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True RELIGION delineated; OR, EXPERIMENTAL RELIGION, As distinguished from FORMALITY on the one Hand, and ENTHUSIASM on the other, set in a Scriptural and Rational Light.

In Two DISCOURSES.

In which some of the principal Errors both of the ARMINIANS and ANTINOMIANS are confuted, the Foundation and Superstructure of their different Schemes demolished, and the Truth as it is in JESUS, explained and proved.

The whole adapted to the weakest Capacities, and designed for the Establishment, Comfort and Quickening of the People of GOD, in these Evil Times.

By Ioseph Bellamy, A. M. Minister of the Gospel at Bethlem in Connecticut.

With a Preface by the Rev. Mr. EDWARDS.

Isai. xxx.21.

And thine Ears shall hear a Word behind thee, saying, This is the Way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right Hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Matth. vii.13, 14.

Enter ye in at the strait Gate; for wide is the Gate, and broad is the Way that leadeth to Destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the Gate, and narrow is the Way which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. KNEELAND, in Queen-Street 1750.

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PREFACE.

THE Being of GOD is reckon'd the first, greatest and most funda­mental of all Things that are the Objects of Knowledge or Belief. And next to that must be reckon'd the Nature of that Religion, which God requires of us, and must be found in us, in order to our en­joying the Benefits of God's Favour: Or ra­ther this may be esteemed of like Importance with the other; for it in like Manner concerns us to know how we may honour and please God, and be accepted of Him, as it concerns us to know that he has a Being. This is a Point of infinite Consequence to every single Person; each one having to do with God as his supreme Judge, who will fix his eternal [Page ii] State, according as he finds him to be with or without true Religion. And this is also a Point that vastly concerns the publick In­terests of the Church of God.

It is very apparent, that the Want of thoro' Distinction in this Matter, thro' the Defect ei­ther of sufficient Discerning or Care, has been the chief Thing that has obscured, obstructed and brought to a Stand all remarkable Revi­vals of Religion, which have been since the Beginning of the Reformation; the very chief Reason why the most hopeful and pro­mising Beginnings have never come to any more than Beginnings; being nipt in the Bud, and soon followed with a great Increase of Stupidity, corrupt Principles, a profane and atheistical Spirit, and the Triumph of the open Enemies of Religion. And from hence, and from what has been so evident from Time to Time in these latter Ages of the Church, and from the small Acquaintance I have with the History of preceding Times; I can't but think, that if the Events which have appear'd from Age to Age, should be carefully exa­mined and considered, it would appear that it has been thus in all Ages of the Christian Church from the Beginning.

[Page iii]They therefore who bring any Addition of Light to this great Subject, The Nature of true Religion, and it's Distinction from all Counterfeits, should be accepted as doing the greatest possible Service to the Church of God. And Attempts to this End ought not to be despised and discouraged, under a No­tion that it is but Vanity and Arrogance in such as are lately sprung up in an obscure Part of the World, to pretend to add any Thing on this Subject, to the Informations we have long since received from their Fa­thers, who have lived in former Times, in NEW-ENGLAND, and more noted Coun­tries. We cannot suppose, that the Church of God is already possessed of all that Light, in Things of this Nature, that ever God intends to give it; nor that all Satan's Lurk­ing-Places have already been found out. And must we let that grand Adversary alone in his Devices, to ensnare & ruin the Souls of Men, and confound the Interest of Religion amongst us; without attempting to know any Thing further of his Wiles, than others have told us; tho' we see every Day the most fatal Effects of his hitherto unobserved Snares; for Fear we shall be guilty of Vanity or Want of Modesty, in attempting to discern any [Page iv] Thing that was not fully observed by our Betters in former Times? And that, what­ever peculiar Opportunities God gives us, by special Dispensations of his Providence, to see some Things that were over-look'd by them?

The remarkable Things that have come to pass in late Times, respecting the State of Re­ligion, I think, will give every wise Observer great Reason to determine that the Counter­feits of the Grace of God's Spirit, are many more than have been generally taken Notice of heretofore; and that therefore we stand in great Need of having the certain and distinguishing Nature and Marks of genuine Religion more clearly and distinctly set forth than has been usual; so that the Difference between that and every Thing that is spurious may be more plainly and surely discern'd, and safely determined.

As Enquiries of this Nature are very im­portant and necessary in Themselves, so they are what the present State of Religion in NEW-ENGLAND, and other Parts of the British Dominions, do in a peculiar Manner render necessary at this Season; and also do give peculiar Opportunity for Discoveries be­yond [Page v] what has been for a long Time. Satan transforming himself into an Angel of Light, has shewn himself in many of his Artifices more plainly than ordinary; and given us Opportunity to see more clearly and exactly the Difference between his Operations, and the saving Operations and Fruits of the Spirit of Christ: And we should be much to Blame, if we did not improve such an Ad­vantage.

The Author of the ensuing Treatise has not been negligent of these Opportunities. He has not been an unwary or undiscerning Observer of Events that have occur'd, these ten Years past. From the intimate Acquain­tance with him, which I have been favoured with for many Years, I have abundant Rea­son to be satisfied that what has governed him in this Publication, is no Vanity of Mind, no Affectation to appear in the World as an Author, nor any Desire of Applause; but a hearty Concern for the Glory of GOD, and the Kingdom and Interest of his Lord and Master JESUS CHRIST; And, that as to the main Things he here insists on, as belonging to the distinguishing Nature and Essence of true Religion, he declares them, not only [Page vi] as being satisfied of them from a careful Con­sideration of important Facts (which he has had great Opportunity to observe) and very clear Experience in his own Soul; but the most diligent Search of the holy Scriptures, and strict Examination of the Nature of Things; and that his Determinations con­cerning the Nature of genuine Religion, here exhibited to the World, have not been settled and published by him without long Consideration, and maturely weighing all Objections which could be thought of, tak­ing all Opportunities to hear what could be said by all Sorts of Persons against the Prin­ciples here laid down, from Time to Time conversing freely and friendly with Gentle­men in the Arminian Scheme, having also had much Acquaintance, and frequent long Conversation with many of the People called Separatists, their Preachers and others.

And I cannot but express my sincere Wishes, that what is here written by this reverend and pious Author, may be taken Notice of, read without Prejudice, and tho­roughly considered: As I verily believe, from my own Perusal, it will be found a Discourse wherein the proper Essence and [Page vii] distinguishing Nature of saving Religion is deduced from the first Principles of the Ora­cles of God, in a Manner tending to a great Increase of Light in this infinitely impor­tant Subject; discovering Truth, and at the same Time shewing the Grounds of it; or shewing what Things are true, and also why they are true; manifesting the mutual De­pendance of the various Parts of the true Scheme of Religion, and also the Founda­tion of the Whole; Things being reduced to their first Principles in such a [...]anner, that the Connection and Reason of Things, as well as their Agreement with the Word of God, may be easily seen; and the true Source of the dangerous Errors concerning the Terms of God's Favour and Qualifica­tions for Heaven, which are prevailing at this Day, is plainly discovered; shewing their Falshood at the very Foundation, and their Inconsistence with the very first Principles of the Religion of the Bible.

Such a Discourse as this is very seasonable at this Day. And altho' the Author (as he declares) has aim'd especially at the Benefit of Persons of vulgar Capacity; and so has not laboured for such Ornaments of Stile and [Page viii] Language as might best suit the Gust of Men of polite Literature; yet the Matter or Sub­stance that is to be found in this Discourse, is what, I trust, will be very entertaining and profitable to every serious and impartial Rea­der, whether learned or unlearned.

JONATHAN EDWARDS.
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The AUTHOR'S PREFACE.

WE are designed, by GOD our Maker, for an end­less Existence. In this present Life we just enter upon Being, and are in a State introducing to a never-ending Duration in another World, where we are to be for ever unspeakably happy, or mise­rable, according to our present Conduct. This is designed for a State of Probation; and that, for a State of Rewards and Punishments. We are now upon Trial, and God's Eye is upon us every Moment; and that Picture of our Selves, which we exhibit in our Conduct, the whole of it taken together, will give our proper Character, and determine our State for ever. This being designed for a State of Trial, God now means to try us, that our Conduct under all the Trials of Life, may discover what we be, and ripen us for the Day of Iudgment; when God will judge every Man according to his Works, and render to every one according to his Doings. He does not intend, in the Dispensations of his Providence, to suit Things to a State of Ease and Enjoyment, which is what this Life is not designed for; but to a State of Trial. He puts Men into trying Circumstances of set Purpose, and as it were, contrives Methods to try them. One great End he has in View, is, that he may prove them, and know what is in their Hearts.

[Page ii]He did not lead the Children of Israel directly from Egypt to Canaan, but fi [...]st thro' the Red Sea, and then out into a Wilderness, where there was neither Water, nor Bread nor Flesh; and made them wander there forty Years, that he might try them, and prove them, and know what was in their Hearts. Deut. 8.2. So when the Christian Religion was introduced into the World, it was not in such a Way as Men would have chosen, but in a Manner suited to a State of Trial. The SON OF GOD did not come in outward Glory, but in the Form of a Servant; not to reign as an earthly Prince, but to die upon the Cross: and his Apostles made but a mean Ap­pearance in the Eyes of the World: and that Sect was every where spoken against, and persecuted: and many were the Stum­bling-blocks of the Times. And these Things were to try the Temper of Mankind. — And when Christian Churches were erected by the indefatigable Labours of St. Paul and others, that God might thoroughly try every Heart, he not only suffered the wicked World to rise in Arms against them, but also let Satan loose, to transform himself into an Angel of Light, and, as it were, to inspire, and send forth his Ministers, trans­formed into the Apostles of Christ, to vent heretical Doctrines, and foment Strife and Division. In the mean while, the secure and wicked World looked on, pleased, no doubt, to see their Debates and Divisions, and glad they could have such a Handle against Christianity, & so good a Plea to justify their Infidelity. And God delighted to have Things under Circum­stances so perfectly well adapted to a State of Trial.— He loved to try the Apostles, to see how they would be affected and act; when not only the World was in Arms against them, but many of their own Converts turned to be their Enemies too, by the Influence of false Teachers. He loved to try private Christians, to see how their Hearts would be affected towards the Truths of the Gospel, and the true Ministers of Christ, and towards their temporal Interest; while the Truths of the Gos­pel were denied or perverted, and the true Ministers of Christ despised & stigmatised, by Hereticks, and their temporal Interest exposed to the Rage of a wicked merciless World. And he loved to try Hypocrites, to see whether they would not renounce the Truth they pretended so highly to value, and become disaffected [Page iii] towards the Ministers of Christ they seemed so dearly to love, and follow false Teachers, or fall off to the World.

It is reasonable and fit, and a Thing becoming and beauti­ful, that Beings in a State of Probation should be tried: and God looks upon the present outward Ease and Comfort even of his own People, as a Matter of no Importance, compared with Things spiritual and eternal. Eternity, with all it's Impor­tance, lies open to his View; and Time appears as a Point, and all it's Concerns as Things comparatively of no Worth. If the Wicked are in Prosperity, and the Righteous in Adversity, or all Things come alike to all, God is well-pleased; because Things of Time are of so little Importance, and because such an Administration of Things is suited to a State of Trial. There will be Time enough hereafter, for the Righteous to be rewarded, and the Wicked punished. In this View of Things, we may, in a Measure, understand the darkest, and account for the most mysterious, Dispensations of divine Providence, and discern the Wisdom of the divine Government.

It has doubtless appeared as a Thing strange and dark to many pious Persons, and occasioned not a little Perplexity of Mind, to observe what has come to pass in New-England since the Year 1740. That there should be so general an Out-pour­ing of the Spirit, so many Hundreds and Thousands awa­kened all over the Country, and such an almost universal exter­nal Reformation, and so many receive the Word with Ioy; and yet, after all, Things come to be as they now are: so many fallen away to carnal Security, and so many turned Enthusiasts and Hereticks, and the Country so generally settled in their Prejudices against experimental Religion and the Doctrines of the Gospel, and a Flood of Arminianism and Immorality, ready to deluge the Land. But as strange and dark as it may have seemed, yet doubtless if any of us had lived with the Israelites in the Wilderness, or in the three first Ages after Christ, or in the Time of the Reformation from Popery, the Dispensations of divine Providence would upon the whole have appeared much more mysterious than they do now. And yet those were Times when God was doing glorious Things for his Church.—And indeed, it has happened in our [Page iv] Day, however strange it may seem to us, no otherwise than our Saviour foretold it commonly would under the Gospel-Dis­pensation, at least 'till Satan is bound, that he may deceive the Nations no more. The Sower goes forth to sow, and some Seed falls by the Way-Side, & some on stony, & some on thorny, and some on good Ground; and while he is sowing good Seed, an Enemy in the Night, the Devil unobserved, sows Tares: Now when the Sun is up, i. e. when new Times come on, and Trials approach, the main of the Seed is lost; not only what fell by the Way-Side, but also what fell on the stony and thorny Ground. And when the good Ground is about to bring forth Fruit, the Tares begin to appear too. Mat. 13. Thus it has always been. — This is a State of Trial, and God has permitted so many sad and awful Things to happen in Times of Reformation, with Design to prove the Children of Men, and know what is in their Hearts.

The Young People almost all over New-England professed, they would for ever r [...]nounce youthful Vanities, and seek the Lord. "Well", God, in the Course of his Providence, as it were, says, "I will try you." Seeming Converts expressed great Love to Christ, his Truths, and Ministers, and Ways; "Well," says God, "I will try you." Multitudes, being Enemies to all true Religion, longed to see the whole Reformation fall into Disgrace, and Things return to their own Channel; and they sought for Objections and Stumbling-Blocks: "Well," says God, ‘You may have them, and I will try and see how you will be affected, and what you will say, and whether you will be as glad when the Cause of my SON is betrayed by the Miscarriages of those that profess to be his Friends, as the Jews of old were, when my SON himself was betrayed into their Hands by Judas. Thus God means to try every one.

A compassionate Sense of the Exercises, which godly Persons, especially among common People, might be under in these evil Days, while some are fallen away, and others are clapping their Hands and rejoycing with all their Hearts to see Zion laid waste; while Arminians are glossing their Scheme, and ap­pealing to Reason and common Sense, as tho' their Principles were near or quite self-evident to all Men of Thought and [Page v] Candour; and while Enthusiasts are going about as Men in­spired and immediately sent by the Almighty, pretending to ex­traordinary Sanctity, and hold in it that they are so holy in themselves, and so entirely on the Lord's Side, that all godly People must, and can't but, see as they do, and fall in with them, unless they are become blind, dead and carnal, and got back into the World; A compassionate Sense, I say, of the Exercises of Mind, which pious Persons among common People might have, in such a trying Situation of Things, was the first Motive, which excited me to enter upon this Work, which I now offer to the Publick. And to make divine Truths plain to such, and to strip Error naked before their Eyes, that they might be established and comforted and quickned in their Way Heaven-ward, was the End I had in View. And accordingly I have laboured very much to adapt my self to the lowest Capaci­ties, not meaning to write a Book for the Learned and Polite, but for common People, and especially for those that are godly among them.

To these therefore, that they may read what I have writ­ten with the greater Profit, I will offer these two Directions.

(1.) Labour after determinate Ideas of God, and a Sense of his infinite Glory. This will spread a Light over all the Duties and Doctrines of Religion, and help you to understand the Law and the Gospel, and to pry into the Mysteries, and discern the Beauties, of the divine Government. By much the greatest Part of what I have written, besides shewing what GOD is, consists in but so many Propositions deduced from the divine Perfections. Begin here therefore, and learn what GOD is, and then what the moral Law is; and this will help you to understand what our Ruin is, and what the Way of our Recovery by free Grace thro' JESUS CHRIST. The Bible is designed for ratio [...]al Creatures, and has God for it's Author; and you may therefore depend upon it, that it contains a Scheme perfectly rational, divine & glorious. And the Pleasure of divine Knowledge will a thousand Times more than recompence all your Reading, Study and Pains: Only content not your selves with a general superficial Knowledge, but enter thoroughly into Things.

(2.) Practise, as well as read. The End of Reading and Knowledge is Practice. And holy Practice will help [Page vi] you to understand what you read. Love GOD with all your Heart, and your Neighbour as your self; and you can't but understand me, while in the first Discourse I shew what is implied in these two great Commands. And practise Repen­tance towards God and Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; and the second Discourse, which treats of the Nature of the Gospel and a genuine Compliance therewith, will natu­rally become plain and easy. And while you daily study di­vine Truths in your Heads, and digest them well in your Hearts, and practise them in your Lives, your Knowledge and Holiness will increase, and God's Word & Providence be better understood, your perplexing Difficulties will be more solved, and you be established, strengthned and comforted, in your Way Heaven-ward; and your Light shining before Men, they will see your good Works, and your Father which is in Heaven will be glorified. — All which are the hearty Desire and Prayer of,

Your Servant in JESUS CHRIST, Joseph Bellamy.
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True Religion delineated.
DISCOURSE I. Shewing the Nature of the Divine LAW, and wherein consists a real Conformity to it.

MATTH. xxii.37, 38, 39, 40.

Iesus said unto him, Thou shalt love [...]he Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

The INTRODUCTION.

TRUE Religion consists in a Conformity to the Law of God, and in a Compliance with the Gospel of Christ. The Religion of innocent Man consisted only in a Conformity to the Law; the Law of Nature, with the Addi­tion of one positive Precept: he had no need of Gospel-Grace. But when Man lost his Innocen [...] and became guilty and depraved, when he fell under the Wrath of God and Power of Sin; he needed a Redeemer and a Sanctifier: [Page 2] and in the Gospel a Redeemer and a Sanctifier are provided, and a Way for our obtaining pardoning Mercy and sanctify­ing Grace is opened; a Compliance, with which, does now therefore become Part of the Religion of a fallen Creature. Now if we can but rightly understand the Law, and rightly understand the Gospel, we may easily see wherein a Confor­mity to the one, and a Compliance with the other, does con­sist; and so what true Religion is.—For the present, let us take the Law under Consideration. And it will be proper to inquire into these following Particulars.— 1. What Duty does God require of us in his Law?— 2. From what Mo­tives must that Duty be done?— 3. What is that precise Measure of Duty which God requires in his Law?— And a short, but very clear and plain Answer to all these Questions we have before us in our Text; which is the Words of our blessed Saviour, and in which he does upon Design declare what the Sum and Substance of the Law is.— He had a Question put to him in these Words; ‘Master, which is the great Commandment in the Law?’ To which he answers— ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart &c. this is the first.—The second is like unto it &c.’ The ten Commandments are sum'd up in these two, and every Duty enjoined in the Law, and inculcated in the Pro­phets, are but so many Deductions from these two, in which all are radically contained. A thorô understanding of these two will therefore give us an Insight into all.—Let us now therefore begin with taking the first of these into particular Consideration.—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart &c.—Here is — 1. The Duty required, viz. Love to God.— 2. The Grounds & Reasons of the Duty in­timated. Because he is the Lord our God.— 3. The Mea­sure of Duty required. With all thy Heart &c▪

In discoursing upon these Words, I will therefore endea­vour to shew,

  • I. What is implied in Love to God.
  • II. From what Motives we are required to love Him.
  • III. What is that Measure of Love which [...].
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SECTION I. Shewing what is implied in Love to GOD.

I. I am to shew what is implied in Love to GOD.

And

1. A true Knowledge of God is implied. For this lays the Foundation for Love. A spiritual Sight of God, and a Sense of his Glory and Beauty, begets Love. When He that commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, shines in our Hearts, and gives us the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God; and when we with open Face behold as in a Glass the Glory of the Lord, then we are changed into the same Image: The Temper and Frame of our Hearts become like God's: (To speak after the Manner of Men) we begin to feel towards God, in a Measure as he does towards himself; i. e. to love him with all our Hearts. 2 Cor. 3.18. & 4.6. For now we begin to perceive the Grounds and Reasons of that infinite Esteem he has of Himself, and infinite Complacency in Himself, and why he commands all the World to love and adore him. And the same Grounds and Reasons which move him thus to love Himself, and command all the World to do so too, do enkindle the divine Flame in our Hearts. When we see God, in a Measure, such as he sees Himself to be, and have a Sense of his Glory and Beauty in being what he is, in a Measure, as he Himself has, then we begin to love him with the same Kind of Love, and from the same Motives, as he Himself does: only in an infinitely inferiour Degree. This Sight and Sense of God, discovers the Grounds of Love to him: We see why he requires us to love him, and why we ought to love him, how right and fit it is; and so we cannot but love him.

This true Knowledge of God supposes, that in a Mea­sure, we see God to be just such a One as he is; and, in a Measure, have a Sense of his infinite Glory & Beauty in being such. For if our Apprehensions of God are not right, it is not God we love, but only a false Image of him framed [Page 4] in our own Fancy.* And if we have not a Sense of his Glory and Beauty in being what he is, it [...]s impossible we should genuinely love and esteem him for being such. To love God for being what he is, and yet not to have any Sense of his Glory and Beauty in being such, implies a Con­tradiction. For it supposes, we have a Sense of his Glory and Beauty when we have not: a Sense of the Beauty and Amiableness of any Object being always necessarily im­plied in Love to it. Where no Beauty or Amiableness is seen, there can be no Love. Love cannot be forced. Forced Love is no Love. If we are obliged to try to force our selves to love any Body, it is a Sign they are very odious in our Eyes, or at least that we see no Beauty nor Amiable­ness in them, no Form or Comeliness, wherefore we should desire or delight in them. (Cant. 8.7.) In all Cases, so far as we see Beauty, so far we l [...]ve, and no farther.

Most certainly, that Knowledge of God which is necessary to lay a Foundation of a genuine Love to him, implies not only right Apprehensions of what He is, but also a Sense of his Glory and Beauty in being such; for such a Knowledge of God as consists meerly in Speculation, let it rise ever so high, and be ever so clear, will never move us to love Him. Mere Speculation, where there is no Sense of Beauty, will no sooner fill the Heart with Love, than a Looking-Glass will be filled with Love by the Image of a beautiful Counte­nance, which looks into it. And a mere speculative Know­ledge of God, will not, cannot, beget a Sense of his Beauty [Page 5] in being what he is, whenas there is naturally no Disposition in our Hearts to account Him glorious in being such, but wholly to the contrary. Rom. 8.7. The carnal Mind is Enmity against God. When Natures are in perfect Contrariety, (the one sinful, and the other holy,) the more they are known to each other, the more is mutual Hatred stirred up, and their entire Aversion to each other becomes more sensible. The more they know of one another, the greater is their Dislike, and the plainer do they feel it.—Doubtless the fallen An­gels have a great Degree of speculative Knowledge, they have a very clear Sight and great Sense of what God is: but the more they know of God, the more they hate him. [Page 6] i. e. their Hatred and Aversion is stirred up the more, and they feel it plainer. So awakened Sinners, when under deep and thorô Conviction, have comparatively a very clear Sight and great Sense of God; but it only makes them see and feel their native Enmity, which before lay hid. A Sight and Sense of what God is, makes them see and feel what his Law is, and so what their Duty is, and so what their Sinfulness is, and so what their Danger is: It makes the Commandment come, and so Sin revives, and they die. Rom. 7.7, 8, 9. The clearer Sight and the greater Sense they have of what God is, the more plainly do they perceive that per­fect Contrariety there is between his Nature and their's. Their Aversion to God becomes discernible. They begin to see what Enemies they be to him: And so the secret Hypocrisy there has been in all their Pretences of Love, is discovered: And so their high Conceit of their Goodness, and all their Hopes of finding Favour in the Sight of God upon the Account of it, cease, die away, and come to no­thing. Sin revived, and I died. The greater Sight & Sense they have of what God is, the plainer do they feel that they have no Love to him; but the greatest Aversion. For the more they know of God, the more their native Enmity is stirred up. So again, as soon as ever an unregenerate Sin­ner enters into the World of Spirits, where he has a much clearer Sight and greater Sense of what God is; immedi­ately his native Enmity works to Perfection, and he blas­phemes like a very Devil: And that althô perhaps he died full of seeming Love and Joy. As the Galatians, who once loved Paul, so as that they could even have plucked out their Eyes and given him; yet when afterwards they came to know more clearly what Kind of a Man he was, then they turned his Enemies. And so finally, all the Wicked at the Day of Judgment, when they shall see very clearly what God is, will thereby only have all the Enmity of their Hearts stirred to Perfection.—From all which it is exceeding mani­fest that the clearest speculative Knowledge of God, is so far from bringing an unholy Heart to love God, that it will only stir up the more Aversion. And therefore that Know­led [...]e of God which lays the Foundation for Love, must [Page 7] imply not only right Apprehensions of what God is, but also a Sense of his Glory and Beauty in being such.*

Wicked Men and Devils may know what God is, but none but holy Beings have any Sense of his infinite Glory and Beauty in being such; which Sense in Scripture-Lan­guage is called seeing and knowing. 1 Joh. 3.6. Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. iii Joh. ver. 11. He that doth Evil hath not seen God. 1 Joh. 2.4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Liar, and the Truth is not in him. Because wicked Men have no Sense of his Glory and Beauty, therefore they are said not to know God. For all Knowledge without this is vain, it is but the Form of Knowledge. Rom. 2.20. It will never in­kindle divine Love. And in Scripture Sinners are said to be blind, because after all their Light and Knowledge, they have no Sense of God's Glory in being what he is, and so have no Heart to love him. And hence also they are said to be dead. They know nothing of the ineffable Glory of the divine Nature, and the Love of God is not in them. Ioh. 5.42. and 8.19, 55.

2. Another Thing implied in Love to God is Esteem. Esteem, strictly speaking, is that high & exalted Thought of, and Value for, any thing; which arises from a Sight and Sense of its own intrinsick Worth, Excellency and Beauty. So a Sense of the infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory, Excel­lency and Beauty of the most high God, begets in us high and exalted Thoughts of him, and makes us admire, won­der [Page 8] and adore. Hence, the heavenly Hosts fall down before the Throne, and under a Sense of his ineffable Glory, con­tinually cry, Holy, holy, holy [...]ord God Almighty, the whole Earth is full of thy Glory. And Saints here below, while they behold as in a Glass the Glory of the Lord, are ravished; they esteem, they admire, they wonder and adore; and under some feebler Sense of the ineffable Glory of the divine Nature, they begin to feel as they do in Hea­ven, and to speak their Language, and say, ‘Who is a God like unto thee! Thy Name alone is excellent, and thy Glory is exalted above the Heavens.’

This high Esteem of God, disposes and inclines the Heart to acquiesce, yea, to exult, in all the high Prerogatives God assumes to himself.

God from a Consciou [...]ness of his own infinite Excel­lency, his entire Right to and absolute Authority over all Things, is disposed to take State to himself, and Honour and Majesty, the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory; and he sets up himself as the most high God, supreme Lord and sovereign Governour of the whole World, and bids all Worlds adore him, and be in a most perfect Subjection to him, and that with all their Hearts; and esteems the Wretch, who does not account this his highest Happiness, worthy of eternal Damnation. God thinks it infinitely becomes him to set up himself for a GOD, & to command all the World to adore him, upon Pain of eternal Damnation. He thinks himself fit to govern the World, and that the Throne is his proper Place, and that all Love, Honour and Obedience are his Due. ‘I am the Lord, (says he,) and besides me there is no God. I am the Lord, that is my Name, and my Glory will I not give to another. And thus and thus shall ye do, for I am the Lord. And cursed be every one that continues not in all Things written in the Book of the Law to do them.’ Now it would be infinitely wicked for the highest Angel in Heaven [...]o assume any of this Ho­nour to himself; but it infinitely becomes the most high God thus to do. And when we see his infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory and Excellency, and begin rightly to esteem him; then his Conduct in all this will begin to appear infi­nitely right and fit, and so infinitely beautiful and ravishing, [Page 9] and worthy to be rejoyced and exulted in. Psal. 91.1. The Lord reigneth, let the Earth rejoyce: Let the Multitude of the Isles be glad thereof.

And a Sight and Sense of the supreme, infinite Glory and Excellency of the divine Nature, will not only make us glad that he is GOD and KING and GOVERNOUR; but also exceeding glad that we live under his Government, and are to be his Subjects and Servants, and to be at his Dispose.— It will shew us the Grounds and Reasons of his Law, how infinitely right and fit it is that we should love him with all our Hearts, and obey him in every Thing: How infinitely unfit and wrong the least Sin is: And how just the threat­ned Punishment. And at the same Time it will help us to see, that all the Nations of the Earth are as a Drop of the Bucket, or small Dust of the Ballance, before him; and that we our selves are nothing and less than nothing in his Sight. So that a right Sight and Sense of the supreme, in­finite Glory of God, will make us esteem him, so as to be glad that he is on the Throne, and we at his Footstool; that he is King, and we his Subjects; that he rules and reigns, and that we are absolutely in Subjection, and absolutely at his Dispose. In a Word, we shall be glad to see him take all that Honour to himself which he does, and shall be hear­tily reconciled to his Government, and cordially willing to take our own proper Places; and hereby a Foundation will begin to be laid in our Hearts for all Things to come to rights. Job 42.5, 6. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the Ear: But now mine Eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor my self and repent in Dust and Ashes. Isa. 2.11. The lofty Looks of Man shall be humbled, and the Haughtiness of Man shall be brought down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted.— And that all this is implied in a genuine Love to God, not only the Reason of the Thing and the plain Tenour of Scripture manifest, but it is even self-evident; for if we do not so esteem God as to be thus glad to have him take his Place and we ours, it argues secret Dislike, and proves that there is secret Rebellion in our Hearts. Thus therefore must we esteem the glorious God, or be reputed Rebels in his Sight.

3. Another Thing implied in Love to God may be call'd Benevolence. When we are acquainted with any Person, and [Page 10] he appears very excellent in our Eyes, and we highly esteem him, it is natural now heartily to wish him well; we are concerned for his Interest, we are glad to see it go well with him, and sorry to see it go ill with him; and ready at all Times chearfully to do what we can to promote his Welfare. Thus Ionathan felt towards David. And thus Love to God will make us feel towards him, his Honour and Interest in the World. When God is seen in his infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory and Excellency, as the most high God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Governour of the whole World; and a Sense of his infinite Worthiness is hereby raised in our Hearts; this enkindles a holy Benevolence, the native Language whereof is, Let God be glorified, Psal. 96.7, 8. And be thou exalted, O God, above the Heavens: Let thy Glory be above all the Earth, Psal. 57.5, 11.

This holy Disposition sometimes expresses it self in earnest Longings that God would glorify himself, and honour his great Name; and bring all the World into an entire Sub­jection to him. And hence this is the native Language of true Love, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Mat. 6.9, 10.—And hence, when God is about to bring to pass great and glorious Things to the Honour of his great Name, it causes great Joy and Rejoycing. Psal. 96.11, 12, 13. Let the Heavens rejoyce, and let the Earth be glad: Let the Sea rore, and the fulness thereof, let the Field be joyful, and all that is therein: Then shall the Trees of the Wood rejoyce, before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the Earth, he shall judge the World with Righteousness, and the People with his Truth.

And hence again, when God seems to be about to do, or permit, any Thing, which, as it seems to us, tends most certainly to bring Reproach and Dishonour upon his great Name, it occasions the greatest Anguish & Distress. Thus says God to Moses, ‘This is a stiff-necked People, let me alone that I may destroy them in a Moment, and I will make of thee a great Nation.’ But says Moses, ‘What will become of thy great Name? What will the Egypti­ans say? And what will the Nations all round about say?’ And he mourns and wrestles, crys and prays, begs and [Page 11] pleads, as if his Heart would break. And says he, ‘If I may not be heard, but this Dishonour and Reproach must come upon thy great Name; it can't comfort me, to tell me, of making of me a great Nation: Pray let me rather die and be forgotten for ever, and let not my Name be numbered among the living, but let it be blot­ted out of thy Book.’ Well, says God, ‘I will hear thee. But as truly as I live, I will never put up these Affronts; but the whole World shall know what a holy and Sin-hating God I am, and be filled with my Glory: For the Carcases of all those, who have treated me thus, shall fall in the Wilderness; and here they shall wander 'till forty Years are accomplish'd, and then I will do so and so to their Children, and so secure the Honour of my Power, Truth and Faithfulness.’ And now Moses is content to live in the Wilderness, and do and suffer and un­dergo any Thing, if God will but take Care of his great Name. Exod. 32. Numb. 14.—And as it is distressing to a true Lover of God, to see God's Name and Works and Ways fall into Reproach and Contempt; and as on the o­ther Hand there is no greater Joy then to see God glorify himself; (Exod. 15.) Hence, this World, even on this Ac­count, may be fitly called a Vale of Tears to the People of God, because here they are always seeing Reproach and Contempt cast upon God, his Name, his Works and his Ways. And hence, at the Day of Judgment, all these Tears shall be wiped away from their Eyes, because then they shall see all Things turned to the Advancement of the Glory of his great Name, throughout the endless Ages of Eternity. Rev. 19.1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Again, this divine Benevolence or wishing that God may be glorified, sometimes expresses it self in earnest Longings that all Worlds might join together to bless and praise the Name of the Lord: And i [...] appears infinitely fit & right, and so infinitely beautiful an [...] ravishing, that the whole in­telligent Creation should for [...]ver join in the most solemn Adoration. Yea, and that Sun, Moon, Stars; Earth, Air, Sea; Birds, Beasts, Fishes; Mountains and Hills, and all Things should in their Way, display the divine Perfections, and praise the Name of the Lord, because his Name alone [Page 12] is excellent and his Glory is exalted above the Heavens. And hence the pious Psalmist so often breathes this divine Language. Psal. 103.20, 21, 22. Bless the Lord, ye his Angels, that excel in Strength, that do his Commandments; hearkning unto the Voice of his Word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his Hosts, ye Ministers of his that do his Pleasure. Bless the Lord all his Works, in all Places of his Dominion: Bless the Lord, O my Soul. Psal. 148.1,—13. Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the Heavens: Praise him in the Heights. Praise him, all ye his Angels: Praise him, all his Hosts. Praise him, Sun and Moon, &c. Let them praise the Name of the Lord; for his Name alone is excellent, &c. See also the 95, 96, 97, & 98th Psalms, &c. &c.

Lastly, From this divine Benevolence, arises a free and genuine Disposition to dedicate, consecrate, devote and give up our selves entirely to the Lord for ever; to walk in all his Ways, and keep all his Commands, seeking his Glory. For if we desire that God may be glorified, we shall natu­rally be disposed to seek his Glory. A Sight and Sense of the infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory and Excellency of God, the great Creator, Preserver and Governour of the World, who has an entire Right unto, and an absolute Au­thority over all Things, makes it appear infinitely fit that all Things should be for him, and him alone; and that we should be intirely for him, and wholly devoted to him; and that it is infinitely wrong to live to ourselves, and make our own Interest our last End. The same Views which make the Godly earnestly long to have God glorify himself, and to have all the World join to give him Glory, thoroughly engage them for their Parts to live to God. After David had called upon all others to bless the Lord, he concludes with, Bless the Lord, O my Soul. And this is the Language of Heaven, Rev. 4.11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to re­ceive Glory, and Honour, and Power: For thou hast created all Things, and for thy Pleasure they are, and were created. And it was their Maxim in the Apostles Days, Whether they eat or drank, or whatever they did, all must be done to the Glory of God, 1 Cor. 10.31. And it was their Way, not to live to themselves, but to the Lord; (2 Cor. 5.15.) Yea, Whether they lived, to live to the Lord; or whether they died, [Page 13] to die to the Lord. Rom. 14.7, 8. This was what they com­mended. Phil. 2.20, 21. And this was what they enjoined, as that, in which the very Spirit of true Religion consisted. Eph. 6.5, 6, 7. 1 Cor. 6, 20. Rom. 12.1. & 7.4.

All rational Creatures, acting as such, are always influ­enced by Motives in their whole Conduct.—Those Things are always the most powerful Motives, which appear to us most worthy of our Choice.— The principal Motive to an Action, is always the ultimate End of the Action. Hence, if God, his Honour and Interest, appear to us as the su­pream Good, and most worthy of our Choice, then God, his Honour and Interest, will be the principal Motive and ultimate End of all we do. If we love God supreamly, we shall live to him ultimately. If we love him with all our Hearts, we shall serve him with all our Souls.—Just as on the other Hand, if we love our selves above all, then Self-Love will absolutely govern us in all Things. If Self-In­terest be the principal Motives, then Self-Interest will be the last End, in our whole Conduct.— Thus then we see, that if GOD be highest in Esteem, then God's Interest will be the principal Motive and the last End of the whole Conduct of rational Creatures: And if SELF be highest in Esteem, then Self-Interest will be the principal Motive and last End. And hence we may observe, that where Self-Interest governs Men, they are considered in Scripture, as serving themselves. (Hos. 10.1. Zec. 7.5, 6.) And where God's Interest governs, they are considered as serving the Lord. 2 Cor. 5.15. Gal. 1.10. Eph. 6.5, 6, 7. compared with Tit. 2.9, 10. To love God so as to serve him, is what the Law requires; To love Self so as to serve Self, is Rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven. And the same infinite Obligations which we are under to love God above our selves; even the same infinite Obligations are we under, to live to God ultimately, and not to our selves. And therefore it is as great a Sin to live to our selves ultimately; as it is to love our selves supremely.

4. and lastly. Delight in God, is also implied in Love to him. By Delight we commonly mean, that Pleasure, Sweet­ness and Satisfaction, which we take in any Thing that is very dear to us. When a Man appears very excellent to us, and we esteem him, and wish him all Good; we also at [Page 14] the same Time, feel a Delight in him, and a Sweetness in his Company and Conversation. We long to see him when absent; we rejoyce in his Presence; the Enjoyment of him tends to make us happy. So when a holy Soul beholds God in the infinite moral Excellency and Beauty of his Na­ture, and loves him supreamly, and is devoted to him en­tirely, now also he delights in him superlatively. His De­light and Complacency is as great as his Esteem, and arises from a Sense of the same moral Excellency and Beauty.— From this Delight in God arise Longings after further Ac­quaintance with him, and greater Nearness to him. Job 23.3. O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his Seat! — Longings after Communion with him. Psal. 63.1, 2. O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: My Soul thirsteth for thee, my Flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty Land, where no Water is: To see thy Power and thy Glory, so as I have seen thee in the Sanctuary. v. 8. My Soul followeth hard after thee.—A holy Rejoycing in God. Hab. 3.17, 18. Althò the Figtree shall not Blossom, neither shall Fruit be in the Vine: The Labour of the Olive shall fail, and the Field shall yield no Meat, the Flock shall be cut off from the Fold, and there shall be no Herd in the Stall: Yet I will rejoyce in the Lord, I will joy in the Rock of my Salvation.— Finally, from this Delight in God arises a holy Disposition to renounce all other Things, and live wholly upon him, and take up everlasting Content in him, and in him alone. Psal. 73.25, 26. Whom have I in Heaven but thee? and there is none upon Earth I desire besides thee. My Flesh and my Heart faileth, but God is the Strength of my Heart and my Portion for ever.—The vain Man takes Content in vain Company; the worldly Man takes Content in Riches; the ambitious Man in Honour and Applause; the Philosopher in Philo­sophical Speculations; the legal Hypocrite in his Round of Duties; the evangelical Hypocrite in his Experiences, his Discoveries, his Joys, his Raptures, and confident Expecta­tion of Heaven: but the true Lover of God takes his Con­tent in God himself. Psal. 4.6, 7. And thus we see what is implied in Love to God.

[Page 15]And now that this is a right Representation of the Nature of that Love, which is required in the first and great Com­mandment of the Law upon which chiefly all the Law and the Prophets hang, is manifest, not only from the Reason of the Thing, & from what has been already said; but also from this, that such a Love to God as this, lays a sure & firm Foundation for all holy Obedience. That Love to God is of the right Kind which will effectually influence us to keep his Commands. Ioh. 15.14. 1 Ioh. 2.3, 4, 5. But it is evident from the Na­ture of Things, that such a Love as this will effectually in­fluence us to do so. As Self-love naturally causes us to set up Self and seek Self-Interest: So this Love to God will naturally influence us to set up God and seek his Interest. As delight in the World naturally makes us seek after the Enjoyment of the World, so this delight in God will natu­rally influence us to seek after the Enjoyment of God. And while we love God primarily for being what he is, we cannot but for the same Reason, love his Law, which is a Transcript of his Nature, and love to conform to it. If we loved him only from Self-love, from the fear of Hell, or from the hopes of Heaven; we might at the same time hate his Law: but if we love him for being what he is, we can­not but love to be like him: which is what his Law re­quires. To suppose that a Man loves God supremely for what he is; and yet don't love to be like him; is an evi­dent Contradiction. It is to suppose a Thing supremely loved; and yet at the same time not loved at all. So that to a Demonstration, this is the very Kind of Love which the Lord our God requires of us. So Saints in Heaven love God perfectly, and so the good Man on Earth begins in a weak and feeble Manner to love God: for there is but one Kind of Love required in the Law; and so but one Kind of Love which is of the right Sort: for no Kind of Love can be of the right Sort, but that very Kind of Love which the Law requires. There is therefore no difference between their Love in Heaven, and our's here upon Earth, but only in Degree.

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SECTION II. Shewing from what Motives true Love to GOD takes its Rise.

II. I now proceed to shew more particularly, from what Motives we are required thus to love God. Indeed I have done this in Part already. For I have been obliged all along, in shewing what is implied in Love to God, to keep my Eye upon the first and chief Ground & Reason of Love, name­ly what God is in himself. But there are other Considera­tions, which increase our Obligations to love him and live to him; which ought therefore to come into the Account. And I design here to take a general View of all the Rea­sons and Motives which ought to influence us to love the Lord our God; all which are implied in those Words, The Lord thy God. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, i. e. because he is THE LORD and OUR GOD.

1. The first and chief Motive which is to influence us to love God with all our Hearts, is His infinite Dignity & Great­ness, Glory and Excellency: Or in one Word, His infinite Amiableness. We are to love him with all our Hearts, be­cause he is THE LORD, because he is what he is, and just such a Being as he is. On this Account primarily, and antecedent to all other Considerations, he is infinitely amiable; and therefore on this Account primarily and antecedent to all other Considerations, ought he to appear infinitely amia­ble in our Eyes. This is the first & chief Reason & Ground upon which his Law is founded, I AM THE LORD: (Exod. 20.2. Levit. 19.) This therefore ought to be the first and chief Motive to influence us to obey. The principal Reason which moves him to require us to love him, ought to be the principal Motive of our Love. If the fundamen­tal Reason of his requiring us to love him with all our Hearts, is, because he is what he is; and yet the Bottom of our Love be something else; then our Love is not what his Law requires, but a Thing of quite another Nature. Yea if the Foundation of our Love to God, is not because he is what he is, in Truth we love him not at all. If I feel a Sort of Respect to one of my Neighbours who is very kind to [Page 17] me, and either do not know what a Sort of Man he is, or i [...] I do, yet do not like him; it is plain, it is his Kindnesses I love, and not his Person; and all my seeming Love to him, is nothing but Self-Love in another Shape. And let him cease being kind to me, and my Love will cease. Let him cross me, and I shall hate him. Put forth thine Hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy [...] (Job 1.11.) as the Devil said concerning Iob. And indeed so he would, had not his Love to God taken its rise from another Motive, than God's Kindnesses to him. But why need I multiply Words? For it seems even self-evi­dent, that God's Loveliness ought to be the first and chief Thing for which we love him.

Now, God is infinitely lovely, because he is what he is. Or in other Words, his infinite Dignity & Greatness, Glory and Excellency, are the Result of his natural and moral Per­fections. So that it is a clear Sight & realizing Sense of his natural & moral Perfections, as they are revealed in his Works and in his Word, that makes him appear to a HOLY Soul as a Being of infinite Dignity & Greatness, Glory and Excellency. Thus the Queen of Sheba, seeing and conversing with Solo­mon, and viewing his Works, under a Sense of the large and noble Endowments of his Mind, was even ravished; and cried out, The one Half was not told me! And thus the holy and divinely enlightned Soul, upon seeing God, reading his Word, and meditating on his wonderful Works; under a Sense of his divine and incomprehensible Perfections, is ra­vished with his infinite Dignity, Majesty, Greatness, Glory and Excellency; and loves, admires, and adores; and says, Who is a God like unto thee!

His natural Perfections are,

(1.) His infinite Understanding; whereby he knows himself, and all Things possible; and beholds all Things past, present and to come, at one All-comprehensive View. So that from Everlasting to Everlasting, his Knowledge can neither increase nor diminish, or his Views of Things suffer the least Variation; being always absolutely compleat, and consequently necessarily always the same.

(2.) His Almighty Power; whereby he is able, with infi­nite Ease, to do any Thing that he pleases.

[Page 18]And his moral Perfections are,

(1.) His infinite Wisdom; whereby he is able, and is in­clined, to contrive and order all Things in all Worlds for the best Ends, and after the best Manner.

(2.) His perfect Holiness; whereby he is inclined, infi­nitely to love Right, and hate Wrong: Or according to Scripture-Phrase, to love Righteousness and hate Iniquity.

(3.) His impartial Iustice; whereby he is unchangeably inclined, to render to every one according to his Deserts.

(4.) His infinite Goodness; whereby he can find in his Heart to bestow the greatest Favours upon his Creatures, if he pleases; and is inclined to bestow all that is best; all Things considered.

(5.) His Truth and Faithfulness; whereby he is inclined to fulfil all his Will, according to his Word: So that there is an everlasting Harmony between his Will, his Word, and his Performance.

And his Being, and all his natural and moral Perfections, and his Glory and Blessedness, which results from them, he has in himself, and of himself, underived; and is necessarily infinite, eternal, unchangeable, in all; and so absolutely In­dependent, Self-sufficient and All-sufficient.

"This is the God, whom we do love!
"This is the God, whom we adore!
"In him we trust, to him we live;
"He is our All, for evermore."

Now there are three Ways by which these his Perfections are discovered to the Children of Men: By his Works, by his Word, and by his Spirit. By the two first, we see him to be what he is: By the last, we behold his infinite Glory in being such. The two first, produce a speculative Know­ledge: The last, a Sense of moral Beauty.

First, He discovers these his Perfections by his Works. i. e. by his creating, preserving, and governing the World; and by his redeeming, sanctifying and saving his People.

1. By his creating the World. He it is, who has stretched abroad the Heavens as a Curtain, and spread them out as a Tent to dwell in: who has created the Sun, Moon & Stars; and appointed them their Courses: who has hung the Earth upon nothing: who has fixed the Mountains, and bounded and [Page 19] the Seas, and formed every living Creature. All the hea­venly Hosts he hath made, and created all the Nations that dwell upon the Earth: and the Birds of the Air, and the Beasts of the Field, and the Fishes of the Sea, and every creeping Thing, are the Works of his Hands: and the meanest of his Works are full of unsearchable Wonders, far surpassing our Undarstanding. So that the invisible Things of God, from the Creation of the World, are clearly seen, being understood by the Things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead. As St. Paul observes, in Rom. 1.20.

2. By his preserving the World. His Eyes run to and fro thro'out all the World, beholding every Thing. His Eyes are upon all his Works, so that even the Sparrows are not forgotten by him, and the very Hairs of our Heads are all numbred. And he holds all Things in being; and the opening of his Hand fills the Desires of every living Creature: even the whole Family of Heaven and Earth live upon his Goodness, and are maintained by his Bounty. In a Word, his infinite Understanding sees all, his infinite Power upholds all, his infinite Wisdom takes care of all, and his infinite Goodness provides for all; and that every Moment. So that the in­visible Things of God are discovered in preserving, as well as in creating the World. And hence when the pious Psal­mist meditates on the Works of Creation and Preservation, he sees God in them, and views his Perfections, and is touch'd at Heart with a Sense of his Glory, and is filled with high and exalted, and with admiring and adoring Thoughts of God. So Psal. 19.1. The Heavens declare the Glory of the Lord, &c. And Psal. 95.1. O come let us sing unto the Lord, &c.— But why? — v. 3. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King, above all Gods.—But how does this appear? Why, ver. 4, 5. In his Hand are the deep Places of the Earth; the Strength of the Hills is his also. The Sea is his, and he made it: and his Hands formed the dry Land, v. 6. O therefore come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.—And again in Psal. 96.1. O sing unto the Lord a new Song: Sing unto the Lord, all the Earth.— But why? —v. 4. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all Gods.— But wherein does this appear? —Why—v. 5. All the Gods of the Nations are Idols: but the [Page 20] LORD m [...]de the Heavens.—And once more in Psal. 104.1, 2, &c. Bless the Lord, O my Soul.—But why? — Thou art very great, thou art cloathed with Honour and M [...]jes [...]y. — But how does this appear?—Why?—Thou hast stretched out the Heavens as a Cu [...]tain. And v. 5. And laid the Foundations of the Earth, that it cannot be removed for ever. And v. 27. A [...]l wait upon thee, that thou mayst give them their Meat in due Season. v. 28. That thou givest them, they gather; thou openest thy Hand, they are filled with Good. And throughout the whole Psalm he is me [...]itating on the Creation & Preservation of the World; and viewing the divine Perfections therein discovered, and admiring the divine Glory, and wondering and adoring: And finally concludes with, Bless the Lord, O my Soul: Praise ye the Lord. But,

3. His Perfections are still much more eminent [...]y displayed, in tha [...] moral Government, which he maintains over the intel­ligent Part of the Creation: especially his moral Perfections. In the Works of Nature his natural Perfections are to be seen: But in his moral Government of the World, he acts out his Heart, and shews the Temper of his Mind. In­deed all the Perfections of God are to be seen in the Work of Creation: If we view Angels and Men, and con­sider wh [...]t they were, as they came first out of his Hands; holy and pure. But still God's Conduct towards them un­der the Character of their King and Governour, more evi­dently discovers the very Temper of his Heart. As the Tree is known by the Fruit; so God's moral Perfections may be known by his moral Government of the World. The whole World was created for a Stage, on which a va­riety of Scenes were to be opened; in and by all which, God designed to exhibit a most exact Image of himself. For as God loves himself infinitely, for being what he is; so h [...] [...]akes infinite Delight, in acting forth and expressing all his Heart. He loves to see his Nature & Image shine in all his Works, and to behold the whole World filled with his Glory. And he perfectly loves to ha [...]e all his Conduct (the whole of it taken together) an exact Resem­blance of himself; and infinitely abhors in his publick Conduct, in the least to counter-act the Temper of his Heart; so as by his publick Conduct, to seem to be, what [Page 21] indeed he is not. So that, in his moral Government of the World we may see his inward Disposition, & discern the true nature of his moral Perfections. And indeed all his Per­fections are herein discovered. Particularly,

(1.) His infinite Understanding. High on his Throne in Heaven he sits, and all his vast Dominions lie open to his View. His All-seeing Eye views all his Courts above, and sees under the whole Heavens, looks thrô the Earth, and pierces all the dark Caverns of Hell. So that his Acquain­tance with all Worlds and all Things is absolutely perfect and compleat. He can behold all the solemn Worship of Heaven, and the inmost Thoughts of all that great Assembly; he can behold all the Sin, Misery and Confusion that over­spread the whole Earth, and the inmost Temper of every Mortal; and look thrô Hell and see all the Rebellion and Blasphemy and cunning Devices of those infernal Fiends: And all this at one All-Comprehending View. And thus, as high Governour of the whole World, he continually be­holds all Things; whereby a Foundation is laid, for the Exercise of all his other Perfections in his Government over all. See the Omniscience of God elegantly described in Psal. 139.1,—12. And being perfectly acquainted with himself, as well as with all his Creatures; hence, he can­not but see what a Conduct from him towards them, will, all Things considered, be most right and fit and amiable, and most becoming, such an One, as he is; and also, what a Conduct from them to him, is his Due; and their Duty. By his infinite Understanding he is perfectly acquainted with Right and Wrong, with what is fit and what unfit: And by the moral Rectitude of his Nature, he infinitely loves the one and hates the other, and is disposed to conduct accordingly; of which more presently. Psal. 147.1. Praise ye the Lord, for it is good to sing Praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and Praise is comely.— But why? — v▪ 5. Great is our Lord and of great Power, HIS UNDERSTANDING IS INFINITE.— But wherein does that appear? —Why, v. 4. He telleth the Number of the Stars: He calleth them ALL by their Names. Now if the infinite Understanding of God may be seen in this one Particular; much more, in the [...] ­gular ordering and disposing of all Things, throughout [...] [Page 22] whole Universe: And that, not only in the natural, but also, in the moral World.

(2.) His infinite Power, is diplayed in the Government of the World. For he does according to his Pleasure in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth: so that none can stay his Hand, or hinder the Ex­ecution of his Designs.—Have Rebellions broke out in any Part of his Dominions? He has manifestly had the Re­bels intirely in his Hands; they have lain absolutely at his Mercy; and he has dealt with them according to his sove­reign Pleasure; and none has been able to make any Re­sistance; nor has there been any to deliver them out of his Hands. — When Rebellion broke out in Heaven, he crush'd the Rebels in a Moment: They fell beneath the Weight of his Hand; they felt his Power, they despaired, they sunk to Hell. And there he reserves them in Chains, nor can they stir from their dark Abode, but by his special Permission.—And when Rebellion broke out upon Earth, the Rebels were equally in his Hands, and at his Mercy: unable to make any Resistance: altho' he was pleased, in his infinite Wisdom, to take another Method with them. But he has since discovered his Power, in treading down his implacable Enemies, under Foot, many a time. He de­stroyed the old World, burned Sodom, drowned Pharaoh and his Hosts, and turned Nebuchadnezzar into a Beast. If his Enemies have exalted themselves, yet he has been above them, brought them down; and discovered to all the World, that they are in his Hands, and without Strength, at his Disposal. Or if he has suffered them to go on and prosper, and exalt themselves greatly, yet still he has been above them, and has accomplished his Designs by them, and at last has brought them down. Haughty Nebuchad­nezzar when he had broken the Nations to Pieces, as if he had been the Hammer of the whole Earth, now tho't him­self some-body. And Alexander the Great, when conquer­ing the World, aspired to be thought the Son of Iupiter. But the most high God, the Great and Almighty Gover­nour of the World, always had such Scourges of Mankind only as a Rod in his Hand, with which he has executed Judgment upon a wicked World. Howbeit they meant not [Page 23] so, neith [...] did their Hearts think so. But it was in their Hearts to gratify their Ambition, Avarice and Revenge. However, he was above them; and always such have been in his Hands as the Ax is in the Hands of him that heweth therewith, or as the Saw is in the Hands of him that shaketh it; or as the Rod is in the Hand of him that lifteth it up. And when he has done with the Rod, he always breaks it and burns it. See Isai. 10.5—19.

And as this great King has discovered his Almighty Power by crushing Rebellions in his Kingdom, and subdu­ing Rebels; so he has also, in protecting his Friends, and working Deliverance for his People. He made a Path for his People thrô the Sea; he led them thro' the Wilder­ness. He gave them Water to drink out of the Rock; and fed them with Angels Food. In the Day time he led them by a Cloud; and all the Night with the Light of Fire. He brought them to the promised Land, and drove out the Heathen before them: and in all their Distresses, when­ever they cried unto him, he delivered them. And as the supreme Governour of the World, did thus in the Days of old discover his Almighty Power in governing among his intelligent Creatures; so he is still in various Ways and Manners, in his Providential Dispensations, evidently dis­covering that he can do all Things. And his People see it, and be [...]eve it; and admire, & adore. Read Psal. 105.

(3.) Again, His infinite Wisdom, is discovered in an end­less Variety of Instances, in all his Government throughout all his Dominions; in his managing all Things to the Glory of his Majesty, to the Good of his loyal Subjects, and to the Confusion of his Foes. There has never any Thing happened in all his Dominions, and never will; but has been and shall be, made entirely subservient to his Honour and Glory. Even the Contempt cast upon him by his rebellious Subjects, he turns to his greater Glory. As in the Case of Pharaoh, who set up himself against God, and said, Who is the Lord that I should obey him? I know not the Lord, nor will I let Israel go. And he exalted himself and dealt proudly & haughtily; and hardened his Heart, and was resolved he would not regard God, nor be bowed nor conquered by him: for he despised him in his Heart. But [Page 24] the more he carried himself, as if there were no God; the more were the Being & Perfections of God made manifest. For the more h [...] hardened his Heart, the more stout and stubborn he was, the more God honoured himself in sub­duing him. Yea, God in his infinite Wisdom suffered him to be as high and haughty, as stout and stubborn as he pleased; he took off all Restraints from him, permitted the Magicians to imitate the Miracles of Moses, so that Pha­roah in seeing might not see, nor be convinced: and he ordered that the Plagues should last but for a short Sea­son, that Pharoah might have Respite; and thus it was that God hardned his Heart. And God in his infinite Wisdom did all this with a View to his own Glory. As he tells Pharoah by the Hand of Moses.‘Such and such Plagues I design to bring upon you, and to do so, and so, with you.’ And indeed for this Cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee, my Power, and that my Name may be declared, throughout all the Earth, Exod. 9.16. And ac­cordingly God was illustriously honoured at last upon Pha­roah, and upon all his Host, at the Red-sea. And the Egyptians, and all the neighbouring Nations, were made to know that he was the LORD: and his Name became dreadful among the Heathen. And we find that in three or four Hundred Years after, the Philistines had not for­gotten it. For when the Ark in the Days of Eli, was car­ried into the Camp of Israel; the Philistines were sore afraid; and said, ‘God is come into the Camp; Wo unto us. Who shall deliver us out of the Hands of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians, with all the Plagues in the Wilderness &c.’ 1 Sam. 4.

So God wisely ordered and over-ruled all Things, that befell the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, to accom­plish the Ends he had in View. His Designs were to get himself a great Name, and fill the whole Earth with his Glory (Num. 14.21.) and to try and humble his People, and make them know, that it was not for their Righteous­ness, that he brought them into the Land of Canaan (Deut. 9.) And every Thing that came to pass, for those forty Years, was admirably calculated to attain these Ends. The News of Pharaoh's Overthrow, of God's coming down upon [Page 25] Mount Sinai, and abiding there for so long a Time, with such awful Majesty; and of the Pillar of Cloud by Day, and of Fire by Night; of the Manna, of the Water flow­ing out of a Rock and following them, of their Murmur­ings and Insurrections, and God's Judgments upon them; I say, the News of these, and of other Things of this Na­ture, that happened to them for those forty Years, flew all the World over, and filled all the Nations of the Earth with the greatest Astonishment; and made them think there was no God, like the God of Israel. (Numb. 14.13, 14, 15.) By all these Things; and by God's bringing his People at last to the Possession of the Land of Canaan, according to his Promise; there was exhibited a Specimen of God's infinite Knowledge, Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, Goodness & Truth: and that before the Eyes of all the Nations. And so the whole Earth was filled with his Glory: i. e. with the clear Manifestations of those Per­fections in which his Glory consists. And thus his great End was obtained.—And in the mean time, all the Wandrings, and Trials, and Sins and Sorrows of the Chil­dren of Israel, together with all the wonderful Works which their Eyes beheld, and wherein God discovered himself, for those forty Years; had a natural Tendency to try them, to humble them, and break their Hearts, and make them know, that not for their Righteousness, nor for the Uprightness of their Hearts, did God at last shew them that great Mercy: and to convince them of the ex­ceeding great Obligations they were under to love, and fear, and serve the Lord for ever. And so the other great End which God had in View was accomplished. Deut. 8. & 9, and 10. Chap.—And now, all these Things were by God wisely done; and in this his Conduct, his infinite Wisdom is to be seen.*—And thus it is in all God's Dispensations, [Page 26] thro'out all his Dominions, with Regard to the whole Universe in general, and to every intelligent Creature in particular. His Works are all done in Wisdom; and so his infinite Wisdom is discovered in all. And hence God appears infinitely glorious in the Eyes of his People. Deut. 32.3, 4 Psal. 104.24. & 105.1—45. 1 Cor. 1.24—31.

(4.) Again, His infinite Purity and Holiness, is also dis­covered in his Government of the World: in all that he has done, to establish Right, and discountenance Wrong, thro'out all his Dominions. His creating Angels & Me [...] in his own Image, with his Law written on their Hearts, manifested his Disposition, and shewed what he was pleased with: But his publick Conduct as moral Governour of the World, has more evidently discovered, the very Temper of his Heart; and shewn how he loves Right and hates Wrong, to an infinite Degree. Governours among Men discover much of their Disposition, and shew what they love and what they hate, by their Laws: and they shew how fervent their Love & Hatred is, by all the Methods they take to enforce them: And so does the great Governour of the World. By his Laws, by his Promises & Threat­nings; by his past Conduct, and declared Designs for the future, he manifests how he loves moral Good and hates moral Evil.

By his infinite Understanding, he is perfectly acquainted with Himself, and with all his intelligent Creatures: and so perfectly knows what a Conduct in him towards them is right, fit & beautiful, and such as becomes such a One as he is. And also, perfectly knows what a Conduct in his Creatures towards him, and towards each other, is fit and amiable, and so their Duty. He sees what is right, and [Page 27] infinitely loves it, because it is right. He sees what is wrong, and infinitely hates it, because it is wrong. And in his whole Conduct as Governour of the World, he ap­pears to be just what he is at Heart; an infinite Friend to Right, and an infinite Enemy to Wrong.

He takes State, sets up Himself as a GOD, bids all the World adore him, love and obey him, with all their Hearts; and that upon Pain of eternal Damnation, in Case of the least Defect: and promises eternal Life and Glory, in Case of perfect Obedience. This is the Language of his Law, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and thy Neighbour as thy self. Do this and live. Disobey and die.— And now all that infinite Esteem for himself, and infinite Regard for his own Honour, which he herein does mani­fest, does not result from a proud or a selfish Spirit: for there is no such Thing in his Nature. Nor does he threaten Damnation for Sin, because it hurts him; or promise eternal Life to Obedience, because it does him any good: For he is infinitely above us, and absolutely independent on us, and cannot receive Advantage, or Disadvantage from us. Iob 22.2, 3. and 35.6, 7. But it results from the infinite Holiness of his Nature.— He loves and honours himself as he does; be­cause, since he is what he is, it is right and fit he should. He bids the World adore, love & obey him with all their Hearts, because considering what he is, and what they be, it is infinitely fit and right. He commands us to love our Neighbour as our selves, because this also in the Nature of Things is right. And while he promises eternal Life to the obedient, and threatens eternal Damnation to the dis­obedient, he shews how infinitely he loves Righteousness, and hates Iniquity. His promising eternal Life and Glory to perfect Obedience, does indeed manifest the infinite Goodness & Bountifulness of his Nature: but then his pro­mising all under the Notion of a Reward, discovers this Temper of his Heart, his infinite love to Right.

As to all his positive Injunctions, they are evidently de­signed to promote a Conformity to the moral Law. And as to the moral Law, it is originally founded upon the very Reason and Nature of Things. The Duties required there­in, are required originally because they are right in them­selves. [Page 28] And the Sins forbidden, are forbidden originally, because they are unfit and wrong in themselves. The in­trinsick fitness of the Thing [...] required, and the intrinsick unfitness of the Things forbidden, was the original Ground, Reason & Foundation of his Law. Thus he bids all the World love him with all their Hearts; because he is the Lord their God: and love one another as Brethren, because they are all Children of the same common Father, having the same Nature. He requires this supreme Love to him­self, and this mutual Love among his Subjects, because it is right that so it should be; and because he perfectly loves that the Thing that is right should be done; and not from any Advantage that can possibly accrue unto him from the Behaviour of his Creatures. And he forbids the contrary, because it is wrong, and therefore infinitely hateful in his Sight, & not because it could be any Disadvantage to him.— All the Glory & Blessedness which he bestows upon the An­gels in Heaven under the Notion of a Reward to their O­bedience, is not because their Obedience does him any Good; for it does not: nor because they deserve any Thing from his Hands; for they do not: (Rom. 11.35, 36.) but merely because it is RIGHT, that they should in all Things obey him. This is what he loves, and what he delights to ho­nour. And all the infinite, eternal Glories of Heaven can but just serve as a sufficient Testimony of his Approbation.— So on the other Hand, it was not in a Passion, or from suddden rash Revenge, (which many Times influences sin­ful Men to cruel & barbarous Deeds,) that he turned those that sinned down into Hell; and for their first Offence doomed them to everlasting Wo, without the least Hope. For there is no such Thing in his Nature. As he is not capable of being injured as we be, so neither is he capable of such Anger as we feel. No: the Thing they did, was in itself infinitely wrong, and that was the true & only Cause of his infinite Displeasure; which infinite Displea­sure, he meant to declare and make known, in the Sight of all Worlds, throughout the endless Ages of Eternity, by rend'ring to them according to their Deserts. For he loves to appear as great an Enemy to Sin, in his Conduct, as he is in his Heart. He loves to act out his Heart, and [Page 29] exhibit a true Image of himself.— His infinite Love to Righteousness and hatred of Iniquity, is also displayed in his promising eternal Life & Blessedness to Adam and to all his Race, a whole World of Beings, as a Reward to the Obedience of Adam; by him constituted publick Head and Representative; on the one Hand: and threatning eternal Destruction to him and all his Race, a whole World of Beings, in Case of the least Transgression; on the other Hand.—But his infinite love to Righteousness, and hatred of Iniquity, is manifested in the greatest Perfection, in the Death of Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son.—But of this more afterwards.—In a Word, all the Blessings which he has granted to the godly in this World; as Rewards of their Vertue; to Abel, Enoch, and Noah; to Lot, to Abra­ham, Isaac and Iacob &c: and all the Judgments which he has executed upon the Wicked, his turning Adam out of Paradise, drowning the old World, burning Sodom, &c. together with all the Evils which befell the Children of Israel, in the Wilderness, in the Time of the Judges, in the Reigns of their Kings; and their long Captivity in Baby­lon &c. have all been publick Testimonies that the righteous Lord loveth Righteousness, and hateth Iniquity.—And in Heaven and in Hell, he designs to display to all Eter­nity, in the most glorious and dreadful Manner, how infi­nitely he loves Righteousness and hates Iniquity.

Now when true Believers, who are divinely enlightned, meditate on and view the Laws, the Conduct, and the de­clared Designs, of the great Governour of the World; they love, admire and adore; and say, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, the whole World is full of thy Glory. This divine Disposition, to love Righteousness and hate Iniquity, which the great Governour of the World thus discovers in all his Government, appears infinitely beauti­ful and glorious, excellent and amiable, in their Eyes: Whence they are ready to say, Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the Gods? Who is like unto thee? Glorious in Holiness. As they in Exod. 15.11. *

[Page 30](5.) His impartial Iustice, is also discovered in his moral Government of the World. He appears in his publick Conduct, as One infinitely engaged to giv [...] to ev [...]ry one their Due: and as One absolutely governed by a Spirit of the most perfectly disinterested Impartiality.—He appears as One infinitely engaged to maintain the Rights of the God-head, and to secure that Glory to the divine Being that is his proper Due; and that by the Law which he has established, in Heaven and on Earth, binding all to love, worship and obey him, as GOD, upon Pain of eternal Damnation. And so again, he appears as One infinitely [Page 31] engaged to secure all his Subjects here upon Earth in a quiet and peaceable Possession every one of their own pro­per Rights. And that by strictly enjoining every one to love his Neighbour as himself, and always do as he would be done by, and that upon Pain of eternal Damnation. (Gal. 3.10. Deut. 27.26.) — And he appears as One go­verned by a Spirit of the most perfectly disinterested Im­partiality, in that he spared not the Angels that sinned, [Page 32] who were some of the noblest of all his Creatures: and in that he is determined not to spare impenitent Sinners at the Day of Judgment, tho' they cry ever so earnestly for Mercy: But above all, in that he spared not his only be­gotten Son, when he stood in the Room of Sinners.— If ever any poor guilty Wretch, round the World, [...]eels tempt­ed to think that God is cruel for d [...]mning Sinners, and does not do as he would be done by, i [...] [...]e was in their Case, and they in his: Let him come away to the Cross of Christ, and see God's own Son, his second Self, there nailed up, naked, bleeding, groaning, dying, in the greatest possible Contempt, Ignominy & Shame, before ten Thousand insult­ing, blood-thirsty Spectators. And let him know that this Jesus is GOD: A Person of infinitely greater Dignity and Worth, than all Creatures in Heaven & Earth put to­gether; and infinitely dear to the great Governour of the World, even just as dear as his own Self, and upon whom he would not lay these Sufferings any sooner than upon himself: I say, let him stand and look and gaze, and learn, that God does exactly as he would be done by, when he damns Sinners to all Eternity, were he in their [Page 33] Case, and they in his (if I may so say, when speaking of the most high God) since that for his own Son, a Person of infinite Dignity, to suffer all these Things, is equi­valent to the eternal Torments of finite Creatures.— Indeed, it was not because he was not a Being of infinite Goodness, that he treated his own Son so; nor is it because he has no Regard to his Creatures Happiness, that he designs to damn the finally Impenitent: but it is merely because Sin is an infinite Evil, and according to strict Justice worthy of an infinite Punishment: it is right and fit that he should do as he does, and therefore his Conduct will for ever appear infinitely glorious and beauti­ful in the Eyes of all holy Beings. Psal. 96.11, 12, 13. Let the Heavens rejoyce, and let the Earth be glad: Let the Sea rore and the fulness thereof. Let the Field be joyful, and all that is therein: Then shall all the Trees of the Wood re­joyce. Before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh, to judge the Earth: He shall judge the World with Righteous­ness, and the People with his Truth. See also Rev. 19.1,—6.

(6.)His infinite Goodness, is also discovered in his Go­vernment of the World. For all the Laws of this great and good Governour are suited in their own Nature to advance all his Subjects to the highest Perfection they are capable of. His Law teaches us to view all Things just as they be, and to have our Will & Affections entirely go­verned by the Truth, by the very Reason and Nature of Things. And so to be according to the Measure of such finite Creatures, in our Wills and in the Temper of our Minds, after the Image of the blessed and glorious God, which is the highest Dignity and Perfection, we are possi­bly capable of. When God commands us to be holy as he is holy, he enjoins that as our Duty, which at the same Time is our highest possible Priviledge. He bids us be like the Angels, and begin our Heaven upon Earth; yea, even to participate of a Glory & Blessedness, of the [...]me Nature with that, which he himself enjoys. To behold his Glory, to be [...]avished with his Beauty, to esteem him supremely, live to him entirely, & delight in him superlative­ly, and to become like him in our Views of Things, & in the [Page 34] Temper of our Minds, is our highest Dignity, Glory and Excellency, and our highest Blessedness.—And besides, his Laws are still further calculated to promote the Wel­fare of his Subjects, in that they are suited to establish a universal Love, Peace & Harmony, throughout all his Dominions. Love thy Neighbour as thy self, is one of the fundamental Laws of his Kingdom. And were his Au­thority duly regarded, and his Laws obeyed, Love and Peace and Harmony, with all their happy and blessed Effects, would reign thrô all the Earth, as they do in Heaven: And Paradise would not be confined to Eden, nor to Heaven, but be all over the World.

And the Wrath of this good Governour is only revealed against all Ungodliness & Unrighteousness of Men, which are the Ruin and Debasemen [...] of our Nature, and the De­struction of our Peace and Happiness. He threatens Damnation to his Subjects, to keep them from destroying themselves, as well as to deter them from affronting his Majesty. All the dreadful Threatnings of his Law result not only from his Holiness and Justice, but also even from the infinite Goodness of his Nature: in that hereby his Subjects are mercifully fore-warned of the evil and bitter Consequences of Sin, to the End they may avoid it.— He is a perfect Enemy to Hatred & Revenge, to Cruelty and Injustice. He can't bear to see the Widow or Father­less oppress'd, or the Poor despised, or the Miserable in­sulted, or any evil Thing done among his Subjects. And therefore this good Governour has threatned Tribulation and Anguish, Indignation & Wrath, against every Soul that doth Evil▪ and with all his Authority has command­ed his Subjects thrô all this World, upon Pain of eternal Damnation, to do as they would be done by.

And then still further to engage his Subjects to that, in which their greatest Glory and Blessedness consists, he in hi [...] Law promises eternal Life to the obedient. Wherein the infinite Bountifulness of his Nature, as well as his un­speakable Concern for his Creatures Welfare, is discovered.

And if we survey his Conduct towards Mankind from the Beginning, we may in ten Thousand Instances, see the infinite Goodness of his Nature display'd. If we consider [Page 35] what his Ways have been towards an apostate World, how he has given his Son to be a Redeemer, and his Spirit to be a Sanctifier, how he has sent all his Servants the Pro­phets, rising early and sending; and that notwithstanding he knew before-hand what Treatment he should meet with from a guilty, ungrateful, God-hating World, how they would murder his Son, resist his Spirit, and kill his Messen­gers: if we consider how patient and forbearing and long-suffering he has been towards obstinate Sinners, how loth to give them over, swearing by himself that he delights not in their Death, but rather that they turn and live; even while they have contemned and affronted him in the vilest Manner: and if we consider his distinguishing Favours to­wards his Elect, and the marvellous Things which he has wrought for his Church and People; I say, if we consider these Things, and at the same Time, look round the World and behold the innumerable common Favours strewed abroad among guilty, Hell-deserving Rebels, we must be forced to own, that he is good to all, and that his tender Mercies are over all his Works. And the great Governour of the World evidently appears to be a Being of infinite Goodness.

His Goodness is as unbounded as his Power. There is no Act of Kindness, which his Omnipotency is able to do, but that there is Goodness enough in his Heart, to prompt him to do it, if all Things considered, it be best to be done. His Propensity to do Good is fully equal to his Ability. All the Treasures and good Things of this lower World are his, and he gives all to the Children of Men, and we should have enjoyed all without the least Sorrow intermixed, had not our Sin & Apostacy made it necessary for him to give some Testimony of his Displeasure: and yet even the Calamities of Life are well adapted in our present State to do us Good.—All the Treasures & Glories of Heaven are his, and he offers all to a guilty World, and actually gives all to such as are willing to accept of all, thro' the Mediator, in the Way prescribed.— And what can he give more? Can he give his only begotten Son to die for Sinners? Behold he has a Heart to do it▪ Can he give his holy Spirit to recover poor Sinners to God? Be­hold [Page 36] he has a Heart to do it! is as ready to give his holy Spirit to them that ask, as Parents be to give Bread to their Children! And finally, can he in any Sense give Himself to his Creatures? Behold he is willing to do so, to be their God and Father and Portion, and be all Things to them, and do all Things for them, if they will but accept of him thrô Jesus Christ! So that, as I said, his Propensity to do Good is fully equal to his Ability. And there is no doubt, but that he does shew all those Kindnesses to his intelligent Creatures, which, all Things considered, are best should be shewn. And his Understanding is infinite, whereby he is able to determine exactly what is best in the whole. Thy Mercy, O Lord, is in the Heavens; and thy Faith­fulness reacheth unto the Clouds. How excellent is thy loving Kindness, O God! Therefore the Children of Men put their Trust under the Shadow of thy Wings. Psal. 36.5, 7.

And such is the Goodness of his Nature, and so much Goodness has he in his Heart, that he needs no Motive to excite him to do Good: i. e. Nothing from without. Thus unmoved & unexcited by any Thing from without himself, of his own mere Goodness, he did, in the Days of Eternity, determine to do all that Good, which ever will by him be done, to all Eternity, when there was nothing existing but himself, and so nothing to move him but his own good Pleasure.—Yea, such is the Goodness of his Nature, that he not only needs no Motive from without to excite him to do Good; but even then, when there are all Things to the contrary, even every Thing in his Creatures to render them ill-deserving, and to discourage and hinder his shewing Mercy, and to provoke him to Wrath; even then, when Discouragements are infinitely great, and Provocations are innumerable; yea, when there is nothing in his Creature but what is of the Nature of a Provocation: even, in such a Case, he can shew Mercy; yea, the greatest of Mercies. He can give his Son to die for such, and his holy Spirit to sanctify them, and himself at last to be their God & Father and everlasting Portion. Such is the incomparable Good­ness of his Nature. Who is a God like unto Thee! &c. Mic. 7.18, 19. — But then he is at his Liberty, in such Cases, and may act according to his own Discretion, and have [Page 37] Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and have Compassion on whom he will have Compassion. And truly it is infi­nitely fit he should. To act sovereignly, in such Cases, is infinitely becoming.—And indeed, it is fit he should dis­pense all his Favours according to his sovereign Pleasure. It is fit he should do what he will with his own. He knows best how to exercise his own Goodness, and it is perfectly fit that he should be at Liberty, and act according to his own Discretion, according to the Counsel of his own Will. And because it is infinitely fit, therefore he actually does so, Eph. 1.11. He passed by the Angels that sinned, and pitied sinful Men; he passed by the rest of the World, and chose the Seed of Abraham; he suffers Thousands of Sinners to go on in their Sins and perish, and in the mean Time, seizes here and there one, by his All-conquering Grace, and effectually saves them: and all according to his sovereign Pleasure, because it seems good in his Sight so to do. And the Reason why he acts sovereignly, is be­cause in the Nature of Things it is fit he should. There­fore his Sovereignty is a holy, & so a glorious Sovereignty. Hence when Moses desired to see his Glory, he discovered this unto him, Exod. 33.12. And because our Saviour saw how fit and becoming it was for God to act as a So­vereign in bestowing his Favours, therefore he saw a Glory in his Sovereignty, and so rejoyced in it. Mat. 11.25, 26. And sovereign Grace is glorious Grace in the Eyes of every one, who views Things aright, and have right Frames of Heart. — Considering that all God has is his own, that he knows infinitely the best what to do with what he has, that there can be no Motive from without to excite him to act, it is infinitely fit he should be left to himself, to act according to his own Discretion; and it is infinite Impu­dence for a Worm of the Dust to intermeddle, or go about to direct the almighty and infinitely wise God. And it is infinite Wickedness to dislike his Conduct, and find Fault with his Dispensations.

Indeed, if there was nothing of greater Worth and Im­portance than the Happiness of his Creatures & Subjects▪ and so nothing that he ought to have a greater Regard to and Concern for, then it is not to be supposed that any o [...] [Page 38] his Creatures and Subjects would be finally miserable.— The infinitely good Governour of the World has a great Regard to the Happiness of his Subjects, their Welfare is very dear to him, and their Misery, in it self, or for it's own Sake, very undesireable in his Sight; yet he has so much greater Regard to something else, that in some In­stances he actually does suffer Sinners to go on in their Sins and perish for ever; yea, and he will inflict the eternal Torments of Hell upon them.—The Goodness of God is a holy, wise and rational Goodness, and not an unreaso­nable Fondness. He will never do a wrong Thing, to ob­lige any of his Creatures: No, he had rather the whole World should be damned; yea, that even his own Son should die. Nor will he ever communicate Good to any one, when all Things considered, it is not best & wisest. When he first designed to create the World, and first laid out his whole Scheme of Government, as it was easy for him to have determined, that neither Angels nor Men should ever sin, and that Misery should never be heard of in all his Dominions; so he could easily have prevented both Sin & Misery. Why didn't he? Surely, not for want of Goodness in his Nature; for that is infinite: Not from any Thing like Cruelty; for there is no such Thing in him: Not for want of a suitable Regard to the Happi­ness of his Creatures; for that he always has: But it was, because in his infinite Wisdom he did not think it best in the whole. It was not because he had not sufficient Power to preserve Angels & Men all holy and happy; for it is certain he had. It was not because preventing Grace would have been inconsistent with their being free Agents; for it would not. It was not because he did not thoroughly consider & weigh the Thing with all its Consequences; for it is certain he did. But upon the whole, all Things con­sidered, he judg'd it best, to permit the Angels to sin and Man to fall; and so let Misery enter into his Dominions. It did not come to pass accidentally & unawares, and con­trary to what God had ever thought of, or intended; be­cause it is certain, that he knew all Things from the Be­ginning: and it is certain, that in an Affair of such a Nature and of such Consequence, he could not stand by [...] [Page 39] an idle, unconcerned Spectator, that cares not which Way Things go. There is no doubt therefore, but that all Things considered, he thought it best to permit Things to come to pass just as they did. And if he thought it best, it was best; for his Understanding is infinite; [...]his Wis­dom unerring, and so he can never be mistaken. — But why was it best? What could he have in View, preferable to the Happiness of his Creatures? And if their Happi­ness was to him above all Things most dear; how could he bear the Thoughts of their ever (any of them) being miserable?—Why, — it is certain he thought it best, and therefore it is certain he had a View to something else be­sides merely the Happiness of his Creatures, to something of greater Importance, and more worthy to bear a govern­ing Sway in his Mind, by which it became him to be above all Things influenced, in laying out & contriving, how Things should proceed and be disposed in the World he designed to create.—But what was that Thing, which was of greater Worth & Importance, and so more worthy to bear a governing Sway in his Mind, and to which he had the greatest Regard, making all other Things give Way to this? What was his grand End in creating & governing the World? Why, look — what End he is at last like to obtain, when the whole Scheme is finished, and the Day of Judgment past, & Heaven & Hell filled with all [...] proper Inhabitants. And what will be the final [...]. What will he get by all? — Why, in all he will exert and display every one of his Perfections to the Life, and so by all will exhibit a most perfect and exact Image of himself. And now, as he is infinitely glorious in being what he is, therefore that Scheme of Conduct which is perfectly suited, to exhibit the most lively and exact Image of him, must be infinitely glorious too. And therefore this is the greatest and best Thing he can aim at in all his Works: and this therefore ought to be his last End. Now it is evident, that the Fall of the Angels and of Man, to­gether with all those Things which have and will come to pass in Consequence thereof, and occasioned thereby, from the beginning of the World to the Day of Judgment, and throughout Eternity, will serve to give a much more lively [Page 40] and perfect Representation of God, than could possibly have been exhibited, had there never been any Sin or Misery. The Holiness and Justice, the Goodness, Mercy and Grace of God shine much more bright. They have been with an astonishing Lustre and Glory, displayed in the Death of Christ, and will be displayed forever in Heaven and in Hell, as they could not have been, had not Sin and Misery ever been permitted to enter into God's World.—Indeed, if in the Nature of Things, it had been wrong for God to have permitted any of his Creatures to sin, and then to punish them for it; if God had been bound in Duty, or in Goodness, to keep them from Sin or to save them when they had sinned; then the Case had been otherwise. But since, in the Nature of Things, it was fit he should be at Liberty, and act accord­ing to his own Discretion; and since the End he had in View, was so noble and God-like; therefore his Conduct in this Affair was infinitely right, fit and becoming, and so infinitely glorious. Certainly, God thought it was so, or he would not have done as he did. And therefore if we view Things as God did, and have a Temper & Frame of Heart like unto his, we shall think so too. And, as I said before, it is horrid Pride & Impudence for us to pre­tend to know better than the infinitely wise God, and infi­nite Wickedness for us to pretend to find Fault with his Conduct. Rom. 9.19—23. * Thus, if he had aimed merely at the Happiness of his Creatures, he could easily [Page 41] have so ordered, that Pharaoh should willingly have let Israel go, and he could have led Israel in less than forty Days to the promised Land, and put them in an imme­diate Possession. But there was something else which he had a greater Regard to: And therefore Pharaoh's Heart is hardened, and all his Wonders are wrought in the Land of Egypt. The Tribes of Israel march to the Borders of the Red-Sea, the Sea parts, Israel goes thro', but the Egypti­ans are drowned. And now Israel is tempted & tried, and they sin and rebel, and so are doomed to wander forty Years in the Wilderness, and to have their Carcases fall there. And why was all this? Why — because his De­sign was to display all his Perfections, and fill the whole Earth with his Glory. Exod. 9.16. Numb. 14.21. And now, because it is the most noble Thing that God can have in View, to act forth all his Perfections to the Life, and so exhibit the most exact Representation of himself in his Works; therefore it is infinitely fit he should make this his last End, and all other Things subservient; and his Conduct in so doing is infinitely beautiful & glorious.— Thus we see how the Goodness of God is displayed in his Government of the World; & see that it is an unbounded, rich, free Goodness; and that all the Exercises of it are sovereign, and under the Direction of his infinite Wisdom: so that God is infinitely glorious on the Account of this Perfection of his Nature. Exod. 33.19. & 34.5, 6, 7. Rom. 9. Eph. 1.1—12.

(7.) His unchangeable Truth and Faithfulness, is also dis­covered in his Government of the World; and that in the Fulfilment of his Promises, and the Execution of his Threatnings. Did he promise to be Abraham's God? So he was. Did he promise to give the Land of Canaan to his Seed for an Inheritance? So he did. Did he promise to send his Son into the World, and to set him up a King­dom upon Earth? Even so he has done. And he is in like Manner true and faithful to all his Promises, which he has made to his People.—And did he threaten to drown the old World, to make Israel wander forty Years in the Wilderness, to deliver them into the Hands of their Ene­mies, at what Time soever they should forsake him, and [Page 42] go and serve other Gods, and finally to send them Cap­tives into Babylon for seventy Years? Even so he has don [...] ▪ God's Word may always be depended upon: for what he designs, that he says; and what he says, that he will do. And this is another of the glorious Perfections of his Nature.

Thus all the Perfections of God are discovered in his Government of the World. By his Conduct we may see what he is, and learn the very Temper of his Heart.— And now, I might go thro' his other Works, His redeem­ing, justifying, sanctifying Sinners, and bringing them to eternal Glory at last, and shew how his glorious Perfecti­ons shine forth in them. But I have already hinted at some of these Things, and shall have Occasion afterwards to view the divine Perfections shining forth in these Works of God, when I come to consider the Nature of the Gospel. Suf­ficient has been said to answer my present Purpose; and therefore for Brevity's Sake, I will proceed no further here.— Thus then we see, how the Perfections of God are mani­fested in his Works.

Secondly. The same Representation is made of God in his WORD. For these great Works of God, his creating, preserving & governing the World, his redeeming, sancti­fying and saving of Sinners, are the Subject-Matter of all the Bible. God in his Works acts out his Perfections, and in his Word lays the whole before our Eyes in Wri­ting. Therein he has told us what he has done, and what he intends to do; and so has delineated his glorious Per­fections in the plainest Manner.—In his Word, God has revealed himself to the Children of Men, has manifested and shewn what he is. But how? Why, by declaring and holding forth his Works, as that, in which he has exhi­bited the Image of himself. Thus, the Scriptures begin with an Account of God's creating the World, and goes on throughout all the old Testament informing, how he preserves & governs it. And then in the New-Testament we are informed more particularly how he redeems, justifies, sanctifies, and saves Sinners. And now, as the Actions of a Man discover the Temper & Disposition of his Heart, and shew what he is; so the Works of God from first to [Page 43] last, all taken together, hold forth an exact Representa­tion of himself. If we will begin with God's creating the World, and survey all his Conduct in the Light of Scrip­ture; his Conduct towards Man before the Fall, and after the Fall, his Conduct towards Abel and Cain, Enoch and Noah, and all the old World, his Conduct towards Lot and Sodom, towards Abraham, Isaac and Iacob, and Ioseph, to­wards the Children of Israel, in Egypt, at the Red-Sea, in the Wilderness, at Sinai, at Massah, at Taberah, &c. and in the Times of Ioshua, of their Judges, of their Kings, &c. And then come into the New Testament, and survey his Conduct with Relation to the Redemption & Salvation of Sinners, and then look forward to the great Judgment-Day, and see his whole Scheme finished, see the Result, the Conclusion and End of all; look up to Heaven and take a View of that World, and look down to Hell and survey the State of Things there; from the whole we may see WHAT GOD IS: for in the whole, God exerts his Nature, and by the whole God designs to exhibit an ex­act Representation of Himself. And then are our Appre­hensions of God right and according to Truth, when we take in that very Representation which he has made of himself. And now to account him infinitely glorious in being wh [...]t he is, and to love him with all our Hearts, because he is what he is, is the very Thing which the Law of God requires.

And indeed, so plain is that Representation which God has made of himself by his Works and in his Word; and he is really so infinitely glorious in being what he is, that were not Mankind, thrô their exceeding great Depravity, intirely void of a right Taste and Relish for true Bo [...]nty, they could not but be even ravished with the divine Being. They would naturally feel as they do in Heaven, and na­turally speak their Language, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole Earth is full of his Glory! (Isai. 6.3.) But such is the vile Temper of sinful apostate Crea­tures, that they are not only blind to the moral Excellency of the divine Nature, but are even in a stated, habitual Contrariety to God in the Frame of their Hearts. (Rom. 8.7.) And hence, the Manifestation which God has made of Himself, can find no Place in their Hearts. (Io [...]. 8.37.) They [Page 44] cannot attend to Things of such a Nature (ver. 43.) because so disagreable to their Taste. For (ver. 47.) He that is of God, heareth God's Words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 'Tis hard, to bring unregenerate Men so much as to have right Notions of what God is, because he is a Being in his Nature so contrary & disagreable to them. They do not like to retain God in their Knowledge. (Rom. 1.28.) Men had rather that God was another Kind of a Being, different from what he really is, and more like themselves, one that would suit their Temper, and serve their Interest; and therefore they frame such a one in their own Fancy, and then fall down and worship the false Image which they have set up. From hence it is, that all those false Notions of God have taken their Rise, which have always filled the World.—But were Men brought to have right Notions of what God is, and to take in that very Representation, which he has made of Himself, by his Works and in his Word; yet they would be so far from accounting him infinitely glorious in being what he is, that they would see no Form or Comeliness in him wherefore they should desire him: But would feel the like malignant Spirit towards him, as the Iews did to­wards their Prophets, and towards Christ and his Apostles; only in a worse Degree. The same Temper which caused the Exercise of such Enmity towards their Prophets, and towards Christ and his Apostles, would have caused as great or greater towards God himself, had they but had right Notions of him. And the clearer Apprehension [...] a Sinner has of God, the more will his Enmity exert itself; because a sinful Nature and a holy Nature are diametri­cally opposite to each other. And therefore the clearest external Revelation of God cannot bring Sinners to love him. All the World will see just what a Kind of a Being he is at the Day of Judgment, and that in a very plain and clear manner: But yet they whose Nature it is to hate him for being what he is, will hate him still; yea, hate him more than ever. And therefore, besides the external Revelation which God has made of himself by his Works and in his Word, there is an absolute Necessity that he should intern [...]lly reveal himself in his Glory to the Heart [Page 45] of a Sinner, in order to beget divine Love there. Which brings me to add,

Thirdly, God reveals his infinite Glory, in being what he is, in the Hearts of Sinners, by his holy SPIRIT. Mat. 11.25,—27.— By his Works and in his Word he has re­vealed what he is, and that in a Manner sufficiently plain, even so plainly; that there is no Need at all of any further objective Revelation: and he is really infinitely glorious in being what he is. Now therefore if we would rightly at­tend to that Revelation which God has made of Himself, we could not but have right Apprehensions of Him; and if we had a good Taste for true Beauty, we could not but be ravished with his Glory: but we are naturally disinclin­ed to right Apprehensions of God, and are entirely destitute of a true Taste for moral Beauty. And hence we may learn what Kind of inward Illumination we stand in Need of from the Spirit of God.— We do not need the holy Spirit to reveal any new Truths concerning God, not already revealed; for the external Revelation which he has made of himself, is sufficiently full.— We do not need to have the holy Spirit immediately reveal all these Truths con­cerning God over again to us, by Way of objective Revela­tion, or immediate Inspiration; because the external Reve­lation already made is sufficiently plain.—We only need (1.) to be effectually awakened, to attend to those Manifestations which he has made of himself in his Works and Word, that we may see what he is: And (2.) to have a spiritual Taste imparted to us, by the immediate Influence of the Holy Ghost, that we may have a Sense of his infinite Glory in being such: For these two will lay an effectual Foundation in our Hearts for that Love, which the Law requires.— By the common Influences of the Spirit, we may be awakened to a realizing Sight and Sense of what GOD is; and by the special and sanctifying Influences of the Spirit, we may re­ceive a Sense of his infinite Glory in being such. And also the Sense of his Glory will naturally cause us to see more clearly what God is: for a Sense of the moral Excellency of the divine Nature fixes our Thoughts on God, and the more our Thoughts are fixed, the more distinctly we see what he is. And while we see him to be what he is▪ and see his [Page 46] infinite Glory in being such, hereby a divine Love is naturally enkindled in our Hearts. And thus, He that commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, shines in our Hearts, and gives us the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God: And so we all with open Face, behold as in a Glass, the Glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same Image. (2. Cor. 3.18. and 4.6.)— A Sight of the moral Excellency of the divine Nature makes God appear infinitely glorious in every Re­spect. Those Things in God, which before appeared ex­ceeding dreadful, now appear unspeakably glorious. His Sovereignty appears glorious, because now we see he is fit to be a Sovereign, and that it is fit and right he should do what he will with his own. His Justice appears glorious, because now we see the infinite Evil of Sin. And a Con­sideration of his infinite Understanding and almighty Pow­er, enhances his Glory. And while we view what he is, and see his Greatness and Glory, and consider his original, entire▪ underived Right to all Things, we begin to see why he assumes the Character of most high God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Governour of the whole World; and we resign the Throne to him, and take our Places, and become his willing Subjects, and our Hearts are framed to love him and fear him and trust in him thro' Jesus Christ, and we give up our selves to him, to walk in all his Ways & keep all his Commands, seeking his Glory. And thus a Sight and Sense of the infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory and Ex­cellency of the most high God, lays the first Foundation for a divine Love. God's being what he is, is the primary Reason that he requires us to love him with all our Hearts; and it is the first Motive of a genuine Love.

