Concern that our Souls are taken up about, with other Things; but Salva­tion should be sought as the one Thing needful, Luke 10. 42. And as the one Thing that is desired, Psalm 27.4.

2 Pressing into the Kingdom of Heaven denotes Ear­nestness and Firmness of Resolution. There should be Strength of Resolution, accompanying Strength of Desire, as it was in the Psalmist in the Place just now refer'd to; One Thing have I desired, and that will I seek after. In order to a thorough Engagedness of the Mind in this Affair, both these must meet together; besides Desires after Salvation, there should be an earnest Resolution in Persons to pursue this Good as much as lies in their Power; to do all that in the Use of their utmost Strength they are able to do, in an Attendance on every Duty, and resisting and militating against all Manner of Sin, and to continue in such a Pursuit.

There are two Things needful in a Person in order to these strong Resolutions in him: there must be a Sense of the great Importance & Necessity of the Mercy sought, and their must also be a Sense of Opportunity to obtain [Page 136] it, or the Encouragement there is to seek it. The Strength of Resolution depends on the Sense which God gives the Heart of these Things. Persons without such a Sense may seem to themselves to take up Resolutions; they may as it were force a Promise to themselves, and say with in themselves, I will seek as long as I live, I will not give out till I obtain, when they do but deceive themselves, their Hearts are not in it; neither do they in­deed take up any such Resolution as they seem to them­selves to do; 'tis the Resolution of the Mouth more than of the Heart; their Hearts ben' [...] strongly bent to fulfil what their Mouth says,. The Firmness of Resolu­tion lies in the Fulness of the Disposition of the Heart to do what is resolved to be done. Those that are pressing into the Kingdom of God have a Disposition of Heart to do every Thing that is required, and that lies in their Power to do, and to continue in it: They have not only Earnestness, but Steadiness of Resolution: They don't seek with a wavering unsteady Heart, by Turns, or Fits, being off and on; but 'tis the constant Bent of the Soul, if possible, to obtain the Kingdom of God.

3. By pressing into the Kingdom of God is signified Greatness of Endeavour. 'Tis expressed in Eccles. 9. 10. by doing what our Hand finds to do with our Might. And this is the natural and necessary Consequence of the two foremention'd Things; where there is Strength of Desire, and Firmness of Resolution, there will be ans­werable Endeavours: Persons thus engaged in their Hearts will strive to enter in at the strait Gate, and will be violent for Heaven; their Practice will be agreable to the Counsel of the wise Man, in Prov. 2. at the be­ginning, My Son, if thou wil [...] receive my Words, and hide my Commandments with thee; so that thou inclin thine Ear unto Wisdom, and apply thine Heart to Under­standing: Yea, if thou criest after Knowlege, and liftest up thy Voice for Understanding; if thou seekest her as Silver, and searchest for her as for hid Treasures; then shalt thou understand the Fear of the Lord, and find the Knowlege of God. Here the Earnestness of Desire and [Page 137] Strength of Resolution is signified by inclining the Ea [...] to Wisdom, and applying the Heart to Understanding; and the Greatness of Endeavour is denoted by crying after Knowlege, and lifting up the Voice for Under­standing, seeking her as Silver, and searching for her as for hid Treasures: Such Desires and Resolutions, and such Endeavours go together.

4 Pressing into the Kingdom of God denotes [...]n En­gagedness and Earnestness, that is directly about that Bu­siness of getting into the Kingdom of God Persons may be in very great Exercise and Distress of Mind, and that a­bout the Condition of their Souls; their Thoughts and Cares may be greatly engaged and taken up about Things of a spiritual Nature, and yet not be pressing into the Kingdom of God, nor towards it; because the Exer­cise of their Minds is not directly about the Work of seeking Salvation, in a diligent Attendance on the Means that God hath appointed in order to it; but something else that is beside their Business; it may be about God's Decrees, and secret Purposes, prying into them, search­ing for Signs whereby they may determine, or at least conjecture, what they be, before God makes them known by the Accomplishment of them; and distressing their Minds with [...]ears that they be not elected, or that they have committed the unpardonable Sin, or that their Day is past, and that God has given them up to judi­cial and final Hardness, and never intends to shew them Mercy, and therefore that 'tis in vain for them to seek Salvation; or intangling themselves about the Doctrine of original Sin, and other mysterious Doctrines of Re­ligion, that are above their Comprehension. Many Per­sons that seem to be in great Distress about a future e­ternal State, get much into a Way of perplexing them­selves with such Things as these. When it is so, let them be never so much concerned and engaged in their Minds they can't be said to be pressing towards the King­dom of God; because their Exercise is not in their Work, but rather in that which tends to hinder them in their Work: If they are violent, they are only working vio­lently to intangle themselves, and lay Blocks in their [Page 138] own Way: Their Pressure is not forwards: Instead of getting along, they do but loose their Time, and worse than meerly loose it; instead of fighting with the Giants that stand in the Way to keep them out of Canaan, they spend away their Time and Strength in conflicting with Shadows, that appear by the Way side.

Hence we are not to judge of the Hopefulness of the Way that Persons are in, or of the Probability of their Suc­cess in seeking Salvation, only by the Greatness of the Concern and Distress that they are in; for many Persons have needless Distresses that they had much better be without. 'Tis thus very often with Persons that are o­ver run with the Distemper of Melancholly; whence the Adversary of Souls is won't to take great Advantage. But then are Persons in the most likely Way to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven, when the Intent of their Minds, and the Engagedness of their Spirits, is about their proper Wor [...] and Business, and all the Bent of their Souls is to attend on God's Means, and to do what he commands and directs them to. The Apostle tells us, 1 Cor. 9 26. that he did not fight as those that beat the Air. Our Time is short enough; we had not need to spend it in that which is nothing to the Purpose. There are real Difficulties and Enemies enough for Per­sons to encounter▪ to employ all their Strength; they had not need to waste it in fighting with any Phantoms.

5. By pressing into the Kingdom of God is denoted a breaking through Opposition and Difficulties. There is in the Expression a plain Intimation of Difficulty. If there were no Opposition, but the Way was all clear and open▪ there would be no Need of pressing to get along. They therefore that are pressing into the King­dom of God, go on with such Engagedness, that they break through the Difficulties that are in their Way: They are so set for Salvation that those Things by which others are discouraged, and stop'd, and turn'd back, don't stop them, but they press through them. Persons ought to be so resolved for Heaven, that if by any Means they can use they can obtain, they will ob­tain. Whether those Means be difficult or easy, cross or [Page 139] agreable, if they are requisite Means of Salvation, they should be complied with. When any Thing is present­ed to be done, the Question should not be, Is it easy, or hard? Is it agreable to my carnal Inclinations or In­terest, or against them? But is it a required Means of my obtaining an Interest in Jesus Christ, and eternal Salvation? Thus the Apostle, Philip 3. 11. If by any Means I might obtain the Resurrection of the Dead. He tells us there in the Context, what Difficulties he broke through, that he suffered the Loss of all Things, and was willingly made conformable even to Christ's Death, tho' that was attended with such extreme Torment and Ig­nominy.

He that is pressing into the Kingdom of God, com­monly finds many Things in the Way that are against the Grain; but he is not stop'd by the Cross that lies before him, but takes it up and carries it: If there be something that it is incumbent [...] him to do as he is one that seeks Salvation, that is cross to his natural Temper, and is irksome to him on that Account, or something that he can't do without Suffering in his Estate, or that he apprehends will look odd and strange in the Eyes of others, and expose him to Ridicule and Reproach, or any Thing that will offend a Neighbour, and get his ill Will, or something that will be very cross to his own carnal Appetite, he'll press through such Difficulties: Every Thing that is found to be a Weight that hinders him in running this Race, he casts from him, though it be a Weight of Gold or Pearls; yea, if it be a Right Hand or Foot that offends him, he'll cut them off; and won't stick at plucking out a Right Eye with his own Hands. These Things are insuperable Dif­ficulties to those that are not thoroughly engaged in seeking their Salvation; they boggle exceedingly at them; they are stumbling Blocks that they never get over. But it is not so [...] with him that presses into the Kingdom of God: those Things that, before he was thoroughly roused from his Security, he used to stick at, and was wont to have long Parlyings and Disputings with his own Conscience about, and set carnal Reason [Page 140] to work to invent Arguments and Pleas to excuse him­self from, he now sticks at no longer; he has done with this endless Disputing and Reasoning, and presses vio­lently through all Difficulties; let what will be in the Way, Heaven is what he must, and will obtain, not if he can without Difficulty, but if it be possible. He meets with Temptation; the Devil is often whispering him in his Ear, setting Allurements before him, magnifying the Difficulties of the Work he is engaged in, telling him that they are insuperable, and that he can never conquer them, and trying all Ways in the World to discourage him; but still he presses forward: God has given and maintains such an earnest Spirit for Heaven, that the Devil can't stop him in his Course; he is not at Leisure to lend an Ear to what he has to say.

I come now,

II. To shew way the Kingdom of Heaven should be sought in this Manner.

It should be thus sought

1. On Account of the extreme Necessity we are in of getting into the Kingdom of Heaven. We are in a Perishing Necessity of it: Without it we are utterly and eternally lost. Out of the Kingdom of God is no Safety; there is no other hiding Place; this is the only City of Refuge, in which we can be secure from the A­venger that pursues all the Ungodly. The Vengeance of God will pursue, overtake, and eternally destroy, them that are not in this Kingdom. All that are with­out this Inclosure will be swallowed up in an overflow­ing fiery Deluge of Wrath: They may stand at the Door and knock, and cry Lord, Lord, open to us, in vain; they will be thrust back; and God will have no Mercy on them; they shall be eternally left of him; his fearful Vengeance will seize them; the Devils will lay hold on them; and all Evil will come upon them; and there will be none to pity or help; their Case will be utterly desperate, and infinitely doleful: It will be a gone Case with them; all Offers of Mercy, and Ex­pressions of divine Goodness will be finally withdrawn, [Page 141] and all Hope will be lost: God will have no Kind of Regard to their Well-Being; will take no Care of them to save them from any Enemy, or any Evil; but himself will be their dreadful Enemy, and will execute Wrath with Fury, and will take Vengeance in an inex­pressibly dreadful Manner. Such as shall be in this Case will be lost and undone indeed! They will be funk down into Perdition, infinitely below all that we can think: For who knows the Power of God's Anger? And who knows the Misery of that poor Worm, on whom that Anger is executed without Mercy?

2. On Account of the Shortness and Uncertainty of the Opportunity for getting into this Kingdom. When a few Days are past, all our Opportunity for it will be gone. Our Day is limited; God has set our Bounds, and we know not where. While Persons are out of this Kingdom, they are in Danger every Hour of being over­taken with Wrath. We know not how soon we shall get past that Line, beyond which there is no Work, Device, Knowlege, nor Wisdom; and therefore we should do what we have to do with our Might. Eccles. 9 10.

3. On Account of the Difficulty of getting into the Kingdom of God. There are innumerable Difficulties in the Way; such as few conquer; most of them that try have not Resolution, Courage, Earnestness, and Con­stancy enough; but they fail, give out, and perish. The Difficulties are too many, and too great for them that don't violently press forward, to grapple with; they never get along, but stick by the Way, or are turn'd a­side, and turned back, and ruin'd. Matth. 7. 14. Strait is the Gate, and narrow is the Way which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it. Luke 13. 24 Strive to enter in at the strait Gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

4 The Possibility of obtaining. Tho' it be a Thing attended with so much Difficulty, yet 'tis not a Thing impossible. Acts 8 22. If perhaps the Thought of thine Heart may be forgiven thee. 2 Tim. 2. 25. If peradven­ture God will give them Repentance, to the acknowleging [Page 142] of the Truth. However sinful a Person is, and whatever his Circumstances are, there is notwithstanding a Possi­bility of his Salvation; he himself is capable of it; and God is able to accomplish it, and has Mercy sufficient for it; and there is sufficient Provision made through Christ, that God may do it consistent with the Honour of his Majesty, Justice, and Truth: So that there is no Want either of Sufficiency in God, or Capacity in the Sinner, in order to this: The greatest and vilest, most blind, dead, hard hearted Sinner living, is a Subject ca­pable of saving Light and Grace. Seeing therefore there is such Necessity of obtaining the Kingdom of God, and so short a Time, and such Difficulty, and yet such a Possibility, it may well induce us to press into it. Jonah 3. 8, 9.

5. 'Tis meet that the Kingdom of Heaven should be thus sought▪ because of the great Excellency of it. We are willing to seek earthly Things, of trifling Value, with great Diligence, and through much Difficulty; it therefore certainly becomes us to seek that with great Earnestness. which is of infinitely greater Worth and Excellence: And how well may God expect and re­quire it of us, that we should seek it in such a Manner, in order to our obtaining it!

6 Such a Manner of seeking is needful to prepare Per­sons for the Kingdom of God. Such Earnestness and Thoroughness of Endeavours, is the ordinary Means that God makes Use of, to bring Persons to an Acquain­tance with themselves, to a Sight of their own Hearts, to a Sense of their own Helplesness, and to a Despair in their own Strength and Righteousness. And such Engagedness and Constancy in seeking the Kingdom of Heaven prepare the Soul to receive it the more joyful­ly and thankfully, and the more highly to prize and value it when obtained. So that 'tis in Mercy to us, as well as for the Glory of his own Name, that God has appointed such earnest Seeking, to be the Way in which he will bestow the Kingdom of Heaven.

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APPLICATION.

The USE I would make of this Doctrine, is of Ex­hortation to all Christless Persons to press into the King­dom of God. Some of you are inquiring what you shall do. You seem to desire to know what is the Way wherein Salvation is to be sought, and how you may be likely to obtain it: You have now heard the Way that the holy Word of God directs to.—Some are seeking, but it can't be said of them that they are pres­sing into the Kingdom of Heaven. There are many that in Time past have sought Salvation, but not in this Man­ner, and so they never obtain'd, but are now gone to Hell: Some of them sought it Year after Year, but fail'd of it, and perished at last: They were overtaken with divine Wrath, and are now suffering the fearful Misery of Damnation, and have no Rest Day nor Night, hav­ing no more Opportunity to seek, but must suffer and be miserable throughout the never ending Ages of Eter­nity. Be exhorted therefore not to seek Salvation as they did, but let the Kingdom of Heaven suffer Violence from you.

Here I would first answer an Objection or two, and then proceed to give some Directions how to press into the Kingdom of God.

Object. 1. Some may be ready to say, We can't do this of our selves, that Strength of Desire, and Firmness of Re­solution, that have been spoken of, is out of our Reach: If I endeavour to resolve and to seek with Engagedness of Spirit, I find I fail: my Thoughts are presently off from the Business, and I feel my self dull, and my Engagedness relax'd in Spite of all I can do.

Ans. 1 Tho' Earnestness of Mind be not immediate­ly in your Power, yet the Consideration of what has been now said of the Need of it, may be a Means of stirring you up to it. 'Tis true, Persons never will be thoroughly engaged in this Business unless it be by God's Influence; but God influences Persons by Means: [Page 144] Persons are not stirr'd up to a thorough Earnestnes;s without some Considerations that move them to it: And if Persons ca [...] but be made sensible of the Necessity of Salvation, and also do duly consider the exceeding Dif­ficulty of it, and the Greatness of the Opposition, and how short and uncertain the Time is, but yet are sensible that they have an Opportunity, and that there is a Pos­sibility of their obtaining, they will need no more in order to their being thoroughly engaged&resolved in this Matter. If we see Persons slack, and unresolved, and [...] steady, it is because they don't enough consider these Things.

2. Though strong Desires and Resolutions of Mind be not in your Power, yet Painfulness of Endeavours is in your Power. 'Tis in your Power to take Pains in the Use of Means, yea very great Pains. You can be very painful and diligent in watching your own Heart, and striving against Sin; though there is all Manner of Corruption in the Heart, that is continually ready to work, yet you can very laboriously watch and strive a­gainst these Corruptions; and 'tis in your Power, with great Diligence to attend the Matter of your Duty to­wards God, and towards your Neighbour 'Tis in your Power to attend all Ordinances, and all publick and private Duties of Religion, and to do it with your Might. It would be a Contradiction to suppose that a Man can't do these Things with all the Might he has, tho' he can't do them with more might than he ha [...]. The Dul­ness and Deadness of the Heart, and Slothfulness of Disposition, don't hinder Men's being able to take Pains; tho' it hinders their being willing: That is one Thing wherein your Laboriousness may appear, even striving against your own Dulness. That Men have a dead and sluggish Heart, don't argue that they be not able to take Pains; it is so far from that, that it gives Occasion for Pains: It is one of the Difficulties in the Way of Duty, that Persons have to strive with, and that gives Occasion for Struggling and Labour. If there were no Difficulties attended seeking Salvation there would be no Occasion for Striving; a Man would have [Page 145] nothing to strive about. There is indeed a great Deal of Difficulty attending all Duties required of those that would obtain Heaven. 'Tis an exceeding difficult Thing for them to keep their Thoughts; 'tis a difficult Thing seriously, or to any good Purpose, to consider of Matters of the greatest Importance; 'tis a difficult Thing to hear, or read, or pray attentively: But it don't argue that a Man can't strive in these Things because they are difficult; nay, he could not strive in them [...]f there were not Difficulty in them: For what is there excepting Difficulties that any can have to strive or struggle with, in any Affair or Business?—Earnestness of Mind, and Diligence of Endeavour, tend to promote each other. He that has an Heart earnestly engaged, will take Pains; and he that is diligent and painful in all Duty, probably won't be so long, before he finds the Sensibleness of his Heart, and Earnestness of his Spirit greatly increased.

Object. 2. Some may object that if they are earnest, and take a great Deal of Pains, they shall be in Danger of trusting to what they do; they are afraid of doing their Duty for Fear of making a Righteousness of it.

Ans There is ordinarily no Kind of Seekers that trust so much to what they do, as slack and dull Seek­ers. Though all that are seeking Salvation, that have never been the Subjects of a thorough Humiliation, do trust in their own Righteousness; yet some do it much more fully than others. Some tho' they trust in their own Righteousness, yet be not quiet in it. And those that are most disturbed in their Self-Confidence, and are therefore in the likeliest Way to be wholly brought off from it, are not those that go on in a remiss Way of Seeking, but those that are most earnest and thoroughly engaged; partly because in such a Way Conscience i [...] kept more sensible. A more awaken'd Conscience won't rest so quietly in moral and religious Duties, [...] one that is less awaken'd. A dull Seeker's Conscience will be in a great Measure satisfied and quieted with his own Works and Performances; but one that is thoroughly awaken'd can't be still'd or pacified with such Things as [Page 146] these. And, partly, because in this Way Persons gain much more Knowlege of themselves, and Acquaintance with their own Hearts, than in a negligent slighty Way of Seeking; for they have a great Deal more Experience of themselves. 'Tis Experience of our selves, and finding what we are, that God commonly makes Use of as the Means of bringing us off from all Dependence on our selves: But Men never get Acquaintance with them­selves so fast, as in the most earnest Way of Seeking. They that are in this Way, have more to engage them to think of their Sins, and strictly to observe themselves, and have much more to do with their own Hearts than others. Such an one has much more Experience of his own Weakness, than another that don't put forth, and try his Strength; and will therefore sooner see himself dead in Sin: Such an one, though he hath a Disposition continually to be flying to his own Righteousness, yet finds Rest in nothing; he wanders about from one Thing to another, seeking something to ease his disquieted Conscience; he is driven from one Refuge to another, goes from Mountain to Hill, seeking Rest and finding none; and therefore will the sooner prove that there is no Rest to be found, nor Trust to be put, in any Crea­ture Confidence whatsoever.

'Tis therefore quite a wrong Notion that some enter­tain, that the more they do, the more they shall depend on it: Whereas the Reverse is true; the more they do, or the more thorough they are in seeking, the less will [...] they be likely to rest in their Doings, and the sooner [...] they see the Vanity of all that they do. So that [...] will exceedingly miss it, if ever they neglect to [...] any Duty either to God or Man, whether it be any [...] of Religion, Justice, or Charity, under a Notion [...] its exposing them to trust in their own Righteous­s [...]ns. 'Tis very true, that 'tis a common Thing for [...] when they earnestly seek Salvation, to trust in the [...] that they take: But yet commonly those that go [...] a more slighty Way, trust a great Deal more [...] to their dull Services, than he that is pressing [...] Kingdom of God does to his Earnestness. Men's [Page 147] Slackness in Religion, and their Trust in their own Righteousness, do strengthen and establish one another. Their Trust in what they have done, and what they now do, settles them in a slothful Rest and Ease, and hinders their being sensible of their Need of rousing up themselves and pressing forward. And on the other Hand, their Negligence tends so to benumb them, and keep them in such Ignorance of themselves, that the most miserable Refuges are stupidly rested in as suffici­ent. Therefore we see that when Persons have been going on for a long Time in such a Way, and God af­terwards comes more thoroughly to awaken them, and to stir them up to be in good Earnest, he shakes all their old Foundation, and rouses them out of their old Resting Places; so that they cannot quiet themselves with those Things that formerly kept them secure.

I would now proceed to give some Directions how you should press into the Kingdom of God.

1. Be directed as it were to sacrifice every Thing to your Souls eternal Interest. Let seeking this be so much your Bent, and what you are so resolved in, that you will make every Thing give Place to it. Let no­thing stand before your Resolution of Seeking the King­dom of God. Whatever it be that you used to look upon as a Convenience, or Comfort, or Ease, or Thing desireable on any Account, if it stands in the Way of this great Concern, let it be dismiss'd without Hesitati­on; and if it be of that Nature that it is like always to be an Hindrance, then wholly have done with it, and never entertain any Expectation from it more. If in Time past, you have, for the sake of worldly Gain, in­volved your self in more Care and Business than you find to be consistent with your being so thorough in the Business of Religion as you ought to be, then get into some other Way, tho' you suffer in your worldly Interest by it. Or if you have heretofore been conversant with Company that you have Reason to think have been, and will be a Snare to you, and a Hindrance to this great Design, in any wise break off from their Society, [Page 148] however it may expose you to Reproach from your old Companions, or let what will be the Effect of it. Or whatever it be that stands in the Way of your most ad­vantagiously seeking Salvation, if it be some dear sinful Pleasure, or strong carnal Appetite, or if it be Credit and Honour, or if it be the Good-Will of some Person whose Friendship you Desire, or a being accounted of by those whose Esteem and Liking you have highly va­lued, and there be Danger if you do as you ought, you shall be looked upon by them as odd, and ridiculous, and become contemptible in their Eyes; or if it be your Ease and Indolence, and Aversion to continual Labour; or if it be your outward Convenience in any Respect, whereby you might avoid Difficulties of one Kind or [...] ­ther; LET ALL GO; offer up all such Things together, as it were in one Sacrifice to the Interest of your Soul: Let nothing stand in Competition with this, but make eve­ry Thing to fall before it. If the Flesh must be cross'd, then cross it, spare it not, crucify it, and don't be afraid of being too cruel to it. Gal. 5. 24 They that are Christ's, have crucified the Flesh with the Affections and Lusts. Have no Dependence on any worldly Enjoy­ment whatsoever. Let Salvation be the one Thing with you. This is what is certainly required of you: and this is what many stick at; this giving up other Things for Salvation, is a stumbling Block that few get over. While others press'd into the Kingdom of God, at the preaching of John the Baptist, there was Herod, one of his Hearers, that was pretty much stirr'd up by his Preaching; it is said, he heard him, and observed him, and did many Things; but when he came to tell him that [...] part with his beloved Herodias, here he stuck; this he never would yield to, Mark 7. 18, 19, 20. The rich young Man was considerably concern'd for Sal­vation; and accordingly was a very strict Liver in many Things [...] when Christ came to direct him to go and sell all tha [...] he had, and give to the Poor, and come and follow him, he could no [...] find in his Heart to comply with it, but went away sorrowful; he had great Posses­sions, and set his Heart much on his Estate, & could not [Page 149] hear to part with it. It may be if Christ had directed him only to give away a considerable Part of his Estate, he would have done it; yea, perhaps, if he had bid him part with half of it, he would have complied with it; but when he directed him to throw up all, he could not grapple with such a Proposal. Herein the Straitness of the Gate very much consists, and 'tis on this Account that so many seek to enter in, and are not able. There are many that have a great Mind to have Salvation, and spend great Part of their Time in wishing that they had it, but they will not comply with the necessary Means of it.

2. Be directed to forget the Things that are behind; that is, not to keep thinking and making much of what you have done, but let your Mind be wholly intent on what you have to do. In some Sense you ought to look back; you should look back on your Sins. Jer. 2. 23. See thy Way in the Valley, know what thou hast done. You should look back on the Wretchedness of your re­ligious Performances, and consider how you have fallen short in them, and how exceedingly polluted all your Duties have been, and how justly God might reject and loath them, and you for them: But you ought not to spend your Time in looking back, as many Persons do, thinking how much they have done for their Salva­tion, what great Pains they have taken and how that they have done what they can, and don't see how they can do more, how long a Time they have been seeking, and how much more they have done than others, and even than such and such who have obtained Mercy; and so think with themselves how hardly God deals with them, that he don't extend Mercy to them▪ but turns a deaf Ear to their Cries; and hence discourage themselves, and complain of God. Don't thus spend your Time in looking on what is [...] forward, and consider what is before you, [...] is that you can do, and what 'tis necessary that you [...]hould do, and what God calls you still to do, in order to your own Salvation. The Apostle in the third Chapter to the Philippians, tells us what Things he did while a Jew, [Page 150] how much he had to boast of, if any could have any Thing of their own to boast of; but he tells us that he forgot those Things, and all others that were behind, and reached forth towards the Things that were before, pressing forwards, towards the Mark, for the Prize of the high Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

3. Labour to get your Heart thoroughly disposed to go on and hold out to the End. Many that seem to be earnest have not a Heart thus disposed. 'Tis a com­mon Thing for Persons to appear greatly affected for a little while; but all is soon past away, and there is no more to be seen of it. Labour therefore to obtain a thorough Willingness, and Preparation of Spirit, to con­tinue Seeking, in the Use of your utmost Endeavours, without Limitation; and don't think your whole Life too long. And in order to this be advised to two Things.

1. Remember that if ever God bestows Mercy upon you, he will use his sovereign Pleasure about the Time when. He will bestow it on some in a little Time, and on others not till they have sought it long. If other Persons are soon enlighten'd and comforted, while you remain long in Darkness, there is no other Way but for you to wait. God will act arbitrarily in this Matter, and you can't help it. You must e'en be content to wait, in a Way of laborious and earnest Striving, till his Time comes. If you refuse, you will but undo your self; and when you shall hereafter find your self undone, and see that your Case is past Remedy, how will you con­demn your self for foregoing a great Probability of Sal­vation, only because you had not Patience to hold out, and was not willing to be at the Trouble of a perse­vering Labour? And what will it avail before God, or your own Conscience, to say that you could not bear to be obliged to seek Salvation so long, when God be­stowed it on others that sought it but for a very short Time? Though God may have bestowed the Testimo­nies of his Favour on others in a few Days, or Hours after they have begun earnestly to seek it, how does that alter the Case as to you, if there proves to be a Ne­cessity [Page 151] of your laboriously seeking many Years before you obtain them? Is Salvation the less Worth the ta­king a great Deal of Pains for, because, through the sovereign Pleasure of God, others have obtained with comparatively but little Pains? If there are two Persons, the one of which has obtain'd converting Grace with comparative Ease, and another that has obtained it after continuing for many Years in the greatest and most ear­nest Labours after it, how little Difference does it make at last, when once Salvation is obtain'd! Put all the Labour, and Pains, and long continued Difficulties and Strugglings of the one, in the Scale against Salva­tion, and how little does it substract; and put the Ease with which the other has obtain'd, in the Scale with Salvation, and how little does it add? What is either added or substracted, is lighter than Vanity, and a Thing worthy of no Consideration, when compar'd with that infinite Benefit that is obtain'd. Indeed if you were to live ten thousand Years, and all that Time should strive and press forward with as great Earnestness as ever a Person did for one Day, all this would bear no Propor­tion to the Importance of the Benefit, and would doubt­less appear little to you, when once you come to be in actual Possession of eternal Glory, and to see what that eternal Misery is that you have escaped.—You must not think much of your Pains, and of the length of Time; you must press towards the Kingdom of God, and do your utmost, and hold out to the End, and learn to make no Account of it when you have done. You must undertake the Business of seeking Salvation upon these Terms, and with no other Expectation than this, that if ever God bestows Mercy it will be in his own Time, and not only so, but also that when you have done all, God will not hold himself obliged to show you Mercy at last.

2. Endeavour now thoroughly to weigh in your Mind the Difficulty, and to count the Cost of Perseve­rance in seeking Salvation. You that are now setting out in this Business, (as there are many here that have very lately set about it;—Praised be the Name of [Page 152] God that he has stirr'd you up to it!) be exhorted to attend this Direction. Don't undertake in this Affair, with any other Thought, but of giving your self wholly to it for the remaining Part of your Life, and going through many and great Difficulties in it. Take [...]eed that you don't engage secretly upon this Condition, that you shall obtain in a little Time, promising your self that it shall be within this present Season of the pour­ing out of God's Spirit, or with any other Limitation of Time whatsoever. Many when they begin, seem­ing to set out very earnestly, don't expect that they shall need to seek very long; and so don't prepare themselves for it: And therefore when they come to find it otherwise, and meet with unexpected Difficul­ty, they are found unguarded, and easily overthrown. But let me advise all that are now seeking their Sal­vation, not to entertain any self flattering Thoughts; but weigh the utmost Difficulties of Perseverance, and be provided for them, having your Mind fix'd in it to go through them, let them be what they will. Consider now beforehand, how tedious it would be, with utmost Earnestness and Labour, to strive after Salvation, for many Years, in the mean time receiving no joyful o [...] comfortable Evidence of your having obtain'd. Consi­der what a great Temptation to Discouragement there probably would be in it; how apt you would be to yield the Case; how ready to think that 'tis in vain for you to seek any longer, and that God never intends to shew you Mercy, in that he has not yet done it; how apt you would be to think with your self, ‘What an un­comfortable Life do I live! how much more unplea­santly do I spend my Time than others, that don't perplex their Minds about the Things of another World, but are at Ease, and take the Comfort of their worldly Enjoyments!’ Consider what a Temptation there would probably be in it, if you saw others brought in, that began to seek the Kingdom of Heaven long af­ter you, rejoycing in a Hope and Sense of God's Favour after but little Pains, and a short Time of Awakening; while you from Day to Day, and from Year to Year, [Page 153] seem'd to labour in Vain. Prepare for such Tempta­tions now: Lay in beforehand for such Trials and Dif­ficulties, that you may not think any strange Thing has happen'd when they come.

I hope that those that have given Attention to what has been said, have by this Time conceived in some Measure what is signified by the Expression in the Text▪ and after what Manner they ought to press into the King­dom of God. Here is this to induce you to a Compliance with what you have been directed to; if you sit still you die, if you go backward behold you shall surely die, if you go forward you may live. And though God has not bound himself to any Thing that a Person does, while destitute of Faith, & out of Christ, yet there is great Probabi­lity, that in a Way of hearkening to this Counsel you will live, & that by pressing onward, & persevering, you will at last as it were by Violence take the Kingdom of Hea­ven. Those of you that have now heard me, that have not only heard the Directions that have been given, but shall, through God's merciful Assistance, practice accord­ing to them, are those that probably will overcome, that we may well hope at last to see standing with the Lamb on Mount Sion, chathed in white Robes, with Palms in their Hands; when all your Labour and Toil will be abundantly compensated, and you will not repent that you have taken so much Pains, and denied your self so much, and waited so long: This Pains, th [...]s Self­Denial, this Waiting, 'will then look little, and vanish into nothing in your Eyes, being all swallowed up in the first Mi [...]tes Enjoyment of that Glory, that you will then be in Possession of, and will uninterruptedly possess and enjoy to all Eternity.

4th Direction. Improve the present Season of the pouring out of the Spirit of God on this Town. Pru­dence in any Affair whatsoever consists very much in [...]inding and improving our Opportunities. If you would have spiritual Prosperity, you must exercise Pru­dence [...]n the Concerns of your Souls, as well as in out­ward Concerns, when you seek outward Prosperity. The [Page 154] prudent H [...]sbandman will observe his Opportunities; he will improve Seed-time and Harvest; he will make his Advantage of the Showers and Shines of Heaven. The prudent Merchant will discern his Opportunities; he won't be idle in a Market Day; he is careful not to let slip his Seasons for inriching himself: So will those that prudently seek the Fruits of Righteousness, and the Merchandize of Wisdom, improve their Opportunities for their eternal Wealth and Happiness.

God is pleased at this Time, in a very remarkable Manner, to be pouring out his Spirit amongst us; (Glo­ry be to his Name therefor!) You that have a Mind to obtain converting Grace, and to go to Heaven when you die, now is your Season! Now, if you have any Sort of Prudence for your own Salvation, and have not a Mind to go to Hell, improve this Time! Now is the accepted Time! Now is the Day of Salvation! You that in Time past have been called upon, and have turn'd a deaf Ear to God's Voice, and long stood out and resisted his Commands and Counsels, hear God's Voice to Day, while it is called to Day! Don't harden your Hearts at such a Day as this is! Now you have a special and remarkable price put into your Hands to get Wisdom, if you have but a Heart to improve it.

God hath his certain Days, or appointed Seasons of the Exercise both of Mercy and Judgment. There are some Seasons that are remarkable Times of Wrath, that are laid out by God for that Purpose, viz for his aw­ful Visitation, and the Executions of his Anger; which Times are called Days of Vengeance, Prov 6. 34 And Days wherein God will visit for Sin, Exod. 32. 34 And so on the contrary, there are some other Times, that God has laid out in his sovereign Counsels, for Seasons of remarkable Mercy, wherein he will appear, and ma­nifest himself, in the Exercises of his Grace and Loving­kindness, more than at other Times: Such Times, in Scripture are called by Way of Eminency, accept­ed Times, and Days of Salvation, and also Days of God's Visitation; because they are Days wherein God will visit in a Way of Mercy; as Luke 19 44. And [Page 155] shall lay thee even with the Ground, and thy Children within thee, and they shall not leave in thee one Stone up­on another▪ because thou knewest not the Time of thy Vi­sitation. 'Tis such a Time now in this Town; 'tis with us a Day of God's gracious Visitation. It is indeed a Day of Grace with us as long as we live in this World, in the Enjoyment of the Means of Grace; but such a Time as this, is especially, and in a distinguishing Man­ner, a Day of Grace. There is a Door of Mercy always standing open for Sinners; but at such a Day as this God opens an extraordinary Door.

We are directed to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near, Isai. 55 6. If you that are hitherto Christless, be not strangely be­sotted and infatuated, you will by all Means improve such an Opportunity as this to get Heaven, when Hea­ven is brought so near, when the Fountain is open'd in the midst of us in so extraordinary a Manner. Now is the Time to obtain a Supply of the Necessities of your poor perishing Souls! This is the Day for Sinners that have a Mind to be converted before they die, when God is dealing forth so liberally and bountifully amongst us, when Conversion and Salvation Work is going on a­mongst us from Sabbath to Sabbath, and many are pres­sing into the Kingdom of God! Now don't stay behind, but press in among the Rest! Others have been stirred up to be in good Earnest, and have taken Heaven by Violence; be intreated to follow their Example, if you would have a Part of the Inheritance with them, and would not be le [...]t at the great Day, when they are taken!

How should it move you to consider, that you have this Opportunity now in your Hands! You are in the actual Possession of it! If it were past, it would not be in your Power to recover it, or in the Power of any Creature to bring it back for you; but 'tis not past; 'tis NOW, at this Day; NOW is the accepted Time, even while it is called to Day! Will you sit still at such a Time? Will you sleep in such a Harvest? Will you deal with a slack Hand, and stay behind out of [Page 156] meer Sloth, or Love to some Lust, or Lothness to grap­ple with some small Difficulty, or to put your self a little out of your Way, when so many are [...]owing to the Goodness of the Lord? You are behind still! and so you will be in Danger of being left behind, when the whole Number is compleated that are to enter in, if you don't earnestly be stir your self! To be left behind, at the close of such a Season as this, will be awful, next to the being left behind on that Day when God's Saints shall mount up as with Wings to meet the Lord in the Air, and will be what will appear very threatning of it.

God is now calling you in an extraordinary Manner, and 'tis agreable to the Will and Word of Christ that I should now, in his Name call you▪ as one set over you, and sent to you to that End; so 'tis his Will that you should hearken to what I say, as his Voice: I therefore beseech you in Christ's Stead now to press into the Kingdom of God! Whoever you are, whether young or old, small or great; whatever you be; if you are a great Sinner, if you have be [...]n a Backslider, if you have quenched the Spirit, let you be who you will, and what­ever you have done, don't stand making Objections, but arise, apply your self to your Work! Do, what you have to do, with your Might. Christ is calling you be­fore, and holding forth his Grace and everlasting Bene­fits, and Wrath is pursuing you behind; wherefore fly for your Life, and look not behind you!

But here I would particularly direct my self to seve­ral Sorts of Persons.

I. To those Sinners that are in a Measure awaken'd, and are concern'd for their Salvation. You have Reason to be glad that you have such an Opportunity, and to prize it above Gold. To induce you to prize and improve it, consider several Things.

1. God has doubtless a Design now to deal forth sa­ving Blessings to a Number. God has done it to some already, as we have Reason to think; and 'tis not pro­bable that [...]e has yet finished his Work, that he at this [Page 157] Time is come forth to do amongst us: We may well hope still to see others brought out of Darkness into marvellous Light. And therefore,

2. God comes this Day and knocks at many Per­sons Doors, and at your Door among the Rest. God seems to be come in a very unusual Manner amongst us, upon a gracious and merciful Design, a Design of saving a Number of poor miserable Souls out of a lost and pe­rishing Condition, and bringing them into a happy State, in Safety from Misery, and a Title to eternal Glory! This is offered to you, not only as it has al­ways been in the Word and Ordinances, but by the par­ticular Influences of the Spirit of Christ awakening of you! This special Offer is made to many amongst us; and you be not pass'd over: Christ has not forgot or o­ver looked you; but has come to your Door; and there as it were stands waiting for you to open to him. If you have Wisdom & Discretion to discern your own Ad­vantage, you will know that now is your Opportunity.

3. How much more easily converting Grace is obtain­ed at such a Time, than at other Times. The Work is equally easy with GOD at all Times; but there is far less Difficulty in the Way, as to Men, at such a Time, than at other Times. It is, as I said before, a Day of God's gracious Visitation, a Day that he has as it were set apart for the more liberally and bountifully dispens­ing his Grace; a Day wherein God's Hand is opened wide: Experience shews it. God seems to be more rea­dy to help, to give proper Convictions, to help against Temptations, and let in divine Light: He seems to car­ry on his Work, with a more glorious Discovery of his Power, and Satan is more chain'd up▪ than at other Times: Those Difficulties & Temptations that Persons before stuck at, from Year to Year, they are soon helped over: The Work of God is carried on with greater Speed and Swiftness, and there are often Instances of sudden Conversion at such a Time. So it was in the Apostle's Days, when there was a Time of the most ex­traordinary pouring out of the Spirit that ever was: How quick and sudden were Conversion [...] in those Days! Such [Page 158] Instances as that of the Jayler abounded then, in Fulfil­ment of that Prophecy, Isai. 66 7, 8. Before she travail­ed she brought forth; before her Pain came she was deli­vered of a Man child. Who hath heard such a Thing? Who hath seen such Things? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her Children. So it is in some Degree, whenever there is an extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit of God; more or less so, in Proportion to the Greatness of that Effusion. There is seldom such quick Work made of it at other Times: Persons are not so soon delivered from their various Temptations, and In­tanglements; but are much longer wandring in a Wil­derness, and groping in Darkness, And yet,

4. There are probably some here present, that are now concerned about their Salvation, that never will obtain. 'Tis not to be supposed that all that are now moved and awaken'd, will ever be savingly converted: Doubtless there are many now seeking that will not be able to enter. When has it been so in Times past, when there have been Times of great Out pourings of God's Spirit, but that many that for a while, have inquired with others, what they should do to be saved, have fail­ed, and afterwards grown hard and secure? All of you that are now awaken'd, have a Mind to obtain Salvati­on, and probably hope to get a Title to Heaven, in the Time of this present moving of God's Spirit: But yet, (though it be awful to be spoken, and awful to be thought) we have no Reason to think any other, than than some of you will burn in Hell to all Eternity. You all are afraid of Hell, and seem at present disposed to take Pains to be delivered from it; and yet it would be unreasonable to think any other, than that some of you will have your Portion in the Lake that burns with Fire and Brimstone. Tho' there are so many that seem to obtain so easily, having been but a little while under Convictions, yet, for all that, some never will obtain. Some will soon loose the Sense of Things they now have; tho' their Awakenings seem to be very conside­rable for the present, they wont hold; they have not Hearts disposed to hold on through very many Difficul­ties. [Page 159] Some that have set out for Heaven, and hope as much as others to obtain, are indeed but slighty and slack, even now, in the midst of such a Time as this: And others, that for the present seem to be more in Earnest, will probably before long decline, and [...]ail, and gradually return to be as they were before. The Convictions of some seem to be great, while that which is the Occasion of their Convictions is new▪ which when that begins to grow old, will gradually decay, and wear off. Thus, it may be, the Occasion of your Awaken­ing has been the Hearing of the Conversion of some Person, or your seeing so extraordinary a Dispensation of Providence as this is, in which God now appears a­mongst us; but by and by the Newness and Freshness of these Things will be gone, and so won't affect your Mind as now they do; and it may be your Convictions will go away with it.

Tho' such a Time as this, be a Time wherein God doth more liberally bestow his Grace than at other Times, and so a Time of greater Advantage for obtain­ing it, yet there seems to be, upon some Accounts, greater Danger of Backsliding, than when Persons are awaken'd at other Times. For commonly such extraor­dinary Times don't last long; and then when they cease there are Multitudes that loose their Convictions as it were together: As the Spirit of God departs, awa­kenings ease off from the Minds of Persons all over a Town.

We speak of it as an happy Thing, that God is pleas­ed to be causing of it to be such a Time amongst us; and so it is indeed: but there are some that it will be no Benefit to; it will but be an Occasion of their great­er Misery; they will wish they had never seen this Time; it will be more tolerable for those that never saw it, or any Thing like it, in the Day of Judgment than for them. 'Tis an awful Consideration, that there are probably those here, that the great Judge will here­after call to a strict Account about this very Thing, why they no better improved this Opportunity, when he did so set open the Fountain of his Grace, and did so loudly [Page 160] call upon them, and came and strove with them in par­ticular, by the Awakening Influences of his Spirit; and they will have no good Account to give to the Judge, but their Mouths will be stop'd, and they will stand Speechless before him.

You had need therefore to be earnest, and very tho­rough and resolved in this Affair, that you may not be one of those that shall thus fail, that you may so fight, as not uncertainly, and so run, as that you may win the Prize.

5. Consider what sad Circumstances Times of extra­ordinary Effusion of God's Spirit commonly leave Per­sons in, when they leave them unconverted. They find them in a doleful Condition, because in a natural Condi­tion, but commonly leave them in a much more doleful Condition. They are left dreadfully harden'd, and with a great Increase of Guilt, and their Souls under a mo [...] ­strong Dominion and Possession of Satan. And frequent­ly, Seasons of extraordinary Advantage for Salvation, when they pass over Persons, and they don't improve them, nor receive any Good in them, seal their Damna­tion. As such Seasons leave them, God for ever leaves them, and gives them up to judicial Hardness. Luke 19. 41, 42. And when he was come near, he beheld the City, and wept over it, saying▪ If thou hadst known, even thou, the Things which belong to thy Peace!—But now they are hid from thine Eyes.

6. Consider, that 'tis very uncertain whether you will ever see such another Time as this is. If there should be such another Time, 'tis very uncertain whether you will live to see it. Many that are now concerned for their Salvation amongst us, will probably be in their Graves, and it may be in Hell before that Time; and if you should miss this Opportunity, it may be so with you. And what Good will that do you, to have the Spirit of God poured out upon Earth, in the Place where you once lived, while you are tormented in Hell? What will it avail you, that others are crying, What shall I do to be saved? while you are shut up for ever in the bottomless Pit, and are wailing and gnashing your Teeth in everlasting Burnings?

[Page 161] Wherefore improve this Opportunity, while God is pour­ing out his Spirit on Earth, & you are on Earth, & while you dwell in that Place where the Spirit of God is thus poured out, & you your self have the awakening Influences of it, that you may never wail and gnash your Teeth in Hell, but may sing in Heaven for ever, with others that are redeemed from amongst Men, and redeemed amongst us.

7. If you should see another such Time, it will be un­der far greater Disadvantages than you now see this Time. You will probably then be much older, and will have more harden'd your Heart; and so will be under less Probability of receiving Good. Some Persons are so harden'd in Sin, and so left of God, that they can live through such a Time as this, and not be much awaken'd or affected by it; they can stand their Ground, and be but Little moved. And so may it be with you, by another such Time, if there should be another amongst us, and you should live to see it. The Case in all Pro­hability will be greatly altered with you by that Time. If you should continue Christless and Graceless till then, you will be much further from the Kingdom of God, and much deeper involved in Snares and Misery; and the Devil will probably have a vastly greater Ad­vantage against you, to tempt and confound you.

8. We don't know but that God is now gathering in his Elect, before some great and sore Judgment. It has been God's Manner before he casts off a visible Peo­ple, or brings some great and destroying Judgments up­on them, first to gather in his Elect, that they may be secure. So it was before the casting off of the Jews from being God's People: There was first a very remar­kable pouring out of the Spirit, and gathering in of the Elect, by the Preaching of the Apostles and Evangelists, as we read in the beginning of the Acts: But after this Harvest, and it's Gleanings were over, the Rest were blinded, and harden'd; the Gospel had little Success a­mongst them, and the Nation was given up, and cast off from being God's People, and their City and Land was destroyed by the Romans▪ in a terrible Manner; and [Page 162] they have been cast off by God now for a great many Ages, and still remain a harden'd and rejected People. So we read in the beginning of the 7th Chapter of the Revelations, that God, when about to bring destroying Judgments on the Earth, first sealed his Servants in the Forehead: He set his Seal upon the Hearts of the Elect, gave them the saving Influences and Indwelling of his Spirit, by which they were sealed to the Day of Redemption. Rev. 7. 1, 2, 3. And after these Things, I saw four Angels, standing on the four Corners of the Earth, holding the four Winds of the Earth, that the Wind should not blow on the Earth, nor on the Sea, nor on any Tree. And I saw another Angel ascending from the East, having the Seal of the living God: And he cried with a loud Voice, to the four Angels, to whom it was given to hurt the Earth, and the Sea, saying, Hurt not the Earth, neither the Sea, nor the Trees, till we have sealed the Servants of our God in their Foreheads.

And we don't know but that this may be the Case now, that God is about, in a great Measure, to forsake this [...] and, and give up this People, and to bring most awful and overwhelming Judgments upon it, and that he is now gathering in his Elect, to secure them from the Calamity. The State of the Nation, and of this Land, never looked so threatning of such a Thing as it does at this Day. The present Aspect of Things ex­ceedingly threatens the dying of vital Religion, and even of those Truths that are especially the Foundation of it, out of this Land, and so God's departing from us. If it should be so, how awful will the Case be with those that shall be left, a [...]d not brought in, while God continues the Influences of his Spirit, to gather in those that are to be redeemed from amongst us!

9. If you neglect the present Opportunity, and [...]e finally unbelieving, those that are converted in this Time of the pouring out of God's Spirit, will rise up in Judgment against you. Your Neighbours, your Re­lations, Acquaintance, or Companions that are convert­ed, will that Day appear against you: They won't only be taken while you are left, mounting up with Joy to [Page 163] meet the Lord in the Air, while you are left below with those that are to be destroyed, and will stand at the Right Hand with glorious Saints and Angels, while you are at the left with Devils, but they will rise up in Judgment against you. However friendly you have been together, and have taken Pleasure in one anothers Company, and have often familiarly conversed together, they will then surely appear against you. They will rise up against you as Witnesses, and will declare what a precious Opportunity you had, and did not improve; how you continued unbelieving, and rejecting the Offers of a Saviour, when those Offers were made in so ex­traordinary a Manner, and when so many others were prevailed upon to accept of Christ; how you was neg­ligent and slack, and did not know the Things that be­longed to your Peace, in that your Day. And not only so, but they shall be your Judges, as Assessors with the great Judge; and as such will appear against you; they will be with the Judge in passing Sentence upon you. 1 Cor. 6. 2 Know ye not that the Saints shall judge the World. Christ will admit them to the Honour of judging the World with him: They shall sit with him in his Throne. Rev. 3. 21. They shall sit with Christ in his Throne of Government, and they shall sit with him in his Throne of Judgment, and shall be Judges with him when you are judged, and as such shall condemn you.

10. and lastly. You don't know that you shall live through the present Time of the pouring out of God's Spirit. You may be taken away in the midst of it, or you may be taken away in the beginning of it; as God in his Providence is putting you in mind by the late Instance of Death, in a young Person in the Town.* God has of late been very awful in his Dealings with us, in the repeated Deaths of young Persons that have happen'd amongst us. This should stir every one up [...]o [Page 164] be in the more haste to press into the Kingdom of God, that so you may be sa [...]e whenever Death comes. This is a blessed Season and Opportunity; but you don't know how little of it you may have: You may have much less of it than others: You may by Death be sud­denly snatched away from all Advantages that are here enjoyed for the Good of Souls. Therefore make haste and escape for thy Life: One Moment's Delay [...]s dan­gerous; for Wrath is pursuing, and divine Vengeance hanging over every unconverted Person.

Let these Considerations move every one to be im­proving this Opportunity, that while others receive sa­ving Good, and are made Heirs of eternal Glory, you may not be left behind, in the same miserable doleful Circumstances in which you came into the World, a poor Captive to Sin and Satan, a lost She [...]p a perishing u [...]d [...]ne Creature, sinking down into everlasting Perditi­on; that you may not be one of them spoken of, Jer 17 6. that shall be like the Heath in the Desert, and shall not see Good when Good comes.—If you don't improve this Opportunity, remember I have told you, you will hereafter lament it; and if you don't lament it in this World, then I will leave it wi [...]h you for you to remember throughout a miserable Eternity.

II. I would address my self to such as yet remain un­awaken'd 'Tis an awful Thing that there should be any one Person remaining secure amongst us, at such a Time a [...] this; but yet it is to be feared that there are some of this Sort▪ I would here a little expostulate with such Persons.

