THE Free Grace of GOD DISPLAYED, IN THE Salvation of Men. BEING TWO ESSAYS, THE ONE On the State and Condition of Men, by CREATION and the FALL; THE OTHER Upon the DOCTRINE of MERIT, Exemplified in the Justification of a Sinner.


LONDON: Printed. BOSTON; Re-printed and Sold by GREEN and RUSSELL in Queen-street, and by P. FREEMAN in Union-street. M.DCC.LVII.

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AT the request of the worthy author of the fol­lowing essays, I have perused them; and observe nothing in them, but what is agreable to the sacred scripture, to the form of sound words, to the analogy of faith, and the doctrine of the gospel; and cannot but be of opinion, that they may be useful to illustrate and confirm the doctrines of grace, to resolve the doubts and remove the difficulties which may attend many with respect to some things herein handled; be­ing wrote with clearness of thought, soundness of judg­ment, and strength of argument: And as such I hear­tily recommend them to the perusal of every enquirer after truth; and that they may be of use to instruct the ignorant, to ease the minds of doubting Christians, to strengthen the weak and establish the wavering in the truth of the gospel, is the hearty desire of him, that wishes well to the souls of men, and to the interest of the Redeemer.

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  • ESSAY I. CHAP. I OF the Creation of Man, and God the Creator, Page 5.
  • CHAP. II. Of the Fall of Man as a voluntary Transgression, and of himself, being his own fault; and of the Liberty of Man's Will, and the Decrees of God being consistent. Page 17.
  • CHAP. III. Contains an answer to the following query, (viz.) Whether any mere creature will stand in the state in which it is created, upon the foot of creation-powers and abilities, without supernatural aids, or confirm­ing grace? Page 25.
  • CHAP. IV. Containing two very evident conclusions, drawn from the foregoing subject. Page 37.
  • ESSAY II. On the Doctrine of Merit. Page 58.


CHAP. I. Of the Creation of Man, and God the Creator.

WHEN God had created the heavens with all their hosts, and the earth with the va­rious creatures in it, the sea and all that therein is, last of all he made man. And God said, let us make man—And the Lord God for­med man out of the dust of the earth, &c. Gen. i. 26. ii. 28.

Man is the crown and glory of this lower creation. Thou hast made man a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honour, &c. Psal. viii. 5. The description holy David gives of the [...] ­mation [Page 6] of man, is very exact and beautiful. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my [...] knoweth right well, Psal. cxxxix. 14.

Query,—If God be the creator and maker of man, and man is born into the world a corrupt creature, both filthy and guilty in his sight, is not he the author of this corruption and depravity? Are not all men, when born into the world, as God made them? Answer: I believe God is the creator of man, both body and soul; every person that comes into the world receives his breath and being from him: I also believe that every son and daughter of Adam is born into the world a corrupt, depraved creature, and guilty in the sight of God, being shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin. And by the offence of one, Judgment came upon all men to condemnation, Psal. li. 5. Rom. v. 18. But God is not the author of that corruption; nor is he unjust in passing the sentence of condemnation upon all mankind, for that first sin of Adam. In some respects it may be said, God is the remote cause of every thing; for in him all live, move, and have their being, Acts xvii. 28. No person can move, or act, but as he is supported and uphold by God, who gives him strength to move and act.

But, the doing an action wrong, is not from God, but the creature, and proceeds from the corruption of human nature. We must distinguish between an action, and the evil of the action; for the same action may be good or bad; good, if done according to the rule, and as God hath commanded; bad, or evil, if done contrary to it.

For instance, speech, or speaking, is an action which may be good or bad; to speak the truth, is a good action; but to speak a falshood, or tell a lie, is an evil [Page 7] one: therefore, though the act may, in some respect, be ascribed to God, yet the evil of the action cannot.

The sun, when it shines upon a dunghill, will ex­hale, or draw from thence, a disagreable smell; now, though the sun be the remote cause of the dunghill's sending forth such a nauseous steam, yet it is not the immediate cause of it; none can justly blame the sun, but the dunghill, which is the chief and immediate cause, being made up of such matter as contains in itself that disagreable smell; the sun only discovers what is in the dunghill, it puts nothing into it.

But, to answer more directly; man's body and soul, as to the essence of both, are from God, and we ought to bless him for all our natural powers and faculties, of body and mind; but should take care we do not ex­alt human nature so as to make a Saviour unnecessary. We must observe, that the corruption of human nature is no part of it; 'tis what cleaves fast to it, but is no part of it; 'tis conveyed by generation, but doth not constitute our being, nor any part of it; it is no part either of the soul, or of the body: Man, before he sin­ned and fell, had the same members of body, and facul­ties of soul, that he hath now. Therefore, God may be and is, the creator of man, both body and soul, and yet not the author of that corruption which cleaves to him, but is no part of him. But, suppose there be a mystery in it, shall we, therefore, deny it? and, because we cannot fully comprehend it, shall we not believe it? Should we take this liberty in some other matters, we must cast away some of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; and, in things natural, must reject some that we know to be true, such as we cannot fully ex­plain the manner of. For instance, is there not a mys­tery in the union of the soul and body? One might [Page 8] ask, how are the soul and body united? By what secret ties and bands are they knit together? When the time, and what the mode of this union, who can conceive or fully explain? And yet who dares deny that so it is?

And is it not equally as evident, that the nature of man is corrupted? or how shall we account for those irregular passions in little children? whence those early buddings of sin, those youthful follies? And are not pain, sickness, and death, the lot of many in their in­fancy, before they have committed actual sin? Would these things be thus, if the nature of man was pure when born into the world? and is it not speaking phi­losophically, when we say, like begets like? and is it not also speaking scripturally, when we ask, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one, Job xiv. 4.

As God made man, so he made him an upright and perfect creature; God never made any thing otherwise than pure and perfect. In the account Moses gives us of the creation in general, he tells us, that God saw it was good, Gen. i. 10, 12. But when God had finished his works, and took a view of them, he pro­nounced All very good, Gen. i. 31. Never any thing came out of God's hand with the least stain or blemish upon it: He is a rock, his work is perfect, Deut. xxxii. 4. God is the author of all rectitude and holi­ness, that is or ever was in angels or men; all the in­dowments Adam had in his innocency, was the bestow­ment of heaven; the purity and rectitude wherewith he was adorned, was a transcript of the divine image. God is the source and fountain of all holiness; and if any of the fallen and sinful race of Adam, have on them the glorious and blessed image of God, it is the Lords work and free donation, Eph. iv. 24. Col. iii. [Page 9] 10. Holiness is in God essentially, but in the creature it is derived; and a rational being may exist without it, as the apostate angels do, and fallen man till he is re­stored: it is what God puts into the creature, a re­semblance to his glorious self; and, it may be truly affirmed, that God cannot make a reasonable being, without making it in his own image. It is no ways marvellous that God, when he makes a rational being, should make it in his own image; but, it is very stu­pendous, that when the creature man had lost the image of God, he should put it on him again. God was at liberty to make man or not, but not at liberty to make him holy or unholy; this were to suppose God capable of erring, and so doing what he hates in others, which were blasphemy once to think: but when man had lost the image of God, he was at li­berty whether he would imprint it on him again; and the imprinting it on any, is an act of his mere sovereign grace and unmerited love.

God made man upright. And God said, let us make man in our own image, after our likeness, &c. Gen. i. 26. It doth not seem consistent with the per­fections of God, that he should make any order or rank of beings, without imprinting on them his image, a resemblance of his moral perfections; endowing them with such powers and abilities, which, if rightly improved, are sufficient to such a creature's standing. And it must be maintained, that Adam had sufficient powers and abilities to stand; it was not for want of power that he fell, but for want of exercising the power he had aright; the same my be affirmed of the fallen angels.

To suppose a creature punished for apostatizing from its maker, it is necessary to suppose also, that [Page 10] that creature had power to stand in the state in which it was made; or otherwise the punishment would not be just; for to punish the creature for a fault it could not avoid, is acting against all reason and justice. But if the creature's apostatizing from the Creator, be the effect of an abuse of the power which the creature had; this being the fault of the creature, may very justly be punished.

Query,—If it be so, that it is unjust to punish a creature for a fault, or faults, it cannot avoid; how then can God in justice punish mankind for their diso­bedience to his law, if man in this present fallen state has lost the power to obey or keep the law, and it does not please God to restore this power, to man again?

Answer: That man has lost the power he once had to keep the law of God, and is now become weak, yea quite void of spiritual strength, is an undeniable truth, if the scriptures are to be taken as a rule of our faith; for thus it is written, For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. And the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God, Rom. v. 6. and viii. 7, 8. And that God will punish the finally disobedient, is as true as the former: For as many as have sinned in the law, shall be jud­ged by the law. God will certainly revenge all diso­bedience,—And the wrath of God will come on the children of disobedience. Rom. ii. 10. 2 Cor. x. 6. Col. iii. 6, And that God is just in punishing the finally disobedient, is also true; for, Shall not the judge of the whole earth do right? Yea, He shall judge the world with (or in) righteousness, and the people with his truth. Is God unrighteous who taketh [Page 11] vengeance?—God forbid, for then how should God judge the world? Gen. xviii. 25. Psal. xcvi. 13. Acts xvii. 31. Rom. iii. 5, 6.

But then we must observe, that the punishment which will be inflicted on the finally disobedient on the judgment day, will not be for unavoidable faults; they will not be condemned for not doing what they could not do; but for not doing the good they might have done, and for wilful sins committed. Those we have an account of in St. Matt. xxv. 41, to 46. that were sent away into everlasting punishment, it was for not doing the good they might have done; for they could have visited the sick and relieved them, but they would not. For though the moral liberty of the will be lost, the natural liberty remains; persons have power to read the word of God, to speak the truth, at­tend divine worship, give alms, &c. And where the gospel is preached, man has power, and ability to be­lieve, or give his assent to it; and unbelief is the con­demning sin. He that believeth not, is condemned al­ready, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotton Son of God. And this is the condem­nation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil, Joh. iii. 18, 19.

But then, persons will not be condemned for not be­lieving in Christ in a right gospel-manner, or for being destitute of true faith, the faith of God's elect; but for not believing in such a way and manner, and so far as they might, according to the revelation made unto them; their faith will be found to come short, far short of what it might have attained unto; had they been dili­gent in reading and searching the word of God, and not have pinn'd that small degree of historical faith which [Page 12] they had, on other men's sleeeves; and so indulging them­selves in idleness, giving more credit to men than to the Lord, and what he hath told them in his holy word. Man hath power to reform from open vice, to be moral­ly sober and just, and to do many things morally good, which he doth not; and, upon this footing, conscience itself will condemn, and very justly too. But as to true evangelical faith in the Son of God, called precious faith, and the faith of God's elect, 2 Pet. i. 1. Tit. i. 2. being given to them, and not to others; this is what none have by nature, nor can it be acquired, (though it comes by hearing) neither can any man have this faith except God give it unto him, Eph. ii. 8. Phil. i. 29. Neither will any person be condemned for the want of such a faith; 'tis unreasonable and un­just to think, or affirm this: there will be enough as matter of condemnation without this, as the wilful o­mission of known duties, and wilful commission of known sins, opposition to Christ and his gospel; for he that knowneth his Lord's will, and doth it not, will be very justly punished; for when the Lord shall be re­vealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flam­ing fire; (it will be) to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, (so far as they might have obeyed it) such shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, 2 Thes. i. 7, 8, 9.

Furthermore, Though it would be unjust to punish a creature fallen from a state of innocency, if the creature had not been endowed with sufficient power to have stood in that state of innocency, and to have kept the law it was placed under; yet, we may very well justify the equity of God's proceeding against [Page 13] fallen man, in punishing him for his disobedience to the law, though he has not power to keep it perfectly in his fallen state. For, as perfect obedience is God's right and due from the creature, so it must be the crea­ture's duty to give it; for though man has lost the power to obey, and is become unable to give God his just due, God has not lost his right and authority over the creature, to command and require it.