I might now pass on to consider the additional Obligations we are under to love God; but that it may be profitable to stop a while, and a little consider the Nature and Pro­perties of this first and greatest and most fundamental Obliga­tion; and take a View of some important Consequences neces­sarily following therefrom. And here,

1. This Obligation is binding antecedently to any Consi­deration of Advantage or Disadvantage, of Rewards or Pu­nishments; and even prior to any Consideration of the posi­tive Will and Law of God himself.

[Page 47]2. It is infinitely binding.

3. It is eternally binding.

4. It is unchangeably binding.

5. It is that from which all other Obligations originally derive their binding Nature.

1. This Obligation, which we are under to love God with all our Hearts, resulting from the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature, is binding antecedently to any Consideration of Advantage or Disadvantage, of Rewards or Punishments, or even of the positive Will and Law of God himself.— To love God with all our Hearts naturally tends to make us hap­py; and the contrary, to make us miserable▪ and there are glorious Rewards promised on the one Hand, & dreadful Punishments threatned on the other; and God, as Governour of the World, has with all his Authority by his Law ex­presly required us to love him with all our Hearts, and for­bidden the contrary: and all these Things are binding: but yet the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature lays us un­der Bonds prior to any Consideration of these Things. So that if our Interest did not at all lie at Stake, and if there had never been any express Law in the Case, yet it would be right, and our indispensable Duty, to love God with all our Hearts. His being infinitely lovely in Himself, makes it our Duty to love Him. For he is in himself worthy of our highest Esteem; he deserves it; it is in the Nature of Things his Due: and that antecedent to any selfish Consi­deration, or any express Law in the Case. To suppose the contrary, is to deny the infinite Amiableness of the divine Nature, and to take away the very Foundation of the Law it self, and the very Reason of all Rewards and Punishments. For if our supreme Love is not due to God, then he is not infinitely lovely▪ and if he does not deserve to be loved with all our Hearts, why does he require it? And if in the Nature of Things it is not right and fit that we should love Him, and the contrary unfit and wrong, what Grounds are there for Rewards or Punishments? So that it is evident, the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature binds us, and makes it our Duty, antecedent to any Consideration of Ad­vantage or Disadvantage, Rewards or Punishments, or even of the positive Will and Law of God, to love God with all [Page 48] our Hearts; and therefore our Love must primarily take its Rise from a Sense of this infinite Excellency of the divine Nature, as has been before observed; and that seeming Love, which arises meerly from selfish Considerations, from the Fear of Punishment or Hope of Reward, or because the Law requires it, and so 'tis a Duty and must be done, is not genuine: But is a selfish, a mercenary, and a forced Thing. How evidently therefore do those discover their Hypocrisy, who are wont to talk after the following Man­ner? ‘If I am elected, I shall be saved, let me do what I will; and if I am not elected, I shall be damned, let me do what I can: And therefore it is no Matter how I live.’ And again after this Sort ‘If I knew certain­ly that God had made no Promises to the Duties of the Unregenerate, as some pretend, I would never do any more in Religion.’ Surely they had as good say, that they have no Regard at all to the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature, but are intirely influenced by selfish and mercenary Motives in all they do. They don't seem to understand that they are under infinite Obligations to love God with all their Hearts and obey him in every Thing, resulting from God's being what he is, and that antecedent to all selfish Considerations. Such know not God. (1 Ioh. 3.6)

2. This Obligation resulting from the intrinsick Excel­lency and Amiableness of the divine Nature, is infinitely binding: Because this Excellency and Amiableness is in it­self infinite. Our Obligation arises from his Desert; but he infinitely deserves our Love, because he is infinitely lovely. When any Person is lovely and honourable, Rea­son teaches us, that we ought to love and honour Him; and that it is wrong, to dislike and despise Him. And the more lovely and honourable, the greater is our Obligation to love and honour him; and the more aggravatedly vile is it, to treat him with Contempt. Since therefore God is a Being of infinite Dignity, Greatness, Glory and Excel­lency, hence we are under an infinite Obligation to love him with all our Hearts; and it is infinitely wrong, not to do so. Since he is infinitely worthy to be honoured and obeyed by us, therefore we are under an infinite Obligation to honour & obey Him: And that with all our Heart & Soul, and Mind and Strength. Hence,

[Page 49][1] Perfect Love and perfect Obedience deserve no Thanks at his Hands. If we perfectly love him, even with all our Hearts; and give up our selves entirely and for ever to him, to do his Will and seek his Glory; and so cordi­ally delight in him, as to take up our full and ever­lasting Contentment in him; yet in all this, we do but our Duty: and we do no more than what we are under an infinite Obligation to do. And therefore we deserve no Thanks. (Luk. 17.9, 10.) Yea, we do nothing but that in which consists our highest Perfection, Glory & Blessed­ness; and therefore instead of deserving Thanks, we ought to account it an exceeding great Priviledge, that we may thus love the Lord, live to him, and live upon him. (Psal. 19.10.)

When therefore eternal Life was promised in the first Covenant, as the Reward of perfect Obedience, it was not under the Notion of any Thing being merited; nor did it ever enter into the Hearts of the Angels in Heaven to imagine, they merited any Thing by all their Love and Service: for from their very Hearts they all join to say, Worthy art thou, O Lord, to receive Glory, and Honour, and Praise for ever. And they dese [...]ve no Thanks for their doing so; for they but own the very Truth.

When therefore sinful Men, poor Hell-deserving Crea­tures, think it MUCH, that they should love and serve God so well, and take so great Pains in Religion; and are rea­dy to think, that God and Man ought highly to value them for their so doing, and are always telling God and Man how MIGHTY Good they are; as he, Luk. 18.11, 12. God, I thank thee, I am not as other Men are, Extortioners, Un­just, Adulterers, or even as this Publican;— No, far from this, I am one of the best Men in all the World, — I fast twice in the Week, I give Tythes of all that I possess — This appeared to him such a MIGHTY Thing, that he thought it quite worth while to tell God himself of it:—Now, I say, when this is Men's Temper, it is a Sign they neither know God, nor love him: for if they did, they could not set so high a Price upon their Duties, since he is so infinitely deserv­ing.— The plain Truth is, such have intolerable mean [Page 50] Thoughts of God, and intolerable high Thoughts of them­selves; they are brim-full of spiritual Pride & Self-Righ­teousness: and such are exceeding hateful in the Sight of God. They implicitly say, that God is not infinitely glo­rious, and infinitely worthy of all Love and Honour; he does not deserve it, it is not his Due; but rather he is beholden to his Creatures for it, and ought to render them many Thanks for their Love & Service. The Language of their Hearts is, God has so little Loveliness, that it is MUCH to love him.—Like a bad Mother-in-Law, who thinks it nothing to do all Things for her own Children, because she loves them; but grudges every Step she takes for the rest, and thinks every little a great deal, because she cares not for them: So such Men think it nothing to rise early and sit up late, to get the World, to get Riches, Honour and Pleasure; for they love themselves: but think it MUCH to take the tenth Part of the Pains in Religion; because they don't love God. Their whole Frame of Mind casts infinite Contempt upon the glorious Majesty of Heaven, to whom all Honour is infinitely due, and in whose Service all the Hosts of Heaven account themselves perfectly blessed: for they, vile Wretches! [...] as if they deserved to be paid for all.

True, there are glorious Rewards promised in the Law and in the Gospel. But why? and upon what Grounds?— A Man may be said to be rewarded in three different Senses.— (1.) When he receives what he strictly deserves, as an Hireling receives his Wages at Night. But in this Sense the Angels in Heaven are not capable of a Reward: for in strict Justice they deserve nothing. (Luk. 17.9, 10. Rom. 11.35.) — They are no Hirelings, for God has a natural original, underived, entire Right to them; as much as he has to the Sun, Moon and Stars: and these therefore deserve to be paid for their shining, as much as the Angels do for their working. —Besides, if the Angels do love God, it is no more than he infinitely deserves.— And far­ther, the Services of Angels do not profit God, and so lay him under no Obligations; any more than the Birds profit the rising Sun by their Morning-Songs, and so lay the Sun under Obligations to shine all Day. Job 22.2, 3. Can [Page 51] a Man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be pro­fitable unto himself? Is it any Pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art Righteous? or is it Gain to him, that thou makest thy Ways perfect? And yet even in this gross Sense, Self-righteous Persons feel at Heart, as if they deserved a Reward for their good Duties; tho' perhaps they are not willing to own it. Hence they are so apt to think it would be very hard, unjust and cruel, if God should damn them for their past Sins, notwithstanding all their good Duties. Isai. 58.3. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not?— But, (2.) A Man may be said to be rewarded, when, al­tho' in strict Justice he deserves nothing, yet he receives great Favours at the Hands of God in Testimony of the divine Approbation of his Person and Services. And thus the An­gels in Heaven, tho' they deserve nothing, yet have eter­nal Life bestowed upon them, as a Reward to their perfect Obedience, in Testimony of the divine Approbation. God rewards them, not because they do him any Good, nor be­cause they deserve any Thing at his Hands; but because he infinitely loves Righteousness, and to appear as an infi­nite Friend to this, in his publick Conduct, as moral Go­vernour of the World. The most that can be said of the holiest Angel in Heaven, is, that he is fit to be approved in the Sight of God, because he is perfectly such as God requires him to be. And now, because God loves to put Honour upon Vertue, and to exercise the infinite Bounti­fulness of his Nature, therefore he gives them the Reward of eternal Life. And thus God promised us eternal Life, upon Condition of perfect Obedience, in the first Covenant: as if God had said, ‘If you will love me with all your Heart, and obey me in every Thing, as you are bound in Duty to do; then, altho' you will deserve nothing, yet as becomes a holy and good God, a kind & bounti­ful Governour, I will make you everlastingly blessed in the Enjoyment of myself; and that in Testimony of my Approbation of your perfect and steady Fidelity.’ And so by Covenant and Promise this Reward would have been due, had the Condition been performed. Hence that in Rom. 4.4. Now to him that worketh, is the Reward not reckoned of Grace, but of DEBT. And now here Self-righteous [Page 52] Persons are wont to come in with their Works, and insist upon their Right, and plead the Reason of Things, as well as the Promise. ‘If we do (say they) as well as we can, which is all that God does or can in Justice re­quire of us, surely he will accept of us: it would be cruel, to cast us off: his Goodness and Faithfulness are engaged for us.’ Just as if they had now made full Amends for all their past Sins by their Repentance and Re­formation; and grown to be as good as Angels, by taking some little Pains in Religion! For the best Angel in Hea­ven does not pretend to any other Title to Blessedness than this; namely, that he has done as well as he can, and that this is all that God has required, and altho' he is an unpro­fitable Servant, yet he depends upon the Promise, the Good­ness and Faithfulness of his Bountiful Creator.—Indeed, Self-righteous Persons may pretend to expect all for Christ's Sake; and say, that what they do, only entitles them to an Interest in him: But it is all mere Pretence; for still they think, that God is bound to give them an Interest in Christ and eternal Life, if they do as well as they can; and would think God dealt very hardly with them, if he did not. So that their real Dependance, at Bottom, is upon their own Goodness, their own Worth or Worthiness, to make Amends for past Sins, and recommend them to God, and entitle them to all Things; the infinite Absurdity of which will be evident presently.— Again, (3.) A Man may be said to be re­warded, when he neither deserves any Thing, nor is it fit­ting that his Person and Conduct, considered merely as they be in themselves, should be approved; but ought to be con­demned, according to Reason, and according to God's righ­teous Law, they being so sinfully defective; nevertheless such a Man may be said to be rewarded, when merely on the Account of his Interest in the Righteousness and Worthiness of CHRIST, his Person and Performances are accepted, and peculiar Favours shewn him. And in this Way are Be­lievers accepted, according to the Covenant of Grace, and entitled to the Reward of eternal Life. (Phil. 3.8, 9. Eph. 1.6. 1 Pet. 2.5.) Now those who look for a Reward in this Way, will be so far from thinking it MUCH, which they have done for God, that they will for ever set all down for [Page 53] Nothing & worse than Nothing, * their best Duties being so sinfully defective; and judge themselves worthy of Hell eve­ry Day, and every Moment: And all their Dependance will be on Christ's Worthiness, and the free Grace of God thro' Him. (Luk. 18.13. Rom. 3.24.) And all that is said in the New-Testament about God's rewarding the Believers good Works, being viewed in this Light, gives not the least Countenance to a Self-righteous Spirit, but militates directly against it.— And indeed, if we were as perfect as the Angels in Heaven, it appears from what has been said, that we should deserve no Thanks. It is impudent therefore, and wicked, it is contemptuous, and in a Sort blasphemous, and most God-provoking, for a proud con­ceited Pharisee, to feel as he does in his Self-righteous Frames. And God might expostulate with such a one in this Manner; ‘What, is there so little Loveliness in me! And is it so great, so hard, so self-denying, to love me, that you think it such a mighty Thing! and expect now, that all past Sins shall be forgiven, and my Favour se­cured, for this good Frame! Yea, and that I shall give you Heaven into the Bargain! What, are your Obliga­tions to me so small, that I must be so much beholden to you for your Love! What, did you never hear that I was the LORD! And that it was I that stretched abroad the Heavens! And that you are my Clay, whom I form­ed and fashioned for my Self! Be gone, thou impudent [Page 54] Wretch, to Hell, thy proper Place: thou art a Despiser of my glorious Majesty, and your Frame of Spirit savours of Blasphemy. Know it, I am not so mean, as you ima­gine, nor at all beholden to you for your Love.’ 'And this i [...] one Reason that the Sacrifice of the Wicked is such an Abo­mination to the Lord; not only when they pray with a View to recommend themselves to their Fellow-Men; but also when in doing their best, they only design to ingratiate themselves with God. Prov. 21.27. The Sacrifice of the Wicked is Abomination (even his very best) How much more when he bringeth it with a wicked Mind? The infinite Greatness, Glory and Excellency of God, and the infinite Obligation thence resulting which we are under to love him with all our Hearts and obey him in every Thing, renders a Self-righ­teous Spirit, unspeakably odious and infinitely provoking in the Eyes of a holy God. But this will appear still plainer under the next particular. To proceed therefore,

[2.] If we are under an infinite Obligation to love God sup [...]emely, live to him ultimately, and take everlasting De­light in him, because of his infinite Glory and Excellency, then the least Disposition to disesteem him, to be indifferent about his Interest and Honour, or to disre [...]ish Communion with him; or the least Disposition to love our selves more than God, and be more concerned about our Interest and Honour, than about his, and to be pleased and delighted in the Things of the World, more than in him, must conse­quently be infinitely sinful, * as is self-evident.

When therefore the great Governour of the World threat­ens eternal Damnation for the least Sin, (as in Gal. 3.10.) he does the Thing that is perfectly Right: for an infinite Evil deserves an infinite Punishment.

Hence also, it is no Wonder that the holiest Saint on Earth mourns so bitterly, and loaths and abhors himself so [Page 55] exceedingly, for the remaining Corruptions of his Heart. For if the least Disposition to depart from God and disrelish Communion with him, and to be careless about his Honour and Interest, is infinitely sinful; then the best Men that ever lived, have infinite Reason always to lie as in the Dust, and have their Hearts broken. Although it be so with them, that all which the World calls good and great, appears as Dross to them; and it is nothing to them, to part with Friends and Estate, Honour and Ease, and all, for Christ; and although they have actually suffered the Loss of all Things, and do count them but Dung, not worth mourning about, or repining after: Yet notwithstanding all these At­tainments, attended with the fullest Assurance of eternal Glory in the World to come, they have infinite Reason to do as they do, to dislike themselves, to hate themselves, and lie down in the Dust all in Tears; because still there is such a remaining Disposition in their Hearts to disesteem the Lord of Glory, to neglect his Interest, and depart from him; and because they are so far from being what they ought to be, notwithstanding the Obligations lying upon them are infinite.—Oh, this is infinitely vile and abominable, and they have Reason indeed therefore always to loath & abhor themselves, and repent in Dust and Ashes: Yea, they are infinitely to blame for not being more humble & penitent.— A Sight and Sense of these Things made Io [...] lie down in the Dust, and mourn so bitterly for his Impatience under his past Afflictions, tho' he had been the most patient Man in the World. (Iob 42.5, 6.) This made the Psalmist call himself a Beast. (Psal. 73.22.) And hence Paul called himself the chief of Sinners; and cried out, I am carnal, sold under Sin▪ O wretched Man that I am! And hated to commend himself when the Corinthians drove him to it, and seemed to Blush at every Sentence, and in a Sort recalled his Words,— I am not a whit behind the very chief of the Apostles, yet I am nothing; I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I.— Such a Sight of Things kills a Self-righteous Spirit at Root, in the most exalted Saint: for he has nothing (all Things considered) to make a Righteous­ness of, but in strict Justice merits eternal Damnation [...]ery Hour, and does nothing to make the least Amends.

[Page 56]For, if perfect Obedience merits no thanks, as was be­fore observed; and if the least Sin is an infinite Evil, and deserves an infinite Punishment, as we have now seen; then a whole Eternity of perfect Obedience would do just nothing towards making the least Amends for the smallest Sin; much less will the best Services of the highest Saint on Earth. And consequently when Paul came to die, he deserved to be damned (considered merely as in himself) as much as when he was a bloody Persecutor, breathing out Threatnings and Slaughter, yea, and a great deal more too. For all his Diligence and Zeal in the Service of Christ, did just nothing towards making the least Amends for what was past; and his daily Short-comings and sinful Defects run him daily infinitely more & more into Debt; which he did nothing to Counterbalance. And hence Paul accounts him­self to be Nothing, (2 Cor. 12.11.) as well he might; and all his▪ Attainments to be in a Sense not worth remembring, (Phil. 3.13.) and looks upon himself the chief of Sinners, (1 Tim. 1.15.) and less than the least of all Saints (Eph. 3.8.) and durst venture his Soul upon nothing but mere free Grace thro' Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3.8, 9.) And hence, thus it is with every Believer, even the most holy; altho' he daily sees what a God he has sinned against, how he has sinned against him, and does from a gracious Respect to God mourn for Sin, for all Sin, as the greatest Evil, and sincerely turns from all to the Lord, and gives up himself to God, to love him and live to him for ever; yet he feels that all this makes no Amends at all for his Sins, but that he really deserves to be damned for them as much as ever: Yea, he feels that he is infinitely blame-worthy for not be­ing more humble and penitent and self-abhorring, and that so his Desert of Damnation is infinitely increasing continu­ally. And hence he looks upon the Grace that saves him as absolutely and divinely free, and infinitely great; and always derives all his Hopes of Happiness from the free Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ. And this is what the A­postle means, when he speaks of his living by the Faith of the Son of God, (Gal. 2.20.) of his rejoycing in Christ Iesus, a [...]d having no Confidence in the Flesh. (Phil. 3.3.) And this was the Cause of his so earnestly longing to be found, not in [Page 57] himself, but in Christ; not having on his own Righteousness, but the Righteousness which is of God by Faith. (Phil. 3.8, 9.)— How directly contrary to all this, is the Temper of the blind conceited Pharisee, as expressed by Maimonides, the Iew, who was professedly one of that Sect? ‘Every Man (says he) hath his Sins, and every Man his Merits: And he that hath more Merits than Sins, is a just Man; but he that hath more Sins than Merits, is a wicked Man.’ And this is the Way of such Men: They put their Sins, as it were, into one Scale, and their good Duties into the other; and when they fancy their Goodness out-weighs their Bad­ness, then they look upon themselves in the Favour of God.—

But to return,

From what has been said we may learn, that the more sensible any Man is of the infinite Glory and Excellency of God, and of his infinite Obligations thence resulting to love God with all his Heart, and obey him in every Thing, the clearer will he see that perfect Obedience deserves no Thanks, and that the least Sin is an infinite Evil and deserves an in­finite Punishment; and so he will renounce his own Righ­teousness, die to himself, and come down to nothing, more and more: And so will be proportionably more and more sensible of his absolute Need of Christ & free Grace: And hence the more holy a Man grows, the more humble will he be.— And on the contrary, the more insensible a Man is of God's infinite Glory and Excellency, and of his Obli­gations thence resulting, the more will he value his Duties, and the less Evil will he see in Sin, and the less sensible will he be of his ill Desert, and of his Need of Christ and free Grace. And hence a self-righteous, impenitent, Christ-despising Spirit reigns in all who know not God.— And thus we see some of the Consequences necessarily following from that infinite Obligation to love God with all our Hearts, which we are under, resulting from the infinite Glory and Excellency of the divine Nature.— But to pass on,

3. This Obligation we are under to love God with all our Hearts, arising from his infinite Glory and Excellency, is in the Nature of Things eternally binding. God, his Being, Perfections, and Glory will be eternal; God will always be infinitely amiable; always as amiable as he is now. And [Page 58] there will be always therefore the same Reason that he should be loved, for being what he is; even the very same Reason that there is now.— This Obligation is therefore perpe­tually binding amidst all the Changes of this Life. Whe­ther we are sick or well, in Prosperity or in Adversity; whe­ther we are raised to Honour with David, or live in Afflu­ence with Solomon; or whether we are in Prison with Ioseph, or on the Dunghill with Iob, or wandring about in Sheep-skins and Goat-skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, with those mentioned in the Eleventh to the Hebrews; still this Obligation upon us to love God is invariably the same. For God is always infinitely amiable in himself; yea and al­ways will be so, whether we are in the Earth, or in Heaven, or in Hell. And therefore it always is and always will be our indispensable Duty to love him with all our Hearts, let what will become of us; and let our Circumstances, as to Happiness and Misery, be what they will.

Did our Obligations to love God, arise merely from a Con­sideration of something else besides the eternal Excellency of the divine Nature, from something which might altogether cease in Time, then might it possibly some Time or other cease to be our Duty to love God with all our Hearts: But assuredly it can never cease, until God ceases to be what he is. The infinite Obligation hence arising will be eternally Bind­ing.—Indeed if all our Obligations to love God did arise merely from some selfish Considerations, then in Hell, where these selfish Considerations will cease, it would cease to be a Duty to love God. If I were obliged to love God, only because he loves me, is kind to me, and designs to make me happy; then when he ceases to love me, to be kind to me, and to intend my Happiness, all my Obligations to him would cease; and it would be no Sin, not to love him. But now, since our Obligations to love God, arise original­ly from his being what he is in himself, antecedent to all selfish Considerations; therefore it will for ever remain our Duty to love him, let our Circumstances, as to Happiness o [...] Misery, be what they will: And not to love him with all our Hearts, will for ever be infinitely Wrong. Hence the Guilt of the fallen Angels has been increasing ever since their first Apostacy; and the Guilt of all the Damned will [Page 59] be increasing to all Eternity: And no Doubt their Punish­ment will increase in the same Proportion. How incon­ceivably and infinitely dreadful, therefore, will be their Case, who are thus continually sinking deeper and deeper in that bottomless Pit of Wo and Misery! And indeed, if this be the Case, Hell may well be compared, as it is in Scrip­ture, to a Bottomless Pit. Rev. 9.1. & 20.1.

4. This Obligation which we are under to love God with all our Hearts, resulting from the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature, is also unchangeably binding. As unchange­able as the divine Nature is, as unalterable as the divine Beauty is, even so unchangeable, so unalterable, in the very Nature of Things, is this our infinite Obligation, to love him supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively. As God is infinitely lovely in himself, and unchangeably so, so it is self-evident we are under an infi­nite and invariable Obligation to love him with all our Hearts. This cannot but be always our Duty. So long as God remains what he is, this will remain our Duty. It will in the Nature of Things be unalterably right and fit to love him, and not to do so, unalterably unfit and wrong.— Our sinking down into ever so bad a Temper, and getting to be ever so remote from a Disposition to love him, can no more free us from the Obligation, than it can cause him to cease being amiable. He must cease to be amiable, before our Obligation thence arising can possibly cease to be binding. If there be no Alteration in his infi­nite Beauty, there can possibly be no Alteration in the infi­nite Obligation thence arising. While God remains what he is, and while our natural Powers and Faculties are main­tained in Being, it must continue our Duty to love God with all our Hearts, and it cannot but be our Duty. In the Nature of Things it is right; and the Obligation is just as incapable of any Alteration, as is the Equality between twice two and four.— The fallen Angels are of so bad a Temper, that the very Thoughts of God will, doubtless, sooner than any Thing, stir up all their Hatred: But God deserves to be perfectly loved by them, as much as he did before their Apostacy. There is a great Alteration in the Temper of their Minds; but not the least Shadow of [Page 60] Change in the divine Beauty. Their having contracted so bad and wicked a Temper, cannot surely make it right and lawful for them to indulge it, and continue in it. Their impious Revolt surely cannot free them from the Authority and Government of Almighty God. He deserves their Homage and Subjection, as much as ever he did. The original Ground of all still remains; he is still THE LORD.— The same may be said of fallen Man. It is im­possible, that our bad Temper should free us from our Ob­ligation to love God with all our Hearts. It is still, in the Nature of Things, as wrong, not to love God with all our Hearts, as ever it was, or as it would have been, had we not joined with the fallen Angels, and turned Apostates. It must be so, unless our being of so bad and wicked a Temper makes it right for us to continue of such a Temper, and we not at all blame-worthy for acting agreeable thereto; that is, unless our being so very bad and wicked, makes us not at all to blame for our Badness and Wickedness. And so according to this Rule, the viler any Creature grows, and the more averse to God & to all Good, the less he is to blame: Which is one of the grossest Absurdities in the World.

Therefore,

(1.) The divine Law which requires us to love God with all our Hearts, considered as a Rule of Duty, is in the Nature of Things unalterable, and absolutely uncapable of any Abatement, more or less.—The Thing required, is, in the Nature of Things, our Duty, antecedent to any Consideration of an express Law in the Case. As that Children ought to ho­nour their Parents, and Neighbours do as they would be done by, are Things in themselves Right, and Duties an­tecedent to any Consideration of an express Law in the Case. (Eph. 6.1.) These Things would have been Duties, if there had never been any Laws made concerning them by God or Man. Yea, they are in their own Nature so Right, that they cannot but be our Duty, and to dishonour our Parents, and Cheat and Defraud and Injure our Neighbour, can't but be Wrong.— So to love God with all our Hearts is originally right and fit and our Duty; and would have been so, had there never have been any positive, express Law in the Case.

[Page 61]Now the grand Reason why God the great Governour of the World ever made a Law requiring of us to love him with all our Hearts, was because it was thus in its own Na­ture so infinitely fit. And now to suppose, that he would repeal, or alter, or abate this Law, when the Grounds and Reasons of his first making of it remain, as forceable as ever▪ when the Thing required is as right & fit as ever; & when it becomes him, as Governour of the World, still to require i [...], as much as ever; I say, to suppose such a Thing, casts the highest Reproach upon all his glorious Perfections.—It casts the highest Reflection upon his infinite Holiness, whereby he is infinitely inclined to love Right and hate Wrong; for it supposes him to release his Creatures from doing Right, and to allow them to do Wrong; a little at least.— It casts the highest Reflection upon his impartial Iustice, whereby he is infinitely inclined to give every one their Due; for it supposes him to release his Creatures from giving unto God the Glory which is his Due, and to allow them to keep back Part at least.— It casts the highest Reflection upon his Stability and Truth: For it supposes him to alter his Law, when there is no Reason for it.—Yea, it reflects even upon his Goodness it self: For it is so far from being a Benefit to his Crea­tures to have this excellent Law alter [...]d, which is so com­pleatly suited to the Perfection and Happiness of their Na­ture, that it would be one of the greatest and forest Calami­ties which could happen. Like the altering all the good Laws and Rules in a Family, merely to humour and gra­tify a rebellious Child, who will not be governed. Such a Child should be made to conform to the wholesome Laws of the Family, and not the Laws be abated and bro't down to a Level with his bad Temper and perverse Humour.— And finally, it casts the highest Reflection upon the infinite Wisdom of the great Governour of the World: For it sup­poses him to go counter to his own Honour and to the Good of his Creatures, to counteract all his Perfections, and contra­dict the Reason & Nature of Things; & that merely in Con­descension unto, & in Compliance with, the sinful corrupt Taste and Inclinations of an apostate, rebellious, God-hating World.

And now, how could the great Governour of the World clear and vindicate the Honour of his great Name, in mak­ing [Page 62] any Abatements in this Law, which requires us to love him with all our Hearts? Would he say, that he had before required more Love than was his Due? Surely, nothing can be much more blasphemous, than to suppose this.—Would he say, that he does not deserve so much as he did? Still it is equally blasphemous, to suppose this.— Would he say, that less than is his Due, is ALL that is his Due? But this would be to contradict himself, in express Terms.— Or would he openly profess to quit his Right and freely allow his Creatures to despise him a little, and sin sometimes, in Con­descension unto and Compliance with the corrupt Inclina­tions of their sinful Hearts? But this, in the Nature of Things, would be infinitely Wrong and Dishonourable.— Upon what Grounds then could the supreme Governour of the World go about to make Abatements in a Law so holy, just and good, that only requires us to love him with all our Hearts; which in the Nature of Things, is so infinitely right and suitable? Or upon what Grounds can we possibly desire any Abatements to be made, unless we e'en profess, that we do not like the Law, that we are averse to loving God with all our Hearts, that it is a very tedious, self-de­nying Thing to us, and what we can by no Means freely come into; and so upon this Foot desire some Abatements! Or which is the same Thing; honestly own, ‘that we love Sin so dearly, that God must tolerate us in it, or we cannot approve of his Government.—’

But indeed, God can as easily cease to be, as go about to licence and tolerate the least Sin: And he had rather Hea­ven and Earth should pass away, than that the least Iot or Tittle of his Law should fail. Mat. 5.18.

How can any Body therefore once imagine, that Christ came down from Heaven and died, to purchase this Abate­ment of the Law of God, and procure this lawless Liberty for his rebellion Subjects! What! Did he desert his Fa­ther's Interest and Honour, and the Honour of his Law and Government, and spill his precious Blood, that he might perswade the great Governour of the World, to slacken the Reins of Government, and give out this impious Li­cence to Iniquity? — Surely to suppose this, is to make Christ a Friend to Sin, and an Enemy to God.

[Page 63]What then do they mean, who in their Prayers presume to thank God for the gracious Abatements, which he has made in his Law? And what do Ministers mean by telling their People from the Pulpit, that the Law is abated, and that sincere Obedience is ALL that is now required of us?— Indeed, if poor secure Sinners are made to believe, that this was the great Business Christ came into the World upon, no wonder if their impious Hearts are pleased, and if they seem to love Christ, and prize the Gospel, and give Thanks to God for this great Goodness and Condescension; for hereby they are delivered from that Strictness in Religion which they hate, and a wide Door is opened for them to sin without Blame: Yea, they have the Comfort to think, that it is no Sin, not to love God with all their Heart, with all their Soul, and with all their Strength. And generally a very little Matter of Religion they think will serve. And now it's good Times, and they bless themselves. But alas! They seed upon the Wind: A deceived Heart hath turned them aside.

But by the Way,— To what Purpose was it for Christ to die to purchase this Abateme [...] What Need was there of it? Or what Good could it do?— For if the Law really required too much, the Governour of the World was obliged in Justice to make some Abatements: And so the Death of Christ in the Case was perfectly Needless.— And if the Law required but just enough, the Governour of the World could not in Justice make any Abatements: And so Christ must have died in vain, and totally lost his End.

But indeed Christ never came into the World upon this Design: as he expresly declares in Mat. 5.17, 18. Think not, that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, 'till Heaven and Earth pass, one Iot or one Tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, 'till all be fulfilled. And this is the very Thing he condemns the Pharisees for thrô all this Chapter, that they in Effect taught this Doctrine, that the Law was abated; that they taught, that although the Law did forbid some external and more gross Acts of Sin, yet it did not the first stirring of Corruption at Heart, & some lesser Iniquities. For Instance, that ‘they must not commit Murder; but [Page 64] that it was no Harm to be angry without Cause, and speak reproachfully, and keep a secret Grudge at Heart. (v. 21,—26.) That they must not commit Adultery; but that it was no Harm to have secret lascivious Thoughts. (v. 27,—30.) That they must not be guilty of Perjury; but that there was no Harm in little petty Oaths in com­mon Conversation. (v. 33,—37.) That they must not hate their Friends, but there was no Harm in hating [...]heir Enemies.’ (v. 43,—47.) These and such like Allowances they taught, were made in the Law; and so, that such Things were not sinful. But our Saviour condemns their Doctrine, as false and damning; and insists upon it, that the Law is not abated, and never shall be; but says, it still requires us to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. (v. 48.) And declares, that if our Righteousness exceedeth not the Righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees (who were so much for abating the Law,) we shall never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (v. 20.) So far was our blessed Saviour from any Design to abate the holy Law of God, or lessen our Obligations to a perfect Conformity to it.— And indeed, if Christ had died, and should die a Thousand Times, to purchase an Abatement of the Law, (if it be lawful to make such a Supposition) it would be to no Purpose: For it cannot be abated, unless God ceases to be what he is. For so long as God is infinitely lovely, we shall necessarily be under an infinite Obligation to love him with all our Heart, and with all our Strength; and it will necessarily be infi­nitely Wrong, not to do so.— The Truth is, that God's sending his Son into the World to die for the Redemption of Sinners, instead of freeing us from our original natural Obligations to keep the Law, binds us more strongly so to do; as we shall afterwards see.—Psal. 119.160. Thy Word is true from the Beginning: And every one of thy righteous Iudgments endureth for ever. (v. 128.) I esteem all thy Precepts concerning all Things to be Right. (v. 144.) The Righteous­ness of thy Testimonies is everlasting. (v. 152.) Thou hast found [...] them for ever. And therefore (v, 160.) Every one of them will endure for ever. As if the Psalmist had said, ‘The Thing required in thy Law is in it's own Nature Right, everlastingly Right; and therefore, as Governour [Page 65] of the World, thou hast by Law for ever settled and esta­blished it as Duty, by a Law never to be altered, but to endure for ever: and for ever therefore will it endure.’

OBJECT. But is it fair and just for God to require more of his Creatures, than they can do?

ANSWER. What are we come to, in this apostate World, that we can't see it to be just and fair, in the great Governour of Heaven and Earth, the infinitely glo­rious God, to require us his Creatures, so much as to love him, with all our Hearts? What! Is this too much? Is this more than he deserves from us?— Or does the Truth lie here, that we hate him so, that we cannot find in our Hearts to love him; and therefore cry, ‘He must not insist upon it, or if he does, he deals unjustly and is very hard with us?’ — But is not this the very Thing those Citizens did, who hated their Prince, and sent after him, saying, We will not have this Man to reign over us? Luk. 19.14.— These Hints may serve as an Answer for the present: But of this more hereafter.

But while some are pleading, that Christ died to purchase an Abatement of the Law, others carry the Point still further, and say that Christ died entirely to disannul it; and so, that now it wholly ceases to be a Rule of Life to Believers. When as one great and declared Design of Christ's coming into the World was, to recover his People to a Conformity thereto. (Tit. 2.11, 12, 13.) — Oh how Men do love their Corruptions, and hate God and his holy Law, and long to have it cashier'd and removed out of the World, that so they may live as they list, and yet escape the Re­proaches of their Consciences here, and eternal Punishment hereafter!—But GOD sitteth King for ever, and will assert the Rights of his Crown, and maintain the Honour of his Majesty, and the Glory of his great Name, and vindicate his injured Law; altho' it be in the eternal Damnation of Millions of his rebellious Subjects. Luk. 19.27. But those mine Enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.— And here by the Way, we may see what an aversion Men have to right Thoughts of God and divine Things; and may be convin­ced of the absolute Necessity of a supernatural all-conquer­ing [Page 66] Light, to remove these Prejudices, and make Men see and believe the Truth, and love and cordially embrace it. (Iob. 8.47.— 1 Cor. 2.14.)— A holy God does not ap­pear infinitely glorious and amiable to an unholy Heart: and Sinners not seeing the Grounds of loving God with all their Hearts, hence do not see the Reason of the Law; hence do not see how holy, just and good the Law is, and the carnal Mind being Enmity against God, is at the same Time Enmity against the Law, which is a Transcript of the di­vine Nature (Rom. 8.7.) And hence Sinners do not love to believe either God or his Law to be what they really are. And this Temper makes them blind to what the Scripture says, and leads them to frame a false Image of God, and entertain false Notions of his Law, that they may have a God and a Law both to their own Minds.

And now, as are Men's Notions of the Law, such are their Notions of Religion; the Essence of which principally consists in a Conformity to the Law.

Hence, here is one, he pleads for great Abatements in the Law, and he contents himself with the mere Form of Re­ligion. He is not Unjust, nor an Extortioner, nor an Adul­terer; but much better than some of his Neighbours: He prays in his Family, goes to publick Worship, and attends the Sacrament, and thinks himself a very good Man; like him in Luk. 18.9, 10, &c. But as for the Doctrines relating to our natural Depravity, Regeneration, Conversion, Faith, Communion with God, and all the inside of Religion, he under­stands nothing about them; they seem as strange as it did to Nicodemus to hear Christ discourse about the New-Birth. (Ioh. 3.) And all the Talk about the inward Influences of the holy Spirit, in awakening, convincing, humbling and converting a Sinner, and in enlightening, teaching, quick­ning, comforting and sanctifying a Believer, is quite unin­telligible: for these Things don't come into his Notions of Religion.—According to his Opinion, the Law is brought down so low, that it is an easy Thing to become a good Man: the Change is but small, and there is scarce any Need of the Spirit's Help; much less any Room for the Exercise of Sovereign Grace; for he is so good-natured, that he can become Good of his own free Will, (i. e. accord­ing [Page 67] to his Notions of Goodness,) and do that which shall effectually intitle him to the Promises: And thus he has the Staff in his own Hand. And now here is a charming Religion, perfectly suited to the Taste of an apostate World; for it's calculated to quiet the Conscience, while the Heart lies out estranged from God and dead in Sin. (Rom. 7.8, 9.) Especially, so much of it, as is for their Credit and appa­rently serves their worldly Interest, will pretty readily and heartily be fallen in with; and the best have their Failings, no Man is perfect, and I endeavour to be sincere, and the best have their Doubts, Assurance is not to be attained, and such like Pleas help to keep their Consciences secure. And now, O how they love those Ministers, that cry, Peace, Peace! But hate those that would search Things to the Bottom, and sound an Alarm to secure Sinners, and deluded Hypocrites.— The same Temper that makes them hate God and his Law, makes them hate his Ministers too. And they are for another Kind of a God, & for another Kind of a Law, ano­ther Kind of a Religion, and another Kind of Ministers, that they may have all to their Mind. And when all is done, they are confident they are now in the Right, because they are suited. They love to have it so; and therefore firmly believe it is so.

Hence, again, here is another, who has been mightily terrified and in great Distress under a Sense of the Wrath of God and the Dreadfulness of Damnation; but in the distressing Hour he has had it revealed to him (by the Spi­rit of God, he thinks) that his Sins are forgiven; and now he is sure of Heaven, and is ravished at the Thoughts of eternal Glory: he holds it a great Sin to doubt; and all his Religion consists in Faith and Joy, i. e. in believing that his Sins are forgiven, and rejoycing in his blessed and happy and safe Estate, and in the Expectation of future Glory.—But as for a real Conformity to the Law, it makes up no Part of his Religion. He understands rightly no­thing what the Law requires; he is neither sensible of his Duty to God, or to his Fellow-Men: Yea, he hates [...]o hear any Thing about Law, or Duty.— It is all Legal, he cries, and tends to kill Religion, and to wound weak Christians, and grieve and drive away the Spirit of Grace: and no preaching [Page 68] suits his Taste, but what consists in telling over and com­mending such Experiences as his, and in setting forth the Love of God and Christ to such, and calling upon such to believe, and rejoyce, and never doubt their State again. And in general those Things which tend to strengthen his Confidence and increase his Joy, he esteems right and good; and all Things of a contrary Tendency he esteems wrong and bad. This seems to be his only Criterion of Right and Wrong, and the only Rule he makes Use of in drawing up a Judgment: But as for the Law, it is of no Use with him. —There is doubtless many a Man that feels and acts and lives, as if the Law was abated, who yet will not plead for that Doctrine.— So doubtless there is many a Man that feels and acts and lives, as if the Law wholly ceased to be a Rule of Life, who yet will not venture to say so. The Force of Education and their worldly Interest and Credit keeps Men many Times from shewing what they be, by an open Profession. However, secretly this Temper reigns within them; yea, sometimes it breaks out into open Light, in their visible Conduct.— But, as strange as it may seem, there are Multitudes that not only have the Root of these Things in their Hearts, but really believe them and openly profess and plead for them. Hence it is on the one Hand, that the Arminian, Neono [...]ian, and Pelagiam Errors have taken their Rise, and the Antinomian, on the other. Wrong Notions of God lie at the Bottom; and then wrong Noti­ons of the Law; and then wrong Notions of Religion in gene [...]l: and all originally proceed and g [...]ow up out of the wrong Temper of Men's Minds. For all unregenerate Men would fain have a God and a Law and a Religion to suit the Temper of their Hearts▪ Micah 4.5. For all People will walk every one in the Name of [...] God.

In the mean Time, the truly godly Man, who sees that the Obligation, which he is under to love God with all his Heart, resulting from the Excellency of the divine Natu [...]e, is un­changeable; and that the Law, which requires this, is un­altera [...]le ▪ instead of going about to contrive a Religion that may suit the natural Temper of his Heart, is convinced that the Temper of his Heart is the very Thing that must be changed.—He is convinced of his infinite Obligation to be [Page 69] altogether such as the Law requires him to be, and that he is infinitely blameable for the least Defect.— Hence, those Words, The Law is holy, just, and good, the Law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under Sin. O wretched Man that I am! do exactly express the Thoughts of the most exalted Saint on Earth, yea, even of the great Saint Paul himself, Rom. 7.12, 14, 24.— Indeed, had St. Paul thought that the Law was wholly disannulled, or much abated, he might then have imagined that he was so good, as to be quite free from Sin, or pretty near being so, and been ready to speak the Language of the Pharisee; God, I thank thee, I am not as other Men. But now, notwithstanding all his high and wonderful Attainments, yet, when he considered what the Law was, which he was under, and how very far he was from being exactly what that required, the native Language of his humble Heart is, I am carnal, sold under Sin! O wretch­ed Man that I am! * — And now the Apostle, from a Sense of his infinite Obligations to be what the Law re­quires, and of his great Distance from this, forgets the Things which are behind; and he runs, he wrestles, he fights, he strives, he keeps under his Body, he lays aside every Weight; in short, he appears like a Man in a perfect Agony: So great was his Sense of Duty, and so much had he to do.—And at the same Time, from a Sense of his Impotency and of his Unworthiness, of his Need of the Redeemer and the Sanc­tifier, it is his Maxim, to pray always, and to ask all Things in the Name of Christ.— Now in his Example we have the Temper, which prevails more or less in every godly Man, exactly painted.—And thus we have had pictured in Miniature three different Sorts of Religion, arising from three different Notions of the Law. The Picture is b [...]gun; and in the sequel, I purpose to paint all three, as nea [...] to the Life as I can; that we may see what they be, and wherein [Page 70] they differ; which is Right, and which is Wrong. But so much for the first Inference, that the Law as a Rule of Duty, cannot be repealed or abated.

And now to proceed,

2. From what has been said it is evident, that the Law in its Threatnings of eternal Damnation for the least Sin, is equally uncapable of any Repeal or Abatement.— For if our Obliga­tion, to love God with all our Hearts and obey him in every Thing, resulting from the divine Perfections, is infinite, eter­nal, and unchangeable; and if therefore the least Sin neces­sarily be infinitely Evil, and deserving of an infinite Punish­ment, and unalterably so; then the Law considered as threat­ning eternal Damnation for the least Sin, is in its own Na­ture unalterably holy and just: And consequently it cannot be repealed, consistently with the Holiness, Justice, and Ho­nour of the great Governour of the World. If the Gover­nour of the World had, in a mere arbitrary Manner, made a Law, that Sin should be punished with eternal Damnation; then he might, in a mere arbitrary Manner, have repealed it: But since, in the Nature of Things, Iustice called for it, that such a Law should be made, therefore so long as the Grounds and Reasons of the Law remain, the Law cannot, in Iustice, be repealed.

None can deny, but that the great Governour of the World has actually made a Law, that Sin shall be punish­ed with eternal Damnation: And none can deny, but that this Law is to be put in Execution, to the full, at and af­ter the great Judgment-Day. But if Iustice had not called for it, surely the infinitely good Governour of the World would never have made such a Law; much less would he ever put it in Execution. For to make and execute such a Law, in a merely arbitrary sovereign Manner, when in the Nature of Things Iustice does not call for it, would be infi­nitely cruel and tyrannical, and perfectly inconsistent with the divine Perfections; as is self-evident. See Gen. 18.25. and Ezek. 18.25.

But then, if the great Governour of the World made this Law not arbitrarily, but because in the Nature of Things Iustice called for it; then so long as the Reason and Ground of the Law remains, the Law it self cannot in Iustice ever [Page 71] be repealed. If Justice called for its being made, then it cannot be un-made consistently with Justice, so long as the Ground and Reason of it remains; as is self-evident.— But the Reason of the Law is, in the Nature of Things, unalterable. For the Reason of the Law was the infinite Evil of Sin, whereby it deserved an infinite Punishment. As long therefore as Sin remains an infinite Evil, so long must the Law stand unrepealed: But Sin will always be an infi­nite Evil, so long as we are under infinite Obligations to love God with all our Hearts and obey him in every Thing; which we shall always be, so long as God remains infinitely glorious and amiable, and this will be for ever. Therefore this Law can never possibly, consistent with divine Iustice, be repealed.

For any, therefore, to desire to have it repealed, is to turn Enemy to the Holiness and Justice and Honour of the su­preme Ruler of the World, as well as to his Law and Go­vernment: And argues, that they have no Regard to the Rectitude and Fitness of Things, but only to Self-Interest: as those among Men are real Enemies to the civil Govern­ment, who desire the good and wholesome Laws thereof to be repealed. And it is upon this Ground, that St. Paul concludes carnal Men to be at Enmity against GOD, because they are Enemies to his LAW. (Rom. 8.7.) For if Men loved God, they would be disposed to love his Law and Government, which express his Nature.

To suppose therefore, that the Son of God came into the World and died, that the Law in its Threatnings might be repealed, is to suppose that he also is turned an Enemy to God, to his Holiness and Justice, to his Law & Govern­ment; and that he is properly gone over to be on the Side of his Father's rebellious Subjects.

Besides, to what Purpose would it have been (on the Hypothesis of these Men) for Christ to have died, that the Law in its Threatnings might be repealed? What Need was there of it? or what Good would it have done? For if in Iustice it ought to have been repealed, there was no Need of his dying to procure this: Or, if in Iustice it ought not to be repealed, then his dying could not procure it, and so would do no Good. The righteous Governour [Page 72] of the World would have repealed it of his own Accord, if it had been right and fit so to do: and if in the Nature of Things it was not right, then not any Thing whatever could perswade him to do it.

But the Truth is, Christ came into the World and died to answer all the Demands of the Law; that so altho' the Sinner be saved, yet the Law might▪ never be repealed, but be firmly established. For the Governour of Heaven & Earth was utterly against the Law's being repealed, as a Thing in itself infinitely unreasonable. And therefore the Apostle says, Do we make void the Law thro' Faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the Law. (Rom. 3.31.) And indeed it was nothing but God's infinite Aversion to repeal the Law, as a Thing in it self infinitely unfit & wrong, that was the Thing which made the Death of Christ needful. For, if the Law might have been repealed, Sinners might have been saved without any more ado: but if it could not, and must not be repealed, then the Demands of it must be answered by some Means or other, or every Sinner damned. And now Christ step'd in and did this; and so secured the Honour of God's Holiness & Justice, Law and Government, and opened a Way for the Sinner's Salvation. And this Ac­count of the Reason of Christ's Death the Scriptures plainly give us. Gal. 3.10, 13, 14. Cursed is every one that conti­nueth not in all Things written in the Book of the Law to do them.—Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us.—That the Blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles thro' Iesus Christ. For (Heb. 9.22.) without shedding of Blood there is no Remission. Therefore (Rom. 3.25, 26.) Christ was set forth to be a Propitiation for Sin, — to declare his Righteousness,— that he might be just, and the Iustifier of him which believeth in Iesus. And hence (v. 31.) Do we make void the Law thro' Faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the Law.

Yea, the Apostle evidently sets out upon this Hypothesis, that the Law is not repealed, but stands in full Force. He lays this down as a first Principle, in that argumentative Discourse which we have in the three first Chapters of his Epistle to the Romans. Chap. 1. v 18. The Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness & Unrighteousness [Page 73] of Men. And taking this for granted, he goes on to prove, that both Jews and Greeks are all under Sin, and so the whole World guilty before God; to the 19th ver. of the 3d Chap. And hence he argues, that by the Deeds of the Law no Flesh could be justified. But now, if the Law was repealed, the whole World was not Guilty before God, nor any one in the World: For Sin is not imputed, where there is no Law. (Rom. 5.13)— And if the Law was repealed, what Need was there of such a long Train of Arguments, to prove, that no Flesh could be justified by the Law? For it would have been enough to have said, that a repealed Law could neither justify nor condemn any Body.—And why does he use such Arguments as he does? For thus he reasons, ‘The Law requires perfect Obedience as a Condition of Life, & threat­ens Tribulation and Wrath against every Soul of Man that doth Evil: But Iews and Gentiles have all sinned: Therefore are all guilty & condemned according to Law▪ and consequently cannot be cleared and justified by Law.’ For all this Reasoning supposes, that the Law is as much in Force as ever it was. And accordingly he goes on to shew, that the Design of Christ's Death was to answer the De­mands of the Law, that there might be a Way opened for the Salvation of Sinners, consistent with divine Justice, and at the same Time the Law not be made void, but establish­ed; As was before observed.

And now this being the Case,

Hence, we find the Scriptures every where look upon those that have not a special Interest in the Righteousness of Christ by Faith, as being as much under the Wrath of God and Curse of the Law, as if Christ had never died. Ioh. 3.18. He that believeth not is condemned already. v 36. The Wrath of God abideth upon him. And, Gal. 3.10. As many as are of the Works of the Law are under the Curse. And, Rom. 1.18. The Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven, against all Ungod­liness and Unrighteousness of Men▪ who hold the Truth in Un­righteousness.— Thus the Wrath of God is revealed against the Unbeliever; yea, abides upon him; yea, the Law con­demns and curses him. But if the Law had been repealed by the Death of Christ, all the World would have been freed from the Curse. For a repealed Law, can neither [Page 74] bless the righteous, nor curse the wicked; but stands for nothing.

And hence also, we find that Christless Sinners, when awak­ened by the Holy Spirit to see and feel what a State they are in, are always convinced that they are under the Wrath of God and Curse of the Law; and hereby are made to un­derstand their Need of a Saviour. (Rom. 3.19, 20.) But if the Law had been repealed by the Death of Christ, this could not be; for they would then have been under no Wrath, nor Curse. Nor would any have ever felt a Spirit of Bondage, as they do in every Age of the World, and as they used to do in St. Paul's Day. (Rom. 8.15.) For it is the Law only, that works Wrath. Rom. 4.15.

And hence we shall find, even all the World shall find, and Thousands and Thousands to their everlasting Sorrow, that when the Day of Judgment comes, the Law shall be executed with the utmost Severity, upon all that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Iesus Christ. (2. Thess. 1.7, 8.) And God's Justice in so doing will shine bright in the Sight of all Worlds: For he designs on that Day to reveal the Righteousness of his Judgments. And hence it is called, the Day of the Revelation of the righteous Iudgment of God. (Rom. 2.5.) But if the Law is repealed by the Death of Christ, and if God has told the World that he has repealed it; for him now to revive it, & judge & condemn the World by it; would be to cast Contempt upon the Death of Christ, and deceive his poor Creatures, and unmercifully and un­righteously judge and condemn them, by a Law that was repealed, a Law they never were under, and so ought never to have been judged by. From the whole therefore, it is evident that the Law, that threatens eternal Damnation for the least Sin, never has been, nor ever will be repealed.

Well then (if this be the Case) may Ministers thunder Hell and Damnation against a secure, wicked World. And well may poor Sinners tremble under a Sense of divine Wrath, when their Eyes begin to be opened to see where they be. For all those Comforts that the Formalist gets by thinking the Law is abated or disannulled, and so hi [...] State safe, are but the Result of an erroneous Head and a [...] secure in Sin. And what has been said under this Particu­lar, [Page 75] will rationally account for all the Agony and Distress of an awakened Sinner.— When God, the great Governour of the World, the Revenger of Sin, begins to make the poor Sinner remember his Ways and his Doings which have not been right, and see what a Creature he is, and what a Con­dition he is in, and be sensible of what he deserves; and when he comes to understand that his Soul is forfeited, and that it is right that Justice should take Place, and that God is at Liberty to do as he pleases: Surely this must be Heart-rending, Soul-distressing to a poor, sinful, guilty, Hell-de­serving Creature.

And if God▪ will not repeal the Law, but still insist upon it, that it is holy and just; no wonder the Sinner is made to own it too, before ever he is pardoned. For it would be unbecoming the supreme Lord of the Universe, to grant a Pardon to a guilty Rebel, that is too high-hearted to own, that the Law by which he stands condemned, is holy and just.— O how right it is, that the Sinner should come down, and see and know and own for ever, that he is justly condemned, and as such apply himself to the Sovereign Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ for a Pardon! And O how sovereign and free and divine, is that Grace, that pardons and [...]aves the poor, sinful, guilty, Hell-deserving Wretch thro' Jesus Christ! (Rom. 3.19, 27.)— And thus as God the Father honours the Law, by refusing to repeal it; and God the Son, by answering it's Demands; so does God the Holy Ghost, by making the poor Sinner, see and feel and own, that it is holy and just, before ever he internally reveals the Mercy of God thro' Jesus Christ unto him. So that the Law [...], and Sin is imbittered, and the Sinner hum­bl [...] [...] Grace glorified, all at once.— As in the external Revelation God has made in his Word, the Law is before the Gospel; so it is in internal Influences and Operations of the holy Spirit upon the Elect; and that for the same Reason, that the Law might be a School-Master, to bring Men to Christ.

To conclude, from all that has been said, we may learn what to think of the Religion and of the Hopes of these two Sorts of Men.— (1.) The legal Hypocrite: who supposing, that the good old Law is repealed and laid aside, and that a new Law, only requiring sincere Obedience, is established in [Page 76] its Room; hence meerly from Self-love, and for Self-ends, sets about Duty and endeavours to be sincere; and here on this Foundation builds all his Hopes of Acceptance in the Sight of God. For since the Law is not repealed, but stands in full Force; therefore the Religion of such, is not that Thing which God requires or will accept; and their new Law is a Whim, and their Hopes are all built on the Sand. Their whole Scheme results from a total Ignorance of God, and his Law, and the present State of Mankind; and is entirely built on Falsehood.— (2.) The Evangelical Hypocrite: All whose Faith & Ioy originally result from a supposed Discovery, of the Love of God, or Love of Christ, or that his Sins are pardoned. This Discovery is the Foun­dation of his Faith, and his Faith is the Foundation of his Joy and of all his Religion. And yet the Thing discovered is a Lie. For, as has been proved, every one until he is a Believer, until he has acted Faith, is not pardoned, but con­demned; is not beloved of God, but under his Wrath; and therefore to have Pardon of Sin and the Love of God dis­covered before the first act of Faith, and to have such a Dis­covery lay the Foundation for the first act of Faith, and a Foundation for all Religion, is to be imposed upon with a Lie, and to have a gross Falsehood lie at the Foundation of their Faith, their Religion and of all their Hopes.— The legal Hypocrite may be convinced by such Scriptures as these, Luk. 18.9—13. Rom. 3.20—31. and Chap. 4. v. 5. Which prove that a Man cannot find Acceptance with God by his own Righteousness.—And the evangelical Hypocrite may be convinced by such Scriptures as these, Ioh. 3.18, 36. Act. 3.19. Which prove that a Sinner is not pardoned till after Faith.— A true Sight and Sense of the Law, would effectually convince the one, and the other, that all their Hopes are built on wrong Apprehensions of Things; and that all their Religion is Counterfeit; and that they are yet in the Gall of Bitterness and Bonds of Iniquity: And the one would no longer venture his Soul on his own Righteous­ness, nor the other on his Discovery. The Law's insisting upon perfect, sinless Obedience, would convince the one, that his own Righteousness might not be depended upon: and the Law's cursing every Unbeliever, would convince [Page 77] the other, that his Discovery was false. And the Law's re­quiring us to love God primarily for his own Beauty, would convince both of their graceless Estates, in as much as the Religion of both primarily takes its Rise from Self-love.— It is from the want of a realizing Sight and Sense of the Nature and Extent of the Law, and that out of Christ we are exposed to all the Curses thereof, that a sinful, guilty World are so insensible of their graceless, and their wretched and miserable Condition, and so apt to flatter themselves that they are rich, and increased in Goods, and stand in Need of Nothing. Rom. 7.8, 9. Without the Law Sin was dead.— I was alive without the Law once.

Thus we see that the Obligation which we were under, to love God with all our Hearts, resulting from the infinite Ex­cellency of the divine Nature, antecedent to all selfish Consi­derations, is infinitely, eternally and unchangeably binding. And thus we see a Variety of important Consequences necessarily following therefrom. And I have insisted the longer upon the Nature of this Obligation, not only because it is the first and greatest; but because it has a mighty In­fluence into all our additional Obligations.— For,

5. and lastly. It is from the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature, that all our additional Obligations originally derive their Strength, their Energy, their binding Power. The infi­nite Excellency of the divine Nature so entirely lays the Foundation of it's being our Duty to love God with all our Hearts, that were it not for this, it would cease to be our Duty, notwithstanding all other Considerations. If he were not by Nature GOD, it would not be fit, that we should love and worship him as GOD, upon any Account whatsoever. He could have no such Right to us; or Authority over us, as to make it our Duty; nor could he render it our Duty by shewing of us any Kindness whatsoever. Yea, if he were not by Nature GOD, it would be wrong for us to pay him divine Adoration. It would be Idolatry. It would be a worshiping of one as God, who by Nature is not God. And by the same Argument which the Orthodox have been wont to use against the Arians, who deny the Divinity of Christ; If he be not a divine Person, he ought not to have divine Worship paid him: I say, by the same Argument, if God [Page 78] were not by Nature GOD, it could not upon any Account be Right and our Duty, to love and worship him as God. It is his being by Nature God, his being what he is, and his infinite Excellency in being such, which therefore lays the original Foundation of all our Obligations, and which gives Life and Energy to all. And accordingly we may observe, that the original Ground and Reason upon which God, as Governour of the World, acts, in making a Law that we should love him with all our Hearts, is, because he is the Lord. As is evident from the Tenor of the Law it self. Thou shalt love the LORD &c. i. e. Because he is the LORD, &c. Yea, it is upon this Ground originally that God takes it upon him to give all his Laws to us; for this is the constant Style, Thus and thus shall ye do, FOR I AM THE LORD.

Those therefore, who are influenced to love and worship God, not at all because he is God, but altogether from other Considerations; not at all from a Sense of his infinite Ex­cellency, but altogether on other Accounts; are so far from being truly religious, that they are indeed guilty of great Wickedness in all they do. For altho' they pretend to love and worship God, yet it is not at all because he is God: tho' they pretend to pay divine Adoration to him, yet it is not at all because he is a divine Being. So that when they pre­tend to pay divine Worship and Adoration to God, it is meerly from some selfish Consideration, from Self-love and for Self-ends; there is no true Regard to God, but all cen­ters in Self. So that Self indeed is their Idol, and the only God they serve. And their pretending to love and worship God is mere Mockery.— When they pretend to love and worship God, it is not at all because he is God, not at all from a Sense of his divine Glory; but only to appease his Anger and obtain his Favour, or because they consider him as their Friend and Benefactor. And now to come to God and pretend to worship him as if he was God, and yet not to do it at all because he is God, but for mean & mercenary and selfish Ends, is a very complicated Wickedness: and to think to please God in this Way, and get into Favour by this Means, discovers such Ignorance and Contempt of God, and a Frame of Heart so full of secret Blasphemy, spiritual [Page 79] Idolatry, Pride, and Hypocrisy, as cannot easily be express­ed.— They practically deny his Divinity: yet pretend to pay him divine Worship.— They pretend to serve God: yet really intend only to serve themselves.— They make as if they loved God: But only love themselves.—Yet so into­lerably mean are their Thoughts of God, that they expect to please him by all this.— To make the best of it, all that Religion is mere Hypocrisy, which does not primarily take its Rise from a Sense of the infinite Excellency of the di­vine Nature.

Thus then we see what is the first and chief Motive of a genuine Love to God.— He is a Being of infinite Under­standing, & of almighty Power, infinite in Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, Goodnes [...], and Truth; and so a Being of infinite Glory and Excellency; and so infinitely amiable, and infi­nitely worthy to be loved with all our Hearts. — And this Obligation is binding originally in itself, antecedent to a Consideration of any other Motive whatsoever: and it is infinitely, eternally and unchangeably binding, and gives Life and Energy and Strength to all other Obligations.— And hence if we do love God with all our Hearts, we do but our Duty and deserve no Thanks: But we are infinitely to blame for the least Defect, and can never do any Thing to atone for it, but deserve everlasting Damnation. And it will always be our Duty thus to love God, and the least De­fect will be always thus blame-worthy, let our Circumstan­ces as to Happiness or Misery be what they will. All our Hearts will be always due to God, and we shall always stand bound to pay this Debt, whether we have any Heart for it or no. And God will always appear such an infinite Enemy to the least Defect, as in his Law he has declared himself to be; nor is there any Hopes of our finding Ac­ceptance in his Sight, unless it be by a Union to and Interest in Him, who has answered all the Demands of the Law in the Room of those who believe in Him. And all Pretence of Love to God which does not take its Rise from this Foun­dation, is but meer Hypocrisy.—All these Consequences so necessarily follow, from a Supposition of the infinite Ex­cellency & Amiableness of the divine Nature, and so evi­dently, as that if God be but seen aright; a Sense of his infinite [Page 80] Beauty will immediately assure the Heart, that these Things are so. A Sense of his infinite Glory will make us see and feel that we are under infinite Obligations to love him with all our Hearts, and that we could deserve no Thanks for doing so, but that the least Defect is infinitely Wrong, &c. A Sense of the infinite Glory of God will effectually establish the Heart in these Things against all the subtle Arguments and fair Pretences of Hereticks. A Sense of the infinite Glory of God immediately imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God, whereby the Heart is thus divinely establish­ed in the Belief of the Truth, is therefore that Unction from the holy One, which all the Saints have, whereby they are effectually secured from being finally led away by false Teachers. At least that Unction consists partly in this. 1 Ioh. 2.20.—27.— And at the same Time, that the Peo­ple of God are thus established in the Belief of these Truths, relating to Law and Duty, from a Sense of the infinite Glo­ry of God; I say, at the same Time this Sense of the infinite Glory of God, begets a Disposition in the Heart to conform to this Law and do this Duty. And thus it is that God writes his Law in our Hearts and puts it in our inward Parts, when he intends to become our God and to make us his Peo­ple. (Heb. 8.10, 11.) And hence it begins to be the Na­ture of the People of God, to love him with all their Hearts. And their Views and their Temper and every Thing else being thus entirely new, hence they are called new Creatures. Old Things are past away, and all Things are become new.— But now this Sense of the infinite Glory of God, which thus lays the very lowest Foundation of true Religion, is intirely left out of all false Religions. And by this, true Religion stands distinguished, as something specifically different from all the false Religions in the World. And hence we may observe, that it is spoken of in Scripture, as something peculiar to true Saints, that they see God, and know God. Joh. 8.19, 55. Ye neither know me, nor my Father. Joh. 14.19 The World seeth me no more, but ye see me. 1 Joh. 3.6. Whosoever sin­neth, hath not seen him, neither known him. 1 Joh. 2.3. Hereby we do know, that we know him, if we keep his Com­mandments. 1 Joh. 4.7, 8. Every one that loveth, knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God.— And th [...] unregene­rate [Page 81] not knowing God, not having a Sense of his infinite Glory to lay the Foundation of their Love and o [...] their Religion; hence all their Love and all their Religion entirely take their Rise from mere selfish Considerations, and nothing but Self-love lies at Bottom. And hence it is natural [...]or unregenerate Men to think they deserve something for their Duties, and as natural to be insensible of the infinite Evil of their Sins. And so 'tis their Nature, to magnify and be proud of their own Goodness, and to ex [...]enuate and be un­humbled for their Badness. And from hence results our native Aversion to Faith and Repentance, and Contrariety to the Gospel-Way of Salvation. And now NEW Gospels, new Sorts of Faith and Repentance are coined, new Notions of Religi­on contrived, to suit the depraved Temper and Vitiated Taste of unhumbled, impenitent Sinners, who are concern­ed to secure their own Interest, but care not what becomes of God's Honour. Hence Errors take their Rise, and pro­fessing Christians are divided into Parties, and one runs this Way, and another that, and all hope to get to Heaven at last.— And now at length after so great a variety of Infer­ences and Remarks, and so large a Consideration of the first and chief Motive of a genuine Love to God; I proceed,

2. To take a short View of the additional Obligations which we lie under, to love God with all our Hearts. I AM THE LORD, (this lays the first Foundation, and leads the Way, when from Mount Sinai, the Almighty proclaims his Law, but then he immediately goes on to add,) THY GOD, which brought thee out of the Land of Egypt and out of the House of Bondage. Exod. 20.— God has such a Right to us, and such an Authority over us, and has done so many Things for us, and promised so many Things to us, that our additional Obligations to be the Lord's, to love him and live to him, are exceeding great.

Particularly,

Nothing is more reasonable than that we should be en­tirely dedicated to that God, whose we be, originally, and by an entire, underived and unalienable Right. Especially con­sidering what he is in himself, and that he is Lord of all Things, and by Nature God most high.— Indeed, if our Creator was not by Nature the most high God, then he could [Page 82] not be the supreme Lord of all Things; for there would be one above him; and so we should not be his, entirely and absolutely; for he himself and we his Creatures, would be­long originally to another, even to him that by Nature would be the most high God; and him we ought to love and worship.—But our Creator himself, being abso­lutely the first, and absolutely supreme, Self-existent and independent, the sole Author and Lord of all Things, as well as infinitely glorious in himself, his Right to us is origi­nal, underived and most a [...]solute and entire. And therefore it is infinitely fit and suitable, that we should be, in the con­stant Frame and Disposition of our Hearts, absolutely, en­titely and wholly the Lord's, and that we should for ever exert all our Powers, to the very utmost, to promote his Honour and Interest. And it is infinitely unreasonable that we should ever set up ourselves, and be attached to any In­terest of our own, separate from his.— And inasmuch as he is infinitely better than we be, (Yea all the Nations of the Earth, are less than nothing before him,) and has such an entire Right unto us, his Interest therefore should be re­garded as more valuable than our own, yea, infinitely more. For if our own Interest appears as valuable to us, as his; we set our selves upon a level with him, and claim as great a Right to our selves, as he has; and if his Interest does not appear as being of infinitely greater Value to us, than our own, we do not esteem him as being infinitely better, than we be ourselves, and his Right to us infinitely greater, than our own Right to our selves is.— It is therefore infi­nitely reasonable, since God is what he is, and has such a Right to us as he has, that we should be constantly from the very bottom of our Hearts wholly his, and every Mo­ment live wholly to him, and always have his Interest lie most near our Hearts, as being of infinitely more Worth Value and Importance than our own. As Moses, who in a Measure was made Partaker of this divine Nature▪ in the Anguish of his Heart cries, when God tells him he will cut off Israel, and make of him a great Nation, ‘Lord, let my Name be blotted out of thy Book, let it be forgotten from among the living, and b [...] never heard of again in the World that ever I was in Being: But what will become of [Page 83] thy great Name! God's Honour and Interest was dear to him; but he, comparatively, cared not for his own, at all. Exod. 32. Num. 14.

But this our Obligation to be entirely the Lord's, is still infinitely increased, if we consider the Authority of the su­preme Governour of the World, which, by his express Law, has enjoined this upon us. It is not only infinitely fit in its own Nature, that we should love God with all our Hearts, considering what he is in himself, and that we should be entirely for him, in the Temper of our Minds, considering what an entire Right he has to us as his Crea­tures, who have received all we have from him, and are ab­solutely dependent on him for all we want; but God has, by Law, as Governour of the World, enjoined this upon us as our Duty, and that with all his Authority.— And now considering what he is in himself, and the natural Right he has to all Things, and how entirely we are his, and abso­lutely under his Government, his AUTHORITY is infi­nitely binding.— Especially considering, how infinitely en­gaged, he appears to be, to see that his Law be exactly obeyed, in promising eternal Life on the one Hand, and threatning eternal Damnation on the other. This his infinite Engaged­ness, lays us under infinite Bonds, to be and do, exactly what he requires.

But still, our Obligation to love him with all our Hearts, and be wholly the Lord's, is yet infinitely more increased, if we consider what Ways the Lord has taken with us in this apostate World, since our Rebellion against him, since we have lost all Esteem of him, turned Enemies to him, cast off his Authority, and practically bid Defiance to his Power and Justice.— For instead of immediately do [...]ming all this lower World to blackness of Darkness for ever, he has sent his Son, his only begotten Son, from Heaven, to bring us the News of Pardon and Peace, and by his own Death to open a Way for our Return unto him, and to call and invite us to return.— And now with a liberal Hand he strews com­mon Mercies all round the World, among evil, unthankful, guilty, Hell-deserving Rebels, and fills the Hearts of all with Food and Gladness; and sends forth his Messengers to proclaim it to the Ends of the Earth, that it is his Will, [Page 84] that all his rebellious Creatures lay down their Weapons of Rebellion, acknowledge the Law by which they stand con­demned, to be holy, just and good, and look to him thro' Jesus Christ for Pardon as a free Gift, and thro' Jesus Christ return unto him, and give up themselves to him entirely, to love him and live to him, and delight in him for ever.

And while the World in general make light of all this, and go to their Farms, and to their Merchandize, and many are enraged and cry out against the Messengers of Peace, and stone some and kill others; (Matt. 22.) that now he should of his own sovereign good Pleasure, according to his eternal Purpose, seize here and there one, by his All-con­quering Grace, and stop them in their Career to Hell, and make them see and feel their Sin and Guilt, and own the Sentence just by which they stand condemned, and bring them as upon their Knees to look to free Grace thro' Jesus Christ for a Pardon, and thro' Jesus Christ to give up them­selves for ever to him: that now he should receive them to Favour, and put them among his Children, and become their Father, and their God, in an everlasting Covenant, and undertake to teach and lead, to quicken and strengthen, to correct and comfort, and so to hu [...]b [...]e and purify and sanc­tify, a [...]d fit them for his heavenly Kingdom; and while they are in this World, to give them all Things that are best for them, and make all Things work together for their Good, and finally bring them unto, and possess them of eternal Glory and Blessedness in the full Enjoyment of him­self for ever:— For a God of infinite Greatness and Glory, to deal just so, with just such Creatures, is the most amaz­ing and astonishing Grace; and lays infinite Bonds upon Be­lievers to love the Lord their God wi [...]h all their Hearts, and to live to him for ever; and has the greatest Tendency to animate them so to do.— And thus by these brief Hints we have a general View of the additional Motives of a true and genuine Love to God.

As God's bringing up the Children of Israel out of Egypt, leading them thro' the Wilderness, driving out the Heathen from before them, and giving them that good Land which flowed with Milk and Honey, and covenanting to be their God, is used so frequently, by Moses and the Prophets, [Page 85] throughout all the old Testament, as a Motive to engage them to cleave to the Lord, and to him only and entirely and for ever: So God's sending his Son into the World, to save h [...]s People from their Sins, their spiritual Bondage, together with all the spiritual and everlasting Blessings of the Cove­nant of Grace, are continually used in the new Testament, as Arguments to engage Believers not to live to themselves, but to him that died for them.—Only here let these Things be remembred,

(1.) That a Sight and Sense of the infinite Greatness and Glory of GOD, from whom all Good comes, and a Sense of their own infinite Meanness and Unworthiness, makes all the Mercies they receive infinitely the more endearing and engaging. For the Mercies themselves now appear unspeaka­bly the greater, in that they come from such a God and to such Creatures; and the infinite Goodness of God shines the brighter in every Me [...]cy, and the Freeness of his Grace is the more conspicuous, on account of which he is infinitely amiable. The infinite Greatness and Glory of God in gene­ral ravishes the Heart, the infinite moral Beauty of the di­vine Goodness and Grace in particular ravishes the Heart, and now that such a God should shew such Kindnesses to such a Creature is very affecting. Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my House, that thou hast brought me hitherto? Says holy David—And is this the Manner of Men, O Lord God!— No surely.—Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: For there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides thee. 2 Sam. 7.18—22.—God is loved for the Kindnesses be­stowed; but he is more loved for the infinite Beauty of that Goodness which is displayed in the bestowment of them, and for his being altogether such a one as he is▪ So the Queen of Sheba esteemed Solomon for the Kindnesses he shewed her, but primarily and much more for his own per­sonal Excellencies. And his personal Excellencies made her esteem his Favours to her of much greater Worth.— That a glorious and ever-blessed GOD should treat Sinners so, is infinitely endearing.—Now these Sensations which a true Believer has, and his Love to God arising therefrom▪ must be vastly different from every Thing which natural [Page 86] Men experience, who know not God, and have no higher Principle in them than Self-love.

(2.) Let it also be remembred, that God designs, by all his Dealings and Kindnesses to his People, to bring them [...] to himself in this World, and to the everlasting Enjoy­ment of himself in the World to come. He means for th [...] present to humble them, and wean them from the World, to make them more spiritually-minded and heavenly-minded, to bring them to be more acquainted with God and more entirely to take up their Rest and Contentment in Him; and therefore all Things are calculated by his infinite Wis­dom and Goodness to attain this End. And this causes all the wise and kind Dealings of God, outwardly in his Provi­dence and inwardly by his Spirit, and that both by Way of Correction as well as by Way of Consolation, to appear in a very affecting and engaging Light to true Believers.— While they see what God is in himself, and his infinite Beauty in being such; while they see how infinitely suffi­cient he is to be all Things to them, and to do all Things for them, and the Blessedness of living wholly upon him and trusting wholly in him; while they see God calculat­ing all Things to bring them to him, and actually find all Things working this Way; their Obligations to love him and live to him appear infinitely binding, and their Hearts are mightily engaged and animated.—This View of Things make all their Afflictions appear as great Mercies; because they are so wisely calculated to bring them near to God. Psal. 119.71. This View of Things adds an infinite Value to all the Kindnesses of God, over and above what they are worth merely in themselves, because they are all so wisely calculated to bring them near to God. This is the Kernel of all that tender-Mercy and Loving-Kindness which they see in all their Afflictions, and in all their Com­forts. Heb. 12.10, 11. Rom. 8.28.—To be brought near to God, is worth more than all the World; there is no Por­tion like God, no Comfort like that which is to be taken in him: He is the godly Man's ALL. Psal. 73.25. Whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is nothing on Earth I desire besides thee.— And now that such a God should take such Methods, with just such a Creature, to bring him [Page 87] to the Possession of such a Good, is the most amazing Good­ness and the most astonishing Grace.— Now here is a Sense of the Excellency of the divine Nature in general, and a Sense of the moral Beauty of the divine Goodness in parti­cular, and of the unspeakable Mercy God shews to them, which Mercy, is infinitely magnified in their Account, from the Value they have for God, as the Portion of their Souls, from all which, their Love to God takes its Rise: Where­by their Love appears to be exceeding different from any Thing which natural Men experience, who neither know God, nor relish Communion with him, but are contrary to Him in all Things: And only from Self-love are glad of the good Things they receive from God, which good Things they live upon and make a God of: Whether they be worldly good Things, or great Light and Comfort and Joy of a religious Nature.

(3.) Let it also be remembred, that all God's Gifts to his People are so many Talents bestowed upon them ulti­mately to be improved for God, whereby they are put under Advantages to glorify God and do Good in the World. And the more they have of worldly Substance, of natural Powers, of acquired Accomplishments, and of the gracious Influences of the holy Spirit, &c. the greater are their Advantages to act for God, to promote his Honour and Interest, and to do Good.—Now in Proportion as they love God, in the same Proportion is his Honour and Interest, and the Good and Welfare of his Creatures and Subjects, dear unto them.— The Interest and Honour of God lies nearer to the Hearts of his People, than their Parents, or Consorts, or Children, or Houses and Lands, yea, than their own Lives. (Luk. 14.26.)—To be under Advantages therefore to pro­mote his Honour and Interest, must, in their Account, be esteemed an inestimable Priviledge.— Hence they love God for all Things they receive from Him, because by all they are put under such Advantages to live to him and serve him, seeking his Interest and Honour and Glory. A remarkable Instance of which we have in Ezra, that hearty Friend to God, and to his Honour and Interest. See Ezr. 7. v. 27, 28. compared with the rest of the Chapter.—Now herein again their Love to God for his Benefits is evidently [Page 88] different from any Thing which [...] Men experience, who have [...]o higher Principle than Self-love, and are en­tirely [...] by it.

And as the Love of the Saint and of the Hypocrite thus greatly differ in their Nature, so do they also [...] a [...] great­ly in their Fruits and Effects. [...] loved God greatly for his Kindnesses to him, because thereby he was put under Ad­vantages to do so much for God's Glory and for the Good of his People. And now see how active he is for God, and how he [...] himself to do Good, and to reform every Thing that was amiss among the Jews; from the eighth Chapter and on. While the hypocritical Jews, who, no doubt, were also greatly affected with the Mercy of God in their Deliverance from their long Captivity, were so far from being active for God, that they, not caring for his Honour or his Laws, committed great Abominations. Ezr. 9.1. So the Children of Israel at the Red-Sea seemed to be full of Love to God, as well as Moses; but as they had different Sorts of Love, so their Carriage did as greatly differ afterwards, for the Course of forty Years. And no wonder, for the hypocritical Israelites only loved themselves, and cared only for their own Interest; but Moses lo [...]ed God, and cared above all Things for his Honour.

Thus we see, not only what additional Obligations Belie­vers are under to love God with all their Hearts, but also how, and in what Manner, they influence and excite them so to do.— And what I have offered effectually obviates the common Plea of Formalists and all Self-seekers, That all the Saints in Scripture are represented as loving God for his Benefits; whence they argue, that they are right, and their Religion genuine, which results merely from Self-love, and the fear of Hell and hope of Heaven, or from a confi­dent Perswasion that their Sins are pardoned.— For it is evident, that true Saints do not love God for his Benefits, nor eye their own Happiness, in the same Manner that such Men do, but in a Manner altogether different.—Saints know the God they love, and love him primarily for what he is in himself, and because he is just what he i [...]: But Hypocrites know not God, nor love him, but are in all [...]hings contrary to him, and are only pleased wi [...] the [Page 89] false Image of God they have framed in their Fancies, merely because they think that he loves them, and [...], and wi [...]l do, great Things for them.— Saints are [...] with the divine Goodness it self for the moral Beauty there is in it▪ But Hypocrites are affected only with the Fruits and Effects o [...] divine Goodness to them, as tending to make [...] happy.— Saints love God for his Benefits, under a [...] Sense of their infinite Unworthiness of the least of them: But so it is not with the Hypocrites.— Saints love God for all the Streams of divine Goodness, because they are de­signed and actually do lead them up to God the Fountain, who is the Portion of their Souls: But Hypocrites live up­on the Streams, disrelishing the Fountain.— Saints love God dearly for all his Gifts, because by them they are put under such Advantages to live to God, to promote his Interest and Honour, and to do good in the World: But Hypocrites are confined within the narrow Circle Self.— Saints Love to God animates them to live to God, and to exert themselves to promote his Honour and Interest, and to do all the Good they can: but the Hypocrite after all his pretended Love to God, cares not what becomes of his Interest and Honour, if it may but go well with him, his Friends and Party.— So that while true Saints love God for his Benefits, they act in a gracious Manner, conformable to the Law of God, and to the Reason and Nature of Things; whereas all the Love of the most refined Hypo­crite is merely the workings of a natural Self-love, in a Manner directly contrary to the Law of God, and to the Reason and Nature of Things; and is nothing but mere Mockery. Psal. 78.34, 35, 36, 37. Zech. 7.5, 6.

Thus we have gone thro' the two first general Heads, and see what is implied in Love to God, and from what Motives we ought to love him. And from the whole we may learn so much of the Nature of true Religion, as that with much Evidence and Certainty we may conclude,

FIRST, That all that [...] Love to God is Counterfeit▪ which arises meerly from Men's Corruptions being gratified. As when ambitious Men are by God's Providence raised to high Degrees of Honour, and worldly Men are prosper­ed in all which they put their Hands unto; and herefrom [Page 90] the one and the other rejoyce and bless God, and seem to love him, and verily think they are sincere.— This is all Hypocrisy. For in truth they only love their Corruptions, and are glad they are gratified. And accordingly instead of improving all their Riches and Honour for God, to ad­vance his Interest and Honour in the World, they improve all only for themselves, to promote their own Ends; and care not what becomes of God's Honour and Interest and Kingdom; and commonly such Men shew themselves the greatest Enemies to the Cause of God and to the Religion of Christ. And should God but touch all they have, they would curse him to his Face.

SECONDLY, We may be equally certain, that all that seeming Love to God is Counterfeit, that arises merely from a [...]gal, Self-righteous Spirit. As when a Man, only because he is afraid of Hell and has a Mind to be saved, sets him­self to repent and reform and do Duties, and tries to love God and aim at his Glory, to the Intent that he may make some Amends for past Sins and recommend himself to the divine Favour, and so to escape Hell and obtain Heaven.— And when he has grown so good, as to have raised Hopes of attaining his End, he is ravished at the Thoughts, and rejoyces, and blesses the Lord, and loves him.— It is plain, all this is Hypocrisy. For the Man in truth only loves himself, and is concerned merely for his own Interest; but does not care at all for God, his Glory or Honour. For if there were no Heaven nor Hell, such would serve God no more. Children will work for their Parents without b [...]ing hired, because they love them; but Hirelings will not strike a Stroke, if there is no Money to be got; because they care for nothing but their own Interest. Hence this Sort of Hypocrites are wont to say, that if they once be­lieved that God had made no Promises to the best they can do, they would never do more.— And farther, 'tis plainly all Hypocrisy, for if their Consciences but fall asleep▪ so that they are troubled no more with the Thoughts of another World, they will leave off their Duties, let down their Watch, break all their Resolutions, and be as bad as ever: and hence their Doctrine of falling from Grace pro­bably took its Rise.— And their Hypocrisy is still more [Page 91] evident, in that they are commonly so much concerned to find out what the least Measure of saving Grace is, and so strenuous in pleading for great Abatements in the L [...]w. For from hence it is plain, that all they are after is only to get just Grace enough to carry them to Heaven; as a lazy Hireling that is for doing but only just Work enough to pass for a Day's Work, that he may get his Wages at Night, which is all he wants.

THIRDLY, We may be as certain, That all that seeming Love is Counterfeit, which arises merely from a strong Confi­dence which a Man has, that his Sins are pardoned, and that Christ loves him, and will save him. As when [...] Man is under great Terrors, and has fearful Apprehension [...] of Hell and Damnation, and is ready even to give up himself for lost; but suddenly great Light breaks into his Mind, he s [...]es Christ with his Arms open and smiling, and it may be his Blood running, and hears him as it were say, Be of good Chear, thy Sins are forgiven thee,— [...] loved thee with an everlasting Love,— Come thou blessed of my Father, inh [...]ri [...] the Kingdom;— And now he is certain that his Sins are pardoned, and that Heaven is his, and he is even ravish't with Joy, and calls upon all to praise the Lord.— For all this proceeds merely from Self-love, and there is no Love to God in it. For all this Love arises from his false Confidence, and not from any true Knowledge of God. And com­monly such turn out as the Israelites did, who sang God's Praise at the Red-Sea, when Pharaoh and his Hosts were drowned, and they delivered, and their Hopes of getting to Canaan highly raised; but they soon forgot his Works, and rebelled against him, and their Carcases fell in the Wilder­ness. They loved themselves, and therefore they rejoyced at their wonderful Deliverance; and they loved themselves, and therefore they murmured three Days after, when they came to the bitter Waters. Their Joys and their Murmurings proceeded from the very same Principle, under different Circumstances; but the Love of God was not in them. And just this is the Case h [...]re.—And this is commonly the Event, that the Fears of Hell being n [...]w over, their Joys gradually abate, and they grow more and more secure, till after a while they return to Folly, as the Dog to his Vomit, [Page 92] and as the Sow that was washed to her wallowing in the Mire: and so are as bad and sometimes worse than ever. (2 Pet. 2.20, 21, 22.)— And now they plead, that the best are dead sometimes, and that David and Peter had their Falls, and so keep their Consciences as quiet as they can: and thus they live along whole Months and Years together.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, We may also be certain, That all that seeming Love to God, which arises merely from the grati­fication of spiritual Pride, is Counterfeit. As when Men dream Dreams, see Visions, and hear Voices, and have Im­pressions and Revelations, whereby they are set up in their own Esteem, and in the Opinion of others, for some of the most peculiar Favourites of Heaven, and very best Men in all the World; and hence they rejoyce and bless God and mightily love him. But in Truth they are only ravish't with Self-conceit, and feel blessedly to think themselves some of the best Men in the World, and to think they shall shortly sit at the right Hand of Christ in Heaven among the Apostles and Martyrs, while their Pe [...]secutors and Haters will be burning in Hell. But they neither know God nor love him; and for the most Part, by heretical Doctrines, or wicked Lives, or both, are a scandal to Reli­gion.— These are so far from being truly religious, that they are the very Tares which the Devil sows. Matt. 13.39.

In each of these Sorts of Love there are these three De­fects or Faults. (1.) They have no true Know [...]edge of GOD. And so (2.) They only love themselves. And (3.) Their seem [...]ng Love to God arises from a Mistake.— The ambitious and worldly Man thinks himself very happy, because he rises in Honour and Estate.—The Legalist thinks, that God loves him and will save him for his Duties▪—The next firmly believes, that his Sins are pardoned.—And the last, that God looks upon him one of the best Men in the World. But all are wofully mistaken: and when at the Day of Judgment they come to see their Mistake, their Love to God will vanish away, and they turn everlasting Haters and Blasphemers of the most High.— And another Defect in these & all other Sorts of counterfeit Love, is, that they none of them will ever make Men truly obedient. For when Men's seeming Love to God is nothing but Self-love [Page 93] in another Shape, all their seeming Obedience will in reality be nothing but Self-seeking. They may pretend to be the Servants o [...] God, but will only mean ultimately to serve themselves.

SECTION III. Concerning the Measure of Love to God re­quired in the divine Law.

I proceed now to the next Thing proposed, which was,

III. To shew, what is that Measure of Love to God, which the Law requires of all Mankind.— And our blessed Savi­our clears up this Point in the most plain and familiar Language. Thou shall love the Lord thy God, with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind; and it is added in Mark 12, 30. With all thy Strength. i. e. in other Worlds, we ought to love God in a Measure exactly proportionable to the Largeness of our natural Powers and Faculties. Which to do, is all that Perfection which God ever required of any of his Creatures. *

When the Law requires us to love God with all our Hearts, it either means, to the utmost extent of our natural [Page 94] Capacity, or else only to the utmost extent of our moral Capacity. i. e. only so much as we are inclined to. And then the less we are inclined to love God, the less Love is requir­ed; and so if we have no Heart, no Inclination to love him, then no Love at all is required. And according to this Rule, the carnal Mind which is Enmity against God, is not in Duty bound to be subject to the Law, neither indeed can be. And where there is no Law, there is no Transgression. Where there is no Duty required, there can be no Sin com­mitted. And so the vilest of Mortals are the freest from Sin, and the least to blame; which is the grossest Absur­dity.— When therefore the Law requires us to love God with all our Hearts, it has no Reference to our moral Incli­nation, but only to our natural Capacity. And indeed no­thing can be more unreasonable, than to suppose, that the Law only requires us to love God, so far as we have a Heart and Disposition to do so; for this would leave us entirely at Liberty, to do otherwise, if we were so inclined, and in effect it would make the Law say, If you feel inclined to love God, more or less, so far it is your Duty, but farther you are not bound, but are at your Liberty. i. e. the Law is not bind­ing, any farther than you are inclined to obey it. i. e. in reality it is no Law, but every Man is left to do as he pleases.— The whole Heart therefore does the Law mean to require, let our Temper, Inclination, or Disposition be what it will.