I would put it to you,

1. When you expect that it will be more likely that you should be awaken'd, and wrought upon than now? You are in a Christless Condition; but yet without Doubt intend to go to Heaven; and therefore intend to be convert [...]d some Time before you die; which is not to be expected till you are first awaken'd, and deeply concerned about the Welfare of your Soul, and brought earnestly to seek God's converting Grace, And when [Page 165] do you intend that this shall be? How do you lay Things out in your own Mind, or what Projection have [...]u a [...]ou [...] th [...]s Ma [...]ter? Is it ever so likely that a Per­son will be awaken'd, as at such a Time as this? How do we see that many that before were secure are now roused out of their Sleep, and are crying, What shall I do to be [...]v [...]d? But you are yet secure!—Do you flatt [...]r your self that it will be more likely that you should be awaken'd, when it is a dull and d [...]ad Time? Do you lay Matters out thus in your own Mind, that tho' you are Senseless when others are generally awa­ken'd, that yet you shall be awaken'd when others are generally Senseless? Or do you hope to see another such Time of the pouring out of God's Spirit hereafter? And do you think that it will be more likely that you should be wrought upon then, than now? And why do ye think so? Is it because then you shall be so much old­er than you are now, and so that your Heart will be grown softer and mo [...] tender with Age? Or because you will then have stood out so much longer against the Calls of the Gosp [...]l, and all Means of Grace? Do you think it more likely, that God will give you need­ed Influences of his Spirit then, than now, because then you will have provoked him so much more, and your Sin and Guilt will be so much greater? And do you think it will be any Benefit to you, to s [...]and it out thro' the present Season of Grace, as Proof against the extra­ordinary Means of Awakening that now there are? Do you think that this will be a good Preparation for a sa­ving Work of the Spirit hereafter?

2. What Means do you expect to be awaken'd by? As to the awakening awful Things of the Word of God, those you have had set before you Times without Num­ber, in the most moving Manner that the Dispensers of the Word have been capable of. As to particular solemn Warnings, directed to those that are in your Circum­stances, those you have frequently had, and have them now from Time to Time. Do you expect to be awa­ken'd by awful Providences? Those also you have late­ly had, of the most awakening Nature, [...]e after another. [Page 166] Do you expect to be moved by the Deaths of others? We have lately had repeated Instances of these: The [...]e have been Deaths of old and young: The Year has been remarkable for the Deaths of young Persons, in the Bloom of Life, and some of them very sudden Deaths. Will the Conversion of others move you?—There is indeed scarce any Thing that is found to have so great a Tendency to stir Persons up as this: But this you have been tried with of late in frequent Instances; but are hitherto Proof against it. Will a general pouring out of the Spirit, and seeing a Concern about Salvation amongst all Sorts of People do it? This Means you now have, but without Effect. Yea you have all these Things together; you have the solemn Warnings of God's Word, and awful Instances of Death, and the Conversi­on of others, and see a general Concern about Salvation: But all together don't move you to any great Concern, about your own precious, immortal, and miserable Soul. Therefore consider by what Means it is that you expect ever to be awakened.

You have heard that 'tis probable that some that are now awaken'd, will never obtain Salvation; how dark then does it look upon you that remain stupidly unawa­ken'd!—Those that be not moved at such a Time as this, that are come to adult Age, have Reason to fear whether or no they be not given up to judicial Hard­ness. I don't say they have Reason to conclude it, but they have Reason to fear it—How dark doth it look upon you, that God comes and knocks at so many per­sons Doors, and misses yours! that God is giving the Strivings of his Spirit so generally amongst us, while you are left Senseless!

3. Do you expect to obtain Salvation without ever seeking of it? If you are sensible that there is a Ne­cessity of your seeking in order to obtaining, and ever intend to seek, one would think you could not avoid it at such a Time as this. Inquire therefore whether you intend to go to Heaven, living all your Days a secure, negligent, careless Life. Or, [...]

[Page 167] 4. Do you think you can bear the Damnation of Hell? Do you imagine that you can tolerably endure the de­vouring Fire, and everlasting Burnings? Do you hope that you shall be able to grapple with the Vengeance of God Almighty, when he girds himself with Strength, and cloaths himself with Wrath? Do you think to streng­then your self against God, and to be able to make your part good with him? 1 Cor. 10. 22. Do we provoke the Lord to Jealousy? Are we stronger than he? Do you flatter your self that you shall find out Ways for your Ease and Support, and to make it out tolerable well, to bear up your Spirit in those everlasting Burnings, that are prepared for the Devil and his Angels? Ezek. 22. 14. Can thine Heart endure, or can thine Hands be strong, in the Days that I shall deal with thee?—'Tis a diffi­cult Thing to conceive what such Christless Persons think, that are unconcerned at such a Time as this is.

III. I would direct my self to them that are grown con­siderably into Years, and are yet in a natural Condition. I would now take Occasion earnestly to exhort you, to improve this extraordinary Opportunity, and press into the Kingdom of God. You have lost many Advantages that once you had, and now have not the same Advan­tages that others have: The Case is very different with you from what it is with many of your Neighbours. You above all had need to improve such an Opportu­nity. Now is the Time for you to bestir your self, and take the Kingdom of Heaven!

Consider,

1. Now there seems to be a Door opened for old Sin­ners. Now God is dealing forth freely to all Sorts: His Hand is opened wide, and he don't pass by old ones so much as he used to do. You are not under such Ad­vantages as others are that are younger; but yet, so wonderfully has God ordered it, that now you are not destitute of great Advantage: Tho' old in Sin, God has put a new and extraordinary Advantage into your Hands. O, improve this Price that you have to get Wisdom! [Page 168] You that have been long seeking to enter in at the strait Gate, and yet remain without, now take your Op­portunity and press in! You that have been long in the Wilderness, fighting with various Temptations, and have been labouring under Discouragements, and have been ready to give up the Case, have been often tempt­ed to Despair, now, behold the Door that God opens for you! Don't give Way to Discouragements now; this is not a Time for it: Don't spend Time in think­ing that you have done what you can already, and that you see Signs that you be not elected, and in giving Way to other perplexing, weakening, disheartening Temptations: Don't waste away this precious Oppor­tunity in such a Manner: You have no Time to spare for such Things as these: God calls you now to some­thing else: Improve this Time in seeking and striving for Salvation, and not in that which tends to hinder it. 'Tis no Time now for you to stand talking with the Devil; but hearken to God, and apply your self to that, which he does now so loudly call you to.

Some of you have often lamented the Loss of past Opportunities: As particularly the Loss of the Time of Youth, and have been wishing that you had so good an Opportunity again; have been ready to say, O! if I was young again, how would I improve such an Advan­tage! That Opportunity that you have had in Time past, is irrecoverable; you can never have it again: but God can give you other Advantages of another Sort, that are very great, and he is so doing at this Day. He is now putting a new Opportunity into your Hands; tho' not of the same Kind with that which you once had, and have lost, yet in some Respects as great of another Kind. If you lament, and are ready to cry out of your Folly in neglecting and loosing past Opportu­nities, then don't be guilty of the Folly of neglecting the Opportunity which God now gives you. This Opportunity you could not have purchased, if you would have given all that you had in the World for it: But God is putting of it into your Hands, of himself, of his own free and sovereign Mercy, without your purchasing [Page 169] of it. Therefore when you have it, don't neglect it.

2. It is a great deal more likely with Respect to such Persons than others, that this is their last Time. There will be a last Time of any special Offer of Salvation to impenitent Sinners. God's Spirit shall not always strive with Man, Gen. 6 3. God sometimes continues long knocking at the Doors of wicked Men's Hearts; but there are the last Knocks, and the last Calls, that ever they shall have. And sometimes God's last Calls are the loudest, and then if Sinners don't hearken, God finally leaves them. How long has God been knocking at ma­ny of your Doors, that are old in Sin! 'Tis a great deal more likely that these are his last Knocks. You have resisted God's Spirit in Times past, and have har­den'd your Heart once and again; but God will not be thus dealt with always: There is Danger, that if now, after so long a Time, you won't hearken, he will utterly desert you, and leave you to walk in your own Counsels.

It seems, by God's Providence, as tho' God had yet an elect Number amongst old Sinners in this Place, that perhaps he is now about to bring in. It looks as tho' there were some that long lived under Mr.Stoddard's Ministry, that God has not utterly cast off, tho' they so stood it out under such great Means as they then enjoyed. 'Tis to be hoped that God will now bring in a Remnant from among them. But 'tis the more like­ly that God is now about finishing with them, one Way or the other, for their having been so long the Subjects of such extraordinary Means. You have seen former T [...]mes of the pouring out of God's Spirit upon the Town, when others were taken and you left, others were called out of Darkness into marvellous Light, and were brought into a glorious and happy State, and you was one that saw not Good when Good came. How dark will your Circumstances appear, if you shall also stand it out through this Opportunity, and still be left behind! Take heed that you be not one of those spoken of, Heb 6. 7. 8. that are like the Earth that has Rain coming o [...]t upon it, [Page 170] and only bears Briars and Thorns. As we see there are some Pieces of Ground, the more Showers of Rain fall upon them, the more fruitful Seasons there are, the more do the Briars, and other useless and hurtful Plants, that are rooted in them, grow and flourish. Of such Ground the Apostle says, It is rejected, and is high unto cursing, whose End is to be burned. The Way that the Husband­man takes with such Ground, is to set Fire to it, to burn up the Growth of it.—If you miss this Opportunity, there is Danger that you will be utterly rejected, and that your End will be to be burned. And if this is to be, it is to be feared, that you are not far from, but nigh unto Cursing.

Those of you that are already grown old in Sin, and are now under Awakenings, when you feel your Con­victions begin to go off, if ever that should be, then re­member what you have now been told: It may well then strike you to the Heart!

IV. I would direct the Advice to those that are Young, and now under their first special Convictions. I would earnestly urge such to improve this Opportuni­ty, and press into the Kingdom of God.

Consider two Things,

1. You have all Manner of Advantages now centring upon you. It is a Time of great Advantage for all; but your Advantages are above others. There is no o­ther Sort of Persons, that have now so great and happy an Opportunity as you have. You have that great Advantage that is common to all that live in this Place, viz. That now it is a Time of the extraordinary pour­ing out of the Spirit of God; and also have that great Advantage, that you have the awakening Influences of the Spirit of God on you in particular; and besides that, you have this peculiar Advantage, that you are now in your Youth: And added to this, you have ano­ther unspeakable Advantage, that you now are under your first Convictions. Happy is he that never has har­dened his Heart, and blocked up his own Way to Hea­ven [Page 171] by backsliding, and has now the awakening Influ­ences of God's Spirit, if God does but enable him tho­roughly to improve them! Such above all in the World bid fair for the Kingdom of God. God is wont, on such, above any Kind of Persons, as it were easily and readily to bestow the saving Grace and Comforts of his Spirit. Instances of speedy and sudden Conversion are most commonly found among such—Happy are they that have the Spirit of God with them, and never have quenched it, if they did but know the Price they have in their Hands!

If you have a Sense of your Necessity of Salvation, and the great Worth and Value of it, you will be wil­ling to take the surest Way to it, or that which has the greatest Probability of Success; and that certainly is, thoroughly to improve your first Convictions: If you do so, it is not likely that you will fail; there is the greatest Probability that you will succeed What is it not worth to have such an Advantage in ones Hands, for obtaining eternal Life?—The present Season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, is the first such Season that many of you that are now under Awakenings have ever seen, since you came to Years of Understand­ing: On which Account, and because it is the first Time that you have ever been stir [...]'d up by the Spirit of God your self, 'tis the greatest Opportunity that ever you have had, and probably by far the greatest that ever you will have. There are many here present that wish they had such an Opportunity, but they never can obtain it; they can't buy it for Money; but you have it in your Possession, and can improve it if you will.

But yet,

2. There is on some Accounts greater Danger that such as are in your Circumstances will fail of thoroughly improving their Convictions, with Respect to Stedsastness and Perseverance, than others. Those that are young are more unstable than elder Persons: They that never had Convictions before, have less Experience of the Difficulty of the Work they have engaged in; they are more ready to think that they shall obtain Salvation [Page 172] easily, and are more easily discouraged by Disappoint­ments; and young Persons have less Reason and Consi­deration to fortify them against Temptations to Back­sliding: You should therefore labour now the more to guard against such Temptations—By all Means be thorough now! Make but one Work of seeking Salva­tion! Make thorough Work of it the first Time!—There are vast Disadvantages that they bring themselves under, that have several Turns of Seeking with great Intermissions: By such a Course Persons exceedingly wound their own Souls, and intangle themselves in ma­ny Snares.—Who are those that commonly meet with so many Difficulties, and are so long labouring in Darkness and Perplexity, but those that have had several Turns at seeking Salvation, who have one while had Convictions, and then have quenched them, and then have set about the Work again, and have back­sliden again, and have gone on after that Manner? The Children of Israel would not have been forty Years in the Wilderness, if they had held their Courage, and had gone on as they set out; but they were of an un­stable Mind, and were for going back again into Egypt Otherwise if they had gone right forward, without Dis­couragement, as God would have led them, they would have soon entred, and taken Possession of Canaan: They had got to the very Borders of it, when they turned back, but then were thirty-eight Years after that, before they got through the Wilderness. Therefore as you regard the Interest of your Soul, don't run your self into a like Difficulty, by Unsteadiness, Intermission, and Back­sliding; but press right forward, from henceforth, and make but one Work of seeking converting and pardon­ing Grace, however great, and difficult, and long a Work that may be.

[Page 173]

Ruth's Resolution.
DISCOURSE, III.

RUTH 1. 16.‘AND Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whi­ther thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy People shall be my People, and thy GOD, my GOD.’

THE Things that we have the History of in this Book of Ruth, seem to be in­s [...]rted into the Canon of the Scripture especially on two Accounts.

First, Because Christ was of Ruth's Posterity. The Holy Ghost thought fit to take particular Notice of that Marriage of Boaz with Ruth, whence sprang the Saviour of the World.—We may often observe it, that the Holy Spirit that indited the Scrip­tures [Page 174] often takes Notice of little Things, minute Occur­rences, that do but remotely relate to Jesus Christ.

Secondly, Because this History seems to be typical of the Calling of the Gentile Church, and indeed of the Conversion of every Believer. Ruth was not original­ly of Israel, but was a Moabitess, an Alien from the Common-Wealth of Israel: But she forsook her own People, and the Idols of the Gentiles, to worship the God of Israel, and to join her self to that People: Here­in she seems to be a Type of the Gentile Church, and also of every sincere Convert. Ruth was the Mother of Christ; He came of her Posterity: so the Church is Christ's Mother, as she is represented, Rev 12. at the Beginning. And so also is every true Christian his Mo­ther. M [...]tth 12. 50 Whosoever shall do the Will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my Brother, and Sister, and Mother. Christ is what the Soul of every one of the Elect is in Travail with, in the New-Birth. Ruth forsook all her natural Relations, and her own Country, the Land of her Nativity, and all her former Possessions there, for the sake of the God of Israel; as every true Christian forsakes all for Christ. Psalm 45. 10. Hearken O Daughter, and consider, and incline thine Ear; forget also thine own People, and thy Father's House.

Naomi was now returning out of the Land of Moab, into the Land of Israel, with her two Daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth; who well represent to us, two Sorts of Professors of Religion; Orpah that Sort, that indeed make a fair Profession, and seem to set out well, but dure but for a while, and then turn back; Ruth that Sort, that are sound and sincere, and therefore are sted­fast and persevering in the Way that they have set out in. Naomi, in the preceeding Verses represents to these her Daughters the Difficulties of their leaving their own Country to go with her. And in this Verse may be observed,

1. The remarkable Conduct and Behaviour of Ruth on this Occasion; with what inflexible Resolution she cleaves to Naomi, and follows her. When Naomi first arose to return from the Country of Moab, into the Land [Page 175] of Israel, Orpah and Ruth both set out with her: And Naomi exhorts them both to return: And they both of them wept, and seem'd as if they could not bear the Thoughts of leaving her, and appeared as if they were resolved to go with her. Verse 10. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee, unto thy People. Then Naomi says to them again, Turn again my Daugh­ters▪ go your Way, &c. And then they were greatly af­fected again, and Orpah returned and went back. Now Ruth's Stedfastness in her Purpose had a greater Trial, but yet is not overcome: She clave unto her, Verse 14. Then Naomi speaks to her again, Verse 15. Behold thy Sister in law is gone back unto her People, and unto her gods; Return thou after thy Sister in-law. And then she shews her immoveable Resolution in the Text and fol­lowing Verse.

2. I would particularly observe that wherein the Virtuousness of this her Resolution consists, viz. That it was for the Sake of the God of Israel, & that she might be one of His People, that the was thus resolved to cleave to Naomi: Thy People shall be my People, and thy God, my God. It was for God's Sake that she did thus; and therefore her so doing is afterwards spoken of as a Vir­tuous Behaviour in her, Chap. 2. 11, 12 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy Mother in law, since the Death of thine Husband, and [...]ow thou hast left thy Father, and thy Mother, and the Land of thy Nativity, and art come unto a People which thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompence thy Work, and a full Reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose Wings thou art come to trust. She left her Father and Mother, and the Land of her Nativity, to come and trust under the Shadow of God's Wings; and she had indeed a full Reward gi­ven her as Boaz wish'd; for besides immediate spiritual Blessings to her own Soul, and eternal Rewards in ano­ther World, she was rewarded with plentiful, and pros­perous outward Circumstances, in the Family of Boaz; and God raised up David and Solomon of her Seed, and established the Crown of Israel, (the People that she [Page 176] chose before her own People) in her Posterity, and (which is much more) of her Seed he raised up Jesus Christ, in whom all the Families of the Earth are blessed.

From the Words thus opened, I observe this for the Subject of my present Discourse.

When those that we have formerly been conversant with, are turning to God, and joining themselves to his Peo­ple, it ought to be our firm Resolution, that we will not leave them; but that their People shall be our People, and their God, our God.

It is sometimes so, that of those that have been con­versant one with another, that have dwelt together as Neighbours, and have been often together as Compani­ons, or have been united in near Relation, and have been together in Darkness, Bondage, and Misery, in the Service of Satan, some are inlighten'd and have their Minds changed, are made to see the great Evil of Sin, and have their Hearts turned to God, and are influenced by the Holy Spirit of God, to leave their Company that are on Satan's Side, to go and join themselves with that blessed Company that are with Jesus Christ; they are made willing to forsake the Tents of Wickedness, to dwell in the Land of Uprightness, with the People of God.

And sometimes this proves a final Parting or Sepera­tion between them, and those that they have been for­merly conversant with. Though it may be no Parting in outward Respects, they may still dwell together, and may converse one with another, yet in other Respects it sets them at a great Distance one from another: one is a Child of God, and the other the Enemy of God; one is in a miserable, and the other in a happy Condi­tion; one is a Citizen of the heavenly Zion, the other is under Condemnation to He [...]l. They are no longer together in those Respects, wherein they used to be to­gether: They used to be of one Mind to serve Sin, and [Page 177] do Satan's Work; now they are of contrary Minds: They used to be together in Worldliness, and sinful Vanity; now they are of exceeding different Dispositi­ons. They are seperated as they are in different King­doms; the one remains in the Kingdom of Darkness, the other is translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son. And sometimes they are finally seperated in these Respects: while one dwells in the Land of Israel, and in the House of God; the other, like Orpah, lives and dies in the Land of Moab.

Now 'tis lamentable when it is thus: 'Tis awful be­ing parted so: 'Tis doleful when of those that have for­merly been together in Sin, some turn to God, and join themselves with his People, that it should prove a Part­ing between them and their former Companions and Acquaintance.—It should be our firm and inflexible Resolution in such a Case, that it shall be no Parting, but that we will follow them, that their People shall be our People, and their God our God; and that for the following Reasons.

I. Because their God is a glorious God. There is none like him, who is infinite in Glory and Excel­lency: He is the most high God, glorious in Holiness, fearful in Praises, doing Wonders: His Name is excel­lent in all the Earth, and his Glory is above the Earth and the Heavens: Among the God's there is none like unto him; there is none in Heaven to be compared to him, nor are there any among the Sons of the Mighty, that can be liken'd unto him.—Their God is the Fountain of all Good, & an inexhaustible Fountain; he is an alsufficient God; a God that is able to protect and defend them, and do all Things for them: He is the King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in Battle: A strong Rock, and an high Tower. There is none like the God of Jes [...]urun, who rideth on the Heaven in their Help, and in his Excellency on the Sky: The eternal God is their Refuge, and under­neath are everlasting Arms: He is a God that hath all Things in his Hand, and does whatsover he pleases: [Page 178] He killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the Grave, and bringeth up; he maketh poor, and maketh rich: The Pillars of the Earth are the Lord's.—Their God is an infinitely holy God: There is none holy as the Lord. And he is infinitely good and merciful. Ma­ny that others worship and serve as God's, are cruel Be­ings, Spirits that seek the Ruin of Souls; but this is a God that delighteth in Mercy; his Grace is infinite, and endures for ever: He is Love it self, an infinite Fountain and Ocean of it.

Such a God is their God! Such is the Excellency of Jacob! Such is the God of them, who have forsaken their Sins and are converted! They have made a wise Choice, who have chosen this God for their God. They have made an happy Exchange indeed, that have exchanged Sin, and the World, for such a God!

They have an excellent and glorious Saviour, who is the only begotten Son of God; the Brightness of his Father's Glory; one in whom God from Eternity had infinite Delight; A Saviour of infinite Love; one that has shed his own Blood, and made his Soul an Offering for their Sins; and one that is able to save them to the uttermost.

II. Their People are an excellent and happy People. God has renewed them, and instamped his own Image upon them, and made them Partakers of his Holiness. They are more excellent than their Neighbours, Prov. 12. 26 Yea, they are the excellent of the Earth, Psalm 16. 3 They are lovely in the Sight of the Angels; and they have their Souls adorned with those Graces, that in the Sight of God him self are of great Price.

The People of God are the most excellent and hap­py Society in the World. That God whom they have chosen for their God, is their Father; he has pardoned all their Sins, and they are at Peace with him; and he has admitted them to all the Privileges of his Children. As they have devoted themselves to God, so God has given himself to them: He is become their Salvation, and their Portion: His Power and Mercy, and all his [Page 179] Attributes are theirs. They are in a safe State, free from all Possibility of perishing: Satan has no Pow­er to destroy them. God carries them on Eagles Wings, far above Satan's Reach, and above the Reach of all the Enemies of their Souls. God is with them in this World; they have his gracious Presence: God is for them; Who then can be against them? As the Moun­tains are round about Jerusalem, so JEHOVAH is round about them. God is their Shield, and their exceeding great Reward; and their Fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: And they have the di­vine Promise and Oath, that in the World to come, they shall dwell for ever in the glorious Presence of God.

It may well be sufficient to induce us to resolve to cleave to those that forsake their Sins and Idols, to join themselves with this People, that God is with them. Zech. 8 23 Thus faith the Lord of Hosts, In those Days it shall come to pass, that ten Men shall take hold, out of all Languages of the Nations; even shall take hold of the Skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you. So should Per­sons, as it were take hold of the Skirt of their. Neigh­bours and Companions, that have turn'd to God, and resolve that they will go with them, because God is with them.

III. Happiness is no where else to be had, but in their God, and with their People. There are that are called gods many, and lords many. Some make gods of their Pleasures; some choose Mammon for their god; some make gods of their own supposed Excellencies, or the outward Advantages they have above their Neigh­bours; some choose one Thing for their god, and o­thers another: But Men can be happy in no other God, but the God of Israel. He is the only Fountain of Happiness. Other gods can't help in Calamity; nor can any of them afford what the poor empty Soul stands in need of. Let Men adore those other gods never so much, and call upon them never so earnestly, and serve [Page 180] them never so diligently, they will never the less re­main poor, wretched, unsatisfied, undone Creatures. All other People are miserable, but that People whose God is the Lord.—The World is divided into two Societies: There are the People of God, the little Flock of Jesus Christ, that Company that we read of, Rev. 14. 4. These are they, which were not defiled with Women; for they are Virgins: These are they, which follow the Lamb whithersoever he g [...]eth: These were re­deemed from among Men, being the first Fruits unto God, and to the Lamb. And there are those that belong to the Kingdom of Darkness; that are without Christ, be­ing Aliens from the Common-Wealth of Israel, Stran­gers from the Covenants of Promise, having no Hope, and without God in the World. All that are of this latter Company, are wretched and undone; they are the Enemies of God, and under his Wrath and Condemna­tion: They are the Devil's Slaves, that serve him blind­fold, and are besool'd, and ensnared by him, and hurri­ed along in the broad Way to eternal Perdition.

IV. When those that we have formerly been con­versant with, are turning to God, and to his People, their Example ought to influence us. Their Example should be looked upon as the Call of God to us, to do as they have done. God, when he changes the Heart of one, calls upon another; especially does he loudly call on those that have been their Friends and Acquain­tance.—We have been influenced by their Exam­ples in Evil; and shall we cease to follow them, when they make the wisest Choice that ever they made, and do the best Thing that ever they did! If we have been Companions with them in Worldliness, in Vanity, in unprositable and sinful Conversation, it will be an hard Case, if there must be a Parting now, because we be not willing to be Companions with them in Holi­ness, and true Happiness. Men are greatly influenced by seeing one another's Prosperity in other Things. If those that they have been much conversant with, grow rich, and obtain any great earthly Advantages, it awa­kens [Page 181] their Ambition, and eager Desire after the like Prosperity: How much more should they be influen­ced, and stirred up to follow them, and be like them, when they obtain that spiritual and eternal Happiness, that is infinitely more Worth than all the Prosperity and Glory of this World.

V. Our Resolutions to cleave to and follow those that are turning to God, and joining themselves to his Peo­ple, ought to be fix'd and strong, because of the great Difficulty of it. If we will cleave to them, and have their God for our God, and their People for our Peo­ple, we must mortify and deny all our Lusts, and cross every evil Appetite and Inclination, and forever part with all Sin. But our Lusts are many and violent. Sin is naturally exceeding dear to us; to part with it is compared to plucking out our right Eyes. Men may re­frain from wanted Ways of Sin, for a little while, and may deny their Lusts in a partial Degree, with less Difficulty; but 'tis heart-rending Work, finally to part with all Sin, and to give our dearest Lusts a Bill of Di­vorce, utterly to send them away. But this we must do, if we would follow those that are truly turning to God: Yea, we must not only forsake Sin, but must, in a Sense, forsake all the World, Luke 14. 33 Whoso­ever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my Disciple. That is, he must forsake all in his Heart, and must come to a thorough Disposition and Readiness, actually to quit all for God, and the glo­rious spiritual Privileges of his People, whenever the Case may require it; and that without any Prospect of any Thing of the like Nature, or any worldly Thing whatsoever, to make amends for it; and all to go into a strange Country, a Land that has hitherto been un­seen; like Abraham, who being called of God, went out of his own Country, and from his Kindred, and from his Father's [...] use for a Land that God should shew him, not knowing whither he went.

Thus▪ it was an hard Thing for Ruth to forsake her native Country, & her Father & Mother, her Kindred and [Page 182] Acquaintance, and all the pleasant Things she had in the Land of Moab, to dwell in the Land of Israel, where she never had been. Naomi told her of the Dif­ficulties once and again They were too hard for her Sister O [...]p [...]h; the Consideration of them turned her back after she was set out. Her R [...]solution was not firm enough to overcome them. But so firmly resolved was Ruth, that she brake through all; she was stedfast in it, that let the Difficulty be what it would, she would not leave her Mother in law. So Persons had need to be very firm in their Resolution to conquer the Difficulties that are in the Way of cleaving to them, that are indeed turning from Sin to God.

VI. Our cleaving to them, and having their God for our God, and their People for our People, depends on our Resolution and Choice: And that in two Respects.

1. The Firmness of Resolution in using Means in order to it, is the Way to have Means effectual. There are Means appointed in order to our becoming some of the true Israel, and having their God for our God; and the thorough Use of these Means, is the Way to have Success; but not a slack or slighty Use of them. And that we may be thorough, there is need of Strength of Resolution, a firm and inflexible Disposition, and bent of Mind to be universal in the Use of Means, and to do what we do with our Might, and to persevere in it. Matth. 11. 12. The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth Vi­olence, and the violent take it by Force.

2. A choosing of their God, and their People, with a full Determination, and with the whole Soul, is the Con­dition of an Union with them. God gives every Man his Choice in this Matter; as Orpah and Ruth had their Choice, whether they would go with Naomi into the Land of Israel, or stay in the Land of Moab. A natu­ral Man may choose Deliverance from Hell; but no Man doth ever heartily choose God, and Christ, and the spiritu­al Benefits that Christ has purchased, and the Happiness of God's People, till he is converted. On the contrary, [Page 183] He is averse to them; he has no Relish of them; and is wholly ignorant of the inestimable Worth and Value of them.

Many carnal Men do seem to choose these Things, but do it not really; as O pah seemed at first. to choose to forsake Moab to go into the Land of Israel: But when Naomi come to set before her the Difficulty of it, she went back; and thereby shewed that she was not fully determined in her Choice, and that her whole Soul was not in it, as Ruth's was.

APPLICATION.

The USE that I shall make of what has been said, is to move Sinners to this Resolution, with Respect to those amongst us, that have lately turned to God, and joined themselves to the Flock of Christ. It is so, thro' the abundant Mercy and Grace of God to us in this Place, that it may be said of many of you, that are in a Christless Condition, that you have lately been left by those that were formerly with you in such a State. There are those that you have formerly been conversant with, that have lately forsaken a Life of Sin and the Service of Satan, and have turned to God, and fled to Christ, and joined themselves to that blessed Company that are with him. They formerly were with you in Sin and in Misery, but now they are with you no more, in that State or Manner of Life: They are changed, and have fled from the Wrath to come: They have chosen a Life of Holiness here, and the Enjoyment of God hereafter. They were formerly your Associates in Bondage, and were with you in Sa­tan's Business; but now you have their Company no longer, in these Things. Many of you have seen those that you live with under the same Roof, turning from being any longer with you in Sin, to be with the Peo­ple of Jesus Christ. Some of you that are Husbands, have had your Wives; and some of you that are Wives, have had you Husbands; some of you that are Chil­dren, have had your Parents; and Parents have had [Page 184] your Children; many of you have had your Brothers and Sisters; and many your near Neighbours, and Ac­quaintance, and special Friends; many of you that are young have had your Companions: I say, many of you have had those that you have been thus concerned with, leaving you, forsaking that doleful Life, and wretched State that you still continue in. God of his good Plea­sure, and wonderful Grace, hath lately caused it to be so, in this Place, that Multitudes have been forsaking their old Abodes in the Land of Moab, and under the gods of Moab, and going into the Land of Israel, to put their Trust under the Wings of the Lord God of Israel. Though you and they have been nearly related, and have dwelt together, or have been often together, and intimately acquainted one with another, they have been taken, and you hitherto left! O let it not be the Foun­dation of a final Parting! But earnestly follow them; be firm in your Resolution in this Matter. Don't do as Orpah did, who though at first she made as though she would follow Naomi, yet when she had the Difficulty of it set before her, went back: But say as Ruth, I will not leave thee, but where thou go [...]st, I will go: Thy People shall be my People, and thy God my God. Say as she said, and do as she did. Consider the Excellency of their God, and their Saviour, and the Happiness of their Peo­ple, the blessed State that they are in, and the doleful State that you are in.

You that are old Sinners, that have lived long in the Service of Satan, have lately seen some that were with you, that have travell'd with you in the Paths of Sin, these many Years, that with you enjoyed great Means and Advantages, that have had Calls and Warnings with you, and have with you pass'd through remarkable Times of the pouring out of God's Spirit in this Place, and have harden'd their Hearts, and stood it out with you, and with you have grown old in Sin; I say, you have seen some of them turning to God, i. e. you have seen those Evidences of it in them, whence you may ratio­nally judge that it is so. O! let it not be a final Part­ing! You have been thus long together in Sin, and un­der [Page 185] Condemnation; let it be your firm Resolution, that, if possible, you will be with them still, now they are in an holy and happy State, and that you will follow them into the holy and pleasant Land.

You that tell of your having been seeking Salvation for many Years, though, without Doubt, in a poor, dull Way, in comparison of what you ought to have done. You have seen some that have been with you in that Respect, that were old Sinners, and old Seekers, as you are, obtaining Mercy. God has lately roused them from their Dulness, and caused them to alter their Hand, and put them on more thorough Endeavours; and they have now, after so long a Time heard God's Voice, and have fled for Refuge to the Rock of Ages. Let this awaken Earnestness, and Resolution in you. Resolve that you will not leave them.

You that are in your Youth, how many have you seen of your Age and Standing, that have of late, hopefully chosen God for their God, and Christ for their Saviour! You have follo [...] them in Sin, and have perhaps fol­lowed them into vain Company; and will you not now follow them to Christ?

And you that are Children, there have lately been some of your Sort, that have repented of their Sins, and have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and trusted in him, and are become God's Children, as we have Rea­son to hope; Let it stir you up to resolve to your ut­most to seek and cry to God, that you may have the like Change made in your Hearts, that their People may be your People, and their God your God.

You that are great Sinners, that have made your selves distinguishingly guilty, by the wicked Practices you have lived in, there are some of your Sort, that have lately (as we have Reason to hope) had their Hearts broken for Sin, and have forsaken it, and have trusted in the Blood of Christ for the Pardon of it, and have chosen an holy Life, and have betaken themselves to the Ways of Wisdom: Let it ex [...] and encourage you, resolutely to cleave to them, and earnestly to follow, them.

[Page 186] Let the following Things be here considered.

1. That your Soul is as precious as theirs. It is im­mortal as theirs is; and stands in as much Need of Hap­piness, and can as ill bear eternal Misery. You was born in the same miserable Condition that they were, having the same Wrath of God abiding on you. You must stand before the same Judge; who will be as strict in Judgment with you, as with them; and your own Righteousness will stand you in no more Stead before him, than theirs; and therefore you stand in as absolute Necessity of a Saviour as they. Carnal Confidences can no more answer your End than theirs; nor can this World or it's Enjoyments, serve to make you happy, without God, and Christ, more than them. When the Bridegroom comes, the foolish Virgins stand in as much Need of Oil, as the Wise, Matth.25 at the Beginning.

2. Unless you follow them, in their turning to God, their Conversion will be a Foundation of an eternal Se­peration between you and them. You will be in differ­ent Interests, and in exceeding different States, as long as you live; they the Children of God, and you the Children of Satan: and you will be parted in another World; when you come to die, there will be a vast Seperation made between you. Luke 16. 26. And be­sides all this, between us and you, there is a great Gulf fixed; so that they that would pass from hence to you, can­not; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. And you will be parted at the Day of Judg­ment. You will be parted at Christ's first Appearance in the Clouds of Heaven: While they are caught up in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the Air, to be ever with the Lord, you will remain below, confined to this cursed Ground, that is kept in Store, reserved unto Fire, against the Day of Judgment, and Perdition of ungodly Men. You will appear seperated from them, while you stand before the great Judgment Seat, they being at the Right Hard, while you are set at the left. Matth. 25. 32, 33. And before him shall be gathered all Nations; and he shall seperate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his Sheep from the Goats; and he shall [Page 187] set the Sheep on his Right Hand; but the Goats on the left. And you shall then appear in exceeding different Circumstances: While you stand with Devils, in the Image and Deformity of Devils, and in ineffable Hor­ror and Amamazement, they shall appear in Glory, sit­ting on Thrones, as Assessors with Christ, and as such passing Judgment upon you, I Cor 6. 2. And what Shame and Confusion will then cover you, when so many of your Contemporaries, your Equals, your Neigh­bours, Relations and Companions, shall be honoured, and openly acknowleged, and confes [...]ed by the glorious Judge of the Universe, and Redeemer of Saints, and shall be seen by you sitting with him in such Glory, and you shall appear to have neglected your Salvation, and not to have improved your Opportunities, and re­jected the Lord Jesus Christ, the same Person that will then appear as your great Judge, and you shall be the Subjects of such Wrath, and as it were trodden down in eternal Contempt and Disgrace! Dan. 12. 2. Some shall rise to everlasting Life, and some to Shame and overlasting Contempt. And what a wide Seperation will the Sen­tence that shall be then passed and executed, make be­tween you and them? When you shall be sent away out of the Presence of the Judge, with Indignation and Abhorrence, as cursed and loathsome Creatures, and they shall be sweetly accosted, and invited into his Glo­ry, as his dear Friends, and the blessed of his Father! When you, with all that vast Throng of wicked and ac­cursed Men and Devils, shall descend with loud La­mentings, and horrid Shri [...]ks, into that dreadful Gulf of Fire and B [...]i [...]nstone, and shall be swallowed up in that great and everlasting Furnace, while they shall joyfully and with sweet Songs of Glory and Praise, ascend with Christ, and all that beauteous and blessed Company of Saints and Angels, into eternal Felicity, in the glorious Presence of God, and the sweet Embraces of his Love; and you and they shall spend Eternity in such a Sepe­ration, and immensely different Circumstances! And that however you have been intimately acquainted and near­ly related, closely united and mutually conversant here [Page 188] in this World; and how much soever you have taken Delight in each others Company! Shall it be so after you have been together a great while, each of you in undoing your selves, enhansing your Guilt, and heaping up Wrath, that their so wisely changing their Minds, and their Course, and choosing such Happiness for them­selves, should now at length, be the Beginning of such an exceeding and everlasting Seperation between you and them? How awful will it be to be parted so!

3. Consider the great Encouragement that God gives you, earnestly to strive for the same Blessing that o­thers have obtained. There is great Encouragement in the Word of God to Sinners, to seek Salvation; in the Revelation that we have of the abundant Provision made for the Salvation even of the chief of Sinners, and in the Appointment of so many Means to be used with, and by Sinners, in order to their Salvation; and by the Blessing which God in his Word connects with the Means of his Appointment. There is hence great En­couragement for all, at all Times, that will be thorough in using of these Means. But now God gives extra­ordinary Encouragement in his Providence, by pouring out his Spirit so remarkably amongst us, and bringing savingly Home to himself, all S [...]r [...]s, young and old, rich and poor, wise and unwise, sober and vicious, old self righteous Seekers, and profligate Livers;—No Sort are exempt. There is now at this Day, amongst us, the loudest Call, and the greatest Encouragement, and the widest Door opened to Sinners, to escape out of a State of Sin & Condemnation, that perhaps God ever granted in New-England. Who is there that has an immortal Soul, that is so sottish as not to improve such an Opportunity, & that won't bestir himself with all his Might [...]w? How unreasonable is Negligence, and how exceeding unseasonable is Discouragement, at such a Day as this! Will you be so stupid, as to neglect your Soul now? Will any Mortal amongst us, be so unreasonable, as to lagg behind, or look back in Discouragement, when God opens such a Door? Let every single Person, be [Page 189] thoroughly awake! Let every one encourage himself now to press forward, and fly for his Life!

4. Consider how earnestly desirous they that have obtained are, that you should follow them, and that their People should be your People, and their God your God. They desire that you should partake of that great Good that God has given them, and that unspeak­able and eternal Blessedness that he has promised them: They wi [...]h and long for it. If you don't go with them, and are not still of their Company, it won't be for Want of their Willingness, but your own. That of Moses to Hobab, is the Language of every true Saint of your Ac­quaintance to you. Numb. 10 29. We are journeying unto the Place, of which the Lord said, I will give it you: Come thou with us, and we will do thee Good; for the Lord hath spoken Good concerning Israel. As Moses, when on his Journey through the Wilde [...]ness, following the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, invited Hobab, that he had been acquainted with, and nearly allied to, out of the Land of Midian, where Moses had formerly dwelt with him, to go with him and his People to Canaan, to par­take with them in the Good that God had promised them; so do those of your Friends and Acquaintance, invite you out of a Land of Darkness and Wickedness, where they have formerly been with you, to go with them to the heavenly Canaan. The Company of Saints, the true Church of Christ invite you. The lovely Bride calls you to the Marriage Supper. She hath Authority to invite Guests to her own Wedding; and you ought to look on her Invitation and Desire, as the Call of Christ the Bridegroom; for it is the Voice of his Spirit in her, Rev. 22. 17. The Spirit, and the Bride say come. Where seems to be a Reference to what had been said, Chap 19 7, 8, 9. The Marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife hath made her self ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine Linnen, clean and white; for the fine Linnen is the Righteousness of Saints. And he [...]aith unto me, [...]; Blessed are they which are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. 'Tis with Respect to this her Marriage Supper, that she, from the [Page 190] Motion of the Spirit of the Lamb in her, says, Come So that you are invited on all Hands; all conspire to call you. God the Father invites you: This is the King that has made a Marriage for his Son; and he sends forth his Servants, the Ministers of the Gospel, to in­vite the Guests. And the Son himself invites you: 'Tis he that speaks, Rev. 22. 17. And let him that heareth say come; and let him that is athirst, Come; and whoso­ever will let him come. He tells us who he is, in the foregoing Verse, I Jesus, the Root and Offspring of Da­vid, the bright and morning Star. And God's Ministers invite you, and all the Church invites you; and there will be Joy in the Presence of the Angels of God, that Hour tha [...] you accept the Invitation.

5. Consider what a doleful Company that will be, that be left after this extraordinary Time of Mercy is over. We have Reason to think that there will a Number left. We read that when Ezekiel's healing Waters increased so abundantly, and the healing Effect of them was so very general; yet there were certain Places, where the Waters came, that never were healed. Ezek. 47 9, 10, 11 And it shall come to pass, that every Thing that liveth, which moveth, whither soever the Rivers come, shall live. And there be a very great Multitude of Fish, be­cause these Waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed, and every Thing shall live, whither the River cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the Fishers shall stand upon it, from En [...]ged; even unto En-egl [...]im; they shall be a Place to spread forth Nets: There Fish shall be according to their Kinds, as the Fish of the great Sea, ex­ceeding many. But the miry Places thereof, and the Ma­rishes thereof, shall not be healed, they shall be given to Salt. And even in the Apostles Times, when there was such wonderful Success of the Gospel, yet wherever they came there were some that did not believe. Acts 13. 48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord, and as many as were or­dained to eternal Life believed. And Chap 28 24. And some believed, and some believed not. So we have no Reason to expect, but there will be some left amongst [Page 191] us. 'Tis to be hoped it will be but a small Company: But what a doleful Company will it be! How darkly and awfully will it look upon them!—If you shall be of that Company, how well may your Friends and Relations lament over you, and bemoan your dark and dangerous Circumstances!—If you would not be one of them, make haste, delay not, and look not behind you.—Shall all Sorts obtain, shall every one press into the Kingdom of God, while you stay loiter­ing behind, in a doleful undone Condition? Shall every one take Heaven, while you remain, with no other Portion but this World? Now take up that Resolution, that if it be possible you will cleave to them that have fled for Refuge to lay hold of the Hope set before them. Count the Cost of a thorough, violent, and perpetual Pursuit of Salvation, and forsake all, as Ruth forsook her own Country, and all her pleasant Enjoyments in it. Don't do as Orpah did; who set out, and then was dis­couraged, and went back: but hold out with Ruth through all Discouragement and Opposition. When you consider others, that have 'chosen the better Part, let that Resolution be ever firm with you, Where thou goest I will go; where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy People shall be my People, and thy God my God.

[Page 192]

The Justice of GOD in the Damnation of Sinners.
DISCOURSE, IV.

ROM. III. 19.‘—That every Mouth may be stopped,—’

THE main Subject of the doctrinal Part of this Epistle, is the free Grace of God, in the Salvation of Men by Jesus Christ; especially as it appears in the Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. And the more clearly to evince this Doctrine, and shew the Reason of it, the Apostle, in the first Place, estab­lishes that Point, that no Flesh living can be justified by the Deeds of the Law. And to prove it, he is very large and particular in shewing, that all Mankind, not only Gentiles, but Jews, are under Sin, and so under [Page 193] the Condemnation of the Law; which is what he insists upon from the beginning of the Epistle to this Place. He first begins with the Gentiles; and in the first Chapter, shews that they are under Sin, by setting forth the exceeding Corruptions and horrid Wickedness, that overspread the Gentile World: And then through the second Chapter, and the former Part of this third Chap­ter, to the Text and following Verse, he shews the same of the Jews, that they also are in the same Cir­cumstances with the Gentiles, in this regard. They had an high Thought of themselves, because they were God's Covenant People, and circumcised, and the Chil­dren of Abraham. They despised the Gentiles, as pol­luted, condemned, and accursed; but looked on them­selves, on Account of their external Privileges, and ce­remonial and moral Righteousness, as a pure and holy People, and the Children of God; as the Apostle ob­serves in the second Chapter. It was therefore strange Doctrine to them, that they also were unclean and guil­ty in God's Sight, and under the Condemnation and Curse of the Law. The Apostle does therefore, on Ac­count of their strong Prejudices against such Doctrine, the more particularly insist upon it, and shews that they are no better than the Gentiles; as in the 9th Verse of this Chapter, What then? Are we better than they? No in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gen­tiles, that they are all under Sin. And to convince them of it, he then produces certain Passages out of their own Law, or the Old-Testament, (whose Authority they pretended a great Regard to,) from the 9th Verse to the Verse wherein is our Text. And it may be obser­ved, that the Apostle, first, cites certain Passages to prove that Mankind are all corrupt, in the 10, 11, and 12. Verses; as it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth: There is none that seeketh after God: They are all gone out of the Way: They are together become unprofitable: There is none that doth good; no not one. Secondly, The Passa­ges he cites next, are to prove that not only are all corrupt, but each one [...]lly corrupt, as it were [Page 194] all over unclean, from the crown of his Head, to the Soles of his Feet; and therefore several particular Parts of the Body are mentioned, as the Throat, the Tongue, the Lips, the Mouth, the Feet, Verses 13, 14, 15. Their Throat is an open Sepulchre, with their Tongues they have used Deceit, the Poison of Asps is under their Lips; whose Mouth is full of Cursing and Bitterness, their Feet are swift to shed Blood. And, Thirdly, He quotes other Passages to shew, that each one is not only all over corrupt, but corrupt to a desperate Degree, in the 16, 17, and 18. Verses; in which the exceeding Degree of their Corruption is shewn, both by affirming and denying: By affirmatively expressing the most pernicious Nature and Tendency of their Wickedness, in the 16. Verse. De­struction and Misery are in their Ways And then by de­nying all Good, or Godliness, of them, in the 17, & 18, Verses, And the Way of Peace have they not known: There is no Fear of God before their Eyes. And then, lest the Jews should think these Passages of their Law don't concern them, and that only the Gentiles are in­tended in them, the Apostle shews in the Verse of the Text, not only that they are not exempt, but that they especially must be understood, Now we know, that whatsoever Things the Law saith, it saith to them that are under the Law. By those that are under the Law, is meant the Jews, and the Gentiles by those that are without Law; as appears by the 12th Verse of the preceeding Chapter. There is special Reason to understand the Law, as speaking to and of them, to whom it was imme­diately given. And therefore the Jews would be un­reasonable in exempting themselves. And if we exa­mine the Places of the Old Testament, whence these Passages are taken, we shall see plainly that special Re­spect is had to the Wickedness of the People of that Nation, in every one of them. So that the Law shuts all up in universal and desperate Wickedness, that every Mouth may be stopped. The Mouths of the Jews, as well as of the Gentiles; notwithstanding all those Pri­vileges by which they were distinguished from the Gentiles,

[Page 195] The Things that the Law says, are sufficient to stop the Mouths of all Mankind, in two Respects.

1. To stop them from boasting of their Righte­ousness, as the Jews were wont to do; as the Apostle observes in the 23. Verse of the preceeding Chapter.—That the Apostle has Respect to stopping their Mouths in this Respect, appears by the 27th Verse of the Context, Where is Boasting then? It is excluded. The Law stops our Mouths from making of any Plea for Life, or the Favour of God, o [...] any posi [...]ive Good, from our own Righteousness

2. To stop them from making any Excuse for our selves, or Objection against the Execution of the Sentence of the Law, or the Infliction of the Punishment that it threatens. That this is intended, appears by the Words immediately following, That all the World may become guilty before God. That is that they may appear to be guilty, and stand convicted before God, and justly lia­ble to the Condemnation of his Law, as guilty of Death, according to the jewish Way of Speaking.

And thus the Apostle proves that no Flesh can be justified in God's Sight, by the Deeds of the Law; as he draws the Conclusion in the following Verse; and so prepares the Way for the establishing of the great Doc­trine of Justification by Faith alone, which he proceeds to do, in the next Verse to that, and in the following Part of the Chapter, and of the Epistle.

DOCTRINE. 'Tis just with God eternally to cast off, and destroy Sinners.

—For this is the Punishment which the Law con­demns to; which the Things that the Law says may well stop every Mouth from all Manner of Objection against.

The Truth of this Doctrine may appear, by the joint Consideration of two Things, viz. Man' Sinfulness, and God's Sovereignty.

[Page 196] I. It appears from the Consideration of Man's Sinful­ness. And that whether we consider the infinitely evil Nature of all Sin, or how much Sin Men are guilty of.

1. If we consider the infinite Evil, and Heinousness of Sin in general. 'Tis not unjust in God to inflict what Punishment is deserved; because the very Notion of deserving any Punishment is, that it may be justly in­flicted: A deserved Punishment and a just Punishment are the same Thing. To say that one deserves such a Punishment, and yet to say that he don't justly deserve it, is a Contradiction; and if he justly deserves it, then it may be justly inflicted.

Every Crime or Fault deserves a greater or lesser Pu­nishment, in Proportion as the Crime it self is greater or less. If any Fault deserves Punishment, then so much the greater the Fault, so much the greater is the Punishment deserved. The faulty Nature of any Thing, is the formal Ground and Reason of its Desert of Punishment; and therefore the more any Thing hath of this Nature, the more Punishment it deserves. And therefore the Terribleness of the Degree of Punishment, let it be never so terrible, is no Argu­ment against the Justice of it, if the Proportion does but hold, between the Heinousness of the Crime, and the Dreadfulness of the Punishment. So that if there be any such Thing as a Fault infinitely Heinous, it will follow that 'tis just to inflict a Punishment for it, that is infinitely dreadful.

