Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

bitation, and rebelling against God, they loft their excellency, and of bright and beautiful creatures, are now become most abominable, enemies to God, and to all that is good; filled with evil, and as it were turned into it. Hence the devil. is called the evil and the wicked one: he is deftitute of grace, and irrecoverably excluded the regions of glory, being reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. This is the cafe of those fallen fpirits.

But at how wide and happy a distance are they fet from them who are made partakers of grace? Whilft God fpared not the angels that finned, but left them to be monuments of his wrath, gracious fouls have a Saviour provided for them; the fanctifying Spirit has been, and is ftill at work in them; heaven is fet open before them, whither they are tending, and where none of those fpirits that kept not their first eftate therein, can ever come.

Grace diftinguishes from fallen angels.

(2.) From the reft of mankind. We read of fome redeemed from among men, Rev. xiv. 4. All the chofen of God are fo; and being effectually called, and renewed by grace, they are a peculiar people. There are none like them int all the world.

In their natural ftate, whilft lying among the children of wrath, this was God's voice to them by the gofpel, Come out from among them, and be ye feparate, faith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye fhall be my fons and daughters, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. To this they VOL. II.

M

are

are enabled unfeignedly to anfwer, Lo we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God. After this they are no longer of the world, as others are; though they remain for a time in it.

The apostle fpeaks thus of faints indeed, We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness, 1 John v. 19. And again, We have received, not the fpirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, 1 Cor. ii. 12. By this Spirit they are not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds; and so walk not according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the fpirit that worketh in the children of difobedience; but have their converfation in heaven, as being under the conduct of the Spirit that came from thence.

Their former companions may wonder that they run not with them to the fame excess of riot; but the reafon is within them: grace hath taken poffeffion of their hearts, and by a power going along with the gofpel difcovery of falvation, they are taught to deny all ungodliness and worldly lufts, and to live foberly, righteously and godly in this prefent evil world. As being become truly wife, their way is above to depart from hell beneath: and what numbers foever they meet crowding the rod to deftruction, they will not follow a multitude to do evil; but in the midst of a common degeneracy, will make the word their rule, and afk the way to Sion with their faces thitherward.

Holy fouls are fuch in whom God has made good that promise, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. A new heart

E

heart alfo will I give you, and a new Spirit will
I put within you, and I will take
away the Stony
beart out of your flesh, and I will give you an
heart of flesh. And 1 will put my Spirit within
you, and caufe you to walk in my ftatutes, and ye
Shall keep my judgments, and do them. Hereup-
on, they are Men of another Spirit, and with
Caleb and Joshua, follow God fully, whilst o-
thers do it only in pretence, and the most turn
their backs upon him.

(3.) Grace diftinguishes those in whom it is, from their former felves. They who were once darkness, are now made light in the Lord; and hereupon judge of things in a very different manner from what they did before, and in fome measure act accordingly. Sin that they once made light of, and too much delighted in, they now fee to be the greatest evil, and groan under it as their burden. Chrift, that in their account was without form or comlinefs to engage their eye, and had no beauty to attract their defire, is now the chiefeft of ten thoufand, yea altogether lovely to them.

They could once contentedly live without God, and faid unto the Almighty, depart from us, we defire not the knowledge of thy ways; but now they are fenfible, they have more to do with him than all the world, and their language is, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I defire befides thee. The world was once to them instead of God, and they placed and purfued their happiness in it: but now they look upon it all, as vain and vanishing, and deprecate nothing more than be

M 2

ing

ing put off with it. Lord, fay they, deliver me from the men of the world, who have their portion in this life, and whofe belly thou filleft with thy hid treasure.

Religion, while untried, was cenfured as a mournful, grievous, unprofitable thing; and fo was treated as a by-matter, if a profeffion was taken up at all but now the foul, as fanctified, makes it its bufinefs, and finds it its delight; ftudies God's will, in order to do it, and is never better pleased than when thus employed; esteeming his commandments concerning all things to be right, as having experienced, that in keeping of them there is a great reward.

Death and judgment, heaven and hell, that feldom came into the man's mind while unrenewed, are now feldom out of it, and lie with a peculiar weight there, as matters of the laft moment, and that to himfelf: fo that he looks upon all the dying concerns of time, as inconfiderable in comparison of eternity. And under this view, he is working out his falvation with fear and trembling; giving all diligence to make his calling and election fure, as one that is waiting for his Lord, and that would be found of him in peace; and when he is here no more to live, to be happy with him for ever.

In a word, where grace is communicated, the man is throughout changed, as to temper and course, heart and life.

Thus grace makes a difference which speaks its excellency.

4. The value of grace may be gathered from

the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the price that went to purchase it, which was no lefs than the blood of Chrift. This was neceffary to make atonement for fin, and fatisfaction to God, and fo for our freedom from condemnation and deliverance from the wrath to come, by pardon and juftification; and alfo for our being healed and recovered to the image of God, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghoft: both which are neceffary to our falvation. Our happiness lies in being reconciled to, and made like God and as including both thefe, Chrift fuffered, the juft for the unjust, that he might bring us to him.

By nature we are children of wrath; not only as doomed to it, but prepared for it. And a change is neceffary in our conftitution, as well as relation and to bring about this, we are not redeemed with corruptible things as filver and gold from our vain converfation, &c. but with the precious blood of Chrift, as of a lamb without blemish, and without fpot, 1 Pet. i. 13, 19. By our primitive apoftacy from God, grace is blotted out and quenched within, and the Spirit of grace forfeited and fent away grieved; and it was part of the curfe of the broken law, that from thence forward we should be left by him, as fouls on which he would no more work, and in which he would no more dwell: And had not Chrift died a propitiation for fin, no fuch jewel as grace had been found in any heart. It was Chrift's redeeming us from the curíe of the law that opened a way to the returning of this again. Juftly then may that be

called

M 3

« AnteriorContinua »