God the great Author of all Things has been pleased to create intelligent Beings of different Sizes, some of a higher Rank, and some of a lower, some of greater Capacities and some of less. Some are Angels, and some are Me [...] ▪ And among the Angels some are of larger natural Powers, and some of smaller. So it is among the good Angels, and so it is among the evil Angels. There are Angels and [...]-angels, that is, Beings of various natural Powers and Capa­cities, among the good and bad. And so it is among Men, among good and bad, there is a very great Variety, some have larger Souls than others.

Intelligent Beings are capable of a Degree of Knowledge and Love exactly proportionable to their natural Powers. Angels are capable of a Degree of Knowledge and Love [Page 95] greater than Men: And one Man of a greater Degree than another. As they are of different Sizes, of larger and smaller natural Powers, so their Capacities to know and love are some greater, and some less. So it is among good and bad.

All that Perfection, which God requires of any of his Creatures, is a Measure of Knowledge and Love bearing an exact Proportion to their natural Abilities. Since God has manifested what he is, in his Works and Ways, and since he is infinitely glorious in being what he is, and has an origi­nal and entire Right to his intelligent Creatures; therefore he requires all Angels and Men to attend diligently to the Discoveries which he has made of himself, and learn what he is, and behold his Glory, and love him with all their Hearts. This is the Extent of what God requires of the highest Angel in Heaven, and this is exactly what he re­quires of all the Children of Men upon Earth.

The Law requires no more than this of Mankind under a Notion that their natural Powers are lessened by the Fall. Whether we are Beings of as large natural Powers as we should have been, had we never apostatized from God, or so, yet this is plain, we are no where in Scripture blamed for having no larger natural Powers, nor is any more ever required than all the Heart and all the Soul and all the Mind and all the Strength. This is evident thro' the whole Bible.

And the Law requires no less of Mankind under a No­tion that they are turned Enemies to God and have no Heart or Incli [...]ation to love him. Be it so, that Mankind are [...]ver so averse to attend to those Manifestations, which God [...] made of himself, and ever so averse to take in right Notions of God, and ever so far from a Disposition to account him infinitely glorious in being what he is, and from an In [...]li [...]tion to love him with all their Hearts; yet th [...] divine Law makes no Allowances, no Abatements, but insists upon the same, the very same it ever did. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart.

[...] do dream, that the Law is very much abated.— [...] what s [...]ith the Scriptures as to this Point? Does the Word of God teach us that there is any Abate­ment made? Wher [...] do we read of it? Where is it plainly asserted, or in what Texts is it implied▪ Truly I know [Page 96] nothing like it in all Bible, nor what Text of Scripture this Notion can be built upon.— And besides, if the Law is abated, when was it abated?— Was it abated immediately upon Adam's Fall? Surely no. For, above two Thousand Years after from Mount Sinai God declared, that he re­quired sinless Perfection, and threatned a Curse against the Man that should fail in the least Point. Exod. 20. Deut. 27.26.—Was it abated upon Christ's coming into the World▪ Surely no. For he in the strongest Terms taught his Dis­ciples that it was in full Force, and that it was their Duty to be perfectly holy, and that in designed Opposition to the Doctrine of the Pharisees, who in effect held that the Law was abated. Matt. 5.17—48.— Was it abated after Christ's Death and Resurrection? Surely no. For St. Paul always taught that the Christian Scheme of Religion, which he preached, did not make void, but rather establish the Law. Rom. 3.31. and St. Iames insisted upon it, that it must not be broke in any one Point. Iam. 2.10.—When was it abated therefore? Why, says Christ, Till Heaven and Earth shall pass away, one Iot or Tittle of the Law shall in no wise fail. Mat. 5.18.— And besides, if the Law i [...] abated, in what Particular, is it abated? And how [...] are the Abatements?— Are there any Abatements made [...] our Duty to God? Surely no; for we are still required to love him with all our Hearts, and more than this never was demanded.— Or are any Abatements made in our Duty to our fellow Men? Surely no. For we are still required to love our Neighbour as our selves, and more than [...] was enjoined.—Or is there any Abatement made in the in­ternal Part of our Duty? Surely no. For the whole [...] is still required, and more than this never was [...] up­on.—Or finally, is there any Abatement made in the [...] Part of our Duty? Surely no. For we are still [...] to be holy in all Manner of Conversation, as he that [...] us is Holy. (1 Pet. 1.15.) And more than this was n [...]ver required. So that from the whole▪ we have truth [...] to think, that the Law require [...] [...] Perfection n [...]w, [...] that ever it did. Yea, th [...] Point cannot be plain [...] than it is; for the Law, in fact, is the very same it was from the Beginning, Word for Word, without the least Alteration. [Page 97] Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, &c. And thy Neighbour as thy self. So that if it ever did require sinless Perfection, it does now.

The highest Pitch of Holiness, the Saints in Heaven will ever arrive to, will only be to love God with all their Hearts; and exactly the very same is required of every Man upon Earth. And it was because St. Paul understood the Law in this Sense, that he had always such a mean and low Opinion of all his Attainments: for while he compared what he was, with what he ought to be, he plainly saw how the Case stood: And therefore he says, The Law is spiri­tual, but I am carnal, sold under Sin. O wretched Man that I am! Rom. 7.14, 24.

So that upon the whole, this seems to be the true State of the Case: As there are various Capacities among all in­telligent Creatures in general, so there are among Men in particular, Souls of various Sizes, some of larger natural Capacities, and some of smaller. But Souls of different Capacities, are capable of different Degrees of Love. A Degree of Love exactly equal to the natural Capacity of the Soul, is Perfection: And this is what the Law requires, nor more, nor less: all the Heart, all the Soul, all the Mind, all the Strength. The Saints and Angels in Heaven do love God thus, and hence they are perfect in Holiness; and so far as we fall short of this, we are sinful. This is the exact Rule of Duty.

And now, this Law is holy, just, and good. The Thing required is in its own Nature right and fit and suitable. God is worthy to be loved with our whole Hearts, and this is just what is required. 'Tis right we should have a Degree of Love to our selves, and 'tis right we should love our Neighbours as our selves, but it is fit we should love God with all our Hearts. Considering what he is, and what we be, it is in its own Nature infinitely fit and right▪ and not to do so, infinitely unfit and wrong.— Indeed, God is worthy of an inf [...]itely greater Degree of Love than we or any of his Creatures are capable of. He only is capable of a compleat View of his own infinite Glory, and of a full Sense of his own infinite Be [...]uty, and of a Love perfectly adequate to his own Loveliness. And he does not require [Page 98] or expect any of his Creatures to love him, to that Degre [...] he love [...] himself. Only as he loves himself with all his Heart, so he requires and expects that they love him with all their Hearts. And there being the same Reason for one as for the other, the Law is therefore in its own Nature perfectly right and just and equal.— Indeed, had God re­quired the most exalted of his intelligent Creatures to have loved him in the same Degree that he himself does, then the Thing required would in its own Nature have been abso­lutely impossible, and what he could have no Reason to expect. Or if he had required the meanest of his intelligent Creatures to have loved him in the same Degree that Ga­briel does, it would have been a Thing naturally impossible. But now he only requires every one to love him with all their Hearts, this is right, perfectly right, just and equal. Less than this could not, in Justice, have been required of each one; in Justice, I mean, to the Deity, who ought to have his Due from each one, and whose proper Right, the Governour of the World, ought to assert and maintain.

Thus we see the Law is exactly upon a Level with our natural Capacities; it only requires us to love God with all our Hearts: and thus we see, that the Law is therefore perfectly reasonable, just and equal. Deut. 10.12. And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, [...] to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his Ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with ALL thy [...] ▪ and with ALL thy Soul?

Hence, [...] to a natural Capacity, all Mankind are capa­ble of a perfect Conformity to this Law. For the Law requires of no Man any more than to love God with all his Heart. The sinning Angels have the same natural Capacities now as they had before they fell▪ they have [...] same Faculties, called the Understanding and Will ▪ they [...] still the same Being [...] to their natural Powers▪ [...] they loved God with all their Hearts ▪ and now they hate him with all their Hearts ▪ Once they had a [...] Degree of Love▪ now they have [...] great a Degree of Hatred. So that they have the same natural Capacities now as ever. Their Temper indeed is different; but [...] Capacity is the same. And therefore as to a natural [...]ppa­city, [Page 99] they are as capable of a perfect Conformity to the Law of their Creator as ever they were. So Adam, after his Fall, had the same Soul that he had before, as to its natural Ca­pacities, tho' of a very different Temper. And therefore in that Respect, was as capable of a perfect Conformity to this Law, as ever.— And it's plainly the Case, that all Man­kind, as to their natural Capacities, are capable of a perfect Conformity to the Law, from this, that when Sinners are converted they have no new natural Faculties, tho' they have a new Temper. And when they come to love God with all their Hearts in Heaven, still they will have the same Hearts, as to their natural Faculties, and may in this Respect be justly looked upon as the very same Beings▪ In this Sense, Paul was the same Man when he hated and persecuted Christ, as when he loved him and died for him: and that same Heart that was once so full of Malice, is now as full of Love: So that, as to his natural Capacities, he was as capable of a perfect Conformity to this Law, when he was a Persecutor, as he is now in Heaven.— When therefore Men cry out against the holy Law of God, which requires us only to love him with all our Hearts, and say, ‘It is not just for God to require more than we can do, and then threaten to damn us for not doing,’ they ought to stay a while and consider what they say, and tell what they mean by their CAN DO; for it is plain, that the Law is exactly upon a Level with our natural Capaci­ties, and that in this Respect we are fully capable of a per­fect Conformity thereto. And it will be impossible for us to excuse our selves by an Inability arising from any other Quarter; as will presently appear. For to return,

From what has been said we may learn, that there can be nothing to render it, in any Measure, a hard and difficult Thing, to love God with all our Hearts, but our being destitute of a right Temper of Mind, and having a Temper that is wrong: and that therefore we are perfectly inexcusa­ble, and altogether and wholly to blame, that we do not.

OBJ. But I do not know God; how therefore can I love him?

ANS. Were you of a right [...]per, it would be your Nature, above all Things, to attend to those Discoveries, which he has made of himself, in his Works and in his [Page 100] Word; you would search for the Knowledge of him as Men search for Silver▪ and as they dig for hid Treasure [...] ▪ And were you of a right Temper, it would be natural, to take in that very Representation which God has made of himself.— And now was it but your Nature, to attend, with all your Heart, to the Discoveries which God has made of himself; and your Nature, to take in right Notions of him, it would be impossible, but that you should know what God is: because he has acted out all his Perfections so much to the Life, and exhibited such an exact Image of himself. The Works of Creation and Redemption, and all his Conduct as moral Governour of the World, shew just what a kind of Being he is. He has discovered his infinite Understanding and almighty Power, and he has shewn the Temper of his Heart, and all in so plain a Manner, that were it your Nature to attend and consider and take in right Notions, it is quite impossible, but that you should know and see plainly what God is.

OBJ. But if I have right Notions of what God is, yet I cannot see his Glory and Beauty, in being such; how therefore can I love him?

ANS. Were you of a right Temper, it would be your Nature to account him infinitely glorious in being what he is. As it is the Nature of an ambitious Man to see, a Glory in Applause, and of a worldly Man to see a Glory in the Things of the World: So it would be your Nature, to see a Glory in God. For what suits our Hearts, naturally ap­pears excellent in our Eyes. (Ioh. 8.42, 47.)

OBJ. But I feel that I cannot love him; how therefore am I wholly to Blame?

ANS. The Fault is in him, or in you. Either he is not lovely, or else you are of a very bad Temper: but he is infinitely lovely; and therefore it is only owing to the bad Temper of your Heart, and to your being destitute of a right Temper, that you cannot [...]ve him; and you there­fore are wholly to Blame. Indee [...] [...]ou could not but love him, were you not a very sordid Wretch.

OBJ. But to love God [...] to [...] Disposition to love him, is a Thing SUPERNATURAL [...] the Powers of Nature improved to the [...] I therefore be wholly to Blame?

[Page 101]ANS. It is a Thing supernatural, you say; i. e. in other Words, you have no Heart to it, nor the least Inclination that Way, nor is there any Thing in your Temper to work upon by Motives to bring you to it: and now because you are so very bad a Creature, therefore you are not at all to Blame. This is your Argument. But can you think that there is any Force in it? What! Are moral Agents, the less to blame, the worse they grow? And are God's Laws no longer binding, than while his Subjects are disposed to obey them?

OBJ. But after all I must needs reply, as Nicodemus in another Case, How can these Things be?

ANS. Why did not the Iews love their Prophets, and love Christ and his Apostles? What was it owing to? And where did the Blame lie? They were acquainted with them, heard them talk and preach, and saw their Conduct, and could not but plainly perceive their Temper, and know what Sort of a Disposition they were of, and what Sort of Men they were. And yet they did not like them, but they hated them, they belied them, slandered and reproached them, and put them to Death. And now what was the Matter? What was the Cause of all this?— Were not their Prophets, and Christ and his Apostles indeed lovely and worthy of their hearty Esteem? Did not all that they said and did, manifest them to be so? Why then did they not love them? Was it not wholly owing to their not having a right Temper of Mind, and to their being of so bad a Disposition? And were they not wholly to Blame?— They might say of Christ, That they could see no Form nor Comeliness in him wherefore they should desire him: And where no Beauty is seen, it is impossible there should be any Love. But why did not he appear most amiable in their Eyes? And why were their Hearts not ravish'd with his Beauty? His Disciples loved him, and Martha and Mary and Laza­rus loved him, and why did not the Scribes and Pharisees love him as much? Why, because his Person and Doc­trines did not suit them, and were not agreeable to the Temper of their Hearts. The bad Temper of their Hearts made him appear odious in their Eyes, and was the Cause of all their Ill-will towards him. And now, were they not [Page 102] to blame for this bad Temper, and for all this their bad Feelings, and bad Carriage towards Christ thence arising? Yes, surely, if ever any Men were to blame for any Thing.— And now if God the Father had been in the same Circum­stances as God the Son was then in, he would not have been loved a Jot more or treated any Whit better than he wa [...]. Indeed it was that Image and Resemblance of the infinitely glorious and blessed God, which was to be seen in their Prophets, in Christ and his Apostles, which was the very Thing they hated them for. Therefore Christ says, He that hateth me, hateth my Father also.— But now have they both seen and hated, both me and my Father. (Joh. 15.23, 24.) And Christ attributes it entirely to their want of a right Temper, and to the bad Disposition of their Hearts, that they did not love him & love his Doctrines. If God were your Father, you would love me. (Joh. 8.42.) He that is of God (of a God-like Temper) heareth God's Words: ye therefore hear [...]hem not, because ye are not of God. (v. 47.) In Truth, the Bottom of all your Enmity is, that you are of your Fa­ther the Devil, i. e. of just such a Temper as he. (v. 44.) And now, what think you, when Christ comes in flaming Fire, to take Vengeance on an ungodly World, will he blame the Scribes and Pharisees for not loving him with all their Hearts, or no? Or will he excuse the Matter, and say on their Behalf, They could see no Form nor Comeliness in me, I appeared very odious to them, they could not love me, they could not but hate me, and no Man is to blame for not doing more than he CAN?

From the whole it is plain, that Mankind are to blame, wholly to blame, and perfectly inexcusable, for their not having right Apprehensions of God, and for their not hav­ing a Sense of his Glory in being what he is, and for their not loving him with all their Hearts; because all is owing meerly to their want of a right Temper, and to the bad Disposition of their Hearts.

Indeed, if we were altogether of such a Temper, Frame and Disposition of Heart as we ought to be, it would be al­together as easy and natural to love God with all our Hearts, as it is for the most dutiful Child to love a tender and valu­able Parent. For God is really infinitely amiable; and were [Page 103] we of such a Temper, he would appear so in our Eyes; and did he appear so in our Eyes, we could not but love him with all our Hearts, & delight in him with all our Souls; and it would be most easy & natural so to do. For no Man ever found any Difficulty in loving that which appears very amia­ble in his Eyes. For the Proof of which I appeal to the Expe­rience of all Mankind.—And now, why does not God appear infinitely amiable in our Eyes? Is it because he has not clearly revealed what he is, in his Works and in his Word? Surely no. For the Revelation is plain enough. Is it because he is not infinitely amiable in being what he is? Surely no. For all Heaven are ravished with his infinite Beauty. What is it then that makes us blind to the infinite Excellency of the divine Nature? Why, it can be owing to nothing, but to a bad Temper of Mind in us, and to our not being of such a Disposition as we ought to be. For I appeal to the Experience of all Mankind, whether those Persons and Things, which suit the Temper of their Hearts, do not naturally appear amiable in their Eyes.— And certainly if God does not suit the Temper of our Hearts, it is not owing to any Fault in him, but the Fault must be wholly in our selves. If the Temper and Disposition of God (i. e. his moral Perfections,) be not agreeable to our Temper and Disposition, most certainly our Temper and Disposition is very wrong. If God were your Father, ye would love me: but ye are of your Father the Devil, therefore you hate me. (Ioh. 8.42, 44.) i. e. ‘If you were of a Temper like God, ye would love me, but being of a contrary Temper, hence you hate me. If you were of a right Temper, I should appear amiable unto you; and it is wholly owing to your bad Temper, that I appear otherwise. If ye were Abraham's Children, ye would do the Works of Abraham. (v. 39.)

OBJ. But be it so, yet I cannot help being of such a Temper as I am of; how therefore am I wholly to Blame?

ANS. You have as much Power to help being of such a Temper, as the Scribes and Pharisees had; but Christ judged them to be wholly to Blame, and altogether inex­cusable. They could not like Christ or his Doctrine; Ye CANNOT hear my Word, says Christ. (v. 43.) but their CANNOT, their Inability was no Excuse to them in Christ▪ [Page 104] Account: Because all their Inability, he plainly saw, arose from their bad Temper, and their want of a good Disposi­tion. And altho' they had no more Power to help being of such a Temper than you have, yet he judged them wholly to blame, and altogether inexcusable. (Ioh. 8.33—47. Ioh. 15.22—25.) And now we know, that his Iudg­ment is according to Truth.— But in order to help you to see into the Reason of the Thing, I desire you seriously and impartially to consider,

1. That Sinners are free and voluntary in their bad Temper. A wicked World have discovered a very strong Disposition to hate God, even from the Beginning. And the Iewish Nation, God's own peculiar People, of whom, if of any, we might hope for better Things, were so averse to God and his Ways, that they hated and murdered the Messen­gers which he sent to reclaim them, and at last even mur­dered God's own Son.— And now, whence was all this? Why, from the exceeding bad and wicked Temper of their Hearts. They have hated me without a Cause. Joh. 15.25.— But did any Body force them to be of such a bad Temper? Surely no; they were hearty in it.— Were they of such a bad Temper against [...] Wills? Surely no; Their Wills, their Hearts were in it. Yea, they loved their bad Temper, and loved to gratify it; and hence were mightily pleased with their false Prophets, because they always prophesied in their Favour, and suited and gratified their Disposition. And they hated whatsoever was disagreable to their bad Temper, and tended to cross it; and hence were they so en [...]aged at the preaching and the Persons of their Prophets, of Christ and his Apostles. So that they were manifestly voluntary and hearty in their bad Temper. We have loved Strangers and after them we WILL go. Jer. 2.25. But as for the Word which thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord, we WILL NOT hearken unto thee. Jer. 44.16. And the Lord God of their Fathers sent to them by his Messen­gers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had Compassion on his People, and on his Dwelling-Place: but they mocked the Messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his Prophets, &c. 2 Cron. 36.15, 16.— And so all wicked Men are as voluntary in their bad Temper as they were. [Page 105] The Temper of the Mind is nothing but the habitual Incli­nation of the Heart. But an involuntary Inclination of the Heart is a Contradiction. And the stronger any Inclination is, the more full and free the Heart and Soul is in the Thing. Hence the bad Temper or the habitual bad Inclination of the Devil is at the farthest Distance from any Compulsion; he is most perfectly free and hearty in it. And all sinful Creatures being thus voluntary, free and hearty in the bad Temper of their Minds; or in other Words, the bad Tem­per of the Mind being nothing but the habitual Inclination of the Heart, hence all must be to Blame in a Degree equal to the Strength of their bad Inclination.— In a Word, if we were continually forced to be of such a bad Temper, entirely against our Wills, then we should not be to Blame; for it would not [...]e at all the Temper of our Hearts: but so long as our bad Temper is nothing else but the habitual Frame, Disposition and Inclination of our OWN HEARTS, without any Manner of Compulsion, we are perfectly without Excuse, and that whether we can help being of such a Temper, or no. For,

2. If a sinful Creature's not being able to help his being of a bad Temper, does in the least free him from Blame; then the more vile and [...]nful any Creature grows, the less to Blame will he be: Because the more vile and sinful any Creature grows, the less able is he to help his being of so bad a Frame of Heart.— Thus, if a Man feels a bad Spirit towards one of his Neighbour's creeping into his Heart, perhaps if he im­mediately resists it, he may be able easily to overcome and suppress it; but if he gives Way to it, and suffers it to take strong h [...]ld of his Heart; if he cherishes it until it grows up into a settled Enmity, and keeps it in his Heart for twenty Years, seeking all Opportunities to gratify it, by backbiting, defaming, &c. it will now, perhaps, be clean out of his Power to get rid of it, and effectually root it out of his Heart. It will at least be a very difficult Thing.— Now the Man is talked to, and blamed for backbiting and defaming his Neighbour, Time after Time, and is urged to love his Neighbour as himself, but he says, he cannot love him.— But why can't you? For other Men love him.— Why he appears in my Eyes the most odious and hateful Man in [Page 106] the World.—Yes, but that is owing to your own bad Temper.—Well, but I can't help my Temper, and therefore I am not to Blame.—Now, it is plain in this Case, ho [...] weak the Man's Plea is; and even common Sense will teach all Mankind to judge him the more vile and blame-worthy, by how much the more his Grudge is settled and rooted. And yet the more settled and rooted it is, the more unable is he to get rid of it.—And just so it is here. Suppose a Creature loved God with all his Heart, but after a while begins to feel his Love abate, and an Aversion to God secretly creeping into his Soul; now perhaps he might easily suppress and overcome it. But if he gives Way to it, until he loses all Sense of God's Glory, and settles into a State of Enmity against him, it may be quite impossible ever to recover himself. And yet he is not the less, but the more vile, and so the more blame-worthy.—If thee we are so averse to God, that we cannot love him; and [...]f our bad Temper is so strong, so settled and rooted, that we cannot get rid of it; this is so far from being Matter of Excuse for us, that it renders us so much the more vile▪ guilty and Hell-deserving. For to suppose that our Ina­bility in this Case extenuates our Fault, our Inability which increases in Proportion to our Badness, is to suppose that the worse any Sinner grows, the less to Blame he is. That which, nothing can be more absurd.

OBJ. But I was brought into this State by Adam's Fall

ANS. Let it be by Adam's Fall, or how it will; y [...]t if you are an Enemy to the infinitely glorious God your Maker, and that voluntarily; you are infinitely to Blame▪ and without Excuse. For nothing can make it right for a Creature to be a voluntary Enemy to his glorious Creator, or possibly excuse such a Crime. It is in its own Nature infinitely Wrong; there is nothing therefore to be said; you stand guilty before God.—It is in vain to make this, or any other Pleas, so long as we are, what we are not by Compulsion, but voluntarily. And it is in vain to pretend that we are not voluntary in our Corruptions, when they are nothing else, but the free, spontaneous Inclinations of our own Hearts. Since this is the Case, every Mouth will be stopped, and all the World become guilty before God, sooner or later.—

[Page 107]Thus we see, that as to a natural Capacity all Mankind are capable of a perfect Conformity to God's Law, which re­quires us only to love God with all our Hearts; and that all our Inability arises meerly from the bad Temper of our Hearts, and our want of a good Disposition; and that therefore we are wholly to blame and altogether inexcusable. Our Impotency, in one Word, is not natural, but moral, and therefore instead of extenuating, does magnify and in­hance our Fault. The more unable to love God we are, the more be we to Blame. Even as it was with the Iews, the greater Contrariety there was in their Hearts, to their Pro­phets, to Christ and his Apostles, the more vile and blame-worthy were they. * And in this Light do the Scriptures constantly view the Case. There is not one Tittle in the Old Testament or in the New, in the Law or in the Gos­pel, that gives the least Intimation of any Deficiency in our natural Faculties. The Law requires no more than ALL our Hearts, and never blames us for not having larger na­tural Capacities. The Gospel aims to recover us to love God ONLY with ALL our Hearts, but makes no Provi­sion for our having any new natural Capacity. As to our [Page 108] natural Capacities, all is well. It is in our Temper, in the Frame and Disposition of our Hearts, that the Seat of all our Sinfulness lies. Ezek. 12.2. Son of Man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious House, which have Eyes to see, and see not, they have Ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a REBELLIOUS House. This is the Bottom of the Busi­ness. We have Eyes to see, and Ears to hear, and his Glory shines all around us, in the Heavens and in the Earth, in his Word and in his Ways; and his Name is proclaimed in our Ears; and there is nothing hinders our seeing and hearing, but that we are rebellious Creatures. Our Contrariety to God makes us blind to the Beauty of the divine Nature, and deaf to all his Commands, Counsels, Calls and Invitations. We might know God, if we had a Heart to know him; and love God, if we had a Heart to love him. It is nothing but our bad Temper and being destitute of a right Disposition▪ that makes us spiri­tually blind and spiritually dead. If this Heart of Stone was but away, and a Heart of Flesh was but in us, all would be well. We should be able enough to see and hear and understand and know divine Things; and should be ravished with their Beauty; and it would be most natural and easy to love God with all our Hearts.

And hence it is most evident, that the supreme Governour of the World has not the least Ground or Reason to abate his Law, or to reverse the Threatning; nor have a rebelli­ous World the least Ground or Reason to charge God with Cruelty, and say, ‘It is not just, that he should require more than we can do, and threaten to damn us for not doing.’ For, from what has been said, it is manifest that the Law is holy, just and good. And that there is no­thing in the Way of our perfect Conformity to it, but our own Wickedness, in which we are free and hearty and voluntary; and for which, therefore, in strict Justice, we deserve eternal Damnation. The Law is already exactly upon a Level with our natural Capacities, and it need not therefore be brought any lower. And there is no greater Punishment threatened than our Sin deserves, there is there­fore no Reason the Threatning should be reversed. As to the Law, all is well, and there is no need of any Alteration. [Page 109] And there is nothing amiss, but in our selves. It is impu­dent Wickedness therefore to fly in the Face of God and of his holy Law, and charge him with Injustice & Cruelty; because, forsooth, we hate him so bad, that we cannot find it in our Hearts to love him; and are so high-hearted and stout, that we must not be blamed. No, we are too good to be blamed in the Case, and all the Blame therefore must be cast upon God and his holy Law.— Yea, we are come to that, in this rebellious World, that if God sends to us the News of Pardon and Peace thro' Jesus Christ, and in­vites us to return unto him and be reconciled, we are come to that, I say, as to take it as an high Affront at the Hands of the Almighty. ‘He pretends to offer us Mercy,’ (say God-hating, God-provoking Sinners,) ‘but he only mocks us. For he offers all upon Conditions, which we can­not possibly perform.’ — This is as if they should say, ‘We hate him so much, and are of so high a Spirit, that we cannot find in our Hearts to return, and own the Law to be just, by which we stand condemned, and look to his free Mercy thro' Jesus Christ for Pardon and eter­nal Life; and therefore if he will offer Pardon and eter­nal Life upon no easier Terms, he does but dissemble with us, and mock and deride us in our Misery.’ — And since this is the true State of the Case, therefore it is no wonder, that even infinite Goodness it self, has fixed upon a Day, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven, with his mighty Angels, in flaming Fire, to take Vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then shall un­godly Sinners be convinced of all their hard Speeches, which they have ungodlily spoken against the Lord. And then shall the Righteousness of all God's Ways be made manifest before all the World.

To conclude, [...]od, the great Lord of all, has threatned eternal Damnation against all those, who do not perfectly keep the Law; (Gal. 3.10.) even altho' they live and die in the midst of the Heathen World. Rom. 1.18, 19, 20. (of which more afterwards.) And at the Day of Judgment he will execute the Threatning upon all, (those only ex­cepted▪ that are by Faith interested in Christ and in the [Page 110] New-Covenant:) and his so doing will evidently be justi­fiable in the Sight of all Worlds on this Ground, viz. That they were not under a natural Necessity of Sinning, but were altogether voluntary in their Disobedience. Luk. 19.27. But those mine ENEMIES which WOULD NOT that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.

And this, by the Way, is the very Thing, which stops the Mouth of an awakened, convinced, humbled Sinner, and settles him down in it, that he deserves to be damned, notwithstanding all his Doings; viz. that he is what he is, not by Compulsion, or thro' a natural Necessity, but altoge­ther voluntarily.— There is nothing more difficult in the whole Work preparatory to Conversion, than to make the Sinner see and feel and own, that it is just, quite just, alto­gether just and fair, for God to damn him.— He pleads, that he is sorry for all his Sins, and is willing to forsake them all for ever, and is resolved always to do as well as he can. He pleads, that he can't help his Heart's being so bad, that he did not bring himself into that Condition, but that he was brought into it by the Fall of Adam, which he could not possibly pre­vent, and which he had no Hand in.— But when he comes in a clear and realizing Manner to see and feel the whole Truth; viz. That he does not care for God, nor desire to, but is really an Enemy to him in his very Heart, and volun­tarily so, and that all his fair Pretences, and Promises, Prayers, and Tears are but meer Hypocrisy, arising only from Self-love, and guilty Fears, and mercenary Hopes,— NOW the Business is done.— For says he, It matters not how I came into this Condition, nor whether I can help ha [...]ing so bad a Heart, since I am voluntarily just such a one as I am, and really love and choose to be what I be. Rom. 7.8, 9. Sin revived and I died. He feels himself without Ex­cuse, and that his Mouth is stopped, and that he must be forced to own the Sentence just: for he feels that it is not owing to any Compulsion or natural Necessity, but that he is voluntarily and heartily such a one as he is. And now, and not till now, does he feel himself to be a Sinner, compleatly so; for he, all along before, fancied some Goodness to be in him, and thought himself in some Measure excusable. And now, and not till now, is he prepared to attribute his [Page 111] Salvation entirely to free and sovereign Grace. All along before he had something to say for himself, like the Pharisee. But with the Publican, he now sees that he lies at Mercy. Luk. 18.13.— This is the very Thing that makes all Mankind to blame, altogether to blame, for being what they be, namely, that they are voluntarily so; this is the Reason they deserve to be damned for being so, and this when seen and felt by the awakened Sinner effectually stops his Mouth.

And this also is the very Thing that makes Believers see themselves wholly to blame for not being perfectly holy▪ and lays a Foundation for their mourning for their want of a perfect Conformity to the Law. They feel their Defects are not the Result of a natural Necessity, but only of the Re­mains of their old Aversion to God, which, so far as they are unsanctified, they are voluntary in. * And hence they [Page] cry out, I am carnal, sold under Sin, O wretched Man that I am! Rom. 7.14, 24. And set themselves down for Beasts and Fools. Psal. 73.22.

And finally, this want of a good Temper, and voluntary and stubborn Aversion to God, and love to themselves, the World and Sin, is ALL that renders the immediate Influ­ences of the holy Spirit, so absolutely necessary, or indeed at all needful, to recover and bring them to love God with all their Hearts. A bare Representation of what God is, were Men of a right Temper, would ravish their Hearts; for his Beauty and Glory is infinite. 'Tis nothing therefore but their Badness that makes it needful that there should be Line upon Line, and Precept upon Precept. 'Tis their Aver­sion to God, that makes any Perswasions at all needful; for were they of a right Temper, they would love God with all their Hearts of their own Accord. And surely were not Men very bad indeed, there would be no Occasi­on for his Ambassadors with such Earnestness to beseech them. We pray you, says the Apostle, in Christ's Stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 5.20. But now, that all exter­nal Means that can possibly be used, all Arguments and Motives and Entreaties, urged in the most forceable Manner, should not be able to recover Men to God, no not one, in all the World, without the immediate Influences of the holy Spirit, can surely be attributed to nothing short of this, that an apostate World are in very Deed at Enmity against God, and their Contrariety to him is mightily set­tled and rooted in their Hearts: mightily settled and rooted indeed, that Paul was nothing, and Apollos nothing, and all their most vigorous Efforts nothing; so that without the immediate Influences of the holy Spirit, not one, by them, altho' the best Preachers, of mere Men, that ever lived, could be perswaded to turn to God. 1 Cor. 3.7. [Page 113] But that the World, should in Fact, rise in Arms, and put the Messengers of Heaven to Death, seems to argue En­mity and Malice, even to Perfection.— It is Men's Badness, that keeps them from taking in right Apprehensions of God, and that makes them blind to the Beauty of the divine Nature, and that makes them hate God, instead of loving of him; but for this, they would love God of their own Accord, without any more ado. If God were your Fa­ther, (says Christ) ye would love me; ye are of your Father the Devil, therefore ye hate me. Surely then all the World are inexcusable and wholl [...] to blame for their continuance in Sin, and justly deserve eternal Damnation at the Hands of God, as was before said. Nor is it any Excuse, to say, ‘God does not give me sufficient Grace to make me better▪’ whenas I might love God, with all my Heart, of my own Accord, with all the Ease in the World, if I were but of a right Temper. Yea, such is his Glory and Beauty, that I could not but be ravished with it, were I such as I ought to be; and my needing any special Grace to make me love God, argues that I am an Enemy to him, a vile abominable Wretch, not fit to live. And to pretend to excuse my self, and say, ‘I can't, and God won't make me,’ is just as bad as if a rebellious Child should go to his good Father, and say, ‘I hate you, and can't love you, and God won't by his almighty Power make me better; and therefore I be not to Blame.’ Whenas the Wretch could not but love his good Father, were it not that he is so exceedingly vitiated in his Temper.— If our Impo­tency consisted in and resulted from our want of natural Capacities, if it was the Business of the holy Spirit to give us new natural Faculties, then we might plead our Inabili­ty, and plead God's not giving of us sufficient Power, in Excuse for our selves. But since all our Impotency takes it's Rise entirely from another Quarter, and all our need of the Influences of the holy Spirit to bring us to love God results from our Badness, therefore are we without Excuse, altho' God leaves us entirely to our selves.—And indeed nothing can be more absurd, than to suppose the Governour of the World obliged to make his Creatures love hi [...], in spight of all their Aversion; or more wicked, than to lay [Page 114] the Blame, of their not loving of him, upon him, in Case he does not. Ier. 7.8, 9, 10,—16.

OBJ. But if it be granted, that Men's natural Powers are adequate with the Law of God, and so they, as to their natural Capacities, are capable of a perfect Conformity to the Law; and if it be granted, that the outward Advantag [...]s, which all have who live under the Gospel, are sufficient, were Men but of a right Temper, to lead them to the true Knowledge of God; and so, that all such are without Excuse: yet if any Part of Man­kind do not enjoy sufficient outward Advantages for the true Knowledge of God, without which it is impossible they should either love or serve him, how can such justly and fairly be accounted altogether to blame and wholly inexcusable? If the Heathen, who have no other outward Advantages whereby to gain the true Knowledge of God, than the Works of Creation and Providence, do but honestly improve what they have, shall not they be accepted, altho' they fall short of sinless Perfection? or is it right and fair, that they should be damned?

ANS. I suppose, that those Advantages, which all Man­kind do actually enjoy, would be sufficient to lead them to a true Knowledge of God, and so to love and serve him, were they of a right Disposition, and were it not for the Prejudices that blind and darken their Minds, which arise from their Enmity to God, and Love to themselves, the World and Sin. Rom. 1.20, 28.— And I suppose, that God, the wise, and holy, just and good Governour of the World, is under no natural Obligation, to use any super­natural Means, for the removal of those Prejudice▪ (Rom. 9.15.) especially considering that Men love them, and are obstinate in them, and will not let them be removed if they can help it, as is in Fact the Case. Rom. 1.18, 28. I [...]h. 3.19.— And I suppose, that since the Law is holy, just and good, that nothing short of sinless Perfection can, or ought to, pass with the supreme Lawgiver and Judge of the World, as a Condition of Acceptance. Gal. 3.10. Rom. 3.20. — And I suppose, that God was under no Obligations to provide a Saviour to bear the Curse of the Law and answer its Demands for any, since all are volun­tarily at [...]nmity against him and his Law. Rom. 5.8.— Upon the who [...]e, I suppose, that all Mankind might have [Page 115] been lest in their fallen State, without a Saviour, or any offers o [...] Pardon and Peace, or any supernatural Advanta­ges whatsoever; and that yet their natural Obligations to love God with all their Hearts, would have by no Means ceased; and that it would have been perfectly just and right with God, to have inflicted eternal Damnation upon us, for our not doing so. Rom. 1 18. & 3.19.— And besides, I suppose, that all the Nations of the Earth might have had the Gospel preached to them, and to this Day enjoyed it, had not the World been in Arms against it, and killed the Messengers of Peace, who were sent to carry the glad Tidings of Pardon and Salvation round the World. Mat. 28.19. And I suppose, that still in every Age of the Christian Church, there have been Ministers of Christ, who would gladly go to the farthest Parts of the Earth, to carry the joyful News of a Saviour, were Men but willing to receive the News, and repent and convert and return to God: I know, there are such in this Age. From all which, I suppose that it is right, fair and just for God to execute the Threatning of his Law according to his declared Design. Rom. 2.5, 6.— Thus much in general. But to be more particular:

1. It is plain, that the Heathen, as well as the rest of Mankind, are under a Law that forbids all Sin and requires perfect Holiness. For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men, let them be Iews or Gentiles. Rom. 1.18. And since God is what he is, and they his Creatures, there is the same general Ground and Reason that they should love him with all their Hearts, as that others should. And it is plain, St. Paul looked upon the Heathen under Obligations to glorify God as God, and be thankful, Rom. 1.21. Which is the Sum of what is required in the first Table of the Law. And none will pretend that the Heathen are not obliged to love their Neighbours as themselves, and do as they would be done by: Which is the Sum of what the second Table requires. So that it is a plain Case, that they are, by the Law of Nature, obliged to the same perfect Holiness, which is required, in God's written World, of the rest of Mankind.

[Page 116]2. It is plain, St. Paul looked upon them as enjoying sufficient Means of Knowledge, and so to be without Ex­cuse. Rom. 1.18. For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven, against all Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men, who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness. ‘Who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness, i. e. who, instead of heartily receiving and loving and conforming to the Truth, do from Love to their Lusts, hate, and wickedly suppress, all right Notions of God, of Truth and Duty, stifling their Consciences.’ — But how do the Gentiles discover this Aversion to the Truth, who are under no Advantages to know it?— ‘I answer,’ says the Apostle, ‘their Ad­vantages are sufficient. For (v. 19.) That which may be known of God is manifest in them. i. e. The Perfections of God, which is all that is knowable of God, are discovered to them:’ as he adds, ‘For God hath shewed it unto them.’ — But were not the Perfections of God discovered to them so darkly, as not to be sufficiently evident and perceivable?— ‘Surely no,’ says he; ‘for (v. 20.) The invisible Things of him, from the Creation of the World, are CLEARLY SEEN, being understood by the Things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead; so that they are without Excuse. i. e. Ever since the Creation of the World, the Perfections of God are clearly to be seen in his Works, the Things which he has made manifesting plainly what a God he is; so that those, who see not his Perfections and are not sensible of his infinite Glory, can't plead their want of sufficient outward Advantages, in Excuse for their Ignorance and Insensibility, and therefore the Hea­then, who have this Advantage, are without Excuse.’ *[Page 117] And still farther to clear up the Point, the Apostle seems to go on, as it were, to say,— ‘Yea, it is evident that the present Ignorance of the Gentile Nations is affected, and so inexcusable, not only from the sufficiency of their present outward Advantages, but also from their former Misimprovement of the Advantages which they hereto­fore did enjoy. Because (v. 21.) when they knew God, i. e. when the Heathen Nations formerly had right Notions of God instilled into them, being instructed in the Knowledge of the true God, by Noah and his Sons, from whom they descended, yet then they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; their Instructions had no Influence upon them to make them holy. But they became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was darkened. i. e. They soon fell off to Idolatry, and lost that Knowledge of the true God, in which they had been instructed and educated. For (v. 28.) They did not like to retain God in their Knowledge. i. e. to remember those Instructions, which had been given them, concern­ing the Nature and Perfections of God: But they [Page 118] abandoned themselves to Idolatry. (v. 23, 25.) For which Cause, (v. 24, 26.) for which Contempt cast on God, God gave them up to all Manner of Wickedness. So that the present extreme Ignorance, Blindness and Wicked­ness of the Gentile Nations, they have, thro' their Aver­sion to God and Love to Sin, brought themselves into. So that it is manifest, they do not desire the Know­ledge of God, but evidently hate all right Notions of him; and so are, beyond dispute, without Excuse. Which was the Point to be proved.’ Thus he proves that they are without Excuse, because their present Advantages for the Knowledge of God are sufficient; which Advantages ever since the Creation of the World have been common to all: and because they had once superadded Advantages from parental Instructions, which, instead of well improv­ing, and of carefully handing down from Generation to Generation, they hated to remember, and so soon forgot.

And these Passages ought to be of more Weight to de­cide the Case, because they are not meerly occasional Strokes, but the Apostle is evidently upon the very same Point that I am. For from the 18th. Verse of this first Chapter, to the 19th. Verse of the third, He is industriously labouring to prove, that both Iews and Gentiles are all under Sin, and so the whole World guilty before [...]. And his Arguments are not fetched from Adam's first Sin, but from comparing them with the Law of God, whereby he discovers their Wickedness; all the Blame whereof, he entirely lays up­on them: and because it might have been objected, that the Heathen World had not sufficient Means of Knowledge, and so were not wholly to blame and inexcusable in their Non-con­formity to the Law, He does here designedly obviate the Objection, and prove and declare them to be without any Excuse from that Quarter. The Apostle evidently takes it for granted, that they had sufficient natural Powers to capaci­tate them for the Knowledge of God, and he proves that their outward Advantages were sufficient, and so he lays the whole Blame of their Ignorance, Blindness and Wick­edness upon themselves; and finally sums them up, with the rest of Mankind, as having their Mouths stopped, and standing guilty before God. Chapter, 3.19.

[Page 119]The Truth of the Case seems, in a few Words, to lie here; that if Adam had never fell, the Works of Creation and Providence had been the Glass in which he himself, and all his Posterity, would have beheld the Glory of the Lord, from Age to Age; whereby, being naturally of a right Temper, they would have been effectually influenced, to love him, live to him, delight in him, and praise him for ever; or in St. Paul's Words, To glorify God as God, and be thankful.— And I suppose, that all Mankind, still having the same natural Powers, and the same outward Advantages, are therefore intirely to Blame for, and wholly inexcusable in, all their Ignorance, Blindness, and Wicked­ness; especially considering they perfectly love to be what they be, and hate to be reclaimed, and stand ready to resist the Light when offered, and shut their Eyes against the Truth, from whatever Quarter it comes.— The Heavens, still as clearly as ever, do declare the Glory of the Lord, and the Firmament sheweth his handy work; Day unto Day ut­tereth Speech, and Night unto Night sheweth Knowledge. Psal. 19.1. The natural Perfections of God are clearly to be seen in all his Works at the first Glance, and his moral Perfections would be equally evident, to an intelligent Creature of a right Temper, at the second Thought. And then his Glory would immediately shine brighter than the Sun, and every Heart be ravished with his infinite Beauty. But such is our Alienation from the Deity in this apostate World, and such the vitiated Temper of our Minds, that while Angels see the divine Glory in all his Works (Rev. 4.11.) Men, sottish, brutish Men, tho' they have Eyes to see, see not; but are blind to the Manifestations which God makes of himself; because they do not like to have God in their Knowledge.

And now,

3. As to the Heathens being accepted, for honestly improv­ing their Powers and Advantages; it is, in the first Place, most certain from St. Paul's Account, that they were at the very greatest Distance from doing so.—But secondly, if they had done so, yea, if they had discovered so good a Temper of Mind, as perfectly to have conformed to the divine Law, yet it is the very Scope of all the Apostle's Reasoning, in [Page 120] the three first Chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, to prove that by the Deeds of the Law no Flesh, neither Iew nor Gen­tile, can be justified. And since the Law is holy, just and good, it is not indeed reasonable, that any Thing short of sinless Perfection, from first to last, should pass with the righteous Governour of the World, as a Condition of Ac­ceptance. Future Obedience, let it be ever so perfect, can do nothing to make Amends for former Neglects: As has been already proved in another Place:—But that which of it self alone is entirely sufficient to say in this Matter, is, that it is expresly declared in Rom. 1.18. The Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness (or every Breach of the first Table,) and Unrighteousness (or every Breach of the second Table of the Law,) of Men who hold the Truth in Unrighteousness. Which Words are evi­dently designed, by the Apostle, to represent the Character and State of the Heathen World. For he spends the rest of the Chapter in enlarging upon this Head, shewing how the Heathen held the Truth in Unrighteousness, and were exposed to the Wrath of God for their Ungodliness and Un­righteousness; and he concludes them all under Sin and guilty, and lost for ever, unless they obtain Justification by Faith in Christ. See Chapter, 3.9, 19, 20, 30. Verses.— And thus we see how all Mankind have, not only sufficient na­tural Powers, but also sufficient outward Advantages, to know God and perfectly conform to his Law, even the Heathen themselves. And that the very Reason they do not, is their want of such a Temper as they ought to have, and their voluntary rooted Enmity to God, and love to Sin. * [Page 121] And now that they are wholly to blame and entirely inex­cusable, appears still in a clearer Light.

But before I leave this Point, I must make this Remark, viz. That if God looks upon the Advantages of the Hea­then sufficient, no Wonder that he so often speaks of the Advantages of his own professing People, as being much more than barely sufficient; even altho' they enjoy only the outward Means of Grace, without the inward Influences of the Holy Spirit. For if the natural Advantages of the Heathen are sufficient, surely the supernatural Advantages of those who enjoy a divine Revelation, are much more than sufficient. And if the Advantages of those who enjoy only a divine Revelation are much more than sufficient, no won­der then that those who lived in the Days of Moses, Isaiah and Christ, are represented as very Monsters of Wickedness, for remaining blind, senseless, impenitent, and unholy, since they enjoyed such great, and so many super added Advantages. No wonder therefore, that Moses every where represents the Children of Israel, as such a stubborn, perverse, stiffnecked, rebellious People, (particularly see Deut. 9.) and makes as if their Blindness, Senselesness and Impenitency was the most [Page 122] unaccountable and inexcusable, since their Eyes had seen, and their Ears had heard, such Things, and their Advanta­tages had been so great. Deut. 29.2, 3, 4. And Moses call­ed unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your Eyes, in the Land of Egypt, unto Pharaoh, and unto all his Servants, and unto all his Land; (and that he might set forth the Greatness of the Things which they had seen, he adds) The great Temptations which thine Eyes have seen, the Signs, and those great Miracles, (all which have been enough to melt the Heart of a Stone, and) yet (as he goes on to say,) the Lord (by all these Things which have been so much more than enough,) hath not given you [...]n Heart to perceive, and Eyes to see, and Ears to hear, unto this Day: All these Means have not to this Day attained the End, and made you see and feel and know what a God the Lord is, and bring you to love him and fear him and walk in all his Ways. Moses evidently speaks of it as a very strange Thing, that they should be blind, senseless, impenitent and unholy, after such Means and Advantages, as if they were most inexcusable, yea, under a very aggravated Guilt; whereby he plainly takes it for granted, that their Advanta­ges had been much more than sufficient, had it not been for their Want of a right Temper, and their wicked Obstinacy and Perverseness. And yet he mentions none but outward Means and outward Advantages, and does not give the least Intimation that they had had any inward Assistance from the holy Spirit. He does not bring any such Thing into the Account, but wholly aggravates their Sin and their great Inexcusableness, from the Consideration of their out­ward Helps. Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your Eyes in the Land of Egypt, &c.— And no wonder he tho't them so very inexcusable, since God looks upon the Hea­then World without Excuse, in that while the Heavens de­clare the Glory of the Lord, &c. they don't see with their Eyes, and perceive with their Hearts, and from a Sense of his Glory, only thus discovered, love him, and live to him. For if their Advantages are enough, surely the Advantages of the Israelites were much, very much, more than enough.

And upon the same Hypothesis, it is no Wonder that God looked upon the Case of the Children of Israel as he [Page 123] did, in the Time of Isaiah; who, from the Days of Moses even to that Day, had from Age to Age enjoyed such out­ward Advantages as they had, a [...]d had had such outward Means used with them; and in that Age enjoyed so great an outward Priviledge, as the daily Prophesying and Preach­ing of Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah; who, some, if not all, of them prophesied, as it is very probable, forty or fifty Years together at the same Time, as we may learn from the first Verse in their several Books, which tell us when and how long they prophesied, compared with the Account we have of those Kings Reigns, in the Books of the Kings, in whose Reigns they prophesied.— No wonder, I say, God speaks as he does in Isa. 5.1,—7. My Beloved hath a V [...] ­yard in a very fruitful Hill. And he fenced it, and gathered out the Stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest Vine, and built a Tower in the midst of it, and also made a Wine-Press therein. — Here is represented the natural Powers, and out­ward Advantages of God's People.— And he looked that it should bring forth Grapes, and it brought forth wild Grapes. And now, O Inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my Vineyard. What could have been done more to my Vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth Grapes, brought it forth wild Grapes? — Here all the Blame is entirely laid on themselves, and their Conduct is considered as being inexcusably, yea, unaccountably bad.— And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my Vineyard; I will take away the Hedge thereof, &c. Where nothing can be plainer than that the Children of Israel are repre­sented, as enjoying sufficient Advantages for Fruitfulness, yea, Advantages much more than barely sufficient, and that their proving as they did, was unspeakably vile and God-provoking, and for which they deserved utter Ruin; and for which indeed God did afterwards, according to his de­clared Design, bring utter Ruin upon them. But all those Advantages were outward; nor is the inward Assistance of the holy Spirit any where brought into the Account, when­ever the Greatness of their Advantages is set forth, on Pur­pose to shew how aggravated their Wickedness was: but this is constantly the Charge, as in 2 Chron. 36.15, 16, 17. [Page 124] And the Lord God of their Fathers sent unto them by his Mes­sengers, rising up betimes and sending; but they mocked the Mes­sengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his Prophets, until the Wrath of God arose against his People, 'till there was no Remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the King of the Chaldees. Not because they did not improve the inward Assistances of the holy Spirit, but because they did not improve their outward Advantages, did not hearken to God's Messengers.— And in this Strain their Confessions ran, when God by his Grace had brought them to see what they had done. As in Dan. 9.5, 6. &c. We have sinned, and committed Iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy Precepts, and from thy Iudgments: Neither have we HEARKENED UNTO THY SERVANTS THE PROPHETS, which spake in thy Name. The not hearkning to them is mentioned as the great Aggravation: but their not im­proving the inward Assistance of the Spirit is not brought into the Account. See Neh. 9.30.— It is evident, that the Children of Israel, considered as a Nation, had not special Grace, or the renewing sanctifying Influences of the holy Spirit, as one of their Advantages, from Jer. 31.31, 32, 33. Behold the Days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new Covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Iu­dah, not according to the Covenant I made with their Fathers, in the Day I took them by the Hand, to bring them out of the Land of Egypt, (which my (national) Covenant they brake, altho' I was as an Husband unto them, saith the Lord.) But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel, after those Days, saith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward Parts, and write it in their Hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my People. Where the renewing sanctifying Influences of the Holy Spirit, are mentioned, as a peculiar Priviledge the Iewish People, were not entit­led unto as a Nation, by that national Covenant which God entered into with them, as such, at Mount Sinai. Exod. 19. Deut. 5. and which afterwards, at the End of 40 Years, was renewed at the Borders of Canaan. Deut. 29. Nor indeed were there any inward Influences of the holy Spirit, at all, pro­mised in that national Covenant, as a common Priviledge, to be by them in common enjoyed. And if they were not en­titled [Page 125] to this Priviledge as a Nation by their national Covenant, then there is no Evidence that they, as a Nation, did enjoy it. And therefore when God speaks as if he had done all for that Nation that could be done, he plainly has Respect only to outward Means, which were all that they as a Nation enjoy'd: And, as to them, he evidently had good Ground so to say; since he had done such great Things for them, & sent such Prophets among them, and been continually taking all Pains, from Age to Age, to make them a holy People. Even as we are ready to say concerning the People of a particular Pa­rish, where there is a learned, godly, and so a plain, search­ing, powerful, enlightning, faithful Minister, such as Mr. Shepard was in his Day, What more could be done for such a People, that is not done? — And therefore when Stephen charged the Iews, that they always resisted the Holy Ghost, as their Fathers had done, (in Act. 7.51.) he means that they had always resisted the Holy Ghost, as speaking in and by their Prophets, as now they did the same Spirit that spake in and by him: as is plain from v. 52. and as is also evident from Neh. 9.30. And besides there is not the least Intimation, that those Iews to whom Stephen spoke, were under any of the inward Influences of the holy Spirit, but they seem rather to act like Creatures wholly left of God. And this Hint may help us to under­stand that Phrase in Neh. 9.20. Compared with Num. 11.17.— So that from the whole, it is evident, that the Children of Israel, as a Nation, were in Isaiah's Time looked upon as enjoying Advantages much more than suf­ficient for their being a holy and fruitful People, had they been of a right Temper and not so wickedly obstinate and perverse in their bad Disposition; and yet their Advantages were only outward, and the inward Influences of the holy Spirit are not taken into the Account.— And well might their Advantages be thus esteemed upon the forementioned Hypothesis.— Yea, if all Mankind are able, in respect of their natural Capacities to yield perfect Obedience, and if the Advantages of the very Heathen were sufficient, had it not been for the want of a right Temper in them and for their very bad Disposition, it is no wonder that God speaks here concerning his peculiar People, whose outward Advan­tages [Page 126] were exceeding great, as if he had had very raised Expectations of their being a holy People.— Wherefore when I looked it should bring forth Grapes, brought it forth wild Grapes? q.d. ‘I have done all as to outward Means, that could be done, to make you a holy People. Enough, and more than enough. And I looked and expected that you should have been so. And whence is it that you be not? How unaccountable is it? And how great is your Wickedness! And how great your Guilt!’ For it is God's Way, in the holy Scriptures, to speak to Men, after the Manner of Men, who are wont to have their Ex­pectations of Fruitfulness raised, when they sow or plant in a fertile Soil, well manured and cultivated. See Mat. 21.33,—41.— Just so a Master is wont to speak to his Servant, who is strong and able for Business, ‘I looked that you should have done such a Piece of Work, where­fore is it not done? You had Time enough and Strength enough.’ And that altho' he knew in all Reason before Hand, that his Servant would not do it, because of his lazy, unfaithful Temper. The Design of such Speeches being to represent the great Unreasonableness and Inexcusa­ness of such a Conduct.

And finally, upon the same Hypothesis, it is no wonder that Jesus Christ represents the People of Chorazin and Beth­saida and Capernaum, as enjoying Advantages sufficient to have brought even Tyre and Sidon and Sodom to Repentance, which in Scripture-Account are some of the most wicked Cities in the World; and so consequently more than barely sufficient to have brought them to Repentance, who were by Profession the People of God. For they had enjoyed the Ministry of Christ himself, and seen very many of his migh­ty Works. Mat. 11.20—24. If the Advantages of the Heathen World are sufficient, well might Christ, speaking after the Manner of Men, seem to be so confident that Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have repented, if they had seen his mighty Works: And well might he speak as if the Peo­ple of Ch [...]razin &c. had enjoyed Advantages more than barely sufficient, and lay all the Blame of their Impe­nitency upon them, yea, and look upon them as under an aggravated Guilt, and give them so heavy a Doom.— And [Page 127] yet nothing can be plainer, than that the Advantages which they enjoyed were only outward, for no other are brought into the Account as Aggravations of their Guilt. Wo unto thee, for if the mighty Works which were done in you, &c.—He does not in the least intimate as if they had any inward Help from the holy Spirit, but only says he has done migh­ty Works among them. Yea, in the 25th. Verse he plainly declares that they were left destitute of special Grace.

And thus, while with St. Paul, we look upon the Advan­tages even of the Heathen World, as sufficient to lead them to the true Knowledge of God and a perfect Conformity to his Law, but for their Want of a good Temper, and their vo­luntary Aversion to God and Love to Sin; we easily see whence it is, that the external Advantages of those who en­joy the Benefit of a divine Revelation, together with other outward Means of Grace, are represented, as being much more than barely sufficient; & consequently their Guilt, in re­maining Impenitent & Unholy, as being doubly aggravated.

And before I leave this Point I must make one Remark more, namely, that if the Advantages of the Heathen World were sufficient, but for their want of a good Temper, their voluntary Aversion to God and Love to Sin, to lead them to the true Knowledge of God, and a perfect Conformity to his Law, as has been proved; then God was not under any natural Obligations to grant to any of Mankind any su­pernatural Advantages, but still might justly have required sinless Perfection of all, and threatned eternal Damnation for the least Defect. I say, God was under no natural Obli­gations, i. e. any Obligations arising from his Nature and Perfections: For he might, consistent with his Holiness, Justice and Goodness, have le [...]t all Mankind to themselves, without any supernatural Advantages; since their natural Advantages were sufficient, and they were obstinate in their Ignorance, Blindness and Wickedness. Most certainly God was not bound to have sent his Son, his Spirit, his Word, his Messengers, and intreat and beseech those, who perfectly hated him, and hated to hear from him, and were disposed to crucify his Son, resist his Spirit, pervert his Word, and [...] Messengers, to turn and love him and serve him; b [...]t might, even consistent with infinite Goodness it self, [Page 128] have let them take their Course, and go on in the Way they were set in, and have damned them all at last.

All that the great and glorious Governour of the World requires of Mankind in the Law of Nature, is, that they love him with all their Hearts and Souls, and live as Brethren together in his World, which is infinitely reasonable in it self, and which they have sufficient natural Powers to do. And he has stretched abroad the Heavens as a Curtain over their Heads, which declare the Glory of the Lord, and in the Earth and in all his Works, his Perfections are clearly to be seen, so that all are under sufficient Advantages for the Knowledge of him; but Mankind hate God, and say unto the Almighty, Depart from us, for we do not desire the Knowledge of thy Ways: And hence they still remain Ignorant of God, averse to him, and in love with Sin. And now, I say, it is as evident as the Sun at Noon Day, that God might fairly have damned such Creatures, without using any more Means with them. His Law being thus upon a perfect Level with their natural Powers and natural Advantages, he was not obliged, as he was the righteous and good Governour of the World, to grant them any su­pernatural Assistance, either outward, by an external Reve­lation, or inward, by the internal Influences of his holy Spirit. And therefore it is, that the great Ruler of the World, has always acted Sovereignly and Arbitrarily in these Matters, bestowing these supernatural Favours upon whom he pleases, as being obliged to none. Thus he has done as to the ex­ternal Revelation. Psal. 147.19, 20. He sheweth his Word unto Jacob, his Statutes and his Iudgments unto Israel: He hath not dealt so with any Nation, and as for his Iudgments they have not known them. And thus he has done as to the internal Influences of his Spirit. Mat. 11.25, 26. I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid th [...]se Things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto Babes. Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy Sight. And thus God even to this Day, as to both outward and inward Helps, hath Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and Compassion on whom he will have Compassion. He effectually sends the Gospel to one Nation and not to another; and where the Gospel is preached, he by his Spirit awakens, [Page 129] convinces, humbles, converts whom he pleases, and leaves the rest.

And thus the Objection, from the Heathen's not having sufficient outward Advantages, has been answered. And from the Answer, I have taken Occasion to make these (I hope) not unprofitable Remarks; & may now return and repeat my former Assertion, with still higher Degrees of Assurance, viz. that Mankind are altogether to blame for, and entirely inexcusable in, their Non-conformity to the holy Law of God, and therefore justly deserve Damnation; and that even the Heathen, as well as others.

Thus have I endeavoured, to shew what is the exact Measure of Love and Obedience that God requires of the Children of Men, and that all Mankind have sufficient natural Powers and outward Advantages, and that all their Blindness, Ignorance & Wickedness are voluntary, chosen and loved. And I have been the larger upon these Things, in order to clear up the Iustice of God and his Law, and the Grace of God in his Gospel: Both which, have been sadly misrepresented, by those who have not aright under­stood or well attended to these Things. They have said, that it is not just in God to require sinless Perfection of Mankind, or damn any for the want of it. They have said, that the Law is abated and brought down to a level with, (I hardly know what, unless I call it,) the vitiated depraved Temper of an apostate World, who both hate God and his holy Law, and want an Act of Toleration and Indul­gence to be past in Favour of their Corruptions, that, at Heart, they may remain dead in Sin, and yet, by a Round of external Duties, be secured from Damnation at last. And so they have, like the Pharisees of old, (Mat. 5.) de­stroyed the Law by their Abatements. And now the Law, only by which is the Knowledge of Sin, being thus laid aside, they are ignorant of their sinful, guilty, helpless, un­done Estate; and so are insensible of their Need of the sovereign Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ to save them, and fancy they are good-natured enough to turn to God of their own Accord. And having imbibed such Notions of Religion, they easily see that the better Sort of Heathen have for Substance the same Religion with themselves, and [Page 130] therefore have equal Charity for them. Not being really sen­sible of their Need of Gospel-Grace for themselves, they have full Charity for the Heathen, who never so much as heard of it. But what I have said is sufficient, I think, to clear the Iustice of God in his Law, and the Grace of God in the Gospel, and sweep away this Refuge of Lies, by which so many gladly quiet their Consciences, and wofully deceive their own Souls. However, of these Things we shall still have something more afterwards.

Thus we have gone thro' what was proposed, have con­sidered what was implied in Love to God, and from what Motives we are to love him, and what Measure of Love is required. And all that has been said can't possibly be sum'd up in fewer or plainer Words than these, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, with all thy Mind, and with all thy Strength. This is the first and great Commandment; in Conformity whereunto the first and great Part of Religion does consist. And the second which is like unto it, being the Foundation of the other half of (this Part of) Religion (now under Considera­tion,) i [...], Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. Which is what we are, in the next Place, to proceed to a Consi­deration of.

SECTION IV. Of Love to our Neighbour.

II. Thou shall love thy Neighbour as thy self.— In which Words we have, (1.) the Duty required. Thou shalt love. (2.) The original, natural Ground and Reason of it inti­mated; Thy Neighbour. Which Name given to our Fellow-Men, may lead us to consider them, as being what they are in themselves, and as sustaining some Kind of Character and Relation, with Regard to us. (3.) The Rule and Standard by which our Love to our Neighbour is to be regulated; As thy self. Here therefore we may consider, what is implied in Love to our Neighbour, from what Motives we are to love him, and by what Standard our Love is to be regulat­ed, as to its Nature and Measure.

[Page 131]FIRST, Let us consider what is implied in that Love to our Neighbour, which, by the Law of God, is required of us. And in general, it is presupposed, or implied, that we have a right Temper of Mind, an upright, impartial, can­did, benevolent Temper, even to Perfection, without the least Tincture of any Thing to the contrary. For without this we shall not, we cannot, view our Neighbours in a true Light, nor think of them, nor judge of them, nor feel to­wards them, exactly as we ought. A wrong Temper, a selfish, partial, uncandid, censorious, carping, bitter, stingy, proud Temper, will unavoidably give a wrong Turn to all our Thoughts of, and Feeling towards, our Neighbours: as is manifest from the Nature of the Thing, and from uni­versal Experience. Solomon observes, that as a Man think­eth, so is he. And it is as true, that as a Man is, so he thinketh. For out of the Heart, the Temper and Disposi­tion of the Man, proceed his Thoughts of, and Feelings towards, both Persons and Things; according to our Sa­viour, Mat. 12.33, 34, 35. An upright therefore impar­tial, candid, benevolent Temper, to Perfection, without the least Tincture of any Thing to the contrary, is presup­posed and implied in the Love required; as being, in the Nature of Things, absolutely necessary thereto. We must have a right Temper, and under the Influence thereof, be perfectly in a Disposition, to view our Neighbours in a right Light, and think and judge of them, and be affected towards them, as we ought. i. e. To love them as our selves.

Particularly,

1. There is a certain Esteem and Value for our Fellow-Men, which upon sundry Accounts is their Due, that is implied in this Love. There are valuable Things in Man­kind. Some have one Thing, and some another. Some have Gifts, and some have Grace. Some have five Talents, and some two, and some one. Some are worthy of a greater Esteem, and some less, considered merely as they be in themselves. And then some are by God set in a higher Station and some in a lower, sustaining various Characters and standing in various Relations. As Magistrates and Subjects, Ministers and People, Parents and Children, Mas­ters and Servants, &c. And there is a certain Esteem and [Page 132] Respect due to every one in all Stations. Now, with a disinterested Impartiality, and with a perfect Candour and a hearty Good-will, ought we to view the various Excel­lencies of our Neighbours, and consider their various Sta­tions, Characters and Relations, and in our Hearts we ought to give every one their due Honour, and their proper Place; being perfectly content, for our own Parts, to be and act in our own Sphere, where God has placed us; and by our Fellow-Mortals to be considered, as being just what we are. And indeed, this, for Substance, is the Duty of every one in the whole System of intelligent Creatures. As for God most high, the Throne is his proper Place, and all his intelligent Creatures have their proper Places, both with Respect to God, and with Respect to one another, which Places every one ought to take and to acquiesce in with all their Hearts. We have an Instance of this Temper to a good Degree in David. He was sensible that Saul was the Lord's Anointed, and that it became him to render Ho­nour to whom Honour is due, and Fear to whom Fear, and his Heart was tender. Hence David's Heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's Skirt. 1 Sam. 24.5. This Tem­per will naturally dispose us to feel and conduct right, to­wards our Superiours, Inferiours and Equals: And so lay a solid Foundation for the Performance of all relative Du­ties. The contrary to all this, is a proud & conceited Tem­per, attended with a Disposition to despise Superiours, scorn Equals, and trample upon Inferiours: A Temper to over­value themselves & their Friends & Party, and to underva­lue and despise all others. Such do not consider Persons and Things as being what they are, and think and judge and be affected and act accordingly. Nor do they consider, or regard the different Stations in which Men are set by God, or the Characters they sustain by divine Appointment. They are not governed by the Reason of Things, and a Sense of what is right and fit; but by their own Corrup­tions. This was the Case with Korah and his Company, when they rose up against Moses and Aaron, and said, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the Congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Num. 16.3. Pride makes Superiors scornful in their Temper, and [Page 133] tyrannical in their Government; and Pride makes Inferi­ors envious in their Temper and ungovernable in their Lives; and it makes Equals jealous, unfriendly, contenti­ous: In a Word, it lays a Foundation for the Neglect of all relative Duties, and for a general Discord and Confusion among Mankind.

2. We ought not only to consider, esteem and respect our fellow-Men, as being what they are, and with a perfect Impartiality give them their Due, in our very Hearts, ac­cording to what they are, and to the Stations they stand in, being perfectly content, for our own Parts, with the Place which God has allotted to us in the System, and to be and act in our own proper Sphere, and willing to be consider­ed by others as being just what we are: but it is far­ther implied in the Love required, that we be perfectly be­nevolent towards them, i. e. That we consider their Welfare and Happiness, as to Body and Soul, as to Time and Eter­nity, as being what it really is, and are (according to the Measure of our natural Capacities) thoroughly sensible of its Value and Worth, and are disposed to be affected and act accordingly, i. e. To be tender of it, value and pro­mote it, as being what it is; to long & labour and pray for it; and to rejoyce in their Prosperity, and be grieved for their Adversity; and all from a cordial Love, and genuine good-Will. The contrary to which, is a selfish Spirit; whereby we are inclined only to value, and seek, and re­joyce in, our own Welfare; and not care for our Neigh­bour's, any further than we are influenced by Self-love and Self-Interest. Which selfish Spirit also lays a Foundation for Envy at our Neighbour's Prosperity, and hard-heartedness in the Time of his Adversity, and inclines us to hurt his Interest, to promote our own. To love our Neighbour as our selves, makes it natural to do as we would be done by; but a selfish Spirit, makes it unnatural.—Malevolence, Malice and Spight makes it even natural to delight in our Neigh­bour's Misery. And hence it is that Revenge is so sweet, and Backbiting and Detraction so agreeable, in this fallen, sinful World.

3. I may add, that so far as our Fellow-Men are proper Objects of Delight and Complacency, so far ought we to [Page 134] take Delight and Complacency in them. And hence it is that the godly Man feels such a peculiar Love to the Chil­dren of God, for that Image of God which he sees in them. The Saints are, in his Account, the Excellent of the Earth, in whom is all his Delight. Psal. 16.3. The godly Man is of Christ's Temper, who said, Whosoever shall do the Will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my Brother, and Sister, and Mother. Mat. 12.50. But wicked Men are of another Taste; and the Things, the Tempers and Dispositi­tions in their Neighbours, which to them appear excellent, and upon the Account of which they delight in them, are odious in God's Sight. Luk. 16.15. For that which is highly esteemed amongst Men, is Abomination in the Sight of God. For it is the Temper of wicked Men, not only to do wick­edly themselves, but also to have Pleasure in others that do so too. Rom. 1.32. Those who are vain, or unclean, or intemperate, suit each other, and take Delight in one ano­ther's Company: while at the same Time they distaste and disrelish those Things among Mankind, which are truly most worthy our Delight.— In a Word, we ought so to esteem others, as to be heartily disposed to treat them with all that Respect which is their Due; and to have such a tender Regard for their Welfare, as to be perfectly disposed, in every Instance, and in every Respect, to do as we would be done by; and to take Notice of all their good Proper­ties, with that entire Friendliness and perfect Candor, as may dispose us to take all that Delight and Complacency in them which is fit. In order unto all which, it is requisite, that we be perfectly free from any Tincture of Pride, Sel­fishness, &c. and have our Hearts full of Humility, Bene­volence, Candour and Goodness.

And now,

SECONDLY. The Motives by which we are to be influenced, thus to love our Neighbours as our selves, are such as these.— 1. It is right and fit in it self. As the Apostle exhorting Children to obey their Parents in the Lord, uses this Motive, For this is right. Eph. 6.1. The Ground and Reason of God's requiring of us to love our Neighbours as our selves, is because it is in its own Nature right that we should; and this ought therefore to move and influence [Page 135] us to do so. There is the same general Reason why I should love my Neighbour, as why I should love my self. Lovely Things are as worthy of being loved in him, as in me▪ and therefore by me ought in all Reason to be loved as much. There is the same Reason why my Neighbour should be esteemed as being what he is, and according to the Station he stands in, as that I should. To esteem my self above my Neighbour, merely because I am my self, without any other Reason, is unfit and wrong, at first Sight. So to admire my Children, my Friends, my Party▪ as if there were none such, merely because they are [...]ine, is un­reasonable and absurd. My very worst Enemy ought, by me, to be considered and esteemed, as being what he is, with an Impartiality perfectly disinterested, as well as my very best Friend. Good Properties are not at all the better, merely for belonging to me, or to my Friends; or the worse, for belonging to my Neighbour, or my Enemy. But it is right I should view Things as they be, and be affected towards them accordingly. Indeed, I ought to be so far from a Disposition to esteem my self above others, and to be prejudiced in my own Favour (since I am capable of a much more full and intimate Acquaintance with my own Sins and Follies than with the Sins and Follies of others,) that I ought rather to be habitually disposed to prefer others in Honour above my self. Rom. 12.10. Phil. 2. [...].— And so as to my Neighbour's Welfare and Happiness, there is the same general Reason why it should be dear to me, as that my own should. His Welfare is worth as much, in it self, as mine. It is as worthy therefore, to be valued, esteemed, [...]ght after and rejoyced in, as mine. It is true, my Welfare is more immediately put under my Care by God Almighty, and so it is fit it should, by me, be more especially taken Care of. Not that it is of greater Worth, for being mine; for it is not: but only because it is more immediately put under my Care by God Almighty. The same may be said of the Welfare of my Family, &c. But still my Neighbour's Welfare is in it self as precious and dear as mine, and he is my Neighbour, he is Flesh and Blood as well as I, and wants to be happy as well as I, and is my Brother by Adam; we are all but one great Family, [Page 136] the Offspring of the same common Parents; we should therefore all be affected as Brethren towards one another, love as Brethren, and seek each others Welfare most ten­derly and affectionately, as being sensible how dear and precious the Welfare of each other is. This is perfectly right. And so we should bear one another's Burthens, mourn with them that mourn, and rejoyce with them that rejoyce, as being tender-hearted, cordial Friends to every Body. And this from a real Sight and Sense, that such a Temper and Conduct is perfectly right and fit in the Na­ture of Things.— And whereas there may be several Things in my Neighbour truly agreeable, it is evidently Right I should delight in those good Properties, according to their real Worth. It is a Duty I owe to my Neighbour the Possessor, and to God the Giver, of those good Gifts.

2. But that I should thus love my Neighbour as my self, is not only in it's own Nature right, but is also enjoined up­on me by the Law and Authority of God, the supreme Gover­nour of the World. So that from Love to God, and from a Sense of his Right to me, and Authority over me, I ought, out of Obedience to him, to love my Neighbour as my self, and always, and in all Respects, to do, as I would be done by. And not to do so, is not only to injure my Neighbour, but to rebel against God, my King and Governour, and so becomes an infinite Evil. Hence, it is charged upon Da­vid, that by his Conduct respecting Uriah, he had despised the Lord, and despised the Commandment of the Lord; and this is mentioned as the great Evil of his Sin. 2 Sam. 12.9, 10. For he had not merely murdered one of his Fellow-Worms, but risen up in Rebellion against the most high God: And practically said, ‘I care not for God, nor his Authority, I love my Lust, and will gratify it for all him.’ And therefore when David was bro't to true Repentance, the native Language of his Soul, to God, was, Against thee, thee only have I sinned, Psal. 51.4. 'Tis Rebellion therefore, 'tis a despising the Lord, 'tis an infinite Evil, not to love our Neighbours as our selves.

3. We have not only the Authority, but also the Exam­ple of God, to influence us to this great Duty of Love and Bene­volence. God is Love; he has an infinite Propensity to do [Page 137] Good, and that in Cases where there is no Motive from without to excite him; yea, where there is every Thing to the contrary. He loves to make his Sun rise and Rain fall upon the Evil and Unthankful. He loves to fill the Hearts of all with Food and Gladness; and to strew innumerable Blessings round a guilty, God-hating World. Yea, out of his great Goodness he has given his only Son to die for Sinners, and offers Grace and Glory and all good Things thro' him: being ready to pardon and receive to Favour any poor guilty Wretch, that will repent and re­turn to him thro' Jesus Christ. And now for us, after all this, not to love our Fellow-Men, yea, not to love our very worst Enemies, is very vile. Since God has so loved us, we ought surely to love one another. 1 Joh. 4.11. Since he has treated us his Enemies so kindly, we ought now as dear Children to imitate him, and love our Enemies, and bless them that curse us, and do Good to them that hate us, and pray for them which despitefully use us, and persecute us, Mat. 5.44, 45. The infinite Beauty in the Goodness of the divine Nature, lays us under infinite Obligations to imitate it, in the Tem­per of our Minds, and in our daily Conduct. And 'tis In­gratitude, 'tis a Shame, 'tis abominable W [...]kedness, not to love our worst Enemies, and [...]rgive [...] [...]eatest Injuries. Since the great Governour of the World has treated us Worms and Rebels as he has, one would think, that after all this, we should never be able to find a Heart to hate or injure any Mortal. Surely we are under very strong Obli­gations to accept that divine Exhortation, in Eph. 4.31, 32. Let all Bitterness, and Wrath, and Anger, and Clamour, and evil Speaking be put away from among you, with all Malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. And (Chap. 5. v. 1.) Be ye Followers of God as dear Children.— Besides there are many additional Obligations to Love and Benevolence, and to peculiar Respect & Kindness between Husband and Wife, Parents and Children, Friend & Friend, &c. arising from their mutual Relations, & Dependences, & from special Kindnesses already received, or hoped for. And now,

THIRDLY, As to the Standard, by which our Love is to be regulated, viz. Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy [Page 138] self. In order righly to understand it, we must, —1. Place ourselves, sensibly, as in the Presence of the infinitely great and glorious God, before whom all the Nations of the Earth are nothing and less than nothing and vanity, and in the Light of God's Greatness and Glory, we must take a view of our own Littleness and Deformity, and so learn how we ought to be affected towards our selves compared with God. And as we ought to love our selves, so ought we to love our Neighbour. And now in general, we ought to be dispos'd towards God, as being what he is, and towards our Selves and Neighbours, as being what we and they be. Particularly, God's Honour in the World ought to appear infinitely more valuable and precious than our own, and therefore our own ought to seem as a Thing of no Worth compared with his, and as such, to be freely parted with when God's Honour calls for it. And as free should we be, to see the Reputation of our dearest Friends given up for God's sake. The same may be said of our worldly Interest and of all our worldly Comforts, when compared with God's Interest and the Interest of his Son's Kingdom in the World, and of the worldly Interests and Comforts of our dearest Friends. All, both ours, and their's, is comparatively nothing, & ought to appear so to us. Yea, our Lives and their Lives, are just the same Things, comparatively, of no Worth, and to be parted with in a Moment, without the least Reluctancy, when God's Ho­nour, or Interest calls therefor.—2. In order to a right un­derstanding of this Standard, we must also observe, that our Love to our selves is habitual, unfeigned, fervent, active and permanent. So also must be our Love to our Neighbours.— 3. A regular Self-love respects all our Interests, but espe­cially our spiritual and eternal Interest. So ought our Love to our Neighbours. — 4. A regular Self-love naturally prompts us to be concerned for our Welfare tenderly, to seek it diligently and prudently, to rejoyce in it heartily, [...] to be grieved for our Calamities sincerely. So ought our Love to our Neighbours to prompt us to feel and conduct with Regard to their Welfare.—5. Self-love makes us take an unfeigned Pleasure in promoting our own Welfare. We don't think it hard, to do so much for our selves. The Plea­sure [Page 139] we take in promoting our Welfare, rewards our Pains. The same genuine kind of Love ought we to have to our Neighbour; and so to remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. —6. We ought never to speak of our Neighbour's Sins, or Weaknesses, or any way expose him to Shame and Con­tempt in the World, in any Case whatsoever, except such wherein it would be our Duty to be willing our selves to be so exposed by him, were we in his Circumstances, and he in ours. And then we are to do it, with that sensible Tenderness for him, that we could reasonably desire from him, towards us, in a like Case.

Thus then we have briefly considered the second great Command of the Law, and see what that meaneth, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self.— To love God with all our Heart, lays a Foundation, and prepares the Way, for us to love our Neighbours as our selves. It removes and takes away those Things which are contrary to this Love, such as Pride, Selfishness, Worldliness, a narrow, stingy, envious, revengeful Temper. True Love to God mortifies and kills these Things at Root. And secondly, True Love to God assimilates us to the divine Nature, and makes us like God in the Temper of our Minds. But God is Love. And the more we are like God, the more are our Hearts therefore framed to Love & Benevolence. He that dwel­leth in Love, dwelleth in God, & God in him. Love to God sweetens the Soul, & enlarges our Hearts to love our Fellow-Men. And thirdly, The more we love God, the more sacred is his Authority with us, and the more glorious, amiable and animating does his Example appear, and the greater Sense have we of our Obligations to Gratitude to him; all which tend jointly to influence us to all Love & Goodness towards our Neighbours. So that, he that knows God and loves him, will be full of Love to Mankind. And therefore he that loveth not, knoweth not God, 1 Joh. 4.8. — On the other Hand, where there is no true Love to God, there is no true Love to Mankind; but the Heart is under the Go­vernment of Pride, Selfishness, and other Corruptions, which are contrary to Love. So that a genuine Love to Mankind is peculiar to the godly. 1 Ioh. 4.7, 8.

[Page 140]And now from what has been said, we may evidently see, these following Sorts of Love to our Neighbour, are nei­ther of them the Love required, however nearly they may sometimes seem to resemble it.

1. What is commonly called natural Compassion, is not the Love here required. For the most wicked profane Man may be of a very compassionate Temper: So may the proud, the selfish, the envious, the malicious & spight­ful Man: As Experience plainly shews. And besides, na­tural Compassion does not take its Rise from any Sense of the Rectitude and Fitness of Things, or any Regard to the divine Authority, but merely from the animal Consti­tution: And Men seem to be properly passive in it. It is much the same Thing in the humane, as in the brutal Na­ture. It is therefore a different Thing from the Love here required.

2. The same may be said of what is called Good-Nature. It arises merely from animal Constitution, and is not the Love here required. For such a Man is not influenced in his Love by the Reason and Nature of Things, or the Au­thority of the great Governour of the World, or from a Consideration of the infinite Goodness of the divine Na­ture, any more than the Beasts are, who are some of them much better tempered than others. So that this Sort of Love has nothing of the Nature of Religion in it. And it is evident that many wicked & ungodly Men have much of this natural Good-temper, who yet have no Regard to God or Duty. Yea, a secret Grudge against a Neighbour, reigning in the Heart, may be in the good-natur'd Man, consistent with his Good-nature; but it is not consistent with the Love here required. And therefore they are evi­dently two Things.

3. That Love which is commonly called natural Affec­tion, is not the Love here required. It is true, that Man is worse than the Beasts, who is without natural Affection [...] for they evidently are not: but every Man is not a Saint, because he has natural Affection. And it is true, we owe a peculiar Love, according to God's Law, to our Relatives; but natural Affection is not it. For there are many ungodly Wretches, who care neither for God nor his Law, who have [Page 141] as much natural Affection as any in the World. Yea, it is a common Thing for ungodly Parents to make very Idols of their Children: for them, they go and run and work and toil, by Night & Day, to the utter neglect of God and their own Souls. And surely this can't be the very Love which God requires. And besides, as natural Affection na­turally prompts Parents to love their Children more than God, and be more concerned for their Welfare than for his Glory, so it is commonly a Bar in the Way of their loving others as they ought. They have nothing to give to the Poor and Needy, to the Widow and Fatherless: they must lay up all for their Children. Yea, many Times they rake and scrape, cheat and defraud, and like mere Earth-Worms bury themselves in the World; and all this, for the sake of their Children. And yet all this Love to their Children does not prompt them to take Care of their Souls. They never teach their Children to pray, nor instruct them to seek after God. They love their Bodies, but care little for their Souls. Their Love to the one is beyond all Bounds, but to the other is little or nothing. 'Tis an irrational Fondness, and not the Love required. Indeed if Parents loved their Children as they ought to do, their Love would effectually influence them to take Care of their Souls, and do all their Duty to them; which natural Affection evi­dently does not. And therefore it is not that Love, with which God in his Law requires Parents to love their Chil­dren. Nor indeed does there seem to be any more of the Nature of true Virtue or real Religion in the natural Af­fection of Men, than there is in the natural Affection of Beasts: both resulting merely from animal Nature and a natural Self-love, without any Regard to the Reason and Nature of Things.

4. Nor is that the Love here required, which arises merely from a Party-Spirit. Because such a one is of their Party, and on their Side, and loves those whom they love, and will plead, stand up, and contend for them, and main­tain their Cause. For such a Love is pregnant with Hatred and Ill-Will to every Body else. And nothing will humour and gratify it more than to see the opposite Party hated, reviled and blackned. And besides, such a Love is nothing [Page 142] but Self-love in another Shape. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour, and hate thine Ene­my: But I say unto you, Love your Enemies. Mat. 5.43, 44.

5. Nor is that the Love here required, which arises mere­ly from others Love to me. As if a rich Man is kind and bountiful to poor People all around him, and appears to love and pity them; they, tho' almost ever so wicked, will feel a Sort of Love to him. But if this rich Man happens to be a civil Magistrate, and is called to sit as a Judge in their Case, and passes Judgment against them for their Crimes, now their Love dies, and Enmity and Hatred and Revenge begin to ferment in their Hearts. In this Case, it is not the Man they love, but rather his Kindnesses. And their seeming Love, is nothing but a certain Operation of Self-love.— And indeed however full of Love Persons may seem to be to their Neighbours, if all arises merely from Self-love, or is for Self-ends, nothing is genuine: and that whe­ther Things worldly, or Things religious, occasion their Love. A poor Man will love and honour those that are rich; if he hopes to get any Thing by it. A rich Man may be kind to the Poor, with an Eye to his Credit. An awakened Sinner will love an awakening Preacher, in hopes he shall be converted by his Ministry. A Minister may seem to shew a World of Love to the Souls of Sinners, and all with an Eye to Applause. Hypocrites will love a godly Minister, so long as he thinks well of them, and hap­pens not to detect their hypocrisy in his publick Preaching. Even the Galatians were very full of Love to Paul for a while, so long as they thought he loved them, and had been the Instrument of their Conversion; yet afterwards they lost their Love, and turned his Enemies, for his telling them the Truth. While others, who loved him truly for what he was, were more and more knit unto him, for those very Doctrines for which the Galatians hated him. If ye love them which love you, what Reward have ye? Do not the Publicans the same? Mat. 5.46. There is no Virtue no [...] Religion in such a Kind of Love, and it is evidently not the Thing required by the divine Law. And indeed it is a Thing as difficult and as contrary to corrupt Nature, for us genu­inely to love our Neighbours as our selves, as it is to love [Page 143] God with all our Hearts. And there is as little true Love between Man and Man, as there is between Men and God. It is for our Interest to love God, and it is for our Interest to love our Neighbours, and therefore Men make as if they did so, when really there is nothing genuine and true. And at the Day of Judgment, when a wicked World comes to God's Bar, and their past Conduct is all brought to Light, nothing will be more manifest than that there never was a Spark of true Love to God or Man in their Hearts, but that from first to last they were acted and governed either by their animal Constitution, or else merely by Self-love.

6. I may add, nor is that the Love required, when M [...]n love others merely because they are as bad, and so just like themselves. Nature and Self-Love will prompt the worst of Men to do so. The vain and profligate love such as are as bad as themselves. And from the same Principle erro­neous Persons have a peculiar Regard for one another. And the Enthusiast and blazing Hypocrite may from the same Principle seem to be full of Love to their own Sort, tho' full of Malice against all others. And they may think that it is the Image of God which they love in their Brethren: when indeed it is only the Image of themselves. Persons of a bad Taste may greatly delight in those Things in others, which are very odious in the Sight of God. But surely this can't be the Love required. And yet by this very Thing many a Hypocrite thinks himself a true Saint.

Thus we see what it is to love God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbours as our selves, and see these two distinguished from their Counterfeits. And so we have gone thro' the two great Commands of the Law, in a Con­formity to which, [...]e very Essence of Religion does much consist.

And now it is added by our Saviour, Upon these two hang all the Law and the Prophets.— The Law and the Pro­phets, i. e. the inspired Writings of the Old-Testament consider these two Maxims, that we must love God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbours as ourselves, as first and Foun­dation-Principles: and all the various Duties which they urge, respecting God and our Fellow-Men, are but so many Inferences and Deductions from them.

[Page 144] God must be loved with all the Heart.— And therefore we must make him our God and none else, according to the first Command.— Worship him according to his ap­pointed Institutions, agreable to the second Command.— With becoming Reverence & Devotion, according to the third.— And that in all such set Times as he hath appointed in his Word▪ according to the fourth.

Our Neighbour must be loved as our selves. — And there­fore we must render Honour to whom Honour is due, ac­cording to the fifth Command. And be tender of our Neighbour's Life, Chastity, Estate & good Name, accord­ing to the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth Commands. And rejoyce in his Welfare and Prosperity, according to the tenth. And in all Things treat him as we could reasonably desire him to treat us, according to that golden Rule of Jesus Christ, in Matth. 7.12.

And as all the Duties we owe to God and Man, are thus in the Theory, but so many Deductions necessarily flowing from these two Maxims or first Principles; so when the Law of God is written in the Heart of a Sinner by divine Grace, and put in his inward Parts; there will, from these two Principles, naturally flow all Duties to God and his Neighbour, in his daily Practice: i. e. from a Disposi­tion to love God supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively, he will naturally be inclined and enabled sincerely to do all his Will; to make him his GOD, according to the first Command, to worship him according to his own Appointments, with becoming Reve­rence, and at all suitable Times, according to the rest. It will be his Nature to do all this, his Meat and his Drink▪ and so his greatest Delight.— And so also, from a genuine Disposition to love his Neighbour as himself, he will be naturally inclined and enabled, in all Things, and at all Times, sincerely to do as he would be done by. It will be his Nature to do so, his Meat and his Drink, and so his greatest Delight. Heb. 8.10. Ioh. 15.14. 1 Ioh. 2.3, 4 Psal. 19.10.

So that, as it is in Theory, so also it is in Practice; these two are like the Seed that virtually contains the whole Plant, or like the Root from which the whole Tree grows, with all its [Page 145] Branches and Fruit. And in Proportion as a Man loves God and his Neighbour with a genuine Love, in the same Proportion, will his Inclination and Ability thence arising be, to do all these Duties. And consequently when his Love to God and his Neighbour arrives to Perfection, he will be perfectly inclined and enabled to be perfect in Holiness and Righteousness, and will actually, in all Things, perfectly conform to both Tables of the Law. And it is equally evident, that until a Man has a genuine Love to God and his Neighbour in his Heart, he will have neither Inclina­tion nor Ability (in a moral and spiritual Sense) to perform one Act of true Obedience. For as all true Obedience, ac­cording to the Law and Prophets, is to flow from these two Principles; so consequently, according to the Law and Prophets, that is not true Obedience, which does not. And therefore when all a Man's Religion, is merely from Self-love, and for Self-ends, he cannot be said, strictly speak­ing, to do any Duty to God or his Neighbour, or obey one Command; for he only serves himself, and that from a su­preme Love to himself, which the Law and the Prophets do not require, but strictly forbid, in that they enjoin the direct contrary.