A Crime is more or less Heinous, according as we are under greater or lesser Obligations to the contrary. This is self-evident, because it is herein that the Cri­minalness, or Faultiness of any Thing consists, that it is contrary to what we are obliged or bound to, or what ought to be in us. So the Faultiness of one Beings ha­ting another, is in Proportion to his Obligation to love him: The Crime of one Beings despising, and casting Contempt on another, is proportionably more or less Heinous as he was under greater or lesser Obligations to honour him: The Fault of disobeying another, is greater or less, [Page 197] as any one is under greater or lesser Obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any Being, that we are under infinite Obligations to love, and honour, and obey, the Contrary towards him must be infinitely Faulty.

Our Obligation to love, honour, and obey any Being, is in Proportion to his Loveliness, Honourableness, and Authority. For that is the very Meaning of the Words, when we say any one is very lovely; it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved: Or if we say such an one is more honourable than another; the Meaning of the Words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honour. If we say any one has great Authority over us, 'tis the same as to say that he has great Right to our Subjection and Obedience.

But God is a Being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite Excellency and Beauty. To have infinite Excel­lency and Beauty, is the same Thing as to have infinite Loveliness. He is a Being of infinite Greatness, Majes­ty and Glory; and therefore is infinitely honourable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest Potentates of the Earth, and highest Angels in Heaven; and there­fore is infinitely more honourable than they. His Au­thority over us is infinite; and the Ground of his Right to our Obedience, is infinitely strong; for he is infi­nitely worthy to be obeyed in himself, and we have an absolute universal and infinite Dependence upon him.

So that Sin against God being a Violation of infinite Obligations, must be a Crime infinitely heinous; and so deserving of infinite Punishment.—Nothing is more agreable to the common Sense of Mankind, than that Sins committed against any one, must be proporti­onably heinous, to the Dignity of the Being offended and abused; as 'tis also agreable to the Word of God. 1 Sam. 2 25. If one Man sin against another, the Judge shall judge him; (i. e. shall judge him, and inflict a finite Punishment, such as finite Judges can inflict;) but if a Man sin against the Lord. Who shall [...] for him! This was the Aggravation of Sin that made Joseph afraid [Page 198] of it, Gen 39 9. How shall I commit this great Wicked­ness, and sin against God? This was the Aggravation of David's Sin, in comparison of which he esteemed all others as nothing, because they were infinitely exceeded by it. Psalm 51. 4 Against thee, thee only have I sinned.—The Eternity of the Punishment of ungodly Men renders it infinite; and it renders it no more than infinite; and therefore renders no more than proportionable to the Heinousness of what they are guilty of.

If there be any Evil or Faultiness in Sin against God, there is certainly infinite Evil: For if it be any Fault at all, it has an infinite Aggravation, viz. that it is a­gainst an infinite Object. If it be ever so small upon other Accounts; yet if it be any Thing, it has one infi­nite Dimension; and so is an infinite Evil. Which may be illustrated by this: If we suppose a Thing to have infinite Length, but no Breadth and Thickness, but to be only a meer mathematical Line, it is nothing: But if it have any Breadth and Thickness at all, tho' never so small, yet if it have but one infinite Dimensi­on, viz. that of Length, the Quantity of it is infinite; it exceeds the Quantity of any Thing, however broad, thick and long, wherein these Dimensions are all finite.

So that the Objections that are made against the infi­nite Punishment of Sin, from the Necessity, or rather previous Certainty of the Futurition of Sin, arising from the Decree of God, or unavoidable original Corruption of Nature, if they argue any Thing, don't argue against the Infiniteness of the Degree of the Faultiness of Sin di­rectly, and no otherwise than they argue against any Faultiness at all: For if this Necessity or Certainty, leaves any Evil at all in Sin, that Fault must be infi­nite by Reason of the infinite Object.

But every such Objector, as would argue from hence, that there is no Fault at all in Sin▪ confutes himself, and shews his own Insincerity in his Objection. For at the same Time that he objects, that Men's Acts are necessa­ry, from God's Decrees, and original Sin, and that this [Page 199] Kind of Necessity is inconsistent with Faultiness in the Act, his own Practice shews that he don't believe what he objects to be true: Otherwise why does he at all blame Men? Or why are such Persons at all displeased with Men, for abusive, injurious, and ungrateful Acts towards them? Whatever they pretend, by this they shew that indeed they do believe that there is no Ne­cessity in Men's Acts, from divine Decrees, or Corrupti­on of Nature, that is inconsistent with Blame. And if their Objection be this, That this previous Certainty is by God's own Ordering, and that where God orders an antecedent Certainty of Acts, he transfers all the Fault from the Actor on himself; their Practice shews, that at the same Time they don't believe this; but fully be­lieve the Contrary: For when they are abused by Men, they are displeased with Men, and not with God only.

The Light of Nature teaches all Mankind, that when an Injury is voluntary, it is Faulty, without any Man­ner of Consideration of what there might be previously to determine the Futurition of that evil Act of the Will: And it really teaches this, as much to those that object and cavil most, as to others; as their universal Practice shews. By which it appears that such Objections are insincere and perverse—Men will mention others corrupt Nature in their own Case, o [...] when they are in­jured, as a Thing that aggravates their Crime, and that wherein their Faultiness partly consists. How common is it for Persons, when they look on themselves greatly injured by another, to inveigh against him, and aggra­vate his Baseness, by saying, ‘He is a Man of a most pervese Spirit: He is naturally of a selfish, niggardly, or proud and haughty Temper: He is one of a base and vile Disposition’. And yet Men's natural corrupt Dispositions are mentioned as an Excuse for them, with Respect to their Sins against God, and as [...] they rendered them Blameless.

2. That it is just with God eternally to cast off wicked Men, may more abundantly appear, if we consider how much Sin they are guilty of. From what has been al­ready [Page 200] said, it appears, that if Men were guilty of Sin, but in one Particular, that is sufficient Ground of their eternal Rejection and Condemnation: If they are Sin­ners, that is enough: Meerly this might be sufficient to keep them from ever lifting up their Heads, and cause them to smite on their Breasts, with the Publican that cried, God be merciful to me a Sinner. But sinful Men are not only thus, but they are full of Sin; full of Principles of Sin, and full of Acts of Sin: Their Guilt is like great Mountains, heaped one upon ano­ther, till the Pile is grown up to Heaven. They are totally corrupt, in every Part, in all their Faculties; and all the Principles of their Nature, their Understandings, and Wills; and in all their Dispositions and Affections, their Heads, their Hearts, are totally depraved; all the Members of their Bodies are only Instruments of Sin; and all their Senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, &c are on­ly Inlets and Outlets of Sin, Channels of Corruption. There is nothing but Sin, no Good at all. Rom. 7. 18. In me, that is in my Flesh, dwells no good Thing. There is all Manner of Wickedness. There are the Seeds of the greatest and blackest Crimes. There are Principles of all Sorts of Wickedness against Men; and there is all Wickedness against God. There is Pride; there is Enmity; there is Contempt; there is Quarrelling; there is Atheism; there is Blasphemy. There are these Things in exceeding Strength; the Heart is under the Power of them, is sold under Sin, and is a perfect Slave to it. There is Hard heartedness, Hardness greater than that of a Rock, or an adamant Stone. There is Obstina­cy and Perverseness, Incorrigibleness and Inflexibleness in Sin, that won't be overcome by Threatenings or Pro­mises, by Awakenings or Encouragements, by Judgments or Merci [...]s, neither by that which is terrifying, nor that which is winning: The very Blood of God won't win the Heart of a wicked Man.

And there is actual Wickednesses without Number or Measure. There are Breaches of every Command, in Thought, Word, and Deed; a Life full of Sin; Days and Nights fill'd up with Sin; Mercies abused, and [Page 201] Frowns despised; Mercy, and Justice, and all the divine Perfections trampled on; and the Honour of each Per­son in the Trinity trod in the Dirt.—Now if one sinful Word or Thought has so much Evil in it, as to deserve eternal Destruction, how do they deserve to be eternally cast off and destroyed, that are guilty of so much Sin!

II. If with Man's Sinfulness, we consider God's Sove­reignty, it may serve further to clear God's Justice in the eternal Rejection and Condemnation of Sinners, from Men's Cavils and Objections. I shall not now pretend to determine precisely, what Things are, and what Things are not, proper Acts and Exercises of God's holy Sovereignty; but only that God's Sovereignty extends to the following Things.

1. That such is God's sovereign Power and Right, that he is originally under no Obligation to keep Men from sinning; but may in his Providence permit, and leave them to sin. He was not obliged to keep either An­gels or Men from falling—'Tis unreasonable to suppose that God should be obliged, if he makes a rea­sonable Creature capable of knowing his Will, and re­ceiving a Law from him, and being subject to his moral Government, at the same Time to make it impossible for him to sin, or break his Law. For [...] God be ob­liged to this it destroys all Use of any Commands, Laws, Promises, or Threatenings & the very Notion of any moral Government of God over those reasonable Creatures. For to what Purpose would it be, for God to give such and such Laws, and declare his holy Will to a Creature, and annex Promises, and Threatenings, to move him to his Duty, and make him careful to perform it, if the Crea­ture at the same Time has this to think of, that God is obliged to make it impossible for him to break his Laws? How can God's Threatenings move to Care or Watchful­ness, when, at the same Time, God is obliged to render it impossible that he should be exposed to the Threaten­ing? Or, to what Purpose is it for God to give a Law [Page 202] at all? For according to this Supposition, 'tis God, and not the Creature, that is under Law. 'Tis the Lawgi­ver's Care, and not the Subjects, to see that his Law is obeyed; and this Care is what the Lawgiver is absolute­ly obliged [...] If God be obliged never to permit a Creature to fall, there is an End of all divine Laws, or Government▪ [...] Authority [...] God over the Creature; there can be [...] Manner of Use of these Things.

God may permit Sin, tho' the Being of Sin will cer­tainly ensue on that Permission: And so, by Permission, [...] may [...] and order the Event. If there were any such Thing as Chance, or meer Contingence, and the very Notion of it did not carry a gross Absurdity, (as might easily be shown that it does) it would have been very unfit, that God should have left it to meer Chance, whether Man should fall or no [...] ▪ For Chance, if there should be any such Thing, is undesigning and blind. And certainly 'tis more fit that an Event of so great Importance, and that is attended with such an in­finite Train of great Consequences, should be disposed and ordered by infinite Wisdom, than that it should be left to blind Chance.

If it be said that God need not have interposed to render it impossible for Man to sin, and yet not leave it to meer Contingence, or blind Chance, neither; but might have left it with Man's free Will, to determine whether to sin or no: I answer, If God did leave it to Man's free Will, without any Sort of Disposal, or Order­ing in the Case, whence it should be previously certain how that [...]ree Will should determine, then still that first Determination of the Will, must be meerly Contingent or by Chance. It could not have any antecedent Act of the Will to determine it; for I speak now of the very first Act or Motion of the Will, respecting the Affair that may be looked upon as the prime Ground, and highest Source of the Event. To suppose this to be determined by a foregoing Act is a Contradiction. God's [...] this Determination of the Will, by his Permis­sion, [...] at all infringe the liberty of the Creature 'Tis [...] Respect any more inconsistent with Liberty, [Page 203] than meer Chance or Contingence. For if the Deter­mination of the Will, be from blind, undesigning Chance, 'tis no m [...] from the Agent himself, or from the Will it self, than if we suppose, in the Case, a wise, divine Disposal by Permission.

2. It was fit that it should be at the Ordering of the divine Wisdom and good Pleasure, whether every par­ticular Man should stand for himself, or whether the first Father of Mankind, should be appointed as the moral and federal Head, and Representative, of the Rest. If God has not Liberty in this Matter to determine either of these two, as he pleases, it must be because determin­ing that the first Father of Men should represent the Rest, and not that every one should stand for himself, is injurious to Mankind. For if it be not injurious to Man­kind, how is it unjust? But it is not injurious to Man­kind; for there is nothing in the Nature of the Case it self, that makes it better for Mankind, that each Man should stand for himself, than that all should be repre­sented by their common Father; as the least Reflecti­on or Consideration will convince any one. And if there be nothing in the Nature of the Thing, that makes the former better for Mankind than the latter, then it will follow, that Mankind are not hurt in God's choosing and appointing the latter, rather than the former; or which is the same Thing, that it is not injurious to Mankind.

3 When Men are fallen, and become sinful, God by his Sovereignty has a Right to determine about their Redemption as he pleases. He has a Right to deter­mine whether he will redeem any or no. He might, if he had pleased, have left all to perish, or might have redeemed all. Or, he may redeem some, and leave o­thers; and if he doth so, he may take who he pleases, and leave who he pleases. To suppose that all have forfeited his Favour, and deserved to perish, and to sup­pose that he may not leave any one individual of them to perish, implies a Contradiction; because it supposes that such an one has a Claim to God's Favour, and is [Page 204] not justly liable to perish; which is contrary to the Supposition.

'Tis meet that God should order all those Things, according to his own Pleasure. By Reason of his Great­ness and Glory, by which he is infinitely above all, he is worthy to be Sovereign, and that his Pleasure should in all Things take Place: He is worthy that he should make himself his End, and that he should make no­thing but his own Wisdom his Rule in pursuing that End, without asking Leave or Counsel of any, & without giving any Account of any of his Matters.—'Tis fit that he that is absolutely perfect, and infinitely wise, and the Fountain of all Wisdom, should determine every Thing by his own Will, even Things of the greatest Importance, such as the eternal Salvation or Damnation of Sinners. 'Tis meet that he should be thus Sovereign, because he [...]is the first Being, the eternal Being, whence all other Beings are▪ He is the Creator of all Things; and all are absolutely & universally dependent on him; and therefore 'tis meet that he should act as the sovereign Possessor of Heaven and Earth.

APPLICATION.

In the Improvement of this Doctrine, I would first direct my self to Sinners that are afraid of Damnation, in a Use of Conviction.—This may be Matter of Conviction to you, that it would be just and righteous with God eternally to reject and destroy you. This is what you are in Danger of: You that are a Christless Sinner, are a poor condemned Creature: God's Wrath still ab [...]es upon you; and the Sentence of Condemna­tion lies upon you: You are in God's Hands, and 'tis uncertain what he will do with you. You are afraid what will become of you: You are afraid that it will be your Portion to suffer eternal Burnings; and your Fears are not without Grounds; you have Reason to tremble every Moment. But let you be never so much afraid of it, let eternal Damnation be never so dreadful, yet 'tis just: God may nevertheless do it, and be righteous, and [Page 205] holy, and glorious in it. Tho' eternal Damnation be what you can't bear; and how much soever your Heart shrinks at the Thoughts of it, yet God's Justice may be glorious in it. The Dreadfulness of the Thing on your Part, and the Greatness of your Dread of it, don't render it the less righteous on God's Part. If you think otherwise, 'tis a Sign that you don't see your self, that you are not sensible what Sin is, nor how much of it you have been guilty of. Therefore for your Conviction, be directed,

First. To look over your past Life: Inquire at the Mouth of Conscience, and hear what that has to testify concerning it. Consider what [...] you are, what Light you have had, and what Means you have lived under:—And yet how have you behaved your self! What have those many Days and Nights, that you have lived, been fill'd up with? How have those Years, that have rolled over your Heads, one after another been spent? What has the Sun shone upon you for, from Day to Day, while you have improved his Light to serve Satan by it? What has God kept your Breath in your Nostrils for, and given you Meat and Drink, from Day to Day for, that you have spent that Life and Strength that have been supported by them, in opposing God, and Rebellion against him?

How many Sorts of Wickedness have you been guilty of? How manifold have been the Abominations of your Life? What Profaneness and Contempt of God has been exercised by you? How little Regard have you had to the Scriptures, to the Word preached, to Sabbaths, and Sacraments? How profanely have you talked, many of you, about those Things that are holy? After what Manner have many of you kept God's holy Day, not regarding the Holiness of the Time, not caring what you thought of in it. Yea, you have not only spent the Time in worldly, vain, and unprofitable Thoughts, but in immoral Thoughts; pleasing your self with the Reflection on past Acts of Wickedness, and in contriving new Acts. Have not you spent much holy Time, in gratifying your Lusts in your Imaginations; yea not only [Page 206] holy Time, but the very Time of God's publick Wor­ship, when you have appeared in God's more immediate Presence? How have you not only not attended to the Worship, but have in the mean time been feasting your Lusts, and wallowing your self in abominable Unclean­ness! How many Sabbaths have you spent, one after a­nother, in a most wretched Manner! Some of you not only in worldly and wicked Thoughts, but also a very wicked outward Behaviour! When you on Sabbath [...] Days, have got along with your wicked Companions, how has holy Time been treated among you! What Kind of Conversation has there been! Yea, how have some of you by a very indecent Carriage, openly disho­noured and cast Contempt on the sacred Services of God's House, and holy Day! And what you have done some of you alone, what wicked Practices there have been in Secret, even in holy Time, God and your own Consciences know.

And how have you behaved your self in the Time of Family Prayer! And what a Trade have many of you made of absenting your selves from the Worship of the Families you belong to, for the Sake of vain Company! And how have you continued in the Neglect of secret Prayer! therein wilfully living in a known Sin, going a Breast against as plain a Command as any in the Bible! Have you not been one that has cast off Fear, and re­strained Prayer before God?

What wicked Carriage have some of you been guilty of towards your Parents! How far have you been from paying that Honour to them, that God has required! Have you not even harboured Ill-Will, and Malice to­wards them? And when they have displeased you, have wished Evil to them? Yea, and shown your vile Spi­rit in your Behaviour? And 'tis well if you have not mocked them behind their Backs; and like the accur­sed Ham and Canaan derided your Parents Nakedness instead of covering it, and hiding your Eyes from it. Have not some of you often disobeyed your Parents, yea, and refused to be subject to them? Is it not a Wonder of Mercy and Forbearance, that that has not before now [Page 207] been accomplished on you, in Prov. 30. 17. The Eye that mocketh at his Father, and refuseth to obey his Mo­ther, the Ravens of the Valley shall pick it out, and the young Eagles shall eat it.

What Revenge and Malice have you been guilty of towards your Neighbours? How have you indulged this Spirit of the Devil, [...]hating others, and wishing Evil to them, rejoycing when Evil befell them, and grieving at others Prosperity, and lived in such a Way for a long Time!—Have not some of you allowed a passionate furious Spirit, and behaved your selves in your Anger more like wild Beasts, than like Christians?

What Coveteousness has been in many of you? Such has been your inordinate Love of the World, and Care about the Things of it, that it has taken up your Heart; you have allowed no Room for God and Religion; you have minded the World more than your eternal Salva­tion. For the Vanities of the World, you have neglect­ed Reading, Praying, and Meditation: For the Things of the World, you have broken the Sabbath: For the World you have spent a great Deal of your Time in Quarrelling: For the World you have envied, and hated your Neighbour: For the World you have cast God, and Christ, and Heaven behind your Back: For the World you have sold your own Soul: You have as it were drowned your Soul in worldly Cares and Desires: You have been a meer Earth-Worm, that is never in its Element but when grovelling and buried in the Earth.

How much of a Spirit of Pride has appeared in you! which is in a peculiar Manner the Spirit and Condem­nation of the Devil. How have some of you vaunted your selves in your Apparel! Others in their Riches! Others in their Knowlege and Abilities! How has it gauled you to see others above you! How much has it gone against the Grain, for you to give others their due Honour! And how have you shown your Pride by setting up your Wills, and in opposing others, and stir­ring up and promoting Division, and a party Spirit in publick Affairs!

[Page 208] How sensual have you been! Are there not some here, that have debased themselves below the Dignity of humane Nature, by wallowing in sensual Filthiness, as Swine in the Mire, or as filthy Vermine seeding with Delight on rotten Carrion? What Intemperance have some of you been guilty of! How much of your preci­ous Time have you spent away at the Tavern, and in drinking Companies, when you ought to have been at Home seeking God, and your Salvation in your Families and Closets!

And what abominable Lasciviousness have some of you been guilty of! How have you indulged your self, from Day to Day, and from Night to Night, in all Man­ner of unclean Imaginations! Has not your Soul been fill'd with them, till it has become an Hold of soul Spi­rits, and a Cage of every unclean and hateful Bird? What [...]oul mouth'd Persons have some of you been, of­ten in le [...]d and lascivious Talk, and unclean Songs, wherein were Things not fit to be spoken! And such Company, where such Conversation has been carried on has been your Delight.—And what unclean Acts and Practices have you defiled your self with! God and your own Consciences know what abominable Las­civiousness you have practiced in Things not fit to be named, when you have been alone; when you ought to have been reading, or meditating, or on your Knees before God in secret Prayer. And how have you cor­rupted others, as well as polluted your selves! What vile Uncleanness have you Practiced in Company! What Abominations have you been guilty of in the Dark! Such as the Apostle doubtless had Respect to, in Eph. 5. 12. For 'tis a Shame even to speak of those Things, that are done of them in Secret. Some of you have corrupted others, and done what in you lay to undo their Souls; (if you have not actually done it,) and by your vile Practices and Examples, have made Room for Satan, and invited his Presence, and established his Interest, in the Town where you have lived.

[Page 209] What Lying have some of you been guilty of, especial­ly in your Childhood! And have not your Heart and Lips often disagreed, since you came to riper Years? What Fraud, and Deceit, and Unfaithfulness, have many of you Practiced in your Dealings with your Neigh­bours, that you, own Heart is conscious to! if you have not been noted for it by others.

And how have some of you behaved your selves in your Family Relations! How have you neglected your Children's Souls! And not only so, but have corrupted their Minds by your bad Examples; and instead of training them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, have rather brought them up in the Devil's Service!

How have some of you attended that sacred Ordinance of the Lord's Supper, without any Manner of serious Preparation, and in a careless slighty Frame of Spirit, and chiefly to comply with Custom! Have you not ventured to put the sacred Symbols of the Body & Blood of Christ into your Mouth, while at the same Time you lived in Ways of known Sins and intended no other than still to go on in the same wicked Practices? And it may be have sat at the Lord's Table, with Rancour in your Heart against some of your Brethren, that you have sat there with. You have come even to that holy Feast of Love among God's children, with the leaven of Malice and Envy in your Heart; and so have eat and drank Judgment to your self.

What Stupidity and Sattishness has atten [...] your Course of Wickedness! Which has appeared [...]n your Obstinacy under awakening Dispensations of God's Word and Providence. And how have some of you backsliden, after you have set out in Religion, and quenched God's Spirit after he had been striving with you! And what Unsteadiness, and Slothfulness, and great Misimprovement of God's Strivings with you, have you been chargeable with, that have long been the Subject of them!

Now, can you think when you have thus behaved your self, that God is obliged to shew you Mercy? Are [Page 210] you not after all this ashamed to talk of its being hard with God to cast you off? Does it become one that has lived such a Life, to open his Mouth to excuse himself, or object against God's Justice in his Condemnation, or to complain of it as hard in God not to give him convert­ing and pardoning Grace, and make him his Child, and bestow on him eternal Life! Or to talk of his Duties and great Pains in Religion, and such like Things, as if such Performances were worthy to be accepted, and to draw God's Heart to such a Creature! If this has been your Manner, does it not shew how little you have con­sidered your self, and how little a Sense you have had of your own Sinfulness?

Secondly. Be directed to consider, If God should eter­nally reject and destroy you, what an Agreableness, and exact mutual Answerableness, there would be between God's so dealing with you, and your Spirit and Behavi­our. There would not only be an Equality but a Simi­litude. God declares that his Dealings with Men, shall be sutable to their Disposition and Practice. Psalm 18. 25, 26. With the merciful Man, thou wilt shew thy self merciful: With an upright Man, thou wilt shew thy self Upright: With the Pure, thou wilt shew thy self Pure: and with the Froward, thou wilt shew thy self Froward. How much soever you dread Damnation, and are affright­ed and concerned at the Thoughts of it; yet if God should indeed eternally damn you, you would but be met with in your own Way: you would be dealt with exactly according to your own Dealing; God would but measure to you, in the same Measure in which you mete.—Surely 'tis but fair that you should be made to buy in the same Measure in which you [...]ell.

Here I would particularly shew, 1. That if God should eternally destroy you, it would be agreable to your Treatment of God. 2. That it would be agreable to your Treatment of Jesus Christ. 3. That it would be agreable to your Behaviour towards your Neighbours. 4. That it would be according to your own foolish Be­haviour towards your self.

[Page 211] I. If God should forever cast you off, it would be ex­actly agreable to your Treatment of Him. That you may be sensible of this, consider,

1. You never have exercised the least Degree of Love to God; and therefore it would be agreable to your Treatment of [...]m, if he should never express any Love to you. When God converts and saves a Sinner, it is a wonderful and unspeakable Manifestation of divine Love. When a poor lost Soul is brought Home to Christ, and has all his Sins forgiven him, and is made a Child of God, it will take up a whole Eternity to express and declare the Greatness of that Love. And why should God be obliged to express such wonderful Love to you, who never exercised the least Degree of Love to him in all your Life? You never have loved God who is infi­nitely glorious and lovely; and why then is God un­der Obligation to love you, who are all over deformed and loathsome, as a filthy Worm, or rather a hateful Viper? You have no Benevolence in your Heart to­wards God; you never rejoyced in God's Happiness; if he had been miserable, and that had been possible, you would have liked it as well, as if he were happy; you would not have cared how miserable he was, nor mourned for it, any more than you now do for the De­vil's being miserable: And why then, should God be looked upon as obliged to take so much Care for your Happiness, as to do such great Things for it, as he doth for those that are saved? Or why should God be called hard, in Case he should not be careful to save you from Misery? You care not what becomes of God's Glory; you are not di [...]rested how much so ever his Honour seems to suffer in the World: And why should God care any more for your Welfare?—Has it not been so, that if you could but promote your private Interest, and gratify your own Lusts, you cared not how much the Glory of God suffered? And why may not God advance his own Glory, in the Ruin of your Welfare, not caring how much your Interest suffers by it? You never so much as stirr'd one Step, sincerely making the Glory of God your End, or acting from real Respect to him; [Page 212] And why then is it hard, if God don't do such great Things for you, as the changing your Nature, raising you from spiritual Death to Life, conquering the Powers of Darkness for you, translating you out of the Kingdom of Darkness, into the Kingdom of his dear Son, deliver­ing you from eternal Misery, and bestowing eternal Glory upon you? You don't use to be willing to deny your self for God; you never cared to put your self out of your Way for Christ: Whenever any Thing cross or difficult came in your Way, that the Glory of God was concerned in, it has been your Manner to shun it, and Excuse your self from it: You did not care to hurt your self for Christ; that you did not see worthy of it: And why then must it be looked upon such a hard and cruel Thing, if Christ has not been pleased to spill his Blood, and be tormented to Death for such a Sinner.

2. You have slighted, and made light of God; and why then may not God justly slight you? When Sin­ners are sensible in some Measure of their Misery, they are ready to think it hard that God will take no more Notice of them; that he will see them in such a lamen­table distressed Condition, beholding their Burdens and Tears, and seem to slight it, and manifest no Pity to them. Their Souls they think are precious: it would be a dreadful Thing, if they should perish, and burn in Hell for ever. They don't see through it, that God should make so light of their Salva­tion. But then ought they not to consider that as their Souls are precious, so is God's Honour precious? The Honour of the infinite God, the great King of Hea­ven and Earth, is a Thing of as great Importance, (and surely may justly be so esteemed by God,) as the Hap­piness of you a poor little Worm But yet you have slighted that Honour of God, and valued it no more than the Dirt under your Feet. You have been told that such and such Things were contrary to the Will of an holy God, and against his Honour; but you cared not for that. God called upon you, and exhorted you to be more tender of his Honour; but you went on without regarding him. Thus have you slighted God! [Page 213] And yet, is it hard that God should slight you? Are you more honourable than God, that he must be obli­ged to make much of you, how light soever you make of him, and his Glory?

And you have not only slighted God in Time past, but you slight him still. You indeed now make a Pretence and Shew of honouring him, in your Prayers, and At­tendance on other external Duties, & by a sober Coun­tenance, and seeming Devoutness in your Words and Behaviour; but it is all mee [...] Dissembling. That down­cast Look, and seeming Reverence, is not from any Ho­nour you have to God in your Heart; tho' you would have it go so, and would have God take it so. You that have not believed in Christ, have not the least Jot of Honour to God; that Shew of it is meerly forced, and what you are driven to by Fear, like those mentioned in Psalm 66 ▪ 3. Through the Greatness of thy Power, shall thine Enemies submit themselves to thee. In the Original it is, shall lie unto thee; that is, yield feigned Submissi­on, and dissemble Respect and Honour to thee. There is a Rod held over you, that makes you seem to pay such Respect to God. This Religion and Devotion, even the very Appearance of it, would soon be gone, & all vanish a­way, if that were removed. Sometimes it may be you weep in your Prayers, & in your hearing Sermons, and hope God will take Notice of it, and take it for some Honour; but he sees it to be all Hypocrisy. You weep for your self; you are afraid of Hell; and do you think that that is worthy that God should take much Notice of you, because you can cry when you are in Danger of being damned; when at the same Time you indeed care no­thing for God's Honour?

Seeing you thus disregard so great a God, is it a hei­nous Thing for God to slight you, a little, wretched, despicable Creature; a Worm, a meer Nothing, and less than Nothing; a vile In [...]ect, that has risen up in Con­tempt against the Majesty of Heaven and Earth?

3. Why should God be looked upon obliged to be­stow Salvation upon you, when you have been so un­grateful for the Mercies he has bestowed upon you al­ready? [Page 214] God has tried you with a great Deal of Kind­ness, and he never has sincerely been thanked by you for any of it. God has watched over you, and preserved you, and provided for you, and followed you with Mer­cy all your Days; [...] yet you have continued sinning against him. He [...] given you Food and Raiment, but you have improved both in the Service of Sin. He has preserved you while you slept; but when you arose, it was to return to the old Trade of sinning. God not­withstanding this Ingratitude, has still continued his Mer­cy; but his Kindness has never won your Heart, or brought you to a more grateful Behaviour towards him. It may be you have received many remarkable Mercies, Recoveries from Sickness, or Preservations of your Life, when at one Time and another exposed by Accidents, when if you had died, you would have gone directly to Hell: But you never had any true Thankfulness for any of these Mercies. God has kept you out of Hell, and continued your Day of Grace, and the Offers of Salvation, this so long a Time; and that, it may be, while you did not regard your own Salvation so much as to go in Secret and ask God for it: And now God has greatly added to his Mercy to you, by giving you the Strivings of his Spirit, whereby you have a most pre­cious Opportunity for your Salvation in your Hands. But what Thanks has God received for it? What Kind of Returns have you made for all this Kindness? As God has multiplied Mercies, so have you multiplied Provocations.

And yet now are you ready to quarrel for Mercy, and to find Fault with God, not only that he don't bestow more Mercy, but to contend with him, because he don't bestow infinite Mercy upon you, Heaven with all it contains, and even Himself, for your eternal Portion? What Ideas have you of your self, that you think God is obliged to do so much for you, though you treat him never so ungratefully for his Kindness that you have been followed with all the Days of your Life?

4. You have voluntarily chosen to be with Satan in his Enmity and Opposition to God, how justly therefore [Page 215] might you be with him in his Punishment! You did not chuse to be on God's Side, but rather chose to side with the Devil, and have obstinately continued in it, against God's often repeated Calls and Counsels. You have chosen rather to hearken to Satan than to God, and would be with him in his Work: You have given your self up to him, to be subject to his Power and Go­vernment, in Opposition to God. How justly therefore may God also give you up to him, and leave you in his Power, to accomplish your Ruin? Seeing you have yielded your self to his Will, to do as he would have you, surely God may leave you in his Hands to execute his Will upon you. If Men will be with God's Ene­my, and on his Side, why is God obliged to redeem them out of his Hands, when they have done his Work? Doubtless you would be glad to serve the Devil, and be God's Enemy while you live, and then to have God your Friend, and to deliver you from the Devil, when you come to die: But will God be unjust if he deals otherwise by you? No surely! It will be altogether and perfectly just, that you should have your Portion with him, with whom you have chosen your Work; and that you should be in his Possession to whose Dominion you have yielded your self; and if you cry to God for Deliverance, he may most justly give you that Answer, Judges 10. 14. Go to the Gods which ye have chosen.

5. Consider how often you have refused to hear God's Calls to you, and how just it would therefore be, if he should refuse to hear you when you call upon him. You are ready, it may be, to complain that you have of­ten prayed, and earnestly begg'd of God to shew you Mercy, and yet have no Answer of Prayer: One says, I have been constant in Prayer for so many Years, and God has not heard me. Another says, I ha [...] done what I can; I have prayed as earnestly as I am able; I don't see how I can do more; and it will [...] hard if after all I am denied. But do you consider how often God has called, and you have denied him? God has called earnestly and for a long Time; he has call'd, and call'd again, in his Word, and in his Providence, and you have refused. [Page 216] You was not uneasy for Fear you should not show Re­gard enough to his Calls. You let him call as loud, and as long as he would; for your Part, you had no Leisure to attend to what he said; you had other Busi­ness to mind; you had these and those Lusts to gratify and please, and worldly Concerns to attend; you could not afford to stand considering of what God had to say to you [...] When the Ministers of Christ that he sent on that Errand, have stood and pleaded with you, in his Name, Sabbath after Sabbath, and have even spent their Strength in it, how little was you moved by it! It did not alter you, but you went on still as you used to do; when you went away, you returned again to your Sins, to your Lasciviousness, to your vain Mirth, to your Co­vetousness, to your Intemperance, and that has been the Language of your Heart and Practice. Exod. 5. 2. Who is the Lord, that I should obey his Voice? Was it no Crime for you to refuse to hear when God call'd? And yet is it now very hard that God don't hear your ear­nest Calls, and that though your calling on God be not from any Respect to him, but meerly from Self-Love? The Devil would beg as earnestly as you, if he had any Hope to get Salvation by it, and a thousand Times as earnestly, and yet be as much of a Devil as he is now. Are your Calls more worthy to be heard than God's? Or is God more obliged to regard what you say to him, than you to regard his Commands, Counsels and Invita­tions to you? What can have more Justice in it than that, in Prov. 1. 24, &c. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my Hand, and no Man regar­ded; but ye have set at nought all my Counsel, and would none of my Reproof: I will laugh at your Calamity, and mock when your Fear cometh; when your Fear cometh as Desolation, and your Destruction cometh as a Whirlwind; when Distress and Anguish cometh upon you: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.

6. Have you not taken Encouragement to sin against God, on that very Presumption, that God would show you Mercy when you sought it? And may not God justly [Page 217] refuse you that Mercy that you have so presumed upon? That has been what you have flattered your self with, and that which has made you bold to disobey God, viz. That though you did so, yet God would shew you Mercy when you cried earnestly to him for it: How righteous therefore would it be in God, to disappoint such a wicked Presumption? It was upon that very Hope, that you dared to affront the Majesty of Heaven, so dreadfully as you have done; and can you now be so sottish as to think that God is obliged not to frustrate that Hope?

When a Sinner takes Encouragement to neglect that secret Prayer that God has commanded, and to gratify his Lusts, and to live a carnal vain Life, and thwart God, and run upon him, and contemn him to his Face, thinking with himself, ‘If I do so, God won't damn me; he is a merciful God, and therefore when I seek his Mercy he will bestow it upon me’; must God be accounted hard because he won't do according to such a Sinner's Presumption? Can't he be excused from showing such a Sinner Mercy when he is pleased to seek it, without incurring the Charge of being unjust? If this be the Case, God has no Liberty to vindicate his own Honour and Majesty; but must lay himself open to all Manner of Affronts, and yield himself up to the Abuses of vile Men, and let them disobey, despise, and dishonour him, as much as they will; and when they have done, his Mercy and pardoning Grace, must not be in his own Power, and at his own Disposal, but he must be obliged to dispense it at their Call: He must take these bold and vile Contemners of his Majesty, when it [...]utes them to ask it, and must forgive all their Sins, and not only so, but must adopt them into his Family, and make them his Children, and bestow eter­nal Glory upon them—What mean, low, and strange Thoughts, have such Men of God, as think thus of him?

Consider that you have injured God the more, and have been the worse Enemy to him, for his being a merciful God. So have you treated that Attribute of [Page 218] God's Mercy! How just is it therefore, that you never should have any Benefit of that Attribute!

There is something peculiarly heinous in sinning a­gainst the Mercy of God more than other Attributes. There is such base and horrid Ingratitude, in being the worse to God because he is a Being of infinite Good­ness and Grace, that it above all Things renders Wic­kedness vile and detestable. This ought to win us, and engage us to serve God better; but instead of that, to sin against him the more, has something inexpressibly bad in it, and does in a peculiar Manner enhance Guilt, and incense Wrath; as seems to be intimated in Rom. 2 4, 5 Or despisest thou the Riches of his Goodness, and Forbearance, and Long suffering▪ not knowing that the Goodness of God leadeth thee to Repentance: But after thy Hardness and impenitent Heart, treasurest up unto thy self [...] against the Day of Wrath, and Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God.

The greater the Mercy of God is, the more should you be engaged to love him, and live to his Glory. But it has been contrarywise with you; the Consideration of the Mercies of God being so exceeding great, is the Thing where with you have encouraged your self in Sin. You have heard that the Mercy of God was without Bounds, that it was sufficient to pardon the greatest Sin­ner, and you have upon that very Account, ventured to be a very great Sinner: Though it was very offensive to God, though you heard that God infinitely hated Sin, and that such Practices as you went on in were ex­ceeding contrary to his Nature, Will, and Glory, yet that did not make you uneasy; you heard that he was a very merciful God, and had Grace enough to pardon you & so cared not how offensive your Sins were to him. How long have some of you gone on in Sin, and what great Sins have some of you been guilty of, on that Presumption! Your own Conscience can give Testi­mony to it, that this has made you refuse God's Calls, and has made you Regardless of his repeated Commands. Now, how righteous would it be if God should swear in his Wrath, that you should never be the better for his being infinitely merciful!

[Page 219] Your Ingratitude has been the greater, that you have not only abused the Attribute of God's Mercy, taking Encouragement from it to continue in Sin, but you have thus abused this Mercy, under that very Notion of its being exercised towards you, in a Supposition that God would exercise infinite Mercy to you in particular; which Consideration should have especially endeared God to you.—You have taken Encouragement to sin the more, from that Consideration that Christ came into the World and died to save Sinners; That Thanks has Christ had from you, for enduring such a tormenting Death for his Enemies! Now, how justly might it be so, that God should refuse that you should ever be the better for his Son's laying down his Life!—It was because of these Things that you put off seeking Salva­tion: You would take the Pleasures of Sin still longer, hardening your self with that, that Mercy was infinite, and it would not be too late, if you sought afterwards; Now, how justly may God disappoint you in this, and order it so that it shall be too late!

7. How have some of you risen up against God, and in the Frame of your Minds opposed him in his sove­reign Dispensations! And how justly upon that Account, might God oppose you, and set himself against you! You never yet would submit to God; never could willing­ly comply with it that God should have Dominion over the World, and that he should govern it for his own Glory, according to his own Wisdom. You a poor Worm, a potsherd, a broken Piece of an earthen Vessel, have da [...]ed to find Fault, and quarrel with God. Isai. 45. 9. Wo to him that strives with his Maker. Let the Potsherd strive with the Potsherds of the Earth: Shall the Clay say to him that fashioneth it, what makest thou? But yet you have venture [...] to do it. Rom. 9. 20. Who are thou, O Man, that repliest against God? But yet you have thought you was big enough; You have taken upon you to call God to an Account, why he does thus and thus; you have said to Jehovah, What dost thou?

If you have been restrain'd by Fear from openly vent­ing your Opposition, and Enmity of Heart against God's [Page 220] Government, yet it has been in you; you have not been quiet in the Frame of your Mind; you have had the Heart of a Viper within, and have been ready to spit Venom at God: And 'tis well if sometimes you have not actually done it, by tolerating blasphemous Thoughts, and malignant Risings of Heart against him; yea, and the Frame of your Heart in some Measure ap­peared, in an impatient and fretful Behaviour.

Now, seeing you have thus opposed God, how just is it that God should oppose you! Or, is it because you are so much better, and so much greater than God, that 'tis a Crime for God to make that Opposition against you that you do against him? Do you think you ought to appropriate the Liberty of making Opposition to your self, as being your Prerogative, so that you may be an Enemy to God, but God must by no Means be an Enemy to you, but must be looked upon under Obligation never the less to help you and save you by his Blood, and be­stow his best Blessings upon you?

Consider how in the Frame of your Mind, you have thwarted God, in those very Exercises of Mercy towards others, that you are seeking for your self. God's exer­cising his infinite Grace towards your Neighbours, has put you into an ill Frame, and it may be set you into a meer Tumult of Mind: How justly therefore may God refuse ever to exercise that Mercy towards you! Have you not thus opposed God's shewing Mercy to others, even at the very Time when you pretended to be ear­nest with God for Pity and Help for your self? Yea, and while you was endeavouring to get some Thing wherewith to recommend your self to God? And will you look to God still with a Challenge of Mercy, and contend with him for it notwithstanding? Can you who have such an Heart, and have thus behaved your self, come to God for any other than meer sovereign Mercy?

II. If you should be for ever cast off by God, it would be agreable to your Treatment of Jesus Christ. It would have been just with God if he had cast you off for e­ver, without ever making you the Offer of a Saviour. [Page 221] But God hath not done that; but has provided a Savi­our for Sinners, and offered him to you, even his own Son Jesus Christ; who is the only Saviour of Men; all that be not forever cast off are saved by him: God offers Men Salvation through him,▪ and has promised us that if we come to him we shall not be cast off▪ But you have treated, and still treat this Saviour after such a Manner, that if you should be eternally cast off by God, it would be most agreable to your Behaviour towards him; which appears by this, viz.

That you reject Christ, and won't have him for your Saviour.

If God offers you a Saviour from deserved Punish­ment, and you will not receive him, then surely 'tis just that you should go without a Saviour. Or, is God ob­liged, because you don't like this Saviour, to provide you another? If when he has given an infinitely ho­nourable and glorious Person, even his only begotten Son, to be a Sacrifice for Sin, in the Fire of his Wrath, and so provided Salvation, and this Saviour is offered to you, you be not suited in him, and refuse to accept of him, is God therefore unjust if he don't save you? Is he obli­ged to save you in a Way of your own chusing, because you don't like the Way of his chusing? Or will you charge Christ with Injustice because he don't become your Saviour, when at the same Time you won't have him, when he offers himself to you, and beseeches you to accept of him as your Saviour?

I am sensible that by this Time, many Persons are ready to open their Mouths in Objection against this: I [...] all should speak what they now think, we should hear a Murmuring all over the Meeting-House, and one and another would say, ‘I can't see how this can be that I be not willing that Christ should be my Saviour, when I would give all the World that he was my Saviour: How is it Possible that I should not be willing to have Christ for my Saviour, when this is what I am seeking after, and praying for, and striving for, as for my Life?’

[Page 222] Here therefore I would endeavour to convince you that you are under a gross Mistake in this Matter. And 1. I would endeavour to shew the Weakness of the Grounds of your Mistake. And, 2. To demonstrate to you, that you have rejected, and do wilfully reject Jesus Christ.

1. That you may see the Weakness of the Grounds of your Mistake, consider,

1. There is a great Deal of Difference between a Willingness not to be damned, and a being willing to receive Christ for your Saviour. You have the former; there is no doubt to be made of that; no Body supposes that you love Misery so well, as to chuse an Eternity of it: And so doubtless you are willing to be saved from eternal Misery. But that is a very different Thing from being willing to come to Christ: Persons very com­monly mistake the one for the other, but they are quite two Things: You may love the Deliverance, but hate the Deliverer. You tell of a Willingness; but consider what is the Object of that Willingness: It don't res­pect Christ; the Way of Salvation by him is not at all the Object of it; but 'tis wholly terminated on your Escape from Misery: The Inclination of your Will goes no further than self, it never reaches Christ. You are willing not to be miserable; that is you love your self; and there your [...] Choice terminates: And 'tis but a vain Pretence, and Delusion, to say or think that you are willing to accept of Christ.

2. There is certainly a great Deal of Difference be­tween a forced Compliance, and a free Willingness. Force and Freedom can't consist together. Now that Willingness that you tell of, whereby you think you are willing to have Christ for a Saviour, is meerly a forced Thing. Your Heart does not go out after Christ of it self; but you are forced and driven to seek an In­terest in him Christ has no Share at all in your Heart; there is no Manner of closing of the Heart with him. This forced Compliance is not what Christ seeks of you; [...] seeks a free and willing Acceptance, Psalm 110. 3. [Page 223] Thy People shall be willing in the Day of thy Power. He seeks not that you should receive him against your Will, but with a free Will: He seeks Entertainment in your Heart and Choice.— And,

If you refuse thus to receive Christ, how just is it that Christ should refuse to receive you! How reasonable are Christ's Terms, who offers to save all those that wil­lingly, or with a good Will, accept of him for their Savi­our! Who can rationally expect that Christ should force himself upon any Man, to be his Saviour? Or what can be looked for more reasonable, than that all that would be saved by Christ, should heartily and free­ly entertain him? And surely it would be very disho­nourable for Christ to offer himself upon lower Terms.

But I would now proceed,

2. To shew that 'tis really so that you are not willing to have Christ for a Saviour. To convince you of it, consider,

1. How it is possible that you should be willing to accept of Christ as a Saviour from the Desert of a Punish­ment, that you are not sensible you have deserved. If you are truly willing to accept of Christ as a Saviour, it must be as a Sacrifice to make Atonement for your Guilt: Christ came into the World on this Errand, to offer himself as an Atonement, to answer for our Desert of Punishment. But how is it possible that you should be willing to accept of Christ, as an Atone­ment for that Guilt that you be not sensible that you have? How can you be willing to have Christ for a Saviour from a Desert of Hell, if you be not sensi­ble that you have a Desert of Hell? If you have not really deserved everlasting Burnings in Hell, then the very Offer of an Atonement for such a Desert is an Im­position upon you. If you have no such Guilt upon you, then the very Offer of a Satisfaction for that Guilt is an Injury, because it implies in it a Charge of Guilt that you are free from. Now therefore 'tis impossible that a Man that is not convinced of his Guilt, can be willing to accept of an Offer; because he can't be will­ing to accept the Charge that the Offer implies: that [Page 224] he looks upon as injurious. A Man that is not convinced that he has deserved so dreadful a Punishment, can't willingly submit to be charged with it; if he thinks he is willing, it is but a meer forced, feigned Business; be­cause in his Heart he looks upon himself greatly injured: And therefore he can't freely accept of Christ, under that Notion, of a Saviour from that Guilt, and from the Desert of such a Punishment; for such an Acceptance is an implicit owning that he does deserve such a Pu­nishment.

I don't say, but that Men may be willing to be saved from an undeserved Punishment; they may rather not suffer it than suffer it: But a Man can't be willing to ac­cept one at God's Hands, under the Notion of a Saviour from a Punishment deserved from him, that he thinks he has not deserved; 'tis impossible that any one should freely allow a Saviour under that Notion. Such an one can't like the Way of Salvation by Christ; for if he thinks he has not deserved Hell, then he will think that Freedom from Hell is a Debt; and therefore can't willingly and heartily receive it as a free Gift.—If a King should condemn a Man to some exceeding torment­ing Death, which the condemned Person thought him­self not deserving off, but looked upon the Sentence un­just and cruel, and the King, when the Time of Execu­tion drew nigh, should offer him his Pardon, under the Notion of a very great Act of Grace and Clemency, the condemned Person never could willingly and hear­tily allow it under that Notion, because he judged himself unjustly condemned.

Now by this it is evident that you are not willing to accept of Christ as your Saviour; because you never yet had such a Sense of your own Sinfulness, and such a Conviction of your great Guilt in God's Sight, as to be indeed convinced that you lay justly condemned to the Punishment of Hell. You never was convinced that you had forfeited all Favour, and was in God's Hands, and at his sovereign and arbitrary Disposal, to be either destroyed or saved, just as he pleased. You never yet was convinced of the Sovereignty of God. Hence are [Page 225] there so many Objections arising against the Justice of your Punishment, from original Sin, and from God's De­crees, from Mercy shown to others, and the like.

2. That you be not sincerely willing to accept of Christ as your Saviour, appears by this, That you never have been convinced that he is sufficient for the Work; of your Salvation. You never had a Sight or Sense of any such Excellency or Worthiness in Christ, as should give such great Value to his Blood and his Mediation with God, as that it was sufficient to be accepted for such exceeding guilty Creatures, & those that have so provoked God, and exposed themselves to such amazing Wrath. A saying it is so, and a customary yielding & allowing it to be as others say, is a very different Thing from being really convinced of it, and a being made sensible of it in your own Heart. The Sufficiency of Christ depends upon, or rather consists in his Excellency. It is because he is so excellent a Person, that his Blood is of sufficient Va­lue to atone for Sin, and 'tis hence that his Obedience is so worthy in God's Sight; 'tis also hence that his In­tercession is so prevalent; and therefore those that never had any spiritual Sight or Sense of Christ's Excellency, can't be sensible of his Sufficiency.

And that Sinners be not convinced that Christ is suffi­cient for the Work he has undertaken, appears most manifestly when they are under great Convictions of their Sin, and Danger of God's Wrath. Though it may be before they thought they could allow Christ to be suffi­cient, (for it is easy to allow any one to be sufficient for our Defence, at a Time when we see no Danger,) yet when they come to be sensible of their Guilt, and God's Wrath, what discouraging Thoughts do they entertain! How are they ready to draw towards Despair, as if there no Hope or Help for such wicked Creatures as they! The Reason is, They have no Apprehension or Sense of any other Way that God's Majesty can be vindicated▪ but only in their Misery: To tell them of the Blood of Christ, signifies nothing, it don't relieve their sinking despairing Hearts. This makes it most evident that [Page 226] they are not convinced that Christ is sufficient to be their Mediator.

And as long as they are unconvinced of this, 'tis im­possible they should be willing to accept of him as their Mediator and Saviour. A Man in distressing Fear won't willingly betake himself to a Fort that he judges not sufficient to defend him from the Enemy: A Man won't willingly venture out into the Ocean, in a Ship that he suspects is leaky, and will sink before he gets through his Voyage.

3. 'Tis evident that you are not willing to have Christ son your Saviour, because you have so mean an Opinion of him, that you durst not trust his Faithful­ness. One that undertakes to be the Saviour of Souls had need be faithful; for if he fails in such a Trust, how great is the Loss! But you are not convinced of Christ's Faithfulness; as is evident, because at such Times as when you are in a considerable Measure sensible of your Guilt and God's Anger, you can't be convinced that Christ is willing to accept of you, or that he stands ready to receive you if you should come to him, though Christ so much invites you to come to him, and has so fully declared that he won't reject you, if you do come; as particularly, John 6▪ 37. He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast cut. Now, there is no Man can be hearti­ly willing to trust his eternal Welfare in the Hands of an unfaithful Person, or one whose Faithfulness he suspects.