The fallen angels have lost the power which once they had to love and obey God; yet, no person, I pre­sume, will affirm, that God has not authority to com­mand them, or that it is not their duty to love and serve him. If the power of the creature (man) was the mea­sure of the creature's obedience, and God required no more of man than he in his fallen state can, or is able to give, then the creature's works would not be great, and God's demands must be but small.

We should consider, that all mankind were included in Adam as their public head and representative, and fell in him, and his loss was their loss. But, perhaps, some may say, what is it to me what Adam did? I never knew him, nor gave my consent to what he did; therefore, what concern have I with Adam? To which I answer; every one that knows himself, has some knowledge of his father Adam, and sensibly (to his grief and sorrow) feels what concern he had in his first transgression, and consequently in his transactions in the garden, antece­dent to his sinning.

I might ask these persons in like manner, what it is to you what Christ did, the second Adam? you never knew him, nor gave your consent to what he did; therefore, what concern have you with him? For, if it be a just and conclusive way of arguing, to exclude ourselves from having any concern in what Adam did, because [Page 14] we never knew him in person, or gave our explicit con­sent to what he did; why should not the argument be as just and conclusive when applied to Christ the second Adam, whom we never knew personally, nor gave our consent to what he did? And it is a question whe­ther those who deny the headship of the first Adam, believe, or care much about, the headship of the se­cond.

Denying the headship of the first Adam, is the way (in my humble opinion) to bring us into greater diffi­culties in accounting for, and clearing the justice of God in his proceedings towards mankind, than owning it. For, do not all mankind suffer upon the account of the first sin, sickness pain and death? Now, I ask, where doth the justice of God appear, in inflicting these things on mankind, if they are innocent? these things come upon many, before they have committed actual sin; for how much do infants, many times undergo, and suffer? and where is the justice of all this, if they are innocent? it cannot be for their own actual sins, for they have none; if it is not for the sin of another, then it is for no sin at all; and whether it is unjust or not to punish an innocent creature, let any man judge. What a contradiction is it, and how shocking doth it appear, to see thousands of poor creatures brought in­to the world, under those deplorable circumstances, with the marks of God's anger upon them, and yet in­nocent? strange! Far be it from the righteous God, that loveth righteousness, to punish the innocent as he doth the guilty!

Again, I ask, is not the curse which was inflicted on our first parents for their first sin, what their posterity share in also? Gen. iii. 16, 17, 18, 19. And unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, [Page 15] and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, &c. Now, I ask, did Eve alone share in this punishment? do not her daughters also bring forth chil­dren in sorrow? And unto Adam he said because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake—thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, &c. Observe, the earth was cursed for Adam's sake, it was cursed for his first sin; and doth not the earth still bring forth thorns and thistles? these things were not only a trouble to Adam, but they are so to his children also. In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life,—in the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread—till thou return unto the ground, &c. Here I ask again, did Adam alone take his part in these e­vils? do not all mankind share in them likewise? are not all subject to labour and sorrow? Now, where is the justice of inflicting all these evils upon mankind, on account of Adam's first sin, if that sin is not imputed unto them? And all those moral evils that affect the soul, (viz.) ignorance and dakrness of mind, impoten­cy and weakness in spiritual things, an aversion to good, a proneness to evil, &c, are likewise the fruits and consequences of the first transgression; Adam's strength was our strength till he lost it.

The death spoken of in Rom. v. 17. as the conse­quence of the first sin, is set in opposition to eternal life. Death (is said) to reign by one man's offence. i e. A­dam's first transgression. For, as the life spoken of in the other part of the verse, is a life of glory in heaven, Reigning in life by one Christ Jesus; the antithesis re­quires death should intend a spiritual and eternal one.

But to conclude this head, from what has been said, [Page 16] we may see, that those who deny the headship of Christ, are unavoidably led into the same error, they fix on those that own it, (viz.) charging God with in­justice. If any will say, it is unjust to punish one man for another man's sin, viz. all mankind for the sake of Adam's sin, and think likewise that it is not right in God to punish man for his disobedience to his holy law, because man has lost the power he once had; let such persons consider, that though it would have been unjust to have punished man for his apostacy, in case he had not been endowed with sufficient power to have kept the law he was under; yet the case is different with respect to fallen man: for though man in his pre­sent fallen state has not power to keep the law of God, yet he has ability to do more moral good than he doth, and to abstain from many moral evils which he doth not; and therefore, upon his own account, may be very justly punished for his disobedience to the law, and his opposition to the gospel. And also the justice of God is evident in punishing mankind with natural and moral evils upon Adam's account; as they were con­sidered in him as their head and representative; and the justice of God shines forth with brighter rays in this scheme than in the other. For, if Adam's sin is not imputed to us, then all we suffer before we commit actual sin, we undergo and suffer as innocent. But ac­knowledging the headship of Adam, the justice of God is cleared with reference to all we suffer, as the con­sequence of the first transgression: we being included in him, and as a part of him, it is but just and reasona­ble we should share the same fate he did; and as to justice and equity of this constitution, none can doubt, that considers it was the righteous God that had the settling and ordering of the whole affair.

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CHAP. II. Of the Fall of Man as a voluntary Transgression, and of himself, being his own fault; and of the Liberty of Man's Will, and the Decrees of God being consistent.

THE fall of man was of himself; it was a wilful transgression, that might have been avoided; that Adam fell therefore was intirely his own fault; he was made upright, but he turned aside. Man being in honour did not abide long; how long is uncertain: it was long enough to know what he enjoyed, that when he fell he was sensible what he had lost. Some men have affirmed, that God ordained the fall of man; but others have denied it, and find fault with such an asser­tion as being too harsh, and as making God the imme­diate cause of the fall, and author of sin.

But though to say God ordained the fall of man, may sound harsh in the ears of such as perhaps under­stand but little about the decrees of God, and the way and manner in which they are executed; yet I ask where lies the evil, or harshness of this proposition, (God ordained the fall?) some persons may be so ignorant as to think, that what God ordains shall be, he is the agent to effect, and the immediate cause thereof; but it is not always so, for wicked men, when they are doing their own work, and the will and work of the devil; they are at the same time fulfilling the righteous de­crees of God. This is undeniable in the Jews put­ting to death our blessed Lord. None will affirm that [Page 18] God was the immediate cause of perpetrating that wick­ed act; it would be blasphemy so to say: and yet none can deny (who believes the word of God) that the death of Christ was fore-ordained of God; for thus it is written,—Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have crucified and slain—For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel, determined (before) to be done, Acts ii. 23. iv. 27, 28.

I might ask, is there any thing cometh to pass with­out God's ordination? If so, then it must be what he hath no concern with; for whatsoever God doth either immediately by himself alone, or mediately, i. e. what he permits to be done by means and instruments, is what he first purposes shall be done. For, whatsoever God permits to be, he first ordains shall be, having or­dained, he permits; if it were not so, it would follow, that God permits some things to be, which he never purposed or ordained should be, which must be false and absurd. Besides, it should be observed, that as permission includes the ways, means, and instruments, which effect and bring to pass what is permitted, these can't exist, much less operate and move, without the will and pleasure of God they should. If any person should ask, where then is the difference between God's ordaining and permitting? I answer, the difference is not so great perhaps as some may imagine; the word permit, or permission, is proper enough; but as it stands in such near connection with the word ordain, we must take care not to admit wrong ideas.

That permission conveys a different idea from the [Page 19] word ordain, is evident. For, the word permit, or per­mission, refers to the execution of God's decrees, and what he is not the immediate cause of; for what he has decreed to be done, that is, effected by himself, without means and instruments, cannot come under the notion of permission; but when he accomplisheth his decrees by means and instruments, he is said to permit; he permits it to be done.

Thus it may be truly said, God permitted the death of Christ; for, every circumstance relating thereunto was permitted; he permitted Pilate to condemn him, and the Jews to crucify him: but this doth not sup­pose the death of Christ was not fore-ordained, but ra­ther implies it was. Permission seems to me to include in it a purpose of mind to permit. When Agrippa said unto Paul thou art permitted to speak for thyself, Acts xxvi. 1. must we not suppose that Agrippa first came to a determination in his own mind, that Paul should have liberty to speak and make his defence; and having de­termined, he permits? We should consider God may or­dain a thing to be done, and not be a doer of it him­self; but it is effected by means and instruments as they fall out in their common way of working.

And though God is not the auther of sin, neither doth he approve it as a thing agreeable to his nature; yet we must grant (except we deny the universal pro­vidence of God) that all means and second causes are under his direction, and that the whole course of nature moves on in a direct line, as it was at first fix'd, accord­ing to the original laws of nature; or, as it was the good will and pleasure of God it should; and his will is the same as at the beginning: otherwise he could alter the course of nature, or put a stop to the whole in a moment. And one would think, if the purpose, [Page 20] or decree of God may (as we know it may) be ex­tended to the crucifying of the son of God; so un­just, barbarous, inhuman, and bloody an act (for by wicked hands he was crucified and slain;) I say, if it be granted (and who dares deny it?) that his was fore-ordained by God, surely there can be no danger in extending his decrees to any thing else. For, nothing can be so horribly impious as the crucifying of the only begotten son of God, the prince of life slain and hanged on a tree! And yet, all that Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews did, was what the hand and counsel of God had before determined should be done, Acts iv. 27, 28.

We must also consider, that the decrees of God, in the Execution of them, no ways infringe the liberty of the creature's will: this is evident in the case of Joseph's being sold (by his brethren) into Egypt; his brethren acted as free agents; it was a wicked act in them, proceeding from hatred and envy; and yet it was what God had appointed, or determined should be, in order to bring about and accomplish many and great things, both in providence and grace. God sent me (saith Joseph) before you to preserve life&And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you that sent me hither, but God, Gen. xlv. 5, 7, 8.

This thing is no less evident, in the revolt of the ten tribes, which was a voluntary transgression in them; and yet, when Rehoboam was going to fight against Israel, That he might bring the Kingdom again to Re­hoboam, the Lord forbid him, and sent Shemaiah, the man of God, saying, thus saith the Lord, ye shall not go up, to fight against your brethren, return every [Page 21] man to his house, for this thing is done of me, 2 Chron. xi. 1, 2, 3, 4.

The same thing is equally plain in the death of Christ. And these are but a few of the many instances which might be produced out of the word of God, proving these two things. First, that what God per­mits, he first ordains. Secondly, that neither the de­crees of God, nor the execution of them, infringe the liberty of man's will.

Sometimes God himself is the immediate agent to effect his own purposes, and in the execution of them makes use of no means or instruments, as in the crea­tion of the world, the resurrection of the dead, &c. And whenever his purposes are executed by good and lawful means, he is the chief cause, though instruments be imployed; but, when the purposes of God are exe­cuted by means which in themselves are not good, God is not the chief cause; he permits it so to be.

And things which are in themselves sinful, are per­mitted to be done; the doing of which is an accomplish­ment of God's decrees, as the instances before named manifest; (viz) the selling Joseph into Egypt; the revolt of the ten tribes; and the crucifying of Christ: all which were in themselves sinful; and yet the doing of them was the executing, or fulfilling of God's eter­nal counsel, particularly the crucifying of Christ; which was not only the accomplishment of God's eter­nal counsel, concerning the death of Christ in particu­lar, but led on towards the effecting all those things which God had purposed concerning the salvation of his chosen people; looking backward or forward, all center in the death of Christ.

That God foreknew from eternity, all creatures and actions, even the most contingent, will, I presume, be [Page 22] granted by all that believe divine revelation. And from the foreknowledge of God may be argued the certain future existence of whatsoever was foreknown. For whatsoever is foreknown by God, or viewed as existing, which yet is future, must exist in time, according as it was foreknown, or viewed before time; or, the fore­knowledge of God would not be certain: for as nothing can exist that is future, without being first viewed, or foreknown by God, must necessarily exist in time; or God would be liable to be deceived, and which must be the case, if any thing was foreknown by God as what would be in time, and yet did not exist.

