Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the endowments of grace? The one were natural, the other fupernatural gifts: both gifts still, tho’of a different kind. If it be here obje&ted, if this be so, how comes St. Paultò affirm, To him that worketh is the reward due, not of grace but of debt? Rom. iv. 4. I answer, first, God seems, when he enters into covenant with man, to sufpend, or lay aside the natural right which he has over hirn as his creature; and to transact with him, as free, and master of himself: but this is all infinite condescension. Secondly, It seems unsuitable to the infinite goodness of God, to bereave man of the life and happiness he has once conferred upon him, unless he forfeits it by some demerit: The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; nor can I think how death, which has so much evil in it, could have entered the world, if fin had not entered it first. In this sense, unfinning obedience gives a kind of right to the continuance of those good things, which are at first the mere effects of divine grace and

Lastly, A covenant of works being once established, 'tis plain, that as sin forfeits life, so obedience must give a right to it: and as the penitent could not be restored, but by an act of grace, so he that commits no fin, would need no pardon. But then life it self, and an ability to work righ,

teousness, teousness, must be owing to grace antecedent to the covenant: and fo fuch an one would have whereof to boast comparatively, with respect to others who fell ; but not before God. The sum of all is, man has nothing to render to God, but what he has received from him; and therefore can offer him nothing but his own : which is no very good foundation for merit. But fuppose him absolute master of himself; fuppose him holding all things independent of God. Can the service of a few days merit immortality and glory, angelical perfection, and a crown? He must be made up of vanity and presumption, that dares affirm this.

3. God stands in no need of our service; and 'tis our own, not bis interest we promote by it. The foundation of merit as mongst men is impotence and want: the prince wants the service and tribute of the fubject; the subject the protection of the prince: the rich needs the ministry and the labour of the poor ; the poor support and maintenance from the rich. And it is thus in imaginary, as well as real wants. The luxury and pleasure of one, must be provided for and supported by the care and vigilance of others : and the pomp and the pride of one part of the world cannot fub

fift,

[ocr errors]

fift, but on the fervitude of the other. In these cases therefore, mutual wants create mutual rights, and mutual merit. But this is not the case between God and man. God is not subject to any wants or necessi– ties: nor is his glory or happiness capable of diminution or increase. He is a Monarch, that needs no tribute to support his grandeur, nor any strength or power besides his own, to guard his throne. If we revolt, or rebel, we cannot injure him: if we be loyal and obedient, we cannot profit him. He has all Fulness, all Perfection in himself: he is an almighty and all-sufficient God. But on the quite contrary, tho' God have no wants, we have many : and tho' his Majesty and felicity be subject to no vicillitude, we are subject to many. Our service to God therefore is our own interest; and our obedience is designed to procure our own advantage: we need, we daily need his support and protection; we depend intirely on his favour and patronage : In him we live, and move, and have our being : and from him, as from an inexhaustible fountain, we derive all the streams of good, by which we are refreshed and im. proved.' To know, and love him, is our wisdom; to depend upon him, our happiness and security ; to serve and worship him, our perfection and liberty ; to enjoy

him

[ocr errors]

him will be our heaven; and those glimp- '
fes of his Presence, which we are vouch-
safed through the Spirit in this life, are the
pledges and foretaste of it. This is the
constant voice of scripture. Every good
gift, and every perfeet gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
Jam. i. 17. If I were hungry, I would not
tell thee ; for the world is mine, and the ful,
ness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or
drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God
thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most
high : and call upon me in the day of trouble ;
I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,
Psal. l. 12, 13, &c. If thou be righteous,
what givest thou unto him? Thy wickednejs
may hurt a man, as thou art, and thy righ-
teousness may profit the son of man, Job
XXXV. 7, 8.

SE CT.

SECT. III. Of the Impediments of Perfection. Five

Impediments reckoned up, and insisted on. 1. Too loose a notion of religion, 2. An opinion that perfe&tion is not attainable. 3. That religion is an enemy to pleasure.

4. The love of the world. 5. The infire : mity of the flesh. The whole concluded

with a prayer.

T HO? I have been all along carrying

1 on the dehgn of this fe&tion, that is, the removing the obstacles of Perfection yet I easily foresaw there might be fome which would not be reduced within the compass of the foregoing beads ; for these therefore I reserved this place; these are five.

6. 1. Some seem to have entertained such a notion of religion, as if moderation here, were as necessary as any where else.

They look upon zeal as an excess of righteousness; and can be well enough content to want degrees of glory, if they can but fave their souls. To which end they can see no necessity of Perfe&tion. Now I would beseech such seriously to lay to heart, that falvation and damnation are things of no common importance : and

there

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »