The II. Sermon.
PHIL. IV. 13.
THose two contrary Heresies, that cost S. Austin and the Fathers of his time so much pains; the one all for natural strength, the other for irrecoverable weak∣ness; [ D] have had such unkindly influence on succeed∣ing ages, that almost all the actions of the ordinary Christian have some tincture of one of these: Scarce any sin is sent abroad into the World, without either this, or that inscription. And therefore parallel to these, we may observe the like division in the hearts and practical faculties between pride and sloth, opinion of absolute power, and prejudice of absolute impotence: The one undertaking all upon its own credit, the other suing, as it [ E] were, for the preferment, or rather excuse of being bankrupts upon record; that so they may come to an easie composition with God for their debt of obedience: The one so busie in contemplation of their present fortunes, that they are not at leisure to make use of them, their pride helping them to ease, and if you look nearly to poverty too,*Revel. iii. 17. the other so fastned to this Sanctuary, this religious piece of prophaneness, that leaving the whole business to God, as the undertaker and proxy of their obedience, [ F] their idleness shall be deemed devotion, and their best piety sitting still.
These two differences of Men, either sacrilegious or supine, impe∣rious or lethargical, have so dichotomized this lower sphear of the Word, almost into two equal parts, that the practice of humble obedience, and obeying humility, the bemoaning our wants to God,Page 20 with Petition to repair them, and the observing and making use of [ A] those succors which God in Christ hath dispensed to us; those two foundations of all Christian duty, providing between them, that our Religion be neither 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, nor 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Neither the vertue of the Atheist, nor the prayer of the Sluggard, are almost quite vanished out of the World: As when the Body is torn asunder, the Soul is without any farther act of violence forced out of its place, that it takes its flight home to Heaven, being thus let out at the Scissure, as at the Window; and only the two fragments of carcass remain [ B] behind.
For the deposing of these two Tyrants, that have thus usurped the Soul between them, dividing the Live child with that false Mother, into two dead parts: For the abating this pride, and enlivening this deadness of practical faculties; for the scourging this stout Beggar, and restoring this Cripple to his Legs, the two Provisions in my Text, if the order of them only be transposed, and in Gods method the last set first, will, I may hope and pray, prove sufficient. I can do, &c. [ C]
1. Through Christ that strengthneth me.] You have there, first, The Assertion of the necessity of grace; and secondly, that enforced from the form of the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which imports the minute∣ly continual supply of aids; and then, thirdly, we have not only posi∣tively, but exclusively declared the person thus assisting; in Christo confortante, it is by him, not otherwise, we can do thus, or thus. Three particulars all against the natural confidence of the proud [ D] Atheist.
2. The 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I can do all things.] First, The 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and secondly, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. 1. The power; and 2. the extent of that power: 1. The potency; and 2. the omnipotency; and then 3. this not only originally of Christ that strengthneth, but inherently of me, being strengthned by Christ. Three particulars again, and all against the conceived or pretended impotence, either of the false spie that brought news of the Giants Anakims, Cannibals, in the way to Ca∣naan, [ E] Numb. xiii. 32.* Or of the Sluggard, that is alway affrighting and keeping himself at home, with the Lion in the streets, some 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or other difficulty or impossibility, whensoever any work or travel of obedience is required of us,*Prov. xxvi. 13.
It will not befit the majesty of the subject to have so many parti∣culars, by being severally handled, joyntly neglected. Our best con∣trivance will be to shorten the retail for the encreasing of the gross, to [ F] make the fewer parcels, that we may carry them away the better, in these three Propositions.
- I. The strength of Christ is the Original and Fountain of all ours; Through Christ that, &c.
- Page 21 [ A] II. The strength of a Christian, from Christ derived, in a kind of Omnipotency, sufficient for the whole duty of a Christian. Can do all things, &c.
- III. The strength and power being thus bestowed, the work is the Work of a Christian, of the suppositum, the Man strengthned by Christ. I can do, &c.
Of these in this order, for the removing only of those prejudices [ B] out of the Brain, which may trash and encumber the practice of piety in the heart. And first of the first.