So that now, in a few Words, we may here see, wherein true Religion does consist, as it stands distinguished from all the false Religion in the World. The godly Man, from seeing God to be just such a One as he is, and from a real Sense of his infinite Glory and Amiableness in being such, is thereby influenced to love him supremely, live to him ul­timately, and delight in him superlatively: from which in­ward Frame of Heart, he freely runs the Way of God's Commands, and is in his Element when doing God's Will. He eats, he drinks, he works, he prays, and does all Things, with a single Eye for God; who has placed him in this his World, allotted to him his peculiar Station, and point­ed out before him all the Business of Life: always looking to him for all Things, and always giving Thanks unto his Name, for all his unspeakable Goodness to a Wretch so infinitely unworthy. And, with a Spirit of disinterested Impartiality and genuine Benevolence, he views his Fellow-Men, gives them their Places, [Page 146] takes his own, and loves them as himself: Their Welfare is dear to him; he is grieved at their Miseries, and rejoyce [...] at their Mercies, and delights to do all the Good he can, to every one, in the Place and Station which God has set him in. And he finds and feels that this new and divine Tem­per is inwrought in his very Nature; so that instead of a for­ced Religion, or a Religion merely by Fits, his very Heart is habitually bent and inclined to such Views and Apprehen­sions, to such an inward Temper, and to such an outward Conduct.

This, this is the Religion of the Bible, the Religion which the Law and the Prophets, and which Christ and his Apostles too, all join to teach! The Religion, which Christ came into the World to recover Men unto, and to which the Spirit of God does actually recover every Believer, in a greater or lesser Degree. Thus those who are dead in Sin, are quickened, Eph. 2.1. Have the Law written in their Hearts, Heb. 8.10. Are made new Creatures, all old Things being done away, and all Things become new, 2 Cor. 5.17. And are effectually taught to deny all Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present World, Tit. 2.12. And so serve God without fear, in [...] and Righteousness, all the Days of their Lives, Luk. 1.74, 75.

And this is specifically different, from every Sort of false Religion in the World. For all Kinds of false Reli­gion, however different in other Things, yet all agree in this, to result merely from a Principle of Self-love, where­by fallen Men, being ignorant of God, are inclined to love themselves supremely, and do all Things for themselves ul­timately. All the idolatrous Religion of the heathen World, in which some took much Pains, had its Rise from this Principle. They had some Notion of a future State, of a Heaven and a Hell, as well as of temporal Rewards and Punishments, and so were moved by Hope and Fear, from a Principle of Self-love, to do something to pacify the Anger of the Gods, and recommend themselves to the Fa­vour of their Deities. And all the Superstitions of the seemingly devout Papist, his Pater-nosters, his Ave maria's, his Penances and Pilgrimages, and endless Toils, still arise [Page 147] from the same Principle. So does all the Religion of For­malists and legal Hypocrites in the reformed Nations; 'tis a slavish fear of Hell and mercenary hope of Heaven, which, from a Principle of Self-love, sets all a going. Yea, the evangelical Hypocrite, who mightily talks of supernatural di­vine Light, of the Spirit's Operations, of Conversion, and a new Nature, still after all, has no higher Principle in him than Self-love. His Conscience has been greatly enlight­ned, and his Heart terrified, and his Corruptions stunned: and he has, by the Delusions of Satan, obtained a strong Confidence of the Love of God and pardon of his Sins; so that instead of being influenced chiefly by the fear of Hell, as the legal Hypocrite is, he is ravished with Heaven; but still all is from Self-love, and for Self-ends. And proper­ly and scripturally speaking, he neither knows God, nor cares at all for him. And this is the very Case with every graceless Man living, of whatever Denomination; whether a Heathen or Iew or Christian, whether Papist or Protestant, whether Church-man, Presbyterian, Congregationalist or Sepa­ratist, whether a Pelagian, Arminian, Calvinist, Antinomian, Baptist or Quaker. And this is the Case with every grace­less Man living, whatever his Attainments may otherwise be; tho' he hath all Knowledge to understand all Mysteries, and can speak with the Tongues of Men and Angels, and has Faith to remove Mountains, and Zeal enough to give all his Goods to feed the Poor, and his Body to be burned; yet he has no Charity, he is perfectly destitute of this genuine Love to God and his Neighbour, and has no higher Prin­ciple in his Heart, from which all his Religion proceeds, but a supreme Love to himself. For ever since our first Pa­rents aspired to be as Gods, it has been the Nature of all Mankind to love themselves supremely, and to be blind to the infinite Beauty of the divine Nature; and it remains so to be with all, until renewed by divine Grace. So that Self-love is the highest Principle, from which, unregene­rate Men do ever act, or can act.

Here therefore we have true Religion, a Religion speci­fically different from all other Sorts of Religion in the World, standing in a clear View. Yea, and we may be absolutely certain, that this is the very Thing which has [Page 148] been described. For this Conformity to the moral Law, is throughout all the Bible, by Moses and the Prophets, by Christ and his Apostles, represented to be the very Thing in which the Essence of Religion originally consists. ‘Blessed be the Name of the Lord for ever, who has given us so clear a Revelation of his Will, and so sure and certain a Guide as his Word.’ Come here, all you poor exercised broken-hearted Saints, that live in this dark benighted World, where many run to and fro, and where there are a thousand different Opinions, and every one confident that he is right. Come here to the Law and to the Testimony; come here to Christ himself, and learn what the Truth is, and be settled, be confirmed, and be established for ever. And remember and practise upon those Words of Jesus Christ, in Joh. 7.17. If any Man will do his Will, he shall know of the Doctrine, whether it be of God. O, read the Bible, live Lives of Prayer and Communion with God; yea, die to your selves, the World & Sin, and return ho [...] to God thro' Jesus Christ, and love him and live to h [...], and delight in him more and more; and be more & more disinterested and impartial, sincere and fervent, in your Love to your Neighbours; do all the Good to every one that you can. In a Word, be the Servants of God, and grow up into his Image, and your Certainty of divine Truths will proportionably strengthen and increase. For the more your Understandings are free from that Darkness and Prejudice that Sin has introduced, the clearer will you view divine Truths, and the greater Sense will you have of their inherent divine Glory; and so your Belief of their Divi­nity will be the more unshaken.

Having thus gone thro' with what was proposed, a gene­ral Improvement of the whole, is all that now remains. And indeed much Use may be made of these great Truths, which have been thus explained and proved, for our Instruction in some of the most controverted Points in Religion, and to clear up the Believer's gracious State, and also to promote our Humiliation and Thankfulness and universal Obedience.

[Page 149]

SECTION V. Right Apprehensions of the Law, useful to clear up some of the most controverted Points in Religion.

USE I. Of Instruction. We have seen what the Law of God requires, and the infinite Obligations we are under perfectly to conform to it; we have seen wherein a genuine Conformity to the Law consists, and how a genuine Con­formity to it differs from all Counterfeits; and what has been said may help us to understand the following Particu­lars.

1. Wherein consisted the moral Image of God, in which Adam was created. That Adam was created in the Image of God, is expresly affirmed, in Gen. 1.27. So God created Man in his own Image, in the Image of God created be him. And from these Words we have just the same Reason to believe that Adam was created in the moral, as that he was in the natural, Image of God; because they tell us in plain Terms, without any Distinction or Exception (nor is there any that can be gathered from any other Text) that he was created in the Image of God; but the moral as well as the natural Perfections of God are equally contained in his Image. As to the political Image of God, Adam, strictly speaking, was not created in that; because as the Scriptures inform us, it was after his Creation that he was made Lord of this lower World. Gen. 1.28. And it is, I think, with less Propriety, that this is by Divines called the Image of God; I do not know that it is any where so called in Scripture; and God, was the same, he is now, before he sustained the Character of supreme Lord and Governour of the World. His natural and moral Perfecti­ons comprised his whole Image before the World was crea­ted. And in this his Image was his Creature Man created. Not in Part of his Image, for there is no such Inti­mation in all the Bible. But in his Image, comprising his moral, as well, and as much, as his natural Perfections.

[Page 150]Now the moral Image of God does radically consist in a Temper of Mind or Frame of Heart perfectly answerable to the moral Law: the moral Law being as it were a Transcript of the moral Perfections of God. So that from what has been said of the Nature of the moral Perfections of God and of the Nature of the moral Law, we may learn wherein con­sisted that moral Image of God in which Adam was created. He had a perfect moral Rectitude of Heart, a perfectly right Temper of Mind; and so was perfectly disposed to love God with all his Heart, and his Neighbours (if he had had any) as himself: Was perfectly disposed to give God his Place, and take his own; and consider God as being what he was, and be affected and act accordingly; and to con­sider his Fellow-Men (if he had had any) as being what they were, and feel and act accordingly. And in this Image of God was he created, as the Scriptures teach us; i. e. He was brought into Existence with such a Temper connatural to him.

Now here is a new-made Creature in a new World, view­ing God and wondring at his infinite Glory, looking all round, astonish'd at the divine Perfections shining forth in all his Works. He views the spacious Heavens, they declare to him the Glory of the Lord: He sees his Wis­dom and his Power, he wonders and adores. He looks round upon all his Works, they clearly discover to him the invisible Things of God, even his eternal Power and God­head, and he stands amazed. God makes him Lord of this lower World, appoints to him his daily Employment, and puts him into a State of Trial, setting Life and Death before him; and he sees the infinite Wisdom, Holiness, Justice and Goodness of God in all, he falls down and wor­ships, he exults in God▪ and, with all his Heart, gives up himself to God with sweetest Delight. All is genuine, na­tural and free, resulting from the native Temper of his Heart.

Here he beheld God in his infinite Glory, viewed his Works, contemplated his Perfections, admired and adored him, with a Sweetness and Pleasure of Soul most refined! Here he saw God in all the Trees Plants and Herbs in the Garden, his happy Seat, while out of Love to God and [Page 151] Duty he attended his daily Business, he eat and drank and blest his great Benefactor! He saw that it was infinitely reasonable, that he should love God with all his Heart, and obey him in every Thing, if eternal Life had not at all been promised: both because God infinitely deserved it at his Hand, and also in doing thereof there was the greatest Satisfaction and Delight. And he saw that if he, in any Thing, should disobey his sovereign Lord and rightful Go­vernour, it would be right, infinite right, that he should be miserable for ever, even if God had never so threatned: because to disobey such a God appeared to him an infinite Evil. He looked upon the Promise of eternal Life, as a mere free Bounty. He looked upon the Threatening of Death, as impartial Justice. And while he considered eternal Life under the Notion of a REWARD promised to perfect Obedience from God his Governour, he saw his infinite Love to Righteousness therein, as well as his infinite Bounty. And while he considered Death under the Notion of a PUNISHMENT threatened against Sin, he saw God's infinite Hatred of Iniquity therein, as well as his impartial Justice. And when he saw how God loved Righteous­ness and hated Iniquity, and beheld his infinite Goodness on the one Hand and impartial Justice on the other, he was ravished. Now he saw plainly what God was, and his infinite Glory in being such, and loved him with all his Heart. It was natural to account such a God infinitely amiable, and it was natural to love him with all his Heart. All was genuine and free, resulting from the native Temper of his Mind.

These being his Views and Apprehensions, and this his Nature; hence altho' he was under a Covenant of Works, yet the Hopes of Happiness and the Fears of Misery were not the original and first Spring of his Love to God: it was not originally from Self-love and for Self-ends, but from a Sense of the Beauty of the divine Nature; and so it was not forced and hypocritical, but free and genuine: it did not feel like a Burden, but it was esteemed a Priviledge: and instead of being disposed to think it MUCH to love God with all his Heart and obey him in every Thing, he rather thought it infinitely right and fit as being God's due, [Page 152] and that he deserved no thanks from God, but rather was under infinite Obligations to give thanks to God for ever, for such an infinite Priviledge. And thus we see wherein that moral Image of God consisted in which Adam was created.

2. From all which, it is a plain Matter of Fact, that we are born into the World entirely destitute of the moral Image of God. So certain as that the moral Image of God radi­cally consists in such a Temper, and makes it natural to have such like Views and Dispositions; so certain we are in Fact born without it. Look into Children, and there is nothing to be seen of these Things. And we are all sure that such a Temper and such-like Views and Dispositions are not natural to us; yea, most Men are sure there is still no such Thing in them; and very many believe there is no such Thing in the World.—We are in Fact born like the wild Asse's Colt, as senseless of God, and as void and de­stitute of Grace. We have Nature, but no Grace: a [...] for natural Good, but no R [...]lish for moral Beauty an Appe­tite for Happiness, but no Appetite for Holiness. A Heart easily affected and governed by selfish Considerations, but blind to the moral Rectitude and Fitness of Things. And so we have a Heart to love our selves, but no Heart to love God; and may be moved to act by selfish Views, but can't be influenced by the infinite moral Beauty of the divine Nature. That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh: Joh. 3.6. And will only mind and relish Things which suit its Na­ture; Rom. 8.5. But is blind to spiritual Things. 1 Cor. 2.14 — True indeed, in Children there are many natu­ral Excellencies, many Things pleasing and agreeable. They sometimes, in a good mood, appear loving and kind, inno­cent and harmless, humble and meek; and so does a Lamb or young Puppy. There is nothing but Nature in these Appearances. It's owing to their animal Constitution, and to their being pleased and humour'd. It is all from no higher Principle than Self-love. Cross them, and they will presently feel and act bad enough. They have in their Temper and most early Conduct no Regard to God or Du­ty, or to the Reason and Nature of Things, but are moved and affected merely as Things please or displease them, [Page 153] making their Happiness their last End. And indeed, if the Image of God, Holiness, or Grace, or whatever we call it, be really such a Thing as has been said, then nothing of such a Nature, can possibly be more plain and evident than this universally is, that Mankind are in Fact born into the World destitute, entirely destitute thereof. Iob. 11.12. And hence, we must be born again. Joh. 3.3, 6.

OBJ. But where then was the Propriety of Christ's saying in Matth. 18.3. Except ye be converted, and become as little Children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Is it not here supposed, that little Children are Patterns of Humility and Goodness?

ANSW. And where was the Propriety of those Words in Isaiah 53.7. Where the Prophet speaking of Christ's Meekness and Patience under his Sufferings, he says, As a Sheep before her Shearers is dumb, so he opened not his Mouth ▪ Is it not here supposed, that Sheep are Patterns of Meekness and Patience? The Truth is, that these Allusions do not prove, that either Sheep or little Children naturally have any real Humility or Meekness, of a gracious Nature, but only an Appearance of it. And just of the same Nature are those Phrases in Matth. 10.16. As wise as Serpents, as harmless as Doves. But as these Scriptures do not prove, that Sheep and Serpents, and Doves have Grace, so neither does that other Text prove that little Children naturally have it.

3. By comparing our selves with the holy Law of God, as it has been already explained, we may also learn, that we are born into the World not only destitute of a Conformi­ty to it, but are also natively diametrically contrary thereto in the Temper of our Hearts. The Law requires us to love God supremely, but the native Bent of our Hearts is to love our selves supremely. The Law requires us to live to God ultimately, but the native Bent of our Hearts is to love our selves ultimately. The Law requires us to delight in God superlatively, but the native Bent of our Hearts is to delight in that which is not God, wholly. And finally the Law requires us to love our Neighbours as our selves, but the native Bent of our Hearts is to be inordinately selfish.

These are the earliest Dispositions that are discovered in our Nature. And altho' I don't think that they are con­created [Page 154] by God together with the Essence of our Souls, yet they seem to be the very first Propensities of the new-made Soul. So that they are in a Sense connatural; our whole Hearts are perfectly and intirely bent this Way, from their very first Motion. These Propensities perhaps in some Sense may be said to be contracted, in Opposition to their being strictly and philosophically natural; because they are not created by God with the Essence of the Soul, but result from its native Choice, or rather more strictly are them­selves its native Choice. But most certainly these Propen­sities are not contracted, in the Sense that many vicious Ha­bits be, namely, by long Use and Custom. In opposition to such vicious Habits, they may be called connatural. Lit­tle Children do very early bad Things, and contract bad Dispositions; but these Propensities are evidently antece­dent to every bad Thing infused or instilled by evil Exam­ples, or gotten by Practice, or occasioned by Temptations. And hence it is become customary to call them natural, and to say that it is our very Nature to be so inclined. And to say that these Propensities are natural, would to common People be the most apt Way of expressing the Thing▪ but it ought to be remembered, that they are not natural in the same Sense [...] the Faculties of our Souls be: for they are not the Workmanship of God, but are our native Choice, and the voluntary, free, spontaneous Bent of our Hearts. And to keep up this Distinction, I frequently choose to use the Word native, instead of natural.

And now, that these Dispositions are, as it were, thus born with us, is as evident from Experience as any Thing of such a Kind can be▪ for these are the earliest Dispo­sitions that Man's Nature discovers, and are evidently dis­covered before little Children are capable of learning them from others; yea, 'tis plainly the very native bent of their Hearts to love themselves above all, to make their Ease Comfort and Happiness their last End and their All, and to seek for all from the Creature; or in other Words, from that which is not God. This is plain to every one's Obser­vation, nor did I ever hear any one, as I remember, venture to deny it.

[Page 155]And as Children grow up, and their natural Powers en­large, so these Propensities grow up, and strengthen, and become more active, and discover themselves plainer; and from this Root, this evil Fountain, many bad Things soon proceed. Observe Children thro' all the Days of Child­hood, and this Nature may be easily seen in them, they dis­cover it in all their Conduct in ten thousand Instances; and there it does and will remain. We may break them of many bad Tricks which they learn, and bad Habits which they contract; but we can't change this their Nature. They are disposed to love themselves supremely, seek their own Ends ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly: nor can we turn this Bent of their Hearts. We can after a Sort instil good Principles into them, learn them to read and pray; and after a Sort to honour their Pa­rents, and love their Neighbours; we can make them civil and sober and humble and modest and religious in a Sor [...], but still their old Nature remains in its full Power. It is restrained, but not altered at all; yea, and after all, these their native Dispositions have the entire Government of them. Their whole Hearts are as much bent this Way as ever. And these Propensities govern them in their inward Temper, and in all their Conduct. They do all from Self-love and for Self-Ends, and are seeking Happiness, not in God, but in something else. These Things are plain to every impartial Observer, nor can they be denied by any. Thus we are all shapen in Iniquity, and in Sin are we conceived. And we are Transgressors from the Womb, and go astray as soon as we are born.

And if we leave Children and look into our selves, we may easily observe that we are naturally of the same Tem­per, inclined to love our selves supremely, and do all from Self-love and for Self-Ends, and seek for Happiness, not in God, but in something else. We can remember when and how we contracted many other vicious Habits, and feel some inward Power to get rid of them; but these Propen­sities we have always had, and they are natural, and our whole Hearts are so in them, that it is not in us so much as sincerely to desire to be otherwise. It is true, we may, in a Sort, desire and try to alter this our Nature, from [Page 156] Considerations of Duty, of Heaven and Hell; but it is all all Hypocrisy: for we still act merely from Self-love and for Self-ends as much as ever. We have naturally no Dispo­sition to desire to love God, only for Self-ends. All Men are conscious to themselves that this is true.

We are naturally entirely under the Government of these Dispositions, in all Things, and under all Circumstances.—IN ALL THINGS; In all our civil and religious Concerns. It is merely from Self-love and for Self-ends, that natural Men follow their worldly Business; and endeavour to live peaceably with their Neighbours: and in these Things they are seeking Blessedness. And it is merely from Self-love and for Self-ends they do any Thing in Religion; either they mean to be seen of Men, or are moved from a slavish Fear of Hell and mercenary Hope of Heaven, or from some other selfish Consideration.— And UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, we are naturally under the Govern­ment of these Dispositions. In Prosperity; then from an Inclination to love our selves supremely, seek our own Happiness ultimately, and delight in that which is not God, wholly: It is our Nature to rejoice and be glad. And from the same Inclination we are disposed to mourn & mur­mur and be discon [...]ented under Adversity. At the red Sea it was natural for the Israelites to sing Praise: at the bitter Waters it was as natural to murmur. When we are pleased, then we are glad; when we are cross'd, then we are sad; but naturally we don't care how it goes with God's Interest in the World, what becomes of his great Name, or whether his Honour sinks or swims. No, there is but here and th [...]re a Moses that cares any Thing about this: but if they can have their own Wills, and secure their own Interests, they are content.— While the Spirit of God lets Sinners alone and they live secure and unconcerned, then from the aforesaid Propensities they are after the World; one after one Thing, and another after another: and altho' they may keep up a Form of Religion for fashion sake, yet really they care nothing about God and Things eternal. When they come to be awakened to a Concern for their Souls, tho' they reform their Lives and take very different Courses from what they used to do, yet still all is from the same [Page 157] Principle and for the same End. They have new Lives, but the same Nature. They don't really care for God or his Glory any more than they used to do, nor tal [...] any Con­tent in him, but are only after Pardon of Sin and Peace of Conscience, which according to their present Sensations and Apprehensions, they think would make them happy. Sin­ners don't really seek for Blessedness in God himself, but in something they hope to receive from him. And hence when awakened Sinners come to get false Comfort, think they are pardoned, and so have Peace; or think that Christ loves them, and that they shall go to Heaven, and so are filled with Joy; as all their Joy results from Self-love merely, so all they rejoyce in, is what they think they have received, and what they hope yet to receive▪ but they don't really care for God himself, (whose Glory they never saw,) any more than they used to do, nor rejoyce in Him ▪ and hence (ordinarily) having their Consciences qui [...]d, they soon go back to the World again for real Comfort and Blessedness. Or if after false Comfort they turn En­thusiasts, and get to blazing, and wax hotter and hotter, and seem to be full of nothing but Love to God and Zeal for his Glory; it is Visions and Dreams, Revelations and Im­pulses, a firm Perswasion they are the peculiar Favourites of Heaven, and the Applause of their Party, which they live upon and take Comfort in, and by which they are ani­mated; and all from Self-love and for Self-Ends: but in Deed and in Truth, they neither know God, nor regard him nor his Glory, nor live upon him, nor delight in him, [...] more than they used to do: And thus in all Things, and under all Circumstances, unregenerate Men are governed by a Disposition to love themselves supremely, live [...] them­selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly. And whosoever is well acquainted with Mankind may easily see that this is in Fact the very Case, and will naturally be led to make the same Observation with the A­postle Paul, in Phil. 2.21. All seek their own, and not the Things which are Iesus Christ's.

And now this Disposition, which is thus evidently natu­ral to all Mankind, is directly contrary to God's holy Law, is exceeding sinful, and is the Root of all Wickedness. First, [Page 158] it is diametrically opposite to God's holy Law. For this requires us to love God supremely and seek his Glory ulti­mately; in direct Contrariety whereunto, we are naturally inclined to love our selves supremely and live to our selves ultimately. Again, the Law requires us to delight in God superlatively and choose him and live upon as the only Portion of our Souls; in direct Contrariety whereunto, we are naturally inclined to place our whole Hearts upon other Things, and live upon them and take Content in them. Finally, the Law requires us to love our Neighbour as our selves and do as we would be done by; in direct Contra­riety whereunto, we are naturally inclined to be inordinately selfish, and so not to do as we would be done by. And thus we are all naturally gone out of the Way, and in the Temper of our own Minds become corrupt, filthy and unpro­fitable, and there is none righteous; no, not one. Psal. 14. Rom. 3.10.—19. We have lost the Image of God, we have lost a right Temper of Mind, we have lost a governing Sense of the moral Fitness of Things, have no Eyes to see moral Beauty, or Hearts to taste and relish the moral Excellency of spiritual and divine Things. 1 Cor. 2.14. Hence, in God we can see no Form nor Comeliness, nor in him at all delight; yea, 'tis natural for it to seem to us as if there was no God. Psal. 14.1. And now, as tho' in very Deed there were no God for us to be in Subjection unto, we set up for our selves, to make our own Interest our last End, and to seek Blessedness, not in God, but in something else; and are naturally inclined, without any Regard to God's Law, to make our own Wills our only Rule; and now, having cast off the Government of God, and forsaken the Foun­tain of living Waters, we go every one his Way, one to his Farm, another to his Merchandise, all serving divers Lusts and Pleasures.—So that it might justly be wondered at, how any among Mankind should ever have it enter into their Hearts, to imagine that we are not fallen Creatures, uni­versally depraved, when it is so evidently a plain Matter of Fact. I think, it can be owing to nothing, but Men's Ig­norance of the Law, in it's spiritual Nature, Purity, Strict­ness and Extent, and their not comparing themselves there­with. And indeed St. Paul tells us that this is the Case. [Page 159] Rom. 7.8. For without the Law Sin was dead. For did Men but rightly apprehend that God is such a one as the Law speaks him to be, and that he requires us to be what really he does, they could not possibly but see their native Contrariety to God and his holy Law. The Israelites of old felt their Contrariety to their Prophets, and they hated them and put them to Death; and the Pharisees felt their Contrariety to Christ and his Apostles, and hated them and put them to Death; for they perceived what their Prophets, and what Christ and his Apostles were driving at: but yet all the while they imagined they loved God and loved his Law, because they neither knew God nor understood his Law. And even so it is at this Day. If an Arminian or Pelagian (for after all their Pretences, they are, by [...] ▪ just like the rest of Mankind) did but verily believe God just such an One as the godly Man in fact sees him to be, he would feel as great a Contrariety to him and Enmity a­gainst him as any Calvinist ever supposed there was in natu­ral Men. They frame a false Image of God in their own Fancies, to suit the vitiated Taste of their corrupt Hearts, and then cry, We are not Enemies to God; no, but it is na­tural for us to love him. When all the while, their native Aversion to God, will not so much as suffer them to believe, that there is any such Being, as really he is. But to proceed,

The aforesaid Disposition and Bent of Heart, which is thus directly contrary to the Law, is exceeding sinful. For while we love our selves supremely and live to our selves ultimately, we do really in our Hearts and by our Practice prefer our selves above God, as if we were more excellent and worthy: in which we cast infinite Contempt on the Lord of Glory, in as much as all the Nations are in his Sight but as a Drop of the Bucket and small Dust of the Ballance, and we compared with him are less than Nothing and Va­nity. He is of infinite Majesty, Greatness, Glory & Excel­lency, and all Heaven adore him in the most humble Pros­trations; and yet we, mean Worms of the Dust, yea vile Worms of the Dust, that deserve every Moment to be spurned to Hell; even we esteem and love our selves more than we do him, and are more concerned for our Interest than for his Honour; yea, care not at all for him or his [Page 160] Honour, nor would ever so much as pretend to, if not ex­cited thereto from the Expectation of Self-advantage: And that even altho' we receive Life and Breath and all Things from him, and his Right to us is original, underived, per­fect and entire. Surely this is infinite Wickedness! And besides, in being and doing so, we affront his sacred Au­thority, whereby as Governour of the World he commands us to love him with all our Hearts.— And further, while we are inclined to take our whole Delight in that which is not God, to forsake him the Fountain of living Waters▪ the Ocean of all Good, and seek Comfort and Content else­where; we hereby prefer the World above God, prefer [...] Wives and Children, our Houses and Lands and Pleasures [...] God, or at best we prefer (an imaginary) Heaven above God: to do either of which, casts infinite Contempt upon the Lord of Glory, the Delight of Angels, the Joy of the heavenly World. The Psalmist said, Whom have I [...] Heaven but thee? and there is nothing on Earth I desire besides thee. Psal. 73.25. And well might he say so. But to be inclined, when we are secure in Sin and not terrified with Hell, to love and desire any Thing upon Earth more than God; and when under Terrors and fearful Expectations of Wrath, to desire Pardon, Peace, and (an imaginary) Hea­ven, and any Thing to make us happy, but God himself; is surely infinitely vile. We do hereby prefer that which is not God, above God himself; as if it was really of mo [...]e Worth; and so cast infinite Contempt upon the Ocean of Blessedness and Fountain of all Good. And besides in this, as well as the former Particular, we go directly contrary to the express Command of the great Governour of the whole World. Finally, to be disposed to an inordinate (an so to a groundless) Self-love, and to be swallowed up in selfish Views and Designs, instead of a tender Love and cordial Benevolence to all our Fellow-Men, loving them as our selves, is evidently contrary to all the Reason and Nature of Things, and to the express Command of God, which is infinitely binding; and so this also is infinitely sinful. And thus these our native Propensities are directly contrary to the holy Law of God, and exceeding sinful.

[Page 161]But here it may be inquired: ‘If a Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and to delight in that which is not God wholly, be so exceed­ing sinful, whence is it that Men's Consciences do not any more accuse and condemn them therefor?’ To which the Answer is plain and easy; for this is evidently owing to their intolerable mean Thoughts of God. Mal. 1.6, 7, 8. A Son honoureth his Father, and a Servant his Master: If then I be a Father, where is mine Honour? And if I be a Master, where is my Fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto you, O Priests, that despise my Name: and ye say, Wherein have we despised thy Name? Ye offer polluted Bread upon mine Altar; (and so ye despise me:) and (yet) ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? (I answer) In that (in doing so) ye (practical­ly) say, The Table of the Lord is contemptible. (And so you treat me with Contempt.)— And yet their Consciences did not smite them, and therefore the Lord adds— And if ye offer the Blind for Sacrifice, is it not Evil? and if ye offer the Lame and Sick, is it not Evil? (or am I so mean and contemptible, that to do so ought not to be looked upon as an Affront? I appeal to the common Sense of Mankind,) Offer it now unto thy Governour, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy Person? saith the Lord of Hosts. (And if your Governour will take it as an Affront, much more may I) for I am a GREAT KING, saith the LORD of Hosts, v. 14. Here it is plain, that it was their mean and contemptuous Thoughts of God, which made them think it would do, to turn him off any how, and with any Thing. And just so it is in the Case before us; Men's Thoughts of God are infinitely mean; He is very contemptible in their Sight: and hence altho' they love themselves, their own Honour and Interest, above the Lord & his Glory, and prefer other Things, and take more delight in that which is not God, than in God himself; yet they say, ‘Wherein do we despise the Lord▪ affront his Majesty, or cast Contempt upon him? We pray in secret and in our Families, we go to Meet­ing and to Sacrament, and help to support the Gospel; and is [...]ot all this to honour the Lord? And wherein do we despise him?’ —Just as if going into your Closet twice a Day to quiet your Conscience, and saying over the [Page 162] old Prayer by Rote in your Family, that you have repeated Morning and Evening ever since you kept House; and in a customary Way going to Meeting and to Sacrament, and paying your Minister's Rate, (and it may be not without grudging;) just as if this was a honouring of God; when at Heart you do not love him one Jot, nor care for his Ho­nour and Interest at all, nor would do any Thing in Reli­gion but for the Influence of Education and common Custom, or from legal Fears and mercenary Hopes, or merely from some other selfish Consideration: yea, just as if this was an honouring of God, when all the Time you cast such infinite Contempt upon him in your Heart, as to give your Heart to another, to that which is not God, to your self and to the World!—Let a Woman treat her Husband so, will he be pleased with it, and will he accept her Person? If she does not love her Husband at all, or delight in his Person, or care for his Interest; if she loves another Man, has a separate Interest of her own, and does nothing for her Husband but to serve her own Ends: will he now think she is a good Wife, because Morning, Noon and Night, she prepares his Food, tho' she does it carelesly, the Victuals always cold and poorly dress'd, hardly fit to eat; and he knows it is all from want of Love: And besides, she thinks she does a great deal for him, and expects her Pay like a hired Maid!—And she says to her Husband, ‘Wherein do I despise you? Am not I always doing for you?’ And she does not feel her self to Blame, because her Husband looks so mean and contemptible in her Eyes: and she cares so little for him, that any Thing seems good enough for him: while all the time her whorish Heart is doating on her Lovers.—Says her Husband, ‘You do not love me, but other Men have your Heart, and you are more a Wife to them than to me.’ —But says she, ‘I can't love you, and I can't but love others.’ And now she seems to her self not to blame. So a wicked World have such [...] Thoughts of God, that they cannot love him at all, and have such high Thoughts of themselves, that they can't but love themselves supremely: they have such mean Thoughts of God, that they can't delight in him at all; but they see a Glory in other Things, and so in them they [Page 163] can't but delight wholly: And because they are habitually insensible of God's infinite Glory, hence they are habitually insensible of the exceeding Sinfulness of these native Propen­sities of their Hearts. So that we see, that mean, contemp­tuous Thoughts of God are the very Foundation of the Peace and Quiet and Security of Men in a mere Form of Religion. If they did but see who the Lord is, they could not but judge themselves and all their Duties to be infinitely odious in his Sight. Psal. 51.21, 22. These Things hast thou done, and I kept Silence: thou thoughtest I was altogether such a one as thy self: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine Eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God. Men have such mean Thoughts of God and so little regard him, that they are naturally inclined to forget that there is a God, and to feel and act as if there were none. Hence (Psal. 14.1.) The Fool saith in his Heart, there is no God. i. e. he is inclined to feel and act as if there was none. And therefore it is added in the next Words, Corrupt are they. So the Children of Eli, who treated the Worship of God with great Contempt, are said to despise the Lord and kick at his Sacrifice; and yet their Consciences did not smite them: and the Ground of all was their mean contemptuous Thoughts of God. 1 Sam. 2.12, 29, 30. The Sons of Eli were Sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord. And thus we see that our native Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and delight wholly in that which is not God, is (whether we are sensible of it, or no,) directly contrary to God's holy Law, and exceeding sinful.

And I add,

This native Bent of our Hearts is the Root of all Sin, (the positive Root, I mean, in opposition to a meer priva­tive Cause) of all our inward Corruptions & vicious Practi­ces; both of those which are contrary to the [...] and to the second Table of the Law, of those which more immediately [...] God, and of those which more especially respect our Neighbour.

From this Root arises all our evil Carriage towards the Lord of Glory. This is the Root of a Spirit of Self-supremacy; whereby we in our Hearts exalt our selves and our Wills above the Lord and his Will, and refuse to be controuled [Page 164] by him or be in Subjection unto him. Jehovah assumes the Character of most high God, supreme Lord and sove­reign Governour of the whole World, and commands all the Earth to acknowledge and obey him as such; but we are all naturally inclined Pharaoh-like to say, Who is the Lord, that we should obey him! we know not the Lord, nor will we do his Will. And hence Mankind, all the World over, break God's Law, every Day, before his Face; as if they despised his Authority in their Hearts. And when he crosses them in his Providences, they, as tho' it was not his Right to govern the World, quarrel with him; because they can't have their own Wills, and go in their own Ways. This was always the Way of the Children of Israel those forty Years in the Wilderness, whose whole Conduct ex­emplifies our Nature to the Life, and in which Glass we may behold our Faces, and know what Manner of Persons we natively be. Men love themselves above God and don't like his Law, and hence are inclined to set up their Wills above and against his; and if they can, they will, have their Wills, and go in their Ways, for all him; and if they can't, they will quarrel with him. And hence the Apostle says, The carnal Mind is Enmity against God, is not subject to his Law, neither indeed can be. Rom. 8.7.

And from this Root arises a Spirit of Self-sufficiency and Independency; whereby we are lifted up in our own Hearts, and hate to be beholden to God; and having different In­terests and Ends from him, naturally think it not safe, and so upon the whole not liking, to trust in him, chuse to trust in our selves, or any Thing rather than him. We have a better Thought of our selves than of God, as knowing we are disposed to be true to our own Interests and Ends, and therefore had rather trust in our selves than in him; and besides, we naturally hate to come upon our Knees to him for every Thing. Hence, that in Ier. 2.31. is the native Language of our Hearts, We are Lords, we [...] no more unto thee. We love to have the Staff in our own Hands, for then we can do as we will; and hate to lie at God's Mercy, for then we must be at his Controul; yea, we had rather trust in any Thing than in God, he being of all Things most contrary to us. And hence the Israe­lites [Page 165] in their Distress, would one while make a Covenant with Assyria, and then lean upon Egypt; yea, and rob the Treasures of the Temple to hire their Aid, rather than be beholden to God. Yea, they would make them Gods of Silver and Gold, of Wood and Stone, and then trust in such lying Vanities, rather than in the Lord Jehovah. And as Face answers Face in the Water, so does the Heart of Man to Man, Prov. 27.19. This is our very Nature.

Again, from the same Root arises a Disposition to depart from the Lord. For other Things appear more glorious and ex­cellent and Soul-satisfying than God. Wherefore the Hearts of the Children of Men secretly loath the Lord, and hanker after other Things, and so go away from God to them. Job 21.12, 14. They take the Timbrel and Harp, and rejoyce at the Sound of the Organ.—Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the Knowledge of thy Ways. Mal. 3.14, 15. It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it, that we have kept his Ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? — We call the Proud happy. Meditation and Prayer are a Burden to Men; they had rather be almost any where than in their Closets; because they secretly loath the Lord: but in other Things they find Comfort, one in his Farm and another in his Merchandise, the young Man in his Frolicks and with his merry Companions, the old Man in his Wife and Children, and Cattle and Swine, and House & Lands, the rich Man in his Riches, the ambitious Man in his Ho­nours, the Scholar in his Books, the Man of Contempla­tion in his nice Speculations: and in any Thing Men can take more Comfort than in God himself. That which An­gels and Saints in Heaven, and Believers on Earth, prize above all Things, Men have naturally the least Account of. Psal. 73.25. Whom have I in Heaven but thee? and there is nothing on Earth I desire besides thee. Jer. 2.5, 11, 12, 13. Thus saith the Lord, What Iniquity have your Fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after Vanity, and become vain? Hath a Nation changed their Gods, which are yet no Gods? But my People have changed their Glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye Heavens, at this.—They have forsaken me the Fountain of [Page 166] living Waters, and hewed them out Cisterns, broken Cisterns that can hold no Water.

And from the whole, we may see there is the greatest Contrariety between the Nature of God and the Nature of the Sinner. And hence God hates Sinners, (Hab. 1.13.) and Sinners hate him (Rom. 8.7.) and when Sinners come to die and go into the eternal World, they will feel then that they hate him, tho' their Nature then will be just the same as it is now. And they will then know that the great Reason they did not feel their Hatred of him in this World, was because they did not think nor would believe that he was such an One.

And hence we may see whence it is, that we are so averse to right Apprehensions of God, and whence it is that our Insensibility of his Glory in being what he is, is so invinci­ble, viz. because he is in his very Nature in such perfect Contrariety to us, and we to him. For to account that infinitely glorious in being what it is, which is of a Nature perfectly contrary to us, is as unnatural as to account our selves infinitely hateful in being what we be; for that ne­cessarily implies this. So far therefore as Sinners love them­selves for being what they be, so far do they hate God for being what he is: And so far as they hate God for being what he is, so far their Insensibility of his infinite Glo­ry in being just such a one is invincible. And now since Men naturally perfectly love themselves for being what they be, and consequently perfectly hate God for being what he is; hence their Minds are naturally perfectly prejudiced against the true Knowledge of God, and perfectly averse to and insusceptive of a Sense of his infinite Glory in being just what he is. And hence it is, that neither God's Word nor Works, nor any thing but his almighty Spirit, can make Men in their Hearts, both really give into it, that God is just such a One as he is, and infinitely glorious in being such. The Heavens may declare the Glory of the Lord, and make the invisible Things of God clearly to be seen▪ and the Scriptures and Ministers may proclaim his Greatness and Glory, & the Honour of his Majesty; but Sinne [...]s in seeing will not see, and in hearing will not hear and understand: for they do not like to have God in their Knowledge. They hate the Light, and love Darkness; they hate [...] think that [Page 167] God should be such a One, can see no Glory in him in being such, secretly wish he was another Kind of a Being, dread to think that he is what he is, and will not, if they can help it. Ioh. 3.19, 20. Rom. 1.28. Ioh. 8.43, 47. That God should love Himself more than he does his sinful Crea­tures, and value his own Honour and Interest more than he does our Happiness, and look upon it as an infinite Affront that we are not exactly of the same Mind, and judge us worthy of eternal Damnation therefor, and as high Gover­nour of the World make such a Law and bind us to it to do so; how can this suit a proud Rebel, that only loves himself and his own Interest, and cares not for God at all? How can a carnal, selfish Heart delight in such a God, and account him infinitely glorious in being such? How can he rejoyce to hear that he sits King for ever, and does all Things according to the Counsel of his own Will, aiming ultimately at his own Glory? Or how can he imagine that such a Conduct, so directly cross to his Temper, is infinitely Right and becoming, glorious and excellent? The Temper, the bad Temper of Sinners Hearts is it, that ren­ders their Insensibility of his Glory, in being what he is, so invincible. He does not suit them, he does not look upon Things as they do, he is not disposed nor does he act as they would have him, but all directly contrary: as con­trary as Light and Darkness, as Sin and Holiness, as Hea­ven and Hell. Therefore the carnal Mind is Enmity against God. But to return,

From this same Root, this Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly, proceeds all our evil Carriage to­wards our Neighbour. Pride, Selfishness and Worldliness, lay the Foundation for all that cheating, lying, backbiting, quarrelling, there is among Neighbours; and for all the Feuds and bloody Wars there ever [...] been among all the Nations of the Earth from the beginning of the World. And Pride, Selfishness and Worldliness, together with that Enmity against God and true Religion which is naturally concomitant, lay the Foundation for all those bloody Per­secutions, which have been in the several Ages of the World, against the Church and People of God. If Men were not [Page 168] proud nor selfish, they would have no Inclination to injure their Neighbours in Name or Estate. If they took their supreme Delight in God as the Portion of their Souls, they would not have any of their little petty Idols to quarrel and contend about. If they loved their Neighbours [...] themselves, there would never more be any Thing like Persecution; and all Injuries and Abuses would cease from the Earth.— So that, to conclude, as a Disposition to love God with all our Hearts and our Neighbours as our selves, is an habitual Conformity to the whole Law, and lays a solid Foundation for a right Carriage towards God and our Neighbour in all Things; so a Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly, is an habitual Contrariety to the whole Law, and lays a sad Foundation for all evil Carriage towards God and our Fellow-Men. And as I said, this Disposition is natural to us, and we are naturally entirely under the Government of it: And so the Seed and Root of all Sin is in us, even in the native Temper of our Hearts. That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh.

OBJ. But if Mankind neither love God nor their Neigh­bours with a genuine Love, such as the Law requires, but natu­rally have, and are entirely under the Government of, a Spirit of Contrariety to the whole Law; whence is it that all Men don't blaspheme God, and do all the Mischief they can, and in Practice as well as in Nature, be as bad as Devils?

ANS. Because of the Restraints, which God for wise Ends and Purposes, is pleased to lay upon them; whereby their Nature is indeed not at all altered, but only in a Measure kept from breaking out, as otherwise it would do. And these Restraints, in ordinary, are such as arise from these Things. (1.) From their animal Constitution: whereby many are inclined to be tender-hearted, compassionate and kind, without any Regard to God or Duty, from a Sort of natu­ral Instinct, much of the same Nature, to all Appearance, as is to be found in many in the brutal World.—(2.) From natural Affection: whereby, partly from animal Nature, and partly from Self-love, and from being brought up to­gether, Relatives have a certain Fondness for one another, and so are disposed to be kind to one another, and that [Page 169] without any Regard to God or Duty; much as it is with many in the brutal World.—(3.) From a good Education; whereby many are influenced to be civil in their Behaviour, honest in their Dealings, kind to the Poor, and to pray in their Families, and join with the Church &c. tho' destitute of Grace in their Hearts.—(4.) From worldly Considerations: whereby, from Self-love, in order to avoid Punishment from Men, or from fear of Disgrace and Reproach, or to get the Good-will of others, or promote some worldly In­terest, Men are influenced sometimes to carry themselves externally, very well.—(5.) From religious Considerations: whereby from Self-love, the Fear of Hell, and the Hope of Heaven, many are influenced to do much in Religion. — (6.) Want of speculative Knowledge of GOD; Ignorance of his Resolution to punish Sin, and of his Anger against them, is also an Occasion of their not blaspheming his Name; as they will do, as soon as ever they come into Eternity, and see how Things really be; tho' then their Na­ture will be exactly the same that now it is. God gives Rain and fruitful Seasons, and fills the Hearts of all with Food and Gladness; he makes his Sun rise and Rain fall upon the Evil and Unthankful, and offers Salvation in Case they repent and believe; whence Men are ready to think that God loves them, and this restrains them. These, and such like Things, restrain Men's Corruptions; but for which, they would be as bad in this World, as they will be in the next, when these Restraints come to be taken off.

To what has been said, may also be added, that God by these three Methods, does much to restrain many. (1.) By his Providence: Whereby he many Times brings remarkable Judgments upon Men for their Sins; and remarkably prospers Men, as to the Things of this World, who are true to their Word and honest in their Dealings. And hereby Men are afraid to be and do as bad as other­wise they would, lest some Judgment should come upon them; and others are influenced to be honest, and to car­ry themselves externally well, in hopes of a worldly Bles­sing.— (2.) By his Word; his written Word, and his Word preached: whereby Men are made more sensible that there is a Heaven and a Hell; and so are the more [Page 170] restrained and kept in Awe.— (3.) By his Spirit: whereby he does much to make many a Man sensible of the Evil of Sin, the Dreadfulness of Damnation, and the Glory of Hea­ven, whom he never sanctifies: whereby they are not only restrained from vicious Practices, but their Corruptions also are greatly stunned, and they made zealous Promoters of Religion. (Heb. 6.4.) And thus the supreme Gover­nour of the World restrains Men's Corruptions, and main­tains some Degree of Order among his rebellious Subjects.

But yet all these Restraints notwithstanding, there is, and always has been, abundance of Wickedness committed in this apostate World. They have murthered God's Ser­vants the Prophets, whom the Lord has sent unto them, rising early and sending. And they have killed his Son, and his Apostles, and shed the Blood of Thousands and Millions of his Saints. So great has been their Aversion to God! And so great their Cruelty! And by the many Wars there have been among the Nations from the Begin­ning, the whole Earth has been filled with Blood. And by cheating and lying and backbiting and Contention &c. Hateful and hating one another, innumerable Injuries have been done to, and unspeakable Miseries brought upon, one another. And as soon as ever Mankind have their Restraints taken [...]ff at Death, without having any Sin in­fused into their Nature, they will appear to be what they are, they will feel and act like very Devils.

But in the mean while, by Means of these Restraints many deceive themselves. For our Corruptions, being thus capable of being restrained, and, as it were, stunn'd, and our Lives of being pretty well regulated to Appearance, while our Nature remains the sam [...], and we feeling our selves able to do considerable [...]owards this; hence many are deceived, and take this to be real Religion, and think they did, and that others may, convert themselves, with but comparatively little Assistance from God's Spirit. And truly so they might, if this was true Religion, & Conversion consisted in thus reforming our Lives, and restraining our Corruptions. But in Conversion our very Nature must be changed, (2 Cor. 5.17.) the native Bent of our Hearts must be turned; (Ezek. 36.26.) and this we are naturally wholly [Page 171] averse unto. And hence arises the absolute Necessity of a supernatural, irresistible Grace, in order to our Conver­sion. Of which more afterwards.

But to return,

From what has been said we see, that we are natively disposed to love our selves supremely, to live to our selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God, wholly: and that this Disposition, by which we are naturally entire­ly governed, in all Things and under all Circumstances, is in direct Contrariety to the holy Law of God, and is ex­ceeding sinful, and is the Root of all Sin, of all our evil Carriage towards God and Man, in Heart and Life. So that, as to have a Disposition to love God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbour as our selves, is a radical Con­formity to the whole Law; so this contrary Disposition is a radical Contrariety to the whole Law. Well therefore may the holy Scriptures speak of Sinners, as being dead in Sin, and at Enmity against God, and by Nature Children of Wrath, and represent them so frequently as being Ene­mies to God. (Eph. 2.1, 3. Rom. 8.7. and 5.10. 2 Cor. 5.18—20.) Since by comparing our selves with the holy Law of God, we are found to be, in Fact, natively so, in the Temper of our Minds. And it will be for ever in vain, for Mankind to plead not guilty, since the Law of God is what it is, and we are what we be. For by the Law by which is the Knowledge of Sin, we evidently stand condemned.

Here it may be objected, ‘That we are natively no otherwise than God makes us; and if therefore we are natively sinful, God made us so; and by Consequence is the Author of Sin. But this Objection has been alrea­dy obviated. For, as has been observed, God only creates the naked Essence of our Souls, our natural Faculties, a Power to think and will and to love and hate; and this evil Bent of our Hearts is not of his making, but is the sponta­neous Propensity of our own Wills. For we, being born de­void of the divine Image, ignorant of God, and insensible of his infinite Glory, do of our own Accord turn to our selves and the Things of Time and Sense, and to any Thing that suits a graceless Heart, and there all our Affec­tions center; from whence we natively become averse to [Page 172] God and to all that which is spiritually Good, and inclined to all Sin. So that the positive Corruption of our Nature is not any Thing created by God; but arises merely from a privative Cause.

Here it will be objected again, ‘That it is not consistent with the divine Perfections, to bring Mankind into the World under such sad and unhappy Circumstances.’But who art thou, O Man, that repliest against God? Shall the Thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou formed me thus? It is blasphemous, to say, that it is not consistent with the divine Perfections to do, what God IN FACT does. It is a plain Matter of Fact, that we are born into the World devoid of the divine Image, ignoran [...] of God, insensible of his infinite Glory. And it is a plain Matter of Fact, that in Consequence hereof we are natively disposed to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ul­timately, and delight in that which is not God, wholly. And it is plain to a Demonstration, that this Temper is in direct Contrariety to God's holy Law, is exceeding sinful, and is the Root of all Wickedness. Now, to say, it is not consistent with the divine Perfections, that Mankind should be brought into the World, as in FACT they be, is wick­edly to fly in the Face of our almighty Creator, and ex­pressly charge him with Unrighteousness; which, surely does not become us. If we cannot see into this Dispensa­tion of divine Providence, yet we ought to remember, that God is holy in all his Ways, and righteous in all his Works, and that the Iudge of all the Earth always does right. I don't mean, that Things are therefore right, merely because God does them; for if they were not right to be done, antecedently to his doing of them, he would not, he could not do them. But I mean, that when it is a plain Matter of Fact that God does such a Thing, we may thence con­clude that it is most certainly right for him to do so, altho' we cannot understand how it is. We ought to remember that he is infinite in his Understanding, and at one compre­hensive View beholds all Things, and so cannot but know what is right and what is wrong in all Cases: and his Judg­ment is unbiassed, the Rectitude of his Nature is perfect, he cannot therefore but do right always, and in all Instances [Page 173] govern the World in Righteousness. But our Minds are narrow and contracted, we are but of Yesterday and know Nothing: and besides, our Judgments are biassed thro' our mean Thoughts of God and high Thoughts of our selves; and hence we may be easily mistaken. Especially in this Case, our Minds are sadly biassed, and it is almost impossi­ble for us to consider the Matter with a Spirit of disinterest­ed Impartiality. And these Considerations ought to check our rising Thoughts, and make us lie down in the Dust before the great and righteous and good Governour of the World, with humble Silence, even altho' we cannot under­stand his Ways. And I believe that a humble Disposition of Heart would lay an effectual Foundation, for us to come to be satisfyed in this Matter: it being our mean Thoughts of God and high Thoughts of our selves, which blinds our our Minds, that we cannot see; and disposes us to quarrel with our Creator, and find fault with the Ruler and Dispo­ser of the World.— It is true, that the holy Scriptures consider Mankind as being what they be, and says but little about the Way in which they came to be in such a Condition. And there is good Reason for it; for it is of infinitely greater Importance that we should know what a Condition we are in, than how we came into it. And it is a foolish Thing for us, and contrary to common Sense, to lay the Blame any where but upon our selves, since we are voluntarily such as we be, and really love to be what we be, do not sincerely desire to be otherwise, but are utterly averse to it.— But yet the holy Scriptures say so much about the Way of our coming into our present Condition, as might fully satisfy our Minds, were not our Judgments biassed. For from them we learn, that Man was made upright, was created in God's Image, and by rebelling against his Maker brought a Curse upon himself and all his Race. Gen. 1.27. Eccl. 7.29. Rom. 5.12—19. There we read, that by one Man, Sin entered into the World; that by one Man's Disobe­dience, many were made Sinners; that by the Offence of one, Iudgment came upon all Men to Condemnation. Adam was created in the Image of God, it was connatural to him to love God with all his Heart, and this would have been our Case, had he not rebelled against God; but now we are [Page 174] born devoid of the divine Image, have no Heart for God, are Transgressors from the Womb, by nature Children of Wrath.

And if any should inquire, ‘But can it b [...] right, that Adam's Sin should have any Influence upon us?’

I Answer, It is a plain Case, that it actually has, and we may depend upon it, that the Judge of all the Earth al­ways does right. And besides, why might not God make Adam our publick Head and Representative to act in our Room, as he has since for our Recovery made his own Son our publick Head and Representative? Rom. 5.12 — 21. He had as much Right, Power and Authority for one, as for the other. And was not Adam as likely to remain obedi­ent, as any of us should have been, and in some Respects more likely? His natural Powers were ripe; he stood not only for himself, but for all his Race; a whole World lay at Stake. And if he had kept the Covenant of his God, and secured Happiness to all his Race, should we not for ever have blessed God, for so good a Constitution? Never once should we have questioned God's Right and Authority to make him our publick Head and Representative, or have thought that it did not become his Wisdom & Good­ness to trust our All in his Hands. And if we should th [...]s have approved this Constitution, had Adam never sinned; why might we not as justly approve it now, if we would be but disinterestedly impartial? It is the same in it self now, that it would have been then, eve [...]y way as holy, just and good.— ‘Oh but for God to damn a whole World for one Sin!’ —But stay;—Does not this arise from mean Thoughts of God, and high Thoughts of your self? O, think who the Lord is! And what it is for a Worm to rise in Rebellion against him! And how he treated whole Thou­sands of glorious Angels for their first Sin! And then, think how God drowned the old World, burnt Sodom; and of the dreadful Things he intends to do to the Impenitent at the Day of Judgment! And learn, and believe, that Sin is an infinitely greater Evil [...] we naturally imagine.

But I must return to my Subject, for it is not my present Business so much to shew, how we came into this Condition, as plainly to point out what that Condition is, which we are actually in. As to this, the whole Scriptures are very plain, [Page 175] but especially the Law, by which is the Knowledge of Sin, clearly discovers what our Case is, and beyond Dispute proves, that all are under Sin. And having already, by comparing our selves with the Law, found out what our Nature is, I proceed to make some further Observations; in which I design much greater Brevity.

4. From what has been said, we may learn, that the very best religious Performances of all unregenerate Man are, com­plexly considered, sinful, and so odious in the Sight of God. They may do many Things materially Good, but the Prin­ciple, End and Manner of them are such, as that, complexly con­sidered, what they do is Sin in the Sight of God. For Sin is a Transgression of the Law.— But,

(1.) The Law requires all Mankind to do every Duty out of Love to God and for his Glory: But all unregene­rate Persons, directly contrary to Law, do every Duty mere­ly out of Love to themselves and for Self-Ends: And so are guilty of Rebellion.

(2.) The Law requires all Mankind to do every Duty out of Love to God and for his Glory: But all unregene­rate Persons do every Duty merely out of Love to them­selves and for Self-Ends; whereby they prefer themselves and their Interest, above God and his Glory: And so are guilty of spiritual Idolatry.

(3.) The Law requires all Mankind to do every Duty from Love to God and for his Glory: But all unregenerate Persons do every Duty merely from Self-Love and for Self-Ends; and yet hypocritically pretend to God, that they love and obey him: And so are guilty of mocking God.

(4.) The Law supposes that God infinitely deserves to be loved with all our Hearts and obeyed in every Thing, and that our Neighbour deserves to be loved as our selves; and that therefore if we should yield perfect Obedience in all Things, yet we should deserve no Thanks: But all unrege­nerate Persons make MUCH of their Duties, tho' such mi­serable poor Things: And so affront God to his very Face.

Upon these four Accounts, their very best Performan­ces are done in a Manner directly contrary to the Law of God, and so are sinful, and therefore odious in the Sight of God. (Prov. 15.8. & 21.27. Rom. 8.8. Psal. 88. [...]6, 37.) [Page 176] As is the Tree, so is the Fruit; as is the Fountain, so are the Streams; And as is the Man, so are his Doings, in the Sight of God, who looks at the Heart (Matt. 12.33, 34▪ 35.) and judges not according to Appearance, but judges righteous Judgment: And, with whom, many Things, that are highly esteemed among Men, are Abomination.

And if their best religious Performances are thus odious in the Sight of God, it is certain that they cannot possibly, in the Nature of Things, have the least Tendency to make Amends for their past Sins, or recommend them to the di­vine Favour; but rather tend to provoke God still mo [...]e. So that it is not of him that Wills, nor of him that Runs, but of God that shews Mercy. Nor is there the least Hope in the Sinner's Case, but what arises from the sovereign Mer­cy of God; whereby he can have Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and have Compassion on whom he will have Compassion. Rom. 9.15, 18.

True, some being ignorant of the Law, and of our entire Contrariety to it, have fancied a Goodness in the Sinner's Duties; and hence have perswaded themselves that there are Promises of special Grace made to them.— Not that there are any Promises in Scripture, of that Nature; for the Scrip­ture every where considers us as being, while unregenerate, dead in Sin. Eph. 2.1. Enemies to God. Rom. 5.10. 2 Cor. 5.17—20. Col. 1.21. Yea, Enmity against him. Rom. 8.7. And so far from any true and acceptable Obedience to God, as that we are not, nor can be subject to the Law, and so cannot please God. Rom. 8.7, 8. And every where repre­sents such, as being under the Wrath of God, the Curse of the Law, and a present Condemnation. Joh. 3.18, 36. Rom. 1.18. Gal. 3.10.—But the real Ground of their Opinion is, their Ignorance of the Sinner's sinful, guilty Circumstances, and their fond Conceit that there is some real Goodness in what the Sinner does. Both which, are owing to their Igno­rance of the Law, * and of the Nature of true Holiness. [Page 177] Rom. 7.8, 9. Rom. 10.3. All will own, that if Sinners Duties, are such as I have represented, it is absurd, and even inconsistent with the divine Perfections, that Promises of special Grace, should be made to them.

'Tis true, they refer to Matt. 25.29. To him that hath, shall be given. But that Text evidently speaks of the final Rewards which shall be given to the Godly at the Day of Judgment; when all the Unregenerate shall, with the sloth­ful Servant, be cast into outer Darkness.— They quote also Matt. 7.7. Ask and you shall receive, &c. But the Con­dition of this Promise was never yet performed by an unregenerate Sinner. For this asking is meant right asking, for those who ask amiss receive nothing. Iam. 4.3. Right asking of Grace, supposes right Desires of it; but the un­regenerate are in the habitual Temper of their Hearts di­rectly contrary to Grace and all spiritual Good, and en­tirely so, as has been proved. But to have genuine Desires after a Thing, and a perfect Contrariety to it, in the whole Heart, at the same Time, is an express Contradiction. The Reason that Sinners many Times think that they love Holiness, and desire heartily and sincerely to be made holy, is, that they, being ignorant of the Nature of true Holiness, have framed a false Image of it in their own Fancies. Did they but distinctly know, the very Thing itself, their native Contrariety to it could no longer be hid. Rom. 7.8, 9. So the Pharisees thought they loved God, and loved his Law; al­tho' at the same Time they perfectly hated the Son of God, who was the express Image of his Father, and came into the World to do Honour to his Father's Law. They had wrong Notions of God and of his Law.

OBJ. But this tends to drive Sinners to Despair.

ANSW. Only to despair of being saved by their own Righteousness, which they must be driven to, or they will never submit to be saved by free Grace thro' Jesus Christ. Rom. 7.8, 9. and 10.3.

[Page 178]OBJ. But if these Things be true, there is not any Motive to excite a poor Sinner to reform, or pray, or read, or do any Thing.

ANSW. By which, it is plain, that a Sinner cares not a Jot for God, and will not go one Step in Religion, only for what he can get. And if such a Sinner had ever so many Motives, he would only serve himself, but not serve God at all. And what Encouragement can God, consistent with his Honour, give to such a one, since he merits Hell every Moment, even by his best Duties, but only that which St▪ Peter gave to Simon Magus? Act. 8.22. Repent, and pray to God, if PERADVENTURE the Wickedness of thy Heart [...] be forgiven thee.

OBJ. But this way of Reasoning will make Sinners leave [...] seeking and striving, and sit down discouraged.

ANSW. Not if Sinners are but effectually awakened [...] see how dreadful Damnation is; for a bare, Who can [...] will make such resolve to run, and fight, and strive, [...] beg, and pray 'till they die; and if they perish, to perish at God's Foot. And as for others, all their Courage [...] from their not seeing what wretched, miserable, sinful▪ guilty Creatures they are; and so must be dash'd to Pieces sooner or later, in this World or the next, whenever [...] Eyes come to be opened. And if God ever in this World shews them what they be, they will thereby perceive [...] Danger they are in: And now a mere who can te [...]l? [...] make them also resolve to run for eternal Salvation, [...] their very last Breath. 'Tis best that false Confidence should be killed, and this Way of Reasoning does not in the [...] [...]end to hurt any other. 'Tis best that Sinners should kno [...] ▪ the worst of their Case, and this Way of Reasoning does not tend to make it appear a Jot worse than it is.

OBJ. But what Good does it do, for Sinners to be in such earnest to reform, read, watch, pray, run, fight, strive, as [...] for their Lives; since all they do is Sin, and God will have Mercy, only on whom he will have Mercy.

ANSW. (1.) It is less Sin to do these Things, than not to do them.

(2.) Sinners never will be in such earnest, only when God comes to awaken and convince, and so to make them effectually sensible of the dreadful State they are in; and it [Page 179] is not any Discouragements that can keep them from being in such earnest then, so long as the least Hope appears in their Case. Other People care but little about eternal Things, and do but very little in Religion, but what Education, Custom, the Fashion and their worldly Interest excites them unto. Most People think it so easy a Thing to be saved, [...] that they look upon such great Concern and Earnestness, as perfect Frenzy.

(3.) This great Earnestness of awakened Sinners makes them try their Strength to Purpose; whereby they come to be experimentally convinced, that it is not in their Hearts to love God, be sorry for Sin, or do any Thing that is Good; whereby the high Conceit they used to have of their Ability and good Nature is brought down, and they feel and find that they are Enemies to God and dead in Sin. And hereby a Foundation is laid for them to see the Justice of God in their Damnation, and so the Reasonableness of God's having Mercy, only on whom he will have Mercy. And thus the Law, tho' it cannot give Life, yet is a School-master to bring Men to Christ. And thus the main Good the awakened Sinner gets, by going to this School-master, is effectually to learn his Need of Christ, and of the free Grace of God thro' him. Rom. 7.8, 9. Gal. 3.21—24. This is the great End God has in View, and this End all the Sinner's earnest Strivings are well calculated to obtain.

5. From what has been said, we may learn the Nature of a saving Conversion, and the Manner wherein it is wrought. Conversion consists in our being recovered, from our pre­sent Sinfulness, to the moral Image of God: Or which is the same Thing, to a real Conformity to the moral Law. But a Conformity to the moral Law, consists in a Disposi­tion to love God supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively; and to love our Neighbour as our selves: and a Practice agreable thereto. And there­fore Conversion consists in our being recovered from what we are by Nature, to such a Disposition and Practice.

And now in order to such a glorious Renovation and Recovery, God by his Spirit sets home the Law upon the Sinner's Heart, causing him to see and feel, to Purpose, just how he has lived, and what he is, and what he deserves, [Page 180] and how he is in the Hands of a sovereign God, and at his Disposal: whereby the Hindrances which were in the Way of his Conversion, are in a Sort removed. Rom. 7.8, 9. [...] without the Law Sin was dead. For I was alive without the Law once: but when the Commandment came, Sin revived, and I died.— And then God who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, shines in the Heart, and gives the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Iesus Christ, 2 Cor. 4.6. And now a Sense of th [...] Glory of God and divine Things being thus imparted to the Soul by the Spi­rit of God, and the Sinner being raised up from spiritual Death to spiritual Life, does return [...]ome to God thro' Jesus Christ, venturing his Soul and immortal Concerns upon the free Grace of God, and thro' him gives up himself to God to be his for ever; to love him supremely, live to him intirely, and delight in him superlatively, and for ever to walk in all his Ways. And hereby at the same Time th [...] Man's Heart begins to be habitually framed to love [...] Neighbour as himself, with a disinterested Impartiality. And thus an effectual Foundation is laid, for universal ex­ternal Obedience, and that from genuine Principles.

And as the divine Life is thus begun, so it is carried on in the Soul much after the same Manner. The Spirit of God shews the Believer more and more what a poor, sinful, Hell-deserving Wretch he is in himself, and so makes him more and more sensible of his absolute Need of free Grace thro' Jesus Christ, to pardon & to sanctify him. He grows in a Sense of these Things all his Days; whereby his Heart is kept humble, and Christ and free Grace made more pre­cious. The Spirit of God shews the Believer more & more of the infinite Glory and Excellency of God, whereby he is more and more influenced to love him, live to him, and delight in him, with all his Heart. And by the whole, his Heart is framed more and more to love his Neighbour as himself. And thus the Path of the Iust is like a shining Light, that shines more and more, to the perfect Day. Prov. 4.18. Only, it must be observed, that the Spirit's Operations after Conversion, are attended with two Differences, arising from two Causes.— (1.) From the different State of the Subject wrought upon. The Believer not being under the [Page 181] Law as a Covenant, is not by the Spirit filled with those legal Terrors arising from the Fears of Hell, as heretofore he was. Rom. 8.15. But only is made sensible of his re­maining Sinfulness, and the Sinfulness and Desert of Sin, and of God's fatherly Displeasure. And hereby his Heart is humbled and broken. Indeed hereby he is many Times filled with unspeakable Anguish and Bitterness of Soul. His Sins are ever before his Eyes, and his Bones wax old thro' his roaring all the Day long. Psal. 23.3. and 51.3. He is troubled, he is bowed down greatly, he goes mourning all the Day long. Psal. 38.1—6. But these awakening, convinc­ing, humbling, mourning, purifying Times always end in Peace and Joy and Rest in God; attended with a greater Degree of Tenderness of Conscience and holy Watchfulness, and followed with bringing forth more Fruit. Psal. 97.11. and 126.5, 6. Psal. 32.5. and 73.25—28. Ioh. 15.2. 2 Cor. 7.10, 11. Heb. 12.11. Hos. 2.6, 7, 14, 15.— (2.) From the different Nature of the Subject wrought up­on. The Believer not being under the full Power of Sin and at perfect Enmity against God, as once he was, hence does not resist the Spirit with the whole Heart, while he takes down the Power of Sin, as heretofore he did; but has a genuine Disposition to join in on God's Side, and say, ‘Let me be effectually weaned from the World, and hum­bled, and made holy and heavenly, and be brought into an entire Subjection to God in all Things, tho' by Means and Methods ever so cross to Flesh and Blood. Let me be stript naked of all worldly Comforts, and let Shimei curse, and all outward Evils and inward Anguish of Heart come upon me, if nothing else will do. Here Lord, I be in thy Hands, chasten, correct, do what thou wilt with me; only let Sin die: Sin thine Enemy, the worst Evil, and the greatest Burthen of my Soul.’ Rom. 7.24. 2 Cor. 4.8, 9, 16. Iam. 1.2. Psal. 119.71. Heb. 12.9. And he is not only thus willing that God should by any Me­thods take down the Power of Sin in his Heart, bu [...] also joins in with the Methods of divine Grace, and by watching and praying, and by fighting and striving, seeks the Death of every Corruption. And from his thus joining in on God's Side against the Flesh, he is said in Scripture to crucif [...] [...] [Page 182] Gal. 5.24. And to work out his own Salvation. Phil. 2.13.

From what has been said under this Head, we may see that a saving Conversion differs very much from the Con­version of these four Sorts of Men.— (1.) The worldly Hypocrite. Who makes a Profession of Religion, does many Things, appears zealous, and pretends to be a good Man, merely from worldly Considerations, and to be seen of Men. Mat. 23.5.— (2.) The legal Hypocrite. Whose Conversion is nothing else, but a leaving off his vicious Practices, and turning to be strict and conscientious in e [...] ­ternal Duties, in Hopes thereby to make Amends for his past Sins, and recommend himself to God; and so escape Hell and get to Heaven. Rom. 10.3.— (3.) The evan­gelical Hypocrite. Whose Converson was nothing else but this, he was awakened to see his Sins, and terrified with Fear of Hell, and humbled in a Measure, but not thoro'ly, but great Light broke into his Mind, and now he believe that Christ loves him, and has pardoned all his Sins, and so is filled with Joy and Zeal, and is become quite another Man: But still has no Grace. Mat. 13.20. Heb. 6.4. 2 Pet. 2.20. These usually either fall away to carnal Se­curity, or being puft up with Pride turn Enthusiasts.— (4.) The wild, blazing Enthusiast. Whose Conversion all arises from imaginary Notions. He has an imaginary Sight of his Sin, his Heart, the Wrath of God, of Hell and the Devil, and is terribly distressed: And then he sees Christ in a bodily Shape, it may be on the Cross with his Blood running, or seated on a Throne of Glory at his Father's right Hand, he sees a great Light shining all round him▪ hears the Angels sing, sees Visions, hears Voices, has Reve­lations, and thinks himself one of the very best Saints in the whole World, tho' in Truth he, by scandalous Practices, or heretical Principles, or both, soon appears to be seven Times more a Child of the Devil than he was before. However, in his own Conceit, he knows infallibly that he is right, and all the World can't convince him to the con­trary. Yea he is fit at once to be a Minister, tho' ignorant of the first Principles of Religion; he is inspired by God, and whoever likes him not is an Enemy to Jesus Christ, he [Page 183] doubts not at all. These are the Tares the Devil sows, by Means of whom the Ways of God are evil spoken of. Mat. 13.39. 2 Cor. 11.14. 1 Tim. 1.7.

Now these several Sorts of Religion, the true and the false, growing up from these several Roots, do all receive a different Nourishment, according to their different Nature; thro' which Nourishment, they grow and increase; and thro' the want of which they decay. The good Man, the greater Sense he has of God's infinite Glory, as he has re­vealed himself in the Law and in the Gospel, so proportio­nably does his Religion flourish and grow in all it's various Branches, and shine with a heavenly Lustre. The worldly Hypocrite lays out himself most in Religion, when there are the most to observe and applaud him. The legal Hypocrite, when his Conscience is most terrified, with the Thoughts of Death; Judgment & Eternity. And the evangelical Hypo­crite has his Affections raised, his Love and Joy and Zeal, in Proportion to his supposed Discoveries of the Love of Christ to him in particular, and Sense of the Glories▪ of (a fancied) Heaven. And finally, the blazing Enthusiast is more or less lively in Religion according as he has Dreams, hears Voices, has Impressions and Revelations, and is ap­plauded by his Party.—And accordingly those different Sorts of Religion, will grow and thrive the best, under such different Sorts of Preaching, as suits their several Na­tures: And Men will cry up those Ministers most, whose Preaching and Conduct agree with their Hearts the best. Mic. 4.5. For all People will walk, every one in the Name of his God. And true Believers will walk in the Name of the LORD their GOD.

6. From all that has been said, we may learn that a Sin­ner is naturally disposed to resist the Spirit of God, with all his Might, when he comes to awaken, convince and humble him, to take down the Power of Sin in his Heart, and turn him to God. Conversion consists in our being recovered from the sinful State we are in by Nature, to a real Con­formity to the divine Law. i. e. in our being recovered from a Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly, and a Practice agreeable to this Disposition—; To [Page 184] a Disposition to love God supremely, live to him [...], and delight in him superlatively, and to love our Neigh­bours as our selves, and a Practice agreeable thereto. i. e. In other Words, in our being recovered from one Dispo­sition, to another directly contrary to it; even so con [...]ary, that the first must die, in order to the others [...] This Disposition from which we are to be recovered, is no [...] any Habit contracted merely by Custom, which might more easily be parted with; but it is connatural to us, a Disposition rooted as it were in our very Nature, and which has the full Possession of our Souls, and the entire Govern­ment of our Hearts: In a Word, a Disposition, which we in every Respect perfectly love, and which we perfectly hate should be ever cross'd, & which yet must be slain or w [...] never converted. Now if ever a Sinner be recovered from this Disposition, 'tis evident it must be against the very Grain of his Heart: his Heart therefore will make the utmost Resistance, it possibly can.

If we were entirely renewed in an Instant, without any previous Strivings of the Spirit, then indeed there would be no Room nor Time for Resistance: but otherwise the Heart will resist. If there were the least Disposition in our Hearts, contrary to our natural Disposition to love our selves supremely, live to our selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly, it might join in on God's Side, be sincerely desirous that God would slay the Enmity of our Hearts; but there is not. The carnal Mind is wholly Enmity against God, is not subject to his Law, nor can be; and so the whole Heart will make Resistance. If the Disposition to which we are recovered in Conversion, were not so directly contrary to our natural Disposition, as that our natural Disposition must be slain, in order to the very being of that, the Sinner's Opposition might not be so great; but when all that is within him is directly cross­ed and going to be killed, all that is within him will oppose and resist, 'till slain. We are by Nature wholly in the Flesh and after the Flesh; according to Scripture-Phrase, That which is born of the Flesh, is Flesh: and by Conversion we are to become Spirit; That which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit. But the Flesh and the Spirit are in Scripture repre­sented [Page 185] as being contrary the one to the other. Will Flesh then of it's own Accord become Spirit? No surely. For the Flesh lusteth against the Spirit. i. e. Is wholly averse to it, and set against it. So that there is no other Way, but, accord­ing to Scripture-Phrase, the Flesh must be crucified, with the Affections & Lusts. But the Flesh perfectly hates this Death, and therefore will resist with all it's Might. Rom. 8.7, 8. Ioh. 3.6. Gal. 5.17. Rom. 6.6.

As the Truth of this Point is thus evident from the Rea­son and Nature of Things, so it is farther confirmed from constant Experience. For let any Man read the Bible with Attention, and he may plainly see, that the very Thing, which God has always been driving at, in all the external Means, he has used with his professing People, in every Age of the World, has been to recover them to a Conformity to his holy Law in Heart and Life. i. e. To recover them from a Disposition to love themselves supremely, live to them­selves ultimately, and delight in that which is not God wholly, and a Practice agreeable thereunto; To a Disposi­tion to love God supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively, and to love their Neighbours as themselves, and to practise accordingly: For on these two Commands hang all the Law and the Prophets. And we may also plainly see, that God's professing People have always manifested the greatest Aversion to hearken to the Law and to the Prophets; and so to die to themselves, the World and Sin; and thus to give up themselves to God to love him, live to him, delight in him, and walk in all his Ways. God sent all his Servants, the Prophets, to the Children of Israel, rising early and sending; but they al­ways hated their Words, and so stopped their Ears, and refused to obey: Yea, they fell into a Rage at them, and in their Rage, they mocked them, they scourged them, they bound them, they imprisoned them, they stoned them, they sawed them asunder, and made the rest wander about in Desarts and Mountains, and in Dens and Caves of the Earth, in Sheep-Skins and Goat-Skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented. Heb. 11.35—38. And when God sent his well-beloved Son to call a wicked World to return home unto [...] him, they said, Come, let us kill him. Mat. 21.33—39. [Page 186] And when Christ sent his Apostles to carry the glad Tidings of Pardon and Peace to the Ends of the Earth, and call [...] Men to repent and be converted, to return and love and serve the living God, both Iews and Gentiles conspired to­gether against them, and killed them; just as the [...] killed the Messenger, whom Rehoboam sent unto them, to call and invite them to return to their former Allegiance. 1 Kin. 12.18. Therefore says our blessed Saviour to the Iews who pretended great Love to God & to the Law, and mightily to honour their Prophets, You are like whited Sepul­chres, you appear outwardly righteous, but inwardly are full of all Hypocrisy & Wickedness. Your Fathers killed the Prophets, whom you pretend to Honour, but you are full as bad as [...] were. Ye Serpents, ye Generation of Vipers, &c. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you Prophets and wise Men and Scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your Synagogues, and persecute them from [...] to City.— O Ierusalem, Ierusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee! How [...] would I have gathered thy Children together, even as the [...] gathereth her Chickens under her Wings, and ye WOULD NOT! Mat. 23, 27—37. From all which, nothing can be plainer, than that this rebellious God-hating World always have been set against a Return to God, and been dis­posed to do all they could, to render all Means ineffectual. Well might St. Stephen therefore, say unto the Iews, as [...] did, in Acts, 7.51. Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in Heart and Ears, ye do always resist the holy Ghost: as your Fathers did, so do ye: Nor had they any Reason to be angry with him therefor.

And as all, who have enjoyed the external Means of Grace, have thus been disposed to hate the Light, shut their Eyes, stop their Ears and refuse to hear, and been utterly averse to a return to God; so this is evidently the Case with all whom God has inwardly wrought upon by his Spirit; [...] all know, who have either had any Experience them­selves, or have candidly observed the Experience of others. And indeed it must be so; for the very same Temper, which will make Men resist the outward, will also dispose them to resist the inward Means of Grace. For the holy [Page 187] Spirit teaches and urges the very same Things, that Moses and the Prophets, and Christ and his Apostles teach and urge, and drives at the same End; and will therefore of Conse­quence meet with the same Opposition and Resistance, from the very same Quarter. This is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World; and Men love Darkness rather than Light, because their De [...]ds are Evil. He that doth Evil, hateth the Light. Joh. 3.19, 20. That Light which will discover Men's evil Deeds, and shew them their fallen, sinful, guilty, helpless undone Condition; and so spoil all their worldly, carnal Comforts, the very Idols of their Hearts; and also kill their legal Self-righteous Hopes; which is all the awaken'd and concerned Sinner has, to his own Sense and Apprehension, to depend upon; that Light which effects Things, which are so directly cross to the inward Temper of the Sinner's Heart, he will naturally be disposed to hate, shut his Eyes against, flee from and resist with all his Might; and that whether it comes from the external Teachings of the Word, or internal Teachings of the Spirit. Yea, so long as there is the least remainder of Corruption left in Believers themselves, it will hate to die, and struggle with all it's Might to keep it's Ground, yea, and to recover it's former Dominion. Rom. 7.23. I see another Law in my Members, warring against the Law in my Mind, and bringing me into Captivity to the Law of Sin, which is in my Members. Yea, it implies a Contradiction, to suppose, Corruption can in any Case be willing to die: for every Temper in our Hearts naturally loves to be gratified and pleased, and it is a Contradiction, to suppose, it can at the same Time be willing to be cross'd and killed. Gal. 5.17.

OBJ. But do not awakened Sinners earnestly desire to repent of and be humbled for their Sins, and to mortify their Cor­ruptions, and to give up themselves to God, to love and live to him; and do they not earnestly pray for the divine Spirit to assist them so to do? How can they then be disposed at the same Time to make such mighty Resistance?

ANSW. (1.) Awakened Sinners see themselves in great Danger, and they therefore earnestly desire and seek after Self-Preservation, and this is plainly owing to Nature, and not to any Grace or Goodness in their Hearts. Psal. 66. [...]. [Page 188] Thro' the Greatness of thy Power thine Enemies submit them­selves unto thee. i. e. they feign a Submission, but they are thine Enemies. (2.) That which moves them to desire to repent, be humbled, &c. is, they hope by these Means [...] make Amends for their past Sins, and ingratiate them­selves into the Favour of God. Rom. 10.3. i. e. merely from Self-love, with pure Hypocrisy, they would impo [...] upon God. For (3.) After all their Pretences, Desires and Prayers, their Nature and Temper is just what it used to be: and were they but delivered from the Fears of Hell, and left at full Liberty to follow their own Inclinations, they would live as viciously as ever they did. (4.) Yet they pretend to love God and would fain have him believe them sincere, and are ready to expect Acceptance for what they do, and to think it hard if God should not accept them. Now if it was the Work of the Spirit of God, to build up such a Sinner in this hypocritical, Self-righteous way, he might be disposed, while under his Fears and Terrors, to concur and fall in with the Spirit's Influence: and all merely from Self-love and for Self-Ends. But if the Spi­rit of God goes about to bring home the Law in its Strict­ness, and shew such a Sinner the very Truth, that he does not love God nor desire to, that his Desires and Prayers and Tears are all hypocritical, that he is still dead in Sin and an Enemy to God, that he deserves to be damned as much as ever he did; that God is at Liberty, all his Duties notwithstanding, to reject him; that he lies absolutely at God's Mercy: Now he will hate the Light, shut his Eyes against it, quarrel at it, and resist it with all his Might. It is exceeding hard for the poor Sinner, when he begins to be awakened, to part with a vain Life, and vain Compa­nions, his carnal Ease and Comfort, and all vicious Courses, to make Restitution to those he has wronged in Name or Estate, and give himself to Reading, Meditation & Prayer, and to a serious mortifying Way of living: he can't bear the Thoughts, would fain contrive an easier Way, or else delay for the present so mournful and tedious a Work. But when, by the dreadful Fears of Hell and eternal Damna­tion, he has been brought, after much Reluctance and Unwillingness, to a forced Consent to all this, hoping [Page 189] thereby to appease the divine Wrath and procure the divine Favour: Now to have all his self-righteous Hopes dash'd and confounded, by a Sight of the Badness of his Heart, by seeing he has no Love to God, no Sorrow for Sin, no Inclination to be holy, but averse to God and all that is Good, and that all his forced Goodness has no Virtue in it, that he is yet under the whole Guilt of all his Sin, under Condemnation of the Law and the Wrath of God, dead in Sin, an Enemy to God, absolutely at God's Mercy: This, this, I say, is dreadful indeed, and far more cross to the very Grain of the Sinner's Heart than all he ever met with before. Here therefore there will be the greatest Struggle and strongest Resistance, before ever the Sinner can, by the Spirit of God, be brought clearly to see and give into these Things. For all these Things are directly cross to the Sinner's Disposition to love him­self supremely and live to himself ultimately, directly cross to a Spirit of Self-supremacy and Independency. The Sinner can't bear that God should be so great and so sovereign, and himself so vile, so little, so absolutely at Mercy. 'Tis a killing Thing. When th [...] [...]ommandment came, Sin revived, and I died. So that it is plain, that notwithstanding all the awakened Sinner's selfish Desires and Prayers, yet in the habitual Temper of his Heart, he stands disposed to resist the Influences of the divine Spi­rit, with all his Might. He is so far from being willing to repent of his Sins, that he is utterly unwilling to see and own his Sinfulness; so far from desiring to be humbled, that he is by no Means willing to see the Cause & Reason he has to be humbled; so far from desiring to be made spiritually alive, that he won't so much as own that he is spiritually dead; so far from desiring the gracious Influen­ces of the holy Spirit to reconcile him to God, that he won't own that he is an Enemy to God, but would fain think, that he heartily desires to love God, and stands ready to hate and resist that Light, which would discover the En­mity of his Heart. He that doth Evil, hateth the Light and flees from it, lest his evil Deeds be discovered; and for the same Reason, he that hath an evil Heart, hates the Light and resists it, lest the Badness of hi [...] Heart be discovered.

[Page 190]7. From all that has been said we may learn, that those Influences of the Spirit which will be sufficient, effectually to awaken, convince and humble the Sinner, and recover him to God, must be irresistible and supernatural. That [...] internal Influences of the Holy Spirit are necessary to reco­ver Sinn [...]rs to God, is so plainly held forth every where in the Bible, that the Arminians themselves do not deny it. But how much, and what Kind of Influences are needful, is very much disputed. Now so much, and such Sort of In­fluences are beyond dispute, needful, as will be sufficient effectually to answer the End, and without which no Sinner will ever be converted. This is self-evident. If Sinners were so good natur'd, as to see and feel and own their Sin­fulness, and the Justice of the Sentence whereby they stand condemned, and die to themselves, the World and Sin, and return home to God thro' Jesus Christ, to love him, live to him, and delight in him for ever, of their own Accord, merely upon reading the Bible and hearing the Law and the Gospel preached, then there would be no Need of any inward Influences of the Spirit at all. Or if they were so good natured, as to be easily perswaded to do so, then some small Degree of the inward Influences of the Spirit would do. But if, in the first Place, they are altogether averse to see and feel and own their Sin and Guilt, and the Justice of their Condemnation according to Law, and en­tirely disposed to hate and resist the Light, as hath but just now been proved, then they must be brought to it by an all-conquering irresistible Grace, or not at all. And if, in the second Place, the clearest Sight and greatest Sense a natural Man can have of what God is, instead of making him ap­pear infinitely glorious and amiable, in the Eyes of one whose Heart is dead in Sin, and diametrically opposite to the divine Nature, will rather irritate Corruption, [...] make the native Enmity of the Heart ferment and rage, and become but the more apparent and sensible, as has been heretofore proved, then there must be a supernatural, spiri­tual and divine Change wrought in the Heart, by the im­mediate Influences of the Spirit of God, whereby it shall become natural to look upon God as infinitely glorious and amiable in being what he is, and so a Foundation hereby [Page 191] laid, for us to love him with all our Hearts, and so genuine­ly to repent, return and give up our selves to him, to live to him, and delight in him for ever; I say, if these Things be so, there must be such a Change wrought by the Spirit of God, or not one Sinner in the World will ever be con­verted to God. And therefore, that there is an absolute Necessity of such Influences of the Spirit of God, in order to a saving Conversion, is evident to a Demonstration, from the very Reason and Nature of Things. God himself must take away the Heart of Stone and give an Heart of Flesh, and write his Law on our Hearts, raise us from the Dead, create us a-new, open our Eyes, &c. &c. according to the Lan­guage of Scripture. And these Things God does do, for all that are renewed, and therefore they are said, to be born of God, to be born of the Spirit, to be spiritual, to be made Par­takers of the divine Nature, &c. And God is said to give Faith, Repentance, and every divine Grace. Ezek. 36.26. Heb. 8.10. Eph. 2.1— 10. 1 Cor. 4.6. Ioh. 1.13. & 3.6. Rom. 8.6, 9. 2 Pet. 1.4. Act. 5.31. Iam. 1.17.

8. From what has been said we may learn to understand the Doctrine of divine Sovereignty in the Bestowment of special Grace for the Regeneration and Conversion of Sinners. The Scripture represents God as choosing some before the Founda­tion of the World, to be holy and to be his Children. Eph. 1.4, 5. And teaches us that whom he did predestinate, them he also calls, and whom he calls them he also justifies, and whom he justifies them he also glorifies. Rom. 8.30. And plainly intimates that such as are given to Christ and ordained to eternal Life, believe, and none other. Joh. 6.37, 39. Act. 13.48. Rom. 11.7. And the Scriptures teach us that God has Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and Compassion on whom he will have Compassion. Rom: 9.18. And that for the most Part, he passes by the rich and great and honourable, and chooses the meanest and most ignoble, that no Flesh might glory in his Presence. 1 Cor. 1.26—29. He hides the Gospel from the wise and prudent, and reveals it to Babes, and that be­cause to pleases him so to do, and Christ rejoyces in his sovereign Pleasure herein, as displaying his infinite Wisdom. Mat. 11.25, 26.

[Page 192]And now what has been said may sh [...]w us the infini [...] Reasonableness of such a Procedure. For, God, whose Ey [...] run to and fro thro' all the Earth, seeing all Things as being what they are, plainly beholds and views the State and Temper of this apostate World; and let Men pretend what they will, he knows their Hearts, he knows they don't love him nor care for him, he sees all their Hypocri­sy and their inward Contrariety to him and his Law, and how much they are settled in their Temper; so far from Repentance, that they will not so much as see their Sin, but stand to justify themselves, insensible of their Guilt and insensible of their Desert, ha [...]ing the Light; he sees they hate to see their Sin and Guilt and Desert, and to be hum­bled and lie down at his Foot, and be absolutely beholde [...] to him; and that they would make the utmost Resistance if he should take them in Hand, and go about thorough [...] to convince them by his Spirit how Things really be; th [...] he views his apostate, rebellious Creatures, & sees how sinfu [...] how dead in Sin, how contrary to all Good, and how irre­claimable they be, and upon the whole how much they deserve eternal Damnation.— In the Days of Eternity he saw just how Things would be before Hand, and now i [...] Time he sees just how Things actually be. In the Days of Eternity therefore he saw that there would not be any Thing in [...]hem to move him to have Mercy on any, and now in Time he finds it to be the Case. And yet he was pleased then of his meer sovereign Pleasure to determin [...] not to cast off all, but to save some; so now he is pleased to put his sovereign Pleasure in Execution; and he [...] Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and Compassion [...] whom he will have Compassion, and many Times takes [...] meanest and vilest, that the Sovereignty of his Grace mig [...] be the more illustrious, and the Pride of all Flesh might be brought low, and the Lord alone be exalted. And surely such a Conduct infinitely well becomes the supreme Gover­nour of the whole World.

Indeed, if any of Adam's Race were so well disposed, as, of their own Accord, merely upon reading the Bible, hear­ing the Gospel preached, and enjoying the common Means of Grace, to believe and repent and to return home to God [Page 193] thro' Jesus Christ, they might be accepted, pardoned and saved, nor would there be any Room for or Need of Sove­reign Grace. But God who knows the Hearts of all, sees that all the Pretences of Sinners that Way are but mere Hypocrisy, and that at Heart they are his Enemies, and utterly averse to a Return.— Or if there was any Virtue to be found among any of the fallen Race of Adam, antece­dent to God's Grace, this might move him to have Mercy upon one rather than another. But he sees that all are in­tirely destitute of Love to him, and intirely at Enmity against him, wholly void of real Goodness, and dead in Sin, and that the only Reason why some are not so out­wardly extravagant and vicious as others, is, because he has by one Means and another restrained them, and not because they are really better.— And while God thus beholds all alike dead in Sin, and in the Temper of their Hearts by Nature equally averse to a Return to him, and views all as guilty and Hell-deserving, there is nothing, there can be nothing, to move him to determine to shew Mercy to one rather than another, but his own good Pleasure. And therefore he has Mercy on whom he will have Mercy; he awakens, convinces, humbles, converts whom he pleases, and leaves the rest to follow their own Inclinations, and take their own Course, enduring with much Long-suffering the Vessels of Wrath.