4. You are not willing to be saved in that Way by Christ, as is evident, because you are not willing that your own Goodness should be set at nought. In the Way of Salvation by Christ Men's own Goodness is wholly set at nought, there is no Account at all made of it. Now you can't be willing to be saved in a Way wherein your own Goodness is set at nought, as is evi­dent by that, that you make much of it your self. You make much of your Prayers and Pains in Religion, and are often thinking of them; how considerable▪ do they appear to you, when you look back upon them! And how much are some of you in thinking how much more [Page 227] you have done than some others, and in expecting some Respect or Regard that God should manifest to what you do? Now, if you make so much of what you do your self, 'tis impossible that you should be freely wil­ling that God should make nothing of it. As we may see in other Things; if a Man is proud of a great Es­tate, or if he values himself much upon his honourable Office, or his great Abilities, 'tis impossible that he should like it, and heartily approve of it, that others should make light of these Things, and despise them.

Seeing therefore that 'tis so evident that you refuse to accept of Christ as your Saviour, Why is Christ to be blamed that he don't save you? Christ has offered himself to you to be your Saviour in Time past, and he continues offering himself still, and you continue to re­ject him, and yet complain that he don't save you.—So strangely unreasonable, and inconsistent with them­selves, are Gospel Sinners!

But [...]xpect that there are many of you, that in your Hearts still object; your Mouths be not stopp'd.—Such an Objection as this, is probably now in the Hearts of many here present.

Object. If it be so, that I am not willing to have Christ for my Saviour, yet I can't make my self willing.

But I would give an Answer to this Objection, by laying down two Things, that must be acknowleged to be exceeding evident.

1 'Tis no Excuse that you can't receive Christ of your self, unless you would if you could. This is so evident of it self, that it scarce needs any Proof. Certainly if Persons would not if they could, it is just the same Thing as to the Blame that lies upon them, whether they can or cannot. If you were willing, and then found that you could not, your being unable would alter the Case, and might be some Excuse; because then the Defect would not be in your Will, but only in your Ability: But as long as you will not, it is no Matter what the Ability is, whether you have Ability or no Ability.

[Page 228] If you be not willing to accept of Christ, it will fol­low that you have no sincere Willingness to be willing; because the Will always necessarily approves of, and rests in its own Acts. To suppose the Contrary would be to suppos [...] a Contradiction; it would be to suppose that a Man's Will is contrary to it self, or that he wills contrary to what he himself wills. So that as you are not willing to come to Christ, and can't make your self willing, so you have no sincere Desire to be willing; and therefore may most justly perish without a Saviour. There is no Excuse at all for you; for say what you will about your Inability, the Seat of your Blame lies in your perverse Will, that is an Enemy to the Saviour. 'Tis in vain for you to tell of your Want of Power, as long as your Will is found defective. If a Man should hate you, and devour you, and exalt himself, and smite you in the Face, and tell you that he did it volunta­rily, and because he had a Mind to, but only should tell you at the same Time, that he hated you so much that he could not help chusing and willing so to do, would you take it the more patiently for that? Would not your Indignation be rather stirr'd up the more?

2. If you would be willing if you could, that is no Excuse, unless your Willingness to be willing be sincere. That which is hypocritical, and don't come from the Heart, but is meerly forced, ought wholly to be set a­side, as worthy of no Consideration, and that because common Sense teaches that that which is not hearty but hypocritical is indeed nothing, being only a Shew of what is not; but that which is good for nothing, ought to go for nothing. But if you set aside all that is not free, & call nothing a Willingness but a free hearty Willingness, then see how the Case stands, & whether or no you have not lost all your Excuse for standing out against the Calls of the Gospel You say you would make your self willing to accept if you could; but 'tis not from any good Princi­ple that you are willing for that; 'tis not from any free Inclination, or true Respect to Christ, or any Love to your Duty, or any Spirit of Obedience, or from the influence of any Manner of real Respect, or Tendency [Page 229] in your Heart, towards any Thing that is good, or from any other Principle than such as is in the Hearts of De­vils, and would make them have the same Sort of Wil­lingness in the same Circumstances. It is therefore evident that there can be no Goodness in that woulding to be willing to come to Christ: And that which has no Goodness, can't be an Excuse for any Badness. If there be no good in it, then it signifies nothing & weighs nothing, when put into the Scales to counterbalance that which is bad.

Sinners therefore spend their Time in foolish arguing and objecting, making much of that which is good for nothing, making those Excuses that be not worth offer­ing.—'Tis in vain to keep making Objections: You stand justly condemned: The Blame lies all at your Door: Thrust it off from you as often as you will, it will return upon you: Sew Fig leaves as long as you will, your Nakedness will appear: You continue wil­fully and wickedly rejecting Jesus Christ, and won't have him for your Saviour, and therefore 'tis sottish Mad­ness in you to charge Christ with Injustice that he don't save you.

Here is the Sin of Unbelief! Thus the Guilt of that great Sin lies upon you! If you never had thus treated a Saviour, you might most justly have been damned to all Eternity: It would but be exactly agreable to your Treatment of God. But besides this, when God not­withstanding, has offered you his own dear Son to save you from this endless Misery you had deserved, and not only so, but to make you happy eternally in the Enjoy­ment of himself, you refused him, and would not have him for your Saviour, and still refuse to comply with the Offers of the Gospel; what can render any Person more inexcuseable? If you should now perish for ever, what can you have to say?

Hereby the Justice of God in your Destruction ap­pears in two Respects,

1. It is more abundantly manifest that it is just that you should be destroyed. Justice never appears so conspi­cuous as it does after refused and abused Mercy. Justice [Page 230] in Damnation appears abundantly the more clear and bright, after a wilful Rejection of offered Salvation. What can an offended Prince do more than freely offer Pardon to a condemned Male factor? And if he refuses to accept of it, will any one say that his Execution is unjust?

2. God's Justice will appear in your greater Destruc­tion. Besides the Guilt that you would have had if a Saviour never had been offered, you bring that great additional Guilt upon you, of most ungratefully refusing offered Deliverance. What more base and vile Treat­ment of God can there be, than for you, when justly con­demned to eternal Misery, and ready to be executed, & God graciously sends his own Son, who comes & knocks at your Door with a Pardon in his Hand, and not only a Pardon, but a Deed of eternal Glory; I say, what can be worse, then for you out of Dislike, and Enmity against God, and his Son, to refuse to accept those Benefits at his Hands! How justly may the Anger of God be greatly incensed and increased by it! When a Sinner thus un­gratefully rejects Mercy, his last Error is worse than the first; this is more heinous than all his former Re­bellion, and may justly bring down more fearful Wrath upon him.

The Heinousness of this Sin of rejecting a Saviour especially appears in two Things,

1. The Greatness of the Benefits offered; which ap­pears in the Greatness of the Deliverance, which is from inexpressible Degrees of Corruption and Wickedness of Heart and Life, the least Degree of which is infinitely Evil; and from Misery that is everlasting; and in the Greatness and Glory of the Inheritance purchased and offered, Heb. 2. 3. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation?

2. The Wonderfulness of the Way in which these Benefits are procured and offered. That God should lay Help on his own Son, when our Case was so deplo­rable that Help could be had in no meer Creature; and that He should undertake for us, and should come into the World, and take upon him our Nature, and should [Page 231] not only appear in a low State of Life, but should die such a Death, and endure such Torments and Contempt for Sinners while Enemies, How wonderful is it! And what Tongue or Pen can set forth the Greatness of the Ingratitude, Baseness and Perverseness that there is in it, when a perishing Sinner that is in the most extreme Necessity of Salvation, rejects it, after it is procured in such a Way as this! That so glorious a Person should be thus treated, and that when he comes on so gracious an Errand! That he should stand so long offering him­self, and calling and inviting, as he has done to many of you, and all to no Purpose, but all the while be set at nought!—Surely you might justly be cast into Hell without one more Offer of a Saviour! Yea, and thrust down into the lowest Hell! Herein you have exceeded the very Devils; for they never rejected the Offers of such glorious Mercy; no, nor of any Mercy at all. This will be the distinguishing Condemnation of Gospel Sin­ners, John 3. 18. He that hath not believed is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.

That outward Smoothness of your Carriage towards Christ, that Appearance of Respect to Him in your Looks, your Speeches, and Gestures, don't argue but that you set him at nought in your Heart. There may be much of these outward Shews of Respect, and yet you be like Judas that betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss; and like those Mockers that bowed the Knee be­fore him, and at the same Time spit in his Face.

III. If God should for ever cast you off and destroy you, it would be agreable to your Treatment of others: It would be no other than what would be exactly ans­werable to your Behaviour towards your Fellow Crea­tures, that have the same humane [...], and are natu­rally in the [...]ame Circumstances with you, and th [...]t you ought to love as your self. And that appears especially in two Things.

1. You have many of you been opposite in your Spi­rit to the Salvation of others. There are several Ways [Page 232] that natural Men manifest a Spirit of Opposition against the Salvation of others Souls It sometimes appears by a Fear that their Companions, Acquaintance, and Equals will obtain Mercy, and so become unspeakably happier than they. It is sometimes manifested by an Uneasiness at the News of others having hopefully obtained. It appears when Persons envy others for it, and dislike them the more, and disrelish their Talk, and avoid their Company, and can't bear to hear their religious Dis­course, and especially to receive Warnings and Counsels from them. And it oftentimes appears by their Back­wardness to entertain charitable Thoughts of them, and their being difficultly brought to believe that it is real­ly so, that they have obtained Mercy, and a Forwardness to listen to any Thing that seems to contradict it. The Devil hated to own Job's Sincerity, Job 1. 7, &c. And Chap. 2. Verses 3, 4, 5. There appears very often much of this Spirit of the Devil in natural Men. Sometimes they are ready to make a Ridicule of others pretended Godliness: They speak of the Ground of others Hopes, as the Enemies of the Jews did of the Wall that they built. Neh. 4. 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, that which they build, if a Fox go up, he shall even break down their Stone Wall. There are many that join with Sanballat and Tobiah, and are of the same Spirit with them. There always was, and al­ways will be, an Enmity betwixt the Seed of the Ser­pent, and the Seed of the Woman. It appeared in Cain who hated his Brother, because he was more acceptable to God than himself; and it appears still in these Times, and in this Place. There are many that are like the elder Brother, who could not bear it that the Prodigal when he returned should be received with such Joy and good Entertainment, and was put into a Fret by it, both against his Brother that had returned, and his Father that made him so welcome. Luke 15.

Thus have many of you been opposite to the Salva­tion of others, that stand [...] Necessity of it [...] you [...] You have been against [...] being delivered from everlasting Misery, that can bear it no better than you; [Page 233] not because their Salvation would do you any Hurt, o [...] their Damnation help you, any otherwise than as it would gratify that vile Spirit that is so much like the Spirit of the Devil, who, because he is miserable himself, is unwilling that others should be happy. How just therefore is it that God should be opposite to your Sal­vation! If you have so little Love or Mercy in you, as to begrutch your Neighbours Salvation, whom you have no cause to hate, but the Law of God and Nature requires you to love, why is God bound to exercise such infinite Love and Mercy to you, as to save you at the Price of his own Blood, that he is no Way bound to love, but that have deserved his Hatred a thousand & a thousand Times? You are not willing that others should be converted, that have behaved themselves injuriously towards you; and yet will you count it hard if God don't bestow converting Grace upon you, that have de­served ten thousand Times as ill of God, as ever any of your Neighbours have of you? You are opposite to God's shewing Mercy to these and those, that you think have been vicious Persons, and are very unworthy of such Mercy.—Is others Unworthiness a just Reason why God should not bestow Mercy on them? And yet will God be hard, if notwithstanding all your Unworthiness, & the Abo­minableness of your Spirit & Practice in his Sight, he don't show you Mercy? You would have God bestow liberal­ly on you, and upbraid not; but yet when he shews Mercy to others, you are ready to upbraid, as soon as you hear of it; you immediately are thinking with your self how ill they have behaved themselves; and it may be your Mouths on this Occasion are open, enu­merating and aggravating the Sins they have been guil­ty of.—You would have God bury all your Faults, and wholly blot out all your Transgressions; but yet if he bestows Mercy on others, it may be you will take that Occasion to [...]ake up all their old Faults that you can think of.—You don't much reflect on & condemn your self, for your Baseness & unjust Spirit towards others, in your Opposi­tion to their Salvation; you don't quarrel with yourself, and condemn your self for this; but yet you in your Heart [Page 234] will quarrel with God, and condemn him, and fret at his Dispensations, because you think he seems opposite to shewing Mercy to you.—One would think that the Consideration of these Things should for ever stop your Mouth.

2. Consider how you have promoted others Damnation. Many of you by the bad Examples you have set, by cor­rupting the Minds of others, by your sinful Conversation, by leading them into Sin, or strengthening them in Sin, and by the Mischief that you have done in humane So­ciety other Ways that might be mentioned, have been guilty of those Things that have tended to others Dam­nation. You have heretofore appeared on the Side of Sin and Satan, and have behaved your self so as much to strengthen their Interest, & have been many Ways ac­cessary to others Sins, have harden'd others Hearts, and thereby have done what has tended to the Ruin of their Souls.

And without Doubt there are those here present, that have been in a great Measure the Means of others Dam­nation. Though it is true that it is determined of God who he will save, and who not, from all Eternity, yet one Man may really be a Means of others Damnation, as well as Salvation. Christ charges the Scribes and Pharisees with this, Matth. 23. 13. Ye shut up the King­dom of Heaven against Men; for ye neither go in your selves, neither suffer ye them that are entring to go in. We have no Reason to think that this Congregation has none in it, that are cursed from Day to Day, by poor Souls that are roaring out in Hell, whose Damnation they have been a Means of, or have greatly contribu­ted to.

There are many that contribute to their own Chil­drens Damnation, by neglecting their Education and setting them bad Examples, and bringing them up in sinful Ways: They take some Care of their Bodies, but take but little Care of their poor Souls; they provide for them Bread to eat, but deny them the Bread of Life that their famishing Souls stand in Need of [...] And are there no such Parents here that have thus treated their [Page 235] Children? If their Children be not gone to Hell, 'tis no thank to them; 'tis not because they have not done what has tended to their Destruction.—Seeing there­fore you have had no more Regard to others Salvation, and have promoted their Damnation, how justly might God leave you to perish your self?

IV. If God should eternally cast you off, it would but be agreable to your own Behaviour towards your self: And that in two Respects;

1. In being so Careless of your own Salvation. You have refused to take Care for your Salvation, as God has counsell'd and commanded you, from Time to Time; and why may not God neglect it, now you seek it of him? Is God obliged to be more careful of your Hap­piness, than you are, either of your own Happiness, or his Glory? Is God bound to take that Care for you, out of Love to you, that you won't take for your self, either from Love to your self, or Regard to his Autho­rity? How long, and how greatly, have you neglected the Welfare of your precious Soul, refusing to take Pains and deny your self, or put your self a little out of your Way for your Salvation, while God has been calling upon you! Neither your Duty to God, nor Love to your own Soul, were enough to induce you to do little Things for your own eternal Welfare; and yet do you now expect that God should do great Things, putting forth almighty Power, & exercising infinite Mercy for it? You was urged to take care for your Salvation, and not to put it off: You was told that that was the best Time, before you grew older, and that it might be, if you would put it off, God would not hear you afterwards; but yet you would not hearken; you would run the Venture of it. Now how justly might God or­der it so, that it should be too late, leaving you to seek in Vain! You was told that you would repent of it, if you delayed; but you would not hear: How justly therefore may God give you Cause to repent of it, by refusing to show you Mercy now! If God sees you go­ing on in Ways contrary to his Commands, and his Glory, [Page 236] and requires you to forsake them, and tells you that they are Ways that tend to the Destruction of your own Soul, and therefore Counsels you to avoid them, and you refuse, how just would it be if God should be provoked by it, henceforward to be as careless of the Good of your Soul as you are your self!

2. You have not only neglected your Salvation, but you have wilfully taken direct Courses to undo your self. You have gone on in those Ways and Practices that have directly tended to your Damnation, and have been perverse and obstinate in it.—You can't plead Igno­rance; you had all the Light set before you that you could desire; God told you that you was undoing your self; but yet you would do it: He told you that the Path you was going in led to Destruction, and counsel'd you to avoid it; but you would not hearken: How just­ly therefore may God leave you to be undone! You have obstinately persisted to travel in the Way that leads to Hell for a long Time, contrary to God's con­tinual Counsels and Commands, till it may be at length you are got almost to your Journey's End, and are come near to Hell's Gate, and so begin to be sensible of your Danger and Misery; and now account it unjust and hard, if God won't deliver you! You have destroy­ed your self, and destroyed your self wilfully, contrary to God's repeated Counsels, yea, and destroyed your self in fighting against God: Now therefore why do you Blame any but your self, if you are destroyed? If you will undo your self in opposing God, and while God opposes you by his Calls and Counsels, and, it may be too, by the Convictions of his Spirit, what can you object against it, if God now leaves you to be undone? You would have your own Way, and did not like that God should oppose you in it, and your Way was to ruin your own Soul: How just therefore is it, if now at length, God ceases to oppose you, and falls in with you, and lets your Soul be ruin'd, and as you would destroy your self, so should put to his Hand to destroy you too! The Ways you went on in had a natural Tendency to your Misery: If you would drink Poison, in Opposi­tion [Page 237] to God, and in Contempt of him and his Advice, who can you Blame but your self if you are poison'd, and so perish? If you would run into the Fire against all Restraints both of God's Mercy and Authority, you must e'en blame your self if you are burnt.

Thus I have proposed some Things to your Conside­ration, which if you are not exceeding blind, senseless, and perverse, will stop your Mouth, and convince you that you stand justly condemned before God, and that he would in no wise deal hardly with you, but altoge­ther justly, in denying you any Mercy, and in refusing to hear your Prayers, let you pray never so earnestly, and never so often, and continue in it never so long; and that God may utterly disregard your Tea [...]s and Moans, your heavy Heart, your earnest Desires, and great En­deavours, and that he may cast you into eternal Destruc­tion, without any Regard to your Welfare, denying you converting Grace, and giving you over to Satan, and at last cast you into the Lake that burns with Fire and Brimstone, to be there to Eternity, having no Rest Day nor Night, for ever glorifying his Justice upon you, in the Presence of the holy Angels, and the Presence of the Lamb.

Object But here many may still object, (for I am sensible 'tis an hard Thing to stop Sinners Mouths,) ‘God shews Mercy to others that have done these Things as well as I, yea, that have done a great Deal worse than I.’

Ans. 1. That does not prove that God is any Way bound to shew Mercy to you, or them either. If God does bestow it on others, he don't bestow it on them because he is bound to bestow it: He might if he had pleased, with glorious Justice have denied it them. If God bestows it on some, that does not prove that he is bound to bestow it on any; and if he is bound to bestow it on none, then he is not bound to bestow it on you. God is in Debt to none, and if he gives to some that he is not in Debt to, because 'tis his Pleasure, that don't bring him into Debt to others.—It alters not the Case as to you, at all, whether others have it or have it [Page 238] not: You don't deserve Damnation the less, than if Mercy never had been bestowed on any at all. Matth. 20 15. Is thine Eye evil, because mine is good?

2. If this Objection be good, then the Exercise of God's Mercy is not in his own Right, and his Grace is not his own to give. That which God may not dispose of as he pleases, is not his own; for that which is ones own, is at his own Disposal: but if it be not God's own, then he is not capable of making a Gift or Present of it to any one; it is impossible to give a Debt.

What is it that you would make of God? Must the great God be tied up to that, that he must not use his own Pleasure in bestowing his own Gifts, but if he be­stows them on one, must be looked upon obliged to bestow them on another? Is not God worthy to have the same Right, with Respect to the Gifts of his Grace, that a Man has to his Money or Goods? Is it because God is not so great, and should be more in Sub­jection than Man, that this can't be allowed him? If any of you see Cause to shew Kindness to a Neighbour, do all the Rest of your Neighbours come to you, and tell you that you owe them so much as you have given to such a Man? But this is the Way that you deal with God! as though God were not worthy to have as abso­lute a Property in his Goods, as you have in your's!

At this Rate God can't make a Present of any Thing; he has nothing of his own to bestow; if he has a Mind to shew peculiar Favour to some, or to lay some parti­cular Persons under peculiar Obligations to him, he can't do it; because he has no special Gift, that his Crea­tures stand in great need of, and that would tend great­ly to their Happiness, at his own Dispose.—If this be the Case, why do you pray to God to bestow saving Grace upon you? If God don't do fairly to deny it you, because he bestows it on others, then 'tis not worth your while to pray for it, but you may go and tell him that he has bestowed it on these and those, as bad or worse than you, and so demand it of him as a Debt.—And at this Rate Persons never need to thank God for Salvation, when it is bestowed; for what Occasion is [Page 239] there to thank God for that which was not at his own Disposal, and that he could not fairly have denied.—The Thing at Bottom is, that Men have low Thoughts of God, and high Thoughts of themselves; and there­fore it is that they look upon God as having so little Right, and they so much. Matth. 20 15. Is it not law­ful for me to do what I will with mine own?

3. God may justly shew greater Respect to others than to you, for you have shown greater Respect to o­thers than to God. You have shown greater Respect to Men than to God: You have rather chosen to offend God than offend Men. God only shews a greater Respect to others that are by Nature your Equals, than to you; but you have shown a greater Respect to those that are infinitely inferiour to God, than to Him You have shown a greater Regard to wicked Men, than to God; you have honoured them more, loved them bet­ter, and adhered to them rather than to Him. Yea, you have honoured the Devil, in many Respects, more than God; you have chosen his Will, and his Interest, rather than God's Will, and his Glory. You have cho­sen a little worldly Pelf, rather than God: You have set more by a vile Lust, than by him You have chosen these Things, and rejected God: You have set your Heart on these Things, and cast God behind your Back: And where is the Injustice if God is pleased to shew greater Respect to others than to you, or if he chooses others and rejects you? You have shown great Respect to vile and worthless Things, and no Respect to God's Glory; and why may not God set his Love on others, and have no Respect to your Happiness? You have shown great Respect to others, and not to God, that you are laid under infinite Obligations to respect above all; and why may not God shew Respect to others, and not to you, that never have laid him under the least Obligation?

And will you not be ashamed, notwithstanding all these Things, still to open your Mouth, to object and cavil about the Decrees of God, and other Things that you can't fully understand.—Let the Decrees of God [Page 240] be what they will, that alters not the Case as to your Liberty, any more than if God had only fore known.—And why is God to blame for decreeing Things? How unbecoming an infinitely wise Being, would it have been to have made a World and let Things run at Random, without disposing Events, or fore ordering how they should come to pass? And what is that to you, how God has fore-ordered Things, as long as your con­stant Experience teaches you, that that don't hinder your Liberty, or your doing what you choose to do. This you know, and your daily Practice and Behaviour a­mongst Men declares that you are fully sensible of it, with Respect to your self and others. And still to ob­ject, because there are some Things in God's Dispensa­tions above your Understanding, is exceeding unreasona­ble. Your own Conscience charges you with great Guilt, and with those Things that have been mention'd, let the secret Things of God be what they will. Your Conscience charges you with those vile Dispositions, and that base Behaviour towards God, that you would at any Time most highly resent in your Neighbour to­wards you, and that not a Whit the less for any Concern those secret Counsels and mysterious Dispensations of God, may have in the Matter.—It is in Vain for you to exalt your self against an infinitely great, and holy, and just God: If you continue in it it will be to your eternal Shame and Confusion, when hereafter you shall see at whose Door all the Blame of your Misery lies.

I will finish what I have to say to natural Men, in the Application of this Doctrine, with a Caution not to im­prove the Doctrine to Discouragement. For though it would be righteous in God forever to cast you off, and destroy you, yet it will also be just in God to save you, in and through Christ, who has made compleat Satisfac­tion for all Sin. Rom. 3 25, 26 Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to de­clare his Righteousness, for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this Time his Righteousness, that he might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Yea, God [Page 241] may through this Mediator, not only justly, but honour­ably, shew you Mercy. The Blood of Christ is so pre­cious, that it is fully sufficient to pay that Debt that you have contracted, and perfectly to vindicate the divine Majesty from all that Dishonour that has been cast up­on it, by those many great Sins of yours that have been mentioned. It was as great, and indeed a much greater Thing, for Christ to die, than it would have been for you, and all Mankind, to have burnt in Hell to all Eter­nity. Of such Dignity and Excellency is Christ in the Eyes of God, that seeing he has suffered so much for poor Sinners, God is willing to be at Peace with them, however vile and unworthy they have been, and on how many Accounts so ever the Punishment would be just. So that you need not be at all discouraged from seeking Mercy, for there is enough in Christ.

Indeed it would not become the Glory of God's Ma­jesty, to shew Mercy to you, that have been so sinful and vile a Creature, for any Thing that you have done, for such worthless and despicable Things as your Pray­ers, and other religious Performances; it would be very dishonourable and unworthy of God so to do, and it is in vain to expect it: He will shew Mercy only on Christ's Account, and that according to his sovereign Pleasure, on whom he pleases, when he pleases, and in what Manner he pleases: You can't bring him under Obligation by your Works; do what you will, he will not look on himself obliged. But if it be his Pleasure, he can honourably shew Mercy through Christ, to any Sinner of you all, not one in this Congregation ex­cepted.

Therefore here is Encouragement for you still to seek and wait, notwithstanding all your Wickedness; agrea­ble to Samuel's Speech to the Children of Israel, when they were terrified with the Thunder and Rain that God sent, and their Guilt stared them in the Face, 1 Sam 12 20 Fear not; ye have done all this Wicked­ness; yet turn not aside from following the Lord; but serve the Lord with all your Hearts.

[Page 242] I would conclude this Discourse, by improving the Doctrine in the second Place, very briefly to put the godly in Mind of the Freeness and Wonderfulness of the Grace of God towards them. For such were some of you.—The Case was just so with you, as you have heard; you had such a wicked Heart, you lived such a wicked Life, and it would have been most just with God for ever to have cast you off: but he has had Mercy upon you; he hath made his glorious Grace appear in your everlasting Salvation. You behaved your self so as you have heard towards God; you had no Love to God, but yet he has exercised unspeakable Love to you: You have contemned God, and set Light by him; but so great a Value has God's Grace set on you, and your Happiness, that you have been redeemed at the Price of the Blood of his own Son: You chose to be with Satan in his Service; but yet God hath made you a Joint-Heir with Christ, of his Glory: You was ungrateful for past Mercies, but yet God not only continued those Mercies, but bestowed unspeakably greater Mercies up­on you: You refused to hear when God called; but yet God heard you, when you called: You abused the Infi­niteness of God's Mercy to encourage your self in Sin against God; but yet God has manifested the Infinite­ness of that Mercy, in the Exercises of it towards you: You have r [...]cted Christ, and set him at nought; and yet he is [...] your Saviour: You have neglected your own Salvation; but God has not neglected it: You have destroyed your self; but yet in God has been your Help [...] God has magnified his free Grace towards you and not to others; because he has chosen you, and it hath pleased him to set his Love upon you.

O! What Cause is here for Praise? What Obligati­ons are upon you to bless the Lord, who hath dealt bountifully with you, and to magnify his holy Name? What Cause for you to praise him in Humility, to walk humbly before God, and to be conformed to that, in Ezek. 16 63. That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy Mouth any more, because of thy Shame, when I am pacified toward thee, for all that thou hast [Page 243] done, saith the Lord God! You should never open your Mouth in Boasting, or Self-Justification: You should lie the lower before God for his Mercy to you. But you have Reason, the more abundantly for your past Sins, to open your Mouth in God's Praises, that they may be con­tinually in your Mouth, both here and to all Eternity, for his rich, unspeakable, and sovereign Mercy to you, whereby he, and he alone, hath made you to differ from others.

[Page 244]

The Excellency of CHRIST.
DISCOURSE, V.

REV. V. 5, 6.‘AND one of the Elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold the LION of the Tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the Book, and to lo [...]se the seven Seals thereof. And I beheld, and to in the midst of the Throne, and of the four Beasts, and in the midst of the Elders, stood a LAMB, as it had been slain—.’

THE Visions and Revelations that the Apostle John had of the future Events of God's Providence, are here introdu­ced with a Vision of the Book of God's Decrees, by which those Events were fore ordained; which is represented in the first Verse of this Chapter, as a Book in the Right Hand of him that sat on the Throne, written within, and on the back Side, and sealed with seven Seals. Books in the Form in which [Page 245] they were wont of old to be made, were broad Leaves of Parchment, or Paper, or some [...]hing of that Nature, join­ed together at one Edge, and so rolled up together, and then sealed, or some Way fasten'd together, to prevent their unfolding and opening. Hence we read of the Roll of a Book, Jer. 36. 2. It seems to have been such a Book that John h [...]d a Vision of here; and therefore 'tis said to be written within, and on the back Side, i. e. on the inside Pages, and also on one of the outside Pages, viz. that that was rolled in, in the rolling the Book up together. And it is said to be se [...]led with seven Seals, to signify that what was written in it was perfect­ly hidden and secret; or that God's Decrees of future Events are sealed, and shut up from all Possibility of be­ing discovered by Creatures, till God is pleased to make them known. We find that seven is often used in Scrip­ture as the Number of Perfection, to signify the super­lative, or most perf [...]ct Degree of any Thing; which probably c [...]me from that, that on the seventh Day God beheld the Works of Creation finished, and rested and rejoyced in them, as being compleat and perfect.

When John saw this Book, he tells us he saw a strong Angel proclaiming with a loud Voice, Who is worthy to open the Book, and to loose the Seals thereof? And no Man in Heaven, nor in Earth, neither under the Earth, was able to open the Book, neither to look thereon: And that he wept much, because no Man was found worthy to open and read the Book, neither to look thereon. And then tells us how his Tears were dried up, viz. that one of the Elders said unto him, Weep not; Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah hath prevailed, &c—as in the Text. Though no Man nor Angel, nor any meer Creature, was [...]ound either able to loose the Seals, or worthy to be admitted to the Privilege of Reading the Book, yet this was declared, for the Comfort of this beloved Disciple, that Christ was found both able and worthy. And we have an Account in the succeeding Chapters how he ac­tually did it, opening the Seals in Order, first one, and then another, rev [...]aling what God had decreed should come to pass hereafter. And we have an Account in [Page 246] this Chapter, of his coming and taking the Book out of the Right Hand of him that sat on the Throne, and of the joyful Praises that were sung to him, in Heaven and Earth, on that Occasion.

Many Things might be observed in the Words of the Text; but 'tis to my present Purpose only to take No­tice of the two distinct Appellations here given to Christ.

1. He is called a Lion. Behold the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He seems to be called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, in Allusion to what Jacob said, in his blessing of the Tribes on his Death Bed, who when he came to bless Judah, compares him to a Lion, Gen. 49. 9. Judah is a Lion's Whelp: From the Prey my Son ar [...] thou gone up: H [...] stooped down, he couched as a Lion, and as an old Lion; who shall raise him up? And also to the Standard of the Camp of Judah in the Wilderness, on which was displayed a Lion, according to the ancient Tradition of the Jews. 'Tis much on Account of the valiant Acts of David, that the Tribe of Judah, of which David was, is in Jacob's prophetical Blessing compared to a Lion; but more especially with an Eye to Jesus Christ, who also was of that Tribe, and was de­scended of David, and is in our Text called the Root of David; and therefore Christ is here called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

2. He is called a Lamb. John was told of a Lion that had prevailed to open the Book, and probably expected to see a Lion in his Vision; but while he is expecting, behold a Lamb appears to open the Book, an exceeding diverse Kind of Creature from a Lion! A Lion is a De­vourer, one that is wont to make terrible Slaughter of others; and no Creature more easily falls a Prey to him than a Lamb. And Christ is here represented not only as a Lamb, a Creature very liable to be slain, but a Lamb as it had been slain, that is, with the Marks of it's dead­ly Wounds appearing on it.

That which I would observe from the Words, for the Subject of my present Discourse is this, viz.

[Page 247] There is an admirable Conjunction of diverse Excellen­cies in Jesus Christ.

The Lion and the Lamb, though very diverse Kinds of Creatures, yet have each their peculiar Excellencies. The Lion excells in Strength, and in the Majesty of his Appearance and Voice. The Lamb excells in Meekness and Patience, besides the excellent Nature of the Crea­ture as good for Food, and yielding that which is fit for our Cloathing, and being sutable to be offered in Sacri­fice to God. But we see that Christ is in the Text compared to both; because the diverse Excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.

In handling this Subject, I would

First, Shew wherein there is an admirable Conjuncti­on of diverse Excellencies in Christ.

Secondly, How this admirable Conjunction of Excel­lencies appears in Christ's Acts.

And then make Application.

First. I would shew wherein there is an admirable Conjunction of diverse Excellencies in J [...]sus Christ. Which appears in three Things,

I. There is a Conjunction of such Excellencies in Christ, as, in our Manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another.

II. There is in him a Conjunction of such really di­verse Excellencies, as otherwise would have seemed to us utterly incompatible in the same Subject.

III. Such diverse Excellencies are exercised in him towards Men, that otherwise would have seemed impos­sible to be exercised towards the same Object.

I. There is a Conjunction of such Excellencies in Christ. as, in our Manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another. Such are the various divine Perfections and Excellencies that Christ is possessed of. Christ is a divine Person, or one that is God; and therefore has all [Page 248] the Attributes of God. The Difference there is be­tween these is chiefly relative, and in our Manner of conceiving of them. And those that in this Sense are most Diverse, do meet in the Person of Christ. I shall mention two Instances.

1. There do meet in Jesus Christ, infinite Highness, and infinite Condescension Christ, as he is God, is infinite­ly great and high above all. He is higher than the Kings of the Earth; for he is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. He is higher than the Heavens, and higher than the highest Angels of Heaven. So great is He, that all Men, all Kings and Princes, are as Worms of the Dust before him, all Nations are as the Drop of the Bucket, and the light Dust of the Balance; yea, and Angels themselves are as nothing before him. He is so high, that he is infinitely above any Need of us; above our Reach, that we cannot be profitable to him, and above our Conceptions, that we cannot comprehend him. Prov. 30 4. What is his Name, and what is his Son's Name, if thou canst tell? Our Understandings, if we stretch them never so far, c [...]n't reach up to his di­vine Glory. Job 11. 8 It is high as Heaven, what canst tho [...] do?—Christ is the Creator, and great Pos­sessor of Heaven and Earth: He is sovereign Lord of all: He rules over the whole Universe, and doth whatsoe­ver pleaseth him: H [...] Knowlege is without Bound: His Wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent: His Power is infinite, and none can resist him: His Riches are immense and inexhaustable: His Majesty is infi­nitely awful.

And yet he is one of infinite Condescension. None are so low, or in [...]eriour, but Christ's Condescension is suffici­ent to take a gracious Notice of them. He condescends not only to the Angels, humbling himself to behold the Things that are done in Heaven, but he also con­descends to such poor Creatures as Men; and that not only so as to take Notice of Princes and great Men, but of those that are of meanest Rank and Degree, the Poor of the World, James, 2 5. Such as are commonly de­spised by their Follow Creatures, Christ don't despise. [Page 249] 1 Cor. 1. 28. Base Things of the World, and Things that are despised, hath God chosen. Christ condescends to take Notice of Beggars, Luke. 16 22. and of Servants, and People of the most despised Nations: In Christ Jesus is neither Barbarian, Sythian, Bond, nor Free, Col. 3. 11. He that is thus high, condescends to take a gracious Notice of little Children, Matth. 19. 14. Suffer little Children to come unto me. Yea, which is much more, his Conde­scension is sufficient to take a gracious Notice of the most unworthy, sinful Creatures, those that have no good Deservings, and those that have infinite ill Deservings.

Yea, so great is his Condescension, that it is not only sufficient to take some gracious Notice of such as these, but sufficient for every Thing that is an Act of Condescen­sion. His Condescension is great enough to become their Friend: 'Tis great enough to become their Companion, to unite their Souls to him in spiritual Marriage: 'Tis great enough to take their Nature upon him, to become one of them, that he may be one with them: Yea, it is great enough to abase himself yet lower for them, even to expose himself to Shame and Spitting; yea, to yield up himself to an ignominious Death for them. And what Act of Condescension can be conceived of greater? Yet such an Act as this, has his Condescension yielded to, for those that are so low and mean, despicable and unworthy!

Such a Conjunction of such infinite Highness, and low Condescension, in the same Person, is admirable. We see by manifold Instances, what a Tendency an high Station has in Men, to make them to be of a quite contrary Disposition. If one Worm be a little exalted above ano­ther, by having more Dust, or a bigger Dunghill, how much does he make of himself! What a Distance does he keep from those that are below him! And a little Condescension, is what he expects should be made much of, and greatly acknowleged. Christ condescends to wash our Feet; but how would great Men, (or rather the bigger Worms,) account themselves debased by Acts of far less Condescension!

[Page 250] 2. There meet in Jesus Christ, infinite Justice, and in­finite Grace. As Christ is a divine Person he is infinite­ly holy and just, infinitely hating Sin, and disposed to execute condign Punishment for Sin. He is the Judge of the World, and is the infinitely just Judge of it, and will not at all acquit the wicked, or by any Means clear the guilty.

And yet he is one that is infinitely gracious and mer­ciful. Though his Justice be so strict with Respect to all Sin, and every Breach of the Law, yet he has Grace sufficient for every Sinner, and even the chief of Sinners. And it is not only sufficient for the most unworthy to show them Mercy, and bestow some good upon them, but to bestow the greatest Good; yea, 'tis sufficient to be­stow all Good upon them, and to do all Things for them. There is no Benefit or Blessing that they can receive so great, but the Grace of Christ is sufficient to bestow it on the greatest Sinner that ever lived. And not only so, but so great is his Grace, that nothing is too much as the Means of this Good: 'Tis sufficient not only to do great Things, but also to suffer in order to it; and not only to suffer, but to suffer most extremely, even unto Death, the most terrible of natural Evils; and not only Death, but the most ignominious&tormenting, and every Way the most terrible Death that Men could inflict; yea, and greater Sufferings than Men could inflict, who could only torment the Body, but also those Suffer­ings in his Soul, that were the more immediate Fruits of the Wrath of God against the Sins of those he under­takes for.

II. There do meet in the Person of Christ, such really diverse Excellencies, which otherwise would have been thought [...]terly incompatible in the same Subject; such as are conjoined in no other Person whatever, either divine, human, or angelical; and such as neither Men nor Angels would ever have imagined could have met together in the same Person, had it not been seen in the Person of Christ. I would give some Instances.

1. In the Person of Christ do meet together, infinite Glory, and the lowest Humility. Infinite Glory, and [Page 251] the Virtue of Humility, meet in no other Person but Christ. They meet in no created Person; for no created Person has infinite Glory: And they meet in no other divine Person but Christ. For though the divine Na­ture be infinitely abhorrent to Pride, yet Humility is not properly predicable of God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, that exist only in the divine Nature; be­cause it is a proper Excellency only of a created Nature; for it consists radically in a Sense of a comparative Lowness and Littleness before God, or the great Distance be­tween God and the Subject of this Virtue; but it would be a Contradiction to suppose any such Thing in God.

But in Jesus Christ, who is both God and Man, these two diverse Excellencies, are sweetly united. He is a Person infinitely exalted in Glory & Dignity. Phil. 2. 6. Being in the Form of God, he thought it not Robbery to be equal with God. There is equal Honour due to him with the Father. John 5. 23.—That all Men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. God himself says to him, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever, Heb. 1. 8. And there is the same supreme Respect, and divine Worship, paid to him by the Angels of Hea­ven, as to God the Father; as there, Verse 6. Let all the Angels of God worship him.

But however he is thus above all, yet he is lowest of all in Humility. There never was so great an Instance of this Virtue, among either Men or Angels, as Jesus. None ever was so sensible of the Distance between God and him, or had a Heart so lowly before God, as the Man Christ Jesus. Matth. 11. 29. What a wonderful Spirit of Humility appeared in him, when he was here upon Earth, in all his Behaviour! In his Contentment in his mean outward Condition, contentedly living in the Family of Joseph the Carpenter, and Mary his Mo­ther, for thirty Years together, and afterwards choosing outward Meanness, Poverty and Contempt, rather than earthly Greatness; in his washing his Disciples Feet, and in all his Speeches and Deportment towards them; in his cheerfully sustaining the Form of a Servant thro' his whole Life, and submitting to such immense Humili­ation at Death!

[Page 252] 2. In the Person of Christ do meet together, infinite Majesty, and transcendent Meekness. These again are two Qualifications that meet together in no other Per­son but Christ. Meekness, properly so called, is a Vir­tue proper only to the Creature: We scarcely ever find Meekness mentioned as a divine Attribute in Scrip­ture; at least not in the New Testament; for thereby seems to be signified, a Calmness and Quietness of Spirit arising from Humility, in mutable Beings, that are na­turally liable to be put into a Ruffle, by the Assaults of a tempestuous and injurious World. But Christ being both God and Man, hath both infinite Majesty and su­perlative Meekness.

Christ was a Person of infinite Majesty. It is he that is spoken of, Psalm. 45. 3. Gird thy Sword upon thy Thigh, O most mighty, in thy Glory and thy Majesty. 'Tis he that is mighty, that rideth on the Heavens, and in his Excellency on the Sky. 'Tis he that is terrible out of his holy Places; who is mightier than the Noise of many Waters, yea, than the mighty Waves of the Sea; before whom a Fire goeth, and burneth up his Enemies round about; at whose Presence the Earth doth quake, and the Hills do melt; who sitteth on the Circle of the Earth, and all the Inhabitants thereof are as Grashop­pers; who rebukes the Sea and maketh it dry, and dri­eth up the Rivers; whose Eyes are as a Flame of Fire, from whose Presence, and from the Glory of whose Power, the Wicked shall be punished with everlasting Destruction; who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, that hath Heaven for his Throne, and the Earth for his Footstool, and is the high and lofty One who inhabits Eternity, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and of whose Do­minion there is no End.

And yet he was the most marvellous Instance of Meekness, and humble Quietness of Spirit, that ever was, agreable to the Prophecies of him. Matth. 21. 4, 5. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, saying, Tell ye the Daughter of Sion, behold thy King cometh unto thee, Meek, and sitting [Page 253] upon an Ass, and a Colt the Fole of an Ass. And agre­able to what Christ declares of himself, Matth. 11. 29. I am meek and lowly of Heart. And agreable to what was manifest in his Behaviour here in this World. For there never was such an Instance seen on Earth of a meek Behaviour, under Injuries & Reproaches, & towards Enemies; who when he was reviled, reviled not again; who was of a wonderful Spirit of Forgiveness, was ready to forgive his worst Enemies, and prayed for them with servent and effectual Prayers. With what Meekness did he appear, when in the Ring of Soldiers, that were con [...]mning and mocking him, when he was silent, and opened not his Mouth, but went as a Lamb to the Slaughter. Thus is Christ a Lion in Majesty, and a Lamb in Meekness.

3. There meet in the Person of Christ, the deepest Reverence towards God, and Equality with God. Christ, when he was here on Earth, appeared full of holy Re­verence towards the Father: He paid the most reveren­tial Worship to him, praying to him with Postures of Reverence. Thus we read of his kneeling down and praying, Matth. 22. 41. This became Christ, as he was one that had taken on him the human Nature. But at the same Time he existed in the divine Nature; where­by his Person was in all Respects equal to the Person of the Father. God the Father hath no Attribute or Perfection, that the Son hath not, in equal Degree, and equal Glory. These Things meet in no other Person but Jesus Christ.

4. There are conjoined in the Person of Christ, infinite Worthiness of Good, and the greatest Patience under Suf­ferings of Evil. He was perfectly innocent, and deser­ved no Suffering. He deserved nothing from God, by any Guilt of his own; and he deserved no Ill from Men. Yea, he was not only harmless, and undeserving of Suf­fering, but he was infinitely worthy, worthy of the in­finite Love of the Father, worthy of infinite and eternal Happiness, and infinitely worthy of all possible Esteem, Love, and Service from all Men. And yet he was per­fectly patient under the greatest Sufferings, that ever [Page 254] were endured in this World. Heb. 6. 15. After he had patiently endured, he obtained the Promise. He suffered not from his Father, for his Faults, but ours; and he suffered from Men▪ not for his Faults, but for those Things, on Account of which, he was infinitely worthy of their Love and Honour; which made his Patience the more wonderful, and the more glorious. 1 Pet. 2. 20, &c. For what Glory [...] it if when ye be buffeted for your Faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is accep­table with God: For even hereunto were ye called be­cause Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an Example, that we should follow his Steps; who did no Sin, neither was Guile found in his Mouth; who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self, bare our Sins in his own Body, on the Tree, that we being dead to Sin, should live unto Righteousness; by whose Stripes ye were healed. There is no such Con­junction of Innocence, Worthiness, and Patience under Sufferings, as in the Person of Christ.

5. In the Person of Christ are conjoined, an exceed­ing Spirit of Obedience, with supreme Dominion over Hea­ven and Earth. Christ is the Lord of all Things, in two Respects. He is so as he is God-Man, and Mediator; and so his Dominion is appointed, and given of the Fa­ther, and is by Delegation from God, and he is as it were the Father's Vicegerent But he is Lord of all Things in another Respect, viz. as he is, (by his origi­nal Nature) God. And so he is by natural Right, the Lord of all, and supreme over all, as much as the Father. Thus he has Dominion over the World, not by Dele­gation, but in his own Right: He is not an Under God, as the Asians suppose, but to all Intents and Purposes, supreme God.

And yet, in the same Person, is found the greatest Spirit of Obedience to the Commands and Law of God that ever was in the Universe; which was manifest in his Obedience here in this World▪ John. 14 31. As the Father gave me Commandment, even so I do. John. 15 10. [Page 255] Even as I have kept my Father's Commandments, and abide in his Love. The Greatness of his Spirit of Obedience appears in the Perfection of his Obedience, and in his obeying Commands of such exceeding Difficulty. Never any one received Commands from God, of such Difficul­ty, and that were so great a Trial of Obedience, as Jesus Christ. One of God's Commands to him was, that he should yield himself to those dreadful Sufferings that he underwent. See John 10. 18. No Man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of my self.—This Commandment received I of my Father. And Christ was throughly obedient to this Command of God. Heb. 5. 8. Though he were a Son, yet learned he Obedience by the Things that he suffered. Philip. 2 8. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto Death, even the Death of the Cross. Never was there such an Instance of Obedience in Man nor Angel, as this; though he that obeyed was at the same Time, supreme Lord of both Angels and Men.

6. In the Person of Christ are conjoined absolute So­vereignty, and perfect Resignation. This is another un­parallel'd Conjunction. Christ as he is God, is the ab­solute Sovereign of the World: He is the sovereign Dis­poser of all Events. The Decrees of God are all his sovereign Decrees; and the Work of Creation, and all God's Works of Providence, are his sovereign Works. 'Tis he that worketh all Things according to the Coun­sel of his own Will. Col. 1. 16, 17. By him, and thro' him, and to him, are all Things. John. 15. 17. The Fa­ther worketh hitherto, and I work. Matth. 8. 3. I will, be thou clean.

But yet Christ was the most wonderful Instance of Resignation, that ever appeared in the World. He was absolutely and perfectly resigned, when he had a near, and immediate Prospect of his terrible Sufferings, and the dreadful Cup that he was to drink, the Idea and Expectation of which, made his Soul exceeding Sorrow­ful, even unto Death, and put him into such an Agony, that his Sweat was as it were great Drops, or Clots of Blood, falling down to the Ground. But in such Cir­cumstances, be was wholly resigned to the Will of God. [Page 256] Matth. 26. 39. O my Father, if it be possible, let this Cup pass from me! Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. Verse 42. O my Father, if this Cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, Thy Will be done!

7. In Christ do meet together, Self-sufficiency, and an intire Trust and Reliance on God; which is another Conjunction peculiar to the Person of Christ. As he is a divine Person he is self-sufficient, standing in Need of nothing; all Creatures are dependent on him, but he is dependent on none, but is absolutely independent. His Proceeding from the Father in his eternal Generati­on, or Filiation, argues no proper Dependance on the Will of the Father; for that Proceeding was natural and necessary, and not arbitrary. But yet Christ intirely trusted in God: His Enemies say that of him, He trusted in God that he would deliver him, Matth. 27. 43. And the Apostle testifies, 1 Pet. 2. 23. That he committed himself to God.

III. Such diverse Excellencies are express'd in him to­wards Men, that otherwise would have seem'd impossible to be exercised towards the same Object; as particularly these three, Justice, Mercy and Truth. The same that are mentioned, Psalm. 85. 10. Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other. The strict Justice of God, and even his revenging Justice, and that against the Sins of Men, never was so gloriously manifested as in Christ. He manifested an infinite Re­gard to the Attribute of God's Justice, in that when he had a Mind to save Sinners, he was willing to undergo such extreme Sufferings, rather than that their Salvati­on should be to the Injury of the Honour of that At­tribute. And as he is the Judge of the World, he doth himself exercise strict Justice; he will not clear the Guilty, nor at all acquit the Wicked in Judgment. And yet, how wonderfully is infinite Mercy towards Sin­ners, displayed in him! And what glorious and ineffa­ble Grace and Love have been, and are exercised by him, towards sinful Men! Though he be the just Judge of a sinful World, yet he is also the Saviour of the World: [Page 257] Though he be a consuming Fire to Sin, [...] he is the Light and Life of Sinners. Rom. 3. 25, 26 Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation, through Faith in his Blood, to declare his Righteousness, for the Remission of Sins that are past, through the Forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this Time, his Righteousness, th [...] he might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

So the immutable Truth of God, in the Threatenings of his Law against the Sins of Men, was never so mani­fested, as it is in Jesus Christ; for there never was any other so great a Trial of the Unalterableness of the Truth of God, in those Threatenings, as when Sin came to be imputed to his own Son. And then in Christ, has been seen already, an actual, compleat Accomplish­ment of those Threatenings; which never has been, nor will be seen in any other Instance; because the E­ternity that will be taken up in fulfilling those Threat­nings on others, never will be finished. Christ manifest­ed an infinite Regard to this Truth of God in his Suf­ferings. And in his judging the World, he makes the Covenant of Works that contains those dreadful Threat­nings, his Rule of Judgment: He will see to it that it is not infringed in the least Jot or Tittle▪ he will do nothing contrary to the Threatnings of the Law, and their com­pleat Fulfilment. And yet in him we have many great, and precious Promises, Promises of perfect Deliverance from the Penalty of the Law. And this is the Promise that he hath promised us, even eternal Life. And in him are all the Promises of God, Yea, and Amen

Having thus shown wherein there is an admirable Conjunction of Excellencies in Jesus Christ, I now proceed,

Secondly, To shew how this admirable Conjunction of Excellencies appears in Christ's Acts

I It appears in what Christ did in taking on him our Nature. In this Act his infi [...]i [...] Cond [...]s [...]nsion wonder­fully appeared; that he that was God, should become Man; that the Word should be made Flesh, and should [Page 258] take on him a Nature infinitely below his original Na­ture! And it appears yet more remarkably, in the low Circumstances of his Incarnation: He was conceived in the Womb of a poor young Woman; whose Poverty appeared in that when she came to offer Sacrifices for her Purification, she brought what was allowed of in the Law, only in Case of Poverty; as Luke 2 34. Accord­ing to that which is said in the Law of the Lord, a Pair of Turtle Doves, or two young Pidgeons. This was al­lowed only in Case the Person was so Poor, that she was not able to offer a Lamb. Levit. 12. 8.

And though his infinite Condescension thus appear'd in the Manner of his Incarnation, yet his divine Dignity also appeared in it; for though he was conceived in the Womb of a poor Virgin, yet he was there conceived by the Power of the Holy Ghost. And his divine Dignity also appeared in the Holiness of his Conception and Birth. Though he was conceived in the Womb of one of the corrupt Race of Mankind, yet he was conceived and born without Sin; as the Angel said to the blessed Vir­gin, Luke 1. 35. The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall over shadow thee; therefore also, that holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.

His infinite Condescension marvellously appeared in the Manner of his Birth. He was brought forth in a Stable, because there was no Room for them in the Inn. The Inn was taken up by others, that were looked up­on as Persons of greater Account. The blessed Virgin being poor and despised, was turned or shut out; tho' she was in such necessitous Circumstances, yet those that counted themselves her Betters, would not give Place to her; and therefore in the Time of her Travail she was forced to betake her self to a Stable; and when the Child was born, it was wrapped in Swaddling Cloaths, and laid in a Manger; and there Christ lay a little In­fant; and there he eminently appeared as a Lamb. But yet this feeble Infant that was born thus in a Stable, and laid in a Manger, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring Lion: He came to subdue the mighty [Page 259] Powers of Darkness, and make a Shew of them openly; and so to restore Peace on Earth, and to manifest God's Good-Will towards Men, and to bring Glory to God in the highest; according as the End of his Birth was declared by the joyful Songs of the glorious Hosts of Angels, appea [...]g to the Shepherds, at the same Time that the Infant lay in the Manger; whereby his divine Dignity was manifested.

II. This admirable Conjunction of Excellencies ap­pears in the Acts, and various Passages of Christ's Life. Though Christ dwelt on the Earth in mean outward Circumstances, whereby his Condescension and Humility especially appeared, and his Majesty was veil'd; yet his divine Dignity and Glory did in many of his Acts shine through the Veil, and it illustriously appeared that he was, not only the Son of Man, but, the great God.

Thus in the Circumstances of his Infancy, his outward Meanness appeared; yet there was something then to shew forth his divine Dignity, in the wise Men's being sti [...]r'd up to come from the East to give Honour to him, their being led by a miraculous Star, and coming and falling down and worshipping him, and presenting him with Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. His Humility and Meekness wonderfully appeared in his Subjection to his Mother and reputed Father, when he was a Child: He herein appeared as a Lamb. But his divine Glory broke forth and shone, when at twelve Years old, he disputed with the Doctors in the Temple: In that he appeared, in some Measure, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

And so after he entred on his publick Ministry, his marvellous Humility and Meekness was manifested in his choosing to appear in such mean outward Circum­stances, and in being so contented in them, when he was so Poor that he had not where to lay his Head, and de­pended on the Charity of some of his Followers for his Subsistence; as appears by Luke. 8. at the begin. As also in his meek, condescending▪ and familiar Treatment of his [Page 260] Disciples; in his Discourses with them, treating them as a Father his Children, yea, as Friends and Companions: And in his patient bearing such Affliction and Reproach, and so many Injuries from the Scribes and Pharisees, and others: In these Things he appeared as a Lamb. And yet he at the same Time did many Ways shew forth his divine Majesty and Glory; particularly in the Mira­cles that he wrought, which were evidently divine Works, and manifested omnipote [...] Power, and so de­clared him to be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah His wonderful and miraculous Works plainly shewed him to be the God of Nature; in that it appeared by them that he had all Nature in his Hands, and could lay an Arrest upon it, and stop and change it's Course, as he pleased. In healing the Sick, and opening the Eyes of the Blind, and unstopping the Ears of the Deaf, and healing the Lame, he shewed that he was the God that framed the Eye, and created the Ear, and was the Author of the Frame of Man's Body. By the Dead's rising at his Command, it appeared that he was the Author and Fountain of Life, and that God the LORD, to whom be­long the Issues from Death. By his walking on the Sea in a Storm, when the Waves were raised, he shewed himself to be that God, spoken of Job 9. 8. That tread­eth on the Waves of the Sea. By his stilling the Storm, and calming the Rage of the Sea, by his powerful Command, saying, Peace, be still, He shewed himself to be he that has the Command of the Universe, and to be that God that brings Things to pass by the Word of his Power, that speaks and it is done, that commands and it stands fast, & he that is spoken of, Psalm 65.7 Who stilleth the Noise of the Seas, the Noise of their Waves. And Psalm 107. 29. That maketh the Storm a Calm; so that the Waves thereof are still. And Psalm 89. 8, 9. O Lord God of Hosts, Who is a strong Lord like unto thee, o [...] to thy Faithfulness round about thee? Thou rebukest the raging of th [...] Sea; when the Waves thereof arise, thou stillest them—Christ by casting out Devils, remarka­bly appeared as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and show'd that he was stronger than that roaring Lion, that seeks [Page 261] whom he may devour. He commanded them to come out, and they were forced to obey: They were terribly a­fraid of him; they fall down before him, and beseech him not to torment them: He forces a whole Legion of them to forsake their old Hold, by his powerful Word; and they could not so much as enter into the Swine without his Leave.—He shewed the Glory of his Omniscience, by telling the Thoughts of Men; as we have often an Account. Herein he appeared to be that God spoken of, Amos 4 13. That declareth unto Man what is his Thought. Thus in the midst of his Meanness and Humiliation, his divine Glory appeared in his Mi­racles, John 2. 11. This beginning of Miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his Glory.

And tho' Christ ordinarily appeared without outward Glory, and in great Obscurity, yet at a certain Time he threw off the Veil, and appeared in his divine Majesty, so far as it could be outwardly manifested to Men in this frail State, when he was transfigured in the Mount. The Apostle Peter speaks of it, 2 Pet. 1. 16, 17. speaking there of himself, as one that was an Eye Witness of his Majesty, when he received from God the Father, Honour and Glory, when there came such a Voice to him, from the excellent Glory, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; which Voice that came from Heaven, they heard, when they were with him in the holy Mount.

And at the same Time that Christ was wont to appear in such Meekness, Condescension and Humility, in his fa­miliar Discourses with his Disciples, appearing therein as the Lamb of God, he was also wont to appear as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, with divine Authority and Majesty, in his so sharply rebuking the Scribes and Pha­risees, and other Hypocrites.

III. This admirable Conjunction of Excellencies re­markably appears, in his offering up himself a Sacrifice for Sinners in his last Sufferings. As this was the great­est Thing in all the Work of Redemption, the greatest Act of Christ in that Work; so in this Act especially, does th [...]e appear that admirable Conjunction of Excel­lencies, [Page 262] that has been spoken of. Christ never so much appeared as a Lamb, as when he was s [...]ain: He came like a Lamb to the Slaughter, Isai. 53. 7. Then he was offered up to God as a Lamb without Blemish, and with­out Spot: Then especially did he appear to be the An­ti-type of the Lamb of the Passover: 1 Cor. 5. 7. Christ our Passover sacrificed for us. And yet in that Act, he did in an especial Manner appear as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; yea, in this above all other Acts, in many Respects, as may appear in the following Things.

1. Then was Christ in the greatest Degree of his Hu­miliation, and yet by that, above all other Things, his divine Glory appears Christ's Humiliation was great, in being born in such a low Condition, of a poor Virgin, and in a Stable: His Humiliation was great, in being subject to Joseph the Carpenter, and Mary his Mother, and afterwards in living in Poverty, so as not to have where to lay his Head, and in suffering such manifold and bitter Reproaches as he suffered, while he went a­bout preaching and working Miracles: But his Humilia­tion was never so great, as it was in his last Sufferings, beginning with his Agony in the Garden, till he expi­red on the Cross. Never was he subject to such igno­miny as then; never did he suffer so much Pain in his Body, or so much Sorrow in his Soul; never was he in so great an Exercise of his Condescension, Humility, Meekness, and Patience, as he was in these last Suffer­ings; never was his divine Glory and Majesty covered with so thick and dark a Veil; never did he so empty himself, and make himself of no Reputation, as at this—Time: And yet never was his divine Glory so mani­fested, by any Act of his, as in that Act, of yielding himself up to these Sufferings.—When the Fruit of it came to appear, and the Mystery and Ends of it to be unfolded, in the Issue of it, then did the Glory of it appear; then did it appear, as the most glorious Act of Christ that ever he exercised towards the Creature. This Act of his is celebrated by the Angels and Hosts of Heaven with peculiar Praises, as that which is above all others glorious, as you may see in the Context, Verse 9. &c. [Page 263] And they sung a new Song, saying, Thou are worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof, FOR THOU WAST SLAIN, and hast redeemed us to God BY THY BLOOD, out of every Kindred, and Tongue, and People, and Nation, and hast made us, to our God, Kings, and Priests, and we shall reign on Earth. And I beheld, and I heard the Voice of many Angels, round about the Throne, and the Beasts, and the Elders, and the Number of them was ten thousand Times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying, with a loud Voice, Worthy is the Lamb THAT WAS SLAIN, to receive Power, and Riches, and Wisdom, and Strength, and Honour, and Glory, and Blessing.

2. He never in any Act gave so great a Manifestation of Love to God, and yet never so manifested his Love to those that were Enemies to God, as in that Act. Christ never did any Thing whereby his Love to the Father was so eminently manifested, as in his laying down his Life, under such inexpressible Sufferings, in Obedience to his Command, and for the Vindication of the Honour of his Authority and Majesty; nor did ever any meer Crea­ture give such a Testimony of Love to God as that was: And yet this was the greatest Expression of all, of his Love to sinful Men, that were Enemies to God, Rom. 5. 10. While we were Enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the Death of his Son. The Greatness of Christ's Love to such, appears in nothing so much, as in it's being dying Love. That Blood of Christ that was sweat out, and fell in great Drops to the Ground, in his Agony, was shed from Love to God's Enemies, and his own. That Shame and Spitting, that Torment of Body, and that ex­ceeding Sorrow, even unto Death, that he endured in his Soul, was what he underwent from Love to Rebels against God, to save them from Hell, and to purchase for them eternal Glory.—Never did Christ so emi­nently shew his Regard to God's Honour, as in offering up himself a Victim to revenging Justice, to vindicate God's Honour: And yet in this above all, he manifested his Love to them that dishonoured God, so as to bring such Guilt on themselves, that nothing less than his Blood could atone for it.

[Page 264] 3. Christ never so eminently appeared for divine Justice, and yet never suffered so much from divine Jus­tice, as when he offered up himself a Sacrifice for our Sins. In Christ's great Sufferings, did his infinite Re­gard to the Honour of God's Justice distinguishingly ap­pear; for it was from Regard to that, that he thus hum­bled himself: And yet in these Sufferings, Christ was the Mark of the vindictive Expressions of that very Jus­tice of God. Revenging Justice then spent all it's Force upon him, on the Account of our Guilt that was laid upon him; he was not spared at all; but God spent the Arrows of his Vengeance upon him, which made him sweat Blood, and cry out upon the Cross, and probably rent his Vitals, broke his Heart, the Fountain of Blood, or some other internal Blood Vessels, and by the violent Fermentation turned his Blood to Water: For the Blood and Water that issued out of his Side, when pierced by the Spear, seems to have been extravasated Blood; and so there might be a Kind of literal Fulfilment of that, in Psalm. 22. 14. I am poured out like Water, and all my Bones are out of Joint: My Heart is like Wax, it is melt­ed in the midst of my Bowels—And this was the Way and Means by which Christ stood up for the Honour of God's Justice, viz. By thus suffering it's terrible Execu­tions. For when he had undertaken for Sinners, and had substituted himself in their Room, divine Justice could have it's due Honour, no other Way than by his Suffering it's Revenges.

In this the diverse Excellencies that met in the Per­son of Christ appeared, viz. His infinite Regard to God's Justice, and such Love to those that have exposed them­selves to it, as induced him thus to yield himself a Sa­crifice to it.

4. Christ's Holiness never so illustriously shone forth, as it did in his last Sufferings; and yet he never was to such a Degree, treated as Guilty. Christ's Holiness ne­ver had such a Trial, as it had then; and therefore ne­ver had so great a Manifestation. When it was tried in this Furnace, it came forth as, Gold, or as Silver purified seven Times. His Holiness then above all appeared in [Page 265] his stedfast Pursuit of the Honour of God, and in his Obedience to him: For his yielding himself unto Death was transcendently the greatest Act of Obedience, that ever was paid to God, by any one since the Foundation of the World.

And yet then Christ was in the greatest Degree treat­ed as a wicked Person. He was apprehended and bound as a Malefactor. His Accusers represented him as a most wicked Wretch. In his Sufferings before his Cru­cifixion he was treated as if he had been the worst and vilest of Mankind; and then, he was put to a Kind of Death, that none but the worst Sort of Malefactors were wont to suffer, those that were most abject in their Persons, and guilty of the blackest Crimes. And he suffered as though Guilty from God himself, by Rea­son of our Guilt imputed to him; for he was made Sin for us, who knew no Sin; he was made Subject to Wrath as if he had been sinful himself: He was made a Curse for us.

Christ never so greatly manifested his Hatred of Sin, as against God, as in his dying to take away the Disho­nour that Sin had done to God; and yet never was he to such a Degree subject to the terrible Effects of God's Hatred of Sin, and Wrath against it, as he was then—In this appears those diverse Excellencies meeting in Christ, viz. Love to God, and Grace to Sinners.

5. He never was so dealt with as unworthy as in his last Sufferings, and yet it is chiefly on Account of them that he is accounted worthy. He was the [...] in dealt with as if he had not been worthy to live: They cry out, Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him. John. 19. 15. And they pre [...]r Barabbas before him. And he suffer'd from the Father, as one whose D [...]merits were infinite, by Reason of our Demerits that were laid upon him. And yet it was especially by that Act of his subjecting himself to those Sufferings, that he merited, and on the Account of which chiefly he was accounted worthy of, the Glory of his Exaltation Philip. 2. 8▪ 9 He humbled himself, and [...] unto Death;wherefore God hath highly, [...] And we see that 'tis on [Page 266] this Account chiefly, that he is extolled as worthy by Saints and Angels in the Context; Worthy, say they, is the Lamb that was slain—This shews an admira­ble Conjunction in him of infinite Dignity, and infinite Condescension and Love to the infinitely unworthy.

6. Christ in his last Sufferings suffered most extremely from those that he was then in his greatest Act of Love to. He never suffered so much from his Father, (though not from any Hatred to him, but from Hatred to our Sins) for he then forsook him, (as Christ on the Cross expresses it) or took away the Comforts of his Presence; and then it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and put him to Grief, as Isai. 53. 10. And yet never gave so great a Manifestation of Love to God as then, as has been al­ready observed. So Christ never suffered so much from the Hands of Men as he did then; and yet never was in so high an Exercise of Love to Men. He never was so ill treated by his Disciples; who were so uncon­cerned about his Sufferings, that they would not watch with him one Hour, in his Agony; and when he was apprehended, all forsook him and fled, except Peter, who denied him with Oaths and Curses. And yet then he was suffering, shedding his Blood, and pouring out his Soul unto Death, for them. Yea, he probably was then shedding his Blood, for some of them that shed his Blood: He was dying for some that killed him; whom he pray­ed for, while they were crucifying him; and were pro­bably afterwards brought Home to Christ by Peter's Preaching. Compare Luke 23. 34. Acts 2. 23, 36, 37, 41. And Chap. 3. 17. And Chap. 4. 4—This shews an admirable Meeting of Justice and Grace in the Redemp­tion of Christ.

7. It was in Christ's last Sufferings, above all, that he was delivered up to the Power of his Enemies; and yet by these, above all, he obtained Victory over his Enemies. Christ never was so in his Enemies Hands, as in the Time of his last Sufferings. They sought his L [...]fe before! but from Time to Time they were re­strained, and Christ escaped out of their Hands; and this Reason is given for it, that his Time was not yet [Page 267] come; but now they were suffered to work their Will upon him; he was in a great Degree delivered up to the Malice and Cruelty of both wicked Men and De­vils: And therefore when Christ's Enemies came to ap­prehend him, he says to them, Luke 22. 53. When I was daily with you in the Temple, ye stretched forth no Hand against me: But this is your Hour and the Power of Darkness.

And yet it was principally by Means of those Suffer­ings, that he conquered and overthrew his Enemies. Christ never so effectually bruised Satan's Head, as when he bruised his Heel. The Weapon with which Christ war­red against the Devil, and obtained a most compleat Victory and glorious Triumph over him, was the Cross, the Instrument and Weapon with which he thought he had overthrown Christ, and brought on him shameful Destruction. Col. 2. 14, 15 Blotting out the Hand-wri­ting of Ordinances.—nailing it to his Cross: And hav­ing spoiled Principalities and Powers, he made a Shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. In his last Sufferings Christ sapp'd the very Foundations of Satan's Kingdom; he conquered his Enemies in their own Ter­ritories, and beat them with their own W [...]apons; as David cut off Goliath's Head with his own Sword. The Devil had as it were swallowed up Christ, as the Whale did Jonah; but it was deadly Poison to him; he gave him a mortal Wound in his own Bowels; he was soon Sick of his Morsel, and forced to vomit him up again; and is to this Day Heart-sick of what he then swallow­ed as his Prey.—In those Sufferings of Christ, was laid the Foundation of all that glorious Victory that he has already obtained over Satan, in the Overthrow of his heathenish Kingdom, in the Roman Empire, and all the Success the Gospel has had since; and also of all his future and still more glorious Victory that is to be ob­tained in all the Earth.—Thus Samson's Riddle is most eminently fulfilled, Judges 14. 14. Out of the Eater came forth Meat, and out of the Strong came forth Sweet­ness. And thus the true Samson does more towards the Destruction of his Enemies at his Death, than in his Life, [Page 268] in yielding up himself to Death, he pulls down the Temple of Dagon, and destroys many thousands of his Enemies even while they are making themselves Sport in his Sufferings; and so he whose Type was the Ark, pulls down Dagon, and breaks off his Head and Hands in his own Temple, even while he is brought in there as Dagon's Captive.

Thus Christ appeared at the same Time, and in the same Act, as both a Lion and a Lamb. He appeared as a Lamb in the Hands of his cruel Enemies; as a Lamb in the Paws, and between the devouring Jaws of a roaring Lion; yea, he was a Lamb actually slain by this Lion: And yet at the same Time, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, he conquers and triumphs over Sa­tan, destroying his own Devourer; as Samson did the Lion that roared upon him, when he rent him as he would a Kid. And in nothing has Christ appeared so much as a Lion, in glorious Strength destroying his E­nemies, as when he was brought as a Lamb to the Slaugh­ter: In his greatest Weakness, he was most Strong; and when he suffered most from his Enemies, he brought the greatest Confusion on his Enemies.

Thus this admirable Conjunction of diverse Excellen­cies was manifest in Christ, in his offering up himself to God in his last Sufferings.

IV. 'Tis still manifest in his Acts, in his present State of Exaltation in Heaven Indeed in his exalted State he most eminently appears in a Manifestation of those Ex­cellencies, on the Account of which he is compared to a Lion; but still he appears as a Lamb. Rev. 14. 1. And I looked, and [...]o a Lamb stood on Mount Sion. As in his State of Humiliation, he chiefly appeared as a Lamb, and yet did not appear without Manifestations of his divine Majesty and Power, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah Though Christ be now at the Right Hand of God, exalted as King of Heaven, and Lord of the Uni­verse; yet as he still is in the human Nature, he still excells in Humility. Though the Man Christ Jesus be the highest of all Creatures in Heaven, yet he as much [Page 269] excells them all in Humility, as he doth in Glory and Dignity; for none sees so much of the Distance between God and him, as he does. And though he now appears in such glorious Majesty and Dominion in Heaven, yet he appears as a Lamb in his condescending, mild and sweet Treatment of his Saints there; for he is a Lamb still, even in the midst of the Throne of his Exaltation; and he that is the Shepherd of the whole Flock, is himself a Lamb, and goes before them in Heaven as such. Rev. 7. 17. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the Throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living Fountains of Waters, and God shall wipe away all Tears from their Eyes. Though in Heaven every Knee bows to him, and though the Angels fall down before him, adoring him, yet he treats his Saints with infinite Condescension, Mildness and Endearment. And in his Acts towards the Saints on Earth, [...]e still appears as a Lamb, manifest­ing exceeding Love and Tenderness, in his Intercession for them, as one that has had Experience of Affliction and Temptation: He has not forgot what these Things are; nor has he forgot how to pity those that are sub­ject to them. And he still manifests his Lamb-like Ex­cellencies, in his Dealings with his Saints on Earth, in admirable Forbearance, Love, Gentleness, and Compassi­ons, instructing, supplying, supporting, and comforting them, often coming to them, and manifesting himself to them by his Spirit, that he may sup with them, and they with him, admitting them to sweet Communion with him, enabling them with Boldness and Confidence to come to him, and solace their Hearts in him.—And in Heaven Christ still appears, as it were with the Marks of his Wounds upon him; and so appears as a Lamb as it had been slain; as he was represented in Vision to St. John, in the Text, when he appeared to open the Book sealed with seven Seals, which is Part of the Glory of his Exaltation

5 a [...]d lastly. This admirable Conjunction of Excel­lencies will be manifest in Christ's Acts at the last Judg­ment. He then [...] all other Times will appear as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, in infinite Greatness and [Page 270] Majesty, when he shall come in the Glory of his Father, with all the holy Angels, and the Earth shall tremble before him, and the Hills shall melt. This is he, spoken of, Rev. 20. 11. that shall sit on a great white Throne, be­fore whose Face, the Earth and Heaven shall flee away. He will then appear in the most dreadful and amazing Manner to the Wicked: The Devils tremble at the Thoughts of that Appearance; and when it shall be, the Kings, and the great Men, and the rich Men, and the chief Captains, and the mighty Men, and every Bond Man, and every Free Man, shall hide themselves in the Dens, and in the Rocks of the Mountains, and shall cry to the Mountains and Rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the Face and Wrath of the Lamb. And none can declare or conceive of the amazing Manifestations of Wrath, in which he will then appear, towards these; or the Trembling and Astonishment, the shrieking and gnashing of Teeth, with which they shall stand before his Judgment Seat, and receive the terrible Sentence of his Wrath.

And yet he will at the same Time, appear as a Lamb to his Saints. He will receive them as Friends and Brethren, treating them with infinite Mildness and Love: There shall be nothing in him terrible to them; but towards them, he will cloath himself wholly with Sweetness and Endearment. The Church shall then be admitted to him as his Bride: That shall be her Wed­ding Day: The Saints shall all be sweetly invited to come with him, to inherit the Kingd [...], and reign in it with him, to all Eternity.

APPLICATION.

I. From this Doctrine we may learn one Reason why Christ is called by such a Variety of Names, and h [...]ld for [...] under such a Variety of Representations in Scripture. 'Tis the better to signify, and exhibit to us, that Variety of Excellencies that meet together, and are conjoin'd in him. Many Appellations are mentioned together in one Verse, Isai 9 6. For unto us a Child is born, unto [Page 271] us a Son is given, and the Government shall be upon his Shoulder: And his Name shall be called Wonderful, Coun­seller, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. It shews a wonderful Conjunction of Excel­lencies, that the same Person should be a Son, born and given, and yet be the everlasting Father, without Begin­ning or End; that he should be a Child, and yet be he whose Name is Counseller, and the mighty God; and well may his Name, in whom such Things are conjoined, be called Wonderful.

By Reason of the same wonderful Conjunction, Christ is represented by a great Variety of sensible Things, that are on some Account excellent. Thus in some Pla­ces he is called a Sun, as Mal. 4. 2. in others a Star, Numb. 24. 17. And he is especially represented by the Morning-Star, as being that which excells all other Stars in Brightness, and is the Forerunner of the Day, Rev. 22. 16. And as in our. Text, he is compared to a Lion, in one Verse, and a Lamb in the next, so sometimes he is compared to a Roe or a young Hart, another Creature most diverse from a Lion. So in some Places he is called a Rock, in others he is compared to a Pearl: In some Places he is called a Man of War, and the Captain of our Salvati­on, in other Places he is represented as a Bridegroom. In the second Chapter of Canticles the first Verse, he is compared to a Rose and Lilly, that are sweet and beau­tiful Flowers; in the next Verse but one, he is compa­red to a Tree, bearing sweet Fruit. In Isai. 53. 2. He is called a Root out of a dry Ground; but elsewhere, in­stead of that, he is called the Tree of Life, that grows (not in a dry or barren Ground, but) in the midst of the Paradise of God, Rev. 2. 7.

II. Let the Consideration of this wonderful Meeting of diverse Excellencies in Christ induce you to accept of him, and close with him as your Saviour. As all Manner of Excellencies meet in him, so there are concurring in him all Manner of Arguments and Motives, to move you to choose him or your Saviour, and every Thing that tends to encourage poor Sinners to come and put their Trust [Page 272] in him: His Fulness and All-Sufficiency as a Saviour, gloriously appear in that Variety of Excellencies that has been spoken of.

Fallen Man is in a State of exceeding great Misery, & is helpless in it; he is a poor weak Creature, like an In­fant cast out in it's Blood, in the Day that it is born: But Christ is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; he is strong, though we are weak; he hath prevailed to do that for us, which no Creature else could do. Fallen Man is a mean despicable Creature, a contemptible Worm; but Christ, who has undertaken for us, is infinitely honoura­ble and worthy. Fallen Man is polluted, but Christ is infinitely holy: Fallen Man is hateful, but Christ is in­finitely lovely: Fallen Man is the Object of God's In­dignation, but Christ is infinitely dear to him: W [...] have dreadfully provoked God, but Christ has performed that Righteousness that is infinitely precious in God's Eyes.

And here is not only infinite Strength and infinite Worthiness, but infinite Conde [...]cersion; and Love and Mer­cy, as great as Power and Dignity. If you are a poor distressed Sinner, whose Heart is ready to sink for Fear that God never will have Mercy on you, you need not be afraid to go to Christ, for Fear that he is either una­ble or unwilling to help you: Here is a strong Foun­dation, and an inexhaustible Treasure, to answer the Necessities of your poor Soul; and here is infinite Grace and Gentleness to invite and embolden a poor unwor­thy fearful Soul to [...] to it. If Christ accepts of you, you need not fear but that you will be safe; for he is a strong Lion for your Defence: And if you come, you need not fear but that you shall be accepted▪ [...] he is like a Lamb to all that come to him▪ and receives them with infinite Grace and Tenderness. 'Tis true he has awful Majesty; he is th [...] great God, and is infinite­ly high above you; but there is this to encourage and embolden the poor Sinner, that Christ is Man as well as God; he is a Creature, as well as the Creator; and he is the most humble and lowly in Heart of any Crea­ture in Heaven or Earth. This may well make the [Page 273] poor unworthy Creature bold in coming to him. You need not hesitate one Moment; but may run to him, and cast your self upon him: You will certainly be graciously and meekly received by him. Though he be a Lion, he will only be a Lion to your Enemies; but he will be a Lamb to you.—It could not have been conceived, had it not been so in the Person of Christ, that there could have been so much in any Saviour, that is inviting, and tending to encourage Sinners to trust in him. Whatever your Circumstances are, you need not be afraid to come to such a Saviour as this: Be you never so wicked a Creature, here is Wor [...]ness enough: Be you never so poor, and mean, and ignorant a Creature, there is no Danger of being despised; for though he be so much greater than you, he is also im­mensely more humble than you. Any one of you that is a Father or Mother, won't despise one of your own Children that comes to you in Distress; much less Danger is there of Christ despising you, if you in you [...] Heart come to him.

Here let me a little expostulate with the poor, bur­dened, distressed Soul.

1. What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your Soul upon Christ? Are you afraid that he can't save you, that he is not strong enough to conquer the Enemies of your Soul? But how can you desire one stronger than the mighty God? as Christ is called, Isai. 9 6. [...] need of greater than infinite Strength? Are you afraid that he won't be willing to stoop so low, as to [...] any gracious Notice of you? But [...], look on him, [...] he stood in the Ring of Soldiers, exposing his blessed Face to be buffeted and spit upon, by them▪ Behold him bound, [...] his Back uncovered to those that smote him! And behold him hanging on the Cross! Do you think that he that had Condescension enough to stoop to these Things, and that for his Crucifiers, w [...]ll be unwilling to accept of you if you come to him? Or, are you afraid that if he does accept of you, that God the Father won't accept of him for you? But consider, [Page 274] Will God reject his own Son, in whom his infinite Delight is, and has been, from all Eternity, and that is so united to him, that if he should reject him he would reject himself?

2. What is there that you can desire should be in a Sa­viour, that is not in Christ? Or, Wherein should you desire a Saviour should be otherwise than Christ is? What Ex­cellency is there wanting? What is there that is great or good? What is there that is venerable or winning? What is there that is adorable or endearing? Or, what can you think of that would be encouraging, that is not to be found in the Person of Christ? Would you have your Saviour to be great and honourable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean Person? And, is not Christ a Person honourable enough to be worthy that you should be dependant on him? Is he not a Per­son high enough to be worthy to be appointed to so honourable a Work as your Salvation? Would you not only have a Saviour that is of high Degree, but would you have him notwithstanding his Exaltation and Dig­nity, to be made also of low Degree, that he might have Experience of Afflictions and Trials, that he might learn by the Things that he has suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted? And has not Christ been made low enough for you? And has he not suffered enough? Would you not only have him have Experience of the Afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing Wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in Danger of it and afraid of it? This Christ has had Experience of, which Experience gave him a greater Sense of it, a thousand Times, than you have, or any Man living has. Would you have your Saviour to be one that is near to God, that so his Mediation might be prevalent with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only begotten Son, of the same Essence with the Fa­ther? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free Acce [...]s to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same Nature, and not only so, but united to [Page 275] you by a spiritual Union, so close as to be fitly repre­sented [...] the Union of the Wife to the Husband, of the Branch to the Vine, of the Member to the Head yea, so as to be looked upon as one, and called one Spirit? For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him. Would you have a Saviour that has given some great and extraordinary Testimony of Mercy and Love to Sinners, by some Thing that he has done, as well as by what he says? And can you think, or conceive of greater Things than Christ has done? Was it not a great Thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human Nature, to be not only God, but Man thence forward to all Eter­nity? But would you look upon Suffering for Sinners to be a yet greater Testimony of Love to Sinners, than m [...]erly Doing, though it be never so extraordinary a Thing that he has done? And would you desire that a Saviour should suffer more than Christ has suffered for Sinners?—What is there wanting, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Saviour?

But further to induce you to accept of Christ as your Saviour, consider two Things particularly.

1. How much Christ appears as the Lamb of God, in his Invitations to you, to come to him and trust in him. With what sweet Grace and Kindness does he from Time to Time, call and invite you; as Prov. 8. 4 Unto you, O Men I call, and my Voice is to the Sons of Men. And Isai. 55. 1, 2, 3. Ho every one that thirsteth, Come ye to the Waters, and he that hath no Money, come ye, buy and eat, yea, come buy Wine and Milk, without Money, and with­out Price. How gracious is he here in inviting every one that thirsts, and in so repeating his Invitation over and over, Come ye to the Waters, Come buy and eat, yea come! and in declaring the Excellency of that En­tertainment which he invites you to accept of, Come buy Wine and Milk! and in assuring you that your Poverty, and having nothing to pay for it, shall be no Objection▪ Come, he that hath no Money, come without Money, and without Price! And in the gracious Arguments and Ex­postulations that he uses with you! As it follows, Where­fore [Page 276] do ye spend Money for that which is not Bread, and your Labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken dili­gently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your Soul delight it self in Fatness. As much as to say, ‘'Tis altogether needless for you to continue labour­ing and toiling for that which can never serve your Turn, seeking Rest in the World, and in your own Righteousness;—I have made abundant Provision for you, of that which is really good, and will fully satisfy your Desires, and answer your End, and stand ready to accept of you: You need not be afraid; if you will come to me▪ I will engage to see all your Wants supplied, and you made an happy Creature.’ As he promises in the third Verse, Incline your Ear, and come unto me; Hear, and your Soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure Mer­cies of David. And so, Prov. 9 at the Beg. How graci­ous and sweet is the Invitation there! Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; let you be never so poor, igno­rant, and blind a Creature, you shall be welcome. And in the following Words, Christ sets forth the Provision that he has made for you, Come eat of my Bread, and drink of the Wine which I have mingled. You are in a poor famishing State, and have nothing wherewith to feed your perishing Soul; you have been seeking something, but yet remain destitute; Hearken! how Christ calls you to eat of his Bread, and to drink of the Wine that he hath mingled! And how much like a Lamb does Christ appear, in Matth 11. 28, 29, 30. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you Rest: Take my Yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in Heart, and ye shall find Rest to your Souls. For my Yoke is easy, and my Burden is light. O thou poor distressed Soul! Whoever thou art that art afraid that you never shall be saved, consider that this that Christ mentions is your very Case, when he calls to them that labour and are heavy laden! And how he repeatedly promises you Rest if you come to him! In the 28th Verse he says, I will give you Rest; and in the 29th Verse, Ye shall find Rest to your Souls. [Page 277] This is what you want! This is the Thing you have been so long in Vain seeking after! O how sweet would Rest be to you, if you could but obtain it! Come to Christ, and you shall obtain it. And hear how Christ, to encourage you, represents himself as a Lamb! He tells you that he is meek and lowly in Heart; and are you afraid to come such an one? And again, Rev. 3. 20. Behold, I stand at the Door and knock: If any Man hear my Voice, and open the Door, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with me. Christ conde­scends not only to call you to him; but he comes to you, he comes to your Door, and there knocks. He might send an Officer, and seize you as a Rebel and vile Malefactor; but instead of that, he comes & knocks at your Door, and seeks that you would receive him into your House, as your Friend and Saviour. And he not only knocks at your Door, but he stands there waiting, while you are backward and unwilling. And not only so, but he makes Promises what he will do for you, if you will admit him, what Privileges he will admit you to; he will sup with you, and you with him. And again, Rev. 22 16, 17. I am the Root, and the Offspring of Da­vid, the bright and the Morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come: And let him that heareth, say, Come; and let him that is athirst, Come: And whosoever will let him come, and take of the Water of Life freely. How does Christ here graciously set before you his own winning attractive Excellency! And how does he con­descend to declare to you, not only his own Invitation, but the Invitation of the Spirit and the Bride, if by any Means he might encourage you to come! And how does he invite every one that will, that they may take of the Waters of Life freely, that they may take it a free Gift, however precious it be, and though it be the Wa­ter of Life!

2. If you do come to Christ he will appear as a Lion, in his glorious Power and Dominion, to defend you. All those Excellencies of his in which he appears as a Lion, shall be yours, and [...] be employed for you, in your Defence, for your Safety, and to promote your Glory; [Page 278] he will be as a Lion to fight against your Enemies: He that touches you, or offends you, will provoke his Wrath, as he that stirs up a Lion.—Unless your Enemies can conquer this Lion, they shall not be able to destroy or hurt you; unless they are stronger than he, they shall not be able to hinder your Happiness. Isai. 31. 4. For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, like as the Lion, and the young Lion, roaring on his Prey, when a Multitude of Shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be a­fraid of their Voice, nor abase himself [...] the Noise of them; so shall the Lord of Hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion, and for the Hill thereof.

III. Let what has been said, be improved to induce you to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and choose him for your Friend and Portion. As there is such an admirable Meeting of diverse Excellencies in Christ, so there is every Thing in him to render him worthy of your Love and Choice, and to win and engage it. Whatsoever there is, or can be, that is desireable to be in a Friend, is in Christ, and that to the highest Degree that can be desired.

Would you choose a Friend that is a Person of great Dignity?—It is a Thing taking with Men to have those for their Friends that are much above them; be­cause they look upon themselves honoured by the Friendship of such. Thus how taking would it be with an inferior Maid, to be the Object of the dear Love of some great and excellent Prince. But Christ is infinite­ly above you, and above all the Princes of the Earth; for he is the King of Kings.—So honourable a Per­son as this offers himself to you, in the nearest and dear­est Friendship.

And would you choose to have a Friend not only great but good?—In Christ infinite Greatness, and in­finite Goodness meet together, and receive Lustre and Glory one from another. His Greatness is render'd love­ly by his Goodness. The greater any one is without Goodness, so much the greater Evil; but when infinite Goodness is joined with Greatness, it renders it a glorious [Page 279] and adorable Greatness. So on the other Hand, his in­finite Goodness receives Lustre from his Greatness. He that is of great Understanding and Ability, and is withal of a good and excellent Disposition, is deservedly more esteemed, than a lower and lesser Being, with the same kind Inclination and Good Will. Indeed Goodness is excellent in whatever Subject it be found; it is Beau­ty and Excellency it self, and renders all excellent that are possessed of it; and yet more excellent when joined with Greatness; as the very same excellent Qualities of Gold, do render the Body in which they are inherent more precious, and of greater Value, when joined with greater, than when with lesser Dimensions. And how glorious is the Sight, to see him who is the great Crea­tor and supreme Lord of Heaven and Earth, full of Con­descension, and tender Pity and Mercy, towards the mean and unworthy! His almighty Power, and infinite Ma­jesty and Self Sufficiency render his exceeding Love and Grace the more surprizing. And how do his Conde­scension and Compassions endear his Majesty, Power, and Dominion, and render those Attributes pleasant, that would otherwise be only terrible! Would you not de­sire that your Friend, though great and honourable, should be of such Condescension and Grace, and so to have the Way opened to free Access to him, that his Exaltation above you might not hinder your free En­joyment of his Friendship?

And would you choose, not only, that the infinite Greatness and Majesty of your Friend should be as it were mollified and sweeten'd with Condescension and Grace; but would you also desire to have your Friend in your own Nature, that he might be brought nearer to you? Would you choose a Friend far above you, and yet as it were upon a Level with you too? (Though it be taking with Men to have a near and dear Friend of su­perior Dignity, yet there is also an Inclination in them to have their Friend a Sharer with them in Circumstan­ces.) Thus is Christ. Though he be the great God, yet [...] himself down to be upon a Level [...] you, [...] become Man as you are, that [Page 280] he might not only be your Lord, but your Brother, and that he might be the more fit to be a Companion for such a Worm of the Dust.—This is one End of Christ's taking upon him Man's Nature, that his People might be under Advantages for a more familiar Converse with him, than the infinite Distance of the divine Na­ture would allow of. And upon this Account the Church longed for Christ's Incarnation, Cant. 8. 1. O thou that wert my Brother, that s [...]cked the Breasts of my Mother; when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. One Design of God in the Gospel, is to bring us to make God the Object of our undivided Respect, that he may engross our Regard every Way, that whatever natural Inclination there is in our Souls, he may be the Center of it; that God may be all in all▪ But there is an Inclination in the Crea­ture, not only to the Adoration of a Lord and Sovereign, but to Complacence in some one as a Friend, to love and delight in some one that may be convers'd with as a Compa [...]ion. And Virtue and Holiness don't destroy or weaken this Inclination of our Nature. But so hath God contrived in the Affair of our Redemption, that a divine Person may be the Object even of this Inclination of our Nature. And in order hereto, such an one is come down to us, and has taken our Nature, and is become one of us, and calls himself our Friend, Brother, and Companion. Psalm 122. 8. For my Brethren and Com­panions Sake, will I now say, Peace be within thee.

But, is it not enough to invite and encourage to free Access to a Friend so great and high, that he is one of infinite condescending Grace, and also has taken your own Nature, and is become Man? But would you further to embolden and win you, have him a Man of wonderful Meekness & Humility? Why such an one is Christ! He is not only become Man for you, but far the meekest and most humble of all Men, the greatest In­stance of these sweet Virtues, that ever was, or will be. And besides these, he has all other human Excellencies, in the highest Perfection. These indeed are no proper Addition to his divine Excellencies. Christ has no more [Page 281] Excellency in his Person, since his Incarnation, than he had before; for divine Excellency is infinite, and can't be added to: Yet his human Excellencies are additional Manifestations of his Glory and Excellency to us, and are additional Recommendations of him to our Esteem and Love, who are of finite Comprehension. Though his human Excellencies are but Communications and Reflec­tions of his divine; and though this Light, as reflected, falls infinitely short of the divine Fountain of Light; in its immediate Glory; yet the Reflection shines not without its proper Advantages, as presented to our View and Affection. As the Glory of Christ appears in the Qualifications of his human Nature, it appears to us in Excellencies that are of our own Kind, and are exercised in our own Way and Manner, and so, in some Respects, are peculiarly sitted to invite our Acquaintance, and draw our Affection. The Glory of Christ as it appears in his Divinity, though it be far brighter, yet doth i [...] also more dazzle our Eyes, and exceeds the Strength o [...] Comprehension of our Sight: But as it shines in the human Excellencies of Christ, it is brought more to a Le­vel with our Conceptions, and Sutableness to our Nature and Manner, yet retaining a Semblance of the same divine Beauty, and a Savour of the same divine Sweetness But as both divine and human Excellencies meet together in Christ, they set off and recommend each other to us. It is what tends to endear the divine and infinite Ma­jesty and Holiness of Christ to us, that these are Attri­butes of a Person that is in our Nature, that is one of us, that is become our Brother, and is the meekest and humblest of Men; it encourages us to look upon these divine Perfections, however high and great, yet as what we have some near Concern in, and more of a Right to, and Liberty freely to enjoy. And on the other Hand, how much more glorious and surprizing do the Meek­ness, the Humility, Obedience, and Resignation, and o­ther human Excellencies of Christ appear, when we consider that they are in so great a Person, as the eter­nal Son of God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth!

[Page 282] By your choosing Christ for your Friend and [...] you will obtain these two infinite Benefits.

1. Christ will give himself to you, with all those va­rious Excellencies that meet in him, to your full and everlasting Enjoyment. He will ever after treat you as his dear Friend; and you shall e're long be where he is, and shall behold his Glory, and shall dwell with him, in most free & intimate Communion and Enjoyment.

When the Saints get to Heaven, they shall not meer­ly see Christ, and have to do with him as Subjects and Servants with a glorious and gracious Lord and Sove­reign, but Christ will entertain them as Friends and Brethren. This we may learn from the Manner of Christ's conversing with his Disciples here on Earth: Though he was their Sovereign Lord, and did not re­fuse, but required, their supreme Respect and Adoration, yet he did not treat them as earthly Sovereigns are wont to do their Subjects; he did not keep them at an awful Distance; but all along conversed with them with the most friendly Familiarity, as a Father amongst a Compa­ny of Children, yea, as with Brethren. So he did with the twelve, and so he did with Mary, Martha and La­zarus He told his Disciples, that he did not call them Servants, but Friends, and we read of one of them that leaned on his Bosom. And doubtless he will not treat his Disciples with less Freedom and Endearment in Hea­ven: He won't keep them at a greater Distance for his being in a State of Exaltation; but he will rather take them into a State of Exaltation with him. This will be the Improvement Christ will make of his own Glory, to make his beloved Friends Partakers with him, to glorify them in his Glory, as he says to his Father, Joh. 17 22, 23. And the Glory which thou hast given [...], have I give them, that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them, &c. We are to consider, that though Christ is greatly exalted, yet he is exalted not as a private Person, for himself only, but as his People's Head; he [...] exalted in their Name, and upon their Account, as the First-Fruits, and as representing the whole Harvest. [...] not ex­alted that he may be at a greater Distance from them, but [Page 283] that they may be exalted with him. The Exaltation and Honour of the Head is not to make a greater Dis­tance between the Head and the Members; but the Members have the same Relation and Union with the Head they had before, and are honoured with the Head; and instead of the Distance being greater, the Union shall be nearer, and more perfect. When Belie­vers get to Heaven, Christ will conform them to himself; as he is set down in his Father's Throne, so they shall sit down with him on his Throne, and shall in their Measure be made like him.

When Christ was going to Heaven, he comforted his Disciples with that, that after a while, he would come again, and take them to himself, that they might be with him again. And we are not to suppose that when the Disciples got to Heaven, they found him keeping a greater Distance, than he used to do. No, doubtless, he embraced them as Friends, and welcom'd them to his, and their, Father's House, and to his, and their, Glory. They that had been his Friends in this World, that had been together with him here, and had together partook of Sorrows and Troubles, are now welcom'd by him to Rest, and to partake of Glory with him. He took them and led them into his Chambers, and shewed them all h [...]s Glory; as he prayed, John 17. 24 Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me, that they may behold the Glory which thou hast given me. And he led them to his living Fountains of Waters, and made them partake of his Delights; as he prays, John 17. 13. [...] Joy may be fulfilled in themselves. And set them down with him at his Table in his Kingdom, and made them partake with him of his Dainties, according to his Promise, Luke 22. 30. And led them into his Banquet­ing-House, and made them to drink new Wine with him in the Kingdom of his heavenly Father; as he fore­told them, when he instituted the Lord's Supper; Matth. 26. 2 [...].

Yea, the Saints Conversation with Christ in Heaven, shall not only be as intimate, and their Access to him as free, as of the Disciples on Earth▪ but in many Respects, [Page 284] much more so: for in Heaven, that vital Union shall be perfect, which is exceeding imperfect here. While the Saints are in this World, there are great Remains of Sin and Darkness, to seperate or disunite them from Christ; which shall then all be removed. This is not a Time for that full Acquaintance, and those glorious Manifesta­tions of Love, which Christ d [...]signs for his People here­after; which seems to be sign [...]fi [...]d by Christ's Speech to Mary Magdalene, when ready to embrace him, when [...]he met him after his Resurrection▪ John 20. 17 Jesus [...]aith unto her, touch me not, for I am n [...]t yet ascended to my Father.

When the Saints shall see Christ's Glory and Exalta­tion in Heaven, it will indeed possess their Hearts with the greater Admiration and ad [...]ing Respect, but will not [...] into any Separation, but will serve only to heighten their Surprize and Joy, when they find Christ condescending to admit them to such intimate Access, and so freely and fully communicating himself to them▪

So that if we choose Christ for our Friend and Portion, we shall hereafter be so received to him, that there shall be nothing to hinder the fullest Enjoyment of him, to the satisfying the utmost Cravings of our Souls. We may take our full Swing at gratifying our spiritual Ap­petite after these holy Pleasures. Christ will then say, as in Cant 5. 1 Eat. O Friends▪ Drink, yea drink abun­dantly, O Beloved And this shall be our Entertainment to all Eternity! There shall never be any End of this Happiness, or any Thing to in [...]e [...]rupt our Enjoyment of it, or in the least to molest us in it!

2 By your being united to Christ, you will have a more glorious Union with, and Enjoyment of, God the Father, than otherwise could be. For hereby the Saints Relation to God becomes much nearer; they are the Children of God in an higher Manner, than otherwise could be. For being Members of God's [...] natural Son, th [...] are in a Sort Partakers of his Relation to the Father: They are not only Sons of God by Regenera­tion, but by a Kind of Communion in the So [...]h [...]p of the eternal Son. This seems to be intended, Gal. 4 4, 5, 6. [Page 285] God sent forth his Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that are under the Law, that we might receive the Adoption of Sons. And because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your Hearts, crying Abba, Father.—The Church is the Daughter of God, not only as he hath begotten her by his Word and Spirit, but as the is the Spouse of his eter­nal Son.

So we being Members of the Son, are Partakers in our Measure, of the Father's Love to the Son, and Compla­cence in him. John 17. 23. I in them, and thou in me,—Thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. And Verse 26. That the Love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them. And Chap 16. 27. The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. So we shall, according to our Capacities, be Partakers of the Son's Enjoyment of God, and have his Joy fulfilled in our selves, John 17. 13. And by this Means, we shall come to an immensely higher, more intimate, and full Enjoyment of God, than otherwise could have been. For there is doubtless an infinite Intimacy between the Father and the Son; which is expressed by his being in the Bosom of the Father. And Saints being in him, shall, in their Mea­sure and Manner, partake with him in it, and of the Blessedness of it.

And thus is the Affair of our Redemption ordered, that thereby we are brought to an immensely more ex­alted Kind of Union with God, and Enjoyment of him, both the Father and the Son, than otherwise could have been. For Christ being united to the human Nature, we have Advantage for a more free and full Enjoyment of him, than we could have had if he had remained only in the divine Nature. So again, we being united to a di­vine Person, as his Members, can have a more intimate Union and Intercourse with God the Father, who is [...] in the divine Nature, than otherwise could be▪ Christ who is a divine Person, by taking on him our Nature, d [...]scends from the infinite Distance and Height above us, and is brought nigh [...] to us; whereby we have Advantage [Page 286] for the full Enjoyment of him. And, on the other Hand, we, by being in Christ a divine Person, do as it were ascend up to God, through the infinite Distance, and have hereby Advantage for the full Enjoyment of him also.

This was the Design of Christ, to bring it to pass, that He, and his Father, and his People, might all be united in one. John 17. 21, 22, 23. That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the World may believe that thou hast sent me. And the Glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made Perfect in one. Christ has brought it to pass, that those that the Father has given him, should be brought into the Houshold of God; that He, and his Father, and his People, should be as it were one Society, one Family; that the Church should be as it were admitted into the Society of the blessed Trinity.

FINIS.
A Faithful NARRATIVE …
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A Faithful NARRATIVE OF THE Surprising Work of GOD IN THE CONVERSION OF Many HUNDRED SOULS in Northampton, and the Neighbouring Towns and Villages of the County of Hampshire, in the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England.

In a LETTER to the Reverend Dr. BENJAMIN COLMAN, of Boston.

Written by the Revd. Mr. EDWARDS, Minister of Northampton, Nov. 6. 1736.