But this necessity of existence, puts nothing into the creature, when it existeth; it is not thereby impelled, or forced to act in the manner it doth: neither doth the foreknowledge of God alter the nature of any creature or action, whether good or bad; but considers things barely in the mode and manner in which they exist in time: and whatsoever is foreknown by God as what would exist in a certain way, 'tis his will and pleasure to permit it so to exist; and this permission must include in it, a purpose to permit. For what God foreknows before time, that comes to pass in time; he either determines within himself to permit the same to come pass, or he doth not; if the latter, (viz) if he doth not determine to permit it to come to pass, then his foreknowledge and his decrees are at odds; but if the former, i. e. if he did determine to permit, then it will follow, that permission includes in it, or stands in close connection with, a purpose as antecedent to permission.

As every thing, i.e. very creature, circumstance, and action, which exist in time, were before time taken up in the great Jehovah's all-comprehending mind; and as nothing of all that was foreknown could [Page 23] take place, without his will and pleasure it should; therefore, to suppose any thing falls out contrary to his intention, or what was his secret will should not be, is to deny his omnipotency; although at the same time it may be prohibited in his revealed will; which is no contradiction: for when God wills to permit things that are in themselves sinful, it is not as approving of them considered in their nature as sinful, for God doth not absolutely will evil considered in itself as a thing repugnant to his holy nature; but he wills it with re­ference to other views and ends; so that what God prohibits in his revealed will, as things contrary to his holy and pure nature, he in his secret will determines to permit for wise and good ends, which he can, and will, accomplish thereby.

Thus with respect to the sin and fall of man, and the crucifying of Christ; things that are sinful, and forbidden in God's revealed will, being contrary to his holy nature, and what he could not approve of; yet we see it was his secret will these things should so come to pass; and had so purposed within himself before the foundation of the world; and that his ends and views in all this were wise and good, none can question that understands and believes what he reads in the word of God. Therefore to say it was the will and pleasure of God to permit Adam to fall, and that it is his will and pleasure to permit (or suffer, which is the same) whatso­ever falls out and comes to pass in the world, is ex­pressing fully my meaning, and what I intend.

Therefore, if any man like not this way of expressi­on, (viz.) God ordained the fall, he may have it in the following terms, (viz.) It was the good will and plea­sure of God to permit Adam to fall.—And which is the softest and best way of expression; but then it must be [Page 24] observed, that the good will and pleasure of God can­not be separated from his eternal purpose, but is the very same thing in other words, as may be seen in Eph. i. 5, 9.

Thus we see God permitted man to sin and fall; he suffered the Devil to tempt him, to seduce and over­come him. But the sin and fall of Adam, and the wickedness committed in the world since, must be con­sidered with this difference; namely, there is in fallen man a deficiency, a want of strength to stand against Satan and his temptations, which was not the case with reference to Adam; he had power to resist and over­come the temptation: God permitted innocent man to fall into sin, and he permits sinful man to go on in sin.

It was not a precarious thing with God whether Adam would stand or fall; as is evident from the early provision he made for man's recovery, laying the plan of man's salvation in the death of his own Son. This scheme of man's redemption from sin, supposed his falling into it; and the model of this was drawn, and the whole affair settled before man was made. The Mediator was set up from everlasting—and a people chosen in him before the foundation of the world; and grace treasured up in the Mediator's hand for all the elect, before the world began, Prov. viii. 22, to 32. Eph. 1. 4. 2 Tim. 1. 9.

From what has been said, I hope it is evident, that the fall of man was from himself; it was a wilful trans­gression; he could not justly blame any but himself. And yet, previous to this, we may say, it was the good will and pleasure of God to permit or suffer it so to be; but this no ways affected the will of Adam, no not in the least, so as to lay any necessity upon it; neither doth it ever affect the will of any creature in this sense.

[Page 25]

CHAP. III. Contains an answer to the following query, (viz.) Whether any mere creature will stand in the state in which it is created, upon the foot of creation-powers and abilities, without supernatural aids, or confirm­ing grace?

THE subject of this chapter will be to enquire in­to the nature of all created beings, and conse­quently that of man in the state of innocence.

The question before us is not, whether an innocent creature can stand, but whether it will? I shall take the liberty to search into this query, not to satisfy cu­riosity, but to find out, as far as I can, the truth; it will help us to see the nature of all created beings; and if we find the answer in the negative; if it be no more than strongly probable, that no creature will stand upon the foot of creation-abilities, then it will lead our thoughts to the special love of God, securing, by a righ­teous and gracious decree, the happiness of elect men and angels. The state of the question, is (not whether an innocent creature can stand, for that is out of all question, but) whether any mere creature will stand, in that state in which it is created, upon the foot of cre­tion-powers and abilities, without supernatural aids, or confirming grace? I shall lay it down for a truth that none will, or, that 'tis at least exceeding probable, that no mere creature will stand and persevere long, without being confirmed by the special grace of God. For the proof of this, I shall produce the following argu­ments.

[Page 26]I. The first argument shall be taken from matter of fact; the fall of man and angels. These we know did not stand in the state in which they were made; they had power to stand, but did not: as to those an­gels which did not fall, their standing is not owing to creation-powers and abilities, but electing grace: they are called the elect angels, I Tim. v. 21.

Perhaps some men may think, they were elected after they had given sufficient proof of their fidelity, and had the rest done the same, they would also have been elected. To which I answer, this is not so much as probable, for two reasons; for, First, this would make election according to works, which would have given room for boasting, and is contrary to God's pro­ceedings in other cases, namely, the election of men, Rom. xi. 5. which is, according to grace. Secondly, then they must have stood the time of their trial, which 'tis evident they had not; for, as we must conclude, the angels were all created at once, were all of one species or nature, so the time of their probation must be the same; and those that fell had not stood the full time of their trial, for then they would not have fallen: but they fell short of the limits set them, that is, of persevering to the end. And why did not the others fall? I answer, because they were elected, antecedent to, or before the others fell; or, why are they called elect? Those that fell are not so or, what can this term, (elect) mean if it mean not that these were se­cured by election from falling? Besides, it should be observed, that election refers to a part; had the an­gels all stood the full time of their trial, they might have been confirmed—but not elected: it would not have been proper to have called them the elect angels; election being a taking a part out of the whole, Deut. [Page 27] vii. 6, 7. Rom. xi. 5. We may therefore conclude, that had it not been for electing grace, the now holy and happy angels had fell as their fellows did; and I make no question but they know this, and are deeply affected with it; angels as well as men will bless God for electing grace! Perhaps it may be said, that man, if he had not had a tempter, might have stood. I answer, it cannot be proved that he would have stood, supposing he had no external temper; the contrary is much more probable, as the angels (except the elect) did fall, who had not (at least, not all of them) any external temper, and what angels did, man might have done. However, as angels and man did not stand, and we know not that God hath made any other order, or rank of rational and intellectual beings which have stood upon the foot of creation-powers and abilities, the conclusion from hence, that no creature will stand must carry in it at least a strong probability.

II. The second argument is taken from the neces­sary dependance of the creature on the Creator, for the continuation of it's happiness, and the liableness there is of the creature's getting off from that dependance, and so losing its happiness.

As all creatures must be dependant on their creator, for the whole of their happiness, both as to the thing itself, and the continuance of it; there may be, for a­ny thing I can see, a very great liableness of getting off from their dependance; the consequence of which must be the loss of their happiness. In which case there is nothing withheld (by God) from the creature, but 'tis the creature withdraws and gets off from its creator, the consequence of which must be apostacy. This was A­dam's case, so long as his dependance was firm he [Page 28] stood; but no sooner did he hearken to the tempter but it affected his dependance: every inch of ground the devil* got here, was of the greatest prejudice to Adam; his dependance upon God being gradually wea­kened, till he gave more heed to what the tempter said, than to what God said, and this was the fatal blow; no sooner had Satan gained this point, but his work was done.

Had Adam been upon his guard in the exercise of those powers he was endowed with, and cleaved fast to God's word, the enemy had not prevailed.

Now, what Adam did, another creature might do, and angels did. Therefore, as all creatures must be dependent upon their creator for their happiness, and their continuance of it; and can stand and enjoy it no longer than they cleave fast to God and his holy word; I see not why a mere creature may not be exceeding liable to fall; and it is at least very probable, a crea­ture without supernatural aids will fall.

III. The third argument shall be drawn from the nature of all created essences, and mere creature-abili­ties, as being liable to change.

No being is, or can be, by creation, unchangeable; no created essence hath this property belonging to it, [Page 29] by virtue of its creation: God alone (who is an un­created essence) is unchangeable. I am the Lord, I change not, Mal. iii. 6.

All creatures are mutable and liable to change, though they be the most excellent; for, if you suppose a creature of the highest rank, blest with created powers and abilities to the highest degree possible, yet 'tis but a creature, and no more▪ could we suppose a mere creature unchangeable by nature, it would no longer be a crea­ture, but God. It is true, God can put a creature in­to a fix'd state, as the elect angels are and as saints will be in heaven: but this will be owing to the special grace of God confirming them in that blessed state; and not to any natural powers and abilities in themselves: 'tis an act of sovereign grace, and must be resolved in­to that glorious and irreversible decree which he hath past, that so it shall be. Therefore from the nature of all created beings, arises a strong presumption that no mere creature will stand long upon the foot of crea­tion-abilities, without super-added strength, or confirm­ing grace.

IV. The fourth argument shall be grounded on the liableness there is in all created beings to err.

It is a question; whether any mere creature from its creation-powers and abilities can be exempted from a liableness to err, and that for two reasons, (1.) One reason of this is, the creature's knowledge must be bounded; for that knowledge which is not infinite must have bounds; but a creature's knowledge is not infinite, therefore has bounds. From hence arises a liableness to err, not knowing (always) certainly, what may be the event of such or such a course if taken by the creature. A creature may be perfect in know­ledge, [Page 30] i. e. be as perfect in knowledge as the nature of the creature will admit of, but its knowledge cannot reach to all that is future. I do not say, a creature cannot be exempted from erring; for it is evident elect angels are, and the saints will be in heaven; but this is not to be ascribed to creature-abilities, but to the grace of God confirming them in that state where it is impossible they should err. God alone is the only wise,—infinite in knowledge; and one reason why God cannot err, is, because he knows all things; whatsoever is future, he seeth from the beginning to the end; his knowledge hath no bounds.

Adam was as knowing as such a creature could be; but 'tis a question whether he certainly knew what would be the consequence of eating the forbidden fruit: suppose he knew that death would follow (which he might know from the threatning) did he know what death was? or was he capable of knowing to the full extent the evil and misery would follow? or did he believe (when he took and eat) what was con­tained in the prohibition, Thou shalt surely die? (May we not conclude, that not only Eve's faith, but Adam's also, was weakened, if not quite destroyed, with refer­ence to God's word, and when credit was given to what the serpent said, Ye shall not surely die. And it should be considered, whether sin be not always pursued under the notion of some good. In Gen. iii. 7 'tis said, after they had eat, the eyes of them both were opened, &c. Not only the woman's eyes, but the man's also; there­fore Adam's eyes were not opened before he eat the forbidden fruit: for what can be meant by the open­ing of the eyes, but seeing and knowing what he did not before (viz.) to discern between good and evil; seeing the difference, and experimentally feeling the [Page 31] sad consequences of eating the forbidden fruit; They knew that they avere naked. Not only that their bo­dies wanted cloathing, but they knew that their souls were naked, stript of those excellencies which they had before, i. e. the image of God. Had Adam known certainly what would have followed upon eating—then it might be said his eyes were open before he eat; which is contrary to the express words of the text—She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them were opened, and they knew that they were na­ked &c. Gen. iii. 6, 7.

Thus we see there is a liableness to err, arising from the creature's knowledge being bounded.

II. This liableness to err, ariseth also from innocent nature being capable of seduction. Though there was nothing, in the innocent nature of man, nor angels, that naturally led on towards apostacy, yet that, that upright principle which was in innocent nature was liable to be corrupted, or, take a wrong and sinful bias, is evident, in that it did so, both in man and angels: and when that innate principle, which is the governing principle in the soul, is corrupted, then the creature can no longer stand, but must fall, nay is fallen. And may we not conclude, that this innate principle in man and angels included in it a very peculiar taste of true greatness and honour. This principle lay in the soul, till the tempta­tion came which drew it out; but then there must be such a principle in nature, or it could not have been drawn out. And is not this very apparent from this consideration, (viz.) that it was honour and preferment the devil made use of as the lure or bait; that which seemed to prevail was this, Ye shall be as Gods.

[Page 32]'Tis true, this is what the Devil in the serpent saith to Eve; but then, as the woman was the Devil's in­strument to tempt Adam, is it not very reasonable to think that she made use of the same way in tempting her husband as the serpent had done in tempting of her? That she used some arguments with him is very plain from Gen. iii. 17. where Adam is charged by the Lord with hearkening to the voice of his wife. And 'tis observable, that the honour and preferment proposed by the serpent, was under the colour of true greatness and honour; as there can be no greater honour than to be a God, Ye shall be as Gods. Now had there been no such principle in innocent nature, it may be enquired, whether this temptation would have had any hold. And what further confirms this to me is, the account we have of the woman before she eat, Gen. iii. 6. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took, &c. Observe, she saw the tree was good—a tree to be de­sired to make one wise, &c. Or, as it is in some versions, A pleasant tree to give understanding—or, a tree to be desired to get knowledge, &c.

I do not suppose this principle was corrupt, or sinful, but pure and holy, 'till it took a wrong bias, and was indulged beyond its proper bounds. And it is exceed­ing probable to me, that Satan knew there was such a principle in innocent man which might be drawn forth to aspire after greatness, &c.

I do not suppose but Adam was perfectly well satis­fied in the state in which he was placed; he had no uneasy propensities, or longings after more knowledge: but what I say is, that it appears to me very plain, that there was such a principle in innocent nature, which [Page 33] being touch'd, would immediately catch fire, if a strict watch and guard were not kept over it. And the sparks of temptation being by the Devil cast upon this tender and delicate part of the soul, presently took fire; and thus man inwardly burned with restless and sinful de­sires after forbidden knowledge: but this was after the temptation had taken hold of him, and that innate prin­ciple was corrupted, which before was a main part of the glory of human nature. And it is very reasonable to think, that Satan knew, or at least, might imagine there was such a principle in innocent man; as there was, I make no question, such an innate principle in the angels, which they that fell abused to their ruin: and they might very reasonably conclude upon the se­duction of man in the same way; accordingly the Devil tries the experiment, and finds his account in it.

That there was a likeness between the fall of man and angels, is evident enough, in that pride was the cause of both; as may be seen in comparing, Gen. iii. 5. with 1 Tim. iii. 6. There is this difference, as some may think, (viz.) that Adam had a tempter, but the angels had none. That Adam had a Tempter is unde­niable, but that the fallen angels had none is not so evi­dent. I do not suppose they (at least not all of them) had any other tempter, but as they might be their own tempters; so that though they had no external tempter, as man had, they might have an internal one; or one, or a few might fall first, and tempt and seduce the rest; as Eve was first seduced by the serpent, and then the means of drawing the man into rebellion: so one of the chief of those spirits might rebel first, and then se­duce the rest, and so the most had a tempter, if not tempters: (viz.) Beelzebub the chief of the Devils, Luke xi. 15. Or possibly they might be their own tempters, by raising in their minds forbidden ideas, [Page 34] which being raised, and indulged, became a snare to them. And had not Adam indulged something of this kind, the external temptation had not hurt him, Be­tween the fall of man and angels, it may be thought, there is on man's side this favourable circumstance (viz) the external temptation, this might be a means of ex­citing in him those forbidden ideas: But if he had not had an external temptation, he might have erred as the angels did. Some persons may call this mere conjec­ture, things that are not revealed. To which I answer, the fall of man and angels is revealed, Gen. iii. John viii. 44. Jude 6. And I think it must be lawful, and in some respects commendable, to draw from things re­vealed the most evident and rational conclusions, guard­ed against positive assertions: whether these conclusi­ons I have drawn, and laid down, are the most evident and rational, is left to serious and pious consideration.

But to conclude this subject, Adam stood as a pro­bationer, and there must be something as the test of his obedience; this we are told was a tree bearing fruit standing in the midst of the garden, called, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Gen. ii. 9, 17. Now there being such an innate principle in innocent nature, which on the first notice, or hint, was liable to be drawn forth in aspiring after honour and preferment, or being more knowing and wise; this tree was a test of Adam's obedience; prohibiting him from any new and curious enquiries after hidden things. And here it was Adam should have been perpetually upon his guard, and not have suffered that innate principle to rebel, but kept within its prescribed limits. For the ultimate end of this innate principle was to glorify God, in shewing man's just subjection to his makers righteous commands. This was Adam's paradise, this his bounds; and with­in [Page 35] these sacred limits he was to dwell; contemplating the perfections of his creator, and those excellent en­dowments wherewith he himself was blest. As it must afford a very peculiar joy, yea, give the most refined and exalted pleasures to innocent man, beholding him­self adorned with the bright image of his maker; and the purest joys must sweetly flow into his soul, when turning his eyes from himself to view the grand origin­al, the fountain from whence he had received his be­ing, and all the embelishments of nature: and this could not fail of producing in him the most unfeign­ed thanks and gratitude to his great and liberal bene­factor. And here it was Adam should have rested him­self contented, in this delightful, clear, and assimilat­ing sight of the great Jehovah. But, giving way of as­piring thoughts, seeking after a false greatness was his ruin; suffering that innate, and powerful principle, to take a wrong turn. If he had sought after honour, it should have been in the exercise of the powers of nature, in such a way as was consistent with his de­pendance upon, and rightful obedience to his great creator.

Had any thing been proposed by God as a motive to honour and preferment, may we not conclude that, that innate principle in innocent nature, would immediately have taken the hint, and been as quick and powerful in its operation in seeking after true greatness. For, the preferment sought after was under the colour of true greatness, Ye shall be as gods. Had they cer­tainly known, that instead of being as Gods, they should be like Devils; is it so much as probable they would have taken and eat? for as the woman, so the man also affected Deity*. And I think, of all expedients that [Page 36] could be found out, to turn man into a Devil, none more proper than to tempt him to aspire to be a God.

And as it may be a question, whether Satan could have prevailed (so well) any other way; so, it may be enquired, whether he could have done it this way, if the nature of man, in the state of innocency, had not been endowed with a very peculiar and delicate taste of true greatness.

But here lay the mischief, in mistaking a false great­ness for a true one; it was very unlikely, nay, im­possible to obtain this end, in going contrary to the ex­press word of God: and this they soon saw; and by sor­rowful experience found they were deceived, and instead of rising to honour and prefrement, they sunk down into poverty, disgrace, and shame. Now, from the liableness there is of this innate principle of rectitude in innocent nature being corrupted, arises a very great improbabili­ty of any meer creature's standing on the foot of cre­ation-powers and abilities, without super-added strength, &c.

In all that I have said in answer to this query (viz.) whether any meer creature will stand the time allotted for trial, on the foot of creation-abilities&without su­per-added strength, or confirming grace; I have not positively affirmed, none will stand upon such a foot­ing, but that there is a very great probability none would, and to this opinion my mind strongly inclines.

Since man did not stand upon the foot of creation-abilities, nor the angels, and as we know not of any other creatures that God hath made that have stood; for all created beings must be dependant upon their creator for their happiness, and are not exempted by their creation from a very great liability of getting off from their dependance, and so losing their happiness; [Page 37] and as all created essences, and meer creature-abilities are liable to change, and the highest rank of creatures may err, as their knowledge must be bounded, and in­nocent nature itself is capable of seduction. But the creature's fall is from itself; both angels and man had sufficient power to stand: it was altogether man's fault; he was made upright, but they sought out many inven­tions. That proved their ruin, and brought sin, and sorrow; and death upon themselves and their posterity. And, was this but thoroughly considered, (viz.) the consequence of the creatures having their happiness in their own hands, and at their own dispose, to keep or lose; one would think no man would desire such a jewel in his own keeping.

CHAP. IV. Containing two very evident conclusions, drawn from the foregoing subject.

TWO very evident conclusions drawn from what has been said in the foregoing chapters, shall conclude this discourse.

(1.) Conlusion—If the continuance of the creature's happiness, when it depends upon the creature itself, be so very uncertain, as we see it is; then we may con­clude, that the happiness of fallen, sinful man, cannot be certain upon any other foot, or foundation, than that of God's eternal and immutable counsel, securing the same by covenant in his own dear Son.

For, if man and angels (except the elect) lost their creation-happiness; if when they were in possession of [Page 38] it, they did not keep it; how very unlikely (might I not say impossible) is it for man himself to obtain ever­lasting happiness? The salvation of any of the fallen race of Adam cannot certainly be concluded upon from the supposed free agency of man. If the whole, as to the event and final issue, be left to turn upon the will of the creature; and if it be entirely in man's power to win or lose heaven; then what certainty can there be, that any will possess eternal life? The creature's will is changeable; and what the creature-abilities, and common assistances, when set in opposition to the diffi­culties and enemies that obstruct and hinder persons in their seeking after happiness in a future state? But on this foundation (viz.) that God hath taken this great affair into his own hands, and laid up, or deposited our happiness in the hands of the faithful mediator; from hence 'tis certain, that some of the fallen race of Adam will possess and enjoy it; for God said, A seed shall serve him (i. e. the mediator) it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. And he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied, and by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities, Psal. xxii. 30. Isa. liii. 10, 11. It is not an uncertain thing whether God's elect, true be­lievers, shall enjoy eternal life. For God that cannot lie, promised them eternal life in Christ Jesus, before the world began. And he is faithful that hath promised, who also will do it, Tit. i. 2. Heb. x. 23. 1 Thes. v. 23, 24.

Heaven is prepared for true believers, and they are preserved unto it. Christ as their forerunner is gone to prepare mansions for them. And the kingdom of glory [Page 39] shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. And Christ will come again, and receive his own unto him­self, that where he is, they may be also, Matt. xxv. 34. Jud. i. 2 Tim. iv. 8. Heb. vi. 20. John xiv. 2, 3. Matt. xx. 23.

O! what a blessed foundation is here to rest eternal life and happiness upon! But on the foot of works, or the free will of the creature, all must be at a great un­certainty: suppose it was in the power of man, with that divine, or super-added assistance which is common to all where the gospel comes, to rise up and stand up­on his feet, yet even then how very unlikely is it that he should stand, and persevere long, if his standing de­pended upon himself, and what he could do? And was I to put it upon this foot (viz.) that man is pure by nature, and that Christ hath done enough for all men to answer the disadvantages they receive by the fall; even then it is very uncertain whether any would ob­tain eternal life; for if Adam lost his happiness, why may not man, fallen man, lose his? Nay, were we to suppose the present state of man every way as good as Adam's was in innocency, even then also it would be uncertain, whether any would continue long in such a state: for why may not mankind fall as well as Adam? He lost his paradise, and 'tis at least exceeding proba­ble, the children will tread in their fathers steps, and lose their paradise too. I think none can imagine that mankind in their fallen state have any thing superior to what Adam had, or enjoyed in innocency; and we see that putting things upon a level, the happiness of man must be very uncertain, and precarious; for Adam lost his happiness, (I mean his creation-happiness) and we know that mankind may lose theirs, except man or his present state be better than Adam's was. But the truth [Page 40] is, the present state of man is far worse than that before the fall; the powers of man are not only weak­ened, but man in his natural state is dead in trespasses and sins; destitute of spiritual strength, averse to good, and prone to evil, &c. An universal recovery, is no recovery at all; for it being conditional, the perfor­mance of these conditions, (viz.) faith, repentance, and sincere obedience, are out of the power of man; and if we suppose them within the power of man, still 'tis very uncertain whether they will be performed. But by God's taking this great and important affair in­to his own hand, the happiness of man is thereby put upon such a foot as cannot miscarry: and thus the hap­piness of true believers depends entirely on the sove­reign free grace of God in Christ Jesus: which was one main thing I had in view, in enquiring into the na­ture of all created beings; and which is so noble a sub­ject, so full of the most solid peace, and lasting joy, as cannot fail of raising up our admiring thoughts, and fix­ing our delightful contemplations on the everlasting love of God in Christ Jesus! the source and fountain of all our happiness. Thus we see the happiness of fallen man is not certain, or cannot certainly be con­cluded on, upon any other foot, or foundation, than that of God's eternal purpose, securing the same by covenant in his own dear Son.