Let it be here noted, that many of those warm Disputes about the Doctrine of divine Sovereignty, which have filled the Christian World, turn very much upon this Point. All are agreed, that whosoever believes, repents and returns to God thro' Jesus Christ, shall be saved. All will, therefore, yield that if Mankind in general were so good natured, so well disposed, as to return to God thro' Jesus Christ of their own Accord, upon the Calls and Invitations of the Gospel, and only by the Influence and Help of those Advantages which are common, then all might be saved, nor would there be any Need of, or Room for, this sovereign, distin­guishing Grace. But if Mankind have none of this good Nature, but are every Way diametrically opposite thereto; if all the Calls of the Gospel, and common Means and Methods of G [...]ce, will have no effectual Influence upon [Page 194] them; if nothing but an almighty, all-conquering Grace can stop them in their Course of Rebellion, subdue their Lusts, and recover them to God; if this be the Case of all Mankind, then it is plain, that nothing but the meer Mercy of God, can interpose and prevent a universal Ruin. And it is plain that the sovereign Governour of the whole World is, in the Nature of Things, at most perfect Liberty to shew this Mercy, to none, or to some few, or to all, just as it seems good in his Sight. And since from Eternity he foresaw just how Things would be, from Eternity he might determine what to do. So that the great Question is, Whether Mankind are naturally so entirely averse to a true Conversion? For if they be, the Reasonableness of the divine Sovereignty must be admitted in this Case: and if they be not, none will any longer plead for it.— And what the natural Opposition of Mankind to Conversion i [...], may be easily seen, if we consider what the true Nature of Conversion is, and compare their Temper herewith. — And what the true Nature of Conversion is, may be easily known by considering the true Nature of the moral Law.— In a Word, if the Law does only require what the Armi­nians and Pelagians suppose, and Religion be just such a Thing, 'tis a plain Case, that Mankind are not so bad, nor do they need such an irresistible Grace. But if the Law re­quires quite another Sort of Holiness, and so true Religion be quite another Sort of Thing, even such as I have described, which lies so diametrically opposite to the natural Bent and Biass of our whole Souls, 'tis plain, 'tis a clear Case, that Grace must be irresistible, and can proceed from nothing but meer free Mercy, nor result from any Thing but the so­vereign Pleasure of the most High. So that in short, the whole Dispute is resolved into this Question, What does the Law of God require, and wherein does a genuine Con­formity thereto consist? But of this more afterwards.

And from what has been said we may easily gather a plain and short Answer to all the mighty Cry about Pro­mises, Promises to the Unconverted, if they will do as well as they can. For 'tis plain, Heaven's Gates stand wide open to all that believe and repent and return to God thro' Jesus Christ. Ioh. 3.16. And 'tis plain, the Wrath of God i [...] [Page 195] revealed against all that do not so. Ioh. 3.36. And 'tis plain, that there is nothing but the want of a good Tem­per, together with the obstinate Perverseness of Sinners, that hinders their Return to God; and that therefore all their Pretences of being willing to do as well they can, are mere Hypocrisy. They are so unwilling to return to God, or take one Step that Way, that they can be brought back by nothing short of an almighty Power; and are so far, there­fore, from being entitled to the Promises of the Gospel, that they are actually, and that deservedly too, under Condemnation by the Gospel, (Ioh. 3.18.) and under all the Curses of the Law, Gal. 3.10. ‘Take heed there­fore, O Sinner, thou Enemy of God, when you pretend that you desire to repent and do as well as you can, that you be not found quieting your self in a State of E­strangement from God, hiding your natural Aversion to God & Holiness under fair Pretences. And know it if you do, tho' you may deceive your self by the Means, yet it will appear another Day before all Worlds, and it will be known that you were an Enemy to God, and would not be reconciled, and did but flatter him with your Lips, and lie unto him with your Tongue, in all your seemingly devout Pretences. You think your self good enough to have an Interest in the Promises, but infinite Goodness judges you deserve to be numbred among the Children of Wrath and Heirs of Hell. Ioh. 3.18, 36. Your high Conceit of your own Goodness i [...] the Foundation of all your Confidence, and both join to keep you secure in Sin and under Guilt, and insensible of your need of Christ & sovereign Grace. Luk. 5.31. Rom. 10.3.’ Did Sinners but see the Badness of their Hearts, they would be soon convinced that the Promises are not theirs, but the Threatnings; and would feel & know that they have no Claims to make, but lie absolutely at Mercy. Luk. 18.13.

9. And if it is nothing but the mere Grace & sovereign good Pleasure of God, which moves him to stop Sinners in their Career to Hell, and by his irresistible and all-conquering Grace, and by the supernatural Influences of his holy Spirit, subdue their Stubbornness, take down the Power of Sin in their Hearts, and recover them to himself: [Page 196] And if he does this for them when they are at Enmity a­gainst him, and are his open Enemies by wicked Works, and so are altogether deserving his Wrath and Vengeance▪ I say, if this be the Case, there is all Reason to think, that he, who thus begins, will carry on the Work to Perfection.— He knew how bad the Sinner was when he first took him in Hand, how he hated to be converted, and how he would resist, and that his own almighty Arm must bring Salva­tion; and yet this did not discourage his first Undertaking. And he knew how the Sinner would prove after Conver­sion, just how barren and unfruitful, just how perverse and rebellious, and just how apt to forget God and turn away from him, and that his own almighty Grace must always be working in him to will and to do. Phil. 2.13. — He knew all the discouraging Circumstances before-hand, and his infinite Goodness surmounted them all, and he had Mercy on the poor Sinner because he would have Mercy on him, of his meer good Pleasure, from his boundless Grace, aiming at the Glory of his own great Name. Eph. 1.6.—And now this being the Case, we have all Reason to think, that God will never alter his Hand, or leave un­finished the Work which he has begun. For there always will be the same Motive from which he undertook the Work, to excite him to carry it on, even the infinite Good­ness of his Nature; and he will be always under the same Advantages, to answer the End he at first proposed, namely, the Advancement of the Glory of his Grace. And he will ne­ver meet with any unforeseen Difficulties or Discouragements in his Way. We may therefore be pretty certain, if really God begins this Work, under such Views and such Cir­cumstances, that it is with Design to carry it on▪ As Sa­muel reasons in a parallel Case. 1 Sam. 12.22. For the Lord will not forsake his People for his great Name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his People. So that if the Doctrine of the Saints Perseverance were not ex­presly taught in Scripture, yet on this Ground we might argue very strongly for it. — But that this is a Doctrine plainly revealed in the Gospel we may learn, from Mat▪ 13.23. Ioh. 4.14. & 10.4, 5, 27, 28. 1 Ioh. 3.6, 9. Heb. 8.10. &c. &c.—When St. Paul kept under his Body [Page 197] and brought it into Subjection, LEST he should be a Cast-away, (1 Cor. 9.27.) He did no otherwise than he was wont to do in temporal Concerns, in Cases wherein he was before­hand certain of the Event. So he sent Word to the chief Captain, of the Iews lying in wait to kill him, lest he should be murdered by them; whenas it was revealed to him from God, but the very Night before, that he should live to see Rome. Act. 23.12—21. So he would not allow the Sailors to leave the Ship in the midst of the Storm, lest they should some of them be drowned for want of their Help; whenas, but a little before it was revealed to him from God that not one of them should be drowned. Act. 27.23—31. And indeed, it was his Duty to do as he did, as much as if he had been at the greatest Uncertainties about the Event. So altho' Paul knew that never any Thing should separate him from the Love of God, (Rom. 8.38.) Yet he used all possi­ble Endeavours to mortify his Corruptions, lest he should be a Cast-away. And indeed, it was his Duty to do so, as much as if he had been at the greatest Uncertainties about the Event. And what was his Duty, was also the Duty of all good Men; and therefore St. Paul in his Epistles is fre­quently exhorting all, to do as he did: and that in a per­fect Consistency with the Doctrine of the Saints Perseve­rance, which he also teaches. And as Paul's being certain of the Event, did not tend to make him careless in the Use of proper Means to save his natural Life, but rather tended to encourage and animate him, as knowing that he should finally succeed; so his being certain of the Event, did not tend to make him careless, but to animate him, with respect to his spiritual and eternal Life. And as it was with him, so it is with all good Men. Rom. 6.2. For this is always the Case, that Certainty of Success, animates Men; if the Thing they are about, be what they love and what their Hearts are engaged in; but to die to themselves, the World and Sin, and love God, and live to him, and grow up into perfect Holiness, is what all Believers love and have their Hearts [...]gaged after; an absolute Certainty, therefore, of Perseverance has, in the Nature of Things, the greatest Tendency to animate them to the most sprightly Activity. There are none but grace­less [Page 198] Hypocrites, that take Encouragement, from the Doctrines of free Grace, to Carelesness and Sin. Rom. 6.1, 2.

10. If this be the Nature of a saving Conversion, if this be the Nature of true Holiness, if this be true Religion, so contrary to Flesh and Blood, and all the habitual Propen­sities of Nature, then so long as there is the least Corruption left in the Heart, there will, of Necessity, be a continual Con­flict. Grace will continually seek the Ruin of Sin, thro' it's Contrariety to it and Hatred of it; and Sin will strive to maintain it's Ground, yea and to regain it's former Do­minion. The gracious Nature delights in the Law of God, and aspires after sinless Perfection; the sinful Nature hates the Law of God, and strives to lead the Man captive into Sin. The gracious Nature is a Disposition to love God supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him su­perlatively; and this sinful Nature is a Disposition to love Self supremely, live to Self ultimately, and delight in that which is not God, wholly: and because these two are con­trary the one to the other, therefore the Flesh will lust against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh. Gal. 5.17. The gracious Nature joins in on God's Side against all Sin; and while God works in the Man to will and to do, he works out his own Salvation with Fear and Trembling, with Caution and Circumspection, with Watchfulness and holy Concern; labouring to die to himself, the World and Sin, and be wholly the Lord's. Phil. 2.12, 13. While God is, by his Spirit, realising to his Heart the Being and Perfections of God, the Existence and Importance of divine and eternal Things, and is spreading divine Light over his Soul, and is banishing selfish and worldly Views, and is drawing his Soul to holy and divine Contemplations; he feels the di­vine Influence, he blesses the Lord, he summons all within him to Engagedness, he pants after G [...]d. ‘O that I might know him, that I might see [...] in his infinite Glory! (Psal. 63.1, 2.) O God, thou [...] my God, early will I seek thee: my Soul thirs [...]eth for [...] my Flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty Land, w [...]re [...] Water is: To see thy Power and thy Glory, so as I [...] thee in the Sanctuary. (v. 8.) My Soul [...] after thee. (Psal. 73.25.) Whom have I [...] but thee? And [Page 199] there is none upon Earth I desire besides thee. O that I could, with my whole Heart, love thee for ever, live to thee for ever, live upon thee for ever, and never, never, depart from thee! O that I could think for thee, and speak for thee, and act for thee; at Home and Abroad, by Day and by Night, always live to thee and upon thee! Here, Lord, I give my self to thee to be for ever thine, to love thee and to fear thee, and to walk in all thy Ways and to keep all thy Commands; and O that my Heart might never depart from thee!— But alas, alas, to will is present with me, to have a Disposition to all this, and long for all this, and seek and strive for all this, is easy and natural, for I delight in the Law of God after the inward Man; but how to perform I find not; how to get my whole Heart, so to fall in, as that there shall not be the least contrary Temper, this is clean be­yond me, for I am still carnal, sold under Sin, have another Law in my Members, have still the Remains (of the Flesh) of my native Contrariety to God and Disposition to dis­relish divine Things; and so am apt to forget God, to warp off from him, and to have selfish and worldly Views and Designs secretly creep into my Mind and steal away my Heart from God, and so am daily led into Captivity. O that Sin was entirely dead, that a Disposition to dis­relish God, to forget him, to go away from him, to live without him, and to seek Content in that which is not God, was entirely slain! O wretched Man that I am, who shall deliver me? Rom. 7.14—24.

If Grace and Corruption were not so contrary the one to the other, so diametrically opposite, there might possibly be an Accommodation between them, and both quietly dwell together in the same Heart. But now they are set for each other's Ruin, and seek each other's Destruction, and like Fire and Water will never rest, till one or the other be entirely destroyed. Gal. 5.17.

If Grace could be wholly killed, or Corruption wholly slain, then the Conflict of Believers might wholly cease in this Life; but Grace is immortal, like a living Spring that shall never, dry, (Ioh. 4.14.) like a Root that will ever grow, (Mat. 18.20—23) and Christ is always purging B [...] ­lievers, [Page 200] that they may bring forth more Fruit. (Ioh. 15.2.) So that he that is born of God cannot Sin as others do, (1 Ioh. 3.9.) cannot Sin, but against the Grain of his Heart, the gra­cious Nature continually resisting. (Gal: 5.17.) So that it is certain, from the Nature of Things, that David and Solomon, neither of them felt, in their worst Frames, as graceless Men do. Grace resisted within, (Gal. 5.17.) hating their Proceedings, nor did it cease inwardly to strug­gle and torment them, till the one cries out, My Bones wa [...] old thro' my roaring all the Day long. Psal. 52.3. For his Sin was ever before his Eyes. Psal. 31.3. And the other, Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit. Eccl. 1.2.

Many Stony-Ground-Hearers, who were once filled with Light and Joy, do when their Religion is all worn out, and they lie dead and blind and stupid whole Months and Years toge [...]her, cry, The best are dead sometimes; and have Recourse to David and Solomon: and many a Hypo­crite, whose Religion is only by Fits and Pangs, some­times floated as the Streets be in Summer, by a sudden Shower, and then in a few Days as dry as ever, deceive themselves here; and many take natural Conscience to be a Principle of Grace, and the War between that and their Corruptions to be a gracious Conflict: But as all coun­terfeit Religions are specifically different from the true, as has been already shewn, so by Consequence their Conflict is different from that which Believers have, in it's very Nature. They fight, from different Principles, and for different Ends, and about different Things, and in a dif­ferent Manner, just as their Religions differ from one another.

11. If this be the Nature of Conversion and Holiness, and the Manner wherein they are wrought, and if true Religion be thus specifically different from all Counterfeits, then may Believers be infallibly certain that they have true Grace. A Man cannot but perceive his own Thoughts, and know what Views he has, and be intuitively acquainted with his own Designs and Aims; so every Man knows it is wi [...] him, as to the Things of this World. Much less is it pos­sible that there should be so great a Change in a M [...]n's Heart and Life, Thoughts, Affections and Actions, as [...] [Page 201] is made by Conversion, and yet he know nothing about it. For a Man to be awakened, out of a State of Security in Sin, to see what a sinful, guilty, helpless, lost, undone Estate he is in, and yet not to perceive any Thing of it, evidently implies a Contradiction, and so is in the Nature of Things impossible. For a Man to be brought to see God in his infinite Glory, so as to be disposed to love him supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him su­perlatively, & yet not to perceive it, i. e. not to be conscious of his Views and Affections, also implies a Contradiction, and so is impossible. For a Man to lose his selfish and worldly Views more and more, from Year to Year, and die to himself, the World and Sin, and for a Man to live a Life of Communion with God, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of the Lord, and yet not at all to perceive it, is utterly im­possible. For the Mind of Man is naturally conscious to it's own Actings. So, from the Nature of Things, it is evident that Grace is perceptible. Yea, in it's own Nature, it must be as perceptible as Corruption, Love to God as Love to the World, Sorrow for Sin as Sorrow for Affliction, aiming at God's Glory as aiming at our own Honour and Interest. But if true Grace be in it's own Nature percep­tible, and if it be also specifically different from all Coun­terfeits, it is Self-evident that a good Man may know that he has true Grace. I cannot see why, extraordinary Cases excepted, a good Man, who lives a Life of Communion with and Devotedness to God, and in the daily Exercise of every Grace, may not come to know that he has Grace. Surely he must be conscious to the Actings of his own Mind; for this is natural. And surely he may see the Difference between his Religion and all Counterfeits, when the Difference is so great & plain. So that if the Scriptures did not expresly teach us that Assurance is attainable, it is yet evidently demonstrable from the Nature of Things.

But the Scriptures do plainly teach this Doctrine, in 2 Pet. 1.10. 1 Ioh. 5.13. 1 Ioh. 2.3. and 3.14. &c.&c.— Besides, all those Promises, that are made for the Comfort and Support of God's People in this World, suppose that they may know that they are the People of God. For unless a M [...]n knows, that he is a Child of God, he cannot [Page 202] rationally take Comfort in those Promises, which are pecu­liar to such. It is true, brazen Hypocrites will do so, but they act very presumptuously. It is Folly & Madness for me to flatter my self, that God has promised to do so and so for me, unless I knew that I am one to whom the Pro­mises belong. For Instance, it is Folly and Madness for me to believe, that God will make all Things work together for my Good, according to that Promise in Rom. 8.28. unless I know that I love God: For this Promise plainly respects such, and no other. But there are very many pre­cious Promises made to Believers in the Word of God, which are evidently designed for their Comfort and Support▪ It is certain therefore that God thinks that Believers may know they are such, without which Knowledge, all these Promises cannot attain this their End.

Besides, to suppose that to be a Servant of God and a Servant of the Devil, to be going the Way to Heaven and the Way to Hell, to be travelling in the narrow Way and to be travelling in the broad Way, are so near alike, as that even good Men themselves cannot possibly know them asunder, and which Way they are going, is on every Ac­count intolerably absurd; nor could the Christian World have possibly drunk in such a Notion but that true Grace is so very rare a Thing.

I may here by the Way just observe these three Things. 1. That the Way for a Man to know that he has Grace, is not to try himself by fallible Signs, but intuitively to look into him­self and see Grace. A Thousand Signs of Grace will not prove that a Man has Grace. There is no Sign of Grace to be depended upon, but Grace it self: For every Thing, but Grace, a Hypocrite may have. And what Grace, Ho­liness, or true Religion is, I have already endeavoured to shew.— 2. That the Way for a Man to know that he has Grace, is not to judge himself by the Degree and Measure of his religious Frames and Affections, or the Height of his At­tainments; but by the special Nature of them. For as there is not any one Grace but a Hypocrite may have it's Coun­terfeit, so Hypocrites may rise as high in their Religion as any true Believer does in his. Was Elijah the Prophet jealous for the Name and Worship of the true God and [Page 203] against false Religion? So was Iehu. And he appeared as full of Zeal, and more Couragious, and did greater Exploits. There was scarce a more zealous Saint than Elijah, in all Old-Testament Times; but yet Iehu, that Hypocrite, made a much greater Shew and Noise, seemed to be fuller of Zeal, and Courage, and actually did greater Exploits, set­ting aside the Miracles God wrought by Elijah. (1 Kings 1 &, and 19. Chap.—2 Kings 9, and 10. Chap.) And we don't read of one Saint, in all the Bible, that fasted in a constant Way, twice every Week, as the Pharisee did. (Luk. 18.) And there is not one Saint in all the Bible that ever did, externally and visibly, any higher Acts of Self-denial, than to give all his Goods to feed the Poor, and his Body to be burnt, and yet St. Paul intimates that a Man may do so and still have no Grace in his Heart. 1 Cor. 13.3. It is no certain Evidence therefore, that a Man is a good Man, because he has a great deal of Religion, more than the most, and full as much as the best, yea more than any in all the Country, yea, or in all the whole World. For in Iehu's Time, there was not perhaps for a while one like him, upon the Face of the whole Earth. A Man therefore cannot know that he is a good Man, by the Degree of his Religion, but only from the special Nature of it. And wherein true Religion speci­fically differs from all Counterfeits, I have already shewn.— 3. Since Grace is in it's own Nature perceptible, and speci­fically different from all Counterfeits, there is no Need of the immediate Witness of the Spirit, in order to a full Assurance. If the Spirit of God does but give us a good Degree of Grace, and enlighten our Minds to understand the Scrip­tures, and so to know the Nature of true Grace, we may then perceive that we have Grace. And the more Grace we have, the more perceptible will it be, and it's difference from all Counterfeits will be the more plain. And if a Be­liever may know, and be certain, that he has Grace, with­out the immediate Witness of the Spirit, then such a Wit­ness is altogether needless, and would be of no Advantage; but God never grants his Spirit to Believers to do Things needless and to no Advantage: and therefore there is no such Thing as the immediate Witness of the Spirit in this Affair. And besides, 'tis plain, the Scriptures every where [Page 204] direct us to look into our selves, to see whether we love God and keep his Commands, to see whether Christ in his holy Nature be formed in us, to see whether the Spirit as an enlightener and sanctifier dwells in us and influences and governs us; but never once directs us to look for the im­mediate Witness of the Spirit, in order to know whether we have Grace.

OBJ. But the Text says expresly, The Spirit it self beareth Witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God. Rom. 8.16.

ANS. But the Text does not in the least intimate, that the Spirit witnesses immediately. The Spirit bears witness; but how? The Spirit makes it evident, that we are the Chil­dren of God; but in what Way? By immediate Revelation! No, the Scripture no where tells us to look for such Reve­lations, or lays down any Marks whereby we may know which come from God, and which from the Devil. How then does the Spirit make it evident that we are the Chil­dren of God, and by what Witness does he make it appear? Not by telling of us that we are Children; the Devil may tell Hypocrites so; but by making of us Children in the very Temper of our Hearts, by giving to us much of a Child-like Frame of Spirit towards God, a Thing the Devil cannot do, and so a Thing by which we may certainly know. This holy, divine, child-like Frame and Temper of Heart, where­by we bear the very Image of our heavenly Father, is God's Mark, which, more or less conspicuously, he sets upon all the Lambs of his Flock. This is the Seal of the Spirit. (Eph. 1.13.) For this is the Earnest of our Inheritance. (v. 14.) 'Tis eternal Life begun in the Soul. (Ioh. 17.3.) This is called the Witness of the Spirit, because it is what the Spirit works in our Hearts, and that by which he makes it evident that we are the Children of God: the Design of Witnesses being to make Things evident. And indeed this is the only distinguishing Mark that God puts upon his Children, and the only Thing wherein they differ from all Hypocrites, and is the only Evidence the Scripture directs them to look for and expect, and without which all other Evidences are just good for Nothing. Mat. 7.24—27. Ioh. 15.2. 1 Ioh. 2.3, 4. and 3.6—10.

[Page 205]And this being the Case, we may see how much out of the Way those be, who think and say, that it is a Sin for them to doubt the Goodness of their State, because of their Badness, & because they can see no Grace in their Hearts. ‘For, say they, that would be to call God's Truth & Faithfulness into Question, who has by his Spirit immediately assured me of his Love and my Salvation; just as if the Immutability of his Purpose depended upon my good Frames. No, I must do as Abraham did, who against Hope, believed in Hope; so tho' I see no Grace in my Heart or Signs of any, yet I must believe my State is good, and that I shall be saved. It is not my Duty to look so much into my own Heart, I shall never be the better for that; but I must look to Christ, and believe, and never doubt. For the Spirit of God did at such a Time assure me of Christ's Love to me, and I knew I was not deceived, and it would now be a great Sin in me to doubt, it would be a giving the Lie to Christ and to the holy Spirit.’

How sad a Delusion are such poor Sinners under, who dare not believe the holy Scriptures, for fear they shall Sin, which every where assure us, that unless we are holy in Heart and Life, our Faith is vain and we in a State of Con­demnation; and teach us that we ought to be no more confident of our good Estate, than in Proportion as our Sanctification is evident▪ How sad it is that they should attribute all their Doubts to carnal Reason or the Devil, which indeed are but the secret Dictates of their own Con­sciences, and are so agreeable to the Word of God! What a dreadful Spirit is this, that thus leads them off from the Word of God; and so blinds their Minds, that they can­not understand it, nor dare believe it! Surely it can be no other than Satan transformed into an Angel of Light. *

[Page 206]Alas! Alas! How does the God of this World blind the Minds of them that believe not! Some firmly believe that there is no such Thing, as a good Man's knowing that he has Grace; and so they contentedly live along, not know­ing what World they are hastening unto, to Heaven or to Hell; but they hope their State is good, and hope their Hope is well grounded, but know not but that their Hope is that of the Hypocrite. Yea, they are not willing to believe there is any such Thing as knowing, for that would make them suspect that they are wrong, and that true Religion is some­thing they never had: which if it be the Case, yet they are not willing to know it. They hide themselves in the [Page 207] dark! They say, There is no Light! And will not believe that a good Man may know that he has passed from Death to Life. While others from the very same Principle, viz. because they hate the Light, firmly believe that it is a Sin to doubt; and so will never, dare never, call their State into Question, and thoro'ly look thro' the Matter. Both are equally rotten at Heart, and so equally hate the Light, altho' they take different Methods to keep from it. And the Devil does his utmost, to keep both fast bound where they are.

Happy the true Believer, who is made impartial by di­vine Grace! It is a Recovery to God and Holiness, that he is after; a Confidence that his Sins are pardoned, without this, would be but a poor Thing. If he obtains this, he gets what he wants: and if not, he feels himself undone; nor can he flatter himself that he has obtained it, when he has not. And this he makes his only Evidence of God's eternal Love, and of his Title to eternal Glory; and be­lieves his State to be good, no farther than this goes. Mat. 7.21—27.

Thus I have gone thro' the first Use, the Use of Instruction. And thus we see how a right understanding of the Law, will set many of the Important Doctrines of Religion in a clear and easy, in a scriptural and rational Light. By the Law we may learn the primitive State of [Page 208] Man, and how low we are fallen, and to what we must be recovered; and so by Consequence how averse we are to a Recovery, what Grace we need to recover us; and so by Consequence that we must be saved by sovereign Grace, or not at all; whence the Reasonableness of the Saints Perse­verance appears; and from the whole, the Nature of the christian Conflict, and the Attainableness of Assurance are discovered. And I will conclude this Use with two Re­marks.

Remark 1. If the Law requires what, I think, I have proved it does, and a Conformity to it consists in what I have before described; then all the other Particulars do necessarily & most inevitably follow: Such was the Image of God in which Adam was created, and such is our natural Depravity, and such are the best Duties of the Unregene­rate, and such is the Nature of Conversion, and our Aver­sion to it, &c. So that if my first Principles are true, then the whole Scheme is beyond Dispute true also.—And what are my first Principles? Why, that to love God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbours as our selves, is origi­nally the very Essence of Religion: And that the Grounds upon which God requires us so to do, are to be the Mo­tives of our Obedience. He requires us to love him su­premely &c. because he is supremely glorious and amiable, and because our additional Obligations to him are what they are. He requires us to love our Neighbours as our selves, because they are what they are, and stand in such Relations to us. With a perfect moral Rectitude of Tem­per, influenced and governed by Truth, by the Reason and Fitness of Things, he would have us love and glorify him as GOD, i. e. as being what he is; and love and treat our Neighbours as being what they are. And is not this evidently the meaning of the divine Law?

Remark 2. If the Law, as a Rule of Life, be so abated and altered, as that now it only requires us merely from a Principle of Self-love and for Self-Ends sincerely to endea­vour to love God and keep his Command [...], and aim at his Glory: and if the Law, as a Covenant, be disannulled, and such an Obedience be substituted in the Room of Perfection, as a Condition of eternal Life, or as a Condition [Page 209] of our Interest in Christ; then the contrary to all that I have laid down is most true and certain. For let the pri­mitive State of Man be what it would, 'tis plain, we are not entirely destitute of a Conformity to this new Law, much less diametrically opposite to it in the natural Tem­per of our Minds, nor are our best Duties, while unrege­nerate, Sin; 'tis plain, Conversion is another and a much easier Thing, and that we are not so intirely averse to it, and do not need irresistible Grace, nor lie at God's sove­reign Mercy, &c. All these Things, and many more such like, are plain, if the good old Law is thus altered and abated, and thus disannulled, if the new Law requires no more, and this be the Condition of eternal Life, or of an Interest in Christ.— So that if any are disposed to disbe­lieve what have been laid down as Consequences, and to build up another Fabrick, if they will be consistent with themselves, they can lay no other Foundation than this, viz. To destroy the Law ▪ which I have before proved to be as impossible as to destroy the Nature of God; because the moral Law necessarily results from the divine Perfections, and our Obligations to conform to it are infinite, eternal and unchangeable, as the Nature and Perfections of God himself.

And therefore, I think, we may conclude with the greatest Certainty, that this Foundation, viz. that the Law i [...] thus abated and altered, is but Sand; and that the Fa­brick built upon it will not stand. If the Law had requir­ed us to love our selves supremely, and live to our selves ul­timately, and to have endeavoured to love God and our Neighbours only to answer our own Ends; then this Sort of Religion would have been right. Did I say, right? No, it would not be right, being unalterably contrary to the very Reason and Nature of Things; nor could such a Law have been possibly made by a God who loves Righteousness, and hates Iniquity.—But if this was right, if this was Re­ligion, 'tis plain, Mankind have the Root of the Matter in them; for they are all naturally inclined to love themselves supremely, and live to themselves ultimately; and so would not need to be born again, to have a new Nature; the old Na­ture would be sufficient; they would only need to be con­vinced [Page 210] that it is for their Interest to endeavour to love God and do their Duty, and merely Self-love would make them religious, in order to answer their own Ends. But if the Law never has been thus abated and altered, then this Re­ligion is really no Religion at all, nothing but mere Hypo­crisy, and of a Nature diametrically opposite to true Holi­ness. Only let it be clearly determined, What the Nature of the moral Law is, and there will be a final End put to a hundred Controversies.

Here is a Man, he reforms his Life a little, and join [...] with the Church, he prays in his Family, and sometimes in his Closet, and for the most Part, it may be, he is honest in his Dealings, and civil and sober in his Behaviour; and this is his Conversion, this is his Religion. And now he pleads, that Conversion is a gradual Thing, because his was such; and that a Man cannot know when he was con­verted, because that is the Case with him; that there is no Need of irresistible Grace, because he knows that it is a pretty easy Thing to convert as he has done; and he hates the Doctrine of divine Sovereignty, because he never felt any Need of a sovereign Grace to save him; and he holds falling from Grace, because his Religion is as easily lost as got.—But does he know that he has any Grace, after all? No, no, that is a Thing (says he) none can know. He be­lieves, the holy Spirit assists him; but he is not sensible of his Influences or of any Help from him, any more than if he had none. He believes, he loves God and is a true Saint at Heart; but he does not feel any more Love to God, or Grace in his Heart, than as if there was none there▪ and the Reason is, because there is none. But being se­cure in Sin, and it being for his worldly Interest to make a Profession of Religion, he now sets up for a good Man. For without the Law Sin is dead, and so he is alive without the Law. Rom. 7.8, 9. And now those Doctrines and that Preaching, which is calculated to detect his Hypocrisy and awaken him out of his Security, he hates and crie [...] out against. And if any seem to experience any Thing Further in Religion than he has, for that very Reason, he condemn [...] it all for Delusion. But he pretends mightily to plead up for Morality and good Works, tho' in Truth he [Page 211] is an Enemy to all real Holiness. This is the Course of many, but some are more sincere and strict and conscien­tious in their Way.

But let Men be ever so sincere, strict and conscientious in their Religion, if all results merely from Self-love, the slavish Fears of Hell, and mercenary Hopes of Heaven; there is not in all their Religion, the least real genuine Conformity to the moral Law. It is all but an hypocri­tical, feigned Shew of Love and Obedience. It is not the Thing which the Law requires, but something of a quite different Nature: unless we lay aside God's old and ever­lasting Law, and invent a new, abated, altered Law, which shall declare that to be right, which in the Nature of Things is unalterably wrong: and by such a Law, such a Religion will pass for genuine. But it is sad, when we are drove to invent a new Law, to vindicate our Religion and our Hopes of Heaven; since at the Day of Judgment we shall find the old Law to be in full Force.

I am sensible, that old Objection will always be rising: ‘But it is not just that God should require of us more than we can do, and then threaten to damn us for not doing of it.’ Just as if God may not require us to love him with all our Hearts, merely because we are not suited with him: And just as if we were not to Blame for being of such a bad Temper and Disposition, merely because we are thoro'ly settled in it and have no Heart to be otherwise: Just as if the worse any one is, the less he is to Blame; than which nothing can be more absurd. Truly, I cannot but think, that by this, we are so far from being excused, that even merely for this, we deserve eternal Damnation. For what can be much worse, than be so thoro'ly settled and fixed in such a bad Temper of Mind?—But notwith­standing all that I have offered to clear this Point heretofore, I will add, that if it is not just for God to require any more of us than we can do; i. e. any more than we have, not only a natural, but a moral Power to perform; th [...]n these Things will necessarily follow:

1. That there was not the least Need of Christ's dying for us as our Redeemer. For, did we need him to make any Atonement or Satisfaction for our Sins? Surely no. For [Page 212] God could not justly require of us more Satisfaction for our Sins, than we were able to make; for that would be to require more than we can do.— Did we need him to pur­chase the divine Favour and eternal Life for us? Surely no. For God could not justly require any more of us as a Condition of his Favour and eternal Life, than we our selves were able to do.— Did we need him to purchase an Abatement of the Law? Surely no. For God could not in his Law justly require of us more than we could do; and we did not need to have the Law brought down low­er than this.—Well therefore might St. Paul tell the Gal [...] ­tions, that if Righteousness came by the Law, then Christ i [...] dead in vain. Gal. 2.21. For if our doing as well as we can, in the Sense before explained, is all that Righteousness that God can justly require; this alone most certainly would be every Way sufficient for our Salvation; nor did we need a Saviour any more than the Angels in Heaven▪ for we have just as much Power to do as well as we can ▪ as they have to do as well as they can. To say the contrary, is a Contradiction in express Terms.

2. Nor was there the least Need that the holy Spirit should be sent into the World, to grant any inward Assistance, to [...] ­ble us to do our Duty; for we had a full and perfect Powe [...] to do all our Duty, without any such Assistance; for God could not justly require of us, any more than we could do▪ and every one is able to do what he can, without any Assis­tance.

So that if this Principle be true▪ that God cannot justly require of us any more than we can do, it is plain we neither needed a Redeemer nor a Sanctifier; So that all the infinite Pains which God has taken for our Redemption and Salvation, has been unnecessary and fruitless. To do as well as we could, was all that would have been needful; and this is still as much required as ever. So that we are just where we should have been, if nothing had ever been done for us. So that this Notion entirely undermines and subverts the whole Christian Religion, in supposing that all the extraordinary and won­derful Provision therein made for the Salvation of Sinners was needless. For if all was needless, then the whole is perfectly incredible; for it is incredible to suppose that [Page 213] God would do so much and such great Things, when there was no Need of it. So that this Notion leads directly to Infidelity. Yea, if this Principle be true, we may be cer­tain that the Gospel is full of Deceit; for the Gospel every where supposes Sinners to have been in a helpless, undone Estate, and that they might justly have been left so, and perished for ever. And it every where represents it as owing entirely to the free Grace and infinitely great Good­ness of God, that he sent his Son into the World to be a Saviour, and the holy Spirit to be a Sanctifier; all which, upon this Principle, is notoriously false. For we were not in a helpless, undone Condition; being able, of our selves, to do all that God could justly require of us, in order to eternal Life. Nor did we need to be beholden to God for his Grace and Goodness, his Son or his Spirit; being able, of our selves, to do all that which he could justly require at our Hands. Yea, upon this Principle, the Gospel of­fers the highest Affront to human Nature, in that it supposes [...] to be such vile, helpless, undone, guilty Wretches, when, indeed, and in Truth, we be not. And therefore so long as Men really believe this Notion, they cannot possibly but hate the Doctrines of the Gospel, and oppose them. And so, in Fact, it has always been.

To conclude, therefore, since it is so evident from the L [...]w, and so evident from the Gospel, that we are sinful, guilty, helpless, undone Creatures; had not we better give into it, and come down, and lie in the Dust, before the Lord, who knows what we be, whether we will own it or no? Had we not better own his Law to be holy, just and good, and acknowledge that we lie at his sovereign Mercy, and be willing to be beholden to free Grace thro' Jesus Christ for our Salvation; since we must do so, or never be saved? What will it profit us to fly in his Face, and say, It is not just for him to require more than we can do, and then damn us for not doing? When all that he requires, is only that we love God with all our Hearts, and our Neigh­bour as our selves; which, in the Nature of Things is infi­nitely reasonable: and when all our Impotency arises only from our Badness, and so, instead of extenuating our Fault, only discovers how bad we be. Surely since all the World [Page 214] stand guilty before God, really guilty, and are so accounted by him; we all had best stop our Mouths, and own the Sentence just, by which we stand condemned; while it is a Time of Mercy: for who can tell but God may pity us?

There is but one Way now left to evade the Force of what has been said. To a strict Demonstration, the Law is not, and cannot be abated: there is now no Way there­fore but to deny that there ever was such a Law. But then, if God be what I suppose him to be, to a Demonstration the Law must be such too. There is no Way therefore, but to deny that there is any such GOD! Well, but if God be not what I suppose; what is he? Why, we may see the whole Scheme, by the following Objection, in a few Words.

OBJ. God is a Being of infinite Understanding and almighty Power, perfectly disposed to seek the Good and Happiness of his Creatures, as his LAST END. He loves Virtue and rewards it, merely because it tends to make them happy. He hates Vice and punishes it, merely because it tends to make them miserable. All he has in View, in his Commands and Prohibitions, in his Promises and Threatnings, is the Good, and nothing but merely the Good, of his Creatures. Yea, he esteems Things to be virtuous, merely because they tend to make us happy, and vicious merely because they tend to make us miserable. And now there­fore, if we look upon Things as he does, and prosecute the same End; if we love and practise Virtue with a sincere View to our own Happiness, as our LAST END; we do all that God would have us do. And how can we, if we weigh Things, but most heartily and sincerely love so good a God, so kind a Fa­ther, who so dearly loves us, and so tenderly seeks our Good?

ANS. True, if God were verily such a one, the most wick­ed Man in the World could not but love him. Self-love would make it natural. Even Publicans love those, who love them; and are good to those, who are kind to them. Mat. 5. Did Men firmly believe God to be such a one, they could not indeed possibly be at Enmity against him. Self-love would not admit of it. Men would not need my Grace to make them love God: Nature would make them love him. They could not but love him, so long as they loved themselves. And now if God indeed be such a one, I readily own, there is no Truth in my whole Scheme▪ but, [Page 215] from first to last, it is all a Mistake. For it is altogether built upon a Supposition, that there is a God, of a Temper essentially different.

But then I would Query, if God be such a one, if he aims only at his Creature's Happiness, why does he ever inflict Misery upon them? If he means only to make them hap­py, why does he ever make them miserable? Why did he drown the old World, burn Sodom, and why does [...] damn Sinners to all Eternity?

It cannot be, because Iustice requires it. Fo [...] [...] Scheme, Iustice does not require it. For upon th [...] [...]eme Sin does, in strict Justice, deserve no Punishment at all.

A Crime deserves no Punishment, any farther than it is blame-worthy. A Crime is blame-worthy, no farther than we are under Obligations to do otherwise. According to their Scheme, all our Obligations to be virtuous result merely from its Tendency to make us happy. Upon their Scheme therefore, a Sinner is to blame for his Sins, merely because Sin is cross to his own Happiness, and tends to make him miserable. There is no other Evil in Sin but this. This is the only Reason why God hates it, is set against it, and disposed to punish it. This is the only Reason why he would have them avoid it. And this is the only Reason they are to Blame for it. No Man is blame-worthy for Sin, any farther than he was under Obligations to the con­trary. All our Obligations to Virtue, according to them, arise from its natural Tendency to make us happy. And therefore all the Evil of Sin must arise from it's natural Tendency to make us miserable. This Misery, therefore, is exactly equal to the Evil of Sin. For all the Evil of Sin arises from it, or rather consists in it. This Misery is all the Evil of Sin; and this Misery is therefore all that ren­ders Sin blame-worthy. i. e. I am to blame for taking a Course that tends to make me miserable. And why? Mere­ly because it tends to make me miserable. For that Rea­son, and for no other. Therefore I am so much to Blame, and no more for what I do, than according to the Degree of it's Tendency to make me miserable. This M [...]ery there­fore▪ which naturally results from what I do, is equal to my [...]. And [...] therefore the worst, and all that I deserve. [Page 216] For no Crime deserves to be punished, any farther than [...] is blame-worthy. * And from the whole, to a Demonstration, it follows, that upon their Scheme, Sin deserves no inflicted Pain or Misery, by Way of Punishment; over and above the Pain or Misery which results necessarily from its own Nature. And now if Sin does not deserve any such Punish­ment, then Justice does not require the Governour of the World to inflict any such, upon any of his Creatures, tho' ever so sinful. For Justice does not require him to inflict a Punishment that is not at all deserved. Yea, rather it seems Cruelty so to do. If therefore Justice did not require it, why did God drown the old World and burn Sodom, and why does he damn Sinners to all Eternity?

Certainly, He did not aim at their Good, when he drown­ed the old World and burnt Sodom. And certainly, he can­not aim at Sinners Good in their eternal Damnation. There are some Calamities in this Life, which God might be sup­posed to send upon his Creatures for their Good; and in­deed, all Things considered, they are well adapted to do them Good; yea, and are all made to work together for Good to them that love God, and may be numbred among their Mercies. But what shall we say, when God drowns a whole World, burns up several Cities, and damns to all Eternity Millions of his Creatures: Yea, and all for no­thing, when they deserved no Ill at his Hands, not the [Page 217] least! Where is his Iustice now! Yea, Where is his Good­ness! Or what does he mean! What does he intend!

Certainly, He cannot intend to deal so severely with some of his poor Creatures, who never deserved any Ill at his Hands, merely for the Good of others, to fright and warn and deter them from Vice. For this would be to do Evil, that Good might come: Yea, this would be the Way rather that Good might never come. For how could any of his Creatures or Subjects, heartily love him or like his Con­duct, while they behold Millions of their Fellow-Creatures suffering, for nothing at all, such infinite Pains, under his Hands! Where is his Iustice? would they all cry: And where is his Goodness? They would hate him, and flee from him, and dread a Government so infinitely tyrannical. Indeed, to inflict a proper Punishment, in Case of just Desert, is a good Thing, tends to maintain Government, and make Men afraid of Sin, and stand in Awe of the great Lawgiver and Judge of the World. Yea, 'tis a beautiful Conduct, and tends to make God appear amiable in the Eyes of all holy Beings. Rev. 19.1,—6. But to afflict and torment poor Creatures, who do not at all de­serve it, and that for ever, cannot possibly answer any good End; but, of Necessity, must promote a Thousand bad ones, when all the Time the true State of the Case is publickly known and understood throughout all God's Dominions. It is just as if a Father, who has ten Children, should hang up five every Monday-Morning, and whip them almost to Death, for nothing in the World, but to make the rest love him, and be good and obedient Chil­dren. And would they love him e'er the more for this? Yea, they could not but hate so cruel a Tyrant. Now, there­fore, if their Scheme be true, why did God drown the old World, and burn Sodom? And why does he damn Sinners to all Eternity?

Yea, if Sin deserves no inflicted Punishment, as upon their Scheme it does not; why does God ever once inflict the least, the very least Punishment for it, in all his Domini­ons? And that, which tho' not in its own Nature more unaccountable, yet is more surprizing▪ why has God, all along, from the beginning of the World, been [...] [Page 218] such a dreadful Train of Punishments for Sin? Why did God torn the Angels out of Heaven for their first Sin, and doom them to an eternal Hell? when they did not at all deserve it▪ Why did God threaten Adam with Death in Case of Disobedience? Why is Death said to be the Wa­ges of Sin? Why did God cause the Earth to open and swallow up Korah and his Company? Why did God cause the Carcases of six Hundred Thousand to fall in the Wil­derness? Why did God strike Uzza dead? And why [...] Thousand more Things, which have happened in the Sight of the World? Surely, it can't be for our Good, to be struck dead and sent to Hell. And surely, it can't be for the Good of any in all God's World, that shall see or ever hear of it: when, all the while it is publickly known, that we deserve no Ill at God's Hands. No, not the least.

And now after all, to torment us in Hell for ever, for nothing in the World, where the Fire shall never be quenched, and the Worm shall never die; yea, and to appoint a Day of Judgment, under a Pretence of doing nothing but strict Justice; and to summon all Worlds together, to see and hear, to [...]he End that his Impartiality and Justice might appear to all: When, all the while, he knows, and all the World knows, that his poor Creatures deserve no Ill at his Hands: No, not the least! [...] can he mean?

Yea, and that which is a great deal worse than all, that I even shudder to think of it; he not only makes a Law, to punish Sinners eternally in Hell, when there was no Grounds for it, and puts it in Execution upon his poor Creatures who do not deserve it: But, having one only Son, of equal Glory with himself, he delivers him to Death, in the Room and Stead of Sinners; pretending that Sin was so bad a Thing, that without the shedding of Blood there co [...]d be no Remission, and therefore his own Son must die, to the End he might be just, while he justified the Sinner that should believe in him: While, all the Time, if their Scheme is true, [...] knew, and all the World will know, sooner or later, that Sin never deserved the least Punishment at his Hands▪

To conclude, therefore, If God be what they suppose, [...] grant, the Scheme I have laid down is not right. And it is equally evident, that the Bible is not right neither. For [Page 219] the Law and the Gospel, the old Testament and the n [...]w, every where suppose, and take it for granted, that Sin is an in­finite Evil, deserves the Wrath and Curse of God, all the Miseries of this Life, and Death it self, and the Pain [...] of Hell for ever. The Law threatens all this. According to the Gospel, Christ has died to redeem us from all this, as what we justly deserve. The Bible therefore, in a Word, supposes we deserve it all; but their Scheme supposes we do not. The God that made the Bible, has no Doubt of it; he made his Law upon this Ground, and upon this Foot he gave his Son to die, has appointed a Day of Judgment, and prepared a Place of Torment, a Lake of Fire and Brim­stone: But their God is of quite another Mind, can see no such infinite Evil in Sin; yea, no Evil at all in it, but what results from it's Tendency to make us miserable. Their God therefore, is not the God of Israel, not the God that made the Bible; and therefore is no God, is nothing but an Image framed in their own Fancy, suited to their own Hearts.

Besides, their Idea of God is contrary, not only thus to the general Tenour of Scripture, but also to many plain and express Declarations. (1.) 'Tis manifest, that God does not make the Happiness of his Creatures his last End, from Ex [...]. 9.16. Num. 14.13.—21. Lev. 10.3. Psal. 106.8. Ezek. 20. throughout. Ezek. 36.21, 22, 23. and 38.23. and 39.6, 7, 13, 21, 22. Rom. 9.22, 23. Rom. 1 [...].36. Rev. 4.11.— (2.) 'Tis manifest, that God does not require his Creatures to love and obey him merely because it tends to make them happy so to do, from Exod. 20.2. Lev. 19.2. Psal. 29.2. and 96.4, 8. and 148.13. 1 Cor. 6.20. (3.) 'Tis manifest, that God does not threaten and punish Sin merely because it tends to make his Creatures miserable, from 1 Sam. 2.29, 30. 2 Sam. 12.7—14. Psal. 51.4. Mal. 1.6, 7, 8, 14.

But to conclude.—How sad and dreadful a Thing will it be, for poor Sinners, when they come to die, and enter into the World of Spirits, there to find that the God they once loved and trusted in, was nothing but an Image framed in their own Fancy! They hated the God of Israel ▪ and hated his Law, and therefore would not believe that God or his Law were indeed what they were. They were resolved to [Page 220] have a God and a Law more to their Minds. How dread­ful will their Disappointment be! How dreadful their surprise! They would never own they were Enemies to God; now they see their Enmity was so great, as to make them resolutely, notwithstanding the plainest Evidence, even [...]o deny him to be what he was. And how righteous will the Ways of the Lord appear to be, in that he gave such over to strong Delusions to believe a Lie, who did not love, and would not believe, the Truth; but had Pleasure in Unrighteousness? 2 Thes. 2.10, 11, 12. So the Gentile Nations not liking to retain God in their Know­ledge, were given over to reprobate Minds, and left, every Nation, to make such a God, as best pleased themselves. Rom. 1.— But it is Time to proceed to the next Use.

SECTION VI. Rules of Trial.

USE II. Which may be of Examination. What has been said may serve to clear up to real Saints their gracious State, and may afford Matter of Conviction to others.

And here I would take the humble Believer in his Ele­ment, that is, in his Closet, where he retires from the Noise and Business of the World, where he loves to be alone, to read the Bible, to meditate on the Perfections of God, and think of his Works and Ways, where he mourns and pray▪ and loves God and gives up himself to him.— In a serious Hour of sweet Retirement, when you are most your self, and your Thoughts most about you, I would enquire, What are your Views? And what is the inward Temper of your Mind? And how do you live? And what is it that habitually influen­ces you in your daily Conduct?

Do you know God? Do you see him to be such a one as he really is? Even such a one as the Scriptures represent him to be? And do you account him infinitely glorious and amiable in being such a one? And do you begin to love him with all your Heart? Do you esteem him so, as to exult in his Supremacy and absolute Sovereignty? And so will his Glory and value his Honour and Interest, [Page 221] as to give up your self to live to him? And so delight in him, as to choose him for your present and everlasting Por­tion?—True, your remaining Blindness and Ignorance is very great: but do you not feel it, and groan under it as your Burden, and hate your self for it as your Sin, lamenting the Sottishness of your Heart, that you should be so sense­less and brutish, after so many outward Advantages and in­ward Helps, and amidst such clear Manifestations made of God and of his infinite Glory in his Word and in all his Works and Ways; and feel that you are wholly to Blame for the Stupidity and Unteachableness of your Heart, ready to say with him of old, So foolish am I and ignorant, I am as a Beast before thee? Psal. 73.22. Your Disesteem of God, and Unconcernedness about his Honour and Interest, is great, and you have still a Disposition to hate to live upon God only, without any Thing else to take Comfort in, as the Por­tion of your Soul; and so you are inclined to forget God, to forsake him, to depart and go away and fall in Love with something else, and seek another resting Place, and some­thing else to take Comfort in: But do you not feel this your remaining Want of Conformity to God's Law, and native Contrariety to it? And do you not hate it, and hate your self for it? Do you not groan under it, and lament it, and watch and pray and fight against it, feeling the infinite Sinfulness of it? Saying, The Law is holy, just and good; but I am carnal sold under Sin:— O wretched Man that I am [...] Rom. 7.14, 24.

And what are the Grounds of your Love to God, and from what Motives is it that you are influenced to love him? Does God indeed appear infinitely great, glorious, and ami­able in being what he is? And do you love him because he is just such a one? Do you love to meditate his incompre­hensibly glorious Perfections, and wonder and adore? Are you glad, that he knows all Things, and can do every Thing? Are the various Manifestations of divine Wisdom, in the moral Government of the World, glorious in your Eyes? Does it suit your Heart, that God governs the World as he does? Do you love, that the Pride of all Flesh should be bro't low, and the Lord alone be exalted? Are you glad, that God loves Righteousness and hates Iniquity as he does; and [Page 222] do you heartily approve the Strictness of his Law in the Ma [...]er of your Duty, and the Severity thereof against the least Sin? And are you sweetly sensible of the infinite Good­ness of God, and of his Truth and Faithfulness? And does God appear infinitely Glorious because he is just what he is? And is this the primary Foundation of your Love? In a Word, do you see him as the great Creator, Preserver and Governour of the World, as the Redeemer, Sanctifier and Saviour of his People, as he has thus revealed himself by his Word and in his Works, and do you love him for being what he is? And do you also feel the powerful Influence of those sup [...] added Obligations you are under to love him? In other Cases, when we love any Thing, we know why we love it: So also do Believers know why they love the Lord their God.

And does it not appear to you infinitely reasonable, that you should love God with all your Heart, that you should be wholly his, and wholly for him, and make him your All, while you behold his infinite Glory, his compleat Alsuffi­ciency, his original, entire Right to you, and absolute Au­thority over you? And does not his Law in requiring you to do so, appear to be infinitely right, perfectly holy, just and good, worthy to stand in full Force for ever, unabated and unaltered? And do you not see, that the least Want of Conformity to this Law, or Transgression of it, is infinitely Vile, and that a perfect Conformity thereto deserves no Thanks: And do you not feel your self wholly to Blame for your not being altogether such as the Law requires? Hypocrites are generally very ignorant of the Law, in it's true Meaning and Strictness; and so are ignorant of their Want of Conformity unto it, and of their inward Contrari­ety to it. Rom. 7.8, 9. For otherwise all Hypocrites would know certainly that they have no Grace. But yet Hypo­crites, at least many of them, know something about the Law and their Want of Conformity to it, and something a­bout their inward Contrariety to it; and hence may com­plain of the Blindness of their Minds, the Deadness of their Hearts, and of their Pride and Worldliness: But no Hy­pocrite is heartily sensible that the Law is holy, just, & good in requiring Perfection; and that he himself is entirely to [Page 223] Blame for not being perfectly holy, and that the [...] is wholly his. Some will say, ‘I desire to love God, and to aim at his Glory, and do my Duty: but no Man is, or can be perfect: And God does not require more of us [...] we can do.’ And so they think themselves excusable, and are not sensible that it is infinitely vile in them not to love God with all their Hearts.— Others will say, ‘I can do Nothing of my self: it is Christ that must do all. I desire to love God; but I can't. It is the Spirit that must fill my Heart with Love, and God is the sovereign Dis­penser of his Grace; so that if I am dead and dull and senseless and stupid, I can't help it.’ And so they also think themselves excusable, and are not sensible that it is infinitely vile in them not to love God with all their Hearts.— But now, how stands the Case with you? Have you any secret Way of excusing your self? Or do you see that the Law is holy just and good, and that you only are to Blame, wholly to Blame, and altogether without Excuse; yea, and exceeding Vile, for all your Blindness and Deadness, and for every Thing wherein you are not just what the Law requires you to be? 'Tis this which makes Believers sensible of their Desert of Damnation, all their Lives long, and lo [...]th and abhor themselves before the Lord. And 'tis this which causes them more and more to see their Need of Christ and free Grace, and admire and prize the glorious Gospel. O wretched Man that I am! Who shall deliver me? — I thank God thro' Iesus Christ our Lord.— Rom. 7.24, 25.

And do you begin to be of a Disposition really to love your Neighbour as your Self? Be your Affections under the Government of a Spirit of disinterested Impartiality, so that you are disposed to value your self only for those Pro­perties in you that are good and excellent, and only in Pro­portion to their Worth and Excellency; and by this Rule to esteem your Neighbours, your Friends, and your Foes, and all Men? And do you hate a contrary Disposition in you? And is your Heart full of Love and Kindness and Benevolence, wishing well to all, seeking the Good of all, and even grieved when your Enemies are in Adversity?

And to conclude, Does Love to God and to your Neigh­bour govern you in your Thoughts, Affections and Actions, [Page 224] and daily influence you to live to God, and do Good in the World▪ so that now you are not your own, but given up to God to do his Will, seeking his Glory?— A holy Life does as naturally proceed from a holy Heart, as a Stream does from a living Fountain.

Once you was Darkness: But are you now Light in the Lord? Once, as to right spiritual Views of God, your Neigh­bour, or your self, of this World or the next, you had none▪ you was blind, your Understanding was darkened; and so your Apprehensions were wrong, and you loved your wrong Apprehensions, & took Pleasure in Error, Falshood and Sin, and hated the Light, hated Truth and Duty: once you was wholly devoid of the divine Image, and desti­tute of all Good; yea, and you was wholly averse to God, and full of all Evil. And did you ever see and feel this to be your State? and have you by divine Grace been reco­vered out of it?—Have you been effectually taught, that your Light was Darkness, and your Knowledge Ignorance, and been made sensible of the Blindness of your Mind? And have you learnt, that all your seeming Goodness was Coun­terfeit? and that in you did dwell no good Thing? Yea, that your seeming Goodness was real Wickedness, in that your Heart was in perfect Contr [...]riety to God and his Law? Has divine Light shined in your Heart, and your native Darkness, as well as contracted Blindness, been dis­pelled from your Soul; so that now your Views of God, of your Neighbour and your Self, of this World and the next, are right, and your Apprehensions according to Truth, and has the Truth made you free? Do you now look upon God, in some Measure according to the Capacity of a Creature, as he does upon himself, when he takes upon him the Character of most high GOD, supreme LORD, and sovereign GOVERNOUR of the whole World, and says, I am the Lord, that is my Name, and besides me there is no other God? And do you see it is infinitely fit that all the World should love, worship and adore him? Do you now look upon your Neighbours, in some Measure as God does, when he commands you to love them as your self; and so see that it is perfectly right that you should? And do you look upon your self and every Thing in this World, [Page 225] in some Measure as God does, when he commands you to deny your self, and forsake all Things for his Sake; and see that it is most fit and reasonable to die to your self and to this World, and give up your self to God, to love him and live to him, and delight in him for ever? And do you understand, that the Things which are seen are temporal, and that the Things which are unseen are eternal? And do all possible Troubles in the Ways of God, in some Measure, appear only as light Afflictions, which are but for a Moment, and not worthy to be compared with the Glory that shall be revealed? Do you thus know the Truth, and has the Truth made you free from your old Servitude; and are you effectually influenced and govern­ed by these Views and Apprehensions, and this Sense of Things, to bring forth Fruit to God, an hundred-fold, or sixty-fold, or at least thirty-fold? For divine Knowledge is efficacious, and the holy and divine Effects and Fruits are always equal to the Degree of Knowledge; (1 Ioh. 3.6.) And every Branch which bringeth not forth Fruit, is cut off and cast into the Fire. Are you thus born again, and become a new Creature, and learnt to live a new and divine Life?

And is it not now most manifest to you, that all this is so far from having been the Product of Nature, that all that is in Nature, every natural Propensity of the Heart, has from first to last been utterly against the Change, and made a constant and mighty Resistance? And do you not plainly perceive, that, from first to last, the Work has been begun and carried on by God himself?

And does it not appear to you, as the most astonishing Goodness in God, and owing to nothing but his sovereign free Grace, that you have thus been called out of Darkness into marvellous Light, turned from the Power of Sin & Satan to serve the living God? And do you not plainly see, there is nothing but the same infinite Goodness and free Grace to move God to carry on and compleat this Work in your Heart, and that so, if ever you get to Heaven, the whole of your Salvation, from first to last, will be absolutely and entirely to be attributed to free Grace? And have you not hence learnt to live upon free Grace thro' Jesus Christ for all Things?

[Page 226]And do you not perceive, that he, who has begun, does ac­tually carry on the Work of Grace in your Hearts? And that all the external Dispensations of Providence and internal Influences of the Spirit concur in their Operation, to hum­ble you and wean you from the World and imbitter Sin, to bring you nearer to God and to love him and to live to him and to live upon him, and to make you more serious, more spiritually-minded and heavenly-minded, more watch­ful and prayerful, and more loving and kind and tender-hearted and obliging to all Mankind, both Friends and Foes; and to make you daily attend upon the Duties of your particular Calling, and upon all the common Business of Life, as a Servant of God, in Singleness of Heart, doing Service to the Lord?

And altho' you was once dead in Sin and wholly without Strength, yet do you not now feel that you are spiritually alive, and so put into a Capacity for a spiritual Activity, and that you are engaged to be active for God? Not that your Sufficiency is of your self, as once you thought it was: For you are not sufficient of your self, as of your self; but your Sufficiency is of God. Yet do you not find that thro' Christ strengthning of you, you can do all Things? And do you not from the Heart hate the Way of lazy, dead-hearted Hy­pocrites, who sit still and carelesly cry, ‘We can do no­thing, 'tis Christ that must do all,’ and under a Notion of not doing any Thing in their own Strength, gratify their Laziness, and do nothing at alll! Accursed Laziness! Ac­cursed Hypocrisy! Do you not feel, I say, that you are put into a Capacity for spiritual Activity? And are you not engaged to be active for God? For you are his Work­manship, created in Christ Iesus unto good Works, that you might walk in them. While the Spirit of God is taking down the Power of Sin in your Heart, and slaying your Cor­ruptions; are you not also crucifying the Flesh with the Af­fections and Lusts? While God is working in you to will and to do, are you not working out your Salvation with fear and trembling, with filial Fear and holy Concern? While the Spirit of God gives you Might in the inner Man, do not you put on the whole Armour of God, and fight with Flesh and [...], with Principalities and Towers? This is the Way of [Page 227] Believers. And the Spirit does not come upon them by Fits, as it did upon Balaam; but dwells in them and abides in them for ever; to purify them from all Iniquity, and make them a peculiar People, zealous of good Works.

Finally, Do you not experience that your Religion is something real and perceptible, and see that it is specifically different from any Thing that possibly can arise merely from a Principle of Self-love? You perceive your Views of God, and Sense of his Greatness, Glory and Beauty; and you perceive your Sense of the World's Emptiness, and of your own natural Vileness and Wretchedness; and your Love to God, your Weanedness from the World, and your Mourning for Sin are perceptible. And is it not easy to perceive why you love God, are weaned from the World, and mourn for Sin; namely, because God is infinitely lovely, the World empty and worthless, and Sin the greatest Evil? And while these Views and Affections effectually influence you to all holy living, their Genuineness is made still more evident and plain. And, from the whole, you arise to a rational and scriptural Knowledge of your gra­cious State.

From what has been said upon this Subject, a great Va­riety of other Questions might be put to the Believer; but the whole has been treated so plainly and practically, that I need add no more. And if graceless Persons, had it in their Hearts to be honest and impartial, they might easily know, that they are Strangers to real Religion. But if they have not the Thing itself, they will either work up something like it, or else deny that there is any such Thing: for he that doth Evil, hateth the Light; and so does he who has a rotten Heart. And hence some cry, ‘The best have their Failings;’ and they watch and catch at the Fail­ings of such as are accounted godly, and dwell upon them, and magnify them; and so quiet their Consciences, and go on in their Sins. Others cry, ‘The best are dead some­times;’ and so maintain their Hopes, altho' they lie dead, whole Months and Years together, and live in Sin, and never come to sound Repentance. Others cry, ‘You will discourage weak Christians;’ meaning themselves. Just as if there were a Sort of Christians that cannot bear [Page 228] the Light, nor stand a scriptural Trial. What will they do, when they come before the awful Bar of the Heart-searching God! Others cry, ‘But every Christian does not experience alike;’ and so tho' they are destitute of the very Essence and Life of Religion, yet they hope all is well. And many are confident that these Things are not so, ‘for, say they, If these Things are true, who then shall be saved?’ I answer, Strait is the Gate, and narrow is the Way that leads to Life; and few there be that find it: but wide is the Gate, and broad is the Way that leads to Destruction, and many go in thereat. Mat. 7.13, 14. And mark what fol­lows in the next Verse, v. 15. Beware of false Prophets, which come to you in Sheeps-cloathing, but inwardly are ra­vening Wolves. v. 16. Ye shall know them by their Fruits.— By what Fruits? Why, this is the constant Character of false Prophets throughout the Bible, that they cry, Peace and Safety, and heal the Wound of poor Sinners slightily, and da [...]b with untempered Mortar, i. e. They make Religion to be an easier Thing than it is, more agreeable to corru [...] Na­ture; and so encourage Sinners to rest in something [...]hort of true Grace. So the Pharisees did, notwithstanding all their pretended Strictness; and so the Arminians do, not­withstanding all their seeming Zeal for good Works; and so the Antinomians do, notwithstanding all their Pretences to extraordinary Light and Joy and Zeal and Purity and Holiness. And this is the common Character of all false Prophets and false Teachers and Hereticks, that, being Enemies to true Religion, they cut out a false Scheme in their Heads, to suit their own Hearts; and so, however greatly they may differ in many Things, yet herein all agree, to make Religion an easier Thing than the Bible does, and to make the Gate wider and the Way broader than Christ and his Apostles; and by this Mark the diffe­rence between them and the true Prophets may always be certainly known. And therefore Christ having just said, Strait is the Gate and narrow the Way &c. immediately adds, Beware of false Prophets, by their Fruits ye shall know them; for they all invent some easier Way to Heaven, th [...]' it may be in Sheeps cloathing, i. e. under a Shew of great Strictness. And this their Invention being false, they are thus denomi­nated [Page 229] false Prophets. And thus what has been said concern­ing the Nature of true Religion, may serve to clear up the Believer's gracious State; and may afford Matter of Con­viction to others.

SECTION VII. We have great Reason to be humble, and thank­ful, and live intirely devoted to GOD.

USE III. Of Humiliation. What has been said may be improved by Sinners and Saints to promote their Humilia­tion: For by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin; and a Sight and Sense of our Sinfulness, tends to abase us before the Lord.

In this Glass of the Law, Sinners may see what they be in Heart and Life, and by this Rule they may learn how God looks upon them. There is a Knowledge of our selves, of our Hearts and Lives, that is natural to us. Men, by their Power of Self-reflection, have a Sort of an Acquaintance with themselves: they know their present Views and De­signs, their present Inclinations and Way of Living; and remember, more or less, how they have lived in Years past. But Men are naturally very ignorant of the Nature of God and of his holy Law; and so are very ignorant of them­selves in a moral Sense, are very insensible how God looks upon them, and what their Hearts & Lives be, compared with God and his holy Law. Natural Conscience has some Notions about Right and Wrong, and so does something to­wards accusing and condemning Men, especially for their grosser Sins; but natural Conscience is for the most Part so blind and so much asleep, and in most Men has been so much abused and brow-beat and kept under, that it lets Men pretty much alone. Men hold the Truth in Unrigh­teousness, according to the Apostle's Phrase, and keep their Consciences in Chains; and so are in a great Measure with­out the Law; and hence Sin is dead: for where there is no Law, there is no Transgression: and when Men know not the Law in it's true Meaning and Extent, they are insensible how [Page 230] they swerve from it, and how contrary they be to it, and how sinful Sin is: But when the Commandment comes, Sin revives.

Think of this therefore, O Sinner, that the infinitely glorious God, your Creator, Preserver and Governour, de­serves to be loved and lived to and delighted in with all your Heart; and that this is what he requires at your Hands; and know it, he hates your hypocritical Shews and Pretences, so long as that in Heart, he sees, you are an Enemy to him. You may pretend, that you can't help your Hearts being so bad; but God knows, you love your Corruptions, and hate to have them slain, and love to have them gratified. You love to be proud, and hence you love to be applauded: and the Praise of Men is sweet, and of greater Price with you than the Praise of God; you will do more to please the World, than to please God; yea, will displease God, to keep in with a wicked World, who hate God; and God knows it. You love to love the World; and hence love to lay worldly Schemes, and are secretly ravished with worldly Hopes when Things are likely to go well, and account no Pains too great in worldly Pursuits; but you hate to pray in secret, have no Heart for God, can take no Delight in him: and God knows it. And will you now pretend, for your Excuse, that you can't help your Heart's being so bad; whenas it is you your self that are so bad, and love to be so bad, and hate to cease to be what you are. If God has by his Spirit awakened your Conscience a little and terrified you with the Fears of Hell and Wrath, it may be, your Corruptions are somewhat stunned, and Honour and worldly Gains do not appear so tempting, and you are ready to say, that you would willing­ly part with your Reputation and every Thing you have in the World, for an Interest in Christ and the divine Favour; and now you think you are sincere: But God knows, it's all Hypocrisy; for he sees, you do not care for Him, but are only afraid of Damnation. And God knows, that if once you should get a false Confidence of Pardon and the divine Favour, you would soon return to Folly, as the Dog to his Vomit, and set out after the World as eage [...] as ever; or else vent your Corruptions in spiritual Pride, and [Page 231] in ranting Enthusiastick Wild-fire and Party selfish Zeal, as Thousands have done, who once felt just as you do now. God therefore does not mind your Pretences, nor believe your Promises, for he knows what you are. You may de­ceive your self, but can't deceive him. He knows, your Corruptions are stunned, but not mortified; and that your Nature is just what it was, and you, as really, an Enemy to God as ever. And it may be, you may see it yet, when you come to find out how God looks upon you, and upon your Prayers and Tears and Promises; for it's commonly the Case with Sinners, when they perceive that God is not pleased with their devout Pretences, and does not design to save them for their hypocritical Duties, by the secret work­ings of their Hearts to discover that they care only for themselves, and are real Enemies to God and his Law. Love to God, O Sinner, is not begotten by the Fears of Hell, nor by the Hopes of Heaven. If you do not love God for what he is in himself, you do not love him at all; but only flatter him with your Lips and lie unto him with your Tongue. But it may be manifest to you, that you do not love him for what he is in himself; because you do not love his Law which bears his Ima [...]. You do not like the Law as a Rule for you to live by, for it is too strict for you. And you do not approve of the Law as a Rule for God to judge you by, for you think it hard for God to damn Men for the least Sin. Know it, therefore, O Sin­ner, that there is not any Good in you, or any Goodness in your Duties; but you are in a State of Rebellion, an Enemy to God and to his holy Law: and come down and lie in the Dust before the Lord, and own the Sentence just by which you stand condemned, and be quiet at his Feet; and if ever he saves you, for ever attribute it wholly to free and sovereign Grace.—When the Commandment came, Sin revived, and I died.

And such a one was you, O Believer; and in some Measure you are such a one still: and in some Respects your Sins are a great deal more aggravated. Oh never for­get the Days, and Weeks, and Months, and Years you have formerly spent in Sin! Once I was a Persecutor, and a Blasphemer, and Injurious, says St. Paul; and his Heart [Page 232] bleeds afresh, and he sets himself down for the chief of Sin­ners. 1 Tim. 1.13, 15.

But what be you now, after all the Grace of God, after all the kind Methods Heaven has taken to reclaim you, and what are your Attainments, if you compare your Self and Attainments with the holy Law of God in it's spiritual Nature and divine Strictness? Do you feel such a Heart towards the great and glorious Governour of the whole World, as becomes you? Think, what a God he is, and how Angels and Saints on high love him. Think of his Majesty and Greatness & Glory & Excellency, and how he is the Fear & Delight & Joy of all Heaven. Think of his original and entire Right to you, and absolute Authority over you. Think of the Vileness of your Apostacy, and of the Depth of your Ruin. Think of redeeming Love. Think of converting Grace. Think of the many Means God has used with you in his Providence & by his Spirit. Think of all his Loving-kindnesses and tender Mercies.— And, think, what a Beast be you before the Lord! Lie down in the Dust, and cry and mourn and weep, and let your Heart break! Oh, your wan [...] of Love to God, of Zeal for his Glory, of Delight in his Perfections, and of Grati­tude for all his Kindness! Alas, how you disesteem the God that Angels love, and comparatively despise the GOD that all Heaven adores! Alas, how careless you be about his Honour and Interest, and how inactive in his Service▪ Alas, how you disrelish the Fountain of all Goodness and the Ocean of all Blessedness, and hanker after other Things, and go away from God to seek Rest elsewhere, and thereby cast infinite Contempt upon the Delight of Heaven and the Joy of Angels, the ever-blessed & alsufficient God! Think of the peculiar Obligations, God has laid you under by all the secret Ways of his Providence & Grace with you, & of all the infinite Pains he has taken with you to make you hum­ble, weaned from the World, devoted to God, loving, kind, ten­der-hearted, friendly & obliging to all Mankind, and univer­sally holy; and see and say, Was ever Wretch so vile! Did ever Wretch treat such a God, in such a Manner, under such Circumstances! Oh, how far, how infinitely far you are, [Page 233] from being what you ought to be! This made St. Paul account himself less than the least of all Saints, and forget the Things that are behind: his Attainments dwindled away, as it were to nothing, when he compared himself with God's holy Law, and thought what he ought to be, and what Obligations he was under; and he did therefore, as it were set down all that he had hitherto attained for nothing, and feel and act as if he was but just now beginning to live to God. Rom. 7.14. The Law is spiritual, but I am car­nal, sold under Sin. Ver. 24. O wretched Man that I am! Phil. 3.13, 14. I forget the Things which are behind, I reach forth towards those Things which are before, I press towards the Mark. And, O Believer, go you, and do likewise.

Besides, remember, that it is no Thanks to you that you are not to this Day secure in Sin: Yea, that you are not one of the vilest and profanest Creatures in the World. Your Nature was bad enough; the Seeds of every Sin were in your Heart; but for restraining or sanctifying Grace you might have been as bad as any in Sodom. And what was it moved God to awaken you, and stop you in your Ca­reer in Sin, and turn you to God? Was it for your Righ­teousness? Oh, be ashamed and confounded for ever! For his own Sake he has done it, when you was a stubborn, stiff-necked, rebellious Creature. And truly, what has been your Carriage towards the Lord, compared with the exact Rule of Duty, the holy Law of God, since the Day you have known him? O remember Massah and Tabe­rah and Kibroth-bataavah, and how you have been rebelli­ous against the Lord, ever since he has taken you in Hand to subdue you to himself. (Read Deut. 9. and see how much your Temper has been like theirs.) And this notwith­standing all the Signs and Wonders God has wrought be­fore your Eyes: I mean, notwithstanding all the sweet and awful Methods God has taken with you, to make you know him and love him and fear him and live to him. There are Thousands and Thousands that God never took any such special Pains with. Their Sins are not like yours. Come down therefore, sit in the Dust, mourn and weep, and loath and abhor your self, as long as you live; and as­cribe [Page 234] all Praise to God, thro' whose Grace alone it is, that you be what you be.

Let me here address you in the Words of the famous Mr. Hooker. ‘That thou mayest for ever, each Day that passeth over thy Head, remember it to the Lord, and leave it upon Record in thine own Connscience; say, Hadst thou (blessed Lord) given me the Desires of my Heart, and left me to my own Will, it is certain I had been in Hell long before this Day, when in the Days of my Folly and Times of my Ignorance, when out of the desperate Wretchedness of my rebellious Disposition, I was run­ning Riot in the Ways of Wickedness, When I said to the Seers, see not, and to the Prophets, prophesy not, to Chris­tians, to Acquaintance, to Governours, admonish not, counsel not, reprove not, stop me not in the pursuit of Sin. The Time was, I took hold of Deceit and refused to return; nay, resolved in the secret Purpose of my Heart, I would none of thee; I would not have that Word of thine reveal or remove my Corruptions; I would none of thy Grace that might humble me and purge me, none of that Mercy of thine that might pardon me, none of that Redemption of thine that might save me. Hadst thou then taken me at my Word, and given me what I wished, and sealed my Destruction, saying, Be thou for ever filthy, for ever stubborn, and for ever miserable; thou wouldest neither be holy nor happy, thou shalt have thy Will, Sin with Devils and take thy Portion with Devils; Lord, it had been just with thee, and I justly miserable. But to bear with all my Baseness, to put up all those Wrongs and Provocations, to strive with me for my Good, when I took up Arms against thee, and strove against my own Good; nay, when I re­sisted Mercy; and then to take away that Resistance, and to cause me to take Mercy, and make it mine, when I used all the Skill I could to hinder my own Salvation: Oh! The Height, the Depth, the Length, the Breadth of this Mercy!—When we feel our Hearts to be puffed up with the vain Apprehension of our own Worth. Parts or Performances, what we are, and what we do; look we back to our first Beginnings and judge aright of our [Page 235] own Wretchedness and Nothingness, yea, worse than Nothing, in that we not only wanted all Good, but we had it within us to oppose all Good; and that will cause us to sit down in Silence abased for ever. When empty Bladders are grown unto too great Bulk and Bigness, to prick them is the readiest Way to lessen them; when our empty and vain Minds swell with high Thoughts, and high overweening Conceit of our own Worth, learn we to stab and pierce our Hearts with the righteous Judgment of our own natural Vileness, which will (or at least may) let out that frothy Haughtiness that lifts us up beyond our Measure: Tell thy Heart, and com­mune with thy Conscience, and say, It is not my good Nature, that I am not roaring amongst the Wretches of the World in the Road and broad Way of Ruin and Destruction, that I am not wallowing in all Manner of Sin with the worst of Men. It is not my good Nature; no thank to any Thing that I have, that I am not upon the Chain with Malefactors, or in a Dungeon with Witches; for whatever Hell hath, it is in this Heart of mine naturally, a Cain here, a Iudas here, nay a Devil here. The Time was (O that with an abased Heart I may ever think of that Time) I never looked after the spiritual Good of my Soul, or whether I had [...] or no; what would become of me and i [...], was the [...]east of my Care, the furthest End of my Thoughts; nay, loth was I to hear of, or know these Things; when they were revealed, unwilling to receive them, or give Way to them when they were offered: how did I stop mine Ears, shut mine Eyes, and harden my Heart? What Ways, Means, and Devices did I use and invent, to shut out the Light of Truth, to stop the Passage and Power of the Word, that it might not convince me, that it might not reform me, might not recall me from my evil Ways? How often have I secretly wished, that ei­ther the Word were taken out of the Place, or I from it, that it might not trouble me in my sinful D [...]stempers, and when I had least Good I had most Ease, and took the greatest Content. Oh that such a Wretch should [Page 236] thus live, and yet live! To be thus sinful! O that I might be for ever abased for it.*

Thus the Law, as a Rule of Life, may be improved to the Humiliation of the People of God, in that it may serve to keep fresh in their Minds, their native universal Depravity, their former Wickedness, and to discover their remaining Sinfulness. And I may here observe, that it is Believers peculiar Acquaintance with the Law in it's true Meaning▪ Strictness and Purity, that is the Occasion of their pecu­liar Acquaintance with their own Hearts. And while the [...] daily shews them what they be, it learns them more and more their Need of a Redeemer and Sanctifier, and daily puts them upon going to God thro' Jesus Christ for pardoning Mercy and sanctifying Grace. The Law makes Way for the Gospel; and a Sense of Sin, Weakness and Unworthiness makes Christ and Gospel-Grace precious, and stirs up a Man to Repentance, Faith & Prayer. Deluded therefore, are those poor Souls that say, ‘We must not look into our Hearts, nor labour after a Sense of our Sins and Sinfulness; for that is legal, and tends to Dis­couragement: but we must look only to Christ and free Grace, and believe and rejoyce, and a Sense of the Love of Christ will humble us.’ Just as if the great Business of Christ was, to keep Men from a Sight and Sense of their Sins; and just as if a Man could be truly humbled, without seeing what he is, compared with God and his holy Law.— But poor Souls, they feel a legal, discoura­ged Frame always, when they have any Sight and Sense of their Sinfulness, and it damps their Faith (and if they were but thoro'ly sensible of their Sinfulness, it would kill their Faith) and Joy; and therefore they conclude, it is not a good Way to look into their Hearts, no Good can be got by it. But when they don't mind their Hearts, but look steadily to Christ and free Grace, (a fancied Christ!) firmly believing that all he has done and suffered is for them, and realiz­ing the Matter to themselves, now they feel sweetly and joyfully; and therefore conclude, that this is the Way, the only Way, to get Good for their Souls: And hence grow mighty Enemies to the Law, to Self-Examination, to Sense [Page 237] of Sin, &c. This is the Door, by which if any Man enters in, he will soon become an Antinomian and an Enthusiast.

But to proceed.

USE IV. Of Thankfulness. While the Law shews us what we be, it does at the same Time make us sensible what we deserve; while it discovers to us our Sinfulness, it makes us feel our Unworthiness of any Good, and Desert of all Evil: and while we feel our Unworthiness and ill Deserts, our Afflictions appear far less than we deserve, and our Mercies appear more in Number than the Sands, and the Kindness and Bounty of our God appears exceeding great, and we wonder at his Goodness and bless his holy Name. And thus the Law is of Use to promote Thankfulness.

God the great Governour of the World, in Testimony of his high Displeasure against Mankind for their Apostacy from him, has spread Miseries and Calamities all round the Earth: from the King upon the Throne, to the Beggar on the Dunghil, there is not one, but has a greater or lesser Share in the Troubles of Life; and many have their Days filled up with Sorrows. And now Murmurings arise all round this guilty World, and the general Cry is, ‘No Body meets with such Troubles as I do, I am very hardly dealt with.’ But the Law teaches us, that God is holy in all these his Ways, and righteous in all these his Works; and that we are all punished far less than we deserve; and so our Complaints are silenced, and our Hearts quieted into a hum­ble Submission, and it appears infinitely fit, a rebellious World should be full of Wo, that we might learn that it is an evil and bitter Thing to forsake the Lord.

But at the same Time, God the great Lord of all, out of his boundless Goodness thro' Jesus Christ, reprieves Man­kind from the threatned Ruin, strews common Mercies with a liberal Hand all round the Earth, sends Rain and fruit­ful Seasons, and fills the Hearts of all, more or less, with Food and Gladness; and to some he grants his special Grace, makes them his Children, and intitles them to eter­nal Life. And [...]hus he is the Saviour of all Men, but espe­cially of those that believe. 1 Tim. 4.10. Yet this Goodness of God is but little taken Notice of in the World. But the Law, while it discovers what we be, and how unworthy and [Page 238] Hell-deserving we are, makes us sensible of the Freeness and Riches of God's Grace in these his Kindnesses. For while we feel that Hell is our proper Due, every Thing that renders our Case better than that of the Damned, we shall accept as a choice Mercy, and as an Effect of free Grace; and so instead of being always in a murmuring and repining Disposition, we shall be always wondering at the Goodness, admiring at the Kindness of the Lord; saying with good Iacob, We are not worthy of the least of all the Mercies, and of all the Truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy Servants. Gen. 32.10. And with the Iewish Church, O give Thanks unto the Lord, for he is Good, for his Mercy endureth for ever. Psal. 136. And we shall always find, that the more sensi­ble we be of our Unworthiness and ill Desert, the more Cause we shall see for Thankfulness, let our outward Cir­cumstances in this Life be what they will.

But,

USE V. In the last Place, Let all that has been said be improved by Way of Exhortation, to excite and engage the People of God, more and more to renounce themselves, the World and Sin, and give up themselves to God, to love him and live to him and delight in him with all their Hearts for ever.

You have seen what Grounds you have to do so, arising from God's infinite Greatness, Glory and Excellency; and you have been viewing your superadded Obligations: And is the Lord such a God, and is he your God and Redeemer, O how strongly are you bound to keep all his Command­ments! And what is it, O Believer, that the Lord thy God requireth of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his Ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy Heart and with all thy Soul? And is there not in keeping his Commands a great Reward? Did you ever Taste such Sweetness, as in a Life of Devotedness to God! And have not your Wandrings from him cost you many a bitter and mournful Hour? O, how happy would you be, if once you could come to it, to have done with every Thing else and to be wholly the Lord's! Seriously consider these Things;

1. That you can come to it, to have done with every Thing else, and be wholly the Lord's, at least in a vastly greater De­gree, [Page 239] than ever yet you have. See Phil. 3.13, 14. You actually already have God working in you to will and to do. Phil. 2.13. He has always been, as it were, labouring to humble you, and wean you from the World, and bring you nearer to himself, to love him, live to him, and delight in him, ever since the Day you first came to know him, by the outward Dispensations of his Providence, and by the inward Striv­ings of his Spirit. He has always been purging you, that you might bring forth more Fruit. Ioh. 15.2. Yea, this was the very Design of Christ's coming into the World, that he might deliver you out of the Hands of all your Enemies, and bring you to serve God, without Fear, in Holiness and Righte­ousness, all the Days of your Life. Luk. 1.74. And that he might redeem you from all Iniquity, and purify you to himself, that you might be peculiarly his, and zealous of good Works, Tit. 2.14. And for this End, God has already taken, as it were, infinite Pains with you, and this is what he is conti­nually urging you unto, and he declares that he is readier to give you his holy Spirit, than earthly Parents are to give Bread to their Children, and invites and encourages and commands you to ask. Matt. 7.7. &c. And will you not now therefore arise and put on the whole Armour of God, and make your strongest Efforts to recover from Sin to God?

God the great King of Heaven and Earth commands you to do so; Jesus the kind Mediator invites you to do so; and the holy Spirit the Sanctifier is ready to help you. Arise therefore, and be of good Courage, for the Lord is with you. Did you ever stir up your self to seek after God in vain, or set about a Life of greater Seriousness, Watch­fulness and Prayer, and find no Advantage by it? Or have you not always said in the Conclusion, that it is good for me to draw near to God; (Psal. 73.28.) And condemned and hated your self for your former Slackness, and been ready to resolve from your inmost Soul, that you would call upon the Lord as long as you live? Psal. 116.2.

And let me put it to your Conscience, do not you be­lieve, that if now you would gird up the Loyns of your Mind, and quit your self like a Man, and be strong, that thro' Christ strengthning of you, you may do all Things? And [Page 240] shall Carelesness or Stupidity, shall Laziness & Sloth, shall the Allurements or the Discouragements of the World or the Devil, now after all, hinder you? What! When you have been redeemed, not with Silver and Gold, but with the precious Blood of the Son of God, when your Prison-Door is flung open, and your Chains knocked off, and you called and invited to come out into the glorious Liberty of the Chil­dren of God, and when God is actually striving with you already, and stands ready to afford you farther Help, what now be hindered! What! And be hindered by Carelesness, Unwatchfulness, &c! What, shall the Saviour groan in the Garden, and die on the Cross, and yet you lie sleeping here! What, asleep! What, content without God in the World! What, when the whole Army of Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs have fasted and prayed all their Days, and waded thro' a Sea of Blood at last! Methinks, you had better abandon every mortal Delight, lay aside every Weight and the Sin that more easily besets you, and mourn and weep, and watch and pray, and fight and strive, as long as you live, than act so far beneath the Dignity and Character of a Christian.

It is but a few in the World, that truly know God and the Way of Access to him thro' Jesus Christ, and are in a (spiritual) Capacity to live a Life of Devotedness to God and Communion with him: most Men are dead in Sin. But you hath he quickened, and you are his Workmanship, created in Christ Iesus unto good Works; and it is God's De­sign you should walk in them: you that were without Christ and without God in the World, afar off, are now brought nigh; and you are no more Strangers and Fo­reigners, but Fellow-Citizens with the Saints and of the Houshold of God: for this Cause I therefore beseech you, walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith you are called. See this Argument enlarged upon in the 2d, 3d & 4th Chapters of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and your Duties still more particularly delineated in the 5th & 6th.

2. Consider, That as your Case is circumstanced, it is ab­solutely impossible for you ever to find any other resting Place but God, or ever take any sati [...]fying Comfort of your Life, but in a Way of Devotedness to God & Communion with him. The [Page 241] Case is not with you, O Believer, as it is with other Men. You only have I known of all the Families of the Earth; therefore will I punish you for all your Iniquities, said God to his ancient People. Mic. 3.2. But the other Nations of the Earth might worship Idols and serve Wood and Stone, and go on and prosper, without being called to a present Account. And so it is as to particular Persons. Bastards, who have no Parents to own them and bring them up, may, as for any Restraints from parental Authority, do what they will. They that don't belong to God's Family, may live from Home as long as they please, and because they have no Interest in his House, may, in Respect of divine Permission, go and live where they please, may continue to lie out from God: But whom the Lord loveth, he chastneth; and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth. Heb. 12.6. Hypocrites may lose their Religi­on, and lie dead whole Months and Years together, and re­turn with the Dog to his Vomit, and take as much Com­fort in the World and their Lusts as ever: But it is im­possible that you should: You can never get your Consci­ence asleep as other Men's are, or your Heart content to lie out from God, or wring your self out of your Father's Hand, or get out of the Reach of his Rod.

Solomon once seem'd resolved to find another resting Place for his Heart besides God, and something else to take Com­fort in, and he was under the best outward Advantages to make a thoro' Trial, that ever Man was; but he never did, and never could: But was always like a Bone out of Joint, or like the Needle of a Compass turned aside from its be­loved Star. Vanity of Vanities, says the Preacher, all is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit. And poor David, how was he pain­ed with Anguish of Spirit, for the Sin whereby he provoked the Lord? Psal. 32.3, &c. While I kept Silence (i. e. be­fore Nathan came, who brought me to an open Confession, see v. 5.) my Bones waxed old; thro' 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. And never did a Believer depart from God to seek another rest­ing Place, or go away from the Fountain of living Waters, to get something else to take Comfort in; but God hedged up his Way with Thorns, and made a Wall that▪ he could not [Page 242] find his Paths: So that altho' he followed after his Lovers, he never overtook them, and tho' he sought them, he never found them: But at last has been constrained to say, I will go and return to my first Husband; for then was it better with me than now. Hos. 2.6, 7. His Backslidings have reproved him, and his Wickedness has corrected him, and made him know, to the breaking of his Heart, that it is an evil and bitter Thing to forsake the Lord. Jer. 2.19. For as God thus dealt with the Iewish Church of old, so he does with every Believer; for all God's Dealings with them were for Ensamples: And they are written for our Admonition, upon whom the Ends of the World are come. 1 Cor 10.11.

And this now being the Case, O Believer, and you hav­ing always by your own Experience sound it so, will you notwithstanding forsake the Lord? What Fault, What Ini­quity do you find in God, that you should forsake him? Has he been a Wilderness unto you, or a Land of Darkness? Or has he not been your Father, ever since the Day he took you by the Hand to lead you, even ever since the Day you first knew him? Or be you weary of Lightsome, of sweet and happy Days, and impatient to plunge your self into Darkness, Distress and Anguish? May you not expect, if you forsake him and go away from him, to seek another resting Place, and something else to take Comfort in as your Portion, that he will strip you naked as in the Day that you was born, and make you desolate, and a Terror to your self, and that his Anger will smoke against you, and his Hand lie heavy upon you? And then will you mourn like the Dove in the Valley, and be troubled, and go bowed down greatly, and rore by Reason of the Disquietness of your Heart, and wish a Thousand and Thousand Times that you had never for­saken the Lord. Read Psal. 38. Ier. 2d and 3d Chapters. and Hos. 2. Will you not therefore bid Adieu to all other Lords and Lovers, and cleave unto the Lord with all your Heart for ever? for this is your Wisdom, and this is your Life. Which brings me to add,

3. Consider, If you will have done with every Thing else, and give up your self to the Lord, to love him and live to him and be wholly his, then God will be your God sensibly, and you will▪ in spiritual Respects, be one of the happiest Creatures [Page 243] in this World; a hundred Times happier than you could possibly be in the Ways of Sin; you shall have an Hundred Fold in this present World, besides eternal Life in the World to come. If any Man love me, says Christ, and keep my Com­mandments, I will love him and manifest my self unto him: And I and my Father will come and make our Abode with him. Joh. 14.21, 23. He that dwelleth in the secret Place of the most High, shall abide under the Shadow of the Almighty. Psal. 91.1. And God will be your Dwelling-Place for ever. Psal. 90.1. While the Nations dash themselves in Pieces, and all the World is in Confusion, and while you pass thro' the Fire and thro' the Water, God will be with you; and he will always be your Light, Life, Peace, Joy, Glory & Blessedness; in this undone, dreadful World; & your Heart will be firm and fixed like Mount Zion, that cannot be removed, but abideth for ever; & nothing shall ever separate you from the Love of God, neither Things present, nor Things to come, nor Heigth, nor Depth, nor Life, nor Death, nor any other Thing. And God will certainly give you every Thing in this World that is best for you and most for his Glory, and you will not desire any more; and all the evil Things, you may pass thro', will sensibly work together for your Good. Matt. 6.33. Rom, 8.28,—39. Psal. 73.25, 26.

And thus, you have, by Experience, always found, that God has dealt with you. I appeal, O Believer, to your own Conscience, that thus it has always been, whenever you have sensibly from the Heart renounced all other Things, and given up your self to the Lord, to love him and to live to him and to take Content in him, God has sensibly been a God and Father and Portion unto you, and has given you all Things, which (every Thing considered) you could de­sire, and sensibly made all Things work together for your Good; whence you have been many a Time ready to say, That not a Word of all his Promises has ever fallen to the Ground. And you have actually enjoyed a hundred Times more Comfort in the Service of God, in Devotedness to God and Communion with him, than could have been had in the Service of Sin.— And will you not now therefore be intirely and for ever the Lord's? O how happy you might be! And what blessed Days you might enjoy!