Published with a Large PREFACE by the Rev. Dr. WATTS and Dr. GUYSE of London:

To which a Shorter is added by Some of the Reverend Ministers of BOSTON.

Together with an ATTESTATION from Some of the Reverend Ministers of Hampshire.

The THIRD EDITION.

BOSTON: N. E Printed&Sold by S. KNEELAND T. GREEN, over against the Prison in Queen-street. 1738.

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THE PREFACE▪

THE Friendly Correspondence which we maintain with our Brethren of New Eng­land, gives us now and then the Pleasure of hearing some remarkable Instances of di­vine Grace in the Conversion of Sinners, and some eminent Examples of Piety in that American Part of the World. But never did we hear or read, since the first Ages of Christianity, any Event of this Kind so surprizing as the present Nar­rative hath set before us. The Revd and worthy Dr. Colman of Boston had given us some short Intimations of it in his Letters; and upon our Request of a more large and particular Account, Mr. Edwards, the happy and successful Minister of Northampton, which was one of the chief Scenes of these Wonders, drew up this History in an Epistle to Dr Colman.

There were some useful Sermons of the Venerable and Aged Mr William Williams publish'd lately in New-England, which were Preached in that Part of the Country during this Season of the glorious Work of God in the Conversion of Men; to which Dr. Colman [...] a most judicious and accurate Abridgement of this Epistl [...]: And a little after, he sent the Original to our Hands, to be communicated to the World under our Care here in London.

We are abundantly satisfy'd of the Truth of this Narrative, not only from the pious Character of the Writer, but from the concurrent Testimony of many [...]her Persons in New England; for this Thing was not [...] in a Corner. There is a Spo [...] of Ground, as we are [...] inform'd, wherein there are twelve or fourteen [Page ii] Towns and Villages, chiefly situate in the County of Hampshire near the Banks of the River of Connecticut, within the Compass of Thirty Miles, wherein it pleased God two Years ago to display his free and sovereign Mercy in the Conversion of a great Multitude of Souls in a short Space of Time, turning them from a formal, cold and careless Profession of Christianity to the lively Exercise of every Christian Grace, and the powerful Practice of our holy Religion. The great God has seem'd to act over again the Miracle of Gideon's Fleece, which was plentifully water'd with the Dew of Heaven, while the rest of the Earth round about it was dry, and had no such remarkable Blessing.

There has been a great and just Complaint for many Years among the Ministers and Churches in Old England, and in New, (except about the Time of the late Earth­quake there) that the Work of Conversion goes on very slowly, that the Spirit of God in his saving Influences is much withdrawn from the Ministrations of his Word, and there are few that receive the Report of the Gospel, with any eminent Success upon their Hearts. But as the Gospel is the same divine Instrument of Grace still, as ever it was in the Days of the Apostles, so our ascended Saviour now and then takes a special Occasion to mani­fest the Divinity of this Gospel by a plentiful Effusion of his Spirit where it is preached: then Sinners are turned into Saints in Numbers, and there is a new Face of Things spread over a Town or Country: The Wil­derness and the solitary Places are glad, the Desert rejoyces and blossoms as the Rose; and surely concerning this In­stance we may add, that they have seen the Glory of the Lord there, and the Excellency of our God, they have seen the Out goings of God our Ki [...]g in his Sanctuary.

Certainly it becomes us, who profess the Religion of Christ, to take Notice of such astonishing Exercises of his Power and Mercy, and give him the Glory which is due, when he begins to accomplish any of his Pro­mises concerning the latter Days: and it gives us fur­ther [Page iii] Encouragement to pray, and wait, and hope for the like Display of his Power in the midst of us. The Hand of God is not shorten'd that it cannot save, but we have Rea­son to fear that our Iniquities, our Coldness in Religion, and the general Carnality of our Spirits, have raised a Wall of Seperation between God and us: And we may add, the Pride and perverse Humour of Infidelity, De­generacy and Apostacy from the Christian Faith, which have of late Years broken out amo [...]gst us, seem to have provoked the Spirit of Christ to absent himself much from our Nation. ‘Return, O Lord, and visit thy Churches, and revive thine own Work in the midst of us.’

From such blessed Instances of the Success of the Gos­pel, as appear in this Narrative, we may learn much of the Way of the Spirit of God in his Dealing with the Souls of Men, in order to Convince Sinners, and restore them to his Favour and his Image by Jesus Christ, his Son. We acknowledge that some particular Appearan­ces in the Work of Conversion among Men may be oc­casion'd by the Ministry which they sit under, whether it be of a more or less Evangelical Strain, whether it be more severe and affrighting, or more gentle and Persua­sive. But wheresoever God works with Power for Salva­tion upon the Minds of Men, there will be some Disco­veries of a Sense of Sin, of the Danger of the Wrath of God, of the All sufficiency of his Son Jesus, to [...]elieve us under all our Spiritual Wants and Distresses, and a hear­ty Consent of Soul to receive him in the various Offices of Grace, wherein he is set forth in the holy Scriptures. And if our Readers had Opportunity (as we have had) to peruse several of the Sermons which were Preached during this glorious Season, we should find that it is the common plain Protestant Doctrine of the Reformati­on, without stretching towards the Antinomians on the one Side, or the Arminians on the other, that the Spirit of God has been pleased to honour with such illustrious Success.

We are taught also by this happy Event how easy it will be for our blessed Lord to make a full Accomplish­ment [Page iv] of all his Predictions concerning his Kingdom, and to spread his Dominion from Sea to Sea, thro' all the Na­tions of the Earth. We see how easy it is for him with one Turn of his Hand, with one Word of his Mouth, to awaken whole Countries of stupid and sleeping Sinners, and kindle divine Life in their Souls. The heavenly Influence shall run from door to door, filling the Hearts and Lips of every Inhabitant with importunate Inquiries, What shall we do to be saved? And [...]ow shall we escape the Wrath to come? And the Name of Christ the Saviour shall diffuse it self like a rich and vi [...]al Perfume to Multitudes that were ready to sink and perish under the painful Sense of their own Guilt and Danger. Salvation shall spread thro' all the Tribes and Ranks of Mankind, as the Lightning from Heaven in a few Moments would communicate a living Flame thro' ten thousand Lamps or Torches placed in a proper Situa­tion and Neighbourhood. Thus a Nation shall be born in a Day when our Redeemer pi [...]ases, and his faithful and obe­dient Subjects shall become as numerous as the Spires of Grass in a Meadow newly mown, and refresh'd with the Showers of Heaven. But the Pleasure of this agreeable Hint bears the Mind away from our Theme.

Let us return to the present Narrative. 'Tis worthy of our Observation, that this great and surprizing Work does not seem to have taken i [...] Rise from any sudden and di­stre [...]ng Calamity or publick Terror that might universally impress the Minds of a People: Here was no Storm, no Earthquake, no Inundation of Water, no Desolation by Fire, no Pestilence or any other sweeping Distemper, nor any cruel Invasion by their Indian Neighbours, that might force the Inhabitants into a serious Thoughtfulness, and a religious Temper by the Fears of approaching Death and Judgment. Such Scenes as these have sometimes been made happily effectual to awaken Sinners in Zion, and the formal Professor and the Hypocrite have been terrify'd with the Thoughts of divine Wrath breaking in upon them, Who shall dwell with everlasting Burrings? But in the present Case the immediate Hand of God in the Work of his Spirit appears much more evident, be­cause [Page v] cause there is no such awful and threat'ning Providence attending it.

It is worthy also of our further Notice, that when many profane Sinners, and formal Professors of Religi­on have been affrighted out of their present Carelesness and Stupidity by some astonishing Terrors approaching them, those religious Appearances have not been so du­rable, nor the real Change of Heart so thoroughly effected: Many of these sort of sudden Converts have dropt their religious Concerns in a great Measure when their Fears of the threat'ning Calamity are vanish'd. But it is a blessed Confirmation of the Truth of this present Work of Grace, that the Persons who were divinely wrought upon in this Season continue still to profess serious Religion, and to practice it without returning to their former Follies.

It may not be amiss in this Place to take Notice, that a very surprizing and threat'ning Providence has this last Year attended the People of Northampton, among whom this Work of divine Grace was so remarkable: Which Providence at first might have been construed by the un­thinking World to be a signal Token of God's Displea­sure against that Town, or a Judgment from Heaven upon the People; but soon afterwards, like Paul's shak­ing the Viper off from his Hand, it discovered the a­stonishing Care and Goodness of God express'd towards a Place where such a Multitude of his young Converts were assembled: Nor can we give a better Account of it than in the Language of this very Gentleman, the Revd Mr. Edwards, Minister of that Town, wh [...] wrote the follow­ing Letter, which was publish'd in New-England.

WE in this Town, were the last Lord's Day the Specta­tors, and many of us the Subjects, of one of the most amazing Instances of divine Preservation, that perhaps was ever known in the Land: Our Meeting-House is old and deca [...]'d, so that we have been for some time building a new one, which [...]s yet▪ unfinish'd: It has been observed of late, that the House that [Page vi] we have hitherto met in has gradually spread at bottom, the Cells and Walls giving way, especially in the Foreside, by reason of the Weight of Timber at top, pressing on the Braces that are inserted into the Posts and Beams of the House. It has so done more than ordinarily this Spring; which seems to have been occasion'd by the heaving of the Ground by the extream Frosts of the Winter past, and its now settling again on that side which is next the Sun, by the Thaws of the Spring: By this means the under-pinning has been considerably disorder'd, which People were not sensible of, till the ends of the Joysts which bore up the front Gallery, by the Walls giving way, were drawn off from the Girts on which they rested; so that in the midst of the publick Exercise in the Forenoon, soon after the beginning of Sermon, the whole Gallery full of People, with all the Seats and Timber suddenly and with­out any Warning sunk, and fell down, with most amazing noise upon the Heads of those that sat under, to the astonishment of the Congregation, the House being fill'd with dolorous, Shrieking and Crying; and nothing else was expected than to find many People dead, and dashed to pieces.

The Gallery in falling seem'd to break and sink first in the middle; so that those who were upon it were thrown together in heaps before the front Door: But the whole was so sudden, that many of them that felt knew nothing in the time of it what it was that had befallen them; and others in the Congregation knew not what it was that had happen'd with so great a Noise [...] many thought it had been an amazing Clap of Thunder: The falling Gallery seem'd to be broken all to pieces before it got down; so that some that fell with it, as well as those that were under, were buried in the Ruins, and were found press'd under heavy Loads of Timber, and could do nothing to help themselves.

But so mysteriously and wonderfully did it come to pass, that every Life was preserved; and tho' many were greatly bruised, and their Flesh torn, yet there is not▪ as I can understand, one [...]one broke, or so much as put out of Joint among them all: Some that were thought to be almost dead at first, are greatly recover'd; and but one young Woman seems yet to remain in dangerous Cir­cumstances, by an inward Hurt in her Breast: but of late there appears more Hope of her Recovery.

[Page vii] There is none can give any Account, or conceive by what Means it should come to pass, that Peoples Lives and Limbs should be thus preserv'd, when so great a Multitude were thus imminently exposed: It looked as tho' it was impossible it should be otherwise, thanthat great Numbers should instantly he cr [...]sh [...]d to death or dashed in pieces: It seems unreasonable to ascribe it to any thing else, but the Care of Providence in disposing the Motions of every Stick of Timber, & the precise Place of Safety where every one should sit, & fall, when none were in any Capacity to take care for their own Preservation. The Preservation seems to be most wonderful, with Respect to the Women, and Children that were in the mid­dle Alley, under the Gallery, where it came down first, and with greatest Force, and where was nothing to break the Force of the falling Weight.

Such an Event may be a sufficient Argument of a Divine Providence over the Lives of Men. We thought ourselves cal­led to set apart a Day to be spent in the solemn Worship of God, so humble ourselves under such a Rebuke of God upon us in the Time of publick Service in God's House by so dangro [...]s and surprizing an Accident; and to praise his Name for so wonderful, and as it were Miraculous a Preservation; and the last Wednes­day was kept by us to that End: And a Mercy in which the Hand of God is so remarkably evident, may be well worthy to effect the Hearts of all that hear it.

Thus far the Letter.

But it is time to conclude our Preface. If there should be any thing found in this Narrative of the surprizing Conversion of such Numbers of Souls, where the Senti­ments or the Style of the Relater, or his Inferences from Matters of Fact, do not appear so agreeable to every Reader, we hope it will have no unhappy influence to discourage the Belief of this glorious Event. We must allow every Writer his own Way; and must allow him to chuse what particular Instances he would select, from the numerous Cases which came before him. And tho' he might have chosen others perhaps, of more significancy in the eye of the World, th [...]n the Woman and the Child, whose Experiences he relates at large; yet 'tis [Page viii] evident he chose that of the Woman, because she was dead, and she is thereby uncapable of knowing any Honours or Reproaches on this Account. And as for the Child, those who were present, and saw and heard such a remarkable and lasting Change, on one so every young, must necessarily receive a stronger Impression from it, and a more agreeable Surprize than the meer Narration of it can communicate to others at a distance. Childrens Language always loses its striking Beauties at second-hand.

Upon the whole, we declare our Opinion, that this Ac­count of such an extraordinary and illustrious Appearance of divine Grace in the Conversion of Sinners, is very like by the Blessing of God to have a happy Effect, towards the Honour and Enlargement of the Kingdom of Christ.

May the worthy Writer, of this Epistle, and all those his Revd Brethren in the Ministry, who have been honour'd in this excellent & important Service, go on to see their La­bours crown'd with daily and persevering Success! May the numerous Subjects of this surprizing Work hold fast what they have received, and increase in every Christian Grace and Blessing! May a plentiful Effusion of the blessed Spirit, also, descend on the British Isles, and all their American Plantations, to renew the Face of Religion there! And we intreat our Readers in both Englands, to join with us in our hearty Addresses to the Throne of Grace, that this wonderful Discovery of the hand of God in saving Sinners, may incourage our Faith and Hope of the Accomplishment of all his Words of Grace, which are written in the Old Testament and in the New, concerning the large Extent of this Salvation in the Latter Days of the World. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, and spread thy Do­minion thro' all the Ends of the Earth, Amen.

  • ISAAC WATTS.
  • JOHN GUYSE.
[Page]

PREFACE.

WHEN the Disciples of our glorious Lord were filled with Sorrow upon the heavy Tidings of his Departure from them. He chear'd their drooping Spirits with that good Word, John 16. 7. Nevertheless, I tell you the Truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And after his Ascension, he fulfill'd this great and precious Promise by the extraordi­nary Effusion of his Spirit, under whose Conduct and Influence, the Apostles went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them: so that when we read the Acts of the A­postles, we must say; Not by Might, nor by Power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts. And tho', soon after the first Days of Christianity, there was a dreadful Apostacy, yet God did not wholly take his Spirit from his People; but rais'd up faithful Witnesses to testify against the Heresies and Corruptions of the Times wherein they lived. And since Antichrist that wicked One has been reveal'd, our Lord, according to his Word, has been gradually consuming him with the Spirit of his Mouth, in the Reformation.

Nor have we in these remote Corners of the Earth, where Satan had his Seat from Time im­memorial, been lest without a Witness of the divine Power and Grace. Very remarkable was the Work of God's Spirit stirring up our Fore Fathers to leave a pleasant Land, and transport themselves over a vast Ocean into this then howling Wilderness; that they might enjoy Communion with Christ in the Purity of his Ordinances, and leave their Children in the quiet [Page ii] Possession of the Blessings of his Kingdom And God was eminently present with them by his Word & Spirit.

Yea, we need look no higher than our own Times, to find abundant Occasion to celebrate the wonderful Works of God. Thus when God arose and shook the Earth. * his loud Call to us in that amazing Providence was follow'd, so far as Man can judge, with the still Voice of his Spirit, in which He was present to awaken many and bring them to say trembling, What must we do to be saved? Yea, as we hope. to turn not a few from Sin to God in a thorough Conversion. But when the Bitterness of Death was past, much the greater Part of those whom God's Terrors affrighted, gave sad Occasion to remember those Words, Psalm 78. 34.—36 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. And they remembred that God was their Rock, and the high God their Redeemer. Ne­vertheless, they did flatter him with their Mouths, and they lied unto him with their Tongues. And there has since been great Reason to complain of our speedy Return to our former Sins, notwithstanding some Hopes given of a more general Reformation. Yea when more lately, it pleased God to visit many of our Towns with a very mortal Distemper, to that Time in a Manner unknown; whereby great Numbers of our hopeful Children and Youth have been cut off, many very suddenly, and with Circum­stances exceedingly distressing and awful: Yet alass! We have not generally seen, nor duly considered God's Hand stretched out against us; but have given him Reason to complain, as of his ancient People, Why should ye be Stricken any more, ye will revolt more and more And accordingly His Anger is not turned away; but his Hand is stretched out still. [Page iii] A plain Proof of this awful Truth, that the most awakening Dispensations can no farther humble and do us good, than as it pleaseth God to accompany them with his Spirit, and so command his Blessing upon them. But when the Almighty will work by such Means, or with u [...] them, who can hinder him? He acts with sovereign Liberty and irresisti­ble Power. John 3. 8. The Wind bloweth where it lifteth, and thou hearest the Sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Such was his wonderful Work at Northampton, and the neighbouring Towns in the County of Hamp­shire, and some other Places. The Holy Spirit was in a plentiful and extraordinary Manner pour'd out on Persons of every Age and Condition, without such remarkable Providences going before to awaken them; as the Dew falls in the Night, and yet the Effects appear'd as the Light which goeth forth. So that we might well admiring say, What has God wrought! Great was the Number of them who publish'd the Wonders of the Divine Power & Grace; declaring with Humility, what God had done for their Souls. And others who went among them, ac­knowleg'd that the Work exceeded the Fame of it.

Now the psalmist observes that God has made his wonderful Works to be remembred. We therefore apprehend that our Reverend Brother has done well to record and publish this surprizing Work of God; and the Fidelity of his Account would not have been at all doubted of by us, tho' there had not been the concurrent Testimony of Others to it. It is also a Pleasure to us to hear what Acceptance the follow­ing Narrative has found in the other England, where it has had two Impressions already, and been honour'd with a recommendatory Preface, by two Divines of eminent Note in London, viz. the Rev. Dr. Watts, [Page iv] and Dr. Guyse: after whom it may seem Presump­tion in us to attempt any Thing of this Kind. But it having been tho't proper to Reprint this Letter here, and disperse it among our People: We Thankfully embrace this Opportunity to praise the most High, for the exceeding Riches of his Grace, and earnestly to recom­mend this Epistle to the diligent Reading and attentive Consideration of all into whose Hands these shall come. He that hath an Ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. And indeed the particular and distinct Account which the Author has given of God's Dealings with the Souls of Men, at this remarkable Season, in the variety of Cases then set before him, and many of his Observations thereupon, we apprehend are written with that Judg­ment and Skill in divine Things, as declare him to be a Scribe well instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven; and we judge may be very useful to Mini­sters in leading weary Souls to Christ for Rest, and for the Direction & Encouragement of all under the like Operations of the Holy Spirit.—Yea, as the Author observes, ‘There is no one Thing I know of, that God has made such a Means of promoting his Work among us as the News of others Conver­sion’—;We hope that the further Spreading of this Narrative may, by the Divine Blessing, still promote the Conversion of Souls, and quicken God's Children to labour after the clearer Evidences of their Adoption and to bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance. And as this wonderful Work may be consider'd as an Earnest of what God will do to­wards the Close of the Gospel Day, it affords great Encouragement to our Faith and Prayer in plead­ing those Promises which relate to the glorious Ex­tent and Flourishing of the Kingdom of Christ upon Earth, and have not yet had their full and final Accomplishment. And surely the very threatning [Page v] Degeneracy of our Times calls aloud to us all, to be earnest in Prayer for this most needed Blessing, the plentiful Effusion of the Spirit of Truth and Holiness Nor ought the Sense of our own Un­worthiness discourage us when we go to our heavenly Father in the Name of his dear Son, who has purchas'd and receiv'd this great Gift for his People, and says to us, Luke 11 9—13. Ask and it shall be given you—If ye then, being Evil, know how to give good Gifts unto your Children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him.

But we must draw to a Close. May the worthy Author be restored to Health, and long continues to be a rich Blessing to his People! May he still see the Pleasure of the Lord prospering in his Hand; and in particular, may the Spirit of Grace accompa­ny this pious Endeavour to spread the Savour of the Knowlege of Christ, for the everlasting Advantage of many! May it please God to r [...]v [...]ue his Work throughout this Land; and may all the Ends of the Earth see his Salvation!

  • Joseph Sewall
  • Thomas Prince
  • John Webb
  • William Cooper.

P. S. Since the writing this Preface, One of us has receiv'd a Letter from a Reverend and very worthy Minister in Glas [...]ow, in which is the following Passage;

"The Friends of serious Religion here were much re­freshed with a printed Account of the extraordinary Suc­cess of the Gospel, of late, in some Parts of New England. If you can favour me with more particular Accounts of those joyful Events, when you have Opportunity of writing to me, it will much oblige me."

[Page]

To the REVEREND Benjamin Colman, D. D. Pastor of a Church in Boston,

SIR,

IN your Letter of August 19 you inform us, that the Rev. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse desire that some other Ministers, who were Eye and Ear Witnesses to some of those numerous Conver­sions in the other Towns about Northampton, would Attest unto what the Rev. Mr. Edwards has written of them.

We take this Opportunity to assure you that the Account Mr. Edwards has given in his Narra­tive of our several Towns or Parishes is true; and that much more of the like Nature might have been added with Respect to some of them.

We are, Reverend Sir,
Your Brethren and Servants
  • William Williams, Pastor of Hatfield.
  • Ebenezer Devotion—of Suffield.
  • Stephen Williams—of Long Meadow.
  • Peter Raynolds—of Enfield.
  • Nehemiah Bull—of Westfield.
  • Samuel Hopkins—of W. Springfield.
[Page]

A Faithful NARRATIVE OF The Surprizing Work of GOD in the Conversion of many Hundred Souls in Northampton, of New-England, &c.
In a LETTER to the Revd. Dr. COLMAN of Boston, &c.

Reverend and Honoured Sir,

HAVING seen your Letter to my honoured Uncle Williams of Hatfield of July 20, wherein you inform him of the Notice that has been taken of the late wonderful Work of God, in this, and some other Towns in this County; by the Rev. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse of London, and the Congregation to which the last of these preached on a monthly Day of solemn Prayer; as also, of your desire to be more perfectly ac­quainted with it, by some of us on the spot: and having [Page 2] been since informed by my Uncle Williams, that you desire me to undertake it; I would now do it, in as just and faithful a Manner as in me lies.

The People of the County, in general, I suppose, are as sober, and orderly, and good sort of People, as in any Part of New­England; and I believe they have been preserved the freest by far, of any Part of the Country, from Error, and variety of Sects and Opinions. Our being so far within the Land, at a distance from Sea-ports, and in a Corner of the Country, has doubtless been one Reason why we have not been so much corrupted with Vice, as most other Parts. But without ques­tion, the Religion, and good Order of the County, and their Purity in Doctrine, has, under God, been very much owing to the great Abilities, and eminent Piety, of my venerable and honoured Grandfather Stoddard. I suppose we have been the freest of any Part of the Land from unhappy Divis­ion, and Quarrels in our acclesiastical and religious Affairs, till the late lamentable* Springfield Contention.

We being much separated from other Parts of the Pro­vince, and having comparatively but little Intercourse with them, have from the beginning, till now, always managed our ecclesiastical Affairs within our selves: 'tis the way in which the County, from its Infancy, has gone on, by the practical Agreement of all, and the way in which our Peace and good Order has hither to been maintained.

The Town of Northampton is of about 82 Years standing, and has now about 200 Families; which mostly dwell more compactly together than any Town of such a Bigness in these Parts of the Country; which probably has been an Occasion that both our Corruptions, and Reformations have been, from [Page 3] time to time, the more swiftly propagated, from one to another, through the Town. Take the Town is general, and so far as I can judge, they are as Rational and Understanding a Peo­ple as most I have been acquainted with: Many of them have been noted for Religion, and particularly, have been re­markable for their distinct Knowledge in things that relate to Heart Religion, and Christian Experience, and their great Regards thereto.

I am the third Minister that has been settled in the Town: the Rev. Mr. Eleazer Mather, who was the first, was ordain­ed in July, 1669. He was one whose Heart was much in his Work, abundant in Labours for the good of precious Souls; he had the high Esteem and great Love of his Peo­ple, and was blessed with no small Success. The Rev. Mr. Stoddard, who succeeded him, came first to the Town the November after his Death, but was not ordained till September 11. 1672, and died Feb. 11. 1728. 9. So that he continued in the Work of the Ministry here, from his first coming to Town, near 60 Years. And as he was eminent and renown­ed for his Gifts and Grace; so he was blessed, from the be­ginning, with extraordinary Success in his Ministry, in the Conversion of many Souls. He had five Harvests, as he call­ed them: The first was about 57 Years ago; the second a­bout 53 Years; the third about 40; the fourth about 24; the fifth and last about 18 Years ago. Some of these Times were much more remarkable than others, and the ingathering of Souls more plentiful. Those that were about 53, and 40, and 24 Years ago, were much greater than either the first or the last: but in each of them, I have heard my Grandfather say, the bigger Part of the young People in the Town, seemed to be mainly concerned for their eternal Salvation.

After the last of these came a far more degenerate time, (at least among the young People) I suppose, than ever before. Mr. Stoddard, indeed, had the Comfort before he died, of seeing a time where there were no small Appearences of a divine Work amongst some, and a considerable Ingathering of Souls, even after I was settled with him in the Ministry, which was about two Years before his Death; and I have reason to bless [Page 4] God for the great Advantage I had by it. In these two Years there were near twenty that Mr. Stoddard hoped to be savingly converted; but there was nothing of any General Awakening. The greater Part seemed to be at that time very insensible of the things of Religi­on, and engaged in other Cares and Pursuits. Just after my Grandfather's Death, it seemed to be a time of ex­traordinary Dulness in Religion: Licentiousness for some Years greatly prevailed among the Youth of the Town; they were many of them very much addicted to Night-walking, and frequenting the Tavern, and lend Practices, wherein some, by their Example exceedingly corrupted others. It was their Manner very frequently to get together, in Conventions of both Sexes, for Mirth and Jollity, which they called Frolicks; and they would often spend the greater part of the Night in them, with­out regard to any Order in the Families they belonged [...]o: and indeed Family-Government did too much fail in [...]he Town. It was become very customary with many of our young People, to be Indecent in their Carriage at Meeting, which doubtless, would not have prevailed to such a degree, had it not been that my Grandfather, through his great Age, (tho' he retained his Powers surprizingly to the last) was not so able to Observe them. There had also long prevailed in the Town, a Spirit of Contention between two Parties, into which they had for many Years been divided, by which, was maintain'd a Jealousy one of the other, and they were prepared to oppose one another in all publick Affairs.

But in two or three Years after Mr. Stoddard's Death, there began to be a sensible Amendment of these Evils; the young People shew'd more of a Disposition to hear­ken to Counsel, and by degrees left off their Frolicking, and grew observably more Decent in their Attendance on the publick Worship, and there were more that manifested a Religious Concern than there used to be.

At the latter end of the Year 1733. there appeared a very unusual flexibleness, and yielding to Advice, in our young People. It had been too long their manner [Page 5] to make the Evening after the Sabbath * and after our publick Lecture, to be especially the Times of their Mirth, and Company keeping. But a Sermon was now preached on the Sabbath before the Lecture, to shew the Evil Tendency of the Practice, and to persuade them to reform it; and it was urged on Heads of Families, that it should be a thing agreed upon among them to govern their Families, and keep their Children at home, at these times; and withal it was more privately moved, that they should meet together, the next Day, in their several Neighbourhoods, to know each other's Minds: which was accordingly done, and the Motion complied with throughout the Town. But Parents found little, or no occasion for the exercise of Government in the Case: the young People declared themselves convinced by what they had heard from the Pulpit, and were willing of themselves to comply with t [...] Counsel that had been given: and it was immediately, and, I sup­pose, almost universally complied with; and there was a thorough Reformation of these Disorders thenceforward, which has continued ever since.

Presently after this, there began to appear a remarkable Religious Concern at a little Village, belonging to the Congregation, Call'd Pascommuck, where a few Families were settled, at about three Miles distance from the main Body of the Town. At this place, a number of Per­sons seemed to be savingly wrought upon. In the April following, Anno 1734, there happen'd a very sudden and awful Death of a young Man, in the Bloom of his Youth; who being violently seized with a Pleurisy, and taken immediately very delirious, died in about two Days; which (together with what was preached pub­lickly on that Occasion) much affected many young People. This was followed with another Death of a [Page 6] young married Woman, who had been considerably exercised in Mind, about the Salvation of her Soul, be­fore she was ill, and was in great Distress, in the be­ginning of her Illness; but seemed to have satisfying Evidences of God's saving Mercy to her, before her Death; so that she died very full of Comfort, in a most earnest and moving Manner warning, and counselling others. This seem'd much to contribute to the solemni­zing of the Spirits of many young Persons: and there began evidently to appear more of a Religious Concern on People's Minds.

In the Fall of the Year, I proposed it to the young People, that they should agree among themselves to spend the Evenings after Lectures in social Religion, and to that end divide themselves into several Companies to meet in various parts of the Town; which was ac­corgingly done, and those Meetings have been since continued, and the Example imitated by elder People. This was follow'd with the Death of an elderly Person, which was attended with many unusual Circumstances, by which many were much moved and affected.

About this time, began the great Noise that was in this Part of the Country, about Arminianism, which seemed to appear with a very threatning Aspect upon the Interest of Religion here. The Friends of vital Piety trembled for fear of the Issue; but it seemed, contrary to their Fear, strongly to be over-ruled for the promoting of Religion. Many who looked on them­selve as in a Christless Condition, seemed to be awaken'd by it, with fear that God was about to withdraw from the Land, and that we should be given up to Heterodoxy, and corrupt Principles; and that then their Opportunity for obtaining Salvation would be past; and many who were brought a little to doubt about the Truth of the Doctrines they had hitherto been taught, seem'd to have a kind of a trembling Fear with their Doubts, lest they should be led into By-paths, to their eternal undoing: And they seem'd with much Concern and Engagedness of Mind, to enquire what was indeed the Way in which they must come to be accepted with God. [Page 7] There were then some things said publickly on that Oc­casion, concerning Justification by Faith alone.

Altho' great Fault was found with meddling with the Controversy in the Pulpit, by such a Person, and at that time, and tho' it was ridiculed by many elsewhere; yet it proved a Word spoken in season here; and was most evidently attended with a very remarkable Blessing of Heaven to the Souls of the People in this Town. They received thence a general satisfaction with respect to the main thing in question, which they had been in trembling doubts and concern about; and their Minds were engag'd the more earnestly to seek that they might come to be accepted of God, and saved in the Way of the Gospel, which had been made evident to them to be the true and only Way. And th [...]n it was, in the latter part of December, that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work amongst us; and there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six Persons, who were to all appear­ance savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner.

Particularly, I was surprized with the relation of a young Woman, who had been one of the greatest Company-Keepers in the whole Town: When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the Conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious Work of God's infinite Power and sovereign Grace; and that God had given her a new Heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not then doubt of it, and have seen much in my Ac­quaintance with her since to confirm in.

Tho' the Work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the Effect it might have upon others: I was ready to conclude (tho' [...]oo rashly) that some would be harden'd by i [...], in carelessness and looseness of Life; and would take occasion from it to open their Mouths, in Reproaches of Religion. But the Even [...] was the Reverse, to a wonderful degree; God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening to others, of [Page 8] any thing that ever came to pass in the Town. I have had abundant Opportunity to know the Effect it had, by my private Conversation with many. The news of it seemed to be almost like a flash of Lightning, upon the Hearts of young People, all over the Town, and upon many others. Those Persons amongst us, who used to be farthest from seriousness, and that I most feared would make an ill Improvement of it, seemed greatly to be awakened with it; many went to talk with her, concerning what she had met with; and what appeared in her seemed to be to the Satisfaction of all that did so.

Presently upon this, a great and earnest Concern about the great things of Religion, and the eternal World, became universal in all parts of the Town, and among Persons of all Degrees, and all Ages; the Noise amongst the Dry Bones waxed louder and louder: All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things, was soon thrown by; all the Conversation in all Companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, un­less so much as was necessary for People, carrying on their ordinary secular Business. Other Discourse than of the things of Religion, would scarcely be tolerated in any Company. The Minds of People were wonderfully taken off from the World, it was treated amongst us as a thing of very little Consequence: They seem'd to follow their worldly Business, more as a part of their Duty, than from any Disposition they had to it; the Temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly Affairs too much, and to spend too much Time in the immediate Exercise of Religion: Which Thing was exceedingly misrepresented by Reports that were spread in distant Parts of the Land, as tho' the People here had wholly thrown by all worldly Business, and be­took themselves entirely to Reading, and Praying, and such like religious Exercises.

But altho' People did not ordinarily neglect their worldly Business; yet there then was the Reverse of what commonly is: Religion was with all sorts the great Con­cern, and the World was a thing only by the Bye. The [Page 9] only Thing in their view was to get the Kingdom of Heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it: The Engagedness of their Hearts in this great Concern cou'd not be hid, it appear'd in their very Countenances. It then was a dreadful Thing amongst us to lie out of Christ, in danger every day of dropping into Hell; and what Persons minds were intent upon was to escape for their Lives, and to fly from the Wrath to come. All would eagerly lay hold of Opportunities for their Souls; and were wont very often to meet together in private Houses, for religious Purposes: And such Meetings when appointed were wont greatly to be thronged.

There was scarcely a single Person in the Town, either old or young, that was left unconcerned about the great Things of the eternal World. Those that were wont to be the vainest, and loosest, and those that had been most disposed to think, and speak slight­ly of vital and experimental Religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the Work of Conversion was carried on in a most astonishing man­ner, and increased more and more; Souls did as it were come by Flocks to Jesus Christ. From Day to Day, for many Months together, might be seen evident Instances of Sinners brought out of Darkness into marvel­lous Light, and delivered out of an horrible Pit, and from the miry Clay, and set upon a Rock, with a new Song of Praise to God in their mouths.

This Work of God, as it was carried on, and the Number of true Saints multiplied, soon made a glori­ous Alteration in the Town; so that in the Spring and Summer following, Anno 173 [...]. the Town seemed to be full of the Persence of God: It never was so full of Love, nor so full of Joy; and yet so full of Distres [...], as i [...] was then. There were remarkable Tokens of God's Presence in almost every House. It was a time of Joy in Families on the account of Salvation's being b [...]ought unto them; Parents rejoicing over their Chil­dren as new born, and Husbands over their Wives, and Wives over their Husbands. The goings of God were then seen in his Sanctuary, God's Day was a delight, and [Page 10] his Tabernacles were amiable. Our publick Assemblies were then beautiful; the Congregation was alive in God's Service, every one earnestly intent on the Pub­lick Worship, every Hearer eager to drink in the Words of the Minister as they came from his Mouth; the Assembly in general were from time to time, in Tears while the Word was preached; some weeping with Sorrow and Distress, others with Joy and Love, others with Pity and Concern for the Souls of their Neigh­bours.

Our publick Praises were then greatly; enliven'd; God was then served in our Psalmody, in some measure, in the Beauty of Holiness. It has been observable, that there has been scarce any part of Divine Worship, wherein good Men amongst us have had Grace so drawn forth, and their Hearts so lifted up in the Ways of God, as in singing his Praises: Our Congregation excell'd all that ever I knew in the external Part of the Duty before, generally carrying regularly, and well, three Parts of Musick, and the Women a Part by themselves: But now they were evidently wont to sing with unusual Ele­vation of Heart and Voice, which made the Duty pleasant indeed.

In all Companies on other Days, on whatever Occasions Persons met together, Christ was to be heard of and seen in the midst of them. Our young People, when they met, were wont to spend the Time in talking of the Excellency and dying Love of JESUS CHRIST, the Gloriousness of the way of Salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign Grace of God, his glorious Work in the Conversion of a Soul, the Truth and Certainty of the great Things of God's Word, the Sweetness of the Views of his Perfections, &c. And even at Weddings, which formerly were meerly occasions of Mirth and Jollity, there was now no discourse of any thing but the things of Religion, and no appearance of any, but spiritual Mirth.

Those amongst us that had been formerly converted, were greatly enliven'd and renew'd with fresh and ex­traordinary Incomes of the Spirit of God; tho' some [Page 11] much more than others, according to the measure of the Gift of Christ: Many that before had laboured under Difficulties about their own State, had now their Doubts removed by more satisfying Experience, and more clear Discoveries of God's Love.

When this Work of God first appeared, and was so extraordinarily carried on amongst us in the Winter, others round about us, seemed not to know what to make of it; and there were many that scoffed at and ridiculed it; and some compared what we called Con­version, to certain Distempers. But it was very observable of many, that occasionally came [...]mongst us from a­broad, with disregardful Hearts, that what they saw here cured them of such a Temper of Mind: Strangers were generally surprized to find Things so much be­yond what they had heard, and were wont to tell others that the State of the Town could not be conceiv'd of by those that had not seen it. The Notice that was taken of it by the People that came to Town on occasion of the Court, that sat here in the beginning of March, was very observable. And those that came from the Neighbourhood to our publick Lectures, were for the most part remarkably affected. Many that came to Town, on one occasion or other, had their Con­sciences smitten, and awaken'd, and went home with wounded Hearts, and with those Impressions that never wore off till they had hopefully a saving Issue; and those that before had serious Thoughts, had their A­wakenings and Convictions greatly increased. And there were many Instances of Persons that came from abroad, on Visits, or on Business, that had not been long here before to all Appearance they were savingly wrought upon, and partook of that Shower of divine Blessing that God rained down here, and went home Rejoyc­ing; 'till at length the same Work began evidently to appear and prevail in several other Towns in the County.

In the Month of March, the People in South-Hadley began to be seized with deep Concern about the Things of Religion; which very soon became universal: [Page 12] And the Work of God has been very wonderful there; not much, if any thing, short of what it has been here, in proportion to the bigness of the Place. About the same Time, it began to break forth in the West part of Suffield, (where it has also been very great,) and it soon spread into all parts of the Town. It next appear'd at Sunderland, and soon overspread the Town; and I believe was, for a Season, not less remarkable than it was here. About the same time, it began to appear in a part of Deerfield, called Green-River, and after­wards fill'd the Town, and there has been a glorious Work there: It began also to be manifest, in the South part of Hatfield, in a place called the Hill, and after that the whole Town, in the second Week in April, seemed to be seized, as it were at once, with Con­cern about the Things of Religion; and the Work of God has been great there. There has been also a very general Awakening at West Springfield, and Long-Meadow; and in Enfield, there was for a time no small Concern amongst some that before had been very loose Persons. About the same time that this appear'd at Enfield, the Rev. Mr. B [...]ll of Westfield informed me, that there had been a great Alteration there, and that more had been done in one Week there than in seven Years before. Some­thing of this Work like wise appeared in the first Precinct in Springfield, principally in the North and South Extremes of the Parish. And in Hadley old Town, there gradual­ly appear'd so much of a Work of God on Souls, as at another time would have been thought [...]orthy of much Notice. For a short time there was also a very great and general Concern, of the like nature, at North­field. And wherever this Concern appeared, it seemed not to be in vain: But in every P [...]ace God brought saving Blessings with him, and his Word attended with his Spirit (as we have all reason to think) return'd not void. It might well be said at that time in all Parts of the County, Who are these that fly as a Cloud, and as Doves to their Windows?

As what other Towns heard of and found in this, was a great means of awakening them; so our hearing [Page 13] of such a swift, and extraordinary Propagation, and Ex­tent of this Work, did doubtless for a time serve to up­hold the Work amongst us. The continual News kept alive the talk of Religion, and did greatly quicken and rejoice the Hearts of God's People, and much a­waken'd those that looked on themselves as still left be­hind, and made them the more earnest that they also might share in the great Blessing that others had ob­tain'd.

This remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God, which thus extended from one end to the other of this County, was not confin'd to it, but many Places in Connecticut, have partook in the same Mercy: As for instance, the first Parish in Windsor, under the pastoral Care of the Rev. Mr. Marsh was thus blest about the same time, as we in Northampton, while we had no Knowledge of each other's Circumstances: There has been a very great Ingathering of Souls to Christ in that Place, and something Conside­rable of the same Work began after wards, in East Windsor, my honoured Father's Parish, which has in times past, been a Place favoured with Mercies of this nature, above any on this western side of New England, excepting Northampton; there having been four or five Seasons of the pouring out of the Spirit to the general awakening of the People there, since my Father's Settlement amongst them

There was also the last Spring and Summer a wonder­ful Work of God carried on at Coventry under the Ministry of the Rev. Mr. Meacham: I had opportunity to converse with some of Coventry People, who gave me a very remarkable Account of the surprizing Change that appear'd in the most rude and vicious Persons there. The like was also very great at the same time in a Part of Lebanon, called the Crank, where the Rev. Mr. Wheelock, a young Gentleman is lately settled: And there has been much of the same at Durham, under the Ministry of the Rev. Mr. Chauncy; and to appearance no small Ingathering of Souls there And likewise a­mongst many of the young People in the first Precinct in Stratford, under the Ministry of the Rev. Mr. Gould; [Page 14] where the Work was much promoted by the remarkable Conversion of a young Woman that had been a great Company-Keeper, as it was here.

Something of this Work appeared in several other Towns in those Parts, as I was informed when I was there, the last Fall. And we have since been acquaint­ed with something very remarkable of this nature at another Parish in Stratford call'd Ripton, under the pastoral Care of the Rev. Mr. Mills. And there was a considerable Revival of Religion last Summer at New­Haven old Town, as I was once and again informed by the Rev. Mr. Noyes the Minister there, and by others: And by a Letter which I very lately receiv'd from Mr Noyes, and also by Information we have had otherwise, this flourishing of Religion still continues, and has lately much increased: Mr. Noyes writes, that many this Sum­mer have been added to the Church, and particularly mentions several young Persons that belong to the prin­cipal Families of that Town.

There has been a degree of the same Work at a Part of Guilford; and very considerable at Mansfield, un­der the Ministry of the Rev. Mr. Eleazer Williams; and an unusual religious Concern at Tolland; and something of it at Hebron, and Bolton. There was also no small Effusion of the Spirit of God in the North Parish in Preston, in the eastern Part of Connecticut, which I was informed of, and saw something of it, when I was the last Autumn at the House, and in the Congregation of the Rev. Mr. Lord, the Minister there; who, with the Rev. Mr. Owen of Groton, came up hither in May, the last Year, on purpose to see the Work of God here; and having heard various and contradictory Accounts of it, were careful when they were here to inform, and satisfy themselves; and to that end particularly conversed with many of our People; which they declared to be entirely to their Satisfaction, and that the one half had not been told them, nor could be told them. Mr. Lord told me that, when he got home, he informed his Congregation of what he had seen, and that they were greatly affected with it, and that it proved the begin­ning [Page 15] of the same Work amongst them, which prevail­ed till there was a general Awakening, and many In­stances of Persons, who seemed to be remarkably con­verted. I also have lately heard that there has been something of the same Work at Woodbury.

But this Shower of divine Blessing has been yet more extensive: There was no small Degree of it in some parts of the Jerseys; as I was informed when I was at New­York, (in a long Journey I took at that time of [...]he Year for my Health,) by some People of the Jerseys, whom I saw: Especially the Rev. Mr. William T [...]nt, a Minister, who seemed to have such Things much at Heart, told me of a very great awakening of many in a Place called the Mountains, under the Ministry of one Mr. Cross; and of a very considerable Revival of Reli­gion in another Place under the Ministry of his Bro­ther the Rev. Mr. Gilbert Tennent; and also at another Place, under the Ministry of a very pious young Gentleman, a Dutch Minister, whose Name as I remem­ber was Freelinghousa.

This seems to have been a very extraordinary Dis­pensation of Providence: God has in many Respects gone out of, and much beyond his usual, and ordinary Way. The Work in this Town, and some others a­bout us, has been extraordinary on account of the Universality of it, affecting all sorts, sober and vicious, high and low, rich and poor, wise and unwise; it reach'd the most considerable Families and Persons, to all ap­pearance, as much as others. In former stirrings of this nature, the Bulk of the young People have been greatly affected; but old Men, and little Children have been so now. Many of the last have, of their own accord, formed themselves into religious Societies, in different Parts of the Town: A loose careless Person could scarcely find a Companion in the whole Neigh­bourhood; and if there was any one that seemed to remain senseless or unconcerned, it would be spoken of as a strange Thing.

This Dispensation has also appeared very extraordinary in the Numbers of those, on whom [...]e have reason to [Page 16] hope it has had a saving Effect: We have about six hundred and twenty Communicants, which include almost all our adult Persons. The Church was very large be­fore; but Persons never thronged into it, as they did in the late extraordinary Time:—Our Sacraments are eight Weeks asunder, and I receiv'd into our Communion about an hundred before one Sacrament, and fourscore of them at one time, whose Appearance, when they pre­sented themselves together to make an open explicit Profession of Christianity, was very affecting to the Congregation:—I took in near sixty before the next Sacrament Day: But it must be noted that it is not the Custom here, as it is in many other Churches in this Country, to make a credible Relation of their inward Experiences the ground of Admission to the Lord's Supper.

I am far from pretending to be able to determine how many have lately been the Subjects of such Mercy; but it I may be allowed to declare any thing that appears to me probable in a thing of this nature, I hope that more than three Hundred Souls were savingly brought home to Christ, in this Town, in the space of half a Year, (how many more I don't guess) and about the same Number of Males as Females; which, by what I have heard Mr. Stoddard say, was far from what has been usual in Years past, for he observed that in his Time, many more Women were converted than Men. Those of our young People, that are on other accounts most likely and considerable, are mostly, as I hope, truly Pious, and leading Persons in Ways of Religion. Those that were formerly looser young Persons, are generally to all Appearance, become true Lovers of God and Christ, and spiritual in their Dispositions. And I hope that by far the greater part of Persons in this Town, above 16 years of Age, are such as have the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; and so by what I heard I s [...]ppose it is in some other Places, particularly a [...] Sunderland and South Hadley.

This has also appeared to be a very extraordinary Dispensation, in that the Spirit of God has so much [Page 17] extended not only his awakening, but regenerating Influences both to elderly Persons, and also those that are very young. It has been a thing heretof [...]e rarely to be heard of, that any were converted, past middle Age; but now we have the same Ground to think, that many such have in this time been savingly changed, as that others have been so in more early Years. I suppose there were upwards of fifty Persons in this Town above 40 years of Age; and more than twenty of them above 50, and about ten of them above 60, and two of them above 70 years of Age.

It has heretofore been looked on as a strange Thing, when any have seem'd to be savingly wrought upon, and remarkably changed in their Childhood; but now I suppose, near thirty were to Appearance so wrought upon between 10 and 14 Years of Age, and two be­tween 9 and 10, and one of about 4 years of Age; and because I suppose this last will be most difficultly believed, I will hereafter give a particular Account of it. The Influences of God's Spirit have also been very remarkable on Children in some other Places, particu­ [...]ly at Sunderland and South-Hadley, and the West part of Suffield. There are several Families in this Town that are all hopefully pious; yea, there are several numerous Families, in which, I think we have reason to hope that all the Children are truly godly, and most of them lately become so: And there are very few Houses in the whole Town, into which Salvation has not lately come, in one or more Instances. There are several Negroes, that from what was seen in them then, and what is discernable in them since, appear to have been truly born again in the late remarkable Sea­son.

God has also seemed to have gone out of his usual way, in the Quickness of his Work, and the swift Pro­gress his Spirit has made in his Operations on the Hearts of many: 'Tis wonderful that Persons should be so suddenly, and yet so greatly changed: Many have been taken from a loose and careless way of Living, and seized with strong Convictions of their Guilt and [Page 18] Misery, and in a very little time old Things have passed away, and all Things have become new with them.

God's Work has also appeared very extraordinary, in the Degrees of the Influences of his Spirit, both in the Degree of Awakening and Conviction, and also in the Degree of saving Light, and Love, and Joy, that many have experienced. It has also been very ex­traordinary in the Extent of it, and its being so swiftly propagated from Town to Town. In former Times of the pouring out of the Spirit of God on this Town, tho' in some of them it was very Remarkable, yet it reached no further than this Town, the neighbouring Towns all around continued unmoved.

The Work of God's Spirit seemed to be at its great­est Height in this Town, in the former part of the Spring, in March and April; at which time God's Work in the Conversion of Souls was carried on amongst us in so wonderful a manner, that so far as I, by looking back, can judge from the particular Acquaintance I have had with Souls in this Work, it appears to me probable, to have been at the Rate, at least, of four Persons in a Day, or near thirty in a Week, take one with another, for five or six Weeks together: When God in so re­markable a manner took the Work into his own Hands, there was as much done in a Day or two, as at or­dinary Times, with all Endeavours that Men can use, and with such a Blessing as we commonly have, is done in a Year.

I am very sensible how apt many would be, if they should see the Account I have here given, presently to think with themselves that I am very fond of making a great many Converts, and of magnifying and aggran­di [...]ing the matter; and to think that, for want of Judg­ment, I take every religious Pang, and enthusiastick Conceit, for saving Conversion; and I don't much wonder if they should be apt to think so▪ and for this reason [...] have forborn to publish an Account of this great Work of God, tho' I have often been put upon it; but having now as I thought a special Call to give an account of it, upon mature Consideration, I thought it [Page 19] might not be beside my Duty to declare this amazing Work, as it appear'd to me, to be indeed Divine, and to conceal no part of the Glory of it, leaving it with God to take care of the Credit of his own Work, and running the venture of any censorious Thoughts, which might be entertain'd of me to my disadvantage: But that distant Persons may be under as great Advantage as may be, to judge for themselves of this Matter, I would be a little more large, and particular.

I therefore proceed to give an Account of the manner of Persons being wrought upon; and here there is a vast Variety, perhaps as manifold as the Subjects of the Operation; but yet in many Things there is a great Analogy in all.