And, which must imply also, that eternal life and happiness cannot be obtained by works, or any thing the creature can do. For, this seems a clear conse­quence, (viz.) If our happiness be secured in the co­venant made with Christ (according to the conclusion above) then it cannot rest upon works. For, as Adam when he had his creation-happiness in his own hand, to keep or lose▪ did not keep, but lose it; 'tis very unlike­ly [Page 41] that God should put it upon the same footing again, (viz.) works. Adam's happiness, as to the circum­stances of it, was conditional; the covenant was, do this and live; or, if not, die.

But the happiness we are to seek after, as 'tis not in our keeping, nor are we in the actual possession of it; so neither is it promised unto us on condition of any thing done by us in order to purchase it; but it is laid up in the free promise of God; and this promise (of eternal life) as all others are, is in Christ Jesus, yea and a­men, to the glory of God by us.

A condition and a free promise are contrary one to the other, as may be seen in Gal. iii. 18. For if the inheritance be of the law (or works) it is no more of promise but God gave it to Abraham by promise. And that the promise of eternal life is a free promise, who can question? For was it not an act of God's, sovereign good will and pleasure to make such a promise to sinful creatures, who deserve eternal wrath? And 'tis beneath God to promise eternal life (the greatest thing he could promise) on such a mean condition as a poor imperfect obedience of the creature, thus to hang so glorious a prize on so mean a condition, and so expose heaven to sale. No, eternal life is the gift of God through Je­sus Christ our Lord. Not by works of righteousness which we (who are true believers) have done, but ac­cording to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. 'Tis, they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ, Rom. vi. 23. Tit. iii. 5. Rom. v. 17.

Works and grace, law and promise, cannot agree to­gether; 'tis either by the one, or else by the other; they cannot be blended together: heaven is either the [Page 42] free gift of God, what he hath promised to man for the sake of what Christ hath done, without the considera­tion of any thing done by man as a condition to obtain it; or, 'tis promised to man upon condition of doing what is enjoined him as a duty: if the former, then works are excluded; but if the latter, then grace is excluded. A thing cannot be said to be freely given, if it be given on conditions; if the person to whom it is given be tied up to the performance of something to be done, the doing of which work or service being the condition of his en­joying what was promised, cuts off the freeness of the promise: 'tis not a free promise, but a conditional one. And this is what people in common understand; for if you offer to give a person any thing, and at the same time insist upon his doing you a little piece of service, he will plainly see, though it was in some respects a gift, yet in no respect a free gift. Therefore to make hea­ven a free gift, 'tis necessary to cut off all conditions. To say heaven is free gift, because there is no pro­portion between what we do, and what we receive, is say­ing nothing to the purpose: for, if I promise a man double wages for his work when he hath done it the wages is due, and doing the work is what procures the reward: it becomes due when the work is done, and not before.

'Tis true, there must be something wrought in, and done by those that inherit eternal life; those that enter into the kingdom of glory are such as are born of God, having true faith wrought in them, that faith which is of the operation of God; precious faith; the faith of God's elect; that works by love, and purifieth the heart, Col. ii. 12. Tit. i. 2. Gal. v. 5.

But then, these works, or fruits, that proceed from faith, and as done by the believer, are not conditions of life: the believer doth not obey God expecting up­on [Page 43] that account to enter into glory. The obedience which springs from faith, follows after a person in some sense enjoys eternal life, not after he is put in actual possession of it; but after he hath had the fore­tastes of it. For, he that believeth on Christ hath ever­lasting life, John iii. 36. He hath it in the promise, and in hope; he hath it in his expectation and experience; he hath the earnest of everlasting life. For faith is the substance of things hop'd for, the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. As to faith, that is the gift of God, therefore cannot be a condition; and the acting of faith, and the fruits thereof, are no conditions, being the works of God; I mean that he is not only the author, but the finisher of faith. And good works are what follow after a person hath received the deed of conveyance, where­by the crown and kingdom are made sure to the believer; Christ being in him the hope of glory. Suppose you bestow a great favour on an enemy, and he having received it, is convinced of his evil in behav­ing in such a manner towards you as he hath done in time past; your kindness melts his heart, and his hatred is now turned into love, and he is ready to do you all the service he can. Now what he doth is not a con­dition to obtain your favour, having no reason to think you are his enemy; and as when you first bestowed your favour upon him he was your enemy, his obedi­ence goeth not before, but follows after he received the favour; and therefore cannot be a condition of his ob­taining it, but a fruit and consequent of his receiving it. So in the case before us; the elect, as well as others, are by nature enemies to God, and he finds them so when he comes to bestow this great favour (eternal life) upon them, in giving them the earnest thereof, Eph. ii. 1, 8. Col. i. 21. When salvation is made known, and [Page 44] applied to the soul, there is a thorough conviction of sin, the heart is melted down into holy contrition, 'tis won over to the Lord, it is made willing in the day of his power, Psa. cx. 3. The man that before was an enemy to God, is now his friend, and filled with love to him; and the language of such an one is, Lord, what wilt thou have me do? Acts ix. 6. But here is no doing as a condition, 'tis all the fruit and effect of that faith whereby the soul hath laid hold on Christ as his sa­viour; such a person hath no view to what he doth as a condition to purchase any thing thereby; he hath a kingdom in hope, and is firmly persuaded he shall actu­ally enjoy it in due time, according to Col. iii. 3, 4. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.

Therefore, what a true believer doth is not a condi­tion, but the fruit, and effect of God's love, manifested in bestowing such a favour, as eternal life upon him, and follows after the favour is received. When any thing is offered by way of condition, the thing offered cannot be enjoyed, in any sense, 'till the condition be perfor­med; but this we see is not the case before us with re­ference to true believers; such an one hath a well-grounded hope, having the first, or foretastes of heaven; this he hath before he has gone through a course of obedience; for this for the most part is given in when he is converted to God. Heaven is no surer at the end of a Christian's journey, than at the begin­ning, with reference to the purpose and promise of God. But if heaven was promised on conditions to be performed by man, it could not be so; for then there could be no assurance of enjoying the happiness promised 'till the conditions are performed; and no [Page 45] person could be sure that he should enter into the king­dom of glory 'till he comes there: for as entering into glory would then depend on persevering in a course of sincere obedience to the end of a man's life, and perse­vering in holiness depending on the will of the creature, no person could be certain he should endure to the end and so be saved; the will being fickle and liable to change; and thus a man must be all his life-time subject to bondage. But blessed be God, the promise of eter­nal life hangs not upon such a feeble string. 'Tis true, those persons which enter into glory, are such, and such only, as do persevere unto the end, and are faithful unto death; but their entering into glory doth not de­pend upon this as a condition. I grant, they cannot enter into glory without persevering to the end, but then that is not condition of it. I ask, cannot a thing be necessary as a qualification, and yet not be a condition?

What is a condition? Answer, A condition implies a stipulation or covenant between two persons, the one promising, the other performing. Or, a condition is the doing some work, or service, which hath a promise (but not a free one) annexed to the doing of the work; the condition (as to the fulfilling of it) lieth on the doer, and giving the reward on the promiser; so that a con­dition is the doing some work or service, in order to ob­tain some good, which reward becomes due when the work is done, and not before. Therefore a condition doth not suppose a proportion between the works and the reward, but always supposes, that receiving the re­ward promised, depends upon doing; or performing the condition, whatsoever it be, more or less, according to the agreement; and is given upon that account, though the full value be not paid down. Therefore, the per­forming the condition is not only the way and means [Page 46] to come at the reward, but it is the purchasing of it: and to say eternal life is promised on conditions to be performed by man, is the way to bring man under the covenant of works, God stipulating with man, do this and live; I promise thee life upon these conditions.

It may be thought perhaps by some that the follow­ing proposition is true (viz.) eternal life is obtained by Christ, and promised to man on conditions of faith, re­pentance, and sincere obedience.

But, in my opinion, this is not true; for as it throws part of the work on the creature, it thereby lessens, if it does not quite invalidate the performance of Christ. For if Christ obtained eternal life for all that believe in him, what occasion is there to hang it upon conditions to be performed by the creature? If the reward be promised to man upon conditions of something done to procure it, this must suppose that Christ has done but a part, and that the other part belongs to man to do, and upon his doing it the reward is given. Nay, it follows, that what Christ hath done is insufficient, and of no a­vail, without man's part; and how contrary this is to the gospel, every one I should think must see, that un­derstands what gospel is.

Eternal life is promised to all that believe in the Son of God, the only mediator and saviour of sinners, and shall certainly be given to all such, according to the express word of God.

But then eternal life is both promised and given alone for the sake of Christ, and what he hath done. For, this is the record, God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Therefore he that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the son, hath not life. The promise of life is in Christ Jesus, 1 John v. 11, 12. 2 Tim. i. 1.

[Page 47]God will give what he hath promised, and at the time, and in the way which he hath promised: but where hath God promised, that if thou believest, he will give thee eternal life for thy believing? The promise is made to believers, but not to believing. Therefore if thou believest on the Son of God, he will give thee eternal life for Christ's sake.

If any should ask, where is the difference between promising eternal life to the person, and to the work, or to the person for his work's sake? I answer, there is a great, and very necessary difference. For promising eternal life to persons of such characters as believers, upon the consideration of what another hath done, is very agreeable to, and consistent with a free promise, or promise of grace: for, though the promise be made to the believer, the ground of it lies in Christ, and what he hath done. But if the promise was to run conditi­onal, and so to rest upon what the person doth himself, it could not be of free grace, but of works. For if the inheritance be of the law (or works) it is no more of promise, (i. e. it is not of free promise) but God gave it to Abraham by promise. If faith, repentance, and sin­cere obedience be the terms and conditions of man's en­tering into glory, then heaven must be given (in part at least) upon that account: for, if I promise a person such a reward for doing such a work, I give him the re­ward for doing the work; neither do I see any way to avoid this, for, if faith, repentance, and sincere obedi­ence, be the conditions of life, then heaven is given for the sake of faith, repentance, and sincere obedi­ence, and so Christ is shut out; for, it is absurd, as well as impertinent to say, eternal life is given to man for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of what man doth too. 'Tis written, The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. vi. 23. Now [Page 48] when it is said, through Jesus Christ our Lord, is there any occasion to add this supplement, through faith, re­pentance, and sincere obedience? To say that faith, re­pentance, and sincere obedience, are required as neces­sary qualifications in the subjects of salvation, is speak­ing the truth; but to say they are included in the above passage as conditions, is false: and whatever any person may think, it is plain enough to me, that there is a ma­nifest distinction between these terms, qualification and condition, and that the former only hath place in the matter we are upon. It may be truly said, that faith, and true gospel-repentance and salvation, cannot be se­parated; and yet, faith and repentance are not conditi­ons of salvation. Strange! very strange! that faith and repentance can't be brought in as qualifications, without making them conditions. These are ways and means which God hath appointed to sit and prepare persons for eternal life to such as are possessed with those qualifications above-named; and they should be put upon seeking after faith and repentance, which are the gifts of God, Acts v. 31. xi. 18. Eph. ii. 8. Phil. i. 29. 2 Tim. ii. 25.

And they should not be put upon doing, no, nor be­lieving neither as a condition of life, for, the difference is not great, between do and live, and, believe and live. For, believing is an act of the creature (though under the influence of the spirit of God) and as such a work.

The common way of stating the case is thus—God doth not now require perfect and sinless obedience of man in order to his entering into life; for Christ having by his obedience and death, or, at least by what he hath done, removed the law in its covenant-form, and there­by made way for man's acceptance upon gospel-sinceri­ty; life is promised not to perfect, but sincere doing; or, [Page 49] faith, repentance and sincere obedience, are now the con­ditions of life, and terms of acceptance.