[Page 244]4. And that which can't but touch a filial Heart, con­sider, That if you will thus be wholly the Lord's, to love him and live to him and delight in him and to do his Will, God will be glorified thereby, it will be to his Honour in the World. Joh. 15.8. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much Fruit.—But ye are a chosen Generation, a royal Priesthood, a holy Nation, a peculiar People; that ye should shew forth the Praises of him, who hath called you out of Darkness into his marvellous Light. 1 Pet. 2.9. God has but a few Friends in the World. Many that pretend to be his Friends, are a great dishonour to him and disgrace to Religion. By their Means his Name is blasphemed, and his Ways are evilly spoken of. And in general, his Honour is every where trodden down in the Dust. And can you stand by uncon­cerned? Yea, can you look on without your Heart bleeding within you? O therefore, be serious, be humble, be meek, holy and heavenly, be Peace-makers and merciful, be kind and tender-hearted, condescending and obliging, and abound in every good Work; for you are the Salt of the Earth, and the Light of the World: O therefore live so, as that your Father, which is in Heaven, may be glorified. Mat. 5.13—16.

To conclude, Will you not now therefore determine, from this Day forward, to be wholly the Lord's, and from this Day begin to live to God in better earnest than ever? God is ready to help you. You will, as to present Comfort, be undone, if you do not live to God; and Peace and Glory and Blessedness is before you, if you do; and God, even your God, will be glorified. And if you are now ready, by the Grace of God, to hearken unto this Advice, then take these two Directions.

1. Lay aside every Weight, and the Sins which more easily beset you. Heb. 12.1. In a serious and sweet Hour, when you get alone and mourn and pray and give up your self to God, and think and resolve you will now be for ever the Lord's, you are wont, upon Self-Examination and a Review of past Times, to see and say, ‘This, that, and the other Thing, has been the sinful Occasion, Time after Time, of my losing a serious gracious Frame of Heart, and by such and such sinful Means I have gradually lost a Sense of divine and eternal Things, and so have wandered from [Page 245] God, and laid a Foundation for Darkness and Sorrow. O my Carelesness! O that I had prayed more in secret! O that I had spent precious Time better, &c. &c. These now are the Weights, and these the Sins, which easily beset you, and these you must lay aside for ever, if you design to be the Lord's indeed, and to make a Business of Religion to Purpose. But perhaps you will say, ‘My worldly Bu­siness, my necessary Cares, and the common Duties of Life, are sometimes the very Things, and these I ought not to lay aside, and what shall I do in this Case?’ I answer, That at another Time, the necessary Cares, Business and Duties of Life, you find to be no Hindrances at all; even at such Times when you do all out of Love to God and for God, with Singleness of Heart. If you will there­fore but always go about the common Duties of Life in such a Manner, they will never be any Clog to you. What you have therefore to do in the Case, is not to lay aside that which is your Duty, but to lay aside your wrong Ends and Aims. And thus you must lay aside every Weight.— But,

2. If you design to be religious in good earnest, then be careful to use all proper Means, and do every proper Thing, that has a Tendency to promote your spiritual Life. Every proper Thing I say, to guard against those anti-scriptural Methods which Enthusiasts are wont to take, and by which, above all Things, their false Affections are promoted, but which have a direct Tendency to kill the divine Life. In a serious Hour of sweet Retirement, and in happy Days when you are nearest to God, and enjoy most Communion with him, and have your Senses most accurate to discern between Good and Evil, you are wont to see and say▪ ‘O how blessed I might be, if I did always keep in this narrow Way, which now lies open plain before me; if I were always serious, watchful, prayerful, always reading, or meditating, and looking to God, and keeping my Heart, and improving every precious Moment of my Time wise­ly for God,’ &c. Well, well, O Believer, this is the Way, walk in it; and you shall be like a Tree planted by the Rivers of Water, that bringeth forth his Fruit in his Season, whose Leaf never withers, and whatsoever you do shall prosper. And after a few more Days and Weeks and Months and [Page 246] Years spent in Prayer and Faith and Holiness, in this your Pilgrimage-State, you shall come and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Iacob in the Kingdom of God, and dwell for ever with the Lord. Amen.

Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the Dead our Lord Iesus, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, thro' the Blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good Work, to do his Will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his Sight, thro' Iesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. AMEN.

[Page 247]

True Religion delineated.
DISCOURSE II. Shewing the Nature of the GOSPEL, and of a genuine Compliance with it.

JOH. III.16.

For GOD so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be­lieveth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.

The INTRODUCTION.

THE grand Question before us, is, What is true Religion? And this is the general Answer, It consists in a real Conformity to the Law, and in a genuine Compliance with the Gospel. What is implied in a real Conformity to the Law, has been already shewn in the former Dis­course: and we come now to consider wherein a genuine Compliance with the Gospel does consist. From our Savi­our's Mouth we had before a brief Summary of the Law; and now from our Saviour's Mouth we have a brief Sum­mary of the Gospel, in these comprehensive Words, God so loved the World, &c.

[Page 248] Nicodemus came to him for Instruction, believing him to be a Teacher sent from God. Our Saviour begins imme­diately to inculcate upon him, the Necessity of Regenera­tion and Faith. We are Sinners, are naturally dead in Sin; and therefore must be born again, be recovered to the di­vine Image in the Temper of our Minds, and so be made spiritually alive. We are guilty, we need pardoning Mercy at the Hands o [...] the great Governour of the World; but he will grant it only thro' the Mediator he has appointed: in him therefore must we believe, on his Merits and Media­tion must we depend.— Nicodemus could hardly under­stand the Doctrine of the new Birth; and our Saviour inti­mates that the Mysteries of our Redemption by the Blood of Christ, were like to be still more difficult to him. We can easily understand worldly Things, for they are agreeable to the Temper of our Minds, and suit the Gust and Relish of our Hearts: but we are blind to Things spiritual and divine, are fl [...]w of Heart to understand them, they not suiting the Temper and Relish of our Hearts, and we be­ing in a Disposition to disrelish Things of such a Nature. Therefore our Saviour observes to Nicodemus, ver. 19. This is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, but Men love Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds are Evil. We are in a State of Rebellion, at Enmity against God, and under his Wrath; and yet ready thro' our Dark­ness to flatter our selves that all is well; and so are secure and at Ease: Light is come into the World, discovering our Disease and our Remedy, but we love our Disease, & loath the Remedy; and therefore hate the Light and will not come to it. And thus our Saviour teaches Nicodemus where­in true Religion consists, and points out the Aversion of Mankind unto it. Nor is there any Thing that will disco­ver our Aversion so plainly, as to set true Religion in it's own Light; for when we see clearly what it is, we may perceive how we stand affected towards it: but otherwise we may be easily mistaken; may imagine that we love true Religion, when indeed we only love the false Image we have framed in our own Fancy.— Regeneration and Faith, the [...]e two great Essentials, wherein all Religion radically [...], are the Things our Saviour inculcates upon his [Page 249] new Disciple. Christ loved to lay the Foundation well. He was not fond of Converts, unless their Conversion was found. And indeed, all our Religion is good for nothing, if our Nature be not renewed; and all our Communion with God is but Fancy, if we are Strangers to Christ; for he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no Man comes to the Father but by him.—But to proceed to the Words of the Text, God so loved the World, &c.

GOD—i. e. God the Father, the first Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, who sustains the Dignity and Majesty of God-head, and is eminently Lord of Heaven and Earth, (Mat. 11.25.) and prime Agent in the Works of Creation and Providence, in governing the World, in redeeming, sanctifying and saving of Sinners. Rom. 11.36.—That there are three Persons in the God-head, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that these Three are one God, the Scrip­tures do abundantly teach. (Mat. 28.19. 2 Cor. 13.13. 1 Ioh. 5.7.) And this Doctrine we must believe, or we cannot understand the Gospel.—How they are Three, and how they are One, is not revealed, nor is it necessary for us to know: but that there are three Persons in the God-head and yet but one God, we must believe; and what Characters they sustain, and what Parts they act in the Affair of our Salvation, we must understand. — The Gospel represents God the Father, as sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth, as righteous Governour of the World, as giving Laws to his Creatures, as revealing his Wrath a­gainst all Transgressions: He is represented as being in­jured and offended by our Sins, and concerned to maintain the Honour of his Majesty, of his Law and Government and sacred Authority: He is represented as having Designs of Mercy towards a sinful, guilty, ruined World; and as contriving and proposing a Method of Recovery: He is represented as one seated on a Throne of Grace, reconcila­ble th [...]o' Jesus Christ, and seeking to reconcile the World to himself by Christ, ordering Pardon and Peace to be pro­claimed thro' a guilty World to any and all who will return to him in the Way prescribed.— The Gospel represen [...] God the Son, as being constituted Mediator by his Father, that in and by him he might open a Way to accomplish his Dessigns [Page 250] of Mercy towards a guilty World, consistent with the Honour of his Majesty, of his Holiness and Justice, of his Law and Government. His Father appointed him to the Office, and he freely undertook it. His Father sent him into this World to enter upon the difficult Work, and he willingly came. He was made Flesh, and dwelt among us. Here he lived, and here he died, in the Capacity of a Me­diator. He arose, he ascended into Heaven, and sits now at his Father's right Hand, God-Man Mediator, exalted to the highest Honour, made Lord of all Things, and Judge of the World. And now we are to have Access to God by him, as our Mediator, high Priest, Intercessor and Advocate, who has made compleat Atonement for Sins in the Days of his Abasement, and has now sufficient Interest in the Court of Heaven. — The Gospel represents God the Holy Ghost, as being sent of the Father as prime Agent, and by the Son as Mediator, in the Character of an En­lightner & Sanctifier: in order to bring Sinners effectually to see and be sensible of their Sin, Guilt, and Ruin, to be­lieve the Gospel, to trust in Christ, and to return home to God thro' him. And it is his Office to dwell in Believers, to teach and lead them, to sanctify, quicken, strengthen and comfort them, & to keep them thro' Faith unto Salvation.— The Father is God by Nature, and God by Office: the Son is God by Nature, and Mediator by Office. The Spirit is God by Nature, and Sanctifier by Office. The Father, as Governour, Lawgiver, Judge and Avenger, has all Power in Heaven and Earth, in and of himself. Matth. 11.25. The Son, as Mediator, derives all his Authority from the Father. Matth. 11.27. The Holy Spirit acts as being sent by them both, by the Father as supreme Governour dealing with a sinful, guilty World thro' a Mediator; by the Son as Mediator negociating a Reconciliation between God & Man. Ioh. 14.16. — The Father maintains the Honour of the God-head, and of his Government, and displays his Grace, while he ordains that Sin shall be punished, the Sinner humbled, and brought back to God, and into a Subjection to his Will, and in that Way be pardoned & finally saved. Sin is punished in the Son as Mediator, standing in the Room of the Guilty. And the Sinner is humbled, bro't [Page 251] back to God, and into a Subjection to his Will, by the Holy Spirit; and in this Way is pardoned and saved. And thus the Son and the Spirit honour the Father as supreme Governour, and all join in the same Design to discounte­nance Sin, humble the Sinner, and glorify Grace. Thus far briefly of the Doctrine of the Trinity. — Right Ap­prehensions of God help us to understand the Law, and right Apprehensions of the Trinity will help us to un­derstand the Gospel. Not how they are three Persons and yet but one God, the Manner of which is not needful to be known; but the Offices and Characters they sustain, and the different Parts they act in the great Affair of saving Sinners.— God (says the Text) so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life. i. e. God the Fa­ther, the great Governour of the World, whom we had offended by Sin—

So LOVED the World— i. e. with a Love of Bene­volence. Esteem us he could not; for we were worthless and vile: To delight in us, it was impossible; for we were altogether odious and abominable. But to have a Good­will towards us, or a Will to do us Good, this he might have, altho' we were sinful and guilty: Not indeed from any Motive in us; for if we were viewed, and our Temper and Circumstances considered, there was not to be seen one Motive to Pity, no, not the least; but every Motive to Indignation and Wrath. However, from Motives with­in himself, he might will to do us Good, notwithstanding our Sin and Guilt. The self-moving Goodness of his Na­ture did excite him, from the good Pleasure of his Will, to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace, to design Mercy to­wards a sinful, guilty, ruined World.—God so loved the World.

The WORLD— i. e. all Mankind, all the Posterity of Adam. For what follows, is evidently true, of every In­dividual: That he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.

SO loved— i. e. so inconceivably, so unspeakably.

That he GAVE his only begotten Son— i. e. of his mere, pure Goodness constituted him to be a Mediator, ap­pointed him to be a Redeemer and Saviour, to make Atone­ment [Page 252] for Sin and purchase divine Favours, and so to open a Way for Sinners to return to God with Safety, and for God to shew Mercy to them with Honour. God so loved the World, i. e. all the Race of Adam, that he gave his only begotten Son, immediately upon the Apostacy of Mankind; for then was this Seed of the Woman promised, (Gen. 3.15.) that all, being by Nature Children of Wrath, might be pre­vented by divine Goodness. God saw all involved in Sin and Guilt and Ruin, by Adam's first Sin: And so he pro­vided a Saviour for all; that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.

Should not PERISH.— He viewed all Mankind as sinful and guilty, lost, undone and perishing, i. e. exposed to the Wrath of God and Curse of the Law, to all the Mi­series of this Life, to Death it self, and to the Pains of Hell for ever. And he gave his only begotten Son to be a Sa­viour,—

That whosoever BELIEVETH in him,— i. e. that ventures upon his Atonement, his Worth and Merits, his Mediation and Intercession, for divine Acceptance; so as to be thence emboldened to return Home to God, upon the Invitation of the Gospel.— That all such should not perish,— But

Have EVERLASTING LIFE— i. e. the everlast­ing Indwelling of the holy Spirit as a Sanctifier and Com­forter, to be a never-failing Spring of a new, a spiritual and divine Life; everlasting Union and Communion with Christ, and the everlasting Favour and Enjoyment of God thro' him.

Thus we have in these Words a brief View of the glori­ous Gospel of the blessed God. And from them we may learn, (1.) That God, the great Governour of the World, considered Mankind, as being in a perishing Condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless and undone. (2.) That it was merely from Motives within himself, that he has done, what he has, for their Recovery out of this State. (3.) That he has constituted his Son a Mediator, Redeemer and Saviour, that thro' him Sinners might be saved. (4.) That he has appointed Faith in Christ, to be the Condition of Salvation.—Here therefore I will endeavour to shew,

[Page 253]I. Upon what Grounds it was, that God, the great Go­vernour of the World, did consider Mankind, as being in a perishing Condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless and undone.

II. What were the Motives, which excited him to do, what he has done, for their Recovery.

III. What Necessity there was of a Mediator and Redeemer, and how the Way to Life has been opened by him whom God has provided.

IV. What is the true Nature of saving Faith in Him. And so by the Whole, to explain the Nature of the Gospel, and of a genuine Compliance therewith.— And in the last Place,

V. Will consider the Promise of everlasting Life to those who believe.

SECTION I. Shewing the Reasons why God does in the Gospel consider Mankind as being in a perishing Condition.

I. I am to shew upon what Grounds it was, that God, the great Governour of the World, did consider Mankind as being in a perishing Condition, i. e. sinful, guilty, justly con­demned, helpless and undone.— That he did consider Mankind as being in a perishing Condition, is evident, be­cause he gave his only begotten Son, that they might not perish who should believe in him. If we were not in a perishing Condition, his giving his Son to save us from Perdition had been needless: and his pretending great Love and Kindness in doing so, had been to affront us; to make as if we were undone Creatures, when we were not; and as if we were much beholden to him for his Goodness, when we could have done well enough without it. And the more he pretends of his great Love and Kindness, the greater must the Affront be. So that, however we look upon our selves, 'tis certain that God, who sees all Things as being what they are, did actually look upon us, as in a [Page 254] perishing, lost, undone Condition.— And if he considered us as being in such a Condition▪ it must have been because he looked upon us as sinful, guilty, justly condemned and altogether helpless; for otherwise we were not in a perish­ing Condition. If we could have helped our selves a little, we should not have needed one to save us, but only to help us to save our selves: but our Salvation in Scripture is always attributed wholly to God; and God every where takes all the Glory to himself, as tho' in very Deed he had deserved it all. (Eph. 1.3—6. and 2.1—9.) So that it is certain, God did look upon Mankind as being in a perishing Condition, sinful, guilty, justly condemned, and altogether helpless: and considering us in such a Condition, he enter­ed upon his Designs of Mercy and Grace; and therefore he every where magnifies his Love, and looks upon us as infinitely beholden to him, and under infinite Obligations to ascribe to him all the Glory and Praise, even quite all. That no Flesh should glory in his Presence.— But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Cor. 1.29, 31.

It is of great Importance therefore, that we come to look upon our selves as being in such a perishing Condition too; for otherwise it is impossible we should ever be in a Dispo­sition thankfully to accept Gospel-Grace, as it is offered unto us. We shall rather be offended, as thinking the Gospel casts Reproach upon human Nature, in supposing us to be in such a forlorn Condition, as to stand in a perishing Need of having so much done for us. As the Iews of old scorned it, when Christ told them, If they would become his Disciples, they should know the Truth, and the Truth should make them free. They took it as an Affront, and were ready to say, ‘What! Just as if we were in Bondage! Indeed no. We were never in Bondage to any Man. We have Abraham to our Father, and God is our Father; but thou hast a Devil.’ Ioh. 8.31—48. They would not understand him, they were all in a Rage. And so it is like to be with us, with Regard to the Methods, which God has taken with us in the Gospel, unless we look upon our selves as he does, so wretched and miserable, so poor, blind and naked, so helpless, lost and undone. It is the want of this Self-Ac­quaintance, together with a fond Notion of our being in a [Page 255] much better Case than we be, that raises such a mighty Cry against the Doctrines of Grace, thro' a proud, impeni­tent, guilty World.

And since God does thus look upon us to be in such a perishing Condition, and upon this Supposition enters on his Designs of Mercy and Grace, here now therefore does the Question recur,— Upon what Grounds is it, that he considers us as being in such a perishing Condition?— Grounds he must have, and good Grounds too, or he would never thus look upon us. If we may rightly understand what they be, perhaps we may come to look upon our selves as he does; and the [...] the Grace of the Gospel will begin to appear to us, in the same Light it does to him. The Grounds then, are as follows.

1. God the great Governour of the World, does in the Gospel consider Mankind as being guilty of Adam's first Sin, and on that Account to be in a perishing Condition. In Adam all died ▪ 1 Cor. 15.22.) But Death is the Wages of Sin: (Rom. [...].23.) Therefore in Adam all sinned. For by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; and so Death pass [...]d upon all Men, for that all have sinned. i. e. sin­ned in Adam. (Rom. [...].12.) for (v. 19.) By one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners. And accordingly by the Offence of one, Iudgment came upon all Men to Condemnation. And hence all are by Nature Children of Wrath. (Eph. 2.3.)

OBJ. But how can we be guilty of Adam's first Sin? It was he committed it, and not we; and that without our Consent, and a long Time before we were born.

ANS. Adam, by divine Appointment, stood and acted as our publick Head. He stood a Representative in the Room of all his Posterity; and accordingly acted not only for himself, but for them. His sustaining this Character ren­dered him a Type of Christ, the second Adam, who has laid down his Life in the Room and Stead of Sinners. And his being spoken of in Scripture as a Type of Christ with Res­pect to this Character of a publick Head, proves that he did actually sustain such a Character. (Rom. 5.14.) And there­fore as by the Obedience of Christ, many are made Righte­ous▪ so by the Disobedience of Adam, many are made Sin­ner [...] ▪ (v. 19.) i. e. by the Imputation of Christ's Obedience [Page 256] Believers become legally righteous; righteous in the Sight of God by Vertue of an established Constitution; and so have the Reward of eternal Life: So by the Imputation of Adam's first Sin, his Posterity by ordinary Generation, be­came legally Sinners, Sinners in the Sight of God by Ver­tue of an established Constitution, and so are exposed to the Punishment of eternal Death, the proper Wages of Sin. Now it is true, we did not PERSONALLY rise in Rebellion a­gainst God in that first Transgression, but he who did do it was our Representative. We are Members of the Commu­nity he acted for, and God considers us as such; and there­fore looks upon us as being legally guilty, and liable to be dealt with accordingly: And so on this Account in a pe­rishing Condition. But perhaps some will still be ready to say, ‘And where is the Justice of all this?’ Methinks the following Considerations, if we will be disinterestedly im­partial, may set the Matter in a satisfying Light.

(1.) That the original Constitution made with Adam, as to himself personally considered, was holy, just and good.

(2.) That if all his Posterity had been put under the same Constitution, one by one, from Age to Age, as they came into Be­ing, to act for themselves, it had also been holy, just and good.

(3.) That it was, in the Nature of the Thing, in all Res­pects, as well for our Interest, that Adam should be made our publick Head & Representative, to act not only for himself, but for all his Posterity, as that we should each stand and act for himself singly; and in some Respects better.

(4.) That in such a Case, God, as supreme Lord and sove­reign Governour of the whole World, had full Power and right­ful Authority to constitute Adam our common Head and pub­lick Representative, to act in our Behalf.— Let us there­fore distinctly consider these Particulars.

(1.) It is to be noted, the original Constitution made with Adam, (Gen. 2.17.) as to himself personally considered, was holy, just and good, as will appear if we consider the Circumstances he was under, antecedent to that Constitution or Covenant. For,

In the first Place, Antecedent to that Covenant-Transac­tion, he was under infinite Obligations from the Reason and Nature of Things, to love God with all his Heart and [Page 257] obey him in every Thing. From the infinite Excellence and Beauty of the divine Nature, and from God's original, en­tire Right to him▪ as his Creature, and absolute Authority over him, as his Subject, did his infinite Obligation so to do, necessarily arise. It was fit, it was infinitely fit and right, that he should look upon the infinitely glorious God his Maker and Governour, as being what he was, and as having such a Right to him and Authority over him as he had, and that he should be affected and act accordingly, an­tecedent to the Consideration of any Covenant-Transaction. And no Doubt, this was actually the Case with him, be­fore that Covenant was made; for he was created in the Image of God, (Gen. 1.27.) And so his Heart was full of a Sense of his Glory, and of admiring and adoring Tho'ts: He felt that he was not his own, but the Lord's; and he loved him and was entirely devoted to him, in the Temper of his Mind, conscious of the infinite Obligations he was under thereto.— And farther, 'tis certain that God was the sole Lord and Owner of this lower World, and all Things in it; and that Adam had no Right to any Thing but by a divine Grant.—And 'tis certain, it was fit that Adam should be put into a State of Trial, and that God had Authority to do it.

And now since he was naturally under such infinite Ob­ligations to love and obey God his Maker, God the su­preme Lord and sovereign Governour of all Things; since he had no Right to any of the Trees of the Garden, but by the free Grant of God; and since it was fit he should be put into a State of Trial, and God had Authority to do it: Since these Things were so, it is evident, that Constitution was HOLY, In the Day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. God had a Right to make such a Law; for Adam was his, and all the Trees in the Garden were his, and he was by Nature GOD, SUPREME LORD AND SOVE­REIGN GOVERNOUR of the whole World, and it was fitting he should act as such: And it was infinitely fit that Adam should have a sacred Regard to his Authority in all Things, because he was such; and that his eternal Welfare should lie at Stake, and be suspended upon his good Beha­viour.—And no Doubt Adam, viewed Things thus, and [Page 258] was thoro'ly sensible that God had a Right to prohibit that Tree upon Pain of Death, and that he was under infinite Obligations to have a most sacred Regard to his Will in that Matter. Thus that Constitution was Holy.

And if we consider, in the next Place, that, as has been observed, Adam was under infinite Obligations to love God his Maker with all his Heart, and obey him in every Thing, resulting from the very Reason and Nature of Things, it will appear that the Threatning was just; and no more than what he must have expected, had he fallen into any Sin whatsoever, antecedent to any Constitution at all.—Adam, in a State of pure Nature, i. e. prior to any Covenant-Trans­action, was under infinite Obligations to perfect Love and perfect Obedience; the least Defect therefore must have been infinitely sinful; and so by Consequence must have deserved an infinite Punishment. And it was meet that God the Governour of the World should punish Sin accord­ing to it's real Desert: in the Nature of Things it was meet, antecedent to any express Declaration of his Design to do so. And Adam knew all this. He knew what Obligations he was under to God, to love him with all his Heart and obey him in every Thing; and by Consequence, he was conscious to himself that the least Defect would be an infi­nite Evil, and so would deserve an infinite Punishment; and he knew that it was the Nature of God to render to every one according to their Deserts: he was certain there­fore, from the Reason and Nature of Things, antecedent to that Threatning, that the least Sin would expose him to an infinite Punishment.— From this View of the Case, it is plain, that that Threatning was just, and Adam did most perfectly approve of it as such.— It was no more than it was reasonable for Adam to expect, and meet for God to inflict, for any Transgression of the Law of Nature. And it was against the Law of Nature, for Adam to eat the for­bidden Fruit, when once God had said, he should not. It was a practical denying of God's Supremacy, and casting off his Authority, and an actually setting up of his Will against the Lord's If any Sin therefore deserved an infi­nite [...], surely that did.

[Page 259] Remark. And here by the Way, from this View of the Case, we may gain a certain Knowledge of what God meant by, Thou shalt surely die; or as it is in the Original, In dying thou shalt die; and may be certain how Adam understood it. —He did not mean, that Adam should be annihilated; for such a Punishment was not equal to the Crime. He might without Injustice have annihilated Adam, had he remained innocent; for he that gives Being of his mere good Plea­sure, may of his mere good Pleasure take it away again. Nor could Adam have brought God into Debt by a thou­sand Years perfect Obedience; for he owed himself and all he could do, to God his Maker. Rom. 11.35.—God meant to punish Adam according to his Deserts; but Anni­hilation would not have been such a Punishment: And therefore it is curtain that this was not what God meant. Adam knew that Sin was an infinite Evil, and so deserved an infinite Punishment, and that it was meet it should be punished according to it's Deserts, and that it was the Na­ture of God to do so; but Annihilation was not such a Pu­nishment, and Adam could not but know it: And there­fore Adam could not understand Death in this Sense.— God meant to punish Adam according to his Deserts. And what did he deserve? Why, an infinite Punishment, i. e. to have all Good taken away, and all Kinds of Evil come upon him for ever. Well, what Good had Adam in Possession! Why, he had a natural Life, resulting from the Union of his Soul and Body, with all the Delights and Sweet­nesses thereof: And he had a spiritual Life, resulting from the gracious Influences of the holy Spirit, and consisting in the Image of God and Sense of his Love, with all the De­lights and Sweetnesses thereof: And he was formed for Im­mortality, and so was in a Capacity of eternal Life and Blessedness in glorifying God and enjoying of him. Here therefore he was capable of a natural, a spiritual and an e­ternal De [...]th; to have Soul and Body rent asunder for ever, to be forsaken by the Spirit of God and given up to the Power of Sin and Satan for ever, and to have God Al­mighty become his everlasting Enemy.— All this he deserved; and therefore God meant all this. All this he knew he should deserve; and therefore he could not but [Page 260] understand the Threatning to comprehend all this. — Besides, that which makes it still more certain, that this was the Meaning of that first Threatning, is, that God has since very expresly threatned eternal Death as the Wages of the least Sin. Rom 1.18. Gal. 3.10. Matt. 25.46. (And the Word DEATH it self is plainly used to signify eternal Death and Misery. Rom. 6.23. Rom. 8.13.) So that either now he means to punish Sin more than it deserves, or he intended then to punish Sin less than it deserved, or else eternal Death was what he always meant, by threatning Death as the Wages of Sin. If he means to punish Sin now more than he did then, it is too much now, or not enough then; both which are equally contrary to the Reason and Nature of Things, and equally inconsistent with the impartial Jus­tice of the divine Nature, which always inclines him to render to every one according to their Deserts, nor more, nor less: And therefore eternal Death was intended in that first Threatning. But this by the Way.

And, Lastly, as that Constitution was holy and just, so also it was Good. Because it put Adam (personally consi­dered) under better Circumstances than he was before. For while in a State of pure Nature, perfect Obedience could not have given him any Title to eternal Life; but, as was said before, God might have annihilated him at Pleasure, after a Hundred, or a Thousand, or ten Thousand Years, without any Injustice to him. (Iob 22.2. Rom. 11.35.) But now under this Constitution he had an Assurance of eternal Life upon perfect Obedience. For inasmuch as God threat­ned Death in Case he should sin, it is evidently implied that he should have lived for ever in Case he had been obedient. So that there was infinite Goodness manifested to Adam (personally considered) in this Constitution, eternal Life being thus promised of mere unmerited Bounty. And be­sides, after a While his State of Trial would have been at an End, and he confirmed in an immutable State of Holi­ness and Happiness; of which Confirmation the Tree of Life seems to have been designed as a sacramental Sign. Gen. 3.22. Rev. 2.7. and 22.14. Whereas had he remained in a State of pure Nature, he must have been everlastingly in a State of Probation, had [...] pleased his Maker to have [Page 261] continued him in Being. So that, upon the Whole, it is plain, this Constitution, as to Adam personally considered, was holy, just and good. And wdam had great Reason, with all his Heart to give Thanks to God his Maker, for his Goodness and Condescension, that he would be so kind and stoop so low, as to enter into such a Covenant with a Worm of the Dust: And no Doubt, he did so with the sincerest Gratitude. We proceed therefore to consider,

(2.) That if all his Posterity had been put under this same Constitution, one by one, from Age to Age, as they came into Being, to act singly for themselves, it had also, as to them▪ have been HOLY, IUST and GOOD. As it was better for Adam than a State of pure Nature, so it would have been for the same Reason better for us. We (had we remained in a State of pure Nature, i. e. without any Constitution at all) should have been each one of us under the same infinite Obligation to perfect Obedience to the Law of Nature, and equally exposed to the same infinite Punishment for the least Sin, as he was, and as much without a Title to Life upon perfect Obedience, and as liable to be everlastingly in a State of Probation. And therefore such a Constitution would have been as great a Favour to us, as it was to him; and we equally under Obligations to Gratitude and Thankfulness to God therefor. But,

(3.) It was as well for our Interest, in the Nature of the Thing, in all Respects, that Adam should be made a publick Head and Representative, to act not only for himself, but for all his Posterity, as if we had been put to act singly for our selves; and in some Respects better. For, Adam was, in the Nature of the Thing, in all Respects, as likely to stand, as any of us should have been, and in some Respects more likely. For he had as good natural Powers, as much of the Image of God, and as great a Sense of his Obligations, as any of us should have had; and had in all Respects as many Motives to Watchfulness; and in some Respects more,—in that not only his own everlasting Welfare lay at Stake, but also the everlasting Welfare of all his Posterity too. Besides, he had just received the Law from God's own Mouth, and he was in a State of perfect Manhood when his Trial began. So that upon the whole, in the Nature of the Thing, it [Page 262] was more likely he should stand, than that any of us should; and therefore it was more for our Interest, that he should act for us, than we for ourselves.—But if we had been put to act singly for our selves under such a Constitution, it had been much better than to be left in a State of pure Nature, and so we should have had great Cause of Thankfulness to God for his Condescension and Goodness; but to have Adam appointed to act for us, was in the Nature of the Thing, still more to our Advantage; on the Account of which, we have therefore still greater Cause of Thankfulness to the good Governour of the World. It is infinite Wickedness there­fore, to fly in the Face of Almighty God, and charge him with Unrighteousness, for appointing Adam our Head and Representative. We ought rather to say, ‘The Constitu­tion was holy, just and good, yea, very good; but to us belongs Shame and Confusion of Face, for that we have sinned.’

OBJ. But God knew how it would turn out, he knew Adam would fall and undo himself and all his Race.

ANSW. When God called Abraham, and chose him and his Seed for his peculiar People, to give them distinguish­ing Advantages and Privileges, and that professedly un­der the Notion of great Kindness and unspeakable Good­ness; yet at the same Time he knew how they would turn out, how they would be a stiff-necked People, and would kill his Prophets, his Son and Apostles, and so be cast off from being his People. He knew all this before-hand; yet that altered not the Nature of the Thing at all; did not diminish his Goodness, nor lessen his Grace. And the Iewish Nation at this Day have Reason to say, ‘The Lord's Ways have been Ways of Goodness, and blessed be his Name; but to us belongs Shame and Confusion of Face, for that we have sinned.’

OBJ. Yes, but God decreed that Adam should fall.

ANSW. He did not decree that Adam should fall, any more than he did, that the Seed of Abraham should turn out such a stiff-necked, rebellious Race. He decreed to permit both to do as they did; but this neither lessens his Goodness, nor their Sin: for God is not obliged to put [...]is Creatures under such Circumstances as that they shall [Page 263] never be tempted nor tried; and when they are tried, he is not obliged to keep them from falling: it is enough, that they have sufficient Power to stand if they will; which was the Case with Adam.—Besides, God had wise Ends in permiting Adam to fall; for he designed to take Occasion therefrom to display all his glorious Perfections in the most illustrious Manner. So that we may say of it (and should, if we loved God above our selves) as Ioseph does of his Brethren's selling him, Ye meant it for Evil, but the Lord meant it for Good: So here, Satan meant it for Evil, but God meant it for Good; even to bring much Glory to his great Name. Therefore be still, and adore his holy Sovereign­ty. And a [...] the same time acknowledge, that the Constituti­on, in its own Nature, was holy, just and good,—Yea, very good.— These Things being considered, I proceed to add,

(4.) That in such a Case, God, as supreme Lord and sove­reign Governour of the whole World, had full Power and rightful Authority to constitute Adam our common Head and publick Representative, to act in our Behalf. For, as the Case stood, there could be no reasonable Objection against it. Adam was not held up to hard Terms. The Threatning in Case of Disobedience was strictly just. The Constitution in it's own Nature was vastly for the Interest of Adam and of all his Race. Adam was already constituted the natural Head of all Mankind; for God blessed him, saying, Be fruit­ful and multiply and replenish the Earth. Gen. 1.28. All his Race, had they then existed, would, if they had been wise for themselves, readily have consented to such a Con­stitution, as being well adapted to the general Good. (So Men are wont to do, when their Estates lie at Stake, or their Lives; if they think that an Attorney is likely to manage the Case for them better than they can for themselves, they will choose him, and venture the Case with him, ra [...]her than with themselves.) So that the only Question is, whe­ther God had, in so unexceptionable a Case, full Power and rightful Authority to constitute Adam a publick Head, to stand as a moral Representative for all his Race and act in their Behalf, so that they should stand and fall with him? Or in other Words, (for it all comes to the same Thing) whether in any Case whatsoever, God has full Pow [...] [Page 264] and rightful Authority to appoint one to stand and act in the Room of another, so as to lay a Foundation for the Conduct of the one to be so imputed to the other, as that both shall stand and fall together? And so it is as much of a Question, whether God had Power and Authority to constitute the second Adam a publick Head, as the first? if God had not full Power and rightful Authority, to ap­point the first Adam to be our publick Head and moral Representative, to stand and act in our Behalf, so as to lay a Foundation for his Conduct to be so imputed to us, as that we should stand and fall with him: Then he had not full Power and rightful Authority, to appoint the second Adam to be a publick Head and moral Representative, to stand and act in the Room of a guilty World, so as to lay a Foun­dation for his Righteousness to be so imputed to them that believe in him, as that they should be justified and saved thro' it. For if God has not Power to constitute one to stand and act in the Room of another, in any Case whatso­ever; and if on this Foot, we say he had not Power to ap­point the first Adam, 'tis plain that on the same Foot, he had no Power to appoint the second. I suppose it will be readily granted, that if God has Power, in any Case whatso [...]ver, to constitute one to stand and act in the Room of another, in the Manner aforesaid; then he had in these two Instances of Adam and Christ, which are doubt­less, on all Accounts, in themselves, most unexceptionable. But if God, in no Case whatsoever, has Power to appoint one thus to stand and act in the Room of another, then both these Constitutions are effectually undermined and render'd null and void. We can neither be guilty of Adam's first Sin, so as justly to be exposed to Condemnation and Ruin therefor; nor can the Righteousness of Christ be so imputed to us, as to intitle us to Justification and Life. One Man's Disobedience cannot constitute many to be Sin­ners, no [...] the Obedience of one constitute many to be righ­teous. We can neither be ruined by the first Adam, nor redeemed by the second. Under the Iewish Dispensation it was ordained (Lev. 16.) that Aaron should lay both his Hands upon the Head of the live-Goat, and confess over him a [...]l the Iniquities of the Children of Israel, and all their Trans­gressions [Page 265] in all their Sins, putting them upon the Head of the Goat, and send him away by the Hand of a fit Man into the Wilderness. And (says God) the Goat shall bear upon him all their Iniquities, unto a Land not inhabited. We used to to think, this scape-Goat was designed by God to typify Christ. And the Scripture has taught us in express Lan­guage, that the Iniquities of us all were laid on him, that he bare our Sins, that he was made a Curse for us, that by his Obedience many are made righteous. (Isai. 53.6. Pet. 2.24. Gal. 3.13. Rom. 5.19.) But if God has not Authority to constitute one to stand and act in the Room of another, this must all be void and of none Effect. And thus while Men are disputing against the original Constitution with Adam, they unawares undermine this second Constitution, which is the Foundation of all our Hopes. Eager to avoid Adam's first Sin, whereby comes Condemnation; they ren­der of none Effect Christ's Righteousness, whereby comes Justification. And if Christ did not stand and act as a publick Person, if our Sins were not laid upon him, if he did not bare them on the Tree, if he was not made a Curse for us, and if we are not to be pardoned thro' his Atone­ment and justified thro' his Righteousness, then the Gospel is all a Fable, and the whole Scheme of our Salvation there­in revealed is wholly overthrown. What remains therefore but Deism and Infidelity? But in as much as we have full Evidence to the Truth of the Christian Revelation, and may be assured that it is from God, we may therefore be confirmed in it, that Jesus Christ has been by God the great Governour of the World appointed a publick Person, to stand and act, to obey and suffer in our Room, that thro' his Obedience and Sufferings we might have Pardon and eternal Life. And from this Fact we may be assured, that God has full Power and rightful Authority to constitute one to stand and act in the Room of another. And if he has such Authority, nothing hinders but that he might constitute Adam to be our publick Head, as has been said.

Besides, if we consider the Nature of the Thing it self, it is plain that God had Power to constitute Adam our pub­lick Head. For God as moral Governour of the World and sovereign Lord of all Things has Power to make any [Page 266] Constitution whatsoever, which does in it's own Nature agree to the eternal Fitness of Things, or in other Words, which is agreeable to his own Perfections. But all will grant, that Constitution is agreeable to his own Perfections, which, in its own Nature is suited to the Glory of God and Good of the Creatures. Now this Constitution with Adam was in its own Nature suited to the general Good of Man­kind, because the Welfare of Mankind was in the Nature of the Thing safer and better secured upon such a Foot, than if every single Child of Adam had been left in a State of pure Nature without any Constitution at all, or than if they had every one been put to act singly for himself: as has been before proved. And it was well suited to the Glory of God, because in that Constitution, considered in it's own Nature, God eminently appeared to be what he was. For in it he appeared as the MOST HIGH GOD, the SUPREME LORD and SOVEREIGN GOVER­NOUR of the whole World; for in it he acted as sovereign Lord of his Creatures, as being by Nature God, and as hav­ing an absolute Right to and Authority over the Works of his Hands. And when God acts so, as by his Conduct to shew what he is, then are his Doings suited to his own Glory; for nothing is more to his Glory, than to appear to be what he is. And in as much as the Constitution it self was well suited to the general Good of Mankind, God did, in making of it, act a kind and tender Part towards the human Race, to the Honour and Glory of his Goodness. And while eternal Life was promised to perfect Obedience, and eternal Death threatned to Disobedience, God's infinite Love to Vertue and infinite Hatred of Vice were manifested, to the Glory of his Holiness and Justice. Since then that Constitution was thus, in it's own Nature, suited to our Good and God's Glory; there is no doubt but the sove­reign Lord and Governour of all Things, had full Power and rightful Authority, so to appoint: for in so doing, he would act agreeable to his own Perfections, and the eternal Fitness of Things.

BUT TO CONCLUDE, We may be abundantly satisfied, not only from the Nature of the Thing, but also from what God has in Fact done, that that Constitution was [Page 267] holy, just and Good, and that he had full Power and right­ful Authority to do as he did, because otherwise he would never have done so; he would never have made such a Constitution. It is plain and evident from Facts, that Adam was considered and dealt with under the Capacity of a publick Head, and that Death natural, spiritual and eternal were included in the Threatning; for all his Poste­rity are evidently dealt with just as if that had been the Case. They are born spiritually dead, as has been proved in the former Discourse. They are evidently liable to natural Death, as soon as they are born. And if they die and go into Eternity with their native Temper, they must necessa­rily be miserable, in being what they are, unlike to God and uncapable of the Enjoyment of him, and contrary to him. And God must necessarily look upon them with everlasting Abhorrence; for he cannot but abhor Creatures whose Tempers are contrary to him. So that here is eternal Death. And all in Consequence of Adam's first Sin.

Now then, if indeed we are in Fact dealt with just as we should have been, had Adam been our publick Head, there can surely need no farther Evidence to prove that this was the Case; for the Iudge of all the Earth cannot but do Right: And therefore he would not deal with us as being guilty of Adam's first Sin, were not Adam our Representative. But had Adam been our Representative, and his first Sin imputed to us; yet then we should have been dealt with no otherwise than now we; are i. e. On Supposition of the In­terposition of a Mediator, as is now the Case. For that we are now born into the World subject to natural Death, none can deny, and this by Virtue of Adam's first Sin: And if we are really spiritually dead too, and so exposed to eternal Death, 'tis just what might have been expected, had Adam stood for us; and so there is no more to be said. And if God be such a Being, as I suppose he is, and the Law such, and the Nature of true Holiness such; then, as has been shewn in the first Discourse, there is no doubt we are native­ly spiritually dead. So that the Force of this Argument depends upon the Truth of those first Principles, which, I think, have been sufficiently proved. Right Apprehensions of the moral Law will at once convince us of our inherent [Page 268] natural Corruption, and make us feel that we are fallen Creatures.

REMARK. Perhaps this is the Consideration, which most commonly first leads poor Sinners to see, that they do actu­ally lie under the Guilt of Adam's first Sin; and that their Ruin thence took its Rise, viz. their finding by Experi­ence, when the Spirit of God brings home the Law and awakens Conscience, that they are by Nature dead in Tres­passes and Sins: for now no Conclusion can be more natu­ral, than that they are by Nature Children of Wrath. And this will naturally lead them to enquire, Whence this has comes to pass? and they will presently find the Scripture express and plain in it, that by one Man's Disobedience, many were made Sinners; and by the Offence of one, Iudgment came upon all to Condemnation: and their own Experience will give them the most natural Comment upon the Words, while they feel themselves to be by Nature dead in Sin and exposed to eternal Ruin. But now, ‘How could I justly have all this come upon me for Adam's first Sin?’ will naturally be the next Thought. And an awakened Consci­ence will perhaps first of all reply, ‘How it is just & right I cannot tell, but I am [...]tain so it is, that I am by Nature dead in Sin, & by Nature a Child of Wrath. This I see and feel. And the Scripture says, that by one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners; and that for the Offence of one Iudgment came upon all Men to Condemnation. And God's Ways must be righteous, for the Judge of all the Earth always does right. And if I do finally perish, I have nothing to say; for I have gone in Adam's Steps, I have been voluntary in my Rebellion against God all my Life, and am at Heart an Enemy to him still, and that voluntarily so.’ And this may in a Measure silence such a poor Sinner for the present. But if ever he comes to be reconcil'd to the divine Nature, and then impartially to look into the original Constitution, he may then see that it was in it's own Nature, holy, just and good, and worthy of God the great Governour of the World; and as such sweetly acquiesce in it: saying, ‘God's Ways were holy, just and good, and blessed be his Name; but to us (to all the human Race) belongs Shame and Confusion of [Page 269] Face, for that we have sinned.’ But until Men are a­wakened, at least to some Sense of their natural Corrup­tion, they are commonly very blind and deaf to all the Scripture says about this Matter. It is hard to make Men believe contrary to their own Experience; to make them believe that they fell in Adam, when they don't feel that they are by Nature fallen Creatures. Let the Scripture speak ever so plain, yet they cannot believe that it means as it says▪ It must mean, they think, something else. The best Me­thod therefore to convince Sinners of the Doctrine of origi­nal (imputed) Sin, and to silence all their Cavils, is to open the true Meaning of the moral Law, and shew them their native Depravity. This is the Method which God takes in the Bible. He says but little about Adam's first Sin, but says much to shew us what we really are, as knowing that if we are but once convinced of our native Corruption, a few Words are sufficient to shew us whence our Ruin originally took it's Rise.

Thus, God the great Governour of the World, in the Gospel-Dispensation, considered Mankind as being in a pe­rishing Condition, sinful, guilty, justly condemned, help­less and undone; and one Ground and Reason of his look­ing upon Mankind to be in such a Condition, was our original Apostacy from him in our first Parents. And since that Constitution, whereby Adam was made our com­mon Head and publick Representative, was holy, just and good in its own Nature; and since God the supreme Lord of all Things had full Power and rightful Authority so to ordain and appoint; hence therefore he has sufficient Rea­son to look upon Mankind, on Account of this first Apos­tacy, as he does.

Therefore at the same Time he provided a Saviour for Adam, at the same Time did he also provide a Saviour for his Posterity too; they being considered as one with him and involved in the same Sin and Guilt and Ruin; and so stand­ing in equal Need of Relief. Hence Christ is called the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the Word. Then was it said, that the Seed of the Woman shall bruise the Serpent's Head. To which original Grant our Saviour seems to ha [...]e Respect, when he says, God so loved the World, that he GAVE his [Page 270] only begotten Son, &c. Whereas, had Adam acted in the Ca­pacity of a private Person, and sinned and fallen for him­self alone, and his Posterity not been involved in the same Ruin; Adam might have had a Saviour provided for him: But his Posterity would no more have needed one, than the Angels in Heaven, or than Adam before his Fall.

OBJ. But those Words, In the Day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, Gen. 2.17. were evidently spoken only to Adam, nor is there a Word said about his Posterity having any Interest or Concern in the Affair.

ANS. So also were those Words in Gen. 3.19. Dust thou art, and unto Dust shalt thou return, spoken only to Adam without the least Intimation that his Posterity were any of them included in the Sentence. And yet by Vertue of that Sentence, all his Posterity are subject to Death. Rom. 5.12, 13, 14. Do you account for this, and you will at the same Time account for that: For the Truth is, that in both Cases Adam was considered not merely as a single private Person, but as a publick Head and Representative, standing in the Room of all his Posterity. And considered in this Capacity, was he threatned with Death in Case he sinned; and consi­dered in this Capacity, was natural Death denounced upon him after his Fall. So that in both, his Posterity were e­qually included. And therefore St. Paul calls Adam a Type of Christ. Rom. 5.14. And calls Christ the second Adam. 1 Cor. 15.45. Because both these, by the Authority of the great Governour of the World, were constituted publick Persons, to act in the Behalf of Mankind. And all Man­kind were so included in them, that St. Paul speaks as if there had been but only these two Men, Adam and Christ. 1 Cor. 15.47▪ The first Man is of the Earth, earthy: The second Man is the Lord from Heaven.

2. God the supreme Ruler of the World does in the Gospel consider Mankind as being in a perishing Condition, not only on the Account of their original Apostacy in Adam, their common Head and Representative; but also because they are, what they are, in themselves. (1.) Destitute of the divine Image. (2.) Contrary to God in the Tem­per of their Hearts. (3.) Utterly averse to a Reconcilia­tion. (4.) In a Disposition, if unrestrained, to live in all [Page 271] open Rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven before his Face. (5.) And yet insensible of their just Desert and of their Need of sovereign Grace; and ready rather to think it a cruel Thing, if God should damn them.

(1.) God saw Mankind destitute of his moral Image. For being conscious of the holy Temper of his own Heart, of the holy Propensity of his own Nature; and being consci­ous to the Temper of their Hearts, to the Propensity of their Nature; at first View, he saw what they were. God looked down from Heaven upon the Children of Men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doth Good, no, not one. Psal. 53.2.3.— He saw Mankind destitute of a Conformity to his holy Law. The Law requires Mankind to love God supremely, live to him ultimately, and delight in him superlatively, and to love one another as their own Souls: But he looked down from Heaven, he beheld, and lo, all the human Race were entirely devoid of that Temper. None were in a Disposition to account him infinitely glorious in being what he wa [...] ▪ Not one had the least Relish or Taste for the Beauty of his moral Perfections. Every Heart empty of holy Love, and holy Delight, and devoid of any true Spirit or Principle of Obedience. And all Mankind had lost that Frame of Spirit towards one another, which they ought to have. The whole World lay in Ruin.

He kne [...], his Law was holy, just and good, and that his Creature Man was under infinite Obligations to a perfect [...]formity thereto. He saw what Grounds there were for the Law, and what Reasons for their Obedience. He saw his own infinite Excellency, and his original, underived, entire Right to them, and was conscious to his rightful Authority over them. He judged them infinitely to Blame for their Non-Conformity, and worthy of an infinite Pu­nishment. Speaking after the Manner of Men, he did, in the inward Temper of his Heart, perfectly approve of those Words in Gal. 3.10. as being strictly just, Cursed is every one, that continueth not in all Things written in the Book of the Law, to do them.—Therefore he looked on Mankind in a perishing Condition. But,

[Page 272](2.) He viewed Mankind not only destitute of Good, but full of Evil. Not only void of true Love to God and to one another, but Enemies to God and living in Malice and Envy among themselves. He looked down from Heaven and viewed a guilty World, and saw their Contrariety to his Nature and to his Law. Conscious of his own divine Temper, he saw every contrary Temper in them. What he esteems, they despise. What he delights in, they loath. The End which he prosecutes, they oppose. And they esteem and delight in that which is contrary to him, and prosecute Ends and Designs contrary to his. He, saw their Views, their Tempers, their Wills, their Ends, Designs and Ways, were all contrary to him, and diametrically opposite to his Law. He considered them as his Enemies, and their Tempers as perfect Enmity and Contrariety to the divine Nature. Rom. 8.7.

(3.) And in as much as he thus saw them entirely de­stitute of Love to him, and diametrically contrary to the divine Nature in the Temper of their Hearts, He knew they would have no Inclination to a Reconciliation to God; but would be naturally averse to it. He knew, their Aversion to a Reconciliation would be as strong as their Contrariety to the divine Nature, from which it took it's Rise. He saw that if he should attempt to reclaim them, he should only meet with Resistance. That if he should spread the News of Pardon and Peace thro' a guilty World, and invite them to return and be reconciled, that they would make light of it and despise it. That if he should send Messengers after them, to perswade them to return and beseech them to be reconciled, that they would put many of them to Death. He saw just what Treatment, the Prophets, and Christ, and his Apostles were like to meet with. He knew not one in all the World would repent and convert, unless brought thereto by his own almighty Arm, and all-conquering Grace. Mat. 21.33—39. Rom. 8.7. 1 Cor. 3.6.7.

(4.) Yea, so far from a Disposition to repent and convert, that, if left wholly to themselves unrestrained, no Wickedness would be too bad for them. All would act as bad as Cain, Manasseh, or Iudas; and the whole human Race be like so [Page 273] many incarnate Devils: they having the Seed of all Sin in their Hearts. Mar. 7.21, 22.

(5.) And yet insensible of their Sin and Guilt and just De­sert, and that they lie merely at the sovereign Mercy of God, and that he is at Liberty to shew Mercy, or not, as seems good in his Sight. Yea, so averse to the Knowledge of this their true State, as to be disposed to hate the Light and shut their Eyes against it, ready to resist all. Methods of Con­viction. Yea, that some would be even so perverse, as actually to rise in Arms against his Messengers, who endea­voured to shew them their Ruin and the Way of their Re­covery, and put them to Death, as not fit to live: and yet so stupid, as to think, that in all they did God good Service. And that in general, a great Out-cry would be raised, round a proud and guilty World, against the Lord, for supposing Mankind to be in so bad, so very forlorn an Estate. God knew the Pride of Man, that he is exceeding proud; and saw how great Offence would be given to a guilty Wor [...]d, who would by no Means endure to be so affronted. Ioh. 3.19, 20. & 8.33.47.

Now, such were the Grounds upon which God looked upon the human Race in a perishing Condition; sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless and undone. And con­sidering that the original Constitution with Adam, accord­ing to which he and all his Posterity were doomed to De­struction, in Case he fell, was holy, just and good; and considering that the Law of Nature, which all Mankind are naturally under, and according to which the least Sin ex­poses to eternal Damnation, is also holy, just and good; and considering our Apostacy in Adam, and what we be in our selves▪ I say, considering all these Things, it is most certain and evident, that the Judgment of God was ac­cording to Truth, while he esteemed Mankind to be thus in a perishing Condition.

That Mankind are actually of such a Nature, has been demonstrated in the former Discourse. That God, whose Understanding is infinite, and who sees all Things as being what they really are, must therefore now see Mankind to be such, is self-evident. And such as he now sees them to be, such he from the Beginning knew they would be. It is evi­dent [Page 274] therefore, â priori, that God must have considered Mankind to be such, when he first entred upon his Designs of Grace revealed in the Gospel.—And if we consider the Nature of the Gospel, and what Methods God has taken with a sinful, guilty World to reclaim and recover them, and how they have behaved under all; it will be still more evi­dent that Mankind are verily in such a Case. The Law, the Gospel, and Experience, all join to confirm it.

Had not the Gospel considered us, as being entirely de­void of the divine Image, destitute of any spiritual good Thing, blind, dead, graceless; why should it so much urge the Necessity of our being born again, made new Creatures, having our Eyes opened, being raised from the Dead, being created a-new to good Works, and having the Law written in our Hearts, the Heart of Stone took away, and an Heart of Flesh given? — Had not the Gospel considered us, as being Enemies to God; why should it invite us to be reconciled? — Had not the Gospel considered us as being very averse to a Reconciliation; why should it pray and beseech us with so much Earnestness and Solemnity to be re­conciled, and use so many Arguments?—Had not the Gos­pel considered our Reconciliation, as unattainable by the most powerful Arguments, of themselves; why should it declare that after all, neither Paul nor Apollos, nor Cephas, are any Thing, or can do any Thing, unless God himself give the Increase?—And were we not Enemies to God, and Rebels, and inveterate haters of the Light, and disposed to rise in Arms against it, why should Christ tell his Mini­sters, I send you forth as Sheep among Wolves; if they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub, no wonder they call you so; you shall be hated of all Men for my Name's sake; they that kill you, will think they do God good Service? That Generation tho't as well of themselves as the present Generation now on Earth does, and were ready to speak the same Language, and say, If we had lived in the Days of our Fathers, we would not have killed the Prophets; but Christ knew their Hearts. — And had not Mankind, on these Accounts, been considered, as in a perishing Condition; sinful, guilty, justly con­demned, helpless and undone, why was there provided such a Redeemer, and such a Sanctifier? And why was the Sal­vation [Page 275] of Sinners every where represented, as being so en­tirely owing to the Grace, the mere Grace, the free astonish­ing, wonderful Grace of God from first to last? Surely from all this, most certain and evident it is, that God does in the Gospel, upon these Grounds, consider Mankind, as being in a perishing Condition: And upon these Grounds we must therefore come to consider our selves so too, or we can never be in a Disposition, humbly and thankfully to accept the Grace offered, and return home to God in the Way provided. We shall rather be affronted, that the Gospel supposes us to be in so bad a Condition; or else ne­ver so much as take Matters into serious Consideration, but do as those invited to the Marriage of the King's Son in Mat. 22.5. They made light of it, and went their Ways, one to his Farm, another to his Merchandise.—I do but just hint at these Things now, because they have been so largely in­sisted upon heretofore. — And thus we see upon what Grounds it is, that the great Governour of the World, does in the Gospel, consider Mankind as being in a perishing Condition.

SECTION II. Shewing whence God's Design of MERCY towards a perishing World originally took it's RISE.

I proceed now,

II. To shew, What were the Motives, which have excited God to do what he has done, for the Recovery of Sinners, out of this their perishing Condition. And

1. It was not because the original Constitution with Adam our publick Head and Representative, was too severe: It was not because it would have been hard and cruel, or in the least inconsistent with his infinite Goodness and tender Mercies, to have left all Mankind in that State of total Ruin, they were brought into by the Fall. For had not that Constitution been in it's own Nature holy, just & good, and so most per­fectly agreeable to his own Nature, to his Holiness, Justice and Goodness, he would never have made it: For he ne­cessarily infinitely abhors, in his publick Conduct, to act counter to the inward Temper of his Heart. For the very [Page 276] Reason that he loves himself for being what he is, for the same Reason he loves to act like himself and infinitely ab­hors the contrary.— And if that Constitution was holy, just and good in it's own Nature originally, it must remain so still; for Adam's Apostacy, together with all the dread­ful Consequences thereof, could not alter its Nature. The Constitution is perfectly as excellent as if Adam had never fallen; perfectly as Good as if it had been the Means of laying a Foundation for the everlasting Blessedness of all the human Race; for it is, what it was. It was excel­lently well calculated for the Glory of God and the Wel­fare of Mankind in it's own Nature; and therefore God made it, approv'd of it, was well pleased with it, nor can he ever alter his Mind about it: for it is in it self just the same it was at first— And if it was holy, just and good in it's own Nature, and if it remains so still; if the Ho­liness, Justice and Goodness of his Nature prompted him at first to make it, and then to approve of it, and be per­fectly well pleased with it; it could not ('tis self-evident) possibly have been in the least disagreeable to his Holiness, Justice or Goodness, to have dealt with all Mankind since the Fall according to it. So that, to a Demonstration, God's Thoughts of Mercy towards a guilty, undone World, did not in any Measure take their Rise from any Notion that Mankind had been hardly dealt with, or that it would be any Thing like Cruelty and Unmercifulness, to damn the whole World for Adam's first Sin, according to the Tenour of the original Constitution.— Indeed, to suppose such a Thing, highly reflects upon that Constitution, and upon God for ever making of it. It supposes, the Constitution was never really holy, just and good in it's own Nature, and that God did wrong in making of it.— And the Riches and Glory of Gospel-Grace are wholly obscured; for God cannot be considered as a sovereign Benefactor shew­ing undeserved Mercy to a guilty, Hell-deserving World; but rather as repenting for the Injury he has done to Man­kind, and as endeavouring to make amends for it by a better, a juster and kinder Conduct for the Time to come.— And if this were the Case, all his Pretences, his high Pre­tences, to great Love and Goodness, to great Kindness and [Page 277] Grace, are hypocritical and a mere mocking of us. He had abused and injured us, and is now but repenting and making Restitution; and ought therefore to have said so, and not pretended he did all from mere Grace, which is to af­front us, and make as if that Constitution was holy, just and good, and we righteously condemned and justly mise­rable for ever.— So that let us view the Case in what Light we will, it is most evident and certain, that the great Governour of the World considered Mankind as being righteously condemned and liable to everlasting Destruc­tion, consistent with the infinite Goodness of his Nature; nor did a Thought of Pity ever enter into his Heart from the contrary Supposition.— Yea, it seems to have been his very Design to maintain the Honour of that Constitu­tion, while he shews Mercy to a guilty World, in as much as he has appointed another publick Person, his own dear Son, to make Atonement for our original Apostacy, as well as our other Sins, that hereby a Way for his Mercy might be opened. Rom. 5.18, 19.

2. Nor did God's Designs of Mercy towards a guilty, undone World take their Rise from a Supposition that the Law of Nature, which all Mankind are naturally under, is too severe, in requiring perfect Obedience and threatning eternal Damnation for the very least Defect; (Rom. 1.18. Gal. 3.10.) or from any Supposition, that it would have been any Thing like Cruelty or Unmercifulness, to have dealt with all Mankind according to that Rule.

To explain my self, I may just observe, that the original Constitution with Adam, as publick Head, (Gen. 2.17.) was a positive Appointment. After he was turned out of the Garden he ceased to sustain the Character or Capacity of a publick Person, nor are his Posterity accountable for any but his first Transgression. But the Law of Nature results from the Nature of Things, from God's being what he is in himself and from our being what we are, & he our Creator and we his Creatures. And it was binding in order of Nature antecedent to any positive Constitution whatso­ever: nor is it's binding Nature capable of any Dissolution. We might have obtained Life, according to the Constitution made with Adam, had he kept Covenant with God; and [Page 278] been confirmed in a State of Holiness and Happiness; so now we may obtain Life by Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the Law of Nature and made Attonement for all Sin: But the Law of Nature still remains an unalterable Rule of Righteousness between God and his Creature Man. We owe perfect Obedience to God, and the least Sin deserves eternal Damnation. And God might always have dealt with Mankind, simply according to this Rule. The origi­nal Constitution with Adam had some Degree of GRACE in it. The Constitution in the Gospel is altogether GRACE. God might have held all Mankind bound by the Law of Nature simply▪ nor ever have appointed any other Way to Happiness, tha [...] a perfect and persevering Obedience: and Mankind have been to all Eternity in a peccable State, liable to Sin and fall into Ruin. Whatsoever Advantages Mankind have had over and above this, are, and have been, of mere Grace. According to the Law of Nature we are under infinite Obligations to perfect Holiness in the Tem­per of our Hearts, and to perfect Obedience in the whole Course of our Lives, and that not only for a Day or a Year or a Thousand Years, but so long as we continue in Being. And so long as we are thus obedient, we shall be happy; but the least Defect at any Time whatsoever will let in everlasting inevitable Ruin upon us. Adam in Innocence was under the Law of Nature, as well as under that par­ticular positive Constitution in Gen. 2.17. So that any other Sin, as well as eating the forbidden Fruit, must have exposed him to Ruin. But then by that Constitution he had this peculiar Advantage, that if he persevered, his Time of Trial should shortly be at an End, and himself and all his Race confirmed in a State of Holiness and Happiness. An Advantage never to be obtained by any one merely under the Law of Nature. For in the Nature of Things it is impossible, God should ever be laid under any Obliga­tions to his Creatures unless by Virtue of his own free Promise, which does not belong to the Law of Nature, but is an Act of Grace, which he may grant or withhold as seems good in his Sight.— When Adam broke Cove­nant with God, and when that positive Constitution was at [...]n End; yet still Adam remained under the Law of Nature, [Page 279] bound to perfect Obedience, to love God with all his Heart, and his Neighbour as himself; yea, under infinite Obliga­tions, and every Defect was infinitely sinful, and so was worthy of infinite Punishment. And as was the Case with him, so is the Case with all his Posterity. Our Obligations are infinite, and so our Non-performance infinitely faulty, and worthy of an infinite Punishment. Tho' indeed as the Case now stands, nor Adam, nor any of his Race can ever obtain Life by the Law of Nature, because we are Sinners, and so by the Law of Nature are condemned without Hope. Rom. 3.20. By the Deeds of the Law no Flesh can be justi­fied; for by the Law is the Knowledge of Sin. And Chap. 4. v. 15. The Law worketh Wrath. And thus as the Case now stands, we are under infinite Obligations to perfect Obe­dience, and are liable to an infinite Punishment for the least Defect: and yet, thro' the bad Temper of our Hearts, we are unable to yield any Obedience, and are in a Disposition to be continually treasuring up Wrath against the Day of Wrath.

Now, I say, the supreme King of Heaven and Earth was not moved to entertain Designs of Mercy towards a sin­ful, guilty undone World, from a Supposition that the Law of Nature was too severe, or that it would have been any Thing like Unmercifulness to have dealt with all Man­kind according to that Rule. For,

All that this Law requires, is, that since GOD is infi­nitely amiable in himself, and has such an entire Right to us and absolute Authority over us as his Creatures, we therefore love him with all our Hearts, and be entirely devoted to him, to do his Will and keep his Commands, seeking his Glory: and that, since our Neighbours are such as we, of the same Species and under the same general Circumstances, we therefore love our Neighbour as our selves: both which Things are in their own Nature right and fit and reasonable. So that the Law is holy.—And all that this Law threatens in Case of any Transgression, is, that since our Obligations are infinite, and so the least Defect infinitely wrong; therefore every such Defect should be punished with the everlasting Pains of Hell; and that in exact Proportion to the several Aggravations attending each Transgression. Which is also in it's own Nature right and [...] [Page 280] and reasonable. So that the Law is just.—And that per­fect Holiness which this Law requires, i. e. to love God with all our Hearts and our Neighbours as our selves, is the highest Perfection our Nature is capable of, and altogether suited to make us happy. So that the Law is good. But,

It is not severe, nor any Thing like Unmercifulness, to deal with Mankind according to a Rule, which is, in it's own Nature, holy, just and good: but rather, it must have been agreable to the Holiness, Justice and Goodness of the great Governour of the World so to do. And indeed, were not this the Case, it would have been fit this Law should have been repealed. Mankind did not need to be redeemed from the Curse of an unrighteous Law; for such a Law ought to be laid aside, and it's Curses never executed. God would have been bound in Justice to have abolished an un­righteous Law. There is no Need of Christ or Gospel-Grace in the Case. And so all the high Commendations of the Grace of God in providing a Saviour, as being rich free and wonderful, are groundless; and cast much Re­proach upon Mankind, as being a guilty Race, righteously condemned, when in Truth it is no such Thing. God ought to have owned that the Law was wrong, and to have repealed it, and not to have proceeded as if it was very good, and Mankind altogether to blame, and worthy of eternal Damnation. And mightily would this have pleased an apostate, proud and guilty World; and at the same Time cast infinite Reproach upon God and his holy Law, and shut out all the Grace of the Gospel.

God has therefore in the Gospel, not only supposed the Law to be holy, just and good, and Mankind righteously condemned; but has taken all possible Care to make it evident that he does so, and thereby to secure the Honour of his Law, discountenance Sin, humble the Sinner, and exalt and magnify his Grace. Even the whole Scheme of the Gospel is wisely calculated to attain these Ends, as we shall see hereafter. So far was God from being moved to pity Mankind from a Supposition that they had in this Respect been too severely dealt with, and so Objects of Pi [...]y in that Sense; that on the contrary he most perfectly ap­proved of the Law as holy, just and good, and was altoge­ther [Page 281] in it, that Mankind deserved to be proceeded with ac­cording to it. Yea, so highly did he approve of his holy Law, and so odious and ill-deserving did Mankind appear in his Eyes for breaking of it, that their Sin cried aloud for Vengeance in his Ears. Yea, cried so loud for Ven­geance, that he judged it necessary that his own Son should appear in their Stead and die in their Room, to the End he might be just, might act consistently with the Holiness and Justice of his Nature, while he shewed Mercy to them. Rom. 3.9—26.—In such a Light he viewed Things; in such a Light must we therefore view them too, or we can never truly understand our Need of Christ & Gospel Grace, or cordially acquiesce in the Gospel-Way of Salvation: but rather shall be disposed to quarrel with the Strictness of the Law, and think our selves abused, and imagine that God deals hardly with us.

3. Nor was the supreme Being moved to entertain De­signs of Mercy towards Mankind, from a Supposition, that their Inability to yield perfect Obedience made them the less to blame, and so the more proper Objects of Pity on that Account. For Mankind are not the less to blame for their Inability; but the more unable they are, the greater is their Blame; and so the more proper Objects are they of the divine Wrath and Vengeance.

God is a most excellent and amiable Being. He infi­nitely deserves our highest Love & Esteem and supreme Delight. It is perfectly fit, we should be of a Disposition to say, Whom have we in Heaven but thee? and there is nothing on Earth we desire besides thee. Psal. 73.25. Now, not to love this God with all our Hearts, must be infinitely wrong; and not to love him at all, must be worse still; but to be habitually contrary to him in the Temper of our Hearts, yea, so averse to him as that we CAN'T love him, must be in the very highest Degree vile and sinful. And now to say, we CAN'T, by Way of Extenuation, as tho' we were the less to blame for that, is intolerably God-provoking: whenas our CAN'T arises only from the bad Temper of our Hearts, and because we be not what we should be; and not at all from any Unloveliness in the divine Nature, or from our Want of external Advantages for the Knowledge of God.

[Page 282]Put the Case to thy self, O Man. Were you as wise as Solomon, as holy as David, as humble as Paul, and of as loving and kind a Temper as Iohn; and had you a Family of Children; and were all the Rules and Orders of your House, like your self; and calculated to make all your Children just such as you be; and did you perceive that your Children neither liked you, nor your Ways, nor the Orders of your House; they shew you much Disrespect in their Carriage, disregard your Authority, complain, your Rules are too strict, and daily break over all Orders: At length you call them to an Account, are about to convince humble and reform them; they plead, they are not to blame, at least not so much to blame, because they CAN'T love you, they CAN'T like your Ways, they CAN'T but abhor such Rules and Orders; those very Properties, on Account of which, you are indeed the most excellent Man in the World, these are the very Things for which they dislike you, while in the mean Time they can most heartily love their Companions in Vice and Debauchery: And now the Question is, Whether their Inability to love you, renders 'em e'er the less to blame? Or, whether it be not very pro­voking in them, to plead in Excuse for themselves, that they can't love you? whenas this their can't arises from their voluntary Contrariety to all Good, and Love to Debauchery? and not at all from any Unloveliness of your Person or Ways; or for want of Advantages to be acquainted with you, and with the Beauty of your Temper and Conduct. The Application is easy. Was it any Excuse for the Ill-will of the malicious Pharisees towards Christ, that they could not love him, they could not but hate him? Did ever any Man look upon a malicious spightful Neighbour, and think him e'er the less to blame for his abundant ill Car­riage, for his being so exceeding ill-natur'd, that it was not in his Heart to do otherwise? I appeal to the common Sense of all Mankind.

If such an Inability can excuse Mankind, then the Devils upon the same Foot may be excused too. And the more any of God's Subjects hate him, the less will they be to blame. For the more any do really hate God, the less able will they be to love him. The more averse to his [Page 283] Law, the less able to keep it. And therefore since our Inability arises from such a Root, the more unable we be to love God with all our Hearts and yield a perfect Obedi­ence to all his Laws, the more vile, guilty, Hell-deserving we be, and the more unworthy of Pity. So that this our moral Inability and Impotency, or rather Obstinacy, was in the Nature of Things so far from extenuating our Guilt and moving the divine Pity, that it was the strongest Evi­dence of our exceeding Vileness, and as it were a mighty Bar and great Discouragement in the Way of God's ever entertaining any Designs of Mercy towards us. It was like the great Mountains; so that nothing but an infinite Good­ness could have ever surmounted it. And in this Light must we view our selves and our Inability, and become Self-condemned before God, or we shall never like it that God looks upon us as he does, nor ever be able to look upon his Grace in the Gospel in the same Light with him, nor can we ever heartily approve of and fall in with that Way of Salvation.

When we are under sufficient outward Advantages to come to know what Kind of Being God is, and yet after all see no Beauty in him, nor esteem him; it must be either because we are intolerably bad in our Temper, or else because he is not truly and ind [...]d a lovely and amiable Being.—When we say, we can't love him, under a fond Notion that we are hereby excused and are not to blame; we implicitly say, that we are well enough disposed and are of a good Tem­per, but God is such an hateful Being that we cannot love him. There is nothing in him to be loved. So that to say, we CAN'T, under a Notion of extenuating our Guilt, casts the highest Reflection upon God imaginable, and indeed is big with the blackest Blasphemy. We had as good say, ‘It is not owing to us that we don't love God, but to him. We would readily love him, if there was any Thing in him for us to love: but there is not, and so we can't; and therefore be not to blame.’

To suppose therefore that God in the Gospel considers us as being the less to Blame for this our Inability, and from thence is moved to pity us; is the very same Thing in effect, as to suppose that God owns himself a hateful, [Page 284] unlovely Being, and thinks it a great Hardship that his poor Creatures should be forced to love him, or be damned; and therefore repents that ever he was so severe, or ever made such a Law, and is sorry for them, and will do better by them for Time to come. But how horrid a Thought is this! It casts the highest Reflection upon God, and upon his holy Law, and quite destroys all the Grace of the Gos­pel. No, no! God knew well enough how the Case stood. He was conscious to his own infinite Excellency, and to the infinite Reasonableness of his Law. He knew the hellish Temper of an apostate rebellious Race. And verily he was GOD and not Man, or he would have doomed the whole World to Destruction without any Pity or so much as one Thought of Mercy. Herein was Love, not that we loved God; but that God loved us, and sent his Son to be a Propitiation for our Sins. 1 Joh. 4.10. While we were Sinners and Enemies, Rom. 5.8, 10. and most strongly averse to a Reconciliation 2 Cor. 5.20.

4. Nor did his Designs of Mercy take their Rise from any Expectation that a rebellious, guilty, perishing World would be so good, as of their Accord ever heartily thank him for it. No, he knew well enough how it would be; that many would make light of it, and go their Ways, one to his Farm, another to his Merchandise; and that others would be affronted, and some so very angry that they would take his Messengers, and stone one, and beat another, and kill another, and finally would crucify his Son. And he ex­pected that Mankind in general would be disposed to hate his Law, and pervert his Gospel, and resist his Spirit; and never one in all the World, repent and convert, and come and humble himself before him, and bless his holy Name; unless brought thereto by his own All-conquering Grace. Mat. 21.33—39. and 22.1—7. Luk. 14.16—23. 1 Cor. 3.6, 7.

So that, from the whole, it is very plain, God was not moved to entertain Thoughts of Mercy towards Mankind, neither under a Notion that they had been in any Respect hardly dealt with, nor under a Notion that their Impotency rendered them in any Measure excusable, nor under a No­tion that there was any Good in them or to be expected [Page 285] from them: but on the contrary, he looked upon the original Constitution with Adam to be holy, just and good, and that upon that Foot all Mankind deserved all Ruin; and he looked upon the Law of Nature also holy, just and good, and that upon that Foot a wicked World deserved his everlasting Wrath; and he looked upon them altoge­ther criminal for their Impotency. In a Word, he looked upon them voluntary in their Rebellion, and obstinate in their Enmity, and infinitely unworthy of the least Pity; yea, so unworthy of Pity, that to secure his own Honour, and to save himself from just Reproach, while he pitied them and shewed them Mercy, he thought it needful, that his own Son should become a Mediator, and bear their Sin and suffer for their Guilt, and so open a Way for the ho­nourable Exercise of his Mercy.

To conclude therefore,

5. It is evident that his Designs of Mercy took their Rise merely, absolutely and entirely from himself; from his own infinite Benevolence, from his self-moving Goodness and sovereign Grace. GOD so loved the World

As for us, we lay in the open Field of Perdition, pol­luted, perishing in our Blood and Guilt: and it was per­fectly right, that the righteous Sentence of the Law should be executed upon us. And God had been for ever glorious in the everlasting Ruin of a rebellious World. There was nothing in our Circumstances, all Things considered, of the Nature of a Motive to Pity. We were too bad to deserve any Pity or Relief. Yea, so bad, that the great Gover­nour of the World could not, without counteracting all good Rules of Government, shew any Mercy but by the Interposition of his own Son, to stand and die in our Room and Stead. So that instead of any motive to Pity, there was every Thing to the contrary. Our infinite ill Desert lay as an infinite Bar in the Way.— Here now was an Opportunity for infinite Goodness and Self-moving Mercy to exert it self, in the most illustrious Manner; in designing Mercy, in providing a Mediator, and in opening a Door for the exercise of much Grace to Mankind in general, and of special saving Mercy in ten Thousand Thousand Instan­ces.— There was nothing, ab extra, from without God [Page 286] himself, to move and put him on to such a wonderful and glorious Enterprise. The Motion was wholly from him­self, from his Self-moving Goodness, from his good Plea­sure according to the Counsel of his own Will. Eph. 1.3—12. —No wonder therefore, the Gospel every where celebrates the Love and Goodness, Mercy and Grace of God, as being rich and free, unparallel'd, unspeakable, inconceivable, in­finitely great and glorious, as discovered in this most won­derful of all God's Works. And to suppose that God was under any Obligations to shew these Favours, would be, to undermine and overthrow the whole Gospel; and turn a Deed of the freest and greatest Grace, into a Work of mere Iustice. Thus we see whence God's Thoughts of Mercy, towards a sinful, guilty World, had their Rise.

He had in View a great variety of glorious Designs, all infinitely wise, all suited to display the glorious Perfections of his Nature, and bring everlasting Honours to his great Name. He designed to destroy the Works of the Devil. Gen. 3.15. 1 Ioh. 3.8. Satan had induced Mankind to their Rebellion; and had perhaps in his Conceit too, made himself strong against the Almighty. He first rebelled himself, and now he had brought others to join with him, and in this World he intended to rule and reign; and by the whole bring much Reproach upon the rightful Lord of Heaven and Earth. God wrought therefore for his great Name's sake, that it might not be polluted; and en­tred upon Methods to defeat his Designs, and bring his Kingdom to nought, and crush the Rebellion, and put him to open Shame; and at length bind him up in his Chains, that he should deceive the Nations of the Earth no more; and give all Nations, Languages and Tongues, to Jesus Christ, and bring the whole World into Subjection to him. Rev. 20.1—4. He designed to display his glorious Grace, in bringing Millions of this seduced apostate Race, from the Jaws of eternal Destruction to eternal Glory. Rom. 9.23. Eph. 2.7. He designed to put all Mankind in a new State of Probation, and to display his glorious Goodness, Patience, Forbearance and Long-suffering in his Dealings with the obstinate and finally impenitent in this World, and his glorious Holiness and Justice in their everlasting Punish­ment [Page 287] in the World to come, in the same Lake of Fire and Brimstone, which was prepar'd for the Devil and his An­gels, with whom they had joined in their Rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven. Act. 14.17. Rom. 2.4. & 9.22. Mat. 25.41. In a Word, he designed to take Occasion from the Apostacy of Mankind, in innumerable Instances, in this World, and throughout eternal Ages in the World to come, to display all his glorious Perfections: And so by his whole Conduct, to exhibit a most perfect and exact Image of himself.

Thus we see, that his Designs of Mercy, towards a rebel­lious, guilty, undone World, took their Rise, not from any Motives in us, but altogether from Motives in himself, from the infinite boundless Goodness of his Nature and his sovereign good Pleasure. And in this Light must we view the Grace of the Gospel, and all our Encouragements to hope in his Mercy thro' Jesus Christ, must take their Rise, not from any Thing in our se [...]ves, but only from that self-moving Goodness and free Grace which he has mani­fested thro' Jesus Christ. Rom. 3.19, 20, 24. Eph. 2.8.

And thus we see, that his End, as to the Elect, was to bring them back from their Apostacy, their Rebellion and Wickedness and Ruin, to God their rightful Lord and Sovereign, to become his Servants, to love him and live to him and live upon him, and be blessed in him for ever. And in this Light must we view the Gospel. And with this it's Design must we heartily fall in. And being en­couraged by the Grace of the Gospel, to hope for Accep­tance in the Sight of God thro' Jesus Christ, we must thro' Christ give up our selves to God, to be his Servants for ever. Luk. 1.74.75. 2 Cor. 5.20. Rom. 12.1. Tit. 2.11—14.

From what has been said, it will be very natural to make these following Remarks.

REM. 1. If all God has done in the Gospel for our Reco­very from Ruin, be of mere free Grace, then it is Self-evident that God was under no Obligations to a fallen, sinful, guilty, rebellious World; but, as for us, might have, consistent with all his Perfections, left us in Ruin, to inherit the Fruit of our Doings and the Punishment of our Sin. He was under no Obligation to provide a Redeemer or a Sanctifier, to [Page 288] give the least Hint of a Pardon, or take any Methods to recover us from the Power of Sin. He was under no Ob­ligations to deal any better by us, than would, in the whole, be no worse than Damnation. By the Constitution with Adam, and by the Law of Nature, this would have been our proper Due. Every thing therefore, whereby our Cir­cumstances have been rendered better than the Circumstan­ces of the Damned, God was under no Obligations unto; but all, over and above that, has been of free and sovereign Grace. God was at Liberty, as to us, not to have done any of these Things for us. Yea, there were on our Part mighty Hindrances to prevent the Mercy of God, and to put a Bar in the Way of the free and honourable Exercise of his Grace. Even such Hindrances, that nothing could remove them, but the Blood of Christ. Hence,

REM. 2. Mankind were, by their Fall, brought into a State of Being infinitely worse than not to be. The Damned in Hell no doubt are in such a State, else their Punishment would not be infinite; as Justice requires it should be. But Man­kind by the Fall were brought into a State, for Substance, * as bad as that which the Damned are in. For the Damned undergo nothing in Hell, but what, by the Constitution with Adam and the Law of Nature, all Mankind were and would have been, for Substance, exposed unto, if mere Grace had not prevented. And according to what was but now observed, God was under no more Obligati [...], to grant any Relief to Mankind, in this their fallen, sin­ful, guilty, undone Condition, than he is now to the Damned in Hell; i. e. under no Obligations at all: but the Way for Mercy to come to them was mightily [...] and blocked up, by the infinite Reasonableness of their be­ing punished, and their infinite Unworthiness, in the very Nature of Things, as the Case then stood, of ever being pitied. So that Mankind were by the Fall brought into a State of Being, (in Scripture called Condemnation and [Page 289] Wrath, Rom. 5.18. Eph. 2.3.) for Substance, as bad as that which the Damned are in; so that if the Damned are in a State of Being, infinitely worse than not to be, as no Doubt they are; then so also were Mankind. And Man­kind being actually brought into such a State by the Fall, is what renders the Grace of the Gospel, so inconceivable, so unspeakable in it's Greatness, and so absolutely free. To deny, that Mankind by the Fall were brought into such a State, is the same Thing in Effect as to deny original Sin, and undermine the glorious Grace of the Gospel.

OBJ. But how could God, consistent with his Perfections, put us into a State of Being, worse than not to be? or how can we ever thank God for such a Being?

ANS. Our being brought into so bad an Estate was not owing to God, i. e. to any Fault in him, but merely to our selves, to our Apostacy from God. It was our Apostacy from God, that brought all this upon us, in Way of righteous Judgment. Rom. 5.18, 19. Our being in so bad a State is no more owing to God, than theirs is who are now in Hell. They deserve to be in Hell, according to a Law that is holy, just and good; and we deserve to be in such a State, according to the Constitution made with Adam, which was also holy, just and good: and therefore the one may be consistent with the divine Per­fections, as well as the other. It cannot be disagreeable to the Holiness, Justice, and Goodness of the divine Nature, to deal with Mankind according to a Constitution, in it's own Nature, holy, just, and good.

Now in as much as God did virtually give Being to all Mankind, when he blessed our first Parents, and said, Be fruitful and multiply; and in as much as Being, under the Circumstances that Man was then put in by God, was very desireable: we ought therefore to thank God for our Being, considered in this Light, and justify God in all the Evil [...]hat is come upon us for our Apostacy. For the Lord is righteous, and we are a guilty Race.

Those in Hell are in a State of Being, infinitely worse than not to be; and instead of thanking God for their [...], they blaspheme his Name: but still there is no just G [...]ound for their Conduct. They have no Reason to think [Page 290] hard of God for damning them: they have no Reason to blame him: they have no Reason to esteem him e'er the less for it: he does what is fit to be done: His Conduct is amiable; and he is worthy of being esteemed for doing as he does; and all holy Beings will always esteem him for it. (Rev. 19.1,—6.) Therefore the Damned ought to as­cribe all their Evil to themselves, and justify God, and say, ‘He gave us Being, and it was a Mercy, and he deserves Thanks; but to us it is owing, that we are now in a State infinitely worse than not to be: God is not to blame for that; nor is he the less worthy of Thanks for giving us Being, and for all past Advantages which we ever enjoyed: for the Law is holy, just and good, by and according to which we suffer all these Things.’

So here: Mankind by the Fall, were brought into a State of Being infinitely worse than not to be; and were they but so far awake as to be sensible of it, they would no doubt all over the Earth murmur and blaspheme the God of Heaven. But what then? There would be no just Ground for such a Conduct. We have no Reason to think hard of God, to blame him, or to esteem him e'er the less. What he has done, was fit and right; his Conduct was beautiful; and he is worthy to be esteemed for it. For that Constitution was holy, just and good, as has been proved. And therefore a fallen World ought to ascribe to them­selves all their Evil, and to justify God, and say, ‘God gave us Being under a Constitution holy, just and good; and it was a Mercy. We should have accounted it a great Mercy, in case Adam had never fallen; but God was not to blame for this, nor therefore is he the less worthy of Thanks. All that we suffer, is by and accord­ing to a Constitution in it's own Nature holy, just and good.’ Thus Mankind ought to have said, had God never provided a Saviour, but left all the World in Ruin. And thus ought they to have justified God's Conduct, laid all the Blame to themselves, and acknowleged that God de­served Praise from all his Works; which, as they came out of his Hands, were all very good. Gen. 1.31.

OBJ. But altho' we were by the Fall brought into such a State of Wrath and Condemnation, yet now we are deliver [...]d [Page 291] out of it by Christ; for as in Adam all die, so in CHRIST shall all be made alive.

ANS. Before Men believe in Christ, they are as justly exposed to divine Vengeance, as if Christ had never died. Ioh. 3.18, 36. And there is nothing to keep off Ven­geance, one Moment, but sovereign Mercy; which yet they continually affront and provoke. Rom. 2.4, 5. And they are so far from an Inclination to turn to God of their own Accord, that they are disposed to resist all the Means used to reclaim them. Ioh. 3.19. 'Tis true, God is ready thro' Christ to receive returning Sinners, and invites all to return thro' him. Thus God is good and kind to an apostate World, and offers us Mercy. God is not to blame that we are in so bad a Case [...] our Destruction is of our selves, and the Lord is righteous. — But still it is evident, we are in a perishing Condition, and shall certainly perish notwithstanding all that we of our own mere Motion shall ever do. If sovereign Grace don't prevent, there is no hope.

OBJ. But if Mankind are thus by Nature Children of Wrath, in a State of Being worse than not to be, and even after all that Christ has done, are in themselves thus utterly undone; how can Men have a Heart to propagate their Kind? or ac­count it a Blessing to have a numerous Posterity?

ANS. 'Tis manifest by their Conduct, by their neglect­ing their Children's Souls, and caring only for their Bodies, that Parents in general do not propagate with any Con­ [...]n about the spiritual and eternal Well-being of their Posterity. 'Tis probable, in general they are influenced by the same Motive that the brutal World be, together with a Desire to have Children under the Notion of a worldly Comfort, without scarce a Thought of what will become of their Posterity for Eternity.

As to godly Parents, they have such a Spirit of Love to God and Resignation to his Will, and such an Approba­tion of his Dispensations toward Mankind, and such a liking to his whole Scheme of Government, that they are content that God should govern the World as he does, and that he should have Subjects to govern, and that [...]em­selves and their Posterity should be under him, and at his [Page 292] dispose. Nor are they without hopes of Mercy for their Children, from sovereign Grace thro' Christ, while they do thro' him devote and give them up to God, and bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. And thus they quiet themselves as to their Souls. And now considering Children merely as to this Life, 'tis certain, that it is a great Comfort and Blessing to Parents, to have a promising Offspring.

As to carnal Men, since they are Enemies to God and to his holy Law, it is no wonder they are at Enmity against his whole Scheme of Conduct as Governour of the World. Did they understand how God governs the World, and firm­ly believe it, I doubt not, it would make all their native Enmity ferment to Perfection. They would wish them­selves to be from under God's Government, and hate that he should ever have any Thing of theirs to govern. As soon as ever they enter into the eternal World, and see how Things really be▪ this will no doubt actually be their Case.— In a Word if Men heartily like the original Constitution with Adam, as being in it's own Nature holy, just & good, this Objection will, upon mature Consideration, be no Difficulty with them; and if they do no [...], 'tis not any Thing that can be said, will satisfy them. But wicked Men's not liking the Constitution, does not prove it to be bad.

OBJ. It can't be thought a Blessing to have Children, if the most of them are like finally to perish.

ANS. The most of Abraham's Posterity, no doubt, [...] above these three Thousand Years, have been wicked and have perished; and God knew before-hand how it would be; and yet he promised such a numerous Posterity under the Notion of a great Blessing, Gen. 22. For considering Chil­dren merely as to this Life, they may be a great Blessing and Comfort to Parents, and an Honour to them: but it is very fitting, our Children should be God's Subjects, and under his Government: nor be they e'er the less Blessings to us as to this Life, because they must be accountable to God in the Life to come. They may be a great Comfort to [...] this Life; and we are certain, God will do them no Wrong in the Life to come. All Men's murmuring [Page 293] Thoughts about this Matter arise from their not liking God's Way of governing the World.

REM. [...]. Then do we begin to make a just Estimate of the Grace, the free, rich and glorious Grace of God, the great Go­vernour of the World, displayed in the Gospel, when we consider Mankind, by and according to a Constitution and a Law, both of them holy, just and good, actually in such a ruined State. Now we may begin a little to see the natural Import of those Words, God so loved the World. Such a World was it, that he loved and pitied. A World in so bad a State. A perishing World, sinful, guilty, justly condemned, alto­gether helpless and undone. And to have a Door opened by the Blood of Christ, for us to be raised from the Depth of such Ruin, is wonderful Grace indeed.—And in this Light does the Matter stand in Scripture-Account. For accord­ing to that, By the Offence of one, Iudgment came upon all to Condemnation, and by the Disobedience of one, many were made (or constituted) Sinners, by Virtue of the original Consti­tution with Adam. * Rom. 5.18, 19. And all the World stood guilty before God, by Virtue of their want of Confor­mity unto and Transgression of the Law of Nature or moral Law. Rom. 3.9,—19. And hence Mankind were consi­dered as being under Sin, and under the Curse of the Law, and under the Wrath of God. Rom. 3.9. Gal. 3.10. Ioh. 3.16. Rom. 1.18. And under this Notion Christ was ap­pointed, to save his People from their Sins, Mat. 1.21. to deliver them from the Wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1.10. and to bring it to pass that whereas by the Disobedience of one many were made Sinners, so by the Obedience of one many might be made righteous, Rom. 5.19. And hence the Gospel so mightily magnifies the Grace of God, his Love and Good­ness, as being unparallel'd, unspeakable, inconceivable, passing Knowlege. God so loved the World, says Christ. God commendeth his Love, saith Paul. Herein is Love, says Iohn. It has Height and Length, Depth and Breadth. It is rich Grace ▪ and the exceeding Riches of Grace. And why? why is it so magnified and extolled? why, for this, among [Page 294] other Reasons, because all this was done while we did not love God, while we were Sinners, while we were Ungodly, while we were Enemies, while we were exposed to Wrath, guilty before God, perishing, lost, without Strength. Thus God has represented it in his Word, his Word which is the Image of his Mind, and which shews us how he looks upon Things, and how they really are. See Ioh. 3.16, 36. Rom. 5.6, 7, 8. 1 Ioh. 4.10. Eph. 1.7. and 2.7, 8. and 3.19. Mat. 18.11. &c.