Persons are first awaken'd with a Sense of their miserable Condition by Nature, the Danger they are in of perish­ing eternally, and that it is of great Importance to them that they speedily escape, and get into a better State. Those that before were secure and senseless, are made sensible how much they were in the way to ruin in their former Courses. Some are more suddenly seized with Convictions; it may be, by the News of others Conversion, or something they hear in publick, or in private Conference, their Consciences are suddenly smit­ten, as if their Hearts were pierced through with a Dart: Others have Awakenings that come upon them more gradually, they begin as first to be something more thoughtful and considerate, so as to come to a Conclusion in their Minds, that 'tis their best and wisest way to delay no longer, but to improve the present Opportunity; and have accordingly set themseves seri­ously to meditate on those Things that have the most awakening Tendency, on purpose to obtain Convictions; and so their Awakenings have increased, till a Sense of their Misery, by God's Spirit setting in therewith, has had fast hold of them. Others that, before this wonderful time, had been something religious and con­cern'd for their Salvation, have been awaken'd in a new manner, and made sensible that their slack and dull way of seeking was never like to attain their Purpose, and [Page 20] so have been roused up to a greater Violence for the Kingdom of Heaven.

These Awakenings when they have fi [...]st seized on Persons have had two Effects: One was, that they have brought them immediately to quit their sinful Practices, and the loo [...]er Sort have been brought to forsake and dread their former Vices and Extravagancies When once the Spirit of God began to be so wonderfully poured out in a general way thro' the Town, People had soon done with their old Quarrels, Backbitings, and intermeddling with other Men's Matters; the Tavern was soon left empty, and Persons kept very much at home; none went abr [...]ad unless on necessary Business, or on some religio [...]s Account, and every Day seemed in many respects like a Sabbath Da [...]. And the other Effect was, that it put them on earnest Application to the means of Salvation, Reading, Prayer, Meditation, the Ordinances of God's House, and private Conference; their Cry was, What shall we do to be saved? The place of Resort was now altered, it was no longer the Tavern, but the Minister's House; that was thronged far more than ever the Tavern had been wont to be.

There is a very great variety as to the Degree of Fear and Trouble that Persons are exercised with, be­fore they obtain any comfortable Evidences of Pardon and Acceptance with God: some are from the beginning carried on with abundantly more Encouragement and Hope than others: some have had ten times less trouble of Mind than others, in whom yet the Issue seems to be the same. Some have had such a Sense of the Dis­pleasure of God, and the great Danger they were in of Damnation, that they could not sleep at Nights; and many have said that when they have laid down, the Thoughts of sleeping in such a Conditon have been f [...]ightful to them, and they have scarcely been free from Terrour while they have been asleep, and they have awaked with Fear, Heaviness, and Distress still abiding on their Spirits. It has been very common, that the deep and fixed Concern that has been on Per­sons [Page 21] Minds, has had a painful Influence on their Bodies, and had given Disturbance to animal Nature.

The awful Apprehensions Persons have had of their Misery, have for the most part been increasing, the nearer they have approached to Deliverance; tho' they often pass through many Changes, and Alterations in the Frame, and Circumstances of their Minds: Some­times they think themselves wholly sensless, and fear that the Spirit of God has left them, and that they are given up to judicial Hardness; yet they appear very deeply exercised about that Fear, and are in great earnest to obtain Convictions again.

Together with those Fears, and that Exercise of Mind which is rational, and which they have just ground for, they have often suffer'd many needless Distresses of Thought, in which Satan probably has a great hand, to entangle them, and block up their way; and some­times the Distemper of Melancholy has been evidently mixed; of which when it happens, the Tempter seems to make great advantage, and puts an unhappy Bar in the way of any good Effect; One knows not how to deal with such Persons, they turn every Thing that is said to them the wrong way, and most to their own Disadvantage: And there is nothing that the Devil seems to make so great a handle of, as a melancholy Humour, unless it be the real Corruption of the Heart.

But it has been very remarkable, that there has been far less of this Mixture in this time of extraordinary Blessing, than there was wont to be in Persons under awakenings at other Times; for it is evident that many that before had been exceedingly involved in such Difficulties, seem'd now strangely to be set at liberty: Some Persons that had before, for a long time, been exceedingly entangled with peculiar Temptations, of one sort or other, and unprofitable and hurtful Distresses, were soon helped over former Stumbling Blocks, that hinder'd any Progress towards saving Good; and Con­victions have wrought more kindly, and they have been successfully carried on in the way to Life. And thus Satan seemed to be restrain [...]d, till towards the latter [Page 22] end of this wonderful Time, when God's Spirit was a­bout to withdraw.

Many times Persons under great Awakenings were concerned, because they thought they were not awaken'd, but miserable, hard-hearted, senseless, so [...]tish Creatures still, and sleeping upon the brink of Hell: The sense of the Need they have to be awaken'd, and of their comparative Hardness, grows upon them with their A­wakenings; so that they seem to themselves to be very senseless, when indeed most sensible. There have been some Instances of Persons that have had as great a Sense of their Danger and Misery, as their Natures could well subsist under, so that a little more would probably have destroyed them; and yet they have exprest themselves much amazed at their own Insensi­bility and Sottishness, in such an extraordinary Time as it then was.

Persons are sometimes brought to the Borders of Dis­pair, and it looks as black as Midnight to them a little before the Day dawns in their Souls; some few Instances there have been of Persons, who have had such a Sense of God's Wrath for Sin, that they have been overborn, and made to cry out under an astonish­ing Sense of their Guilt, wondering that God suffers such guilty Wretches to live upon Earth, and that he doth not immediately send them to Hell; and sometimes their Guilt does so glare them in the Face, that they are in exceeding Terrour for fear that God will in­stantly do it; but more commonly the Distresses under legal Awakenings have not been to such a Degree. In some these Terrours don't seem to be so sharp, when near Comfort, as before; their Convictions have not seem'd to work so much that way, but they seem to be led further down into their own Hearts, to a further Sense of their own universal Depravity, & Deadness in Sin.

The Corruption of the Heart has discover'd it self in various Exercises, in the time of legal Convictions; sometimes it appears in a great Struggle, like something roused by an Enemy, and Satan the old Inhabitant seems to exert himself, like a Serpent disturbed and [Page 23] enraged. Many in such Circumstances, have felt a great Spirit of Envy, towards the Godly, especially towards those that are thought to have been lately converted, and most of all towards Acquaintance and Companions, when they are thought to be converted: Indeed, some have felt many Heart-risings against God, and murmurings at his ways of Dealing with Mankind, and his Deal­ings with themselves in Particular. It has been much insisted on, both in publick and private, that Persons should have the utmost dreard of such en­vious Thoughts, which if allowed tend exceedingly to quench the Spirit of God, if not to provoke him finally to forsake them. And when such a Spirit has much prevailed, and Persons have not so earnestly strove a­gainst it as they ought to have done, it has seem'd to be exceedingly to the hindrance of the Good of their Souls: but in some other Instances, where Persons have been much terrified at the Sight of such Wickedness in their Hearts, God has brought Good to them out of Evil; and made it a Means of convincing them of their own desperate Sinfulness, and bringing them off from all Self-confidence.

The drift of the Spirit of God in his legal strivings with Persons, has seem'd most evidently to be, to make way for, and to bring to, a Conviction of their ab­solute Dependance on his sovereign Power and Grace, and universal Necessity of a Mediator, by leading them more and more to a Sense of their exceeding Wicked­ness and Guiltiness in his sight; the Pollution and In­sufficiency of their own Righteousness, that they can in [...]no wise help themselves, and that God would be wholly just and righteous in rejecting them, and all that they do, and in casting them off for ever: Tho' there be a vast variety, as to the manner, and di­stinctness of Persons Convictions of these things.

As they are gradually more and more convinced of the Corruption and Wickedness of their Hearts, they seem to themselves to grow worse and worse, harder and blinder, and more desperately wicked, instead of growing better; they are ready to be discouraged by [Page 24] it, and oftentimes never think themselves so far off from Good as when they are nearest. Under the sense which the Spirit o [...] God gives them of their Sinfulness, they often think that they differ from all others; their Hearts are ready to sink with the thought, that they are the worst of all, and that none ever obtained Mercy that were so wicked as they.

When Awakenings first begin, their Consciences are commonly most exercised about their outward vicious Course, or other Acts of Sin; but afterwards are much more burdened with a sense of Heart sins, the dreadful Corruption of their Nature, their Enmity against God, the Pride of their Hearts, their Unbelief, their Re­jection of Christ, the Stubbornness and Obstinacy of their Wills; and the like. In many, God makes much use of their own Experience, in the course of their Awaken­ings and Endeavours after saving Good, to convince them of their own vile Emptiness and universal Depravity.

Very often under first Awakenings, when they are brought to reflect on the Sin of their past Lives, and have something of a terrifying sense of God's Anger, they set themselves to walk more strictly, and confess their Sins, and perform many religious Dutys, with a secret Hope of appeasing God's Anger and making up for the Sins they have committed▪ and oftentimes, at first setting out, their Affections are moved, and they are full of Tears, in their Confessions and Prayers, which they are ready to make very much of, as tho' they were some Attonement, and had Power to move cor­respondent Affections in God too: and hence they are for a while big with Expectation of what God will do for them; and conceive that they grow better apace, and shall soon be thoroughly converted. But these Af­fections are but short-lived, they quickly find that they fail, and then they think themselves to be grown worse again; they don't find such a Prospect of being soon converted, as they thought: instead of being nearer, they seem to be farther off; their Hearts they think are grown harder, and by this means their fears of perishing greatly increase. But tho' they are disappointed, they [Page 25] renew their Attempts again and again; and still as their Attempts are Multiplied, so are their Disappointments; all fails, they see no token of having inclin'd God's Heart to them, they don't see that he hears their Prayers at all, as they expected he would; and sometimes there have been great Temptations arising hence to leave off seeking, and to yield up the Case. But as they are still more terrify'd with Fears of perishing, and their former Hopes of prevailing on God to be merciful to them in a great measure fail; sometimes their religious Affections have turn'd into Heart-risings against God, be­cause that he won't pity them, and seems to have lit­tle regard to their Distress, and piteous Cries, and to all the Pains that they take; They think of the Mercy that God has shown to others, how soon, and how easily o­thers have obtained Comfort, and those too that were worse than they, and have not labour'd so much as they have done, and sometimes they have had even dreadful blasphemous Thoughts, in these Circumstances.

But when they reflect on these wicked Workings of Heart against God, if their Convictions are continued▪ and the Spirit of God, is not provoked utterly to for­sake them, they have more distressing Apprehensions of the Anger of God towards those, whose Hearts work af­ter such a sinful manner about him; and it may be have great Fears that they have committed the unpardonable Sin, or that God will surely never shew Mercy to them that are such Vipers; and are often tempted to leave off in despair. But then perhaps by something they read or hear of the infinite Mercy of God, and All-sufficiency of Christ for the chief of Sinners; they have some Encourage­ment and Hope renewed; but think that as yet they are not fit to come to Christ; they are so wicked that Christ will never accept of them: and then it may be they set themselves upon a new Course of fruitless Endeavours in their own Strength to make themselves better, and still meet with new Disappointments: They are earnest to enquire what they shall do? They don't know but there is something else to be done, in order to their obtaining converting Grace, that they have never done yet. [Page 26] It may be they hope that they are something better than they were; but then the pleasing Dream all vanishes again. If they are told, that they trust too much to their own Strength and Righteousness, they go about to strive to bring themselves off from it, and it may be, think they have done it, when they only do the same thing under a new disguise, and still find no ap­pearance of any Good, but all looks as dark as Mid­night to them. Thus they wander about from Mountain to Hill, seeking rest, and finding none: when they are beat out of one Refuge they fly to another, till they are as it were debilitated, broken, and subdued with legal Humblings; in which God gives them a Conviction of their own utter Helplessness and Insufficiency, and dis­covers the true Remedy.

When they begin to seek Salvation, they are com­monly profoundly ignorant of themselves; they are not sensible how blind they are, and how little they can do towards bringing themselves to see spiritual things aright, and towards putting forth gracious Exercises in their own Souls: they are not sensible how [...]remote they are from Love to God, and other holy Dispositions, and how dead they are in Sin. When they see un­expected Pollution in their own Hearts, they go about to wash away their own Defilements and make them­selves clean; and they weary themselves in vain, till God shows them that 'tis in vain, and that their help is not where they have sought it, but elsewhere.

But some Persons continue wandering in such a kind of Labyrinth, ten times as long as others, before their own Experience will convince them of their Insufficiency; and so it appears not to be their own Experience only, but the convincing Influence of God's Spirit with their Experience, that attains the Effect: and God has of late abundantly shown, that he don't need to wait to have Men convinced by long and often repeated fruitless Trials; for in multitudes of Instances he has made a shorter work of it: he has so awakened and convinced Persons Consciences, and made them so sensible of their exceeding great Vileness, and given 'em such a sense of [Page 27] his Wrath against Sin, as has quickly overcome all their vain Self-confidence, and born them down into the Dust before a holy and righteous God.

There have been some who have not had great Terrors, but have had a very quick Work. Some of those that han't had so deep a Conviction of these things before their Conversion, have, it may be, much more of it after­wards. God has appeared far from limiting himself to any certain Method in his Proceedings with Sinners under legal Convictions. In some Instances it seems easy for our reasoning Powers to discern the methods of divine Wisdom, in his Dealings with the Soul under awakenings: in others his Foot-steps can't be traced, and his Ways are past finding out: and some that are less distinctly wrought upon, in what is preparatory to Grace, appear no less eminent in gracious experiences after­wards.

There is in nothing a greater Difference, in different Persons, than with respect to the Time of their being un­der Trouble; some but a few Days, and others for Months or Years. There were many in this Town, that had been, before this Effusion of God's Spirit upon us, for Years, and some for many Years, concerned a­bout their Salvation; tho' probably they were not thoroughly awaken'd, yet they were concern'd to such a Degree as to be very uneasy, so as to live an uncom­fortable disquieted Life, and so as to continue in a way of taking considerable Pains about their Salvation, but had never obtained any comfortable Evidence of a good Estate, who now in this extraordinary time have received Light; but many of them were some of the last: They first saw Multitudes of others rejoicing, and with Songs of Deliverance in their Mouths, who seem'd wholly careless and at [...]ase, and in pursuit of Vanity, while they had been bowed down with sollicitude about their Souls; yea some had lived licenciously, and so continued till a little before they were converted, and grew up to a holy Rejoicing in the infinite Blessings God had bestowed upon them.

And whatever Minister has the like Occasion to deal [Page 28] with Souls, in a Flock under such Circumstances as this was in the last Year, I can't but think he will soon find himself under a Necessity, greatly to insist upon it with them, that God is under no manner of Obligation to shew Mercy to any natural Man, whose Heart is not turn'd to God: and that a Man can challenge nothing, either in absolute Justice, or by free Promise, from any Thing he does before he has believed on Jesus Christ, or has true Repentance begun in him. It appears to me, that if I had taught those that came to me under Trouble, any other Doctrine, I should have taken a most direct Course utterly to have undone them; I should have di­rectly cross'd what was plainly the Drift of the Spirit of God in his Influence upon them; for if they had be­lieved what I said, it would either have promoted Self-flattery and Carelessness, and so put an End to their A­wakenings; or cherished and established their Conten­tion and Strife with God, concerning his Dealings with them and others, and block'd up their Way to that Hu­miliation before the Sovereign Disposer of Life and Death, whereby God is wont to prepare them for his Consola­tions. And yet those that have been under Awaken­ings, have oftentimes plainly stood in need of being en­couraged, by being told of the infinite and all-sufficient Mercy of God in Christ; and that 'tis God's Manner to succeed Diligence, and to bless his own Means, that so Awakenings and Encouragements, Fear and Hope may be duly mixed, and proportion'd to preserve their Minds in a just Medium between the two Extreams of Self-flattery and Despondence, both which tend to Slackness, and Neg­ligence, and in the End to Security. I think I have found that no Discourses have been more remarkably blessed, than those in which the Doctrine of God's abso­lute Sovereignty with Regard to the Salvation of Sin­ners, and his just Liberty, with Regard to his answering the Prayers, or succeeding the Pains of natural Men, continuing such, have been insisted on. I never found so much immediate saving Fruit, in any Measure, of any Discourses I have offered to my Congregation, as some from those Words, Rom. 3. 19. That every Mouth may [Page 29] be stopped; endeavouring to shew from thence, that it would be just with God for ever to reject and cast off meer natural [...].

In those in whom Awakenings seem to have a saving Issue, commonly the first Thing that appears after their legal Troubles, is a Conviction of the Justice of God in their Condemnation, in a Sense of their own exceed­ing Sinfulness, and the Vileness of all their Performan­ces: In giving Account of this, they express'd them­selves very variously; some, that God was Sovereig [...] and might receive others and reject them; some, that they were convinced, that God might justly bestow Mercy on every Person in the Town, and on every Per­son in the World, and damn themselves to all Eternity; some, that they see that God may justly have no Regard to all the Pains they have taken, and all the Prayers they have made; some, that they see that if they should seek, and take the utmost Pains, all their Lives, God might justly cast them into Hell at last, because all their Labours, Prayers, and Tears, cannot make an Atonement for the least Sin, nor merit any Blessing at the Hands of God; some have declared themselves to be in the Hands of God, that he can, and may dispose of them just as he pleases, some, that God may glorify himself in their Damnation, and they wonder that God has suf­fered them to live so long, and has not cast 'em into Hell long ago.

Some are brought to this Conviction by a great Sense of their Sinfulness, in general, that they are such vile wicked Creatures in Heart and Life: Others have the Sins of their Lives in an extraordinary Manner set be­fore them, Multitudes of them coming just then fresh to their Memories, and being set before them with their Aggravations; some have their Minds especially fixed, on some particular wicked Practice, they have indulg­ed; some are especially convinced by a Sight of the Corruption and Wickedness of their Hearts; some, from a View they have of the Horridness of some particular Exercises of Corruption, which they have had in the Time of their Awakenings▪ whereby the Enmity of the Heart [Page 30] against God has been manifested; some are convinced especially by a sense of the Sin of Unbelief, the Opposition of their Hearts to the Way of Salvation by Christ, and their Obstinacy in rejecting him and his Grace.

There is a great deal of difference as to Persons Distinctness here; some, that han't so clear a Sight of God's Justice in their Condemnation, yet mention things that plainly imply it. They find a Disposition to ac­knowledge God to be just and righteous in his Threatnings, and that they are deserving of nothing: And many times, tho' they had not so particular a Sight of it at the Beginning, they have very clear Discoveries of it soon af­terwards, with great Humblings in the Dust before God.

Commonly Persons Minds immediately before this Dis­covery of God's Justice are exceeding restless, and in a kind of Struggle and Tumult, and sometimes in meer An­guish; but generally, as soon as they have this Convicti­on, it immediately brings their Minds to a Calm, and a before unexpected Quietness and Composure; and most frequently, tho' not always, then the pressing weight upon their Spirits is taken away, and a general Hope a­rises, that some time or other God will be gracious, even before any distinct and particular Discoveries of Mercy; and often they then come to a Conclusion within themselves, that they will lie at God's Feet, and wait his Time, and they rest in that, not being sensible that the Spirit of God has now brought them to a Frame whereby they are prepared for Mercy: for 'tis remarkable that persons, when they first have this sense of the Justice of God, rarely in the time of it, think any thing of its being that Humiliation that they have often heard insisted on, and that others experience.

In many Persons, the first Conviction of the Justice of God in their Condemnation, which they take parti­cular notice of, and probably the first distinct Convicti­on of it that they have, is of such a Nature, as seems to be above any thing meerly legal; Tho' it be after legal Humblings, and much of the sense of their own Helplessness and of the Insufficiency of their own Du­ties; yet it does not appear to be forced by meer legal [Page 31] Terrors and Convictions; but rather from an high Ex­ercise of Grace, in saving Repentance, and evangelical Humiliation; for there is in it a sort of Complacency of Soul, in the Attribute of God's Justice, as display'd in his Threatnings of eternal Damnation to Sinners. Sometimes at the Discovery of it, they can scarcely for­bear crying out, 'TIS JUST! 'TIS JUST! Some express themselves, that they see the Glory of God would shine bright in their own Condemnation; and they are ready to think that if they are damned, they could take part with God against themselves, and would glorify his Justice therein. And when it is thus, they commonly have some evident sense of free and all-suffi­cient Grace, tho' they give no distinct Account of it, but 'tis manifest, by that great degree of Hope and Encouragement that they then conceive, tho' they were never so sensible of their own Vileness and Illdeservings as they are at that time.

Some, when in such Circumstances; have felt that sense of the Excellency of God's Justice, appearing in the vindictive Exercises of it, against such Sinfulness as theirs was, and have had such a Submission of Mind in their Idea of this Attribute, and of those Exercises of it, together with an exceeding loathing of their own Unworthiness, and a kind of Indignation against them­selves, that they have sometimes almost call'd it a Willingness to be damned; tho' it must be owned they had not clear and distinct Ideas of Damnation, nor does any Word in the Bible require such Self denial as this. But the truth is, as some have more clearly exprest it, that Salvation has appeared too good for them, that they were worthy of nothing but Condemnation, and they could not tell how to think of Salvation's being be­stowed upon them, fearing it was inconsistent with the Glory of God's Majesty, that they had so much contemned and affronted.

That Calm of Spirit that some Persons have found after their legal Distresses, continues some time before any special and delightful Manifestation is made to the Soul of the Grace of God, as revealed in the Gospel; [Page 32] but very often some comfortable and sweet View of a merciful God, of a sufficient Redeemer, or of some great and joyful things of the Gospel, immediately follows, or in a very little time: And in some, the first Sight of their just Desert of Hell, and God's Sovereignty with respect to their Salvation, and a Dis­covery of all-sufficie [...]t Grace, are so near, that they seem to go as it were together.

These gracious Discoveries that are given, whence the first special Comforts are derived, are in many respects very various; more frequently Christ is distinctly made the Object of the Mind, in his All-sufficiency and Willingness to save Sinners: But some have their Thoughts more especially fixed on God, in some of his sweet and glorious Attributes manifested in the Gospel, and shining forth in the Face of Christ: Some view the All-sufficiency of the Mercy and Grace of God; some chiefly the infinite Power of God, and his Ability to save them, and to do all things for them; and some look most at the Truth and Faithfulness of God: In some, the Truth and Certainty of the Gospel in general is the first joyful Discovery they have; in others, the certain Truth of some particular Promises; in some, the Grace and Sincerity of God in his Invitations, very commonly in some particular Invitation in the Mind, and it now appears real to them that God does indeed invite them. Some are struck with the Glory and Won­derfulness of the dying. Love of Christ; and some with the Sufficiency and Precio [...]sness of his Blood, as offered to make an Atonement for Sin; and others with the Value and Glory of his Obedience and Righteousness. In some the Excellency and Loveliness of Christ, chiefly engages their Thoughts; in some his Divinity, that he is indeed the Son of the living God; and in others, the Excellency of the way of Salvation by Christ, and the Suitableness of it to their Necess [...]ies.

Some have an Apprehension of these things so given, that it seems more natural to them to express it by Sight or Discovery; others think what they experience better expressed by the Realizing Conviction, or a lively or [Page 33] feeling Sense of Heart; meaning, as I suppose, no other Difference but what is mearly circumstantial or gra­dual

There is, often, in the Mind, some particular Text of Scripture, holding forth some evangelical ground of Consolation; sometimes a Multitude of Texts, gracious Invitations and Promises flowing in one after another, filling the Soul more and more, with Comfort and Satisfaction: and Comfort is first given to some, while reading some Portion of Scripture; but in some it is attended with no particular Scripture at all, either in Read­ing or Meditation. In some, many divine things seem to be discover'd to the Soul as it were at once; others have their Minds especially fixing on some one thing at first, and afterwards a sense is given of others; in some with a swifter, and others a [...]lower Succession, and sometimes with Interruptions of much Darkness

The way that Grace seems sometimes first to appear after legal Humiliation, is in earnest Longings of Soul after God and Christ, to know God, to love him, to be humbled before him, to have Communion with Christ in his Benefits, which Longings, as they express them, seem evidently to be of such a nature as can arise from nothing but a sense of the superlative Excellency of divine things, with a spiritual Taste and Relish of 'em, and an Esteem of 'em as their highest Happiness and best Portion. Such Longings as I speak of, are commonly attended with firm Resolutions to pursue this Good for ever, together with a hoping, waiting Disposition. When Persons have begun in such Frames, commonly other Experiences and Discoveries have soon followed, which have yet more clearly manifested a change of Heart.

It must needs be confest that Christ is not always dis­tinctly and explicitly thought of in the first sensible Act of Grace, (tho' most commonly he is;) but sometimes he is the Object of the Mind only implicitly. Thus sometimes when Persons have seem'd evidently to be stript of all their own Righteousness, and to have stood self condemned as guilty of Death, they have been com­forted with a joyful and satisfying View, that the Mercy [Page 34] and Grace of God is sufficient for them; that their Sins, tho' never so great, shall be no Hindrance to their being accepted; that there is Mercy enough in God for the whole World, and the like, when they give no Account of any particular or distinct Thought of Christ; but yet when the Account they give is duly weigh­ed, and they are a little interrogated about it, it ap­pears that the Revelation of the Mercy of God in the Gospel, is the Ground of this their Encouragement and Hope; and that it is indeed the Mercy of God thro' Christ, that is discovered to them, and that 'tis depended on in him, and not in any wise moved by any thing in them.

So sometimes disconsolate Souls amongst us, have been revived and brought to rest in God, by a sweet sense given of his Grace and Faithfulness, in some special Invitation or Promise, in which is no particular men­tion of Christ, nor is it accompanied with any distinct Thought of him, in their Minds; but yet it is not received as out of Christ, but as one of the Invitations or Promises made of God to poor Sinners through his Son Jesus, as it is indeed: and such Persons have af­terwards had clear and distinct Discoveries of Christ, accompanied with lively and special Actings of Faith and Love towards him.

It has more frequently been so amongst us, that when Persons have first had the Gospel Ground of Relief for lost Sinners discovered to them, and have been entertain­ing their Minds with the sweet Prospect, they have thought nothing at that time of their being converted: To see that there is such an All-sufficiency in God, and such plentiful Provision made in Christ, after they have been borne down, and sunk with a sense of their Guilt and Fears of Wrath, exceedingly refreshes them; the View is joyful to them, as 'tis in its own nature glorious, and gives them quite new, and more delightful Ideas of God and Christ, and greatly encourages them to seek Conversion, and begets in them a strong Re­solution to give up themselves, and devote their whole Lives to God and his Son, and patiently to wait till [Page 35] God shall see fit to make all effectual; and very often they entertain a strong Persuasion, that he will in his own time do it for them.

There is wrought in them a holy Repose of Soul in God through Christ, and a secret Disposition to fear and love him, and to hope for Blessings from him in this Way: and yet they have no Imagination that they are now converted, it don't so much as come into their Minds: and very often the Reason is, that they don't see that they do accept of this sufficiency of Salvation, that they behold in Christ, having entertain'd a wrong Notion of Acceptance; not being sensible that the obe­dient and joyful Entertainment which their Hearts give to this Discovery of Grace, is a real Acceptance of it: They know not that the sweet Complacence they feel in the Mercy and complete Salvation of God, as it in­cludes Pardon and Sanctification, and is held forth to them only through Christ, is a true receiving of this Mercy, or a plain Evidence of their receiving it. They expected I know not what Kind of Act of Soul, and perhaps they had no distinct Idea of it themselves.

And indeed it appears very plainly in some of them, that before their own Conversion they had very imperfect Ideas what Conversion was: It is all new and strange, and what there was no clear Conception of before. 'Tis most evident as they themselves acknowledge, that the Expressions that were used to describe Conversion, and the Graces of God's Spirit, such as a spiritual Sight of Christ, Faith in Christ, Poverty of Spirit, Trust in God, Resignedness to God, &c. were Expressions that did not convey those special and distinct Ideas to their Minds, which they were intended to signify, in some respects no more than the Names of Colours are to convey the Ideas to one that is blind from his Birth.

This Town is a Place where there has always been a great deal of Talk of Conversion, and spiritual Ex­periences; and therefore People in general had before form'd a Notion in their own Minds what these things were; but when they come to be the Subjects of them themselves, they find themselves much confounded in [Page 36] their Notions, and overthrown in many of their former Conceits. And it has been very observable, that Per­sons of the greatest Understanding, and that had studied most about things of this nature, have been more con­founded than others. Some such Persons that have lately been converted, declare that all their former Wisdom is brought to nought, and that they appear to have been meer Babes, who knew nothing It has appear'd that none have stood more in need of Enlightning and Instruction, even of their Fellow Christians, concerning their own Circumstances and Difficulties, than they: and it has seem'd to have been with delight, that they have seen themselves thus brought down and become nothing, that free Grace, and divine Power may be exalted in them.

It was very wonderful to see after what manner Persons Affections were sometimes moved and wrought upon, when God did as it were, suddenly open their Eyes and let into their Minds, a sense of the Greatness of his Grace, and Fulness of Christ, and his readiness to save, who before were broken with Apprehensions of divine Wrath, and [...]unk into an Abyss under a sense of Guilt, which they were ready to think was beyond the Mercy of God: their joyful Surprize has caused their Hearts as it were to leap, so that they have been ready to break forth into Laughter, Tears often at the same time issuing like a Flood, and intermingling a loud Weeping: and sometimes they han't been able to for­bear crying out with a loud Voice, expressing their great Admiration. In some even the View of the Glory of God's Sovereignty in the Exercises of his Grace has surprized the Soul with such Sweetness, as to produce the same Effects. I remember an Instance of one▪ who, reading something concerning God's sovereign way of saving Sinners, as being self-moved, and having no re­gard to Men's own Righteousness as the Motive of his Grace, but as magnifying himself and abasing Man, or to that purpose, felt such a sudden Rapture of Joy and Delight in the Consideration of it: and yet then suspected himself to be in a Christless Condition, and [Page 37] had been long in great Distress for fear that God would not have mercy on him.

Many continue a long time in a Course of gracious Exercises and Experiences, and don't think themselves to be converted, but conclude themselves to be otherwise; and none knows how long they would continue so, were they not helped by particular Instruction. There are undoubted I [...]st [...]nces of some that have [...]ived in this way for many Years together; and a continuing in these Circumstances of being con [...]erted and not be [...]ieving it, has had various consequences, with various Persons, and with the same Persons, at various Times; some con­tinue in great Encouragement and Hope, that they shall obtain Mercy, in a stedfast Resolution to persevere in seeking it, and in an humble waiting for it at God's foot; but very often when the lively Sense of the Sufficiency of Christ, and the Riches of divine Grace begins to vanish, upon a withdraw of the Influences of the Spirit of God, they return to greater Distress than ever; for they have now a far greater Sense of the Misery of a natural Condition than before, being in a new manner sensible of the reality of eternal Things, and the greatness of God, and his Excellency, and how dreadful it is to be separated from him, and to be sub­ject to his Wrath; so that they are sometimes swal­lowed up with Darkness and Amazement. Satan has a vast Advantage in such Cases to ply them with various Temptations, which he is not wont to neglect. In such a case Persons do very much need a Guide to lead them to an Understanding of what we are taught in the Word of God of the Nature of Grace, and to help them to apply it to themselves

I have been much blamed and censured by many, that I should make it my Practice, when I have been satisfied concerning Persons good Estate, to signify it to them: Which Thing has been greatly misrepresented abroad, as innumerable other Things concerning us, to prejudice the Country against the whole Affair But let it be noted, that what I have undertaken to judge of, has rather been Qualifications, and declared Ex­periences, [Page 38] than Persons: Not but that I have thought [...] Duty as a Pastor to assist and instruct Persons in applying Scripture Rules and Characters to their own Case, (in doing of which, I think many greatly need a Guide,) and have, where I thought the Case plain, used Freedom in signifying my Hope of them, to others: but have been far from doing this concerning all that I have had some hopes of; and I believe have used much more Cau [...]ion than many have supposed. Yet I should account it a great Calamity to be deprived of the Com [...]ort of Rejoicing with those of my Flock, that have been in great Distress, whose Circumstances I have been acquainted with, when there seems to be good Evidence that those that were dead are alive, and those that were lost are found. I am sensible the Practice would have been safer in the hands of one of a riper Judgment and greater Experience; but yet there has seemed to be an absolute Necessi [...] of it on the fore­mentioned Accounts; and it has [...]en found to be that which God has most remarkably owned and blessed amongst us, both to the Persons themselves and o­thers.

Grace in many Persons, through this Ignorance of their State, and their looking on themselves still as the Objects of God's Displeasure, has been like the Trees in Winter, or like Seed in the Spring suppressed under a hard Clod of Earth; and many in such Cases have laboured to their utmost to divert their Minds from the pleasing and joyful Views they have had, and to suppress those Consolations and gracious Affections that arose thereupon. And when it has once come into their Minds to enquire whether or no this was no [...] true Grace, they have been much afraid lest they should be d [...]ceiv'd with common Illuminations and Flashes of Affection, and eternally undone with a false Hope. But when they have been better instructed, and so brought to allow of Hope, this has awaken'd the gracious Disposition of their Hearts into Life and Vigor, as the warm Beams of the S [...]n in the Spring, have quickened the Seeds and Pro­ductions of the Earth: Grace being now at liberty, [Page 39] and cherished with Hope, has soon flowed out to their abundant Satisfaction and Increase.

There is no one thing that I know of that God has made such a means of promoting his Work amongst us, as the News of others Conversion; in the awaken­ing Sinners, and engaging them earnestly to seek the same Blessing, and in the quickening of Saints. Tho' I have thought that a Minister's declaring his Judg­ment about particular Persons Experiences might from these Things be [...]stified, yet I am often signifying to my People how unable Man is to know another's Heart, and how unsafe it is depending meerly on the Judgment of Ministers, or others, and have abundantly insisted on it with them that a manifestation of Sincerity in Fruits brought forth, is better than any manifestation they can make of it in Words alone, can be; and that without this, all Presences to spiritual Experiences are vain; as all my Congregation can witness. And the People in general, in this late extraordinary Time, have manifested an extraordinary Dread of being deceiv'd, being exceeding fearful le [...]t they should build wrong, and some of them backward to receive Hope, even to a great Extreme.

Conversion is a great and glorious Work of God's Power, at once Changing the Heart, and infusing Life into the dead Soul; tho' that Grace that is then im­planted does more gradually display it self in some than in others But as to fixing on the precise Time when they put forth the very first Act of Grace, there is a great deal of difference in different Persons; in some it seems to be very discernable when the very Time of this was; but others are more at a loss. In this respect there are very many that don't know the Time, (as has been already observed) that when they have the first Exercises of Grace, don't know that it is the Grace of Conversion, and sometimes don't think it to be so till a long time after: And many, even when they come to entertain great Hope that they are con­verted if they remember what they experienced in the first Exercises of Grace, they are at a loss whether it [Page 40] was any more than a common Illumination; or whether some other, more clear and remarkable Experience, that they had afterwards, was not the first that was of a saving nature And the manner of God's Work on the Soul is (sometimes especially) very mysterious, and 'tis with the Kingdom of God as to it. Manifestation in the Heart of a Convert, as is said▪ Mark 1 26, 27, 28 So is the Kingdom of God, 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; for the Earth bringeth forth of her self first the Blade, then the Ear, then the full Corn in the Ear.

In some, converting Light is like a glorious Bright­ness suddenly shining in upon a Person, and all around him: They are in a remarkable manner brought out of Darkness into marvellous Light. In many others it has been like the dawning of the Day, when at first but a little Light appears, and it may be is presently hid with a Cloud; and then it appears again, and shines a little brighter, and gradually increases, with intervening Darkness, till at length, perhaps, it breaks forth more clearly from behind the Clouds. And many are, doubt­less, ready to date their Conversion wrong, throwing by those lesser Degrees of Light that appeared at first dawning, and calling some mo [...] remarkable Experience, they had afterwards, their Conversions; which often in great measure arises from a wrong Understanding of what they have always been taught, that Conversion is a great Change, wherein old Things are done away, and all Things become now, or at least from a false argu­ing from that Doctrine.

Persons commonly at first Conversion, and afterwards, have had many Texts of Scripture brought to their Minds, that are exceeding suitable to their Circumstances, which often come with great Power, and as the Word of God or Christ indeed; and many have a multitude of swee [...] Invitations, Promises, and Doxologi [...]s flowing in one after another, bringing great Light and Comfort with them, filling the Soul brim f [...]ll, enlarging the Heart, and opening the Mouth in Religion. And it [Page 41] seems to me necessary to suppose, that there is an im­mediate Influence of the Spirit of God, oftentimes in bringing Texts of Scripture to the Mind: Not that I suppose 'tis done in a way of immediate Revelation, without any manner of use of the Memory; but yet there seems plainly to be an immediate and extraordinary Influence, in leading their Thoughts so such and such Passages of Scripture, and exciting them in the Me­mory. Indeed in some God seems to bring Texts of Scripture to their Minds no otherwise than by leading them into such Frames and Meditations, as harmonize with those Scriptures; but in many Persons there seems to be something more than this.

Those that, while under legal Convictions, have had the greatest Terrors, have not always obtain'd the greatest Light and Comfort; no [...] have they always Light most suddenly communicated; but yet, I think, the time of Conversion has generally been most sensible in such Persons. Oftentimes, the first sensible Change after the Extremity of Terrors, is a Calmness, and then the Light gradually comes in; small Glimpses at first, after their midnight Darkness, and a word or two of Comfort, as it were softly spoken to 'em; they have a little Taste of the Sweetness of divine Grace, 'and the Love of a Saviour, when Terror and Distress of Conscience begins to be turned into an humble, meek Sense of their own Unworthiness before God; and there is felt inwardly, perhaps, some Disposition to praise God; and after a little while the Light comes in more clearly and powerfully. But yet, I think more frequently, great Terrors have been followed with more sudden and great Light, and Comfort; when the Sinner seems to be as it were subdued and brought to a Calm, from a kind of Tumult of Mind, then God lets in an extraordinary Sense of his great Mercy thro' a Redeemer.

The converting Influences of God's Spirit very com­monly bring an extraordinary Conviction of the Reality and Certainty of the great Things of Religion; (tho' in some this is much greater, some time after Con­version, than at first▪) they have that sight and taste of [Page 42] the Divinity, or divine Excellency, that there is in the Things of the Gospel, that is more to convince them, than reading many Volumes of Arguments without it. It seems to me that in many Instances amongst us, when the divine Excellency and Glory of the Things of Christianity have been set before Persons, and they have at the same time as it were seen, and tasted, and felt the Divinity of them, they have been as far from doubting of the Truth of them, as they are from doubting whether there be a Sun, when their Eyes are open upon it in the midst of a clear Hemisphere, and the strong Blaze of his Light overcomes all Objections against his Being. And yet many of them, if we should ask them why they believed those Things to be true, would not be able well to express, or communicate a sufficient Reason, to satisfy the Enquirer, and perhaps would make no other Answer but that they se [...] 'em to be true: But a Person might soon be satisfied, by a par­ticular Conversation with 'em, that what they mean by such an Answer is, that they have intuitively beheld, and immediately felt most illustrious Works, and powerful Evidence of Divinity in them.

Some are thus convinced of the Truth of the Gospel in general, and that the Scriptures are the Word of God: Others have their Minds more especially fixed on some particular great Doctrine of the Gospel, some particular Truths that they are meditating on; or are in a special manner convinced of the Divinity of the Things they are reading of▪ in some portion of Scripture. Some have such Convictions in a much more remarkable man­ner than others: And there are some that never had such a special Sense of the Certainty of divine Things, impressed upon them with such inward Evidence and Strength, have yet very clear Exercises of Grace; i. e. of Love to God, Repentance and Holiness. And if they be more particularly examined, they appear plainly to have an inward firm Persuasion of the Reality of divine Things, such as they don't use to have before their Conversion. And those that have the most clear Dis­coveries of divine Truth, in the manner that has been [Page 43] spoken of, can't have this always in view. When the Sense and Relish of the divine Excellency of these Things fades, on a withdraw of the Spirit of God, they han't the medium of the Conviction of their Truth at command: In a dull Frame they can't recall the [...]ea, and inward Sense they had, prefectly to mind; Things appear very dim to what they did before: And tho' there still remains an habitual strong Persuasion; yet not so as to exclude Temptations to Unbelief, and all possibility of Doubting, as before: But then at particular Times, by God's Help, the same Sense of Things revives again, like Fire that lay hid in Ashes.

I suppose the grounds of such a Conviction of the Truth of divine Things to be just and rational, but yet in some God makes use of their own Reason much more sensibly than in others. Oftentimes Persons have (so far as could be judged) receiv'd the first saving Conviction from reasoning, which they have heard from the Pulpit; and often in the course of Reasoning, which they are led into in their own Meditations

The Arguments are the same that they have heard hundreds of times; but the Force of the Arguments, and their Conviction by 'em, is altogether new; they come with a new and before unexperienced Power: Before they heard it was so, and they allow'd it to be so; but now they see it to be so indeed. Things now look exceeding plain to 'em, and they wonder that they did not see 'em before.

They are so greatly taken with their new Discovery, and Things appear so plain, and so rational to 'em, that they are often at first ready to think they can convince others; and are apt to engage in talk with every one they meet with,almost to this End; and when they are disappointed, are ready to wonder that their Reasonings seem to make no more Impression.

Many fall under such a Mistake as to be ready to doubt of their good Estate, because there was so much use made of their own Reason in the Convictions they have receiv'd; they are afraid that they have no Illumina­tion above the natural Force of their own Faculties: [Page 44] And many make that an Objection against the Spirituality of their Convictions, that 'tis so easy to see Things as they now see them. They have often heard that Conversion is a work of mighty Power, manifesting to the Soul what no Man nor Angel can give such a Conviction of; but it seems to them that the Things that they see are so plain, and easy, and rational, that any body can see them: And if they are enquired of, why they never saw so before; they say, it seems to them it was because they never thought of it. But very often these Difficulties are soon removed by those of another nature; for when God withdraws, they find themselves as it were blind again, they for the present lose their realizing Sense of those Things that looked so plain to 'em, and by all that they can do they can't recover it, till God renews the Influences of his Spirit.

Persons after their Conversion often speak of Things of Religion as seeming new to them; that Preaching is a new thing; that it seems to them they never heard Preaching before; that the Bible is a new Book: They find there new Chapters, new Psalms, new Histories, because they see them in a new Light. Here was a re­markable Instance of an aged Woman that had spent most of her Days under Mr. Stoddard's powerful Mi­nistry; who reading in the New Testament, concerning Christ's Sufferings for Sinners, seem'd to be surprized and astonished at what she read, as at a Thing that was real and very wonderful, but quite new to her, inso­much that at first, before she had time to turn her Thoughts, she wonder'd within her self that she had never heard of it before; but then immediately re­collected her self, and thought that she had often heard of it, and read it, but never till now saw it as a thing real; and then cast in her Mind, how wonderful this was, that the Son of God should un­dergo such things for Sinners, and how she had spent her Time in ungratefully sinning against so good a God, and such a Saviour; tho' she was a Person, as to what was visible, of a very blameless and inoffen­sive Life, And she was so overcome by those Conside­rations, [Page 45] that her Nature was ready to fail under them: Those that were about her, and knew not what was the matter, were surprized, and thought she was a dying.

Many have spoken much of their Hearts being drawn out in Love to God and Christ; and their Minds be­ing wrapt up in delightful Contemplation of the Glo­ry, and wonderful Grace of God, and the Excellency, and dying Love of Jesus Christ; and of their Souls going forth in longing Desires after God and Christ Se­veral of our young Children have expressed much of this; and have manifested a Willingness to leave Fa­ther and Mother and all Things in the World, to go to be with Christ. Some Persons have had longing Desires after Christ, which have risen to that degree, as to take away their natural Strength. Some have been so overcome with a Sense of the dying Love of Christ, to such poor, wretched, and unworthy Creatures, as to weaken the Body. Several Persons have had so great a Sense of the Glory of God, and Excellency of Christ, that Nature and Life has seemed almost to sink under it; and in all probability, if God had shewed them a little more of himself, it would have dissolved their Frame. I have seen some, and been in Conver­sation with them in such Frames, who have certainly been perfectly sober, and very remote from any thing like enthusiastick Wildness: And have talk'd, when a­ble to speak, of the Glory of God's Perfections, and the wonderfulness of his Grace in Christ, and their own Unworthiness, in such a manner that can't be per­fectly expressed after them. Their Sense of their ex­ceeding littleness and vileness, and their Disposition to abase themselves before God, has appeared to be great in proportion to their Light and Joy. Such Persons a­mongst us as have been thus distinguished with the most extraordinary Discoveries of God, have commonly in no wise appeared with the assuming, & self-conceited, and self­sufficient Airs of Enthusiasts, but exceedingly the contrary; and are eminent for a Spirit of Meekness, Modesty, Self diffi­dence, and low Opinion of themselves: No Persons seem to be so sensible of their need of Instruction, and [Page 46] so eager to receive it, as some of them; nor so ready to think others better than themselves. Those that have been thought to be converted amongst us have generally manifested a longing to lie low, and in the dust before God; withal complaining of their not being able to lie low enough. They very often speak much of their Sense of the Excellency of the way of Salvation, by free and sovereign Grace, through the Righteousness of Christ alone; and how it is with delight that they re­nounce their own Righteousness, and rejoice in having no Account made of it Many have expressed themselves to this purpose, that it would lessen the Satisfaction they hope for in Heaven to have it by their own Righteousness, or in any other way than as bestowed by free Grace, and for Christ's sake alone. They speak much of the Inexpressibleness of what they experience, how their Words fail, so that they can in no wise declare it: and particularly speak with exceeding Admiration of the superlative Excellency of that pleasure and delight of Soul, which they sometimes, enjoy; how a little of it is sufficient to pay 'em for the Pains and Trouble they have gone through in seeking Salvation; and how far it exceeds all earthly Pleasures: And some express much of the Sense which these spiritual Views give 'em of the Vanity of earthly Enjoyments, how mean and worthless all these Things appear to 'em.

Many, while their Minds have been fill'd with spiritual Delights, have as it were forgot their Food; their bodily Appetite has fail'd, while their Minds have been entertain'd with Meat to eat that others knew not of. The Light and Comfort which some of them enjoy, gives a new relish to their common Blessings, and causes all Things about 'em to appear as it were beautiful, sweet and pleasant to them: All Things abroad, the Sun, Moon and Stars, the Clouds and Sky, the Hea­vens and Earth, appear as it were with a Cast of divine Glory and Sweetness upon them. The sweetest Joy that these good People amongst us express, is not that which consists in a Sense of the Safety of their own State, and that now they are out of danger of Hell; [Page 47] frequently, in times of their highest spiritual Enter­tainment, this seems to be as it were forgotten. The supreme Attention of their Minds is to the glorious Ex­cellencies of God and Christ, which they have in view; not but that there is very often a ravishing Sense of God's Love accompanying a Sense of his Excellency, and they rejoice in a Sense of the Faithfulness of God's Pro­mises, as they respect the future eternal Enjoyment of God.

The Joy that many of them speak of as that, to which none is to be parallel'd; is that which they find when they are lowest in the Dust, emptied most of them­selves, and as it were annihilating themselves before God, when they are nothing, and God is all, are seeing their own Unworthiness, depending not at all on themselves, but alone on Christ, and ascribing all Glory to God: Then their Souls are most in the Enjoyment of satisfying Rest; excepting that, at such times, they apprehend them­selves to be not sufficiently self-abased, for then above all times do they long to be lower. Some speak much of the exquisite Sweetness, and Rest of Soul that is to be found in the exercises of a Spirit of Resignation to God, and humble Submission to his Will. Many express earnest Longings of Soul to praise God; but at the same time complain that they can't praise him as they would do, and they want to have others help them in praising him: They want to have every one praise God, and are ready to call upon every thing to praise him. They express a longing Desire to live to God's Glory, and to do something to his Honour; but at the same time [...]y out of their In­sufficiency and Barrenness, that they are poor impotent Creatures, can do nothing of themselves, and are utterly in­sufficient to glorify their creator and Redeemer.

While God was so remarkably present amongst us by his Spirit, there was no Book so delighted in as the Bible; especially the Book of Psalms, the Prophecy of Is [...]lah, and the New Testament Some by reason of their Esteem and Love to God's Word, have at some times been greatly and wonderfully delighted and affect­ed at the sight of a Bible: and then also, there was no Time [Page 48] so prized as the Lord's-Day, and no Place in this World so desired as God's House. Our Converts then remark­ably appeared united in dear Affection to one another, and many have expressed much of that Spirit of Love which they felt toward all Mankind; and particularly to those that had been least friendly to them. Never, I believe, was so much done in confessing Injuries, and making up Differences as the last Year. Persons after their own Conversion, have commonly expressed an ex­ceeding desire for the Conversion of others: Some have thought that they should be willing to die for the Conversion of any Soul, tho' of one of the meanest of their Fellow-Creatures, or of their worst Enemies; and many have indeed been in great Distress with Desires and Longings for it. This Work of God had also a good Effect to unite the People's Affections much to their Minister.

There are some Persons that I have been acquainted with, but more especially two, that belong to other Towns, that have been swallowed up exceedingly with a Sense of the awful Greatness and Majesty of God; and both of them told me to this purpose, that if they in the time of it, had had the least Fear that they were not at at peace with this so great a God, they should instantly have died.

It is worthy to be remarked, that some Persons by their Conversion seem to be greatly helped as to their doctrinal Notions of Religion; it was particulary remar­kable in one, who having been taken captive in his Child­hood, was train'd up in Canada, in the Popish Religion; and some Years since returned to this his native Place, and was in a measure brought off from Popery: but seem'd very awkward and dull of receiving any true and clear Notion of the Protestant Scheme, till he was convert­ed; and then he was remarkably altered in this respect.

There is a vast difference, as has been observ'd in the Degree, and also in the particular Manner of Per­sons Experiences, both at, and after Conversion; some have Grace working more sensibly in one way, others in another. Some speak more fully of a Conviction of [Page 49] the Justice of God in their Condemnation; others more of their consenting to the way of Salvation by Christ; some more of the Actings of Love to God and Christ: Some more of Acts of Affiance, in a sweet and assured Conviction of the Truth and Faithfulness of God in his Promises; others more of their choosing and resting in God as their whole and everlasting Portion, and of their ardent and longing Desires after God, to have Communion with him; others more of their ab­horrence of themselves for their past Sins, and earnest Longings to live to God's Glory for the time to come: Some have their Mind fixed more on God; o­thers on Christ, as I have observed before, but it seems evidently to be the same Work, the same Thing done, the same habitual Change wrought in the Heart; it all tends the same way, and to the same End: and 'tis plainly the same Spirit that breathes and acts in various Persons. There is an endless Variety in the particular manner and circumstances in which Persons a [...] wrought on, and an opportunity of seeing so much of such a Work of God, will shew that God is further from confining himself to certain Steps, and a particular Method, in his Work on Souls, than it may be some do imagine. I believe it has occasion'd some good People amongst us, that were before too ready to make their own Experiences a Rule to others, to be less censorious and more extended in their Charity. The Work of God has been glorious in its Variety, it has the more displayed the manifold­ness and unsearchableness of the Wisdom of God, and wrought more Charity among his People.