But as this way of stating the case makes eternal life to be of works, and not of grace, it must be false. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Not by works of righteousness which we have done,—by grace we are saved.—For this reason therefore it must be false, being contrary to express testimony of holy scripture, Rom iii. 19, to 29. Eph. ii. 9. Tit. iii. 5. The distinction of perfect and imperfect, or, perfect and sincere obedience as a condition of life, I find not in the word of God; it cannot be gospel to say eternal life is put upon, not perfect, but sincere doing, as the condition whereby it must be obtained; for where do we find eternal life promised to sincere doings? 'tis promised to no doings at all. 'Tis God's free gift, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom. vi. 23. Good works are not the way to eternal life; Christ is the way, the way of acceptance with God, and the way of admission into heaven; good works are found in and done by all that walk in this way (Christ) neither is, nor can true faith be without them, when and where there is opportunity to do them, Jam. ii. 17, 18, 20. And yet good works will never be the cause of bringing any person to the kingdom of glory; no, nor are they so much as the condition of persons entering in there.

Thus it appears, that the hope of eternal life resteth on the free promise of God in Christ Jesus; whereas, was it conditional, then the whole would rest upon the performance of those conditions from whence it must be very uncertain whether any would enjoy it. But when our hope resteth on the free promise of God, nothing more is necessary to give a believer a comfortable assu­rance of entering into glory, but a steady and firm reli­ance [Page 50] on the power and faithfulness of the promiser, nei­ther of which can ever fail. He is the Almighty, and the faithful God—In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Therefore it is by faith, that it might be by grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, Tit. i. 2. Rom. iv. 16. Behold the foundation eternal life resteth upon, God's unchangeable and immutable pur­pose! in which respect it was prepared, as well as pro­mised, before the world began, Tit. i. 2. Matt. xxv. 34. His absolute promise in Christ Jesus; in which respect there is nothing to be done by the creature in order to procure it. And this is a notable ground to rest upon for strong consolation; and gives the greatest encouragement to sensible sinners: for why may not I hope for eternal life, if God has convinced me of sin, and the need of a Saviour, and kindled in my soul sin­cere desires and longing after Christ, and eternal life and happiness in and through him? and if I am willing to accept of it as his free gift, though I am unworthy of the least of his favours, yet Christ is worthy, and upon his account, I, a poor miserable sinner, may expect the greatest favour, eternal life.

Once more: That eternal life is not conditional, but a free gift, is further evident, if we consider when the promise was made, and to whom it was made personal­ly: we are told, that the promise of eternal life was made before the world began, Tit i. 2. Now, to whom could this promise be made so early? to whom but the Son of God in the capacity of a mediator; and who did actually stipulate with the father in behalf of his elect people; and to him was the promise made, and to him it was conditional. The thing promised was eter­nal life, and it was the elect, true believers that were to enjoy it: but the promise being made to the Son of [Page 51] God, as the surety of his people, there were certain conditions injoined him, upon the performance of which, eternal life was to be given to the elect, that is, all that believe in him for life and salvation.

For though heaven be the free gift of God, yet the elect are not put into the actual possession of the King­dom without the consideration of what Christ hath done in their behalf; 'tis by, and through Christ, his perfect obedience, and compleat satisfaction, which gives the saints a right and title to eternal life. He came that we might have life—John x. 10. And it is those that receive abundance of grace, and the gift of righteous­ness that shall reign in life by one Christ Jesus.—The dear redeemer bled and died upon the cross, he was made sin and a curse for his people, that thereby he might deliver them from sin, the curse, and wrath of God; and thus hath he obtained eternal redemption for all them that obey him. And thus doth God, by making this captain of salvation perfect through suffer­ing, bring many sons to glory: and herein he hath acted as became himself; as a holy and just, as well as merciful God, Heb. ii. 10. and ix. 12.

We should carefully observe the connection there is between the end and the means; for the though nothing is to be done by man as a condition to obtain life, yet there are ways and means appointed by God, for all those to walk in, which travel to eternal glory: and those ways and means leading on to the end, are included in the fundamental decree of election, as may be seen in many places of scripture, Rom. viii, 29. 30. Eph. i. 4. 2 Thes. ii. 13. So that those things which are requisite to be found in, and done, by the heirs of salvation, are what they are chosen to, and are the fruits and effects of God's everlasting love, the foundation of all.—And [Page 52] in this righteous and gracious decree of election. God hath shewn a strict regard to the holiness of his people, as well as to their happiness; these things, (viz.) holi­ness and happiness, he has joined together, and no man shall ever be able to put them asunder. How lovely, and how beautiful, doth this connection appear in that famous place of Saint Paul—Rom. viii. 29. 30, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. To this I shall only add that well known and very excellent passage, Eph. i. 4. According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, (observe) that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

We must also distinguish between what is the ground and foundation, or chief cause of giving the kingdom to the elect; and the way and means which bring them to the possession of it. The ground o giving the king­dom, is God's sovereign good will and pleasure, and thus it is absolutely a free gift. It is your father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom, Luke xii. 32. But then, in a secondary sense, what Christ hath done is the meritorious cause of the elect's enjoying the king­dom; and then in the next place come in all the ways and means, as preparatory, or, as fitting and preparing them for the actual enjoyment thereof; these ways and means are all included in what is called an habitual and actual meetness for death and glory. But then those ways, means, and qualifications, are no causes nor conditions of entering into the kingdom; they are things necessary and beautiful in their place. And here are two dangerous rocks to be avoided, (1) We [Page 53] must be careful not to make the ways and means con­ditions of salvation. (2) We must take care no to be regardless of, or lightly esteem the ways and means which God has appointed for us to be found in the use of; and so presumptuously expect to enter into glory, while we are in the direct road to hell. For it is writ­ten, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Ex­cept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, Luke iii. 3, 5. Heb. xii. 14. John iii. 3.

There is not only an expediency, or fitness, but an inimitable beauty, in this connection of ways and means with the end. For, as on the one hand, it would mar the grace of God, to give heaven for the sake of works; so, on the other hand, it would reflect on the purity and holiness of God, to admit (could such a thing be) persons into heaven without holiness, or his glorious image delineated in their hearts. As I would therefore caution all to take heed, not to build their hopes and expectations for eternal life on their works, or any thing in them, or done by them; so I would likewise exhort all persons to search their hearts, and see whether they are possessed with those qualifications which are inseparable from the heirs of salvation. And according to the advice of an inspired apostle, Ex­amine your selves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, ex­cept you be reprobates, 2. Cor. xiii. 5. Look into the bible, see and observe what was the temper, and what the conduct of those which are gone before to inherit the promises. Heaven is a crown, and kingdom; and none will possess it but such as are obedient subjects to Christ the king: as to those that will not have him to reign over them, he will command them to be slain be­fore [Page 54] him. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, (such as bear these, or any of these characters, so liv­ing and dying) shall inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. But, let the righteous rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great will be their reward in hea­ven. Matt. v. 12. Which brings me to the

(2.) Conclusion, viz. That as the happiness of the saints is secured in such safe hands, in the covenant made with God's own dear Son, and resteth not on such a precarious foundation as the happiness of man in a state of innocency did; from hence we may conclude, that the people of God have the highest reason to re­joice and triumph.

With the greatest pleasure I congratulate you, O ye saints of God, ye redeemed ones, who are working the work of God, labouring in your Lord's vineyard. I know you don't expect to enter into glory without ho­liness of heart and life, and yet expect eternal life as the free gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Well, though you have lost that happiness which was put into the hands of the first Adam, you have found a better, a far better happiness, laid up in the hands of the second Adam. O! stupendous wisdom! to order matters in such a way, that our greatest loss, proves our greatest gain. Glory was never put into the first Adam's hands; but into the hands of the mediator, the second Adam.—It was well for us that Adam was not intrusted with this jewel; for if this had been lost, then we had lost all; but this never was, nor ever shall be lost.

[Page 55]O believer, live by faith, and under the influence of this blessed hope of the glorious gospel; and so live a­bove the world, yea, above frames and duties, on the free and absolute promise of God in Christ Jesus. This jewel, this crown of glory, will not, cannot be lost; But it shall be given to them, for whom it is prepared of the Father, Matt. xx. 23. This glorius prize will be forth coming; the promise that was made before the world began, shall be made good when the world is no more, Tit. i. 2.

This is the principal thing, the most material of all, to have eternal happiness insured; without this what would health, or wealth, or life signify? nay, what would the gospel and all the blessings of it avail, while the crown and kingdom lieth at stake? To suppose man to stand as a probationer for eternal life, is to put him into a far worse state than Adam was in, and yet he fell—The free agency of the creature, or what is commonly called free-will, is such a state and condition, that if rightly understood cannot (one would think) fail of exciting compassion in every breast, the consequence of which must be strong desires, and earnest prayer to God to be delivered from such a state, a state that ex­poses mankind to the most eminent danger every mo­ment. I desire to be found in all God's ways, and ap­pointments, to be holy as the Lord is holy, and to walk even as Christ walked. But I desire not to be my own keeper, or to have eternal life in my own hand; for this would fill me with such a fear as would intimidate me in my course, and subject me to a life of bondage; knowing there is still sin dwelling within and Satan standing without: amidst so many snares and enemies, what a sweet relief is it to know that we are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation!

[Page 56] What wise man would desire his richest jewel with him while travelling in a strange land among thieves and enemies. No, good Lord, I beseech thee, keep my jewel, my life, my heaven and all in thy cabinet; I tremble at the thoughts of being intrusted with this treasure!

Haye we not a precedent before our eyes, in the fall of man, and angels, enough to fill all the saints upon earth with tremendous horror, in case they stood upon no better footing? No, it is our great and unspeakable mercy, that we are not our own, but are bought with a price. Christ hath the keeping of us (if we are his) and ours; our persons, our graces, our heaven, and all are in his hand; and there they are safe, and would be safe no where else, Luk xxii 32. Col. iii. 3. Joh. X. 27, 28, 29.

Not only salvation itself, but the security thereof de­serves our particular notice. O, Sirs, consider what a sure footing it is put upon: the happiness of God's dear people is put upon a better foot and foundation than the happiness of man was in a state of innocency, or that of angels. O wonderful contrivance! from hence it is the believer derives strong consolation.

A child of God hath many things in this life to dis­tress and trouble him, but in this he may rejoice always; that he is built upon a Rock, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against him, Mat. xvi. 18. My sheep hear my voice (saith Christ) and I know them, and they fol­low me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand: my father that gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my father's hand, John x. 27, 28, 29. Here the child of God resteth as in a sweet calm. What ever falls out in the [Page 57] course of a kind providence, though in appearance dark—yet nothing can shake the foundation, nor touch his inheritance. The foundation of God standeth sure, the Lord knoweth them that are his. I cannot say I never have no clouds over my mind, which pro­duce an humble fear in me, and beget an holy suspicion in my heart; and there may follow, a calling in ques­tion the state of my soul; am I a child of God, an heir of glory? But when the spirit of God is graciously pleased to witness with my spirit, that I am a child of God, an heir of God, and a joint hear with Christ; then I have no scruple upon my mind about enjoying the kingdom, but enter into full consolation. And this is so far from weakening the nerves of my obedience, or making me idle in my Lord's vineyard; that 'tis the strongest incentive to obedience: and I leave it upon record, as a testimony to the divine goodness and grace of God, that I am never so cheerful, lively, and fer­vent in spirit, as when I attain the greatest degree of assurance; then, O then I rejoice and triumph! when faith looks of those everlasting settlements of the crown and kingdom! And then with what chearfulness and alacrity do I run the way of God's commandments! And I am persuaded I might call in thousands of living witnesses on this head, who are triumphing, and bles­sing God for settling their inheritance on such a sure foundation; that it resteth not on the poor tottering foundation of creature-abilities—but on the unchange­able purpose, and free promise of God in Christ Je­sus! And where is the believer that will not heartily join in this sweet doxology? Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultness before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever, AMEN.