Never therefore can a Sinner rightly understand the Gospel of Christ, or see his Need of the Provision therein made, or in any Measure make a just Estimate of the Grace of God therein displayed, until he is in some Measure con­vinced and made really sensible, by the Spirit of God, that he is actually in such a sinful, guilty, helpless, undone Con­dition. This therefore is absolutely necessary, in order to a genuine Compliance with the Gospel by Faith in Jesus Christ. Luk. 5.31. For the whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick.— And as this is requisite in order to the first Act of Faith; so for the same Reason must we all our Days live under a realising Sense of this our sinful, guilty, undone Estate, by Nature, and in our selves, in order to live by Faith. And this will make Christ preci­ous, and the Grace of the Gospel precious; and effectually awaken us to Gratitude and Thankfulness; for now every Thing in our Circumstances, wherein we are better of it than the Damned, will be accounted so great a Mercy, and the Effect of mere Grace. And so far as we are from a clear Sight and realising Sense of this our sinful, guilty, undone Estate; so far shall we be insensible of the Preci­ousness of Christ, and the freeness of Grace, and the greatness of God's Mercy towards us.

Thus, having considered the Grounds upon which the most high God did look upon Mankind as being in a pe­rishing Condition, and the Motives whereby he was excited to enter upon any Methods for their Recovery; we pro­ceed now more particularly to consider the Ways and Means be has taken and used to bring it about.

[Page 295]

SECTION III. Concerning the Nature and Necessity of SATISFACTION for Sin.

I am now,

III. To shew what Necessity there was for a Mediator, and how the Way to Life has been opened by him whom God has provided. It is plainly supposed, that there was a Ne­cessity of a Mediator, and of such a one too as God has actually provided, in order to our Salvation; for otherwise it had been no Love or Goodness in God to have given his only begotten Son. For there can be no Love or Goodness in his doing that for us which we do not need, and without which we might have been saved as well. Nor is it to be supposed, that God would give his Son, to die for a guilty World, without urgent Necessity. If some cheaper & easier Way might have been found out, he would surely have spared his beloved Son: he had no Inclination to make light of his Son's Blood: it was a great Thing for a GOD to become incarnate, and die; and there must therefore have been some very urgent Considerations, to induce the wise Governour of the World to such an Expedient. And here then these Things may be particularly inquired into.

1. What Necessity was there of Satisfaction for Sin?

2. What Satisfaction has there been made? And where­in does it's Sufficiency consist?

3. How has the Way to Life been opened by the Means?

4. What Methods has the great Governour of the World entered upon, for the actual Recovery of sinful Creatures?

1. We are to consider what Necessity there was of Satis­faction for Sin. It was needful, or else no Satisfaction would have been ever required or made. And the Necessity was certainly very great and urgent, or the Father would never have been willing to have given his Son, or the Son to have undertaken the Work, a Work attended with so much La­bour and Suffering. But why was it necessary? This, I think, will appear, if we deliberately and seriously weigh these Things.

[Page 296](1.) That God the great Creator, Preserver, and absolute Lord of the whole World, is, not only a Being of infinite Un­derstanding and almighty Power, but also a Being infinite and unchangeable in all moral Propensities: he loves Right and hates Wrong to an infinite Degree, and unchangeably: or in Scrip­ture-Language, he thus loves Righteousness and hates Iniquity. By his infinite Understanding, he sees all Things, as being what they really are. Whatsoever is fit and right, he be­holds as being such: and whatsoever is unfit and wrong, he also beholds as being such. And as are his Views, so i [...] the Temper of his Heart; he infinitely loves that which is fit and right, and infinitely hates that which is unfit and wrong. Or in other Words, he has an infinite Sense of the moral Fitness & Unfitness of Things, and an answerable Frame of Heart. i. e. infinitely loves the one, and infinite­ly hates the other. From Eternity God has had an All-comprehensive View of Things, of every Thing that was possible to be or that actually would be, and of all the Relati­ons one Being would bear to another, and the Relation that all would bear to him, and has seen what Conduct would be right and fit in him towards them, and in them towards him and towards one another, and what would be wrong; and from Eternity it has been his Nature, infinitely to love that which is right, and hate that which is wrong. And this his Nature has influenced him in all his Conduct, as moral Governour of the World; and he has given so bright a Representation of it, that this seems to be the first and most natural Idea of God that we can attain. It shines thro' all the Script [...]res, thro' the Law and the Gospel, and thro' his whole Conduct in a thousand Instances.

God does not appear to be a Being influenced, acted, and governed by a groundless arbitrary Self-Will, having no Regard to right Reason, to the moral Fitness and Unfitness of Things: nor does he appear to be a Being governed and acted by a groundless Fondnes [...] to his Creatures. If a Thing is not right, he will not on [...], merely because he is above Controul, is the greatest [...] s [...]rongest, and can bear down all before him. Gen. [...]8. [...]5 And if a Thing is wrong, he will not connive [...], because it was acted by his Creatures, altho' [...] so dear to him, and altho' the most [Page 297] exalted in Dignity, Honour and Priviledges. For Instance, the sinning Angels, sinning Adam, the Israelites in the Wilder­ness, his peculiar People. Moses, for speaking unadvisedly with his Lips, shall not enter into Canaan. David, the Man after his own Heart, he sinned; and the Sword, says God, shall not depart from thy House. Yea, he spared not his own Son, when he stood in the Room of Sinners. If he had been governed by any Thing like human Fondness, surely it would now have appeared. And besides, if that were the Case, he could never bear to see the Damned lie in the dreadful Torments of Hell to all Eternity. Indeed; by all he has said, and by all he has done, he appears to have an infinite Sense of the moral Fitness and Unfitness of Things, and an answerable Frame of Heart; and to be governed and actuated by this Temper, under the Direc­tion of infinite Wisdom. Hence, as is his Nature, so is the Name which he has taken to himself▪ viz. The HOLY ONE of Israel.

It is true, he is a Being of infinite Goodness & Mercy; yet that is not a fond, but a holy Propensity, under the Go­vernment of infinite Wisdom: that is, he considers the Happiness and Good of his Creatures, his intelligent Crea­tures, as being what it is. He sees what it is worth, and of how great Importance it is; and how much to be de­sired, in it self, and compared with other Things: he sees it to be just what it really is, and has an answerable Dispo­sition of Heart. i. e. Is desirous of their Happiness, and averse to their Misery, in an exact Proportion to the real Nature of the Things in themselves. It is true, so great is his Benevolence, that there is not any Act of Kindness or Grace so great, but that he can find in his Heart to do it, yea, has an infinite Inclination to do it; if, all Things consider­ed, in his unerring Wisdom, he judges it fit and best. And yet at the same Time it is as true, such is the perfect Rec­titude and spotless Purity of his Nature, that there is not any Act of Justice so tremendous, or any Misery so dread­ful, but that he can find in his Heart, his Creatures Hap­piness notwithstanding, to do that Act of Justice, and in­flict that Misery, if Need so require; yea, he has an infinite Inclination thereto. He regards their Happiness and Mi­sery [Page 298] as being what they are, of very great Importance in themselves, but of little Importance compared with some­thing else. He had rather the whole System of intelligent Creatures should lie in Hell to all Eternity, than do the very least Thing, that is in it self unfit and wrong. Yea, if it was put to his own Case, if we could possibly suppose such a Thing, he would make it appear, that he does as he would be done by, when he punishes Sinners to all Eternity. It was in a Sort put to his own Case once, when his Son, who was as himself, stood in the Room of a guilty World; and his Heart did not fail him; but he appeared as great an Enemy to Sin then, as ever he did or will do to all Eternity. His treating his Son as he did in the Garden and upon the Cross, immediately himself and by his In­struments, was as bright an Evidence of the Temper of his Heart, as if he had damned the whole World. He appear­ed what he was then, as much as he will at the Day of Judgment. He is infinite in Goodness; yet he is infinitely averse to do any Act of Kindness, at the Expence of Justice, from mere Fondness to his Creatures.

And as his Goodness is not Fondness, so his Justice is not Cruelty. He infinitely hates that which is unfit and wrong, and is disposed to testify that his hatred in some visible publick Manner, by inflicting some proportionable Punishment. Not because Sinners hurt him, and so make him angry and revengeful; for their Obedience can do him no good, nor their Disobedience any hurt. Iob 35.6, 7. Nor indeed so much because they hurt themselves; for if they did wrong in no other Respect, he would never treat them with such Severity. But this is the Truth of the Case; the great Governour of the World has an infinite Sense of the moral Fitness and Unfitness of Things, and an answerable Frame of Heart. And so he infinitely loves that which is fit, and commands and rewards it; and infinitely hates the contrary, and forbids and punishes it.— Only it must be remembered, that the Rewards he grants to the good, are of mere Bounty as to them, because they can deserve nothing. Rom. 11.35. But the Punishments he inflicts on the Wicked, are pure Justice, because they deserve all. Rom. 6.23. For altho' Creatures cannot merit Good at the Hands of God, from [Page 299] whom they receive all, and to whom they owe all; yet they can merit Evil. Nevertheless Rewards and Punish­ments are both alike in this Respect, viz. that they are visible publick Testimonies born by the Governour of the World, to the moral Amiableness of Virtue, on the one Hand, and to the moral Hatefulness of Vice, on the other. The one is not the Effect of Fondness, nor the other of Cruelty: but the one results from the Holiness and Good­ness of the divine Nature, and the other from his Holiness and Justice. By the one, it appears how he loves Virtue, and how exceeding bountiful he is; and by the other, how he hates Sin, and how much he is disposed to discounte­nance it, by treating it as being what it is.

Thus, I say, in the first Place, we must consider God, the supreme Governour of the World, as a Being, not only of infinite Understanding and almighty Power, but also infi­nite and unchangeable in all moral Propensities: As one having a perfect Sense of the moral Fitness and Unfitness of Things, and an answerable Frame of Heart. Or in Scrip­ture-Language, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; the holy one of Israel. The Lord God gracious and merciful, but by no Means clearing the guilty. Of purer Eyes than to behold Iniquity. Who loveth Righteousness and hateth Iniquity. Who renders to every one according to their Doings, &c. — Without a right Idea of God the supreme Governour of the World, and a realising living Sense of him on our Hearts, it is impossible we should rightly understand the Methods he has taken to open a Way for his Mercy to come out after a rebellious guilty World, or truly see into the Grounds of his Conduct, the Reasons of his doing as he has done. If we know God, and have a Taste for moral Beauty, we shall be in a Disposition to understand the Gos­pel; but otherwise we shall not. Ioh. 7.17. and 8.47. For in the whole of this great Affair of our Redemption, he has acted altogether like himself.

(2.) God is infinitely excellent, glorious and amiable, in being what he is. His having such a Nature or Temper, and at the same Time being of infinite Understanding and al­mighty Power, renders him infinitely excellent, glorious and amiable, far beyond the Conceptions of any finite Mind. [Page 300] Isai. 6.3. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, the whole Earth is full of thy Glory.

Hence, God loves, esteems and delights in himself infinitely. Not indeed from what we call a selfish Spirit; for could we suppose there was another just what he is, and himself an Inferior, he would love, esteem and delight in that other, as entirely as he does now in himself. It is his being what is, that is the Ground of his Self-Love, Esteem & Delight.

Hence again, He loves to act like himself, in all his Con­duct as moral Governour of the World, as entirely as he loves himself; and it is as much contrary to his Nature, to counteract the Temper of his Heart, in his publick Conduct, as to cease to be what he is. And the plain Reason is, that there is the same Ground for the one as for the other. He loves himself, because he is most excellent, in being, what he is: And for the same Reason, he loves to act like him­self, because that is most excellent too. He cannot be wil­ling to cease to be of that Temper or Nature he is of, be­cause it is most excellent; and for the same Reason, he cannot be willing to counteract it, because it is most excel­lent to act agreeably to it in all Things. He is under Ne­cessity to love himself; and he is under the same Necessity to act like himself. Gen. 18.25. Hence it is a common Thing for God in great Earnestness to say in his Word, I will do so and so, and they shall KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD. As if he should say, ‘A guilty rebellious Race may think and say what they will of me, yet I am what I am, and I will act like my self, and all the World shall know that I am the Lord, i. e. that I am what I pretend to be: They shall know it by my Conduct, sooner or later.’

(3). God cannot be said to act like himself, unless he appears, as great an Enemy to Sin, in his publick Government of the World, as he really is at Heart. If his Conduct as moral Governour of the World, the whole being taken together, should look with a more favourable Aspect towards Sin, or appear less severe, than really he is; then it is self-evident that his Conduct would not be like himself, nor would it tend to exhibit a true Idea of him to all attentive Spec­tators in all his Dominions. If his Creatures and Subjects, [Page 301] in such a Case, should judge of his Nature by his Conduct, they would necessarily frame wrong Notions of the divine Being. And he himself must see and know, that he did not act like himself; nor appear in his Conduct to be what he was in his Heart.

But God, the supreme Governour of the World, does at Heart look upon Sin as an infinite Evil, and his Aversion and Enmity to it is infinite. He looks upon it, and (to speak of him after the Manner of Men) is affected towards it, as being what it really is. But it is infinitely wrong and wicked, for us not to love him with all our Heart and obey him in every Thing: The least Sin is an Infinite Evil; and such he sees it to be, and as such does he abhor it.— The infinite Evil of Sin does not consist in it's lessening God's essential Glory or Blessedness; for they are both in­dependent on us, and far out of our Reach: nor does it consist merely in it's Tendency to make us miserable. But in it's own Nature it is infinitely wrong, in as much as we are under infinite Obligations to perfect Holiness. Our Ob­ligations to love God with all our Heart, are in Proportion to his Amiableness; but that is infinite: not to do so there­fore is infinitely wrong. But, as has been said, God has an infinite Sense of the moral Fitness and Unfitness of Things, and an answerable Frame of Heart. i. e. he infinitely loves that which is right, and infinitely hates that which is wrong. And therefore he infinitely hates the least Sin.

If therefore he acts like himself, he must in his publick Government of the World, his whole Conduct being taken together, appear in the most evident Manner to be an infi­nite Enemy to the least Sin. He must appear infinitely severe against it; and never do any Thing, which, all Things considered, seems to look at all with another As­pect.

(4.) God the supreme Governour of the World can't be said to appear an infinite Enemy to Sin, and to appear infinitely severe against it, and that without the least Appearance of a favourable Aspect towards it, in his Conduct; unless he does always throughout all his Dominions, not only in Word threaten, but in Fact punish it, with infinite Severity, without the least Mitigation or Abatement, in any one Instance whatsoever.

[Page 302]If he should never, in his Government of the World, say or do any Thing against Sin, it would seem as if he was a Friend to it, or at least very indifferent about it. If he should say and not do, threaten to punish, but never inflict the Punish­ment, his Creatures and Subjects might be tempted to say, ‘He pretends to be a mighty Enemy to Sin, and that is all.’ If he should generally punish Sin with infinite Severity, but not always; there would at least be some favourable Aspect towards Sin, in his visible Conduct. And his Subjects might be ready to say, ‘If he can suffer Sin to go half unpunished, why not altogether? and if alto­gether at one Time, why not at another? And if he can abate the threatned Punishment in some Degree, in some Instances; why not altogether, in all Instances? If there is no absolute Necessity that Sin should be punish­ed, why does he ever punish it? But if it be absolutely necessary, why does he ever suffer it to go unpunished?’ It would seem at least, by such a Conduct, as if Sin was not so exceeding bad a Thing, but that it might escape Punishment sometimes: and as if God was not such an infinite unchangeable Enemy to it, but that he might be disposed to treat it with a little Favour. In a Word, if God should always punish Sins, not one excepted, and that throughout all his Dominions, and yet not do it always with infinite Severity; but in some Instances, one in a Mil­lion we'll say, should abate a little, and but a very little; yet so much as he abates, be it more or less, so much does he treat Sin in a favourable Manner, and so much does he fall short of treating it with due Severity, and so far does he appear in his Conduct from being an infinite unchangea­ble Enemy to it. So that it is very evident, that he cannot, in his Conduct as moral Governour of the World, appear an infinite unchangeable Enemy to Sin, without the least Ap­pearance to the contrary, in any other possible Way or Method, than by always punishing it with infinite Severity, without the least Abatement, in any one Instance, in any Part of his Dominions, in Time or Eternity. And this would be to act like himself; and in and by such a Conduct, he would appear to be what he is. But to do otherwise, would be to counteract his own Nature, and give a false [Page 303] Representation of his Heart, by a Conduct unlike him­self.

Thus, it is the Nature of God, the great Governor of the World, in all his Conduct, to act like himself: But he can't be said to act like himself, unless he appears as great an Enemy to Sin and as severe against it, as he really is, without the least Shadow of the contrary: but his Conduct cannot appear in this Light, unless he does in Fact punish Sin with infinite Severity, thro'out all his Dominions, with­out the least Mitigation, in any one Instance, in Time or Eternity: therefore, it is the Nature of God, the Governour of the World, to do so: And therefore, he can no sooner, nor any easier, be willing, to let any Sin go unpunished, than he can, to cease to be what he is. * For, as was before proved, it is as impossible for him to act contrary to his own Nature, as it is to cease to be what he is: and he can consent to the one, as easily, as to the other.

Hence, we may learn, this is really a Branch of the Law of Nature, That Sin should be punished: it results from the Nature of God, the Governour of the World: it was no arbitrary Constitution: it did not result from the divine Sovereignty. It would, in the Nature of Things, have been no Evil, for Adam to have eaten of the Tree of Knowlege, had not God forbidden it; herein God exercised his sove­reign Authority, as absolute Lord of all Things: But in threatning Sin with eternal Death, he acted not as a sove­reign, but as a righteous Governour: his Nature prompted him to do so; he could not have done otherwise. As it is said in another Case, It is impossible for God to lie; so it may be said here, It is impossible for God to let Sin go unpunish­ed. As he cannot go counter to himself in speaking, so neither in acting. 'Tis as contrary to his Nature, to let Sin go unpunished, as it is to lie; for his Iustice is as much [Page 304] himself, as his Truth; and it is therefore equally impossi­ble he should act contrary to either.

Hence, this Branch of the Law of Nature is not capable of any Repeal or Abatement. For since it necessarily results from the Nature of God the Governour of the World, it must necessarily remain in Force so long as God continues to be what he is. Besides, if God should repeal it, he must not only counteract his own Nature, but also give great Occasion to all his Subjects to think, he was once too severe against Sin, and that now he had altered his Mind, and was become more favourable towards it: Which he can no more be willing to do, than he can be willing actually to cease to be what he is. For as he loves himself perfectly for being what he is, so he perfectly loves to act like him­self, and to appear in his Conduct just as he is in his Heart. Therefore our Saviour expresly asserts, That Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but not one I [...]t or Tittle of the Law shall fail. Matt. 5.18.

(5.) But all this notwithstanding, yet God did, of his infinite Goodness and sovereign Grace, entertain Designs of Mercy to­wards a fallen World, a rebellious, obstinate, stubborn, sinful, guilty, Hell-deserving Race, under the righteous Condemnation of the Law, a Law like himself, holy, just and good. Particu­larly, he designed to declare himself reconcilable to this sin­ful, guilty World; to put Mankind into a new State of Pro­bation; to try and see if they would repent and return unto him, and to use a Variety of Methods for their Recovery.— And to make Way for this, he designed to reprieve a guilty World, for a certain Space of Time, from that utter Ruin he had threatned; and to grant a Sufficiency of the good Things of this Life for their Support, while in a State of Probation: and he also purposed to grant a general Re­surrection from the Dead, that those who should return to him and be reconciled, might be most compleatly happy in the World to come.— And because he knew their Aversion to a Reconciliation, therefore he designed to use a Variety of external Means to bring them to it.— And be­cause he knew that Mankind would be universally disposed to hate all such Means (not liking to have God in their Know­lege) and cast them off and get from under them, therefore [Page 305] he designed in his sovereign Grace to select some Part of Mankind, (the Iews for Instance) with whom, by his spe­cial Providence, by the more open or secret Workings of his almighty Power, such Means should be continued.— And in the Fulness of Time, he purposed also to use equal, yea, greater Means with various Nations of the Gentiles.— And because he knew that all external Means notwithstand­ing, yet all with one Consent, would refuse to repent and convert and be reconciled, therefore he designed by his Pro­vidence and by the more common Influences of his Spirit, to take some farther Pains with many, and try them.— And because he knew that this would never effectually per­swade them, thro' the great Perverseness of Mankind; therefore he designed, by the special Influences of his holy Spirit, thro' his almighty Power and all-conquering Grace, all their Obstinacy notwithstanding, yet to reclaim and re­cover and bring Home to himself, a certain Number in this World; and here train them up for eternal Glory, and fi­nally bring them thereunto: and all of his sovereign Good­ness, and all to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace. — And towards the latter End of that Space of Time, in which this World was to be reprieved, it was his Purpose more eminently to destroy Satan's Kingdom on Earth and his In­fluence among Mankind, and more generally recover the guilty Nations from his Thraldom, and set up his own Kingdom on Earth, to flourish in great Glory and Prosperity a Thousand Years. Such were his Designs, as is evident by the Event of Things, and from the Revelation he has made in his Word of what is yet to come to pass.

(6.) But as the Case then stood, it was not fit, that any of these Favours should be granted to a guilty World; no, not any Thing, that had so much as (all Things considered,) the Nature of a Mercy, without some sufficient Salvo to the di­vine Honour. 22 Indeed some Kind of Reprieve, I presume, [Page 306] might have been granted to a guilty World, so as to have suffered the human Race to have propagated, and the whole designed Number to have been born; a Reprieve, all Things considered, not of the Nature of a Mercy. So the fallen Angels seem to be under some Kind of a Reprieve▪ for they are reserved in Chains, to the Judgment of the great Day, as condemned Prisoners. 2 Pet. 2.4. And hence, a Number of them once cried out, Art thou come to torment us before the Time? Matt. 8.29. Yet we are not taught in Scripture to look upon this, as a Mercy to them.— But the Scriptures teach us to consider our Reprieve, our worldly Comforts, our Means of Grace, our Space for Repentance, the Restraints of Providence and the common Influences of the Spirit, as Mercies; yea, as great Mercies. Rom. 2.4. Isai. 5.4. Deut. 10.18. Act. 14.17. Rev. 2.21.— All these common Favours therefore, as well as special and saving Mercies, were not proper to be granted to such a guilty, Hell-deserving World, by a holy, sin-hating, sin-revenging God. This was not to treat Mankind, as it was fit and meet they should be treated. It was contrary to Law, that any Favour at all should without a Salvo to the divine Honour, be granted them; for by Law they were all doomed to Destruction. And it was contrary to the divine Nature, to do any Thing in the Case, that, all Things considered, would have, in the least Measure, a favourable Aspect towards Sin; or so much as in the least tend to make him seem less severe against it, than if he had damned the whole World for their Apostacy and Rebellion.

[Page 307]If God had set aside his Law, which was the Image of his Heart, and undertaken and shewn all these Favours to a guilty World, without any Salvo to his Honour, his visi­ble Conduct would have been directly contrary to the inward Temper of his Heart; and by it, he would have counter­acted his Nature, and misrepresented himself, dishonoured his Law, rendered his Authority weak and contemptible, and opened a wide Door for the Encouragement of Rebel­lion, throughout all his Dominions; and in Effect gotten to himself the Character the Devil designed to give of him to our first Parents, when he said, Ye shall not surely die. Gen. 3.4. i. e. ‘God is not so severe against Sin, as he pretends to be, and as you think for, nor does he hate it so much, nor will he do as he says in the Case.’ It was therefore infinitely impossible.

(7.) To the End therefore, that a Way might be opened for him to put his Designs of Mercy in Execution, consistent with himself, consistent with the Honour of his Holiness & Iustice, Law and Government and sacred Authority, something must be done by him in a publick Manner, as it were in the Sight of all Worlds, whereby his infinite Hatred of Sin and unchangea­ble Resolution to punish it, might be as effectually manifested as if he had damned the whole World. MERELY his saying, that he infinitely hates Sin, and looks upon it worthy of an infinite Punishment, would not have manifested the inward Temper of his Heart in such a Meridian Brightness, as if he had damned the whole World in very Deed. But rather, his saying one Thing, and doing another directly contrary, would have been a going Counter to himself; especially, considering him as acting in the Capacity of a Governour, to whom by Office it belongs to put the Law in Execution and cause Justice to take Place. For him, first to make a Law threatning eternal Death to the least Sin, makes him appear infinitely just and holy; but then to have no Re­gard to that Law in his Conduct, but go right contrary to it, without any Salvo to his Honour, is quite inconsistent; and directly tends to bring Himself, his Law and Authority, into the greatest Contempt. Something, I say, therefore must be DONE, to make his Hatred of the Sin of Mankind and Disposition to punish it, as manifest as if he had damned [Page 308] the whole World; to the End, the Honour of his Holiness and Justice, of his Law and Government and sacred Au­thority, might be effectually secured. To act contrary to his own Nature, was impossible; to have no Regard to the Honour of his Law and Government, was unreasonable; a guilty World had better all have been damned.

Thus from the Perfections of God, and from the Na­ture of the Thing, we see the Necessity there was, that Sa­tisfaction should be made for Sin, in order to open an ho­nourable Way in which divine Mercy might come out after a rebellious, guilty, Hell-deserving World.

To conclude this Head, The Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin seems also to be held forth in the Scriptures, and to be implied in God's Conduct in this Affair.— In the Old Testament, the Necessity of an Atonement for Sin was taught in Types and Figures. The Man that sinned was to bring his Offering before the Lord, and lay his Hands upon it, and confess his Sin over it; and so, as it were, transfer his Sin and Guilt to it; then was it to be slain (for Death is the Wages of Sin) and burnt upon the Altar, (for the Sinner deserves to be consumed in the Fire of God's Wrath) and the Blood thereof was to be sprinkled round about; (for without shedding of Blood there is no Remission) nor was there any other Way of obtaining Pardon prescrib­ed, but this, which naturally taught the Necessity of Satis­faction for Sin, and led the pious Jews to some general No­tion of the great Atonement which God would provide, and to a cordial Reliance thereon for Acceptance in the Sight of God. Lev. 4. & 16. Heb. 9.— But in the New Testament, the Nature and Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin, and the Impossibility of finding Acceptance with God, unless thro' the Atonement of Christ, is taught in Language very plain and express: particularly in the third Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul having proved both Iews and Greeks to be under Sin, and all the World to be guilty before God, and that every Mouth must be stopped, in the first and second Chapters and in the Beginning of the third, does, in the next Place, enter upon, and begin to explain, the Way of Salvation by free Grace thro' Jesus Christ: ‘We can­not,’ says he, ‘be justified by the Deeds of the Law; [Page 309] (Chap. 3.20.) But it must be freely by Grace thro' the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ. (v. 24.)—But if we are not justified by the Deeds of the Law, by our own Obe­dience, how will God our Judge appear to be righteous? If the Law condemns us and yet he justifies us, i. e. if he thus proceeds contrary to Law, to clear and approve, when that condemns; how will he appear to be a just and upright Governour and Judge, who loving Righte­ousness and hating Iniquity, is disposed always to render to every one his Due? — Why,— there is a Way con­trived, wherein the Righteousness of God is manifested in our Justification without the Law's being obeyed by us, a Way unto which the Types of the Law and Pre­dictions of the Prophets did all bear Witness, a Way in which the Righteousness of God is manifested in and by Christ: (v. 21, 22.) — But how? — Why, God hath set him forth to be a Propitiation, to declare his Righteous­ness for the Remission of Sins that are past, thro' the For­bearance of God; to declare, I say, at this Time his Righ­teousness: THAT HE MIGHT BE IUST, and the Iustifier of him which believeth in Iesus. The Apostle seems evidently to suppose, that God could not have been just, had he not thus declared his Righteousness; and that he actually took this Method to declare and manifest his Righteousness, to the End he might be just, might act agreea­ble to his Nature, the original Standard of Justice, and to his Law, which is the Transcript of his Nature, and the established Rule of Righteousness, between him our Go­vernour, and us his Subjects. He set forth his Son to be a Propitiation, for the Remission of Sin, to declare his Righte­ousness, that he might be just, and the Iustifier &c.

BESIDES, The Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin, and that even by the Death of Christ, seems to be implied in our Saviour's Prayer in the Garden, If it be possible, let this Cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt, Mat. 26.39. And again, v. 42. O my Father, if this Cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy Will be done. As if Christ had said, ‘If it be possible thy Designs of Mercy might be put into Execution, and poor Sinners saved, consistent with thine Honour, without my drink­ing [Page 310] this Cup, O that it might be: but if it is not possi­ble it should be so, I consent.’ Satisfaction for Sin be­ing necessary, and there being no easier Wa [...] in which Sa­tisfaction for Sin might be made, and a Door opened for Mercy to come to a guilty World consistent with the divine Honour, seems to have been the very Ground, of the Fa­ther's willing him, and of Christ's consenting, to drink that Cup. And indeed, is it possible to conceive, why Christ should be willing to suffer what he did, or why his Father should desire it, were it not an Expedient absolutely ne­cessary, and nothing else would do, so that, it must be, or not one of the Race of Adam be ever saved, consistent with the divine Honour? If it was not so absolutely necessary, if there was some cheaper and easier Way that would ha [...]e done, why did the Father will this? or how had Christ a sufficient Call to undertake it? or indeed what Need was there for him to undertake? or what Good would it do? If Sin was not in very Deed, so bad a Thing, that it could not be pardoned without such a Satisfaction, why was such a Satisfaction insisted upon? Why a greater Satisfaction than was needful? Could a holy and wise God set so light by the Blood of his dear Son, as to desire it to be shed with­out the most urgent Necessity? Or why should the Gover­nour of the World make more Adoe than needs, and then magnify his Love in giving his Son, when Mankind might have been saved without it? Did this become the great Governour of the World? Or would God have us look upon his Conduct in such a Light? Surely no. — Verily therefore, such was the Case of a rebellious guilty World, that God looked upon them too bad to be released, con­sistent with the divine Honour, from the threatned De­struction, unless such a Mediator should interpose, and such a Satisfaction for Sin be made; and therefore Christ ac­quiesced in his Will, as being wise, holy, just and good.— And this being supposed, the Love of God in giving his Son appears even such as it is represented to be; unparal­lel'd, unspeakable, inconceivable: so also does the Love of Christ in undertaking.—And thus from the Perfections of God, and from the Scriptures, and from God's Conduct in this Affair, it appears that a full Satisfaction for Sin was [Page 311] n [...]cessary, in order to it's being pardoned, or any Favour shewn to a guilty World, consistent with the divine Ho­nour.

And if we, in very Deed, did stand in such Need, such an absolute perishing Need of a Mediator, as this comes to; if God looked upon Things in such a Light; then must we see this our Need of a Mediator, and look upon Things in this Light too, and have a Sense of this great Truth upon our Hearts: for otherwise we neither truly under­stand what a State we are in, nor what Need we have of a Mediator. And if we do not truly understand what a State we are in, nor our Need of the Mediator God has provided, how can we be in a Disposition to receive him a [...] he is offered in the Gospel, and truly & understandingly to rely upon him, his Death and Sufferings, his Worth and Merits, his Mediation and Intercession, as the Gospel invites us to do?

To see our Need of Christ to be our Atonement, to see our Need of his propitiatory Sacrifice to open the Way for the Governour of the World to be reconciled to us consist­ently with his Honour, is a very different Thing from what many imagine. Some fancy, they want Christ to purchase an Abatement of the Law, and satisfy for their Imperfecti­ons; and then they hope to procure the divine Favour by their own Goodness. — Some trust in Christ and the free Grace of God thro' him, as they think, and yet at the same Time look upon God as obliged in Justice to save them, if they do as well as they can. Some, who lay not so high a Claim to the divine Favour, yet by their Tears & Prayers hope to move the Compassions of God, and by their fair Promises to engage his Favour, and would secretly think it hard, if after all, God should cast them off; and yet they pretend to see their Need of Christ and to trust in him. But these are all evidently so far from seeing their Need of Christ, that in the Temper and Exercises of their Hearts, they implicitly and practically deny any Need of him at all; to their own Sense, they are good enough to be accepted in the Sight of God upon their own Account. Rom. 10.3.— Others, who have had great Awakenings and Convictions, [Page 312] see much of their own Badness, and do in a Sort renounce their own Righteousness, they look to be saved by free Grace; but in all the Exercises of their Hearts, see no Need of a Mediator, and have nothing to do with him: They see no Reason why they may not be pitied and saved by free Grace, without any Respect to the Atonement of Christ. They don't understand that they are so bad, that it would be a Reproach to the Governour of the World, to shew them Mercy otherwise than thro' a Mediator. — Others again, who talk much of Christ, and of Faith, and of living by Faith, and cry down Works, and think themselves most evangelical; yet after all, only believe that Christ died for them in particular, and that they shall be saved: this is their Faith, and this their trusting in Christ▪ whereby it is evident, they never truly saw their Need of Christ, nor have they any Re­spect to him under the proper Character of a Mediator. But then do Persons see their Need of Christ, when from a Sense of what they be, and of what God is▪ they are convinced, that they are too bad to be pardoned [...] ac­cepted, so bad that any Thing short of Damnation is too good for them; so that it would be inconsistent with the divine Perfections and to the Reproach of the great Gover­nour of the World, to shew them any Favour, without some sufficient Salvo to his Honour. Now they see their Need of Christ and are prepared to exercise Faith in his Blood (to use the Apostle's Phrase, Rom. 3.23.) and not 'till now. For Men can't be said to see their Need of Christ and his Atonement, unless they see that in their Case, which ren­ders his Atonement needful; but it's being inconsistent with the divine Perfections, and to the Dishonour of God, to pardon Sin without Satisfaction, was that which made an Atonement needful: Therefore Sinners must see their Case to be such as that it would be inconsistent with the divine Perfections and to the Dishonour of God, to grant them Par­don without Satisfaction for their Sins; in order to see their Need of Christ and of his Atonement. When they see their Case to be such, then they begin to see Things as they are, to view them in the same Light that God does, to perceive upon what Grounds and for what Reasons a Mediator was [Page 313] necessary, and why and upon what Accounts they want one; and hereby a Foundation is laid for them understand­ingly to have a fiducial Recourse to that Mediator which God has provided, that thro' him, consistently with the di­vine Perfections, they may be receiv'd to Favour. And so from Christ the Mediator, and from the free Grace of God thro' him, do they take all their Encouragement to come to God in hopes of Pardon & Acceptance and eternal Life. And thus they look to be justified by free Grace thro' the Re­demption that is in Iesus Christ, which is what the Gospel intends and proposes. Rom. 3.24. And from an increasing Sense of their Unworthiness and ill Deserts, they, thro' the Course of their Lives, more and more, grow up into a Disposition to live the Life they live in the Flesh by Faith in the Son of God, always having Respect to him as their great high Priest, in all their Approaches to the Mercy-Seat, hav­ing Access to God by him, who has stiled himself the Door of the Sheep, and the Way to the Father, which is the very Thing the Gospel proposes, & invites & encourages us unto. Heb. 9.12. By his own Blood he entred into the holy Place, having obtained eternal Redemption for us. Ver. 24. Into Heaven it self, to appear in the Presence of God for us. Heb. 10.19— 22. Having therefore, Brethren, boldness to enter into the ho­liest by the Blood of Iesus, by a new and living Way which he hath consecrated for us;—and having an high Priest over the House of God: let us draw near with a true Heart, in full Assurance of Faith. Rom. 3.25. For him hath God set forth to be a Propitiation for Sin, to declare his Righteousness, that he might be just, &c.

And a clear realising Sense of these Things on our Hearts, will lay a Foundation for us to see, how the Gospel-Way of Salvation is calculated to bring much Glory to God, and abase Sinners in the very Dust, which is that wherein the Glory of the Gospel very much consists. Rom. 3.27. Eph. 1.3—12. And we shall learn to rejoyce to see God alone exalted, and freely to take our proper Place, and lie down in the Dust, abased before the Lord for ever. And indeed it is perfectly fit in this Case, that the Rebel-Wretch should come down, and be so far from finding Fault with [Page 314] the great Governour of the World, and with his holy, just and good Law, that he should rejoyce that God has taken such an effectual Method to secure his own Honour, and the Honour of his Law. We ought to be glad with all our Hearts, that the supreme Governour of the World did put on State, and stand for his Honour, and the Honour of his Law, without the least Abatement; and did insist upon it, that Sin should be punished, the Sinner humbled, and Grace glorified: these were Things of the greatest Impor­tance. And we ought to choose to be saved in such a Way, to have God honoured, and our selves humbled. And it is evident, this must be the Temper of every one that comes into a genuine Compliance with the Gospel. Thus much concerning the Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin.

But here now some may be ready to inquire,

Was it not as necessary, that the Precepts of the Law should be obeyed, as that the Penalty should be suffered; to make Way for the Sinner not only to be pardoned, but also to be received to a State of Favour and intitled to eternal Life?

To which I answer,

1. It is true, we need not only a Pardon from the Hands of God the supreme Governour of the World, in whose Sight, and against whom we have sinned; we need, I say, not only to be pardoned, delivered from Condemnation, freed from the Curse of the Law, saved from Hell; but we want something further: We want to be renewed to God's Image, taken into his Family, put among his Chil­dren, and made Partakers of his everlasting Favour and Love. We need not only to be delivered from all those Evils, which are come upon us and which we are exposed unto, thro' our Apostacy from God; but we want to be restored to the Enjoyment of all that Good, which we should have had, had we kept the Covenant of our God.

2. It is true also, that Mankind, according to the Tenour of the first Covenant, were not to have been confirmed in a State of Holiness and Happiness, were not to have had eternal Life, merely upon the Condition of being innocent, (for such was Adam by Creation) but perfect Obedience to every Precept of the divine Law was required. Rom. 10.5. Gal. 3.10. The Performance of such an Obedience, was [Page 315] that Righteousness, which was by Covenant to intitle him to Life.

3. Since the Fall, all Mankind, are destitute of that Righ­teousness, nor can they attain unto it. Rom. 3.9—20.

4. But our natural Obligations, to love God with all our Hearts and obey him in every Thing, still remain. For they are in their own Nature unalterable. They will be for ever the same, so long as God remains what he is and we are his Creatures. There was the same Reason, there­fore, after the Fall, why we should love and obey God, as ever there was. There was the same Reason, therefore, that the Condition of the first Covenant, should be fulfilled, as ever there was. It was reasonable, originally, or God would never have insisted upon it. And therefore it is reasonable now since our Apostacy; and God has the same Grounds to insist upon it as ever: but we cannot perform it our selves: it was necessary, therefore, that it should be performed by Christ our Surety.

But perhaps some may still say,

When Christ had fully satisfy'd for all our Sins, and so opened a Way for Believers to be considered as entirely free from any Guilt; why might not the Governour of the World, now, of his sovereign Goodness and Bounty, have bestowed eternal Life, without any more to do? What Need was there for Christ to fulfil all Righteousness in our Room?

To which I answer,

When Adam was newly created, he was innoc [...], free from any Guilt; and why might not the supreme Gover­nour of the World, now, without any more to do, have bestowed upon him eternal Life and Blessedness, of his mere sovereign Goodness? What need was there, that his everlasting Welfare should be entirely suspended upon the uncertain Condition of his good Behaviour? Had not God just seen how it turned out with the Angels that sin­ned? Did he not know that Adam was liable to Sin and undoe himself too? And why would he run any venture a second Time? Especially, since the Happiness, not only of Adam, but of all his Race, a whole World of Beings, now lay at Stake? If he thinks, that if but one Man should gain the whole World, and los [...] his own Soul, his Loss [Page 316] would be infinitely great; what must the everlasting Wel­fare of a whole Race be worth in his Account? And would infinite Wisdom and infinite Goodness venture and hazard all this needlesly? Yea, would such a Being have done so, had there not been Reasons, of infinite Weight, to move him to it? something of greater Importance, than the eter­nal Welfare of all Mankind?— No doubt, there was something, and something of very great Importance, that influenced the infinitely wise and good Governour of the World to such a Conduct. Something, so very great, as to render his Conduct in that Affair, perfectly holy and wise, perfectly beautiful, excellent and glorious.— It does not look like a mere arbitrary Constitution It was doubtless ordered so, because God saw, it was perfectly fit and right and best.— But why was it fit and right and best?— Whatever the Reason was, doubtless for the same Reason, it was fit and right and best, that the second Adam should perform the same Condition, fulfil all Righteousness, to the End that by his Obedience we might be made righte­ous, and so be intitled to Life in this Way.

It is certain, that eternal Life and Blessedness were not to have been given absolutely, i. e. without any Condition at all, under the first Covenant. Eternal Life was not to have been granted merely under the Notion of a Gift, from a sovereign Benefactor; but also under the Notion of a Re­ward, from the Hands of the moral Governour of the World. Perfect Obedience was the Condition. Do and live. Rom. 10.5. Disobey and die. Gal. 3.10. This was established by the Law of the God of Heaven.

Now, the supreme Governour of the World did this for some End, or for no End. Not for no [...]nd, for that would reflect upon his Wisdom. Was it for his own Good, or his Creature's Good? Not for his own Good; for he is Self-sufficient and Independent. Not for his Creature's Good; for it had been better for them, their Interest simply con­sidered, to have had eternal Life and Blessedness given ab­solutely and unconditionally; for then, they would have been at no Uncertainties, not liable to fall into Sin or Mise­ry, but secure and safe forever.— It remains, therefore, that, as moral Governour of the World, he had an Eye to [Page 317] the moral Fitness of Things, and so ordained, because in it self, in it's own Nature, it was fit and right.

But why was it fit and right? i. e. What Grounds and Reasons were there in the Nature of the Case, why the great Governour of the World should suspend the everlast­ing Welfare of his Creature, Man, upon Condition of his being in most perfect Subjection to himself?—i. e. Why should he so much stand upon his own Honour, as to insist upon this Homage, at the hazard of his Creature's everlasting Welfare.—i. e. Why did he look upon his own Honour as a Matter of so great Importance?— I answer, that, from the Rectitude of the divine Nature, he is perfectly impar­tial in all his Conduct.— It was not, therefore, from any Thing like Pride, or a selfish Spirit, that he stood thus upon his Honour; the Homage of a Worm of the Dust could do him no Good: nor for want of Goodness, that he set so light by his Creature's Happiness: but it was fit he should do as he did; the Rectitude of his Nature, as it were, ob­liged him to it. For it becomes the Governour of the World, and it belongs to his Office as such, to see to it, that every one has his proper Due; and therefore it con­cerns him, first and above all Things, to assert and main­tain the Rights of the GOD-HEAD: and this Honour was due to God.

He was by Nature God, and Adam was by Nature Man; he was the Creator, and Adam was his Creature; he was moral Governour of the World, and Adam was his Sub­ject: He was by Right Law-giver, and Adam was a free Agent capable of and obliged unto perfect Obedience: He was Judge, to whom it belonged to distribute Rewards and Punishments, and Adam was an accountable Creature. Now he only considered himself as being what he was, and his Creature Man as being what he was; and he was affect­ed and acted accordingly. He considered what Honour was due to him from Man; what Obligations Man was under to give him his Due; that he was capable of doing it voluntarily; that it was fit he should; that it became the Governour of the World to insist upon it; that if he did not do it with all his Heart, he could not be considered as a Subject fit for the divine Favour, but fit only for di­vine [Page 318] Wrath. He thus viewed Things as they were, and acted accordingly. What he did therefore was perfectly right and fit. To have had no Regard to his Honour, but only to have consulted his Creature's Welfare, would have been a Conduct like theirs in Rom. 1.21, 25. They glorified him not as God.—They worshipped and served the Creature more than the Creator. *

Now, since the second Adam becomes Surety and stands responsible to the Governour of the World, it was fit he should not only suffer the Penalty of the broken Law, but obey it's Precepts too, in order to open a Door for us not only to be pardoned, but also received to Favour and intit­led to eternal Life. There was the same Reason, the second Adam should do it, as that the first should. The Honour of God did as much require it. It was as needful in order to our being considered as Subjects fit for the divine Favour and eternal Life. It became the Governour of the World as much to stand for his Honour, with one, as with the other; and he had as good Reason to suspend the everlast­ing Welfare of Mankind upon this Condition, now, as ever. And to have shewn no Concern for the divine Honour, altho' God had been openly affronted and despised by Man's Apostacy, but only to have regarded and consulted the [Page 319] Welfare of the Rebel under righteous Condemnation, had been a Conduct evidently unbecoming the great Governour of the World.

But again, we may view the Case in another Point of Light.— According to the first Covenant, eternal [...] and Blessedness were not to have been granted merely under the Notion of a Gift, from a sovereign Benefactor; but also under the Notion of a Reward, from God as moral Gover­nour of the World: and perfect Obedience was the Condi­tion. Do and live.— And while eternal Life and Bles­sedness were thus promised, by Way of Reward to Virtue, God's infinite Love thereto was hereby testified; and the Temper of his Heart acted out and displayed.— But God infinitely loves to act like himself.— On this Consi­deration, therefore, it was necessary, that the second Adam should fulfil all Righteousness, in the Room of a guilty, un­holy World; to the End, that the Governour of the World might bestow Grace and Glory and all good Things upon Sinners, as a Reward to Christ's Virtue; and so hereby testify his infinite Love to Virtue.— And so still act like himself.— It was God's sovereign Pleasure to exercise his infinite Goodness towards a ruin'd Race, and his holy Nature prompted him to choose this Way; for he always takes in­finite Delight in shewing Regard and Respect to Virtue, in his moral Government of the World. He translated Enoch and Elijah, saved Noah from the general Deluge, delivered Lot out of Sodom, promised Abraham a Posterity numerous as the Stars of Heaven, and Phineas an everlasting Priest­hood, and a Thousand Things more has he done; and all, to bear a publick Testimony of his Love to Virtue. This is the Thing which the King delights to Honour.— The very Ground of his Love to himself, is the Virtue or Holiness of his Nature. In this, his divine Beauty and Glory primarily consists. Isai. 6.3. He loves, therefore, to put Honour upon the Image of himself. And in doing so, he still reflects Ho­nour upon himself, the original Fountain of moral Excellen­cy. And, therefore, according to the first Covenant and according to the second, it was equally fit, that eternal Life and Blessedness should be given as a Reward to Virtue, in Testimony of his Regard thereto.

[Page 320]Thus, from the Perfections of God, and the Reason and Nature of Things, the Necessity of Christ's obeying the preceptive Part of the Law, as well as suffering the Pe­nalty, in order to our being not only pardoned, but receiv­ed to the everlasting Favour of God and intitled to eternal Life, seems evident.

But from Scripture, the Point may more easily be con­firmed. For therein we are taught, that he was appointed by the Governour of the World, not only to make Reconci­liation for Iniquity, but also to bring in everlasting Righteous­ness. Dan. 9.24. And are assured, that he is become the End of the Law for Righteousness to them that believe. Rom 10.4. And that by his Obedience many are made Righteous. Rom. 5.19. But this Work would not have been put upon him, had it been needless; i. e. if God's Honour and our Salva­tion, could, both, have been secured without it: for then it had been in vain: Which to suppose, reflects much up­on the divine Wisdom, and quite undermines and nullifies the Love and Grace and Kindness of God herein to us: for we had been as well without it.—With much Evidence, therefore, may we conclude, that it was necessary, that the second Adam, Christ our Surety, should obey, as well as suffer in our Room; in order to open a Door for our Justification and eternal Life.— And accordingly we may observe, that the Favours shewn to a sinful, guilty World on Christ's Account, are in Scripture promised under the Notion of a Reward to Christ's Virtue. For upon making his Soul an Offering for Sin, which was the highest Act of Virtue, it was promised that he should see his Seed, prolong his Days, have the Pleasure of the Lord prospering in his Hands; and that he should see the Travel of his Soul, and justify many. Isai. 53.10, 11, 12.

Therefore, in order to a genuine Compliance with the Gospel by Faith in Jesus Christ, we must see how far we be from Righteousness; that all our seeming Righteousness is as filthy Rags; that we have nothing to recommend us to God; that there is nothing in us rendring of us fit to be beloved by him, or meet to receive any Favour at his Hands, but every Thing to the contrary; to the End, we may see our Need of Christ: of Christ, to be made of God unto us, Righ­teousness, [Page 321] (1 Cor. 1.30.) and our Necessity of being found in Him, having on his Righteousness. (Phil. 3.9.) For this is the Design of the Gospel, to bring us to look to be accepted with God only in his Beloved; (Eph. 1.6. 1 Pet. 2.5.) and to be justified freely by his Grace, thro' the Redemption that is in Iesus Christ; (Rom. 3.24.) without the Deeds of the Law; (v. 28.) our selves being considered, as being in our selves, UNGODLY. (Chap. 4. v. 5.)

And under a Sense, how far we be from Righteousness; that we have, after all the Attainments of this Life, no Righ­teousness fit to be mentioned before God, nothing fit to re­commend us to his Favour, but are still in our selves infinitely unworthy of his Love, or the least Favour from him; I say, under a deep effectual Sense of this, we must live all our Days; to the End, we may never venture to come before God, as the Pharisee did, emboldened by our own Goodness, but always as the chief of Sinners, desiring to be found only in Christ, not having on our own Righteousness, but the Righ­teousness which is of God by Faith; and so hereby be influ­enced to live the Life we live in the Flesh, by Faith on the Son of God, as St. Paul always did, and as the Gospel would have all others do too. 1 Tim. 1.15. Phil. 3.9. Gal. 2.20. and 3.11.

To conclude. Thus, we see the Grounds of the Neces­sity there was, for a Mediator and Redeemer, to make Sa­tisfaction for Sin, and bring in eve [...]lasting Righteousness; and so open an honourable Way, for Mercy to come out after a rebellious, guilty World; and a Way, in which Sinners may with Safety return to God.

SECTION IV. Concerning the SUFFICIENCY of Christ, and of his Satisfaction and Merits.

I proceed now to consider,

2. What has been done to make Satisfaction for Sin, and to answer the Demands of the preceptive Part of the Law; and wherein the Sufficiency of the same consists. And

[Page 322]In the First Place, what has been done, has been already hinted; and it may be summed up in a few Words. It comprehends all that Christ has done and suffered, in his Life and at his Death. For us he was born; for us he lived; for us he died: He did all on our Account, being thereunto appointed by his Father. But because his Obedience and Sufferings were most eminent and remarkable, when, ac­cording to the Command he had received of his Father, he laid down his Life for us and offered himself a Sacrifice for our Sins; and because with a View to this, he became Flesh, and dwelt among us; therefore, the Scriptures do more frequently attribute our Redemption to what was done then. Hence, we are said to be redeemed by his Blood. 1 Pet. 1.18, 19. To be justified by his Blood. Rom. 5.9. And all spiritual Blessings are frequently represented as the Fruits and Effects of his Death. Gal. 3.13, 14. The Sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed out this, as the great Atonement. And to this the Penmen of the New Testament seem in a special Manner to have their Eyes, as the great Propitiation for Sin.— Thus the first Adam was to have yielded a perfect Obedience to the divine Law in every Thing; but that special Prohibition, touching the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, was in a peculiar Manner to try him, that it might be seen whether he would be in Subjection to God in every Thing. So in the Garden and upon the Cross, our Saviour's Spirit of Obedience was tried and discovered, and his Obedience was perfected and his Sufferings compleated: and so here, in a more eminent Manner, the Law was ho­noured and Justice satisfied; and so the Door of Mercy opened for a sinful, guilty World. But

Secondly. As to the Sufficiency of what has been done, to answer the Ends proposed; Let these Things be considered,

(1.) That the Person undertaking, as Mediator and Re­deemer, was of sufficient Dignity and Worth.

(2.) That he was sufficiently authorized to act in such a Capacity.

(3.) That what he has done is perfectly suited, in it's own Nature, to answer all the Ends proposed.

(1.) Iesus Christ the Mediator between God and Man, as to his Person, was FIT for the mediatorial Office and Work. [Page 323] He was of sufficient Dignity and Worth; being by Nature GOD, equal with the Father, the Brightness of his Glory, the express Image of his Person. Phil. 2. Heb. 1. He was God, (Joh. 1.1.) as well as Man. (v. 14.) And therefore his Blood was considered and valued, as being the Blood of God. (Act. 20.28.) And hence it is called precious Blood. (1 Pet. 1.18, 19.) As to his Person, he was equal with God the Father in Point of Worth and Dignity: And it was as much for him to obey and die in the Room of a guilty World, as it would have been, for God the Father himself. In Point of Dignity and Worth, there was none superiour to him. He was upon a Level with God the Father. He was his Equal and Fellow. Zech. 13.7. Awakè, O Sword,—against the Man that is my FELLOW. He was as glorious, as honourable, as lovely. He was therefore fit for the Office, able to answer all the Ends of God the Governour of the World, of his Holiness and Justice, Law and Government, and perfectly to secure the divine Honour, viewed in every Point of Light. The infinite Dignity of his Nature as God, made him capable of an Obedience of infinite moral Excel­lency; and capable of making a full Satisfaction for the infinite Evil of Sin. He could magnify the Law and make it honourable, in a more illustrious Manner, than all the Angels in Heaven and Men on Earth put together; by how much he was more excellent than them all. If the Son of God obeys and dies, it is enough: God and his Law are for ever secure. Thus, his being by Nature GOD, ren­dered him of sufficient Dignity for the Office and Work of a Mediator. Heb. 9.14.

And this it was also, which made him capable of under­taking. As he was God, he was under no Obligations, on his own Account, to obey a Law made for a Creature; and he had an absolute Right to himself. Every Person, that is a mere Creature, is under natural Obligations to perfect Obedience on his own Account; nor is he his own to dis­pose of. But the Son of God was above a mere Creature, he was a divine Person, and previous to his Undertaking was under no Obligation to Obedience; he had an original Right to himself, and was not by Nature under the Law; he was, therefore, at his own Disposal, and at full Liberty [Page 324] to undertake in our Room. He had Power to assume human Nature, & be made under the Law for us, & obey for us, and suffer for us; for he might do what he would with his own. Ioh. 10.17, 18.—The Sufficiency of Christ being thus origi­nally founded in his Divinity; Hence, this is the first Thing the Apostle to the Hebrews insists upon, in order to explain, clear up and confirm the Safety of the Way of Salvation thro' his Blood. Heb. 1. To clear up & confirm the Safety of the Way of Salvation thro' the Blood of Christ, is evidently the Scope and Design of that Epistle, as is manifest from the ten first Chapters. Particularly see Chapter 10. v. 19—22. And in order to shew the Safety of this Way, he insists upon the Excellency of his Person, and the Nature of his Office, his being called, appointed and authorized, and his actually going thro' the Work of our Redemption: which, toge­ther with some occasional Exhortations, Digressions, &c. is the Substance of his Discourse, from Chap. 1. v. 1. to Chap. 10. v. 23.

Thus, as GOD, he was of infinite Dignity and Worth: as GOD, he was at Liberty to undertake. He had an Estate (if I may so speak) of his own, and could pay the Debt of another with what was his own, and purchase for us an Inheritance. And I may add, that as he was the Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, there was a Suitableness, that he, rather than either of the other Per­sons, should be appointed to this Work. The Father sustains the Character of supreme Lord and Governour, asserts the Rights of the God-head, maintains the Honour of his Law and Government. The Son becomes Mediator between God and Man, to open a Door for God to shew Mercy to Man consistently with his Honour, and for Man to return to God with Safety. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier, to work in Sinners to will and to do, and reco­ver and bring them to repent and return to God thro' Je­sus Christ. Thus the Gospel teaches us to believe. Eph. 2.18.

He also was made Flesh and dwelt among us, and for our sakes was made under the Law; to the End, that in our Nature he might fulfil all Righteousness, and bear the Curse. As he was one with the Father, he was fit to be betrusted [Page 325] with his Father's Honour. As he was Immanuel, God with us, he was fit to be betrusted with our Salvation. As he was God-Man, he was fit to be Mediator between God and Man. His Humanity rendered him capable to appear in the Form of a Servant, and to become obedient unto Death: and his Divinity rendred his Obedience and Sufferings suf­ficient to answer the Ends designed. This is He of whom the Text speaks, God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son. He gave him, he appointed him to the Work, he put him into the Office, he anointed him, and then he laid on him the Iniquities of us all, and set him forth to be a Propitiation. Which brings me to consider,

(2.) That he was sufficiently authorized to be a Mediator between God and Man ▪ to take the Place of Sinners, and to obey and die in the Room of a guilty World. — God the supreme Governour of the World had sufficient Power and Authority to appoint the first Adam to be a Representative for his Posterity, to act in their Room: and by the same Authority he has appointed his Son, the second Adam, to be a second publick Head. Rom. 5.12—19. By divine Constitution, the first Adam was made a publick Person; and by divine Constitution, the second Adam is made such too. Both receive all their Authority to act in that Capa­city from the Constitution of God.—The calling, appoint­ing and authorizing of Christ, to take upon him this Office and Work of a Mediator and high Priest, is particularly treated of in the fifth Chapter to the Hebrews. He was called of God, as was Aaron, ver. 4. He took not this high Office upon himself, but was invested with it by his Father, v. 5. He was called of God an high Priest after the Order of Melchisedek, v. 10. His Father proposed the Office and the Work; and he willingly undertook. Lo, I come to do thy Will, O God. Heb. 10.7. God so loved the World, that he GAVE his only begotten Son, Joh. 3.16. And hence Christ says, He did not come of himself, but was sent of his Father, Joh. 7.28, 29. And that he did not come to do his own Will, but the Will of him that sent him, Joh. 6.38. And his Father acknowledges him as such by a Voice from Heaven. Mat. 17.5. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

[Page 326]Without such a divine Constitution, the Death of Christ could have been of no Benefit to Mankind. As, if an in­nocent Man should offer to die in the Room of a condem­ned Criminal, and should actually lay down his Life; yet it could be of no Benefit to the poor Criminal, unless the civil Government had authorized him so to do. i. e. unless, by some act, they had declared, that his Life should be ac­cepted, in the Eye of the Law, instead of the Criminal's. The Application is easy.— Thus Christ was called and put into his mediatoral Office and authorized to the Work, by God the supreme Governour of the World. And hence in Allusion to the Iewish Custom of anointing Men, when advanced to some high Office and important Trust; (so Aaron was anointed Priest, and David was anointed King:) in Allusion, I say, to this, he is called CHRIST, which is by Interpretation, the ANOINTED. Thus, as to his Per­sonal Dignity, he was sufficient to undertake; and thus, was he authorized to do so. And

(3.) What he has done is perfectly suited, in its own Nature, to answer all the Ends proposed. That is, to secure the Ho­nour of God, the Honour of his [...]oliness, Justice and Truth, his Law, Government and sacred Authority; and so open a Door for the free and honourable Exercise of his Mercy and Grace towards a sinful, guilty World, and a Way in which Sinners might return to God with divine Ac­ceptance. God the supreme Governour of the World knew upon what Grounds there was Need of a Mediator, what Ends he had to answer, and how th [...]y might be answered in the best Manner. According to the Counsel of his own Will, in his infinite Wisdom, he laid the very Plan, which is now revealed to us in the Gospel. He appointed one to be a Mediator whom he judged sit, put him into the Office, and appointed him his Work. All this Work Jesus Christ has done. He has finished the Work, which the Father gave him to do. Joh. 17.4. & 19.3 [...]. And so has been faithful to him that appointed him. Heb. 3. [...]. So that herefrom we might be assured, that what he has done, is most perfectly suited in it's own Nature to answer all the Ends proposed, altho' it were quite beyond us to understand how.—But, by the Help of the Word and Spirit [...]f God, we may be able [Page 327] to enter a little Way into this wonderful and glorious Mystery.

It was fit, the first Adam, as the Representative and pub­lick Head of Mankind, should, as a Condition of the ever­lasting Love and Favour of God, have continued in a most willing and perfect Subjection to God the Governour of the World, valuing his Honour and Glory above all Things. This was God's Due. This would have satisfied God's Holiness: for Holiness is satisfied, when the Thing which is right and fit is done. Holiness wants no more; but is then content and well-pleased. And upon this Condition, Mankind might have been considered, as Subjects fit for the divine Favour; and might have received the promised Reward, to the Honour of the divine Holiness and Good­ness.— Now Jesus Christ the Son of God has, by his Father's Appointment and Approbation, assumed our Na­ture, taken Adam's Place, done that which was Adam's Duty in our Room and Stead, as another publick Head, obeyed the Law God gave his Creature, a Law which he was not under, but in Consequence of his undertaking to stand in our Room and Stead. The Creature fails of pay­ing that Honour to the Governour of the World, which is his Due from the Creature. A GOD lays aside his Glory, appears in the Form of a Servant, and becomes Obedient; and so, in the Creature's Stead and Behalf, pays that Ho­nour to the Governour of the World, which was the Crea­ture's Duty. And thus the Governour of the World is considered, respected, treated and honoured, as being what he is, by Man, i. e. by their Representative Christ Jesus, God-Man-Mediator. And now, hereby God's Right to the Obedience of his Creatures, and their Unworthiness of his Favour upon any other Condition, are publickly owned and acknowledged: the Debt is owned, and the Debt is paid by the Son of God; and so Holiness is satis­fied: for Holiness is satisfied, when the Thing that is right and fit is done. And now this Door being opened, Man­kind may thro' Christ be considered as Subjects to whom God may shew Favour consistent with his Honour. Yea, the divine Holiness may be honoured, by granting all Fa­vours, as a Reward to Christ's Virtue and Obedience.

[Page 328]Again, it was fit, if any intelligent Creature shou'd at any Time swerve at all from the perfect Will of God, that he should for ever lose his Favour, and fall under his everlast­ing Displeasure, for a Thing so infinitely Wrong. And in such a Case, it was fit the Governour of the World should be infinitely displeased, and publickly testify his infinite Displeasure, by a Punishment adequate thereto, inflicted on the sinning Creature. This would satisfy Justice: for Justice is satisfied, when the Thing which is wrong, is punished according to it's Desert. — Hence, it was fit, when, by a Constitution holy, just and good, Adam was made a public Head, to represent his Race, and act not only for himself, but for all his Posterity; it was fit, I say, that he and all his Race, for his first Transgression, should lose the Favour, and fall under the everlasting Displeasure, of the Almighty. It was fit, that God should be infinitely displeased at so abominable a Thing; and that as Governour of the World he should publickly bear Testimony against it, as an infi­nite Evil, by inflicting the infinite Punishment the Law threatned, i. e. by damning the whole World. This would have satisfied Justice: for Justice is satisfied when Justice takes Place, when the guilty are treated with that Severity they ought to be, when Sin is punished, as being what it is.— Now, Jesus Christ the Son of God has, by his Father's Appointment and Approbation, assumed our Na­ture, taken the Place of a guilty World; and had not only Adam's first Transgression, but the Iniquities of us all laid upon him; and in our Room and Stead has suffered the Wrath of God, the Curse of the Law, offering up himself a Sacrifice to God for the Sins of Men. And hereby the infinite Evil of Sin, and the Righteousness of the Law, are publickly owned and acknowledged, and the deserved Punishment voluntarily submitted unto by Man, i e. by their Representative. And thus Justice is satisfied: For Justice is satisfied, when Justice takes Place. And Sin is now treated as being what it is, as much as if God had damned the whole World; and God, as Governour, ap­pears as severe against it. And thus the Righteousness of God is declared and manifested, by Christ's being set forth to be a Propitiation for Sin; and he may now be just, and yet jus [...]y him that believes in Jesus.

[Page 329] By all this, the Law is magnified and made honourable. On the one Hand; were any in all God's Dominions temp­ted to think, that the great Governour of the World had dealt too severely with Man, in suspending his everlasting Welfare upon the Condition of perfect Obedience? God practically answers, and says, ‘I did as well by Mankind, as I should desire to have been done by, my self; had I been in their Case, and they in mine. For when my Son, who is as my self, came to stand in their Stead, I required the same Condition of him.’ — And what the Father says, the Son confirms. He practically owns the Law to be holy, just and good, and the Debt to be due, and pays it most willingly to the last Mite, without any Objection. Which was as if he had said, ‘There was all the Reason in the World, that the everlasting Welfare of Mankind should be suspended on that Condition; nor could I have desired it to have been otherwise, had I my self been in their Case.’ — On the other Hand; were any tempted to think, that God had been too severe in threat­ning everlasting Damnation for Sin? Here this Point is also cleared up. God the Father practically says, that he did, as he would have been done by, had he been in their Case, and they in his. For when his Son, his second Self, comes to stand in their Place; he abates nothing, but ap­pears as great an Enemy to Sin, in his Conduct, as if he had damned the whole World. His Son also owns the Sentence just. He takes the Cup and drinks it off. Con­sidering the infinite Dignity of his Person, his Sufferings were equivalent, to the eternal Damnation of such Worms as we.

Thus the Law is magnified and made honourable; and at the same Time the Honour of God's Government & sa­cred Authority is secured. And I may add, so is also the Honour of his Truth: for he has been true to his Threat­ning, In the Day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die: For on that very Day the second Adam virtually laid down his Life in the Room and Stead of a guilty World. He is the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World.—So that now there is no Room left, for those that will view Things impartially, to have undue Thoughts of the Governour of [Page 330] the World; nor any Thing done to expose his Govern­ment to Reproach, or his Authority to Contempt. The Honour of the divine Government and Authority appears as sacred and tremendous, as if he had damned the whole World. And altho' Sinners will take Occasion to sin and be encouraged in their Ways, because Grace abounds; yet the Governour of the World has not given the Oc­casion. In his Conduct, the whole of it considered, he appears as severe against Sin, as if he had damned the whole World, without any Mixture of the least Mercy. The infinite Dignity of his Son causes that those Suffer­ings he bore in our Room, are as bright a Display of the divine Holiness and Justice, as if all the human Race had for their Sin been cast into the Lake of Fire & Brimstone; and the Smoke of their Torments ascended for ever and ever.

MOREOVER, By all this, a Way is opened for the free and honourable Exercise of Mercy and Grace towards a sinful, guilty World. It may be done consistently with the Honour of God, of his Holiness and Justice, his Law and Government, his Truth and sacred Authority: for the Honour of all these is effectually secured.—It may be done to the Honour of divine Grace: for now it appears, that God did not pity the World under a Notion that they had been by him severely and hardly dealt with, nor under a Notion it would have been too severe to have proceeded against them according to Law. The Law is not made void, but established. No Reflections are cast upon the divine Government. And Grace appears to be free, taking its Rise, not from any Thing in us, but merely from self-moving Goodness and sovereign Mercy. — This Way of Salvation is suited to set off the Grace of God to Advantage, and make it appear to be what it is.

Having thus finished the Work assigned him; he arose from the Dead, he ascended on high, he entred into the Holy of Holies, into Heaven it self, to appear in the Pre­sence of God for us, as our great high Priest. Heb. 9. And here as God-Man Mediator he is exalted to the highest Ho­nour, has a Name above every Name, sits on the right Hand of the Majesty on high, having all Power in Heaven [Page 331] and Earth committed unto him, and ever lives to make Intercession, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God thro' him,—Such is the Virtue of his Righte­ousness and Blood, and such is his Honour and Interest in the Court of Heaven, and such is his Faithfulness to all that believe in him; that now it is perfectly safe, to return to God thro' him, and venture our everlasting ALL upon his Worth and Merits, Mediation and Intercession. Heb. 4.16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace.

Thus we see what Necessity there was of Satisfaction for Sin, and that the Demands of the Law should be answered: And thus we see what has been done for these Purposes, and it's Sufficiency to answer all the Ends proposed. The Mediator was of sufficient Dignity as to his Person, he had sufficient Authority as to his Office, and he has faithfully done his Work. And now the Honour of God's Holiness and Justice, Law and Government and sacred Authority, is secured; and a Way is opened in which he may honoura­bly put his Designs of Mercy into Execution, and Sinners safely return unto him.— And now, before I proceed to consider more particularly what a Way is opened, and what Methods God has entered upon for the Recovery of sinful, guilty Creatures to himself, I shall make a few Remarks upon what has been said.

REMARK 1. As the Law is a Transcript of the divine Na­ture, so also is the Gospel. The Law is holy, just and good, and is as it were the Image of the Holiness, Justice and Goodness of God; and so also is the Gospel. The Law in­sists upon God's Honour from the Creature, and ordains that his everlasting Welfare shall be suspended upon that Condition; and the Gospel says Amen to it. The Law insists upon it, that it is an infinite Evil for the Creature to swerve in the least from the most perfect Will of God, and that it deserves an infinite Punishment; and the Gospel says Amen to it. The Law discovered also the infinite Good­ness of God, in it's being suited to make the obedient Creature perfectly happy; but the Gospel still more abun­dantly displays the infinite Goodness and wonderful free Grace of God. The Law was holy, just and good, and the Image of God's Holiness, Justice and Goodness; but [Page 332] the Gospel is more eminently so: In it the Holiness, Jus­tice and Goodness of God are painted more to the Life, in a Manner truly surprizing, and beyond our Comprehension; yea, to the Amazement of Angels, who desire to look and pry into this wonderful Contrivance. 1 Pet. 1.12.

Here in this Glass the Glory of the Lord is to be beheld. 2 Cor. 3.18. The Glory of God is to be seen in the Face of Christ. 2 Cor. 4.6. What has been by him done in this Affair discovers the glorious moral Beauty of the divine Nature. Much of God is to be seen in the moral Law, it is his Image; but more of God is to be seen in the Gospel, for herein his Image is exhibited more to the Life, more clearly and conspicuously.

The moral Excellency of the moral Law sufficiently evi­dences, that it is from God; it is so much like God, that it is evident that it is from God: So the moral Excellency of the Gospel sufficiently evidences that it is from God; it is so much like him, that it is evident that it is from him: It is his very Image: therefore it is his Offspring: it is a Copy of his moral Perfections, and they are the Original. It is so much like God, that it is perfectly to his Mind, he is pleased with it, he delights to save Sinners in this Way. And if ever this Gospel becomes the Power of God to our Salva­tion, it will make us like unto God, it will transform us in­to his Image, and we shall be pleased with this Way of Salvation, and delight to be saved in such a Way; a Way wherein God is honoured, the Sinner humbled, the Law established, Sin discountenanced, Boasting excluded, and Grace glorified.

If any Man has a Taste for moral Excellency, a Heart to account God glorious for being what he is; he cannot but see the moral Excellency of the Law, and love it, and con­form to it; because it is the Image of God: and so he can­not but see the moral Excellency of the Gospel, and believe it, and love it, and comply with it; for it is also the Image of God. He that can see the moral Beauty of the Original, cannot but see the moral Beauty of the Image drawn to the Life. He therefore that despises the Gospel, and is an Ene­my to the Law; even he is at Enmity against God him­self. Rom. 8.7. Ignorance of the Glory of God & Enmity [Page 333] against him, makes Men ignorant of the Glory of the Law and of the Gospel, and Enemies to both. Did Men know and love him that begat, they would love that which is begotten of him. 1 Joh. 5.1. He that is of God, heareth God's Words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Joh. 8.47.

And therefore a genuine Compliance with the Gospel supposes, that he, who commanded the Light to shine out of Darkness, shines in the Heart, to give the Light of the Know­ledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Iesus Christ. 2 Cor. 4.6. And a Sight and Sense of the moral Excellency of the Gospel-Way of Salvation assures the Heart of it's Divi­nity; and hereby a supernatural and divine Assent to the Truth of the Gospel is begotten in the Heart. And a Sense of the infinite Dignity of the Mediator, and that he was sent of God, and that he has finished the Work which was given him to do, and so opened and consecrated a new and living Way of access to God; together with a Sense of the full and free Invitation, to Sinners to return to God in this Way, given in the Gospel, and the free Grace of God there­in discovered, and his Readiness to be reconciled; a spiri­tual Sight and Sense of those Things, I say, emboldens the Heart of a humbled Sinner [...] in Christ, and to re­turn to God thro' him. Hence the Aposte to the Hebrews, having gone thro' this Subject in a doctrinal Way, in the Conclusion makes this practical Inference. Having there­fore, Brethren, Boldness to enter into the Holiest by the Blood of Iesus, by a new and living Way which he hath consecrated for us, thro' the Vail, that is to say, his Flesh; and having a high Priest over the House of God, let us draw near with a true Heart and full Assurance of Faith. Heb. 10.19—22.

REM. 2. From what has been said, we may observe, that the Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin and of the preceptive Part of the Law being answered, takes it's Rise from the moral Perfections of the divine Nature, and the moral Fit­ness of Things; and therefore a true Idea of God and a just Sense of the moral Fitness of Things will naturally lead us to see the Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin, &c. and pre­dispose us to understand and believe what is held forth by divine Revelation to that Purpose. On the other Hand, [Page 334] where a true Idea, of the moral Perfections of God and the moral Fitness of Things, is not; but on the contrary, very wrong Notions of the divine Being and of the true Nature of Things; there will naturally be an Indisposition and an Aversion to such Principles, nor will what the Gospel teaches about them be readily understood or believed. And doubtless it was this which originally led some to deny the Necessity of Satisfaction for Sin, and others to go a Step farther, to deny that Christ ever designed to make any. Joh. 8.47. He that is of God, heareth God's Words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

REM. 3. The Death of Christ was not designed at all to take away the evil Nature of Sin, or it's ill Desert; for Sin is unalterably what it is, and cannot be made a less Evil: But the Death of Christ was rather on the contrary, to ac­knowledge and manifest the evil Nature and ill Desert of Sin, to the End that pardoning Mercy might not make it seem to be a less Evil than it really is. So that altho' God may freely pardon all our Sins and entitle us to eternal Life for Christ's Sake; yet, he does look upon us, considered merely as in our selves, to be as much to blame as ever, and to deserve Hell as much as ever; and therefore we are al­ways to look upon our selves so too. And hence we ought always to live under a Sense of the Freeness and Riches of God's Grace in pardoning our Sins; & under a Sense of our own Vileness and ill Desert, in our selves, upon the Ac­count of them, altho' pardon'd. That thou mayst 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 done, saith the Lord God. Ezek. 16.63. But this is not the Way of Hypocrites: For being once confident that their Sins are pardoned, their Shame, Sorrow and Abasement are soon at an End. And having no Fear of Hell, they have but little Sense of Sin. And from the Doc­trine of free Grace, they are emboldened, as it were, to sin upon free Cost. But thus saith the Lord, When I shall say to the Righteous, that he shall surely live: If he trust to his own Righteousness and commit Iniquity; all his Righteousness shall not be remembered, but for his Iniquity that he hath com­mitted, he shall die for it. Ezek. 33.13.

[Page 335]REM. 4. Nor was the Death of Christ designed to draw forth the Pity of God towards a guilty World. For God could find it in his Heart, of his mere Goodness, without any Motive from without, to give his only begotten Son to die for Sinners. But this was greater Goodness, than it would have been to have saved Mankind by an Act of sovereign Grace without any Mediator: it was a more expensive Way. As, for an earthly Sovereign to give his only Son to die for a Traitor, that the Traitor might live, would be a greater Act of Goodness, than to pardon the Traitor, of mere Sovereignty.— It was not therefore because the Goodness of the divine Nature needed any Motive to draw it forth into Exercise, that Jesus Christ obeyed and died in our Room: But it was to answer the Ends of moral Government, and to secure the Honour of the moral Governour; and so open a Way for the honourable Exercise of the divine Goodness, which, in its own Nature, is infinite, free and self-moving, and wants no Motive from without to draw it forth into Act. And the same, no doubt, may be said of Christ's Intercession in Heaven.— We are therefore, in our approaches to God, not to look to Christ to persuade the Father to pity and pardon us, as tho' he was not willing to shew Mercy of his own Accord: but we are to look to Christ and go to God thro' him for all we want, under a Sense that we are in our selves too bad to be pitied without some sufficient Salvo to the divine Honour, or to have any Mercy shewn us. And therefore when we look to be justified by free Grace, it must be only thro' the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ; who has been set forth to be a Propitiation for Sin, to declare God's Righteousness, that he might be just, and the Iustifier of him that believeth in Iesus. Rom. 3.24, 25, 26.

REM. 5. Some of the peculiar Principles of the Antino­mians, seem to take their Rise from wrong Notions of the Nature of Satisfaction for Sin. They seem to have no right Notions of the moral Perfections of God, and of the natural Obligations we are under to him, nor any right Apprehensions of the Nature and Ends of moral Govern­ment, nor any Ideas of the Grounds, Nature and Ends of Satisfaction for Sin. (A right Sense of which Thing tends [Page 336] powerfully to promote a holy Fear and reverential Awe of the dread Majesty of Heaven and Earth a Sense of the infinite Evil of Sin, brokenness of Heart▪ tenderness of Conscience, a humble, holy, watchful, prayerful Temper and Life, as well as to prepare the Way for Faith in the Blood of Christ.) But they seem to have no right Appre­hensions of these Things. They seem to consider God merely under the Notion of a Creditor, and us merely under the Notion of Debtors; and to suppose, when Christ upon the Cross said, It is finished, he then paid the whole Debt of the Elect, and saw the Book crost, whereby all their Sins were actually blotted out and forgiven: and now all that re­mains, is for the holy Spirit immediately to reveal it to one and another, that he is elected, and so for him Christ died, and so his Sins are all pardoned; which Revelation he is firmly to believe, and never again to doubt of: and this they call Faith. From which it seems they understand nothing rightly about God or Christ, the Law or Gospel. For nothing is more evident than that God is in Scripture considered as righteous Governour of the World, and we as Criminals guilty before him; and the evident Design of Christ's Death was, to be a Propitiation for Sin, to declare and manifest God's Righteousness, that he might be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Rom. 3.9—26. And the Gospel knows nothing about a Sinner's being justified in any other Way than by Faith, and by Conse­quence in order of Nature not till after Faith. The Gospel knows nothing about Satisfaction for Sin in their Sense; but every where teaches that the Elect, as well as others, are equally under Condemnation and the Wrath of God, yea, are Children of Wrath while Unbelievers. Ioh. 3.18, 36. Eph. 2.3. Act. 3.19.

Again, While they consider God merely under the Cha­racter of a Creditor, and us merely as Debtors, and Christ as paying the whole Debt of the Elect; now because Christ obeyed the Law, as well as suffered it's Penalty, therefore they seem to think, that Christ has done all their Duty, so as that now they have none to do, nothing to do but firmly to believe that Christ has done all. They have nothing to do with the Law, no, not so much as to be their Rule to [Page 337] live by; but are set at full Liberty from all Obligations to any Duty whatsoever.—Not understanding, that Christ gave himself, to redeem his People from all Iniquity, and purify them to himself, a peculiar People, zealous of good Works, Tit. 2.14. And not understanding, that our natural Obligations to per­fect Obedience are not capable of being dissolved. Mat. 5.17. And not understanding, that our Obligations to all holy living, are mightily increased by the Grace of the Gospel. Rom. 12.1. Indeed they seem to understand no­thing rightly, but to view every thing in a wrong Light. And instead of considering Christ as a Friend to Holiness, as one that loves Righteousness and hates Iniquity, Heb. 1.9. they make him a Minister of Sin, Gal. 2.17. and turn the Grace of God into Wantonness. All their Notions tend to render their Consciences insensible of the Evil of Sin, to cherish spiritual Pride and carnal Security, and to open a Door to all Ungodliness.

SECTION V. Shewing, a Door of Mercy is opened by Iesus Christ for a guilty WORLD.

I come now to another Thing proposed, viz.

III. To shew more particularly what a Way to Life has been opened, by what Christ our Mediator has done & suffered.

In general; from what has been said, we may see that the mighty Bar which lay in the Way of Mercy, is remov­ed by Jesus Christ: and now a Door is opened, and a Way provided, wherein the great Governour of the World may, consistent with the Honour of his Holiness and Justice, his Law and Government and sacred Authority, and to the Glory of his Grace, put in Execution all his Designs of Mercy towards a sinful, guilty, undone World. But to be more particular,

(1.) A Way is opened, wherein the great Governour of the World [...]ay, consistent with his Honour and to the Glory of his Grace [...]rdon and receive to Favour and intitle to eternal Life, all [...] one of the human Race, who shall cordially fall in [...] [...]he Gospel-Design, believe in Christ, and return home to God thro' him.

[Page 338]What Christ has done is in Fact sufficient, to open a Door for God thro' him to become reconcilable to the whole World. The Sufferings of Christ, all Things considered, have as much displayed God's hatred of Sin, and as much secured the Honour of his Law, as if the whole World had been damned; as none will deny, who believe the infi­nite Dignity of his divine Nature. God may now therefore thro' Jesus Christ stand ready to pardon the whole World. There is nothing in the Way.—And the Obedience of Christ has brought as much Honour to God and to his Law, as the perfect Obedience of Adam and of all his Race would have done. The Rights of the God-head are as much asserted and maintained. So that there is nothing in the Way, but that Mankind may, thro' Christ, be received in­to full Favour, and intitled to eternal Life. God may stand ready to do it, consistent with his Honour. What Christ has done is every Way sufficient. Mat. 22.4. All Things are now ready.

And God has expresly declared, that it was the Design of Christ's Death, to open this Door of Mercy to all. Joh. 3.16. God so loved the WORLD, that he gave his only be­gotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting Life. That whosoever of all Man­kind, whether Iew or Greek, Bond or Free, Rich or Poor, without any Exception, tho' the Chief of Sinners, that be­lieves, should be saved. For this End, God gave his only be­gotten Son. He set him forth to be a Propitiation for Si [...], that he might be just, and the Iustifier of him (without any Exception, let him be who he will,) that believeth in Iesus. Rom. 3.25, 26.

Hence, the Apostles received an universal Commission. Matt. 28.19. Go, teach ALL NATIONS. Mar. 16.15, 16. Go ye into ALL the World, and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE. Accordingly, the Apostles proclaimed the News of Pardon and Peace to every one, offered Mercy to all without Exception, and invited all without Distinction. He that believeth shall be saved: Repent and be Converted, that your Sins may be blotted out: Were Declarations they made to all in general. To the Iewish Nation they were sent to say, in the Name of the King of Heaven, I have [Page 339] prepared my Dinner: My Oxen and my Fatlings are killed, and all Things are ready: Come unto the Marriage. Matt. 22.4. And as to the Gentile Nations, their Orders ran thus, Go ye therefore into the High-Ways, and as many as ye find, bid to the Marriage. v. 9. To the Iewish Nation, God had been used to send his Servants the Prophets, in the Days of Old, say­ing, Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? Ezek. 33.11. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come. Isai. 55.1. Incline your Ear, and come unto me: Hear, and your Soul shall live. v. 3. And now Orders are given, that the whole World be invited to a Reconciliation to God thro' Christ. Whosoever will let him come, and he that cometh shall in no wise be cast out. Thus, Christ has opened a Door; and thus, the Great Governour of the World may, consistent with his Honour, be reconcil­ed to any that believe and repent: And thus he actually stands ready.

And now all Things being thus ready on God's Side, and the Offers, Invitations and Calls of the Gospel being to e­very one without Exception; Hence, it is attributed to Sin­ners themselves, that they perish at last, even, to their own voluntary Conduct. Ye will not come to me, that ye might have Life. Joh. 5.40. And they are considered as being perfectly inexcusable. Joh. 15.22. Now they have no Cloke for their Sin. And all because a Way is opened, in which they might be delivered from Condemnation, but they will not comply therewith. Joh. 3.19. This is the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, and Men loved Dark­ness rather than Light, because their Deeds were Evil. And therefore, in Scripture-Account, they stand exposed to a more aggravated Punishment in the World to come. Matt. 11.20—24. Wo unto thee, Chorazin, Wo unto thee, Beth­saida — &c. And thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto Heaven, shalt be brought down to Hell: &c. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and Sodom in the Day of Iudg­ment, than for these Cities: Because they repented not.

And now because the Door of Mercy is thus opened to the whole World by the Blood of Christ, therefore in Scrip­ture he is called, the Saviour of the WORLD, 1 Joh. 4.14. The Lamb of God, which takes away the Sin of the WORLD ▪ Joh. 1.29. A Propitiation for the Sins of the WHOLE [Page 340] WORLD. 1 Joh. 2.2. That gave himself a Ransom for ALL. 1 Tim. 2.6. And tasted Death for EVERY MAN. Heb. 2.9. The plain Sense of all which Expressions may, I think, without any Danger of Mistake, be learnt from Joh. 3.16. God so loved the WORLD, that he gave his only be­gotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him, should not Perish, but have everlasting Life. * And indeed, was not the Door of Mercy opened to all indefinitely, how could God sincerely offer Mercy to all? Or heartily invite all? Or justly blame those who do not accept? Or righteously punish them for neglecting so great Salvation?

Besides, if Christ died merely for the Elect, that is, to the Intent, that they only upon believing, migh [...], consist­ent with the divine Honour, be received to Favour; then God could not, consistent with his Justice, save any besides, if they should believe. For without shedding of Blood, there can be no Remission, Heb. 9.22. If Christ did not design by his Death to open a Door for all to be saved conditio­nally, i. e. upon the Condition of Faith, then there is no such Door opened. The Door is not opened wider than Christ designed it should be. There is nothing more pur­chased by his Death, than he intended. If this Benefit was not intended, then it is not procured. If it be not pro­cured, then the Non-Elect cannot any of them be saved, consistent with divine Justice. And by Consequence, if this be the Case, then—(1.) The Non-Elect have no Right at all, to take any the least Encouragement, from the Death of Christ or the Invitations of the Gospel, to return to God thro' Christ in Hopes of Acceptance. For there are no Grounds [Page 341] of Encouragement given. Christ did not die for them in any Sense. It is impossible, their Sins should be pardoned, consistent with Justice: as much impossible as if there had never been a Saviour, as if Christ had never died. And so there is no Encouragement at all for them. And there­fore it would be Presumption in them to take any. All which is apparently contrary to the whole Tenor of the Gospel, which every where invites all, and gives equal En­couragement to all. Come, for all Things are ready, said Christ to the reprobate Iews, Mat. 22.4. — And if the Non-Elect have no Right to take any Encouragement from the Death of Christ and the Invitations of the Gospel, to return to God thro' him in Hopes of Acceptance, then— (2.) No Man at all, can rationally take any Encouragement, until he knows that he is elected. Because, until then, he can't know, that there is any Ground of Encouragement. It is not rational to take Encouragement, before we see sufficient Grounds for it: yea, it is Presumption to do so. But no Man can see sufficient Grounds of Encouragement to trust in Christ, and to return to God thro' him, in Hopes of Acceptance; unless he sees that God may, thro' Christ, consistent with his Honour, accept and save him, and is willing so to do. If God can, and is actually willing to save any that comes; then there is no Objection. I may come, and any may come, all Things are ready, there is Bread enough and to spare. But if God is reconcilable only to the Elect; then I may not come, I dare not come, it would be Presumption to come, 'till I know that I am elected. And how can I know that? Why, not by any Thing in all the Bible. While an Unbeliever, 'tis impossible I should know it by any Thing in Scripture: It is no where said in express Words, that I, by Name, am elected, and there are no Rules of Trial laid down in such a Case, And how can I there­fore in this Case, ever know that I am elected, but by an immediate Revelation from Heaven? And how shall I know, that this Revelation is true? How shall I dare to venture my Soul upon it? The Gospel does not teach me to look for any such Revelation, nor give any Marks where­by I may know when it is from God, and when from the Devil. Thus, an invincible Bar is laid in my Way to Life. [Page 342] I must know that I am one of the Elect, before I can see any Encouragement to believe in Christ: because none but the Elect have any more Business to do so, than the Devils. But, if I am one of the Elect, yet it is impossible I should know it, 'till afterwards.— Besides, all this is contrary to the whole Tenor of the Gospel; Whosoever will, let him come; Whosoever comes, shall in no wise be cast out; Whoso­ever believes, shall be saved.— And contrary to the Experi­ence of all true Believers, who in their first Return to God thro' Christ, always take all their Encouragement from the Gospel, and lay the Weight of their Souls upon the Truth of that, and venture their eternal All upon this Bottom; and not upon the Truth of any new Revelation. They ven­ture their All upon the Truths already revealed in the Gospel, and not upon the Truth of any Proposition not re­vealed there.

So that let us view this Point in what Light we will, nothing is more clear and certain, than that Christ died, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life. And God may now be just, and yet justify any of the Race of Adam, that believe in Jesus. And he stands ready so to do.— And these Things being true, the Servants, upon good Grounds, might, in their Master's Name, tell the obstinate Jews, who did not belong to the Election of Grace, and who finally refused to hearken to the Calls of the Gospel, Behold, I have prepared my Din­ner: my Oxen and my Fatlings are killed, and all Things are ready: Come unto the Marriage. Mat. 22.4. And if they had come, they would have been heartily welcome: The Provision made was sufficient, and the Invitation sincere: Jesus wept over them, saying, O that thou hadst known, in this thy Day, the Things which belong to thy Peace! So that there was nothing to hinder, had they but been willing. But it seems they were otherwise disposed; and therefore they made light of it, and went their Ways, one to his Farm, another to his Merchandise; and the Remnant took his Ser­vants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them, (v. 5, 6.) And in this Glass we may see the very Nature of all Man­kind, and how all would actually do, if not prevented by divine Grace.—Justly, therefore, at the Day of Judgment, [Page 343] will this be the Condemnation, that Light is come into the World, but Men loved Darkness rather than Light. For certainly, if Mankind are so perversely bad, that, notwith­standing their natural Obligations to God, and the Unrea­sonableness of their original Apostacy, they will yet persist in their Rebellion; and after all the glorious Provision, and kind Invitations of the Gospel, will not return to God thro' Christ: I say, certainly, God is not obliged to come out after them, and by his all-conquering Grace irresistibly reclaim them: but may justly let every Man take his own Course, and run his own Ruin. And an aggravated Dam­nation will every such Person deserve in the coming World, for neglecting so great Salvation, Heb. 2.2, 3.

And now, if Christ's Atonement and Merits be thus suf­ficient for all, and if God stands ready to be reconciled to all, and if all are invited to return and come: Hence then we may learn, that it is safe for any of the poor, sinful, guilty, lost, undone Race of Adam to return to God in this Way. They shall surely find Acceptance with God. They may come without Money, and without Price: and he that cometh shall in no wise be cast out.

And hence we may see, upon what Grounds it is, that the poor, convinced, humbled Sinner is encouraged and emboldened to venture his All upon Christ, and return to God thro' him. 'Tis because any poor, sinful, guilty, Hell-deserving Wretch may come; any in the World; the worst in the World; the vilest, and most odious and des­picable: For such he actually takes himself to be. And if he did not see that there was an open Door for such, for any such, for all such, he would doubt, and that with good Reason too, whether he might safely come. But when he understands and believes the Gospel-Revelation, and so is assured that it is safe for any, for all, the vilest and the worst; now the peculiar Vileness and Unworthiness which he sees in himself, ceases to be an Objection. He sees it safe for any, and therefore for him. And hence takes Courage, and is emboldened to venture his All, upon the free Grace of God, thro' Jesus Christ; and so returns in hopes of Acceptance.— Now, does this poor Sinner venture upon a safe Foundation? Or does he not?— [Page 344] He takes it for granted, that the supreme Governour of the World can, consistently with his Honour, shew Mercy to any that come to him thro' Christ; and he takes it for granted, that he stands ready to do so, even to the vilest and worst; that the Door of Mercy stands wide open; and whosoever will, may come: And upon these Principles, he takes Encouragement to return to God in hopes of Ac­ceptance: and from a Sense of his own Wants, and of the Glory and All-sufficiency of the divine Nature, of the Blessedness there is in being the Lord's, devoted to him and living upon him, he does return with all his Heart; and to God he gives himself, to be for ever his: and if the Gospel be true, surely he must be safe. The Truth of the Gospel is the Foundation of all; for upon that, and that only he builds: not upon Works of Righteousness which he has done, not upon any immediate Revelation of Par­don or the Love of Christ to him in particular; but merely upon Gospel-Principles. If they therefore prove true, in the coming World; then will he receive the End of his Faith, the Salvation of his Soul.— But to return,

Thus we see that by the Death of Christ, there is a wide Door opened for divine Mercy to exercise and display it self: the supreme Governour of the World may, consistent­ly with his Honour, now seat himself upon a Throne of Grace, and proclaim the News of Pardon and Peace thro' a guilty World; and it is perfectly safe for any of the guilty Race of Adam, to return unto him thro' Jesus Christ.— And now, were Mankind in a Disposition to be heartily sorry for their Apostacy from God, and disposed to esteem it their indispensable Duty and highest Blessedness to return; were this the Case, the joyful News of a Saviour and of Pardon and Peace thro' him, would fly thro' the World like Lightning, and every Heart would be melted with Love and Sorrow and Gratitude; and all the Nations of the Earth would come, and fall down in the Dust before the Lord, and bless his holy Name, and devote themselves to him for ever, lamenting in the Bitterness of their Hearts that ever they did break away from their Subjection to such a God. And were Mankind sensible of their sinful, guilty, undone Estate by LAW, and disposed to justify the Law [Page 345] and condemn themselves; and were they sensible of the Holiness and Justice of the great Governour of the World; they would soon see their Need of such a Mediator as Christ Jesus, and soon see the wonderful Grace of the Gospel, and soon see the Glory of this Way of Salvation, and so know it to be from God, believe it, and fall in with it, and all the World would repent and convert of their own Accord, and so all the World might be saved without any more to do.— But instead of this, such is the Temper of Man­kind, that there is not one in the World, that, of his own Accord, is disposed to have any such Regard to God, or Sorrow for his Apostacy, or Inclination to repent and re­turn; nor do Men once imagine, that they are in an Estate so wretched and undone, and stand in such a perishing Need of Christ and free Grace; and therefore they are ready to make light of the glad Tidings of the Gospel, and go their Ways, one to his Farm, another to his Merchandise: nor is there one of all the human Race disposed, of his own Accord, to lay down the Weapons of his Rebellion, and return to God by Jesus Christ. So that all will come to nothing, and not one be ever brought home to God, unless something farther be done; unless some Methods, and Me­thods very effectual, be used.

But that God should come out after such an apostate Race, who without any Grounds have turned Enemies to him, and without any Reason refuse to be reconciled, and that after all the glorious Provision and kind Invitations of the Gospel; that God, I say, should come out after such, and reclaim them by his own sovereign and All-conquering Grace; might seem to be a going counter to the Holiness and Justice of his Nature, and to tend to expose his Law and Government & sacred Authority to Contempt; in as much as they so eminently deserve to be consumed by the Fire of his Wrath. Therefore—

(2.) Iesus Christ did, by his Obedience and Death, open such a Door of Mercy, as that the supreme Governour of the World might, consistently with his Honour, take what Methods he pleased, in order to recover rebellious, guilty, stubborn Sinners to himself.

[Page 346]That he might take what Methods he pleased, I say; for he knew from the Days of Eternity, how Mankind would be disposed to treat him, his Son, and his Grace; and he knew from Eternity, what Methods he intended to take to reclaim them: and these are the Methods which he now pleases to take; and the Methods, yea, the only Methods, which he actually does take. So that it is the same Thing in Effect to say, that by what Christ has done and suffered, a Door is opened, for the MOST HIGH, consistently with his Honour, to take — 1. What Methods he actually does take. Or — 2. What Methods he pleases. Or —3. What Methods he from Eternity intended. For all amount to just one and the same Thing. For what pleased him from Eternity, the same pleases him now; and what pleases him now, that he actually does. The infinite Perfection of his Nature does not admit of any new Apprehension, or Alteration of Judgment. By his in­finite Understanding, he always had, and has, and will have, a compleat View of all Things past, present, and to come, at once. And by his infinite Wisdom and the perfect Rec­titude of his Nature, he unchangeably sees and determines upon that Conduct which is right and fit and best. For with him there is no Variableness, nor Shadow of Turning. Jam. 1.17.

Now, that what Christ has done and suffered, was suffi­cient to open a Way for the honourable Exercise of his so­vereign Grace, in recovering Sinners to himself, is evident from what has been heretofore observed. And that it was designed for this End, and has in Fact effectually answered it, is plain from God's Conduct in the Affair. For otherwise he could not, consistent with his Honour or the Honour of his Law, use those Means to reclaim Sinners which he actually does. For all those Methods of Grace would else be contrary to LAW, which does not allow the Sinner to have any Favour shewn him without a sufficient Security to the divine Honour, as has been before proved. The Law therefore has been sa­tisfied in this Respect, or these Favours could not be shewn. For Heaven and Earth shall sooner pass away, than the Law be disregarded in any one Point. It follows therefore, that not only special and saving Grace, but also that all the com­mon [Page 347] Favours which Mankind in general enjoy, and that a [...] the Means of Grace which are common to the Elect and Non-Elect, are the Effects of Christ's Merits: All were purchased by him; none of these Things could have been granted to Mankind, but for him. Christ has opened the Door, and an infinite sovereign Goodness has strewed these common Mercies round the World. All those Particulars wherein Mankind are treated better than the damned in Hell, are over and above what mere LAW would allow of, and therefore are the Effects of Christ's Merits and Gospel-Grace. And for this, among other Reasons, Christ is called the Saviour of the World. And hence also God is said to be reconciling the World to himself, not imputing their Trespasses unto them, 2 Cor. 5.19. Because for the present their Pu­nishment is suspended, and they are treated in a Way of Mercy, are invited to Repentance, and have the Offers of Pardon and Peace and eternal Life made unto them. Hence, I say, God is said not to impute their Sins unto them: Agreeable with that parallel Place in Psal. 78.38. where God is said to forgive the Iniquity of his People, because he destroyed them not.

Upon the whole then, this seems to be the true State of the Case. God is thro' Christ ready to be reconciled to all and every one, that will repent and return unto him thro' Jesus Christ. He sends the News of Pardon and Peace around a guilty World and invites every one to come, say­ing, He that believeth, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be damned. And on this Account it is said, that He will have all Men to be saved, and is not willing that any should perish: because he offers Salvation to all, and uses Arguments to dissuade them from Perdition.— But in as much as Mankind will not hearken, but are obstinately set in their Way; therefore he takes State upon himself, and says, I will have Mercy on whom I will have Mercy. And a sinful, guilty World are in his Hands, and he may use what Methods of Grace with all that he pleases: Some, he may suffer to take their own Way, and run their own Ruin, if he pleases; and others, he may subdue and recover to him­self, by his own all-conquering Grace.

And unto a certain Number, from Eternity, he intended [Page 348] to shew this special Mercy. And these are said to be given to Christ, Joh. 6.37. And with a special Eye to these Sheep did he lay down his Life, Joh. 10.15. His Fa­ther intending, and he intending, that they, in Spight of all Opposition, should be brought to eternal Life at last. And hence the Elect do always obtain. Rom. 11.7. compared with Ioh. 6.37.—And here we may learn how to under­stand those Places of Scripture, which seem to limit Christ's Undertaking to a certain Number. Mat. 1.21. Thou shalt call his Name Iesus; because he shall save HIS PEOPLE from their Sins. Eph. 5.23. He is the Head of the CHURCH; and he is the Saviour of the BODY. Ver. 25. Christ loved the CHURCH, and gave himself FOR IT. Act. 20.28. He hath purchased HIS CHURCH with his own Blood. Joh. 10.15. I lay down my Life for the SHEEP.— There were a certain Number, which the Father and the Son from all Eternity designed for Vessels of Mercy, to bring to Glory, Rom. 9.23. With a View to these it was promised in the Covenant of Redemption, that Christ should see of the Travel of his Soul, Isai. 53.11. And Christ says in Joh. 6.37, 38, 39. 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 my own Will; but the Will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's Will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last Day. See also Tit. 2.14. Rev. 5.9, 10. Eph, 1.4, 5, 6.

Thus Christ's Merits are sufficient for all the World, and the Door of Mercy is opened wide enough for all the World, and God the supreme Governour has proclaimed himself reconcilable to all the World, if they will believe and repent. And if they will not believe and repent, he is at Liberty to have Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and to shew Compassion to whom he will shew Compassion; according to the good Pleasure of his Will, to the Praise of the Glory of his Grace. He sits SOVEREIGN, and a rebelli [...]us, guilty World are in his Hands, and at his Dis­pose, and the Thing that seems good in his Sight, that he will do. And it is infinitely fit, right, and best he should; that the Pride of all Flesh may be brought low, & the Lord alone be exalted for ever.

[Page 349]And as this View of Things seems exactly to harmonize with the whole Tenor of the Gospel in general, and to agree with the various particular Representations of our Redemption by Christ; and to reconcile those Texts which seem to speak of a universal Redemption, with those which seem to speak of a particular Redemption; so it will naturally suggest an easy Answer to any Objections which may be made against it.

OBJ. 1. If Christ has suffered the Penalty of the Law, not only for the Elect, but also for the Non-Elect; how can it be just, that they themselves should be made to suffer it over again for ever in Hell?

ANS. Because Christ did not die with a Design to release them from their deserved Punishment, but only upon Condition of Faith. And so they have no Right to the Release, but upon that Condition. 'Tis as just therefore they should be punished, as if Christ had never died; since they continue obstinate to the last. And 'tis just too they should have an aggravated Damnation, for refusing to return to God, despising the Offers of Mercy, and neglect­ing so great Salvation. Iohn 16—19.

OBJ. 2. If Christ obeyed the preceptive Part of the Law, not only for the Elect, but also for the Non-Elect; why are not all brought to eternal Life, since eternal Life is by Law pro­mised [...]o perfect Obedience?

ANS. Because Christ did not purchase eternal Life for them, but upon the Condition of Faith: But they would not come to Christ, that they might have Life: and there­fore they justly perish. Ioh. 3.16—19.

OBJ. 3. But for what Purpose did Christ die for those, who were in Hell a long Time before his Death?

ANS. And to what Purpose did he die for those, who were in Heaven a long Time before his Death? The Truth is, that when Christ laid down his Life, a Ransom for all, he only accomplished what he undertook at the Beginning. Christ actually interposed as Mediator immediately upon the Fall of Man, and undertook to secure the divine Ho­nour by obeying and suffering in the Room of a guilty World: and therefore thro' him God did offer Mercy to [Page 350] Cain as well as to Abel, and shew common Favours to the World in general, as well as grant special Grace to the E­lect; and that before his Death, as well as since. Surely none will deny, that all the Favours which Mankind did enjoy prior to Christ's Death, were by Virtue of his Under­taking to be Mediator, and engaging to secure the divine Honour; for upon any other Foot, the Governour of the World could not have granted such Favours consistently with his Honour.

OBJ. 4. But if Christ died for all, then he died in vain, since all are not saved.

ANS. The next and immediate End of Christ's Death was to answer the Ends of moral Government, and so secure the Honour of the moral Governour, and open a Way in which he might honourably declare himself reconcilable to a guilty World upon their returning thro' Christ, and use Means to reclaim them; but this End Christ did obtain: and so did not die in vain. Ioh. 3.16. Rom. 3.24, 25, 26. And the supreme Governour of the World will now thro' Christ accomplish all the Designs of his Heart, to the ever­lasting Honour of his great Name.

OBJ. 5. But why would God have a Door opened, that he might, consistent with his Honour, offer to be reconciled to all that will return to him thro' Christ, when he knew that the Non-Elect would never return? And why would he have [...] Door opened that he might use Means with them, when he knew, all would be in vain, unless he himself recovered them by his All-conquering Grace, which yet he never designed to do?

ANS. God designed to put an apostate World into a new State of Probation. Mankind were in a State of Pro­bation in Adam their publick Head, and we all sinned in him and fell with him in his first Transgression. But God designed to try the Posterity of Adam anew, and see whether they would be sorry for their Apostacy, or choose to conti­nue in their Rebellion. He would tender Mercy, and offer to be reconciled, and call them to return, and use Arguments and Motives, and promise and threaten; and try and see what they would do. He knew, Mankind would be ready to deny their Apostacy, and plead that they were not Ene­mies to God, and think themselves very good natured; [Page 351] and would take it exceeding hard not to be believed: therefore he determined to try them, and see what they would do; and make publick Declaration thro' the World that finally he would judge every Man according to his Works, and deal with them according to their Conduct. And in the mean Time, that his Honour might be secured, he appoints his Son to be Mediator; and so thro' him pro­claims the News of Pardon and Peace, and enters upon the use of Means. And now, if you ask me, ‘Why does he do all this, when he knows, it will be in vain as to the Non-Elect, who will never come to Repentance?’

I Answer, His knowing that all will in the Event prove ineffectual to bring them to Repentance, is no Objection against his using the Means he does. For God does not make his Foreknowledge of Events the Rule of his Conduct; but the Reason & Fitness of Things.—You may as well inquire, ‘Why did God raise up Noah to be a Preacher of Righteousness to the old World for the Space of an Hundred and twenty Years, when he knew they would never come to Repentance? And why did he send all his Servants the Prophets to the Children of Israel, ri­sing early and sending, and by them command & call, entreat and expostulate, promise and threaten, and say, As I live, saith the Lord God, I delight not in the Death of the Sinner: turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die! when he knew, they would never come to Repentance? And why did he afterwards send his Son to the same obstinate People, when he knew they would be so far from hear­kening, as that they would rather put him to Death?’ Now, if you ask me, why the great Governour of the World uses such Means with the Non-Elect, and shews so much Goodness, Patience, Forbearance and Long-suffering, instead of sending all immediately to deserved Destruction?

I Answer, it is to try them; and to shew, that he is the Lord God, gracious and merciful, slow to Anger and abundant in Goodness. 'Tis fit, Creatures in a State of Probation should be tried, and he loves to act like himself; and he means in and by his Conduct to do both at once. And after obstinate Sinners have long abused that Goodness and Forbearance, which should have led them to Repentance; and [Page 352] have after their own hard and impenitent Hearts, been trea­suring up Wrath against the Day of Wrath, the Righteous­ness of God's Judgment in their eternal Destruction will be most manifest. And what if God was determined not to reclaim Rebels voluntarily so obstinate, by his All-conquer­ing Grace, but let them take their Course, seeing they were so set in their Way? What then? Was he not at Liberty? Was he bound to save them all by Ex [...]rtion of his Almightiness? Might he not have Mercy on whom he would? And after such Long-suffering, might he not shew his Wrath and make his Power known in the eternal De­struction of those who so justly deserved it? God's last End, no Doubt, is to manifest his Perfections: and in and by his whole Conduct towards a fallen World, they will all be most illustriously displayed. Rom. 11.36.

OBJ. 6. But considering that the Non-Elect are, after all, un­der an absolute Impossibility to believe and repent, convert and be saved; and considering that all common Mercies and Means of Grace will only render them the more inexcusable in the End, and so aggravate their Guilt and Damnation: therefore all Things considered, what seeming Good they enjoy in this World, is not of the Nature of a MERCY: it would be better for them to be without it: Sodom and Gomorrah will be better of it in the Day of Iudgment than Chorazin and Bethsaida: * and therefore there is no Need to suppose, that any Thing which the Non-Elect enjoy in this World, is the Effect of Christ's Merits, but only of divine Sovereignty.

ANS. What do you mean by being under an absolute Im­possibility to believe and repent, convert & be saved? Using Words without determinate Ideas is one principal Thing which bewilders the World about Matters of Religion. Now [Page 353] in plain English, all Things are ready, and they are invited to come, and there is nothing in the Way of their being saved▪ but—they be not sorry for their Apostacy from God, nor will be brought to it by all the Means God uses with them: they have not a Mind to return to God, nor will they be perswaded by all the most powerful Arguments that can be used: they are voluntary Enemies to God, and will not be reconciled, unless by an almighty Power and All-conquer­ing Grace, which God is not obliged to give, and they are infinitely unworthy of, and without which, they might re­turn, were they but of such a Temper as they ought to be: they are under no Inability, but what consists in and re­sults from thei [...] want of a good Temper of Mind, and their voluntary Obstinacy: Sin has no Power over Men, but as they are inclined to it; and the Inclinations of the Heart are always voluntary and unforced. Men love to be in­clined as they are; for otherwise their Inclinations would be so far from having any Power over them, that they would even cease to be.—Now certainly the bringing up of the Children of Israel out of Egypt was of the Nature of a Mercy, and a great Mercy too indeed it was, notwithstand­ing that thro' their Unbelief and Perverseness they never got to Canaan. The Thing, in itself, was as great a Mercy to the Body of that Generation, as it was to Caleb & Ioshua. And their bad Temper and bad Conduct, which prevented their ever coming to the promised Land, did not alter the Nature of the Thing at all, nor lessen their Obligations to Gratitude to God their mighty Deliverer. And yet, all Things considered, it had been better for them to have died in their Egyptian Bondage, than to have had their Carcases fall in the Wilderness in such an awful Manner.—And besides, it is evident, that the Scriptures do look upon the common Favours and Means of Grace, which the Non-Elect enjo [...], under the Notion of Mercies; and (which otherwise [...] not be) on this very Ground their Guilt is aggravated, [...] they rendered inexcusable, and worthy of a more sore Pu­nishment in the World to come. Ioh. 3.16—19. And, 1 [...], 22, 24. Rom. 2.4, 5. Heb. 2.2, 3. — And if they are of the Nature of Mercies, then they are the Effects of Christ's Merits, as has been already proved.

[Page 354]And hence by the Way, we may see the Reason why the Love and Goodness of God in bringing up the Children of Israel out of Egypt, is so mightily set forth in the old Testa­ment, notwithstanding the Body of that Generation perish­ed in the Wilderness: and why the Love and Goodness ▪ of God in giving his Son to die for the World, is so mightily set forth in the New-Testament, notwithstanding Multi­tudes of Mankind perish for ever: viz. It was the Israelites own Fault, they perished in the Wilderness, and so it is Sinners own Fault that they perish for ever. Ioh. 3.19. and 5, 40. And did they feel it at Heart, it would effectually stop their Mouths. For this is an undoubted Maxim, that the Kind­nesses of God to a rebellious perverse World are not in themselves e'er the less Mercies, because Mankind abuse them to their greater Ruin. The Kindnesses are in them­selves the same, whether we make a good Improvement of them, or no. They are just the same, and so just as great, let our Conduct be what it will. It was a great Mercy to the Israelites to be delivered out of Egypt; it was a wonder­ful Expression of divine Goodness: and hence 'tis said in Hos. 11. 1. When Israel was a Child, then I LOVED him, and called my Son out of Egypt. (And a like Expression we have in Deut. 10.18. God LOVETH the Stranger, in giv­ing him Food and Raiment.) And on the same Ground 'tis said in Joh. 3.16. God so LOVED the World &c. because the Gift of Christ to die for the World was an infinite Ex­pression of divine Goodness. And if Mankind do generally abuse this Goodness, as the Israelites generally did all God's Kindnesses to them, yet still the Goodness itself is just the same. A dreadful Thing therefore it is for the Non-Elect, even as aggravated a Piece of Wickedness in them as it would be in any Body else, to tread under Foot the Blood of the Son of God, and make light of all the Offers of Mercy, and neglect so great Salvation. And this above all other Things will be their Condemnation in the coming World. Ioh. 3.19. Never are the Iews at all excused, any where in the New-Testament, in their slighting the Offers of Mercy by Christ, on this Account, that they were not of the Elect. And indeed the Offers were sincere, and it was intirely their own Fault that they did not accept, and [Page 355] they deserved to be treated accordingly: Mat. 22.1—7.

OBJ. 7. But if God so loved the World, the WHOLE WORLD, as to give his only begotten Son to die for them, in the Sense explained; why does he not go thro', and perfect the Work, and save the WHOLE WORLD? according to that in Rom. 8.32. He that spared not his own Son, but deli­vered him up for us all, how shall be not with him also freely give us all Things?

ANS. 1. And why did not the King in Matth. 22. who had made a Marriage for his Son, and sent his Servants to say to them that were bidden, I have prepared my Dinner; my Oxen and my Fatlings are killed, and all Things are ready: Come unto the Marriage: Why did not the King, I say, when they refused, Compel them to come in? Since he had done so much, why did not he go thro', and finish the Work? And this is directly to the Point in Hand, because this Pa­rable is designed to represent that full Provision which is made for the Salvation of Sinners by the Death of Christ; and it proves that the Objection has no Force in it.

But farther,

2. Take your Bible and read from the 28th Verse to the end of that 8th Chapter of Romans, and you will see what the Apostle's Design is, thro' his whole Discourse. ‘We know,’ says he, ‘that all Things work together for Good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his Purpose. But how do we know it? Why, because God is fully determined to bring them to Glory at last. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate; and whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and them he justified, and them he glorified. And God was so fully determined to bring them to Glory, and so much engaged in the Thing, that he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all▪ i. e. US, who love God and are his elect People.’ (For it is of these and these only that he here is speaking.) ‘And since he was so much engaged as to do this, we may de­pend upon it that he will also freely give us all Things; i. e. US, who love God and are his elect People. So that never any Thing shall hinder our being finally [Page 356] brought to Glory, or separate us from the Love of God, neither Tribulation, nor Persecution, nor Distress, nor any Thing else.’ So that this is the Apostle's Argument: Since God was so much engaged to bring them to Glory who loved God and were his elect People, as that he had given his own Son to die for that End; they therefore might have the strongest Assurance, that he would do every Thing else which would be needful effectually to bring it about. *

But God never designed to bring the Non-Elect to Glory, when he gave his Son to die for the World. He designed to declare himself reconcilable to them thro' Christ, to offer Mercy, to invite them in common with others to return, and to assure all that he that believeth shall be saved, and to use Means with them more or less according to his Plea­sure; but finally, they being obstinate, he designed to leave them to themselves, to take their own Course; and in the End to deal with them according to their Deserts. Mat. 23.37, 38. and 22.1—7. And this being the Case, the Objection from the Apostle's Words is evidently groundless.

As to the Opinion of the Arminians, that God equally designed Salvation for all Men, purposing to offer Salvation to all, and use Means with all, and leave all to their own Free-Will, and save those and those only, who of their own Accord will become good Men; as for this Opinion, I say, I think they never learnt it from the Bible: But rather, they seem to have been led into it, from a Notion that Mankind are so good natured, that all might, and that at least some actually would, under the Enjoyment of the common Means of Grace, become good Men, of their own Accord, i. e. without any such Thing as special Grace. Convince them that this is an Error, and they will soon [Page 357] give up their Scheme, and acknowledge the Need of sove­reign Grace, and see the Reasonableness and Truth of the Doctrine of Election.— Or rather, I may say, con­vince them first of all, what God is, and what the Law is, and what the Nature of true Religion is; that they may know, what Conversion means, and what it means to be a good Man: and there will be no Difficulty then to con­vince them of the Depravity of Mankind. For what leads them to think it so easy a Thing to become a good Man, and that Men may be brought to it merely by the force of moral Suasion, is, their wrong Idea of the Nature of true Religion. If Religion be what they suppose, then no Doubt any Body may easily become good, for corrupt Nature can bear with such a Religion. But if Religion, or a Conformity to God's Law, be, what I have endeavoured to prove it to be in the former Discourse, then no Doubt Man­kind are naturally diametrically opposite thereto in the Temper of their Minds: even all Mankind, Arminians as well as others. And all do, or might know it, if they would seriously and honestly weigh the Matter; for it is plain Fact. The Arminians are wont mightily to cry up Works, and plead for the moral Law, as tho' they were great Friends to it: but if their Mistakes about the moral Law might once be rectified, and they be brought really and heartily to approve it, as holy, just and good; one prin­cipal Source of all their Errors would be dried up: and particularly, their wrong Notions about Election and uni­versal Redemption.

‘But where was there any Love, (will the Objector say) in God's giving his Son to die for the Non-Elect, or Sincerity in his offering them Mercy; if he never designed to bring them to Glory, but from Eternity intended to leave them to perish in their Sins?’

And where was there any Love (I answer) in God's bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, or Sincerity in his offer­ing to bring them to Canaan; if he never designed even­tually to bring them there, but from Eternity intended to leave them to murmur and rebel, and to have their [...] cases fall in the Wilderness? —The Solution in both [...] is the same, and is plainly this; as it was the Israelites [...] [Page 358] Fault that they did not come to Canaan at last, so it is the Sinner's own Fault that he finally falls short of Glory: However, the Israelites were often in a Rage, and ready to say, The Lord hath brought us into the Wilderness to kill us here, and they murmured against God and against Moses, for which they were struck dead by Hundreds & Thousands: and just so Sinners do, and the same Punishment do they deserve. But had the Israelites felt at Heart, that it was their own voluntary Wickedness which was the sole Cause of their Ruin, and did Sinners feel it at Heart too, there would be no murmuring in one Case or the other, but every Mouth would be stop'd. But I have spoken to this before.

To Conclude, If this Representation of Things which I have given, be according to Truth, hence then we may learn these two Things, which indeed were what I had principally in View in dwelling so long upon this Subject and labouring to answer Objections: I say, we may learn— 1. That any poor Sinner, all the World over, who hears the Gospel & believes it, has sufficient Grounds of Encourage­ment, from the Freeness of God's Grace & the Sufficiency of Christ and the universal Calls of the Gospel, to venture his eternal ALL in this Way of Salvation, and may safely re­turn to God thro' Christ in Hopes of Acceptance: And that without any particular Revelation, that he is elected or that Christ died for him in particular. ‘Any may come, the vilest and the worst; and therefore I may come.’ And therefore such a particular Revelation, is perfectly needless: Nor could it do any Good; for the Truth of the Gospel may be depended upon, but the Truth of such a particular Revelation cannot.— 2. That any poor, sinful, guilty, broken-hearted Backslider, who groans under the Burthen of Sin as the greatest Evil, and longs to have the Power of Sin taken down, and his Corruptions slain, and himself thoro'ly subdued to God, may look up to the infi­nite free Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ, and pray, ‘Lord, take away this Heart of Stone, and give me a Heart of Flesh: Turn me, and I shall be turned: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean: O create in me a clean Heart, and renew in me a right Spirit, and restore to me the Joy of thy Salvation! To thy sovereign Grace and [Page 359] self-moving Goodness I apply my self thro' Jesus Christ▪ God be merciful to me a Sinner.’ And that whether he knows himself to be a Child of God, or no: and so whether he knows that he belongs to the Number of the Elect, or not: Nor does he need any particular Revelation, that Christ died for him in particular, or that he is elected, or that he is beloved of God: Nor would these Things do any Good to clear up his Warrant to come for Mercy; because God may thro' Christ give his holy Spirit to any that ask him: All that are athirst, are invited to come and take of the Waters of Life freely. ‘Any may come, and therefore I may come, altho' the vilest Creature in the World.’ — And I appeal to all the Generation of God's Children, whether this has not been their Way of coming to God thro' Christ, ever since the Day they first came to know the Lord. — Sure I am, this is the Scripture-Way. God has sent out a Proclamation thro' a sinful, guilty World, inviting all to come to him thro' Jesus Christ for all Things: and given many Encouragements, by representing how free his Grace is, how sufficient Christ is, and how faithful his Promises, and that whosoever will, may come, &c. But no where in all the Bible, has he revealed it, that such and such in par­ticular by Name among Mankind are elected, and that for these Individuals Christ died in particular, by Way of En­couragement to those particular Persons, in order to let them know that they might safely trust in Christ, and come to God thro' him.— But then must we be right, when we understand the Gospel and believe it, and upon the very En­couragements which God has given, are emboldened to return in Hopes of Acceptance: And this must be agreeable to God's Will: And to this must the Influences of the true Spirit tend. But to venture to return and look to God for Mercy merely upon any other Ground, is anti-scriptural: And whatsoever Spirit influences thereunto, cannot therefore be from God.

And thus we see how the Door of Life is opened by Christ, our great Mediator and high Priest. And hence, Christ calls himself the Door. Joh. 10.9. I am the Door: By me if any Man enter in, he shall be saved. And hence also, he calls himself the Way to the Father ▪ Joh [...] 14.6. I am [Page 360] the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No Man cometh to the Fa­ther but by me. For thro' him (saith the Apostle; Eph. 2.18.) we both have an Access by one Spirit unto the Father. And also thro' him God is reconciling the World to himself, sending Ambassadors and beseeching them to be reconciled. 2 Cor. [...].19, 20.— Which leads me to the next Thing proposed.

SECTION VI. A View of the METHODS of divine Grace with Mankind from the Beginning of the World.

4. I am to shew what Methods the great Governour of the World has entered upon, in Order to put in Execution those Designs of Mercy, which he had in View, when he contrived to open this DOOR, in such a wonderful and glorious Manner, by the Interposition of his own dear Son.

The most high God is conscious of his own infinite Ex­cellency, his Right to, and his Authority over the Children of Men; He sees Mankind as being under infinite Obliga­tions to love and obey him, and that the least Defect is a [...] infinite Evil: He judges the Law to be holy, just and good, and Mankind wholly to blame for their Non-Conformity thereto, and worthy to be dealt with according to it. He knows their Contrariety to him, to his Law, and to his Gospel: He sees all these Things as they really are.— His infinite Wisdom sees how it is fit for such a one as he is, now thro' a Mediator, to conduct towards such a World as this is: He sees what a Conduct is most becoming, and, all Things considered, most meet and suitable: And to this Conduct, the perfect Rectitude of his Nature prompts and inclines him.— Upon the whole, he necessarily and freely determines to act like himself, i. e. like an absolute Sovereign, infinite in Wisdom, Holiness, Justice, Goodness & Truth.— This was his Determination from Eternity, this is his De­termination in Time, and according to this Rule he actu­ally proceeds, in all his Methods with a sinful, guilty, obsti­nate World: Working all Things according to the Counsel of his own Will. Eph. 1.11. Sovereignly, and yet wisely▪ holily and justly, and yet as the Lord God gracious and mer­ciful, [Page 361] slow to Anger and abundant in Goodness and Truth. As is his Nature, such is his Conduct; and hence his Conduct exhibits to us the very Image of his Heart. Thus it is in the Impetration, and thus it is in the Application of our Re­demption, and in all the Methods he take [...] with a guilty World in general. And hence, all his Ways are calculated to exalt God and humble the Sinner, to honour the Law and discountenance Sin, to exclude Boasting and to glorify Grace. As we shall more fully see in what follows.

(1.) As being the supreme Lord and sovereign Ruler of the whole World, he does thro' Jesus Christ the g [...]eat Mediator, the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the World, by whom his Honour has been secured, he does (I say) thro' him grant, and by an Act of Grace confirm, to the World of Mankind, a general Reprieve from that utter Ruin, which by Law was threatned, and which an apostate World were exposed unto. Total Destruction was threatned in Case of Disobedience. Gen. 2.17. In dying thou shalt die. i. e. Thou shalt die with a witness, thy Ruin shall be compleat. And now nothing could be expected but a dreadful Doom, and to be sealed down under everlasting Despair▪ But instead of this, the great God dooms the Tempter, and threatens utter Ruin to his new-erected Kingdom. Gen. 3.14, 15. Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed — And thy Head shall be bruised. But guilty Man is reprieved from a total Ruin, and allowed a Space for Repentance. And the World has now stood, almost six Thousand Years, reprieved by the tender Mercy of God thro' Jesus Christ.

Indeed, certain Evils were denounced by the Majesty of Heaven as standing Monuments of his Displeasure, always to attend a guilty Race while in this World. Peculiar Sorrows were appointed to Women, and hard Labour and Toil to Men, and Sickness and Pain to both, till Death should put an End to their Reprieve and to their Space for Repentance. v. 16—19.— And when our Day to die shall come, we are not to know: we lie at Mercy: and God acts sovereignly: so long as he pleases, so long shall we be reprieved, and no longer. And thus while tender Mercy appears in the general Reprieve, the Holiness and Justice and Sovereignty of God appear in the Manner of [Page 362] it. God is exalted, a guilty World lies at his Mercy, they are in a Sense continually under his Rod, and every Mo­ment liable to drop into an eternal Hell. They are held up in his Hand, Hell gapes to receive them, and now he lets one fall and then another, now this and then that, just as it seems good in his Sight. Surely, this is awful! Surely, Mankind are in very humbling Circumstances, & in Circum­stances wonderfully calculated to awaken them to repent and pray to God, if peradventure their Wickedness may be forgiven.

When the general Reprieve, granted to this lower World, shall come to a Period, then will the great Judge of the World proceed, with all who shall be found impenitent, according to Law, without any mixture of Mercy. The present Reprieve, granted as a Space for Repentance, is not of the Law, but of mere Grace thro' Iesus Christ. Now Grace takes Place, & Patience, Forbearance and Long-Suffering sit on the Throne: but then Law shall take Place, and strict Justice reign. The Mediation of Christ at present secures the Honour of Law and Justice, and opens the Door for Grace; but then the Day of Grace will be at an End. A guilty World shall no longer be treated in a Way of Mercy, and favoured on Christ's Account; but be proceeded against in flaming Fire and terrible Vengeance, and every one be punished according to his Deserts.— How long the Day of God's Patience with a guilty World is to last, we know not. A guilty World lies at his Mer­cy, and may be all summoned to the Bar when he pleases. Surely, this is awful and awakening! But this is the State in which God means to shew all Long-Suffering, and to exercise and display the infinite Patience of his Nature. And surely, th [...]s should lead us to Repentance!—Thus, this is one Step in a Way of Mercy, which God in his in­finite Grace thro' Christ has taken with a guilty World. And what is the Improvement which Mankind [...]re dispos­ed to make of it? Why, because Sentence against their Evil Works is not executed speedily▪ therefore the Heart of the Sons of Men is fully set in them to do Evil. Eccl. 8.11.

(2.) Another Favour granted [...]o Mankind in g [...]neral by the great Governour of the World thro' Jesus Christ, [...], a Competency of the good Things of this Life for their comfor­table [Page 363] Support, while under this Reprieve and in this new State of Probation. By Law Mankind for their Apostacy stood disinherited of every good Thing, doomed to a compleat Destruction. Gen. 2.17. But now thro' a Mediator, they are dealt with in a Way of Mercy.— 'Tis true, in [...] of the divine Displeasure God turned Man out of [...] and cursed the Ground, and subjected Man to hard Labo [...]Gen. 3. But then at the same Time, for Christ's sake, a general Grant of many good Things is made to a guilty World. They are allowed to live on God's Earth, breathe in his Air, see by the Light of his Sun, to eat of the Her [...] of the Field, and to eat Bread in the Sweat of their Face, to cloath themselves with the Skins of slain Beasts. Gen. 3. They are allowed Summer and Winter, Seed-Time and Harvest, and the Beasts of the Field are given to them▪ Gen. 8.22. and 9.1, 2, 3. Yea, it has been God's Way abundantly to do Good to a guilty World, to send Rain and grant fruitful Seasons, and fill the Hearts of Men with Food and Gladness. Act. 14.17. So that considering we are an apostate, guilty World, we may well say with the Psalmist, The Earth is full of the Goodness of the Lord: Psal. 33.5. And this notwithstanding all the Calamities which over­spread the whole Earth. For we are now to attribute every Thing in our Circumstances, whereby we are better of it than the Damned in Hell be, to the m [...]re Mercy and Goodness of God thro' Jesus Christ. Thus God reprieves a guilty World, and grants them Food and Raiment▪ to the Intent they may have a Space for Repentance▪ Surely now 'tis vile, infinitely vile, to despise the Riches of his Goodness and Forbearance and Long-Suffering, and not to take it in and understand it, that the Goodness of God should lead us to Repentance: And it is great Madness, after our hard and impenitent Hearts to go on in our Rebellion, and treasure up Wrath against the Day of Wrath, and Revelation of the righ­teous Iudgment of God. Rom. 2.4, 5. And yet, this is the general Temper, and common Way of the World.

(3.) Another common Favour granted to Mankind up­on Christ's Account, is, a general Resurrection from the Dead. (1 Cor. 15.21.) to the Intent that all, who believe, repent and return to God thro' Jesus Christ, may be compleatly [Page 364] happy in Soul and Body for ever. It is certain, the Law threatned Death, but made no Provision for a Resurrection. And if the Law had been executed and no Mediator pro­vided, we have no Reason to think there ever would have been any Resurrection. And I cannot see why a general Resurrection may not be considered under the Notion of a Mercy in it self, notwithstanding many by their final Impe­nitency lay a Foundation for their being raised up to ever­lasting Shame and Confusion. I am ready to think, that to be raised from the Dead, must surely be of the Nature of a Mercy, and so be the Effect of Christ's Merits; but the particular Manner in which the Wicked shall be raised, may nevertheless be considered as a Punishment, and so be the Effect of their Sin and final Impenitency. Christ's Merit lays the Foundation for a general Resurrection, and all that believe and repent shall be raised up to Glory and compleat Blessedness, and all that die in their Sins shall be raised up to Shame and compleat Misery.

(4.) There are also diverse other Things granted to Mankind in general, which seem pretty evidently to be of the Nature of Mercies, and so to be owing to the Inter­position and Merits of our glorious Mediator Christ Jesus, the only Mediator between God and a sinful, guilty World: to whose Merits and Mediation, every Thing which Man­kind enjoy, which is of the Nature of a Mercy, [...] to be at­tributed. Diverse Things, I say, whereby much is done towards putting such an apostate Race of Beings into a Ca­pacity of comfortably living together in this World, while they are in their new State of Probation. Divers Things in our Temper, which seem originally to take their Rise very much from that Temperament of Body and animal Con­stitution, which God our Former gives us. There is a na­tural good Humour, a natural Compassion▪ a natural Modesty, and natural Affections. These Things, in a greater or less Degree, we find to be natural to Men, and to have a very great Influence to keep under and restrain their Corruptions, and to incline and prompt to many Actions materially Good, and greatly for the Comfort of human Society and Benefit of Mankind in general. These Things do evi­dently keep Mankind from Abundance of Wickedness, [Page 365] which otherwise they would commit: They have a Heart for a Thousand Abominations, but these Things restrain them. And these Things do evidently put Mankind on to a Thousand Actions materially good, which otherwise they would never do: They have a Heart bad enough to neglect them, but these Things excite them to do them.— Were it not for these and other Restraints, I see not why Mankind should not be as bad in this World, as they will be in the next. Wicked Men have no Wickedness infused into them at Death; and therefore they have no other Nature, no other Principle of Sin in their Hearts, after they are dead, than they had before: But as soon as they are dead, they are evi­dently no Doubt as universally contrary to God and all that is Good, as the Devils themselves. As soon as ever those Things which now restrain them, are all removed, their true Temper appears without any Disguise.— 'Tis no Doubt therefore a great Mercy, for Mankind to be thus restrained. They enjoy more Comfort, they commit less Sin, they merit less Punishment, they are under better Advantages to live together, to enjoy the Means of Grace and attend to the Offers of Mercy by Jesus Christ. And therefore it seems that all these Things ought to be attributed to the tender Mercy of God thro' Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of all Men, but especially of them that believe. 1 Tim. 4.10.

Thus, the great God, instead of executing the Sentence of the Law in all it's Severity upon a guilty World, does; thro' the Mediation of Jesus Christ, grant to Mankind in general these common Favours— They are reprieved from a total Ruin — have a comfortable Maintenance in this World allowed them — a general Resurrection is decreed— several natural Endowments are granted, to restrain from bad Actions and to prompt to Actions materially good. And hereby the Governour of the World has laid the Foun­dation▪ and prepared the Way to go on to use the Methods he designed▪ more immediately tending to reclaim and re­cover a sinful, guilty World to himself; for now Mankind are put into a Sort of a Capacity of being treated with in such a Way.

These Things ought deeply to affect Mankind. We li [...] under many Calamities, and yet enjoy▪ many Mercies in [Page 366] this our natural State of Guilt and Condemnation; all which ought to be improved to awaken, convince & hum­ble us, and lead us to repent and cry to God for pardoning Mercy and sanctifying Grace, and predispose us cordially to receive and embrace that Revelation, which God has made in his Word, of our Ruin and the Way of our Recovery.

But, thro' the great Blindness and Corruption of Man­kind, these Things have had a very contrary Effect. Man­kind, finding themselves thus reprieved, and thus kindly treated by God, have many of them hereby been led to think, they are in pretty good Standing, not by Nature Children of Wrath, and under Condemnation. The Devil [...]old Eve, they should not surely die; so many are now ready to think, that the old Law, which threatned the least Sin with Death, is repealed; & that we are now born into the World free from any Guilt. And Mankind, finding themselves endowed with natural Modesty, good Humour, Compassion &c. are ready to dream, that they are born into the World without any sinful Corruption of Nature, but rather as holy as Adam in Innocency. And hence are very insensible of any Need of such a Redeemer and Sanctifier as are provided. And so they are predisposed to dislike that Revelation which God has made in his Word concerning our Ruin and the Way o [...] our Recovery. And hence Mankind are strongly bent to misunderstand and misinterpret and disbelieve the Law and the Gospel. And besides, by this Goodness and Forbearance of God, Men are emboldened in Sin, as if [...] were not a very great Evil, nor God very much set against it. They begin to think, God is all made up of Mercy, and that they are in no great Danger. And so after their hard and impenitent Hearts, they go on to treasure up Wrath against the Day of Wrath, and Revelation of the righteous Iudgment of God. Thus God and his Goodness is abused by this vile wicked Race of apostate, rebellious Creatures. — And indeed, all this is no more than was expected.— Great Reason therefore was there for him so effectually to secure his own Honour and the Honour of his holy Law, by the Interposition of his own dear Son as Mediator.— And now, let Mankind be ever so bad, he can go on with his Methods of Mercy, to accomplish all his Designs of [Page 367] Grace, and all consistent with the Honour of his Holiness and Justice, Law and Government and sacred Authority.

(5.) Mankind being naturally very insensible of their sinful, guilty, ruined Estate, and totally ignorant of, and unable to find out, any Way of obtaining the divine Fa­vour, and wholly averse in the Temper of their Hearts to a genuine Return to God; therefore God of his infinite Grace thro' Jesus Christ, has, in various Ways and diverse Man­ners, according to the good Pleasure of his Will, by im­mediate Revelation from Heaven, set before Mankind their Ruin and the Way of their Recovery, offered many Argu­ments, Motives and Encouragements to perswade them to return, and denounced terrible Threatnings to deter them from going on in their Rebellion, and directed them, in the use of certain Means of Grace, to seek for the inward Influ­ences of the holy Spirit, to awaken and convince, to humble and convert and effectually recover them to God thro' the great Mediator.

(6.) And, because the most High sees▪ that thro' the very bad Temper of Mankind, this external Revelation, altho' most excellently adapted thereto, yet, if left to themselves, would finally prove altogether ineffectual to recover any of Mankind; yea, so very far from it, that Mankind would not so much as rightly understand or believe it, or seriously take Matters into Consideration, but would misunderstand and pervert it, and finally universally disbelieve and re­nounce and forget it, and not suffer it to have any Room in the World: therefore he has from the Beginning of the World and does still and will to the End of the World, by the inward Influences of his Spirit and by the outward Dispensations of his Providence, carry on, according to his sovereign Pleasure, the Work of his Grace, accomplish his eternal Purposes of Mercy, recover Sinners to himself, maintain true Religion in the World, preserve his Church, gather in all the Elect, display all his glorious Perfections in his Dealings with Mankind, and get to himself a great Name in the End: Exhibiting in his whole Conduct from first to last the most lively Image of himself.

In these two last Particulars, we have a general Account of those Methods, which God does take with a sinful, guilty [Page 368] Race, more immediately tending to their Recovery: which we may see exemplified, in his Dealings with Mankind, from the Beginning.

1. In the earliest Ages of the World, immediately after the Fall, he began to enter upon these Methods of Grace. He taught our first Parents their Ruin and the Way of their Recovery by the promised Seed; and instituted Sacrifices to typify the great Atonement, which should afterwards be made for the Sins of the World. Gen. 3. And what he taught our first Parents, they taught their Children. And hence Cain and Abel and after-Generations learnt to worship God by Sacrifice. Gen. 4.3—8. Now Adam lived until Methuselah was two Hundred and forty six Years old, and Methuselah lived until Shem was an Hundred Years old, and Shem lived until the Time of Abraham and Isaac, yea 'till Isaac was fifty Years old; so that the News of Adam's Fall, of the Ruin of Mankind, and of Salvation by the Seed of the Woman, might easily have been handed down by Tradi­tion from one to another, and all Mankind might have been fully acquainted with these Things.— And besides these ex­ternal Teachings and Means of Grace, God granted the inward Influences of his Spirit, whereby some were effec­tually recovered to God, of whom were Abel, Enoch and Noah, who were also signalized by divine Providence. Gen. 4.4. & 5.22. & 6.9. Compared with Heb. 11.4,—7.

But while God thus early began to use Methods for the recovery of a sinful, guilty World to himself, they began early to shew their Avers [...]on to God and Unwillingness to return. Cain seems, by the Sacrifice which he offered, quite insensible, that he was a fallen Creature, and that he needed an Atonement for Sin. He brought only of the Fruit of the Ground for a Thank-Offering, (like the Pharisee in Luk. 18. Whose Prayer consisted only in Thanksgiving, without any Faith or Repentance) but brought none of the Flock for a Sin-Offering, (Gen. 4.) altho' without shed­ding of Blood there could be no Remission. Heb. 9.22. He was a formal impenitent Hypocrite, nor would God accept him; but Abel found Favour in the Sight of the Lord by Faith. Heb. 11.4. And therefore Cain was angry at God, and enraged at his Brother, and murthered him, and cast [Page 369] off all Religion, & gave himself up to serve his Lusts. Yea, he forsook the visible Church of God, and departed and went into the Land of Nod. And thus he, and afterwards his Posterity after him, join to renounce true Religion, and openly distinguish themselves from God's visible People on Earth. G [...]n. 4.16. And it seems Good to the supreme Go­vernour of the World, e'en to let them all take their Way, and act their own Nature.

For a While, true Religion was maintained in the Fami­ly of Seth. Gen. 4.26. And to put Honour upon the Practice thereof, Enoch was translated to Heaven. Gen. 5.24. But yet, in Process of Time, they degenerated, and became so much like the Rest of the World, like the Posterity of Cain, that they were disposed to relish their Company, and marry their Daughters. Gen. 6.2. And then presently the Contagion spread, The Wickedness of Mankind in general was great upon the Earth, (v. 5.) All Flesh corrupted their Ways, and the Earth was filled with Violence. (v. 11, 12.) And now the great Governour of the World raises up Noah, and makes him a Preacher of Righteousness; and Noah preaches, and God waits an Hundred and Twenty Years, but Man­kind will not be reformed, and therefore God gives over that Generation, and drowns the World by a universal De­luge.— First, Mankind break thro' all the Restraints lying upon them, discover the very Temper of their Hearts, pub­lickly shew their Aversion to God, their Disregard of his Grace, their utter Unwillingness to return, and their per­verse Propensity to go on in their Rebellion.—Secondly, God, thro' the Mediator, uses Means to reclaim them, and shews all Long-suffering, and so tries them.—Thirdly, They, remaining obstinate, trampling under Foot his Authority, and despising his Goodness, he at last in a most publick Manner executes righteous Vengeance upon them. — He displays his infinite Goodness and Patience, in waiting so long and using so many Means for their Recovery: He displays his Sovereignty, in waiting but just so long, and in taking but just so much Pains with them; He displays his Holiness, Justice and Truth, in bringing that Destruction upon them at the very Time before threatned: and in the whole, he displays his infinite Wisdom; his whole Conduct, [Page 370] being excellently well calculated, to make all succeeding Generations know that he is the LORD, and suited to main­tain the Honour of his Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth, of his Law and Government and sacred Authority. And thus we see what Methods God took with the old World, together with the Result of all.

And now,

2. We come to take a brief View of his Ways with Mankind since the Flood, and of their Carriage towards him. There is no Doubt but that Noah had received by Tradi­tion and well understood the Fall of Adam, the Ruin of Mankind, the Way of Recovery by the Seed of the Woman, the Institution, End and Design of Sacrifices. And there is no Doubt but that he faithfully instructed his Children, in what he himself knew. And they might have taught their Children, and they the Generation following, and so all the World might have known the Way of Salvation thro' a Mediator. And 'tis certain, that this would have been the Case, had Mankind been in a Disposition suffici­ently to have prized the Knowledge of these Things. But when they knew God, by parental Instruction, they did not glorify him as God, neither were they thankful for these Ad­vantages which infinite Goodness had granted them. Rom. 1.21. But became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was darkened. And they soon lost the Knowledge of true Religion, and fell off to Idolatry, and changed the Glory of the incorruptible God, into an Image made like unto cor­ruptible Man, and to Birds and four-footed Beasts and creep­ing Things, Ver. 23. For they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, Ver. 28. And when Mankind, presently after the Flood, did thus publickly discover the Temper of their Hearts, by renouncing the true God and true Re­ligion, and falling away to Idolatry and Superstition and all Manner of Wickedness: I say, when Mankind, not­withstanding the late awful Warning they had had by the universal Deluge; did thus quickly shew themselves so in­tirely disposed to their sinful and rebellious Courses: For this Cause God gave them up. v. 24, 26, 28. even suffered them to take their own Way and run their own Ruin.— The whole Earth might all have been God's People and his [Page 371] visible Family, but they would not. They might all have retained the Knowledge of the true God and of the Way to Life, but they did not like to; and God was not obliged to make them, and therefore he even let them take their own Course: and yet took Care, in after Ages, not to leave himself without Witness, but by many wonderful Works to let all the Nations of the Earth know that he was the LORD. And if any would repent and return, he made Provision for their Reception as Proselytes into the Iewish Church. And doubtless here and there one, from Age to Age, by the inward Influences of his blessed Spirit, were brought so to do; and the rest were blinded; as is said in a parallel Case, Rom. 11.7.

And now the Knowledge of the true God & of true Reli­gion must presently have been lost from off the Face of the whole Earth, and never have been recovered, and Satan had the most full Possession of the whole World to the latest Posterity, had not free and sovereign Grace interposed in a most wonderful Manner in this dark and awful Juncture. But in this very Season, God was pleased of his own mere Goodness and sovereign Pleasure, still thro' the appointed Mediator, by the gracious Influences of his Spirit, and by immediate Revelations, and by the special Dispensations of his Providence, to preserve to himself a Seed to serve him.— He called Abram alone, as it were, from the rest of the World, and blessed him; he made farther Revelations to him touching the promised Seed, and entred into a Covenant to be his God and the God of his Children after him. And now, a new World of Wonders begin to open to our View, in the divine Dispensations towards Abraham and his Seed. Gen. 12. &c.

Note, While God was doing these Things with Abra­ham, the rest of the World grew Wicked apace. And therefore God thought fit, to give a Specimen of the Tem­per of his Heart, and let the Nations know that he was the LORD, by raining Fire and Brimstone out of Heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, who were remarkably Wicked; and at the same Time delivering righteous Lot. Gen. 19. — A Dispensation so remarkable, and never the like before heard of, that no doubt it flew like Lightning all the World over, [Page 372] and spread Terror and Surprize thro' the guilty Nations. Howsoever, for all this, they turned not to the Lord.

Well, Abraham is circumcised with all his Houshold, and true Religion is taught and maintained in his Family, and Isaac his Son, and Eleazer his Servant, seem to have been savingly wrought upon by divine Grace. And God blesses Abraham, and he becomes very great; and God protects him wherever he goes, to the Honour of his great Name, in the midst of an idolatrous World. Neverthe­less, the World instead of growing wiser and better by all this, which doubtless was heard of and much wondered at among the Nations, they grew worse and worse. — Yea, Wickedness appears openly in Abraham's Family it self. Ishmael discovers a bad Spirit; He mocks at Isaac, Gen. 21.9. And he that was born after the Flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, Gal. 4.29. So that he was, in a Sort, excommunicated and cast out of God's visible Family. And it is not long before true Religion is a Thing unknown among his numerous Posterity. And they who were of the Seed of Abraham according to the Flesh, were now numbred with the Heathen. Thus, after this Sort it fared with Cain the first Persecutor, and thus it fares with Ishmael, for the warning of all godless and carnal Professors. And yet from Age to Age this same Temper has appeared, and yet still does appear, altho' perhaps this Sin, from the beginning of the World to this Day, has never yet gone unpunished.

Now, it was said, In Isaac shall thy Seed be called. And with him God renewed the Covenant, and to him the Pro­mises were repeated, and God blessed him, and he became very great; and he also was under a special divine Pro­tection. Yet there was a profane Esau in his Family, who made so light of the spiritual Blessings of Abraham, as, for a mere Trifle, to sell his Birth-right. And he afterwards became a Persecutor of his Brother Iacob, and his Posteri­ty soon lost the Knowledge of the true God and of the true Religion, and degenerated into a State of Heathenism.

Nor can it be attributed to any Thing but the free and sovereign Grace of God, that Iacob and his Seed did not do so too. But so it was; for so it seemed Good in the [Page 373] Eyes of him, who has Mercy on whom he will have Mercy, and whose Purpose according to Election always stands inde­pendent on Works. Rom. 9.11. I say, so it was, thro' the Power of him, who worketh all Things according to the Counsel of his own Will, that when all the other Nations of the Earth were suffered to renounce the true God and the true Religion, that in Iacob God was known, and his Name was great in Israel. — Never was there a Nation, which disco­vered a stronger Propensity to Idolatry & all Manner of Wick­edness than they. And notwithstanding all the mighty Restraints, by God laid upon them, they were almost per­petually breaking thro' all, and rushing on like the Horse into the Battle. Neither Warnings, nor Threatnings, nor the Authority of God, nor the Tears of their Prophets, nor the most terrible Judgments, were ever able effectually to restrain that People and turn them to God. And had not God always by his special Grace, kept a Remnant for him­self, they would have been like Sodom and like to Gomorrah. Isai. 1.2—9. Rom. 11.2—7.

Now the divine Perfections were most illustriously dis­played, in the divine Conduct towards this People, from Age to Age; and that not only before their Faces, but also in the Eyes of all the Nations round about them. Marvel­lous Things were wrought in Egypt, and Wonders at the Red Sea, and forty Years in the Wilderness, which no Doubt did ring thro' the World, and were enough to have made all the Earth know that he was the LORD, and, but for their perverse Stubbornness, to have brought them all to worship him and him only. But all this was so far from reclaiming the Heathen Nations, that it hardly tamed the Israelites themselves. But they rebelled at Tiberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-Hattaavah, and were perpetually provoking the Lord to Wrath. Deut. 9. When he slew them, then they sought him: And returned and enquired early after God. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their Mouth, and lied unto him with their Tongues. For their Heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his Covenant, Psal. 78.34—37. And many a Time were they within a Hair's Breadth of Destruction, and would surely have been [Page 374] utterly destroyed, but that he wrought for his great Name's sake. Exod. 32. Num. 14. Ezek. 20.

So again, in the Days of Ioshua, he divided Iordan, and drove out the Heathen before them, and gave them their Land in Possession, and made the Tribes of Israel dwell in their Tents. Yet they afterwards tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his Testimonies, but turned back and dealt un­faithfully like their Fathers: they provoked him to Anger with their high Places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven Images. Psal. 78.54—58. Iudg. 2.6—20. And now for the Space of many Years, God, by raising up Iudges and by sending Prophets and executing Judgments, did labour to reform them; but all in vain: For they quickly turned aside like a deceitful Bow. However in the mean while, the Goodness and Patience of God on the one Hand, and his Holiness and Justice on the other, were illustriously displayed by his wonderful Works in the midst of the Earth, to be sounded out among all Nations; that all the Earth might know that he was the LORD.

In the Days of David and Solomon, God wrought for his great Name's sake, and exalted his People, and made Israel honourable in the Sight of all Nations; yet were they not sincere in his Sight: and when outward Restraints were afterwards taken off, they soon discovered the hidden Temper of their Hearts, that they did not care for God or his Worship, but liked Dan & Bethel, as well as the Temple at Ierusalem. Thus did the ten Tribes; nor was their trea­cherous Sister Iudah more sincere. When a good King reigned, they would pretend to be good; & when a bad King reigned, they stood ready for Idols. And now God sent Judgment upon them Time after Time, and sent all his Servants the Prophets, saying, O do not this abominable Thing which my Soul hateth: but they would not hearken. The Lord God of their Fathers sent to them by his Messengers, rising up betimes and sending; because he had Compassion on his People and on his Dwelling-Place: but they mocked the Messengers of God, and despised his Words, and misused his Prophets, until the Wrath of God arose against his People, till there was no Remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the King of the Chaldees, and gave them all into his Hand. [...] Chron. 36 15, 16, 1 [...]

[Page 375]However, God was tenderly touched at the publick Reproach and Dishonour, to which his great Name was exposed in the Eyes of insulting Nations all around, who claped their Hands, and stamped with their Feet, and rejoyced with all their Heart, for what was done to the People called by his Name, glorying that their GOD was no bet­ter than the dumb Idols which they served. Wherefore God raised up the Prophet Ezekiel, who clears up God's Con­duct towards his People, in Chapters 16th and 18th and on. And dooms the neighbouring Nations in the Name of God, declaring what Judgment should come upon them from the Hand of God for their insulting, whereby they should be made to know that He was the LORD, as in the 25th to Chap. 31.— And now also Daniel and his Companions were by God raised up, that by them his Name might be­come great in the Eyes of all Nations. And for them he works such Deliverances as to constrain the haughty Mo­narchs of the Earth to issue out their Decrees thro' all the World, that none should speak any Thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, upon Pain of be­ing cut in Pieces, and their Houses made a Dunghill.— And that in all their Dominions Men should fear and trem­ble before the God of Daniel. Dan. 3.29, and 6.26. Surely the infinite Wisdom of God appears most wonder­fully, in all the astonishing Methods which he has taken to make himself known, & to keep up the Honour of his great Name among such a wicked, God-hating Race of Beings!

And now all this while, there was nothing but the in­finite Goodness, and free and sovereign Grace of God, to­gether with his Covenant Faithfulness, to move him, not to cast off and utterly reject his People, and let them be scattered among the Heathen, and their Name perish from off the Earth. It was for his great Name's sake that he wrought Salvation for them from Time to Time. Ezek. 20. When there was no Motive in them, but every Thing to the contrary; then for his own Sake he undertook to write his Law in their Hearts and put it in their inward Parts, to be their God and make them his People, and to remember their Iniquities no more against them, and to bring them back to their own Land, and plant them and build them up. Ezek. 36.16—34.

[Page 376]And however, by the Babylonish Captivity the Iewish People were pretty thoro'ly cured of their idolatrous Dis­position; yet after their Return, and after the godly Men of that Generation were dead, they soon began to shew that they were as averse to God and the Life of Religion as ever. And yet all these Things notwithstanding, God is determined to make one Trial more. He had sent one Servant after another, and they had been beaten, and ston­ed, and put to Shame, and sent away empty. Now there­fore he sends his only Son, to see if they will hear him: and behold they say, Come let us kill him. Mat. 21.33—39. Wherefore at last, God determines to cast off that Nation. ver. 41. And to go and try the Heathen, whom, for a long Time, he had suffered to take their own Ways.

And now, to his Apostles Christ gives Commission, to go into all the Earth, and preach the Gospel to every Crea­ture, and he that believeth, says he, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. And they run, and preach, and cry, Repent and turn from your dumb Idols to serve the living God. And had not they been stopped, they would soon have carried the News all round the World. But Iews and Gentiles combine together, and Earth and Hell are in Arms to defeat the Design. Nevertheless, as many as were ordained to eternal Life believed. And God carried on his Work thro' a Sea of Blood, and in about three Hundred Years conquered the Roman Empire.

No sooner is this done, but the Mystery of Iniquity begins to work, and the Man of Sin to be revealed. The Devil and his Servants turn their Coat, and under the Cloak of Religion and good Order, establish the Kingdom of Satan in a new Form: For it is the Nature of Mankind to hate true Religion. And now Antichrist reigns, and scatters the holy People, and wears out the Saints of the most High, for a Time, and Times, and half a Time. In the mean while, The Woman flies into the Wilderness, the Witnesses prophesy in Sackcloth, until at last the Witnesses themselves are slain. And now Religion is driven even just out of the World, and there had been no Hope, but that God awoke as one out of Sleep, like a mighty Man that shouteth by Reason of Wine And behold the Spirit of Life from God enters into [Page 377] the two Witnesses, that is, Luther and Calvin, and others their Contemporaries; and they stood upon their Feet, and great Fear fell upon them which saw them. And God put them out of their Enemies Reach. And there was a great Earthquake, and a tenth Part of the City fell. Rev. 9. And a glorious Day began to dawn.

But now, it is not long, before many turn Hereticks and Enthusiasts, and the World rises in Arms, and by Fire and Sword endeavour to demolish the Redeemer's Kingdom. However, God wrought for his great Name's sake, and has ever since been working, and will go on conquering and to conquer, until all the Nations of the Earth are brought into Subjection to his Son.

Thus we have taken a brief View of the Methods which God has taken to recover a sinful, guilty World, to him­self: The external Means we have chiefly dwelt upon. Up­on the internal, something farther shall be added presently. But let us first make a few Remarks.

REMARK 1. Had not Mankind been wholly to Blame, they might all of them from the Beginning have enjoyed the Benefit of divine Revelation. Nothing secluded them therefrom, but their own bad Temper and bad Conduct.— And had not Mankind been wholly to Blame, they might all of them have enjoyed the Gospel, and had it preached all over the World to this Day. Nothing has hindered it but their own perverse Obstinacy, their hating the Light, and hating the Truth.— Strange it is therefore, that some Men of Learning should be so full of Charity for the Hea­then, who thus hate God, despise Christ, and reject the Gos­pel. *

[Page 378]REM. 2. Mankind have manifested the highest Degree of Aversion to God and true Religion from the Beginning of the World, and that almost in all possible Ways. Hun­dreds, and Thousands, and Millions, have they in their Rage put to Death, and that in the most barbarous and cruel Manner.— Strange it is therefore, that so many Matters of Fact have not to this Day convinced Mankind, that they are are truly Enemies to God.— Strange, that they can have the Face to make the old Pretence, and say, If we had been in the Days of our Fathers, we would not have been Partakers with them, in the Blood of the Prophets. Mat. 23.30. When all the Time, from Age to Age, they have been acting over the old Scene.

REM. 3. It has been owing wholly and entirely to the free Grace and almighty Power of God, that the Church has been preserved, and true Religion not driven clean out of the World: It is one of the greatest Miracles that ever was wrought.

REM. 4. God has always acted sovereignly in choosing what Family, Nation or Nations he would preserve true Religion among; all being by Nature equally averse to God, and equally unworthy: and has always acted justly in giving over other Families and Nations for their Sin and Apostacy.

REM. 5. The whole Scheme of the divine Conduct has been most excellently calculated to display all the divine Perfections to the best Advantage: And it does exhibit to us the very Image of his Heart in strong and lively Colours.

But to proceed,

Altho' the external Means of Grace and remarkable Dis­pensations of Providence perhaps may in a Measure some­times restrain Mankind, and bring them to a feigned Sub­mission to God and his Laws; yet such is their rooted Enmity and entire Aversion to God and true Religion, that [Page 379] not one will hereby be brought to repent and sincerely turn to God. Psal. 78.34—37. & 81.8—12. Isai. 5.1 — 7. Nothing short of those inward Influences of the SPIRIT, which are Almighty & All-conquering, will effectually at­tain the End. M [...]t. 11.20—27. Eph. 1.19. — And there­fore besides the external Means of Grace, God has as it were taken a World of Pains with one and another of Mankind by the inward Influences of his SPIRIT.—The external Means indeed, which have been used, are more open to Observa­tion; and so also is that external Opposition which Man­kind have made; but the same Ends which God has been pursuing by the external Means, viz. to convince Mankind of their sinful, guilty, ruined State, and bring them to re­turn to God thro' a Mediator; the same has he been pur­suing, by the inward Influences of his Spirit: and the same Opposition which has openly appeared against the Means of Grace, has also secretly wrought mightily in the Hearts of Men against the inward Influences of the Spirit. Man­kind are as much inclined to resist the SPIRIT, as they be the Word of God, and that for the same Reason and from the same Temper; because both drive at the same Thing, a Thing most contrary to their Corruptions.

Perhaps there are some whom God never vouchsafes at all to strive with by his Spirit, and these are ready to think there is no such Thing.— Others, are a little awakened, and from Self-Love, the Fears of Hell, and the Hopes of Heaven, they reform their Lives a little, and set about some external Duties, and so think to make Amends for their past Sins, and recommend themselves to the divine Favour; but are as great Enemies as ever to the Power of Religion: and here God leaves them to perish.— Others are carried farther, and become more strict and painful, but still from the same Principles; and there they are left to perish.— Not one takes one Step in earnest, unless he is driven to it; nor goes one Step farther than he is driven: and therefore God leaves one here, and another there, as seems good in his Sight. They do not like to retain God in their Knowledge, and therefore he gives them over to a reprobate Mind, as those spoken of in Rom. 1.28.—Some indeed are carried very far by the common Influences of [Page 380] the holy Spirit, they are enlightened, they taste of the heavenly Gift, and of the Powers of the World to come, and are made Partakers of the holy Ghost; and yet after all fall away, and perish. Heb. 6. They have a great Sense of their sinful, guilty, undone Estate, of the Wrath of God, and Dread­fulness of Damnation, and are mightily brought down; and then have a great Sense of the Mercy of God, the dy­ing Love of Christ, and the Glory of Heaven: and they think they are converted, and they are ravished with the Thought. However, in the End, all is turned to feed their Pride and their Presumption, and to harden and em­bolden them in Sin. They are not so much afraid of Sin now, because they are confident they shall never go to Hell. And many Times this Sort of People, thro' the great swelling of spiritual Pride and the immediate Influ­ences of Satan, come to have strange Experiences, and turn to be strange Creatures, and broach strange Errors, and seem to be near entirely forsaken by God and Reason and Conscience: and yet, (yea, and by the same Means) get to be the holiest Creatures in the World, in their own Account. — But while the Sinners with whom the holy Spirit strives, do many of them turn out after this Sort; some in one Way, and some in another; there are others with whom God makes thoro' Work; that is, makes them thoro'ly understand and feel their sinful, guilty, helpless, undone Estate, and see into and believe the Gospel Way of Sal­vation thro' Jesus Christ, and return home to God in that Way. And now they are kept by the Power of God thro' Faith unto Salvation. 1 Pet. 1.5. And here God has Mercy on whom he will have Mercy. — And even so it has been as to the external Means of Grace from the begin­ning of the World. With some, God has taken more Pains and longer; and with others, less Pains and shorter: but when all the rest of the World degenerated to Heathenism, God took effectual Methods with the Israelites to keep them from doing so too.— And thus, in a resembling Manner, he does with all the spiritual Seed of Abraham, with his Elect; whereby in Spight of all Op­position, they are brought to Glory at last: they are fed with Manna every Day: the Pillar of Cloud by Day, and [Page 381] of Fire by Night, is their continual Guide: and the Rock which follows them is Christ: i. e. They are fed and are guided, they live and are refreshed, and are helped to hold on their Way, by continual Influences from on high, by constant Communications of divine Grace. And so the Path of the Iust is like the shining Light, which shines more and more to the perfect Day.

REMARKS. Never is any poor Sinner under the Light of the Gospel, by God passed by, without ever being awakened by the Holy Spirit, but God sees he is deaf to the Voice of his Word, and hates to be awakened, and loves to go on se­cure.—Never is any awakened Sinner forsaken by the Spi­rit of God, and left to take his own Way, and run his own Ruin, but that first he resisted and grieved the holy Spirit, and stifled Conviction, and rent away, as it were, out of God's Hands —And never is a poor Sinner savingly bro't home to God, and trained up for Heaven; but that, from first to last, it was absolutely and entirely owing to the in­finite Goodness, free Grace, and almighty Power of God. And indeed, thus will [...] appear at the great Day of Judg­ment, that all who perish are wholly to blame, and all that are saved will have none to glory in but the Lord. — But I have elsewhere so much insisted upon the Nature of the In­fluences of the holy Spirit, that I must not here enlarge.

Thus the Way to Life is opened by Christ Jesus, and all are invited to return and be saved. And thus we see the Methods which God takes for the Recovery of a sinful, guilty World. And from all that has been said we may draw these INFERENCES.

1. It is▪ undoubtedly the Duty of poor Sinners to be deeply affected with all these wonderful Methods of divine Grace, and to Strive and Labour with the greatest Painfulness and Diligence to fall in with the Design of the Gospel, to be sensible of their sinful, guilty, undone Estate, and to look to the free Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ for Relief, and to repent and return to God thro' him, Luk. 13.24. Strive to enter in at the strait Gate. Some are of the Opinion, that because the best Sinners can do, while Enemies to God in their Hearts, is, as to the Manner of it, sinful and odious in the Eyes of the divine Holines [...] ▪ that therefore their best [Page 382] Way is to do nothing, but to sit still and wait for the Spi­rit. But nothing is more contrary to Scripture or Reason. The Scripture says, * Strive to enter: And Reason teaches, that when the God of Heaven, the great Governour of the World, is thus coming out after guilty Rebels in a Way of Mercy, it becomes them to be deeply affected thereat, and to exert all their rational Powers in Opposition to their Sloth and Corruptions, labouring to lie open to the Means of Conviction, avoiding every Thing that tends to promote Security, and to render ineffectual the Methods of divine Grace, and practising every Thing that tends to their far­ther Awakening. And O let this be remembred, that it is Sinners resisting the Methods of Grace, which causes God to give them over. Psal. 81.11, 12, 13. But my Peo­ple would not hearken to my Voice: and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up to their own Hearts Lust: and they walked in their own Counsels. O that my People had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my Ways!

2. From what has been said we may learn, that it is Madness and Folly for poor Sinners to use the Means of Grace under a Notion of doing their whole Duty, and so pacify their Conscience. The Means of Grace are designed in the first Place to convince Sinners of their sinful, guilty, ruined State; and for them to forget, totally forget, this their End, and to go about to attend upon them under a Notion of doing that Duty which they owe to God, as something in Lieu of that perfect Obedience which the Law requires, is quite to lose the Benefit of the Means of Grace; yea, to thwart their very Design: and tends to keep Men from Conviction and Conversion, and seal them down in spiritual Security.—That which God directs them to do, to the End their Consciences might be more awa­kened, they do, that their Consciences might be more quieted. The Means which were appointed to make them more sensible of their Need of Christ and Grace, they use to make themselves the more insensible thereof.

3. Sinners are not to use the Means of Grace under a Notion of making Amends for their past Sins, and recom­mending themselves to God: Rom. 10.3. Nor under a Notion that by their strongest Efforts they shall be ever able [Page 383] to renew their own Nature: Eph. 2.1. Nor under a No­tion they can do any Thing at all to prevail with God to renew them. Rom. 11.35, 36.—But on the contrary, in the Use of the Means of Grace, they are to seek for and labour after a thorough Conviction, that they can neither make any Amends for their past Sins, nor in the least re­commend themselves to God, that they cannot renew their own Nature, nor in the least move God to shew them this Mercy: to the intent, that being thus convinced of their ru­ined, helpless State, they may be prepared to look to the free Mercy and sovereign Grace of God thro' Christ for all Things: which is the very Thing that the Gospel aims at. Rom. 3.9.—26. and which the Means of Grace are design­ed to promote, & bring them to: and to which the Spirit of God, by his inward Influences, does in the Use of Means, finally bring all who are saved. Rom. 7.8, 9. Gal. 3.24.

For Sinners to use the Means of Grace under the other Notions aforesaid, is practically to say, ‘We are not fallen, sinful, guilty, helpless, undone Creatures, nor do we need the Redeemer or the Sanctifier, which God has provided, nor do we lie at his Mercy, or intend to be beholden to his mere sovereign Grace. If we have sinned, we can make Amends for it: if we have displeased God, we can pacify him again. If we are Wicked, we can become Good: or if we do as well as we can, and then want any further Help, God is obliged to help us.’

If therefore Sinners would take the wisest Course to be the better for the Use of the Means of Grace, they must try to fall in with God's Design, and with the Spirit's In­fluences, and labour to see and feel their sinful, guilty, con­demned, helpless, undone Estate. For this End, they must forsake vain Company, leave their Quarelling and Conten­tion, drop their inordinate worldly Pursuits, and abandon every Thing which tends to keep them secure in Sin and quench the Motions of the Spirit; and for this End must they read, hear, meditate and pray, compare themselves with God's holy Law, try to view themselves in the same Light that God does, and pass the same Judgment upon themselves: that so they may be in a Way to approve of the Law, and to admire the Grace of the Gospel, to judge [Page 384] and condemn themselves, and humbly to apply to the free Grace of God thro' Jesus Christ for all Things, and thro' Him to return to God.

Thus we have gone thro' what was proposed under this third general Head: We have considered the Necessity there was of Satisfaction for Sin, and of a perfect Righteous­ness: We have considered what Satisfaction for Sin has been made, and what a Righteousness wrought out, and wherein their Sufficiency consists: We have considered how the Way of Life has been opened by the Means: and we have considered what Methods God has actually entered upon, for the Recovery of lost Sinners to himself.— And thus now upon the whole we see, upon what Grounds the great Governour of the World considered Mankind as be­ing in a perishing Condition, and whence his Designs of Mercy originally took their Rise, and what Necessity there was for a Mediator and Redeemer, and how the Way to Life has been opened by Him whom God has provided: and so may now pass to the next Thing proposed.

SECTION VII. Shewing the Nature of a genuine COMPLI­ANCE with the GOSPEL.

IV. To shew the true Nature of a saving Faith in Christ. And because by the Whole, I am to explain the Nature of the Gospel, and of a genuine Compliance therewith, there­fore I will begin with a more general View of Things, and afterwards proceed to a more distinct Survey of Faith in particular.

NOW, a genuine Compliance with the Gospel, in gene­ral, consists in a spiritual and divine Sight and Sense of the great Truths therein presupposed and revealed; and in a firm Belief of those Truths, and an answerable F [...]ame of Heart. As is evident from 2 Cor. 4.3, 4, 6. 1 Thes. 2.13. Mat. 13.23. Ioh. 8.32.

'Tis divine Light imparted by the Spirit of God to the Soul, which lays the Foundation of all. Mat. 11.25. Gal. 1.16. 2 Cor. 3.18. This spiritual and divine Light accor­ding [Page 385] to the Language of St. Paul, shines in the Heart, and consists in the Knowledge of GLORY, 2 Cor. 4.6. That is, in a Sense of MORAL BEAUTY, a Sense of that Beauty there is in the MORAL PERFECTIONS of GOD, and in all spiritual and divine Things, that HOLY BEAUTY which is peculiar to spiritual and divine and holy Things, of which every unholy Heart is perfectly insensible. 1 Ioh. 1.3.6. And by it, Things are made to appear to us in a Measure as they do to God himself, and to the Angels & Saints in Heaven. And so by it, we are made to change our Minds, and are brought to be of God's Mind concerning Things. And so we are hereby disposed to understan [...] [...]elieve, entertain and embrace the Gospel. Ioh. 8.47.

GOD the great Governour of the World, who sees all Things as being what they are, does in the Gospel consi­der Mankind as perishing, as fallen, sinful, guilty, justly condemned, helpless and undone. He looks upon the original Constitution with Adam as holy, just and good; and that by and according to that Constitution, he might have damned the whole human Race, consistent with his Goodness, and to the Honour of his Holiness and Justice: He looks upon the Law of Nature as holy, just and good; and that by and according to that, he might damn a guilty World, consistent with his Goodness, and to the Honour of his Holiness and Justice. Now by this divine Light we are brought to look upon Things as God does, and to have an answerable Frame of Heart.

Again, GOD the great Governour of the World, who sees all Things as being what they are, [...]oes in the Gospel consider a guilty World as lying at his Mercy. He saw that he was under no Obliga [...]ions to pity them in the least, or in the least to mitigate their Punishment: much less under any Obligations to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have ever­lasting Life: and still much less under any Obligations, by his holy Spirit to subdue and recover such obstinate Re­bels, who hate him and his Son, his Law and his Gospel, and are perfectly averse to a Return. He saw a guilty World lie at his Mercy; and that he was at Liberty to have Mercy or not to have Mercy, according to his sove­reign [Page 386] Pleasure; and that it was fit & becoming his glorious Majesty to act as a Sovereign in this Affair. And now by this divine Light we are brought to look upon Things as God does, and to have an answerable Frame of Heart.

Again, GOD the great Governour of the World, who sees all Things as being what they are, at the same Time that he designs Mercy for a guilty World, does consider a Mediator as being necessary to answer the Demands of the broken Law, and secure the divine Honour. In such a perishing Condition he sees Mankind; so guilty, so justly condemned, that it would be inconsistent with the divine Perfections, and contrary to all good Rules of Government, to pardon & save such wicked Hell-deserving Rebels, without some proper Atonement for their Sin and suitable Honour done to his Law. But the Honour of his Holiness and Justice, Law and Government is sacred in his Eyes, and of infinite Importance, and must be maintained: better the whole World be damned than they in the least be sullied. And now by this divine Light we are brought to look upon Things as God does, and to have an answerable Frame of Heart.

Moreover, GOD the great Governour of the World, who sees all Things as being what they are, views his only be­gotten Son as a meet Person for a Mediator, and himself as having sufficient Power to authorize him to the Work. Of his sovereign Self-moving Goodness, he, in his infinite Wisdom, contrives the whole Scheme, lays the whole Plan, and puts his Design in Execution; the Door of Mercy is opened, the News of Pardon and Peace is sent thro' a guilty World, and all are invited to return home to God thro' Jesus Christ: and God looks upon this Way of Salvation as being glorious for God, and safe for the poor Sinner. And now by this divine Light we are brought rightly to understand these Things, and look upon them as God does, and believe them, & to have an answerable Frame of Heart.

Lastly, GOD the great Governour of the World does, in the Gospel, consider our return unto him thro' Jesus Christ, not only as a Duty to which we are under infinite Obligations, but also as a Priviledge of infinite Value, and in this View of the Case, he co [...]mands and invites us to re­turn. [Page 387] And now by this divine Light we are brought to look upon this also as God does, and to judge it the fittest and happiest Thing in the World to return unto him thro' Jesus Christ, and to have an answerable Frame of Heart. For,

By this Light we come to have a right View of the most high GOD, to see him in a Measure as the Angels and Saints in Heaven do, to see him in his infinite Greatness and Majesty, and in the infinite Glory and Beauty of his Nature. And hence we are made sensible that he is infinitely worthy of the highest Esteem, Reverence, Love, Delight, and of universal Obedience. And hence we see that we in parti­cular are under infinite Obligations to love him with all our Hearts, and obey him in every Thing—and that to do so, is the happiest Thing in the World—that not to do so, is infinitely wrong— and deserves an infinite Punishment. And thus we see the Grounds of the Law of Nature, the Reasons from whence it results, and with all our Hearts consent to it and approve of it as holy, just and good. And this naturally lays the Foundation for us rightly to under­stand and heartily to approve of the original Constitution with Adam.—And while we behold God in his infinite Glory, and view the Law as holy, just and good, and see our infinite Obligations perfectly to conform unto it: now our universal Depravity and infinite ill Desert appears in a clear & divine Light. Hence it appears, we lie at Mercy, and that it is fit he should have Mercy on whom he will, that it becomes the Majesty of Heaven to act as a Sover [...]gn in this Affair. And it appears, that there is no Motive in us to excite his Compassions; but infinitely to the contrary: and hence the Heart is prepared to discern the Freeness of di­vine Grace, and to perceive that the Goodness of the divine Nature must be self-moving; and also to understand the Need there is of a Mediator to secure the divine Honour: for Creatures so bad appear too vile to be relieved, unless Justice may first be satisfied; 'tis contrary to Law, and con­trary to Reason that they should. — And while we view these Things, and have a divine Sense of them on our Hearts, we are hereby prepared to understand the Way of Salvation by free Grace thro' Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Gospel. And now a Sense of the glorious Freeness of [Page 388] divine Grace, the Excellency and Sufficiency of Christ, and the readiness of God to be reconciled to returning Sinners thro' him, lays the Foundation for Faith and Hope. * — And all this while, there is secretly enkindling in the Heart, a most genuine Disposition to return home to God, to love him and live to him, arising from a Sense of the ineffable Glory and Beauty of the divine Nature: for he appears glo­rious in Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Grace; and glo­rious in his Sovereignty and in his Majesty, as supreme Lord and high Governour of the whole World. — Upon the whole, with utmost Solemnity, as being in our selves infinitely unfit for the divine Favour, we venture our eter­nal All upon Jesus Christ as Mediator, relying on his Worth and Merits, and trusting to the mere free Mercy of God thro' him for Pardon and Grace and Glory, and hence are en­couraged and emboldened with our whole Hearts to return home to God thro' him, and give up our selves to God for ever, to love him and live to him, and live upon him for ever, lamenting that ever we sinned against him, resolving to cleave to him with all our Hearts, and never, never to depart from him. Heb. 4.16. & 10.19—22. Eph. 2.18. Ioh. 14.6. Rom. 3.24, 25, 26.—And thus, by this divine Light, imparted by the Spirit of God, is the Soul finally brought to unite to Christ by Faith, and to return home to God thro' him. Joh. 6.44, 45. No Man can come to me, except the Father draw him.—They shall be all taught of God. Every Man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Fa­ther, [Page 389] cometh unto me. And from what has been said con­cerning the Nature of the Gospel, it is Self-evident, that herein consists a genuine Compliance therewith. For all this is only to see Things as being what they are, and to be affected and act accordingly.

REMARK 1. This is peculiar to a genuine Compliance with the Gospel, and that whereby it is specifically diffe­rent from all Counterfeits, namely, it's being sounded in, and resulting from, this divine Light; whereby we are brought, not merely in Speculation, but in Heart, to look upon Things as God does. He sees all Things as they are; and therefore when any poor Sinner is brought to a right View of Things, i. e. to see them as they are, he must by Consequence look upon them as God does. Now all others being blind and ignorant in Scripture Account, hence this true Sight and Sense of Things is very peculiar and distin­guishing. And hence we may observe, that it is mentioned as being peculiar to the Good-Ground-Hearers, in Mat. 13.25. That they heard the Word and UNDERSTOOD it. And Christ intimates that none but his true Disciples KNOW THE TRUTH. Ioh. 8.31, 32. And the Gospel is again & again said to be hid from all others. Mat. 11.25. 2 Cor. 4.3. And they only have it REVEALED unto them. Mat. 11.25. They only have the Vail taken off from their Hearts. 2 Cor. 3.14—17. And they only behold with OPEN FACE. Ver. 18.

2. This spiritual and divine Light lays the Foundation for a new Kind of Belief of the Gospel. A Sight of the divine Beauty and Glory of the Gospel Scheme, convinces and assures the Heart that it is divine, and indeed from God, and not a cunningly devised Fable. This is an Evi­dence peculiar to the Regenerate, and of all others it is unspeakably the most satisfactory. See this largely ex­plained and proved in Mr. Edwards's Treatise on religious Affections. Page, 182—199.

3. Regeneration, Faith, Repentance and Conversion are in their own Nature connected together, and so they are in this Representation. In Regeneration we receive this di­vine Light, this new spiritual Sense of Things. Our Eyes are opened, and we are brought out of Darkness into this marvellous Light; and so come to have a right View of [Page 390] God, of our Selves, of Christ, and of the Gospel Way of Salvation by free Grace thro' him.— This spiritual Illumi­nation lays the Foundation for Faith, Repentance and Con­version. It discovers the Grounds of Faith, of Repentance and Conversion; and we believe, we repent and convert. Repentance towards God, and Faith towards our Lord Iesus Christ, always go together. Act. 20.21. And the Gospel calls Sinners to repent and be converted, as well as to believe in Christ. Act. 3.19. Those therefore who seem to have much Light and Faith and Ioy, but have no Repentance, nor do turn to God with all their Hearts, are deluded.

4. Spiritual Light and true Faith are always in Propor­tion. A spiritual Sense of God, of our Selves, of Christ, and of the Gospel Way of Salvation by free Grace thro' him, lays the Foundation for Faith; and Faith naturally results therefrom; as has been observed, and as is evident from Ioh. 6.45. And therefore from the Nature of the Case, they must be in equal Degree in the Heart. And therefore those who pretend to live by Faith, when they are spiritually blind and dead, do but deceive themselves. Nor is what they plead from Isai. 50 10. at all to the Purpose: Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the Voice of his Servant, that walketh in Darkness and hath no Light? Let him trust in the Lord, and stay upon his God. Because. 1. The Persons here spoken of were not spiritually blind and dead, but had a spiritual Sense of God and divine Things on their Hearts; for they feared the Lord and obeyed his Voice; so that they lived in the Exer­cise of Grace, and walked in the Ways of Holiness, which without spiritual Light had been impossible. And — 2. What they were in the Dark about, was, how or by what Means the Children of Israel should ever be brought out of the Babylonish Captivity, back again to Zion; which they knew God had promised, but they could see no Way wherein it could be brought about. In this Respect they walked in Darkness and could see no Light, and therefore they are exhorted to put their Trust in the Lord, whose Wisdom, Power and Faithfulness are infinite. This is evidently the meaning of the Words, as is manifest from the Scope and Tenour of the Prophet's Discourse thro' all [Page 391] the ten preceeding Chapters, which was calculated for the Support and Comfort of the Godly in the Babylonish Cap­tivity, by assuring them of a Return. * Nor what is said about Abraham, that against Hepe, he believed in Hope.— Nor what is said by St. Paul, We walk by Faith and not by Sight,— any Thing to their Purpose: unless they suppose, that Abraham and Paul, and the primitive Christians in general, were as dead and blind and carnal as themselves. —The Truth is, that this blind Faith is the very same Thing, which the Apostle Iames calls a dead Faith.

5. Evangelical Humiliation and true Faith are likewise always in Proportion. Evangelical Humiliation consists in a Sense of our own Sinfulness, Vileness, Odiousness and Ill-Desert, and in a Disposition thence resulting to lie down in the Dust full of Self-loathing and Self-abhorrence, abased before the Lord, really accounting our selves infinitely too bad ever to venture to come into the divine Presence in our own Names, or to have a Thought of Mercy from God on the Account of our own Goodness. And it is this which makes us sensible of our Need of a Mediator, and makes us desire to be found not in our selves but in Christ, not having on our own Righteousness but his. No farther therefore [...] these Views and this Temper prevails in us, shall we truly discern any Need of Christ, or be heartily inclined to have any Respect to him as a Mediator between God and [...]s. There can therefore be no more of true Faith in Exercise than there is of this true Humility. When Men therefore appear righteous in their own Eyes, and look upon themselves as deserving well at the Hands [Page 392] of God on the Account of their own Goodness, they can feel no Need of a Mediator, nor at Heart have any Respect to Christ under that Character. Luk. 5.31.— This condemns the Faith of the Self-righteous Formalist, who depends upon his being conscientious in his Ways, and upon his sincerely endeavouring to do as well as he can, to recommend him to God. And this condemns also the Faith of the proud Enthusiast, who appears so Good in his own Eyes, so far from a legal Spirit, so purely Evangelical, so full of Light and Knowledge, Humility and Love, Zeal and Devotion, as that from a Sense of his own Goodness, and how greatly beloved he is in the Sight of God, he is encouraged, and elevated, and feels greatly emboldned to come into the Presence of God, and draw near, and come even to his Seat, and use Familiarity and Boldness with God, as tho' he was almost an Equal. Such are so far from any true Sense of their Need of Christ, as that they rather feel more fit to be Mediators & Intercessors in Behalf of others, than to want one for themselves. And it is the Way of such, from that great Sense they have of their own Goodness, to make bold with God, and to make bold with Christ, in their Prayers, as if they felt themselves pretty nigh upon a Level.— Of all Men in the World, I am ready to think, that God looks upon these the worst, and hates them the most. Luk. 18.9— 14. Isai. 65.5. Bu [...] did they know it, they would hate him as entirely as he does them.— Hypocrites of all Sorts fail in this Point; they see no real Need of Christ; they are not so bad, but that to their own Sense and Feeling, they might be pardoned and saved by the free Mercy of God, without any Mediator. Hence they do not understand the Gospel, 'tis all Foolishness to them. 1 Cor. 2.14.

6. It is a spiritual Sense and firm Belief of the Truths of the Gospel, which encourages the Heart to trust in Christ. Ioh. 6.4 [...]. That the Goodness of God is infinite, and self-moving [...] that Christ, as Mediator, has secured the Honour of God the moral Governour of the World, and opened a Way for the free and honourable Exercise of his [...] ▪ that thro' Christ, God the supreme Governour of the World is actually ready to be reconciled, and invites [Page 393] all, the vilest not excepted, to return to him in [...] These Truths, being spiritually understood and [...], convince the Heart of the Safety of trusting [...] Christ, and encourage it so to do. Heb. 10.19. Mat. 22.4.

7. Saving Faith consists in that entire Trust, Reliance, or Dependance on Jesus Christ the great Mediator, his Sa­tisfaction and Merits, Mediation and Intercession, which the humbled Sinner has, whereby he is embolden'd to re­turn home to God in Hopes of Acceptance, and is encou­raged to look to and trust in God thro' him for that com­pleat Salvation which is offered in the Gospel.— The op­posite to justifying Faith, is a self-righteous Spirit & Tem­per, whereby a Man, from a Conceit of and Reliance upon his own Goodness, is emboldened and encouraged to trust and hope in the Mercy of God. Heb. 10.19.23. <