There is a great Difference among those that are converted as to the Degree of Hope and Satisfaction that they have concerning their own State. Some have a high degree of Satisfaction in this Matter almost con­stantly: And yet it is rare that any do enjoy so full an Assurance of their Interest in Christ, that Self-Ex­amination should seem needless to them; unless it be at particular Seasons, while in the actual enjoyment of some great Discovery, that God gives of his Glory and rich Grace in Christ, to the drawing forth of ex­traordinary [Page 50] acts of Grace. But the greater part, as they sometimes fall into dead Frames of Spirit, are frequent­ly exercised with Scruples and Fears concerning their Condition.

They generally have an awful Apprehension of the Dreadfulness and undoing Nature of a false Hope; and there has been observable in most a great Caution, left in giving an account of their Experiences, they should say too much, and use too strong Terms: And many after they have related their Experiences, have been greatly afflicted with Fears, left they have play'd the Hypocrite, and used stronger Terms than their Case would fairly allow of; and yet could not find how they could correct themselves.

I think that the main ground of the Doubts and Fears that Persons, after their Conversion, have been exercised with about their own State, has been that they have found so much Corruption remaining in their Hearts. At first their Souls seem to be all alive, their Hearts are fixed, and their Affections flowing; they seem to live quite above the World, and meet with but little Difficulty in religious Exercises; and they are ready to think it will always be so: Tho' they are truly abased under a Sense of their Vileness by reason of former Acts of Sin, yet they are not then sufficiently sensible what Corruption still remains in their Hearts; and therefore are surprized when they find that they begin to be in dull and dead Frames, to be troubled with wandering Thoughts in the time of publick and private Worship, and to be utterly unable to keep themselves from 'em; also when they find themselves unaffected at Seasons in which, they think there is the greatest Occasion to be affected; and when they feel worldly Dispositions working in them, and it may be Pride, and Envy, and stirrings of Revenge, or some ill Spirit towards some Person, that has injured [...], as well as [...]other workings of indwelling Sin: Their Hearts are almost sunk with the Disappointment, and they are ready presently to think that all this they have met with is nothing, and that they are mee [...] Hypocrites.

[Page 51] They are ready to argue, that if God had indeed done such great Things for them, as they hoped, such In­gratitude would be inconsistent with it: They cry out of the hardness and wickedness of their Hearts; and say there is so much Corruption, that it seems to them im­possible that there should be any Goodness there: and many of them seem to be much more sensible how corrupt their Hearts are, than ever they were before they were convert­ed; and some have been too ready to be impress'd with Fear, that instead of becoming better, they are grown much worse, and make it an Argument against the Goodness of their State. But in truth the Case seems plainly to be, that now they feel the pain of their own Wound; they have a watchful Eye upon their Hearts, that they don't use to have: They take more notice what Sin is there, and Sin is now more burdensome to 'em, they strive more a­gainst it, and feel more of the Strength of it.

They are somewhat surpriz'd that they should in this re­spect find themselves so different from the Idea that they generally had entertained of godly Persons; for tho' Grace be indeed of a far more excellent nature than they imagin'd; yet those that are godly have much less of it, and much more remaining Corruption, than they thought. They never realized it, that Persons were wont to meet with such Difficulties, after they were once converted. When they are thus exercised with Doubts about their State, through the Deadness of their Frames of Spirit, as long as these Frames last, they are commonly unable to satisfy themselves of the Truth of their Grace, by all their Self-examination. When they hear of the Signs of Grace laid down for 'em to try themselves by, they are often so clouded, that they don't know how to apply them: they hardly know whether they have such and such things in them or no, and whether they have experienced them or not: That which was sweetest, and best, and most distinguishing in their Experiences, they can't recover a sense or Idea of. But on a Return of the Influences of the Spirit of God, to revive the lively Actings of Grace, the Light breaks through the Cloud, and Doubting and Darkness soon vanish away.

[Page 52] Persons are often revived out of their dead and dark Frames, by religious Conversation: while they are talk­ing of divine things, or ever they are aware, their Souls are carried away into holy Exercises with abundant Pleasure. And oftentimes, while they are relating their past Experiences to their Christian Brethren, they have a fresh sense of them revived, and the same Experiences in a Degree again renewed. Sometimes while Persons are exercised in Mind with several Objections against the Goodness of their State, they have Scriptures, one after another, coming to their Minds, to answer their Scruples, and unravel their Difficulties, exceeding apposite and proper to their Circumstances; by which means their Darkness is scattered; and often before the Bestowment of any new remarkable Comforts, especially after long continued Deadness and ill Frames, there are renewed Humblings, in a great sense of their own exceeding Vileness and Unworthiness, as before their first Comforts were bestowed.

Many in the Country have entertain'd a mean Thought of this great Work that there has been amongst us, from what they have heard of Impressions that have been made on Persons Imaginations. But there have been exceeding great Misrepresentations, and innumerable false Reports concerning that Matter. Tis not, that I know of, the Profession or Opinion of any one Person in the Town, that any weight is to be laid on any thing seen with the bodily Eyes: I know the contrary to be a receiv'd and established Principle amongst us. I cannot say that there have been no Instances of Persons that have been ready to give too much heed to vain and useless Imaginations; but they have been easily corrected, and I conclude it will not be wondered at, that a Congregation should need a Guide in such Cases, to assist them in distinguishing Wheat from Chaff. But such Impressions on the Imagination as have been more usual, seem to me, to be plainly no other, than what is to be expected in human Nature in such Circumstances, and [...] is the natural Result of the strong Exercise of the Mind, and Impressions on the Heart.

[Page 53] I do not suppose that they themselves imagined that they saw any thing with their bodily Eyes; but only have had within them Ideas strongly impress'd, and as it were, livel [...] Pictures in their Minds: As for instance, some when in great Terrors, through fear of Hell, have had lively Ideas of a dreadful Furnace. Some, when their Hearts have been strongly impress'd, and their Affections greatly moved with a sens [...] of the Beauty and Excellency of Christ, it has wrought on their Imaginations so, that together with a sense of his gloriou [...] spiritual Perfections, there has arisen in the Mind an Idea of one of glorious Majesty, and of a sweet and a gracious Aspect: So some when they have been greatly affected with Christ's Death, have at the same time a lively Idea of Christ hanging up­on the Cross, and of his Blood running from his Wounds; which things won't be wondred at by them that have observed how strong Affections about temporal Matters will excite lively Ideas and Pictures of different things in the Mind.

But yet the vigorous Exercise of the Mind, does doubtless more strongly impress it with imaginary Ideas, in some than others, which probably may arise from the dif­ference of Constitution, and seems, evidently in some, partly to arise from their peculiar Circumstances: When Per­sons have been exercised with extreme Terrors, and there is a sudden change to Light and Joy, the Imagina­tion seems more susceptive of strong Ideas, and the inferior Powers, and even the Frame of the Body, is much more affected and wrought upon, than when the same Persons have as great spiritual Light and Joy afterwards; of which it might, perhaps, be easy to give a Reason. The fore­mentioned Rev. Messi Lord and Owen, who I believe, are esteem'd Persons of Learning and Discretion where they are best known, declared that they found these Im­pressions on Persons Imaginations, quite different things from what Fame had before represented to them, and that they were what none need to wonder at, or be stumbled by, or to that purpose.

There have indeed been some few Instances, of Im­pressions on Persons Imaginations, that have been [...] [Page 54] mysterious to me, and I have been at a loss about them; for tho' it has been exceeding evident to me by many things that appear'd in them, both then (when they related them) and afterwards, that they indeed had a great sense of the spiritual Excellency of Divine Things accompanying them; yet I have not been able well to satisfy myself, whether their imaginary Ideas have been more than could naturally arise from their spiritual Sense of things. However, I have used the utmost Caution in such Cases; great Care has been taken both in publick and in private to teach Persons the difference between what is spiritual and what is merely imaginary. I have often warned Persons not to lay the stress of their Hope on any Ideas of any outward Glory, or any external thing whatsoever, and have met with no Opposition in such Instructions. But 'tis not strange if some weaker Persons, in giving an account of their Experiences, have not so prudently distinguished between the spiritual and imaginary Part; which some that have not been well affected to Religion, might take advantage of.

There has been much talk in many parts of the Country, as tho' the People have symbolized with the Quakers, and the Quakers themselves have been moved with such Reports; and came here, once and again, hoping to find good Waters to fish in; but without the least Success, and seem to be discouraged, and have left off coming. There have also been Reports spread about the Country, as tho' the first Occasion of so re­markable a Concern on People's Minds here, was an Apprehension that the World was near to an end, which was altogether a false Report: Indeed after this Stirring and Concern became so general and extraordinary, as has been related, the Minds of some were filled with Speculation, what so great a Dispensation of divine Providence might forebode: and some Reports were heard from abroad, as tho' certain Divines and others thought the Conflagration was nigh: but such Reports were never generally looked upon worthy of Notice.

The Work that has now been wrought on Souls is evidently the same that was wrought in my venerable Pre­decessor's [Page 55] Days; as I have had abundant Opportunity to know, having been in the Ministry here two Years with him, and so conversed with a considerable Number that my Grandfather thought to be savingly converted in that time; and having been particularly acquainted with the Experiences of many that were converted under his Ministry before. And I know no one of them, that in the least doubts of its being the same Spirit, and the same Work. Persons have now no otherwise been sub­ject to Impressions on their Imaginations, than formerly: The Work is of the same nature, and has not been attend­ed with any extraordinary Circumstances, excepting such as are analogous to the extraordinary degree of it before described. And God's People, that were formerly con­verted, have now partook of the same Shower of divine Blessing, in the renewing, strengthening, edifying Influences of the Spirit of God, that others have in his converting Influences; and the Work here has also been plainly the same with that, which has been wrought in those of other Places that have been mentioned, as partaking of the same Blessing I have particularly conversed with Per­sons about their Experiences that belong to all parts of the County, and in various parts of Connecticut, where a religious Concern has lately appear'd; and have been in­form'd of the Experiences of many others by their own Pastors.

'Tis easily perceived by the foregoing Account that 'tis very much the Practice of the People here, to converse freely one with another of their spiritual Experiences, which is a thing that many have been disgusted at. But however our People may have, in some respects, gone to extremes in it, yet 'tis doubtless a Practice that the Circumstances of this Town, and neighbouring Towns, has naturally led them into. Whatsoever People are in such Circumstances, where all have their Minds engaged to such a Degree, in the same Affair, that 'tis ever up­permost in their Thoughts; they will naturally make it the Subject of Conversation one with another when they get together, in which they will grow more and more free: Restraints will soon vanish; and they will not con­ceal [Page 56] from one another what they meet with. And it has been a Practice which, in the general, has been attended with many good Effects, and what God has greatly bles­sed amongst us: But it must be contest, there may have been some ill Consequences of it; which yet are rather to be laid to the indiscreet Management of it, than to the Practice it self; and none can wonder, if among such a multitude some sail of exercising so much Prudence in choosing the time, manner, and occasion of such Discourse, as is desireable.

But to give a clearer Idea of the Nature and Manner of the Operations of God's Spirit, in this wonderful Effusion of it, I would give an Account of two particular Instances. The first is an Adult Person, a young Woman whose Name was Abigail Hutc [...]inson. I pitch upon her especially because she is now dead, and so it may be more fit to speak freely of her then of living Instances: tho' I am under far greater Disadvantages, on other ac­counts, to give a full and clear Narrative of her Ex­periences, than I might of some others; nor can any Account be given b [...]t what has been retain'd in the Me­mories of her near Friends, and some others, of what they have heard her express in her life time

She was of a rational understanding Family: there could be nothing in her Education that tended to Enthusiasm, but rather to the contrary extreme. 'Tis in no wise the Temper of the Family to be oftentatious of Experiences, and it was far from being her Temper. She was before her Conversion; to the Observation of her Neighbours, of a sober and inoffensive Conversation; and was a still, quie [...], reserv'd Person. She had long been infirm of Body, but her Infi [...]mity had never been observed at all to incline her to be notional or fanciful, or to occasion any thing of religious Melancholy. She was under Awakenings scarcely a Week before there seem'd to be plain Evidence of her being savingly con­verted.

She was first awakened in the Winter Season, on Monday, by something she heard her Brother say of the Necessity of being in good earnest in seeking regenerating [Page 57] Grace, together with the News of the Conversion of the young Woman before mention'd, whose Conversion so generally affected most of the young People here. This News wrought much upon her, and stirr'd up a Spirit of Envy in her towards this young Woman, whom she thought very unworthy of being distinguished from others by such a Mercy; but withal it engaged her in a firm Resolution to do her u [...]most to obtain the same Blessing; and considering with herself what Course she should take, she thought, that she had not a sufficient Knowledge of the Principles of Religion, to render her capable of Conversion; whereupon she resolved thorough­ly to search the Scriptures; and accordingly immediately began at the beginning of the Bible, intending to read it through. She continued thus till Thursday; and then there was a sudden Alteration, by a great Increase of her Concern, in an extraordinary sense of her own Sinfulness, particularly the Sinfulness of her Nature, and Wickedness of her Heart, which came upon her (as she expressed it) as a Flash of Lightning, and struck her into an exceeding Terror. Upon which she left off reading the Bible in Course as she had begun, and turned to the New-Testament, to see if she could not find some relief there for her distressed Soul.

Her great Terror she said was, that she had sin'd against God: Her Distress grew more and more for three Days, until (as she said) she saw [...]. [...] but Blackness of Darkness be­fore her, and, her very Flesh troubled for fear of God's w [...]ath; she wondred and was aston [...]shed at herself, that she had been so concerned for [...] Body, and had applied so often to Physicians to heal that, and had neglected her Soul. Her Sinfulness ap­peared with a very awful Aspect to her, especially in three things (viz.) her Original Sin, and her Sin in murmuring at God's Providence, in the Weakness and Afflictions she had been under, and in want of Duty to Parents, tho' others had look'd upon her to exc [...]l in Daufulness. On Saturday, she was so earnestly engaged in reading the Bible and other Book [...], that she con [...]ed in it, searching for something [...] her, till her Eyes were so dim, that [...] know the Letters. Whilst she [...] [Page 58] thus engaged in Reading, Prayer, and other religious Exercises, she thought of those Words of Christ, wherein he warns us not to be as the Heathen, that think they shall be heard for their much speaking; which, she said, led her to see that she had trusted to her own Prayers and religious Performances, and now she was put to a nonplus, and knew not which way to turn herself, or where to seek Relief.

While her Mind was in this Posture, her Heart, she said, seem'd to fly to the Minister for Refuge, hoping that he could give her some Relief. She came the same Day to her Brother, with the Countenance of a Person in distress, expostulating with him, why he had not told her more of her Sinfulness, and earnestly enquiring of him what she should do. She seem'd that Day to feel in herself an Enmity against the Bible, which greatly affrighted her. Her sense of her own exceeding Sinfulness continued increasing from Thursday till Monday; and she gave this account of i [...], that it had been an Opinion, which till now she had entertain'd, that she was not guilty of Adam's, Sin, nor any way concerned in it, because she was not active in it; but that now she saw she was guilty of that Sin, and all over defiled by it; and that the Sin which she brought into the World with her, was alone sufficient to con­demn her.

On the Sabbath day she was so ill that her Friends thought it not best that she should go to publick Wor­ship, of which she seem'd very desirous: But when she went to Bed on the Sabbath day Night, she took up a Resolution, that she would the next Morning go to the Minister, hoping to find some relief their. As she awaked on Monday Morning, a little before Day she wondred within herself at the Easiness and Calmness she felt in her Mind, which was of that kind which she never felt before; as she thought of this, such Words as these were in her Mind; The Words of the Lord are pure Words, Health to the Soul, and Marrow to the Bones: And then these Words came to her Mind, the Blood of Christ cleanses fro [...] [...] Sin; which [...]re [...] companied with a lively sense of [...] of [Page 59] Christ, and his Sufficiency to satisfy for the Sins of the whole World. She then thought of that Expression; 'Tis a pleasant thing for the Eyes to behold the Sun; which Words then seem'd to her to be very applicable to Jesus Christ. By these things her Mind was led into such Contemplati­ons and Views of Christ, as fill'd her exceeding full of Joy. She told her Brother in the Morning that she had seen (i e. in realizing Views by Faith) Christ the last Night, and, that she had really thought that she had not Knowledge enough to be converted; but, says she, God can make it quite easy! On Monday she felt all day a constant Sweetness in her Soul. She had a Repetition of the same Discoverys of Christ three Mornings together, that she had on Monday Morning, and much in the same manner, at each time waking a little before day; but brighter and brighter eve­ry time.

At the last time on Wednesday Morning, while in the Enjoyment of a spiritual View of Christ's Glory and Ful­ness, her Soul was filled with Distress for Christless Per­sons, to consider with a miserable Condition they were in: and she felt in herself a strong Inclination immediately to go forth to warn Sinners; and proposed it the next Day to her Brother to assist her in going from house to house; but her Brother restrain'd her, by telling her of the un­suitableness of such a Method. She told one of her Sisters that Day, that she loved all Mankind, but especially the Peo­ple of God. Her Sister asked her why she loved all Man­kind? She reply'd because God had made them. After this there happen'd to come into the Shop where she was at work, three Persons that were thought to have been late­ly converted; her seeing them as they step'd in one after another into the Door, so affected her, and so drew forth her love to them, that it overcame her, and she almost fainted: And when they began to talk of the things of Religion, it was more than she could bear; they were ob­liged to cease on that account. It was a very frequent thing with her to be overcome with a flow of Affection to them that she thought Godly, in Conversation with them, and sometimes only at the Sight of them.

[Page 60] She had many extraordinary Discoveries of the Glory of God and Christ; sometimes, in some particular Attri­butes, and sometimes in many. She gave an Account, that once, as those four Words passed thro' her Mind, WISDOM, JUSTICE, GOODNESS, and TRUTH, her So I was fill'd with a sense of the Glory of each of these divine Attributes, but especially the last: Truth, said she, sunk the deepest! And therefore as these Words pass'd, this was repeated,TRUTH, TRUTH! Her Mind was so swallowed up with a sense of the Glory of God's Truth and other Perfections, that she said, it seem'd as tho' her Life was going, and that she saw it was easy with God to take away her Life by Discoveries of himself. Soon after this she went to a private religious Meeting, and her Mind was full of a Sense and View of the Glory of God all the Time; and when the Exercise was ended, some ask­ed her concerning what she had experienced: and she began to give them an Account; but as she was relating it, it revived such a Sense of the same Things, that her Strength fail'd, and they were oblig'd to take her, and la [...] her upon the Bed. Afterwards she was greatly af­fected, and rejoiced with these Words, Worthy is the Lamb that was stain.

She had several Days together a sweet sense of the Ex­cellency and Loveliness of Christ in his Meekness, which disposed her continually to be repeating over these Words, which were sweet to her, MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART, MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART. She once expres'd herself to one of her Sisters, to this pur­pose, that she had continued whole: days and whole Nights, in a constant ravishing View of the Glory of God and Christ, having enjoy'd as much as her Life could bear. Once as her Brother was speaking of the dying Love of Christ, she told him that she had such a sense of it, that the mee [...] Mentioning it was ready to overcome her.

Once, when she came to me, she told how that at such and such a time she thought she saw as much of God, and had as much Joy and Pleasure as was possible in this Life, and that yet afterwards God discover'd himself yet far more abundantly, and she [Page 61] saw the same things that she had seen before, yet more clearly, and in another and far more excellent and delightful manner, and was filled with a more exceeding Sweetness; she likewise gave me such an Account of the Sese the once had, from day to day, of the Glory of Christ, and of God, in his various Attributes, that it seem'd to me she dwelt for Days together in a kind of beatisic Vision of God; and seem'd to have, as I thought, as immediate an Intercourse with him, as a Child with a Father: and at the same time, she ap­peared most remo [...]e from any high Thought of herself, and of her own Sufficiency; but was like a little Child, and expressed great Desire to be instructed, telling me that she longed very often to come to me for Instruction, and wanted to live at my House, that I might tell her her Duty

She often expressed a sense of the Glory of God ap­pearing in the Trees, and Growth of the Fields and other Works of God's Hands. She told her Sister that lived near the Heart of the Town, that she once thought it a pleasant thing to live in the middle of the Town, but now, says she, I think it much more pleasant to sit and see the Wind blowing the Trees, and to behold what God has made. She had sometimes the powerful Breathings of the Spirit of God on her Soul, while reading the Scripture, and would express a sense that she had of the certain Truth and Divinity thereof. She sometimes would appear with a pleasant Smile on her Countenance; and once when her Sister took notice of it, and asked why she smiled, she reply'd, I am brim-full of a sweet feeling within! She often used to express how good and sweet it was to the low before God, and the lower (said she) the better! and that it was pleasant to think of lying [...] the Dust all the Days of her Life, mourning for Sin. She was wont to manifest a great sense of her own Mean­ness and Dependance. She often express'd an exceeding Compassion, and pitiful Love, which she found in her Heart towards Persons in a Christless Condition; which was sometimes so strong, that as she was passing by such in the streets, or those that she fear'd were such, she [Page 62] would be overcome by the Sight of them. She once said, that she longed to have the whole World saved, she wanted, as it were▪ to pull them all to her; she could not bear to have one lost▪

She had great Longings to die, that she might be with Christ; which increased 'till she thought she did not know how to be patient to wait till God's time should come. But once when she felt those Longings, she thought with her­self, If I long to die, why do I go to Physicians? Whence she concluded that her Longings for Death were not well regulated After this she often put it to herself, which she should choose, whether to live or to die, to be sick, or to be well; and she found she could not tell, till at last she found herself disposed to say these Words; I am quite willing to live, and quite willing to die; quite willing to be sick, and quite willing to be well; and quite willing for any thing that God will bring upon me! And then, said she, I felt my self perfectly easy, in a full Submission to the Will of God. She then lamented much, that she had been so ea­ger in her Longings for Death, as it argued want of such a Resignation to God, as ought to be. She seem'd hence­forward to continue in this resigned Frame till Death.

After this her Illness increased upon her: and once af­ter she had before spent the greater Part of the Night in extreme Pain, she waked out of a little sleep with these Words in her Heart and Mouth; I am willing to suffer for Christ's sake, I am willing to spend and be spent for Christ's sake; I am willing to spend my Life, even my very Life for Christ's sake! And tho' she had an extraordinary Resignation, with respect to Life or Death, yet the Thoughts of Dying were exceeding sweet to her. At a time when her Bro­ther was reading in Job, concerning Worms feeding on the dead Body, she appear'd with a pleasant Smile; and being enquired of about it, she said, it was sweet to her to think of her being in such Circumstances. At another time, when her Brother mention'd to her the Danger there seem'd to be that the Illness she then labour'd under, might be an Occasion of her Death, it fill'd her with Joy that almost overcame her. At a­nother time, when she met a Company following a [Page 63] Corpse to the Grave, she said, it was sweet to her to think, that they would in a little time follow her in like manner.

Her Illness in the latter part of it was seated much in her Throat; and swelling inward, fill'd up the Pipe, so that she could swallow nothing but what was perfectly liquid, and but very little of that, and with great and long Strugglings and Stranglings, that which she took in, flying out at her Nostrils, till she at last could swallow nothing at all: She had a raging Appetite to Food, so that she told her Sister, when talking with her about her Circumstances, that the worst Bit that she threw to her Swine, would be sweet to her: but yet when she saw that she could not swallow it, she seem'd to be as perfectly contented without it, as if she had no Appetite to it. Others were greatly moved to see what she underwent, and were fill'd with Admiration at her unexampled Patience. At a Time when she was striving in vain to get down a little Food, something liquid, and was very much spent with it; she look'd up on her Sister with a Smile, saying, O Sister, this is for my Good! At another time, when her Sister was speaking of what she underwent, she told her, that she liv'd an Heaven upon Earth for all that She used some­times to say to her Sister, under her extreme Sufferings, It is good to be so! Her Sister once asked her, why she said to, why, says she, because God would have it so: It is best that things should be as God would have 'em: It looks best to [...]. After her Confinement, as they were leading her from the Bed to the Door, she seem'd over­come by the Sight of things abroad, as shewing forth the Glory of the Being that had made them. As she lay on her Death-bed, she would often say these Words, God is my Friend! And once looking up on her Sister, with a Smile▪ said O Sister! How good it is! How sweet and comfortable it is to consider, and think of heavenly things! and used this Argument to persuade her Sister to be much in such Meditations.

She express'd on her Death Bed, an exceeding Longing, both for Persons in a natural State, that they might be con­verted, [Page 64] and for the Godly that they might see and know more of God. And when those that looked on themselves as in a Christless State came to see her, she would be greatly moved with compassionate Affection. One in particular that seem'd to be in a great distress about the State of her Soul, and had come to see her from time to time, she de­sired her Sister to persuade not to come any more, because the Sight of her so wrought on her Compassions, that it overcame her Nature. The same Week that she died, when she was in distressing Circumstances as to her Body, some of the Neighbours that came to see her, asked if she was willing to die? She reply'd, that she was quite willing either to live or die; sh [...] was willing to be in pain; she was willing to be so always as she was then, if that was the Will of God. She willed what God willed They ask­ed her whether she was willing to die that Night? She answer'd, Yes, if it be God's Will. And seem'd to speak all with that perfect composure of Spirit, and with such a chearful and pleasant Countenance, that it filled them with Admiration.

She was very weak a considerable time before she died, having pined away with Famine and Thirst, so that her Flesh seem'd to be dried upon her Bones; and therefore could say but little, and manifested her Mind very much by Signs. She said she had Matter enough to fill up all her Time with Talk, if she had but Strength A few Days be­fore her Death, some asked her, whether she h [...]ld her Integrity still? Whether she was not afraid of Death? She answered to this purpose, that she had not the least Degree of fear of Death. They asked her why she would be so confident? She answered, If I should say otherwise, I should speak contrary to what I know: there is, says she,in­deed, a dark Entry that looks something dark, but on the other Side there appears such a bright shining light, that I cannot be afraid! She said no [...] long before she died, that she used to be afraid how she should grapple with Death; but, says she, God has sh [...]wed me that he can make it easy in great Pai [...] Several Days before she died, she could scarcely say any thing but just yes, and no, to Questions that were asked her, for she seem'd to be dying for three Days toge­ther▪ [Page 65] but seem'd to continue in an admirable sweet Com­posure of Soul, without any Interruption, to the last, and died as a Person that went to sleep, without any strug­gling, about Noon, on Friday, June 27. 1735.

She had long been infirm, and often had been exercised with great Pain; but she died chiefly of Famine. It was, doubtless, partly owing to her bodily Weakness, that her Nature was so often overcome, and ready to sink with gracious Affection; but yet the truth was, that she had more Grace, and greater Discoveries of God and Christ, than the present [...]rail State did well consist with. She wanted to be where strong Grace might have more Liberty, and be without the Clog of a weak Body; there she longed to be, and there she doubtless now is. She was looked upon amongst us, as a very eminent Instance of Christian Experience: but this is but a very broken and imperfect Account I have given of her▪ Her Eminency would much more appear, if her Ex­periences were fully related, as she was wont to ex­press, and manifest them, while living. I once read this Account to some of her pious Neighbours, who were acquainted with her, who said, to this purpose, that the Picture [...]ell much short of the Life; and particularly that it much fa [...]l'd of duly representing her Humility, and that admirable Lowliness of Heart, that at all times appeared in her. But there are (blessed be God!) many living Instances, of much the like nature, and in some Things no less extraordinary.

But I now proceed to the other Instance that I would give an Account of, which is of the little Child fore­mention'd. Her Name is Ph [...]be Bartlet, Daughter of William Bartlet I shall give the Account as I look it from the Months of her Parents, whose Veracity none▪ that know them doubt of

She was born in March, in the year 1731. About the latter end of April, or beginning of May, 1735, she was greatly affected by the talk of her Brother, who had been hopefully converted a little before, at about eleven years of Age, and then seriously talked to her about the great Things of Religion. Her Parents did [Page 66] not know of it at that time, and were not wont, in the Counsels they gave to their Children, particularly to direct themselves to her, by reason of her being so young, and as they supposed not capable of Under­standing: but after her Brother had talked to her, they observed her very earnestly to listen to the Advice they gave to the other Children; and she was observed very constantly to retire, several times in a Day, as was con­cluded, for secret Prayer; and grew more and more engaged in Religion, and was more frequent in her Closer; till at last she was wont to visit it five or six times in a Day: and was so engaged in it, that nothing would at any Time divert her from her stated Close [...] Exercises. Her Mother often observed and watched her, when such Things occurr'd, as she thought most likely to divert her, either by putting it out of her Thoughts, or other­wise engaging her Inclinations; but never could observe her to fail. She mention'd some very remarkable In­stances.

She once of her own accord spake of her Unsuccessful­ness, in that she could not find God, or to that pur­pose. But on Thursday, the last Day of July, about the middle of the Day, the Child being in the Close [...], where it used to retire, its Mother heard it speaking aloud; which was unusual, and never had been observed before: And her Voice seemed to be as of one exceeding importunate and engaged; but her Mother could dis­tinctly here only these Words, (spoken in her childish Manner, but seemed to be spoken with extraordinary earnestness, and out of Distress of Soul,) PRAY BLESS­ED LORD give me Salvation! I PRAY BEG pardon all my Sins! When the Child had done Prayer she came out of the Closet, and came and sat down by her Mother, and cried out aloud. Her Mother very earnestly asked her several times, what the matter was, before she would make any Answer; but she continued exceedingly crying, and wreathing her Body to and fro, like one in anguish of Spirit. Her Mother then asked her, whe­ther she was afraid that God would not give her Salvation▪ She answered yes, I am afraid I shall go to [Page 67] Hell! Her Mother then endeavoured to quiet her, and told her she would not have her cry, she must be a good Girl, and pray every Day, and she hoped God would give her Salvation. But this did not quiet her at all; but she continued thus earnestly crying, and taking on for some time, till at length she suddenly ceased crying, and began to smile, and presently said with a smiling Countenance, Mother, the Kingdom of Heaven is come to me! Her Mother was surprized at the sudden Alteration, and at the Speech; and knew not what to make of it, but at first said nothing to her. The Child presently spake again, and said, there is another come to me, and there is another, there is three; and being asked what she meant, she answered one is, Thy will be done, and there is another, Enjoy him for ever; by which it seems that when the Child said there is three come to me, she meant three Passages of its Catrchism that came to her Mind.

After the Child had said this, she retired again into her Closet; and her Mother went over to her Brother's, who was next Neighbour; and when she came back, the Child, being come out of the Closet, meets her Mother with this chearful Speech, I can find God now! referring to what she had before complain'd of that she could not find God. Then the Child spoke again and said, I love God! Her Mother asked her, how well she loved God, whether she loved God better than her Father and Mother, she said yes. Then she asked her whether she loved God better than her little Sister Rachel? She answered yes, better than any thing! Then her eldest Sister, referring to her saying she could find God now, asked her where she could find God. She answered in Heaven: Why, said she, have you been in Hea­ven? No, said the Child. By this it seems not to have been any Imagination of any thing seen with bodily Eyes, that she called God, when she said I can find God now. Her Mother asked her whether she was afraid of going to Hell, and that had made her cry. She answered, yes, I was; but now I shan't. Her Mother asked her whether she thought that God had given her Salvation; She ans­wered, yes. Her Mother asked her, when. She answer­ed, to day. She appeared all that Afternoon exceeding [Page 68] chearful and joyful. One of the Neighbours asked her, how she fe [...] her self? She answer'd, I feel better than I did. The Neighbour asked her, what made her feel better. She answered, God makes me. That Evening as she lay a bed, she called one of her little Cousins to her that was present in the Room▪ as having something to say to him; and [...]hen he came, she told him, that Heaven was better than Earth. The next Day being Friday, [...]e [...] Mother asking her her Catechism, asked her what God made her for: She answered to serve him▪ and added, every body should serve God, and get an Interest in Christ.

The same Day the elder Children, when they came home from School, seemed much affected with the extraor­dinary Change that seemed to be made in Phebe: And her Sister Abigail standing by, her Mother took occasion to counsel her, now to improve her Time, to prepare for another World: On which Phebe burst out in Tears, and cried out Poor Nabby! Her Mother told her she would not have her cry, she hoped that God would give Nabby Salvation; but that did not quiet her, but she continued earnestly cry­ing for some time; and when she had in a measure ceased, her Sister Eunice being by her she burst out again, and cried Poor Eunice! and cried exceedingly; and when she had almost done she went into another Room, and there looked up on her Sister Naomi: and burst out again, crying Poor Amy! Her Mother was greatly affected at such a Beha­viour in the Child, and knew not what to say to her. One of the Neighbours coming in a little after, asked her what she had cried for. She seemed at first backward to tell the Reason: her Mother told her she might tell that Person, for he had given her an Ap [...]l: Upon which she said, she cried because she was afraid they would go to Hell.

At Night a certain Minister, that was occasionally in the Town, was at the House, and talked considerable with her, of the Things of Religion; and after he was gone she sat leaning on the Table, with Tears running out of her Eyes▪ And being asked what made her cry, she said it was thinking [...] God. The next Day, being Saturday, she seemed great part of the Day to be in a very affection­ate [Page 69] Frame, had four turns of Crying, and seemed to en­deavour to curb her felt, and hide her Tears, and was very backward to ta [...]k of the occasion of it. On the Sab­bath Day she was asked whether she believed in God; she answered yes: And being told that Christ was the Son of God, she made ready Answer, and said, I know it.

From this Time there has appeared a very remarkable abiding Change in the Child: She has been very strict upon the Sabbath; and seems to long for the Sabbath Day before it comes▪ and will often in the Week time be enquiring how long it is to the Sabbath Day, and must have the Days particularly counted over that are between, before she will be contented. And she seems to love God's House, is very eager to go thither: Her Mother once asked her why she had such a mind to go? whether it was not to see fine Folks? She said no, it was to hear Mr. Edwards preach. When she is in the place of Worship, she is very far from spending her Time there as Children at her Age usually do, but appears with an Attention that is very extraordinary for such a Child. She also appears very desirous at all Oppor­tunities to go to pri [...]e religious Meetings; and is very still and attentive at Home, in Prayer time, and has ap­peared affected in time of Family Prayer. She seems to delight much in hearing religious Conversation: When I once was there with some others that were Strangers, and [...]alked to her something of Religion, she seemed more than ordinarily attentive; and when we were gone.she looked out very wistly after us, and said, I wish they wou'd come again! Her Mother asked her why: Says she, I love to hear 'em talk!

She seems to have very much of the Fear of God before her Eyes▪ and as extraordinary Dread of Sin against him; of which her Mother mention'd the fol­lowing remarkable Instance. Some time in August, the last Year, she went with some bigger Children, to get some Plumbs, in a Neighbour's Lot, knowing nothing of any harm in what she did, but when she brought some of the [...] into the House, her Mother mildly reproved her, and told her that she [...] Plumbs [Page 70] without leave, because it was Sin: God had commanded her not to steal The Child seemed greatly surprized, and burst out in Tears, and cryed out, I won't have these Plumbs! and turning to her Sister Eunice, very earnestly said [...]o her why did you ask me to go to that Plumb. Tree? I should not have gone if you had not asked me. The other Children did not seem to be much affected or concern­ed; but there was no pacifying Phebe. Her Mother told her she might go and ask leave, and then it would not be sin for her to eat them; and sent one of the Children to that end; and when she returned, her Mother told her that the Owner had given leave, now she might eat them, and it would not be stealing. This still'd her a little while; but presently she broke out again into an exceeding Fit of Crying: Her Mother asked her what made her cry again? Why she cryed now, since they had asked leave? What it was that troubled her now? And asked her several times very earnestly, before she made any Answer; but at last said, it was because BECAUSE IT WAS SIN. She continued a considerable time cry­ing; and said she would not go again if Eunice asked her an hundred Times; and she retain'd her Aversion to that Fruit for a considerable time, under the re­membrance of her former Sin.

She at some times appears greatly affected, and de­lighted with Texts of Scripture that come to her mind. Particularly, about the beginning of November, the last Year, that Text came to her mind, Rev. iii.20. Behold, I stand at the Door and knock: If any Man hear my Voice, and open the Door, I will come in, and sup with him, and he with me. She spoke of it to those of the Family, with a great appearance of Joy, a smiling Countenance, & Elevation of Voice, and af­terwards she went into another Room, where her Mother overheard her talking very earnestly to the Children about it, and particularly heard her say to them, three or four times over, with an air of exceeding Joy and Admiration, Why it is to SUP WITH GOD. At some time about the middle of Winter, very late in the Night, when all were a bed, her Mother perceived that she was awake, and heard her, as tho' she was weeping. She [Page 71] called to her, and asked her what was the matter. She answered with a low Voice, so that her Mother could not hear what she said; but thinking that it might be occasion'd by some spiritual Affection, said no more to her; but perceived her to lie awake, and to continue in the same Frame, for a considerable time. The next Morning, she asked her whether she did not cry the last Night: The Child answered yes, I did cry a little, for I was thinking about God and Christ, and they loved me, Her Mother asked her whether to think of God and Christ's loving her made her cry: She answered yes, it does some­times.

She has often manifested a great Concern for the good of others Souls: and has been wont many times affection­ately to counsel the other Children. Once about the lat­ter end of September, the last Year, when she and some others of the Children where in a Room by themselves, a husking Indian Corn, the Child, after a while, came out and sat by the Fire. Her Mother took notice that she appeared with a more than ordinary serious and pensive Countenance, but at last she broke silence, and said, I have been talking to Nabby and Eunice: Her Mother asked her what she had said to 'em Why said she, I told 'em they must pray, and prepare to die, that they had but a little while to live in this World, and they must be always ready When Nabby came out, her Mother asked her whether she had said that to them. Yes said she, she said that, and a great deal more. At other times, the Child took her Opportunities to talk to the other Children about the great Concern of their Souls, sometimes, so as much to affect them, and set them into Tears. She was once exceeding importunate with her Mother to go with her Sister Naomi to pray: Her Mother endeavoured to put her off; but she pulled her by the Sleeve, and seem'd as if she would by no means be denied. At last her Mother told her, that Amy must go and pray her self; but, says the Child, she will not go; and per­sisted earnestly to beg of her Mother to go with her.

She has discover'd an uncommon Degree of a Spirit of Charity; particularly on the following Occasion: A [Page 72] poor Man that lives in the Woods, had lately lost a Cow that the Family much depended on, and being at the House, he was relating his Misfortune, and telling of the Straits and Difficulties they were reduced to by i [...] ▪ She took much notice of it, and it wrought exceedingly on her Compassions: And after she had attentively heard him a while, she went away to her Father, who was in the Shop, and intreated him to give that Man a Cow: and told him that the poor Man had no Cow! that the Hunters or something else had kill'd his Cow! and entreat­ed him to give him one of theirs. Her Father told her that they could not spare one. Then she entreated him to let him and his Family come and live at his House: And had much more talk of the same nature, whereby she manifested Bowels of Compassion to the Poor.

She has manifested great Love to her Minister: Parti­cularly when I return'd from my long Journey for my Health, the last Fall, when she heard of i [...], she appear'd very joyful at the News, and told the Children of it, with an elevated Voice, as the most joyful Tidings, re­peating it over and over, Mr. Edwards is come home! Mr. Edwards is come home! She still continues very con­stant in secret Prayer, so far as can be observed, (for she seems to have no Desire that others should observe her when she retires, but seems to be a Child of a reserved Temper) and every Night, before she goes to Bed, will say her Catechism, and will by no means miss of i [...]: she never forgot it but once, and then after she was a bed, thought of it, and cryed out in Tears, I han't said my Catechism! and would not be quieted till her Mother asked her the Catechism as she lay in Bed. She some­times appears to be in doubt about the Condition of her Soul, and when asked whether she thinks that she is prepared for Death, speaks something doubtfully about it: At other times seems to have no doubt, but when asked replies yes without hesitation.

In the former part of this great Work of God amongst us, till it got to its height, we seemed to be wonderfully smiled upon and blessed in all respects. Satan (as has [Page 73] been already observed▪) seemed to be unusually restrain'd: Persons that before had been involved in Melancholy, seemed to be as it were waked up out of it; and those that had been entangled with extraordinary Temptations, seemed wonderfully to be set at liberty; and not only so, but it was the most remarkable time of Health, that ever I knew since I have been in the Town. We ordinarily have several Bills put up, every Sabbath, for Persons that are sick; but now we had not so much as one for many Sabbaths together. But after this it seemed to be otherwise, when this Work of God appear'd to be at its greatest Height, a poor weak Man that belongs to the Town, being in great spiritual Trouble, was hurried with violent Temptations to cut his own Throat, and made an Attempt; but did not do it effectually. He after this continued a considerable Time exceeding overwhelmed with Melancholy; but has now of a long time been very greatly deliver'd, by the Light of God's Countenance lifted up upon him, and has expressed a great Sense of his Sin in so far yielding to Temptation; and there are in him all hopeful Evidences of his having been made a Subject of saving Mercy.

In the latter part of May, it began to be very sensible that the Spirit of God was gradually withdrawing from us, and after this Time Satan seemed to be more let loose, and raged in a dreadful manner. The first Instance wherein it appear'd, was a Person's putting an end to his own Life, by cutting his Throat. He was a Gen­tleman of more than common Understanding, of strict Morals, religious in his Behaviour, and an useful ho­nourable Person in the Town; but was of a Family that are exceeding prone to the Disease of Melancholy, and his Mother was killed with it. He had, from the be­ginning of this extraordinary Time, been exceedingly concern'd about the State of his Soul, and there were some Things in his Experience, that appeared very hope­fully; but he durst entertain no Hope concerning his own good Estate. Towards the latter part of his Time, he grew much discouraged, and Melancholy grew a­main [Page 74] upon him, till he was wholly overpower'd by it, and was in great measure past a Capacity of receiving Advice, or being reasoned with to any purpose: The Devil took the advantage, and drove him into despairing Thoughts. He was kept awake a-nights, medi [...]ating Terror; so that he had scarce any Sleep at all, for a long time together. And it was observed at last, that he was scarcely well capable of managing his ordinary Business, and was judged delirious by the Coroner's Inquest. The News of this extraordinarily affected the Minds of People here, and struck them as it were with Astonishment. After this, Multitudes in this, and other Towns, seemed to have it strongly suggested to 'em, and pressed upon 'em, to do as this Person had done. And many that seemed to be under no Melancholy, some pious Persons, that had no special Darkness, or Doubts about the goodness of their State, nor were under any special Trouble or Concern of Mind about any thing Spiritual or Temporal, yet had it urged upon 'em, as if somebody had spoke to 'em, Cut your own Throat, now is a good Opportunity. Now; now! So that they were oblig'd to fight with all their might to resist it, and yet no Reason suggested to 'em why they should do it.

About the same time, there were two remarkable Instances of Persons led away with strange Enthusiastick Delusions: one at Suffield, another at South-Hadley: That which has made the greatest noise in the Country was of the Man at South-Hadley, whose Delusion was, that he thought himself divinely instructed to direct a poor Man in melancholy and despairing Circumstances, to say certain Words in Prayer to God, as recorded in Psal. cxvi 4. for his own Relief. The Man is esteemed a pious Man: I have since this Error of his, had a particular Acquaintance with him; and I believe none would question his Piety, that had had such an Acquain­tance. He gave me a particular Account of the Manner how he was deluded; which is too long to be here inserted. But in short, he was exceedingly rejoiced and [Page 75] elevated with this extraordinary Work, so carried on in this part of the Country: and was possessed with an Opinion that it was the beginning of the glorious Times of the Church spoken of in Scripture: And had read it as the Opinion of some Divines, that there would be many in these Times that should be endued with extraordinary Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and had embraced the Notion; tho' he had at first no Apprehensions that any besides Ministers would have such Gifts. But he since exceed­ingly laments the Dishonour he has done to God, and the Wound he has given Religion in it, and has lain low before God and Man for it.

After these things the Instances of Conversion were rare here in comparison of what they had before been, (tho' that remarkable Instance of the little Child was after this,) and the Spirit of God not long after this time, appear'd very sensibly withdrawing from all parts of the County; (tho' we have heard of its going on in some Places of Connecticut, and that it continues to be car­ried on even to this Day.) But Religion remain'd here, and I believe in some other Places, the main Subject of Conversation, for several Months after this. And there were some Turns, wherein God's Work seem'd something to revive, and we were ready to hope that all was going to be renewed again: yet in the main there was a gradual Decline of that general, engaged, lively Spirit in Reli­gion, which had been before. Several things have hap­pen'd since, that have diverted Peoples Minds, and turn'd their Conversation more to others Affairs, particularly his Excellency the Governour's coming up, and the Com­mittee of General Court, on the Treaty with the Indians; and afterwards the Springfield Controversy; and since that, our People in this Town have been engaged in the building of a new Meetting-house: and some other Oc­currences might be mentioned, that have seem'd to have this Effect. But as to those that have been thought to be converted among us, in this time, they generally seem to be Persons, that have had an abiding Change wrought on them: I have had particular acquaintance [Page 76] with many of them since, and they generally appear to be Persons that have a new Sense of Things, new Apprehensions and Views of God, of the divine At­tributes, and Jesus Christ, and the great Things of the Gospel: They have a new Sense of the Truth of them, and they affect them in a new manner; tho' it is very far from being always alike with them, neither can they revive a Sense of things when they please. Their Hearts are often touched, and sometimes fill'd, with new Sweetnesses and Delights; there seems to be an inward Ardour and burning of Heart that they express, the like to which they never experienced before; sometimes, perhaps, occasioned only by the Mention of Christ's Name, or some one of the Divine Perfections: There are new Appetites, and a new kind of Breathings and Pantings of Heart, and Groanings that cannot be uttered. There is a new kind of inward Labour and Struggle of Soul to­wards Heaven and Holiness.

Some that before were very rough in their Temper and Manners, seem to be remarkably fo [...]ed and sweet­en'd. And some have had their Souls exceedingly filled, and overwhelmed with Light, Love, and Comfort, long since the Work of God has ceased to be so remarkably carried on in a general way: and some have had much greater Experiences of this nature than they had before. And there is still a great deal of religious Conversation continued in the Town, amongst young and old; a religi­ous Disposi [...]ion appears to be still maintain'd amongst our People, by their upholding frequent private religious Meetings; and all Sorts are generally worshipping God at such Meetings, on Sabbath Nights, and in the Even­ing after our publick Lecture. Many Children in the Town do still keep up such Meetings among themselves. I know of no one young [...]son in the Town that has returned to former ways of Looseness and Extravagancy in any respect; but we still remain a reformed People, and God has evidently made us a new People.

[Page 77] I can't say that there has been no Instance of any one Person that has carried hemself so, that others should justly be stumbled concerning his Profession; nor am I [...]o vain as to imagine that we han't been mistaken concerning any that we have entertain'd a good Opini­on of, or that there are none pass amongst us for Sheep, that are indeed, Wolves in Sheep's cloathing; who probably may some time or other discover them­selves by their Fruit. We are not so pure, but that we have great Cause to be humbled and asham'd, that we are so impure; nor so religious, but that those that watch for our Halting, may see things in us, whence they may take occasion to reproach us and Religion: but in the main, there has been a great and marvellous Work of Conversion and Sanctification among the Peo­ple here; and they have paid all due Respects to those who have been blest of God to be the Instruments of it. Both old and young have shewn a Forwardness to hearken not only to my Counsels, but even to my Re­proofs from the Pulpit.

A great part of the Country have not received the most favourable Thoughts of this Affair; and to this day many retain a Jealousy concerning it, and Pre­judice against it: I have Reason to think that the mean­ness and weakness of the Instrument, that has been made use of in this Town, has prejudiced many against it; it don't appear to me strange that it should be so: But yet this Circumstance of this great Work of God, is analogous to other Circumstances of it: God has so ordered the manner of the Work in many Respects, as very signal­ly and remarkably to shew it to be his own peculiar and immediate Work, and to secure the Glory of it wholly to his own Almighty Power, and Sovereign Grace. And whatever the Circumstances and Means have been, and tho' we are so unworthy, yet so hath it pleased God to work! And we are evidently a People blessed of the Lord! And here, in this Corner of the World, God dwells, and manifests his Glory.

[Page 78] Thus, Rev. Sir, I have given a large and particular Account of this remarkable Affair; and yet, considering how manifold God's Works have been amongst us, that are worthy to be written, 'tis but a very brief one. I should have sent it much sooner, had I not been greatly hindered by Illness in my Family, and also in myself. It is probably, much larger than you expected, and it may be than you would have chosen. I thought that the Ex­traordinariness of the Thing, and the innumerable Mis­representations which have gone abroad of it, many of which have, doubtless, reached your Ears, made it necessary that I should be particular. But I would leave it entirely with your Wisdom to make what use of it you think best, to send a part of it to England, or all, or none if you think it not worthy; or otherwise to dispose of it as you may think most for God's Glory, and the Interest of Religion. If you are pleased to send any thing to the Revd. Dr. Guyse, I should be glad to have it signify'd to him as my humble Desire, that since he, and the Con­gregation to which he preach'd have been pleased to take so much notice of us, as they have, that they would also think of us at the Throne of Grace, and seek there for us, that God would not forsake us, but enable us to bring forth Fruit answerable to our Profession, and our Mercies, and that our Light may shine before Men, that others seeeing our good Works, may glorify our Father which is in Heaven.

When I first heard of the Notice the Revd. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse took of God's Mercies to us, I took occasion to inform our Congregation of it in a Dis­course from these Words; A City that is set upon an Hill cannot be bid. And having since seen a particular Ac­count of the Notice the Revd Dr. Guyse and the Con­gregation he preached to, took of it, in a Letter you wrote to my Honoured Uncle Williams, I read that part of your Letter to the Congregation, and labour'd as much as in me lay to enforce their Duty from it. The Congregation were very sensibly moved and affected at both times.

[Page 79] I humbly request of you, Rev Sir, your Prayers, for this County, in its present melancholy Circumstances, into which it is brought by the Springfield Quarrel, which, doubtless, above all things that have happen'd, has tended to put a Stop to the glorious Work here, and to pre­judice this Country against it, and hinder the Propagation of it. I also ask your Prayers for this Town, and would particularly beg an Interest in them for him who is,

Honoured Sir,
With humble Respect, Your Obedient Son and Servant, Jonathan Edwards.

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