THE Doctrine of Merit makes but little noise in the world, being generally denied by Christians, or such as live under that name, except those called Papists; and every one thinks he can see there is no merit in the creature, that sinful man can merit no good thing at the hand of God. But, it is a question, whe­ther many that disclaim merit in words, do not own it in fact, tho' they may not be sensible of it themselves. It may, therefore, be of some service to have this mat­ter cleared up, that so it may appear to every serious thinking person, that the everlasting salvation of a sin­ner is not owing to the merit of the creature, but to the grace of God in his dear son. Free grace is generally talked of, but too little understood; and there is, I am afraid, as much ignorance among people about good works; what they are, and what is their proper place.

[Page 59]The doctrine that I shall fix upon, to try this matter by, will be that of justification; I mean, the justifica­tion of a sinner in the sight of God. And my business will be, to consider, whether this be owing to the me­rit of man, or, to the grace of God.

And, as nothing is authentic that is not built upon the word of God, I shall therefore ground my discourse upon that divine passage of St. Paul, Rom. iv. 4, 5. Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly; his faith is counted for righteousness.

From these words I shall raise two observations:

(I.) That whosoever worketh, with a view to be jus­tified thereby in the sight of God, seeks justification by merit, or desert; and not according to the pure grace of God: Now to him that worketh, is the reward reckoned not of grace, but of debt.

(II.) That whosoever worketh not with such a view, or expectation, to be accepted, or justified, in the sight of God thereby, but by faith depends on God, and expects to be justified by and through what Christ hath done for him; such an one is justified by, and accord­ing to the free grace of God. But to him that work­eth not, but believeth, &c.

These observations are fully contained in the words:

—And that the subject, the apostle treats of, is justifi­cation, is evident from the chapter in general, and par­ticularly from verse the second. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.

[Page 60]The first thing to be considered is, that whosoever worketh with a view to be justified thereby, in the sight of God, seeketh justification by merit, and not accord­ing to the true grace of God. Perhaps it may be thought strange by some, that I should use the word merit, seeing all disclaim every kind and degree of it, except Papists. But to this I answer, I apprehend the word merit, to be of the same signification with the term debt, or desert; and, that this matter may be set in a clear light, I shall endeavour to shew, what that merit is, that may be ascribed to man, or to any rational be­ing and how far a meer creature may be said to merit: and, I hope, if it can fairly be made to appear, that, to seek justification by works of our own performing, is seeking it by our own merits, persons will be sensible of the folly of such a conduct. Now if any thing be done, by way of condition, as the terms of our ac­ceptance with God, then it is of merit, or desert. Con­ditional salvation, or, conditional justification, cannot exclude merit.

What is merit? Answer; There are two kinds of merit; proper, and improper: proper merit, is called merit of condignity; that is, strict and real merit. Im­proper merit is called merit of paction, that is by cove­nant, or agreement. Now, as to the first, merit of condignity, or strict and real merit; this cannot be as­cribed to any meer creature, man, or angel; this would be to suppose the creature not beholden to it's creator; for merit of condignity, or proper merit, supposes such worth or desert, or such dignity and real excellency in the person and his work, as the reward may be justly claimed upon it; and that the person is not at all be­holden to him who gives the reward, because 'tis meri­ted.

[Page 61]This is proper merit, which may take place between one man and another, but not between man and his maker: mankind, being equal by nature, may oblige one another; that is, one man may lay another under an obligation to reward him; for, when one man me­rits a reward of another, he is not at all obliged to him for the reward; he that gives the reward is as much obliged to him that receives it, for his work, or service, as he that receives the reward is to him that gives it; for he that receives, has merited what he receives; and he that gives, gives but what is the other's due: but this cannot take place between God and a meer crea­ture; the creature being dependent upon the creator, must be beholding to him for all it receives, and be un­der the greatest obligations to the giver; 'tis impossible for the creature to lay the creator under any obligati­ons:—all the creature receives must be of meer fa­vour.—We see therefore, merit, strictly speaking, can­not be ascribed (not only to man, but not) to any meer creature. None but the Son of God could merit, in a strict and proper sense; neither did he absolutely me­rit in that sense, as I shall shew anon.

Secondly, Merit of paction, or by covenant-agreement. In this sense, the word merit is often used, though it be improper, at least 'tis not strictly merit; but it will bear the term: in this sense it may take place between God and a meer creature; and there can be no other merit as­cribed to a meer creature; for whatsoever God bestows on a meer creature, is in a way of favour; and this kind of merit is consistent with the goodness and bene­ficence of God to his creatures, but takes place only with perfect beings; it being not consistent with the perfec­tions of God thus to covenant with a sinful creature, except it be for blessings of a much lower nature, than those that relate to the eternal happiness of sinful man; [Page 62] (viz. such as relate to this present life) for what the creature merits by compact, or agreement, it doth not strictly deserve; but yet, 'tis due, by virtue of the co­venant-agreement. And hence 'tis clear, as the sun at noon-day, that justification, by our own works, is justi­fication according to merit; 'tis a debt, 'tis a due, ac­cording to agreement. For, if God promise to justify man, on his sincere obedience, then when he has per­formed that obedience, his justification follows as a debt, or merit; for no creature can merit any other way: therefore, if you would disclaim all merit, you must disclaim conditional justification; for, to pretend to disclaim any other merit is impertinent, because no other merit can be ascribed to men or angels. To say we can merit nothing, that is, strictly deserve, is nothing to the purpose: this is no ways peculiar to us as fallen creatures, but may as well be affirmed of an innocent creature. For Adam, in innocency, could merit no other way, but by paction, i. e. by covenant-agreement; all that was bestowed on him, and promised to him, was of the meer favour of God. I very much question, whether it be not here that many persons make the mis­take: they say, they do not pretend to merit; they know they deserve no favour from the hand of God; but then by merit they mean strict and proper merit; which is out of the question in the present case; be­cause merit, in this strict and proper sense, is excluded from all kind of beings; i. e. rational and intelligent creatures, perfect as well as imperfect; whereas, if, at the same time that we disclaim all merit, we are con­tending for justification by works, or conditional salva­tion, we are contending for all the merit that can be­long to any creature. Adam could merit no otherwise; God made a covenant with him; promised him life up­on [Page 63] conditions of perfect obedience: it was the meer favour of God thus to stipulate with man; and had he persevered in perfect obedience, the time allotted for his probation, he would have merited life; it would have been a debt according to agreement and promise. —And, to suppose God has now established such a co­venant with fallen man, that, on his sincere obedience, he will receive him into favour, and that his own works shall be the terms of his acceptance, is, to suppose man placed on the same footing he was before he fell; the difference is this; innocent man was to merit by a per­fect obedience, but fallen man by an imperfect sincere one. Therefore, if we are contending for justification by our own works, we are so far from excluding merit, that we are contending for all the merit that can be as­cribed to any meer creature.

For, if God hath stipulated with man, promising to justify, and accept him upon certain conditions perfor­med; then, when these conditions are performed, the reward is due; that is, God is under obligation, accord­ing to his promise, to justify and accept him, upon the terms proposed. And this is the very thing intended in these words, Now to him that worketh, is the re­ward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; i. e. the re­ward is given him not of meer favour, but of merit, as what is due according to agreement.

Therefore, if we would be clear in this matter of justification (and which doubtless, is of the greatest im­portance) we must carefully distinguish between proper and improper merit; and, consider, that no real merit can be ascribed to any creature; not only fallen man cannot merit in this sense, but that must be the case with respect to perfect creatures; and that improper merit cannot be ascribed to fallen man, without bring­ing [Page 64] him under a covenant of works; God stipulating and promising, and man performing certain conditions as the terms of his acceptance; which intirely shuts out free grace, according to that divine oracle, Rom. xi. 6. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace; o­therwise work is no more work. And, furthermore, that no meer creature can properly merit, is evident; because no meer creature can do more than is its indis­pensible duty to do; and, in order to merit, the crea­ture must do more than is it's bounden duty to do: hence it is, that none pretend to merit, being sensible they cannot do more than 'tis their duty to do: but this regards real merit, which, strictly speaking, we have nothing to do with, as no meer creature can merit in this sense. Adam did not, elect angels cannot, and all professed Christians disclaim it, except the Papists; who, to establish the doctrine of merit, croud in their supposed works of supererogation, which is giving, or doing, more than is required; doing more good works than a man is bound by the law of God to do. And, could any meer man do this, he might merit; but this is a meer fiction of the brain.

Therefore, seeing no merit can be ascribed to man, but that of paction, how plain is it that justification, by works, is establishing the doctrine of merit; not real and proper merit, but all the merit that can belong to man; whether he be considered as innocent and free from sin, or, as a fallen sinful creature: for, as all the desert that can be ascribed to perfect obedience, must take its rise from the meer favour of God, stipulating with the creature, and promising such a reward upon such an obedience; so all the desert that can be ascri­bed to a sincere imperfect obedience, must also arise from the meer favour of God, thus stipulating with man, [Page 65] and promising him such a reward upon his perorming such obedience.

If any should from hence argue, that if it is owing to the meer favour of God, that a sinner is justified by his own sincere obedience, then what hurt can merit do? I answer; The favour of God, in the case first men­tioned, is easy to conceive of.—And the second is only a supposed case, at least it appears so to me. I do not believe God has made such a covenant with man, as that upon his faith, repentance, and sincere obe­dience, he will justify and receive him into favour. However, if some will maintain that so it is,—and that though it be of works, this cuts not off the favour of God,—I cannot, perhaps, tell what they may mean by the favour of God.—However, in that way of stating the case, it appears to be very different from the love of God, that is so highly celebrated in the gospel; and which I apprehend is absolutely free and uncon­ditional.

However, let it be observed, and which I am cer­tain must be the case, that though it be owing to the meer favour of God to make such a conditional cove­nant as before observed, yet the conferring the reward on man, when he has performed the conditions of that covenant, cannot be ascribed to the meer favour of God, but to the merits of man. And as this merit, or desert, turns intirely on what the creature doth, so man hath a right to plead with God on the foot of his own works: for, if God has promised to accept sincere o­bedience, as the terms of the sinners acceptance, then it is strictly just to plead upon this footing; though there be a very disproportion between the works, and the reward, yet when the work is done, the wages is due. Suppose you promise or agree to give me five [Page 66] shillings, upon condition I will go with you one mile, and I agree to the terms and go; are the five shillings due to me, or not? Every one will grant 'tis due, be­cause it is a fair bargain; it might be a favour in you to make the promise, but 'tis a piece of justice in you to pay the money; and the plea for it must be grounded, not upon your favour, but upon the contract.

The case appears to be plainly this:—If God has made such a covenant with man, that his faith, repen­tance, and sincere obedience, be the terms of his accep­tance, then it must be of debt, or merit; and, if the favour of God, in making such a conditional grant, is all that is intended by the grace of God in the gospel, I think it is hardly worth while to keep up the distinc­tion any longer between works and grace, seeing the whole centers at last in works; and the grace, that is talked of, is so metamorphosed, that there is great dan­ger of mistaking it for works. Every thing we enjoy is owing to the grace of God, as grace stands in opposi­tion to real merit. But the grace of God in the gos­pel, is something peculiar, and is to be seen or discern­ed no where else, but in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the sum of the gospel. God's justifying a sin­ner or the foot of works, and on the foot of grace, are as far asunder as the east and the west.

It is plain, by the apostle, in the words under con­sideration, that debt and grace are two distinct things; and, 'tis no less evident, that his design is to throw out one, and establish the other; and which way can this be done, in case we are justified by our own works? it must then be reckoned not of grace, but of debt. If my own obedience be the matter of my acceptance with God, I ask again, where is free grace? admit­ting it was grace to make such a conditional grant, to [Page 67] make such a favourable covenant, of such mild terms, yet I am bold to affirm, there is not a mite of free grace, in giving forth the blessing of the covenant. And, upon this footing, what little occasion is there for a mediator between God and man; I suppose it is some way owing to him, that God has made such a conditi­onal covenant of such easy terms; and this is making as little use of him as can be, if any use is made of him: this is not to make him the alpha and omega, the begin­ning and the end, all and in all; which, to do, is to bring in salvation by grace.

To make Christ the sole meritorious cause of our justification and acceptance with God, and good works the fruits and effects of true faith, is speaking the lan­guage peculiar to the covenant of grace; which shuts all manner of works out as causes, conditions, or means of our justification in the sight of God.

For, for the reward to be reckoned of grace, is for it to be reckoned without the consideration of any thing done by the creature: To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth—i. e. To him that per­forms nothing as a condition of his justification, but is willing to receive all as the free gift of God,—his faith is counted for righteousness. Faith, itself, is not the righteousness; for faith, or believing, stands in direct opposition to working; whereas believing, as 'tis an act of man, is a work: and then where is the antithesis? The apostle is not distinguishing between works per­fect and imperfect: works, as to their nature, kind, or degree, are not the thing in debate; but works and grace are the things in dispute, and to which of these our justification is to be ascribed; and 'tis plain that be­lieving is set in opposition to working, therefore it can­not be faith itself, but what faith was fixt upon; which [Page 68] was a righteousness distinct from faith, called a righte­ousness imputed without works, i. e. without any works done by the person to whom it is imputed; I say, with­out any works done by the person himself as the ground of his justification. This righteousness is plain enough distinguished from faith, called the righteousness of the faith, Rom. iv. 6,—11. called also, the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe. Note, 'tis not inherent in them, but 'tis unto and upon; observe also, 'tis a righteous­ness which cometh by believing, 'Tis by faith of Jesus Christ, Rom. iii. 22. thus it is a froe gift of meer fa­vour, or pure grace.

(II.) The second observation is, Whosoever worketh with no such view, or expectation, to be accepted and justified thereby in the sight of God, but by faith de­pends on God, expecting to be justified by and through what Christ hath done for him, such an one is justified by, and according to, the free grace of God. But to him that worketh not, but believeth, &c. To him that worketh not, that maketh not his works a condition of his justification,—for the apostle is speaking of the end and view which persons have in working; he doth not condemn works, but is enquiring after the principle they proceed from,—but believeth, his faith receiveth a righteousness, whereby he is justified in the sight of God; such an one is justified as Abraham was, by the same righteousness.—Now, it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us al­so, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. iv. 23, 24. There is no [Page 69] merit but the merit of Christ, who may be said to merit for us; for as it has been observed, that a person may merit, he must do more than is his bounden duty to do. Now, Christ certainly did more than the law could insist upon, more than the law could require of man; his obedience being the obedience of God as well as man, For the fulness of the God-head dwelt in him bodily; And he is the true God;—God over all, blessed for ever; the dignity of his person, being the only begotten Son of God, together with the perfection of his work, made it an exalted merit; he may be said to deserve at the hand of God. But then this was also by paction; by a compact, or covenant-agreement, between the Father and him, and he is called the surety of that covenant, Heb. vii, 22. and viii. 6.

Could we consider what Christ did as separate from the covenant, would there have been any merit in it? at least, it could not have been available for us; for Christ could not thereby have laid God under any ob­ligation; he was at liberty whether he would accept of a surety, and what he should do for sinners.

So that here the very strictness of merit seems to be cut off; though, I think, it must be granted, there was an inifinite merit of condignity in what Christ did; yet we cannot argue the justification of a sinner in the sight of God barely from thence, without a considera­tion of the covenant. What he did became available for our justification, because it was so agreed upon be­tween them both, that his fulfilling or giving the law its full demands, should answer for the justification and eternal salvation of those for whom it was done.

And this is a way of justification becoming God, as his honour is no ways impaired;—The law is magni­fied and made honourable; justice is fully satisfied,— [Page 70] Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other, Psal, lxxxv. 10.

And thus the freedom and sovereignty of God, are secured, in dispensing his grace to sinners; for that he is laid under no obligation by what Christ hath done, but what he by covenant brought himself under. Had Christ, by whad he did, laid God under an obligation to justify sinners, had he done this, I say, without any consideration of a covenant between then, then God could not (in the affair of justifying sinners) act as a sovereign; for he, being obliged by Christ, must neces­sarily have conferred the grace of justification upon sin­ners. But the great and blessed God is above being obliged; and though what he doth, in justifying the ungodly, is infinitely, worthy of himself, yet he doth it freely; it was a voluntary, yea sovereign act, in him, to enter into covenant with his own Son, and justify sinners upon his account.

Thus, God hath established justification in a way be­coming himself; and it is such a way as is highly ho­norable to him, and exceeding delightful to men—For he is just, and the justifier of every one that believeth in Christ, Rom. iii. 26.

Such honour is done to the divine law, as could ne­ver have been done by the obedience of men, no, nor by all the men upon earth, and angels in heaven. So that there is in Christ a double merit; a merit of con­dignity, i. e. of real worth, and a merit of paction, i. e. by covenant-agreement; which, both considered toge­ther, is the highest of perfection of merit, and far above any meer creature to do. And the justification of a sinner, being in and through the merit of Christ, is en­tirely [Page 71] of free grace, according to the holy scriptures,—Being justified freely by his grace, Rom. iii. 24.

And it must be observed, that the justification of a sinner, in the sight of God, (for I speak not of declara­tive justification, which is the privilege made known to a believer) is alone by and through what Christ hath done; there is nothing that man doth is brought into the account; and thus it is purely of free grace; there being nothing considered in the creature, or done by the creature, as the cause, condition, or mean thereof; For, if by grace, then is it more of works, Rom. xi. 6. Whereas, if any thing done by man was brought into the account of justification in the sight of God, it could not be alone by Christ, and of free grace; but, being justified from all things by Christ (exclusive of any thing, and every thing, in, or done by, man) it is entirely of meer favour, owing to the free, rich, and so­vereign grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Free sovereign grace, reigning grace is the founda­tion of a poor sinner's justification in the sight of God. It was pure grace in God to enter into covenant with his own Son; and it was equally the same grace in the Son to become the meritorious cause of our justification. To consent To be delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. To become the Lord our righteousness, And, the end of the law for righteous­ness to every one that believeth, Rom. iv, 25, and, x. 4. Jer. xxiii. 6. Thus is the mouth of man stopp'd for ever, as to any boasting in himself; but faith receiving a righteousness can boast and glory in the Lord, accord­ing to that very excellent passage of the blessed Paul. 1 Cor. i. 30, 31. As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

From what hath been said on this subject, it is very [Page 72] plain, that to exclude the doctrine of merit, and yet con­tend for justification by works, is only casting away the name, while the thing itself remains: Men are, it may be, ashamed to contend for the doctrine of merit, but at the same time will boldly contend for justification by their own obedience; which is the doctrine of merit; for there can be no other merit ascribed to man, than that of paction, or, covenant-agreement. The question then may be, what shall we do? shall we own and contend for the doctrine of merit, or, shall we not? would a creed formed after the following manner me­rit esteem among such as are called protestants; (viz) "I believe in God the Father, who hath made a con­ditional covenant with fallen man, in which is required sincere obedience as the terms of his acceptance. I be­lieve in Jesus Christ the Son of God, who by his death hath rendered God propitious to sinners on such easy terms as sincere obedience. Also, I believe that not­withstanding all that Christ hath done, the whole, as to the issue, is left to rest on the will of man, to make it effectual, or ineffectual. Finally, I believe that good works are meritorious, or, that by them, according to the gospel-covenant, the sinner merits heaven." How shocking soever this may appear to any man, I am not as yet convinced that it is any way inconsistent with justification by a man's own work. Indeed good works are not to be cast out of practical divinity: Good works must be done; there is a strict and inseparable conjunc­tion between justification by grace and the performance of good works, as is abundantly evident from that fa­mous place, Tit. iii. 5, 6, 7, 8. Not by works of righ­teousness, which we have done, but according to his mer­cy be saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost: which he shed on us abun­dantly, [Page 73] through Jesus Christ our Saviour. That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs, accord­ing to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful say­ing, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works: these things are good and profitable to men. But what I say is, good works have no place in the justification of a sinner before God. And, it deserves to be considered, whether justification by Christ be not speaking more honourably of God, and proposing a way much safer for men than the con­trary? I think 'tis more honourable—it brings more honour unto God; for in what an amiable light doth justification by grace, represent the blessed God. As infinitely ready, or, propense in himself to justify the ungodly; for we are not to suppose that what Christ did brought God into a disposition to acquit a guilty creature; No external motives moved him hereunto: but what Christ did made it consistent with all o­ther perfections of Deity to justify sinners. The love of God to his chosen people is an everlasting free love: God was, I say, ready enough to justify; but could not in any other way but this, consistent with his justice, holiness, and truth. But now, he is just, and the justifier, of him which believeth in Jesus, Rom. iii. 26.

And this way of justification is much safer for men; is it not a surer foundation to rest upon, to trust in a perfect righteousness, which is an absolute security from condemnation for ever? Whereas, if it depends upon our own performances, then every time a person relapses into sin he is brought under condemnation: but this is not the case with reference to such as are justified by Christ; though when such an one falleth into sin he has [Page 74] cause enough to mourn, and be deeply humbled before God; but this don't affect his state as to justification; the sentence being passed in heaven will never be recal­led—Justification is an abiding thing. There is there­fore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my words, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.—I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.—Rom. viii. 1. Joh. v. 24. and x. 28. And I must affirm, (whatever any person may think to the contrary) that this doctrine of justification by Christ alone, I mean as before ob­serv'd, justification in the sight of God, I treat of no other now; therefore as to what hand the grace of faith may have in the application of this blessing, and how far works, as fruits of faith may evidence our jus­tification before men, I determine not now to consider. This doctrine, I say, of free justification by Christ alone is a doctrine of godliness; and, in my opinion, will ne­ver fail of influencing those that heartily embrace it, to practical godliness. Corrupting and denying this doc­trine of justification, is one chief cause of the so great abounding of sin amongst us; corruption of doctrine produces corruption of manners; communion and close walking with God are the effects of receiving the truth in the love of it.

The clearer views I have of this doctrine, and the stronger my faith is, the more humble I am, and the more abundantly is my heart drawn forth in unfeigned thankfulness, and lively and chearful obedience. The love of Christ constraineth us.—O what returns shall I make for love so vastly great. I am nothing—Christ [Page 75] is all and in all. In him I am compleat.—And how exceeding lovely and engaging doth he appear, as the Lord our righteousness.

And though justification, by an imputed righteousness, be a riddle that many cannot unfold, yet certainly—out of the strong cometh forth sweetness.—No doctrine so sweet, so full of the most solid joy. Free grace! O de­lightful theme! with how much pleasure could I dwell upon the harmonious sound! my soul is almost ready to melt within me, in the delightful views of justificati­on by free grace! And how am I transported at the thoughts of what many of the dear children of God have suffered for this precious doctrine. Hark! from the dungeon, how the poor prisoners sing for joy of heart!—And what their notes?—O 'tis grace! Rich grace! Free grace! Christ, none but Christ and his righteous­ness!—Salvation alone by Christ—O how did the prisons, in persecuting times, ring with this doctrine!—Look yonder! methinks I see a pile of wood lighted up, and close by it stand, in appearance, a poor object con­demn'd to the flames! see how he smiles, while death in all its dreadful forms stares him in the face, yet hea­ven is in his countenance; Behold the executioners, full of rage and fury, stand astonished to see with what heroick courage and divine pleasure the poor sufferer embraces the flames,—counting it all joy. Why so? Because Christ is in him the hope of glory. With a heart, overflowing with joy, he cries, O sweet Jesus! Lamb of God! my hope, my life, my all! in thy bles­sed garment I shall appear without spot soon—and I shall shine in paradise in the spotless robes of Christ's righteousness.

Therefore this doctrine I must abide by, 'till I can find another that will produce better effects,—closer [Page 76] walking with God, and more joy and peace in the Ho­ly-Ghost. And as I do not expect, so neither can I desire, a sweeter doctrine than this is, a doctrine that a­bases the creature to the lowest, and exalts the Redee­mer to the highest. The chief thing I want, is, to enter further into the knowledge of it, and by faith live more upon it. And I am confidently persuaded the heavens will sweetly ring of free justification by Christ alone; every saint, being a miracle of grace, will labour to raise his notes to the highest key, 'till the glorious mansions resound with loud hosannas, all shouting, grace, grace unto it.


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