The strength of Christ is the Original and Fountain of all ours. The strength of Christ, and that peculiarly of Christ the second Person of the Trinity, who was appointed by consent to negotiate for us in the business concerning our Souls. All our tenure or plea, to grace or glory, to depend not on any absolute, respectless, though free donation, but conveyed to us in the hand of a Mediator; That Privy Seal of his an∣nexed [ C] to the Patent, or else of no value at that Court of Pleas; or that Grand Assizes of Souls. Our Natural strength is the gift of God, as God is considered in the first Article of our Creed, and by that title of Creation we have that priviledge of all created substances, to be able to perform the work of nature, or else we should be inferior, to the meanest creature in this; for the least stone in the street is able to move downwards by its own principle of nature: And therefore, all that we have need of in the performing of these, is only Gods concurrence, [ D] whether previous or simultaneous; and in acts of choice, the govern∣ment and direction of our will, by his general providence and power. However, even in this Work of Creation, Christ must not be excluded, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Gods in the Plural, all the Persons of the Deity, in the whole work, & peculiarly in the Faciamus hominem, are adumbrated, if not mentioned by Moses. And therefore God is said to have made all by his Word, that inward, eternal Word in his bosome, an arti∣culation, and, as it were, incarnation of which, was that Fiat & [ E] factum est,* which the Heathen Rhetorician so admired in Moses for a magnificent sublime expression. Yet in this Creation, and conse∣quently this donation of natural strength, peculiarly imputed to the first Person of the Trinity, because no personal act of Christ, either of his satisfaction or merit, of his humiliation or exaltation, did conduce to that; though the Son were consulted about it, yet was it not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, delivered to us in the hand of a Mediator. Our natural strength we have of God, without respect to Christ incarnate, without [ F] the help of his Mediation, but that utterly unsufficient to bring us to Heaven, 2 Cor. iii. 5. Not that we are sufficient of our selves to think any thing, i. e. saith Parisiensis, Any thing of moment or valor, ac∣cording to the Dialect of Scripture, that calls the whole man by the name of his soul, (so many souls, i. e. so many men, and so 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the Pythagoreans word, thy soul is thou) counts of nothing, but what Page 22 tends to the salvation of that. But then our supernatural strength, [ A] that which is called Grace and Christian strength, that is of another date, of another tenure, of another allay; founded in the promise actually exhibited in the death and exaltation of the Messias, and con∣tinually paid out to us, by the continued daily exercise of his Offices. 1. The Covenant sealed in his Blood, after the manner of Eastern Na∣tions, as a counterpart of Gods, to that which Abraham had sealed to before in his Blood at his Circumcision. 2. The Benefits made over in that Covenant, were given up in numerato, with a kind of Livery and [ B] Seisin at his Exaltation;* which is the importance of that place, Ephes. iv. 8.* out of the lxviii. Psalm, Thou hast ascended on high] There is the date of it upon Christ's inauguration to his Regal Office:*Thou hast led captivity captive.] There is the evidence of conveyance unto him, as a reward of his victory, and part of his triumph: Thou hast given gifts] or as the Psalm received, Gifts for men.] Both importing the same thing, in divers relations, received from his Father, (All power is given to me) that he might give, dispense, convey, and steward it out to men; [ C] and so literally still, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the hand of a Mediator. And then that which is thus made over to us, is not only the gift of Grace, the habit by which we are regenerate: But above that account, daily bublings out of the same Spring, minutely rayes of this Sun of Righte∣ousness, which differ from that gift of Grace, as the propagation of life from the first act of Conception, conservation from Creation; that which was there done in a minute, is here done every minute; and so the Christian is still in fieri, not in facto esse: or as a line which is an [ D] aggregate of infinite points, from a point in suo indivisibili; the first called by the Schools, Auxilium gratiae per modum principii, the other Per modum concursus. And this is noted by the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, givings, Jam. i. 17.* neither 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 as the Heathen called their vertues, as habits of their own acquiring; nor again so properly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, gifts, because that proves a kind of tenure after the receit, Data, eo tempore quo dantur fiunt accipientis, saith the Law: But properly and critically 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, givings, Christ always a giving, confirming minutely not our title, [ E] but his own gift; or else that as minutely ready again to return to the crown. All our right and title to strength and power, is only from Gods minutely donation. And the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the Present tense implies, all depending on the perpetual presence and assistance of his strength. Hence is it that Christ is called the Father of Eternity, Isai. ix. 6. i. e. of the life to come (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 say the LXX, the age to come) the state of Christians under the Gospel, and all that belongs to it; The Father] which doth not only beget the Child, but educate, pro∣vide [ F] for, put in a course to live, and thrive, and deserves far more, for that he doth after the birth, than for the being it self; and therefore it is Proclus his observation of Plato, that he calls God, in respect of all Creatures 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Maker; but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a Father in respect of Man. And this the peculiar title of Christ, in respect of his Offices; not to Page 23 [ A] be the Maker only, the Architect of that age to come, of grace and glory, but peculiarly the Father which continues his Paternal Rela∣tion for ever; yea, and the exercises of Paternal Offices by the pe∣dagogy of the Spirit, all the time of non-age, minutely adding and improving, and building him up to the measure and pitch of his own stature and fulness. And so again that soveraign Title of his Jesus, i. e.*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Matt. i. 21. This title and of∣fice of Physician is peculiar to the second person, to repair the daily [ B] decays and ruines of the Soul, and not only to implant a Principle of health, but to maintain it by a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and confirm it minutely into an exact habit of Soul: and therefore, That Sun of righteousness is said to have his healing in his wings; i. e. in those rayes which it mi∣nutely sends out, by which as on wings, this fountain of all inherent and imputed righteousness, of sanctifying and justifying Grace, takes its flight, and rests upon the Christian Soul; and this still peculiarly, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not in God〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in Christ; In [ C] Christ that strengtheneth.
The not observing, or not acknowledging of which difference, be∣tween the gifts of God, and the gifts of Christ, the endowments of that first, and this second foundation, the hand of God, and the hand of a Mediator, is I conceive the ground of all those perplexing con∣troversies about the strength of nature, and patrimony of grace, Pela∣gius very jealous and unwilling to part with his natural power, left any thing in the business of his Salvation should be accounted due unto [ D] God,* they are his own words, if Jerom may be credited, Mihi nullus auferre poterit liberi arbitrii potestatem, ne si in operibus meis Deus adjutor extiterit, non mihi debeatur merces, sed ei qui in me operatus. Socinus again denying all merit and satisfaction of Christ, making all that but a Chimaera, and so evacuating or antiquating that old te∣nure by which we hold all our Spiritual Estate. The Romanists again, at least some of them,* bestowing upon the blessed Virgin after Con∣ception, such Jurisdiction in the temporal procession of the Holy [ E] Ghost, that no grace is to be had but by her dispensing; that she the Mother gives him that sends the Holy Ghost, and therefore gives all gifts, quibus vult, quomodo, quando, & per manus:* That she is the neck to Christ the Head, cant. vii. 4. and‖Sublato Virginis patrocinio, perinde ac halitu intercluso, peccator vivere diutiùs non potest: and store enough of such emasculate Theology as this. And yet others that maintain the quite contradictory to all these, acknowledging a necessity of supernatural strength to the attaining of our supernatural end, and [ F] then ask and receive this only, as from the hands and merits of Christ, without the mediation or jurisdiction of anyother, are yet had in jealousie and suspicion as back-friends to the cause of God, and ene∣mies to Grace; because they leave man any portion of that natural strength which was bestowed on him at his Creation. Whereas the limits of both these being distinctly set, there may safely be acknow∣ledged, Page 24 first a natural power; (or if you will call it natural grace, the [ A] Fathers will bear you out in the phrase) Illius est gratiae quòd creatus est,* S. Jerom; Gratia Dei quâ fecit nos,‖ S. Austin; and Crearis gratia,* S. Bernard: and that properly styled, the strength of God, but not of Christ, enabling us for the works of nature.
And then above this, is regularly superstructed the strength of Christ, special supernatural strength made over unto us, not at our first but second birth; without which, though we are men, yet not Christians, Live, saith Clemens,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a kind of em∣bryon, [ B] imperfect heathen, of a child in the womb, of the gentle dark uncomfortable being, a kind of first draught, or ground colours only, and monogram of life. Though we have Souls, yet in relation to spi∣ritual acts or objects, but weak consumptive cadaverous souls (as 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the Old Testament word for the Soul, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the 72, sig∣nifies, a carkass or dead body, Numb. v. 2. and otherwhere) and then by this accession of this strength of Christ, this dead Soul revives into a kind of omnipotency; the Pygmie is sprung up into a Gyant, this [ C] languishing puling state improv'd into an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; he that even now was insufficient to think any thing, is now able to do all things; which brings me to my second Proposition.
The strength of a Christian, from Christ deriv'd, is a kind of Omnipotence, sufficient for the whole duty of a Chri∣stian, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Can do all things.
The clearing of this Truth from all difficulties or prejudices, will [ D] depend mainly on the right understanding of the predicate, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in my Text, or the whole duty of a Christian in the proposition: which two being of the same importance, the same hand will unravel them both. Now what is the whole duty of a Christian, but the adequate condition of the second Covenant? upon performance of which salva∣tion shall certainly be had, and without which salvare nequeat ipsa si cupias salus, the very sufferings and saving mercies of Christ will avail us nothing. As for any Exercise of Gods absolute Will, or Power, in this [ E] business of Souls under Christs Kingdom, I think we may fairly omit to take it into consideration; for sure the New Testament will acknow∣ledg no such phrase, nor I think any of the Ancients that wrote in that language. Whereupon perhaps it will be worth observing, in the con∣fession of the Religion of the Greek Church, subscribed by Cyril the pre∣sent Patriarch of Constantinople, where having somewhat to do with this phrase, Of Gods absolute Dominion so much talked on here in the West, he is much put to it to express it in Greek, and at last fain to do it by [ F] a word coyned on purpose, a meer Latinism for the turn, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; an expression I think capable of no excuse but this, that a piece of new Divinity was to be content with a barbarous phrase. Concerning this condition of the second Covenant, Three things will require to be premised to our present enquiry.
Page 25 [ A] 1. That there is a Condition, and that an adequate one, of the same extent as the promises of the Covenant; something exacted at our hands to be performed if we mean to be the better for the demise of that Indenture, As many as received him, to them he gave power, &c. Joh. i. 12.* to these, and to none else, positively and exclusively. To him that overcometh will I give,* Rev. ii. 7. I have fought a good fight,* &c. 2 Tim. iv. 7. henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown; Then begins the title to the Crown, and not before: when the [ B] fight is fought, the course finished, the faith kept, then coelum rapi∣unt, God challenged on his righteousness as a Judg; not on ground of his absolute pleasure as a Lord, which will; but upon supposition of a Pact or Covenant, which limits and directs the award & process, for according unto it God the righteous Judge shall give.* And Mark xvi. 16. in Christs farewel speech to his Disciples, where he seals their Commission of Embassage and Preaching to every creature; He that believeth not shall be damned; this believing whatever it signifies is [ C] that condition here we speak of, and what it imports, you will best see by comparing it with the same passage set down by another Ama∣nuensis in the last verse of S. Matth. To observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: A belief not of brain or phansie, but that of heart and practice, i. e. Distinctly Evangelical or Christian obedience, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in my Text, and the whole duty of a Christian in the propo∣sition; which if a Christian by the help of Christ be not able to per∣form, then consequently he is still uncapable of Salvation by the [ D] second Covenant; no creature being now rescuable from Hell stante pacto, but those that perform the condition of it, that irreversible Oath of God, which is always fulfilled in kind without relaxation, or commutation, or compensation of punishment, being already gone out against them;*I have sworn in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest. And therefore when the end of Christs mission is described, Joh. iii. 17.*That the world through him might be saved; there is a shrewd [But] in the next Verse, But he that believeth not is condemned [ E] already: This was upon agreement between God and Christ, that the impenitent Infidel should be never the better for it, should die unre∣scued in his old Condemnation. So that there is not only a logical possibility, but a moral necessity of the performing of this 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or else no possibility of Salvation. And then that reason of disannulling the old, and establishing the new Covenant, because there was no justification to be had by the old,* rendred Gal. iii. 21. would easily be retorted upon the Apostle thus, Why neither is any life or justificati∣on [ F] to be had by this second; the absurdity of which sequel being con∣sidered, may serve for one proof of the Proposition.
The Second thing to be premised of this Condition is, That it is an immutable, unalterable, indispensable Condition. The 2d. Covenant standing this must also stand, that hath been proved already, because a condition adequate, and of the same latitude with the Covenant.
Page 26 But now secondly, this second, both Covenant and Condition, [ A] must needs stand an Everlasting Covenant,*Ezek. xvi. 60. No possi∣bility of a change, unless upon an impossible supposition, there should remain some other fourth Person of the Deity to come into the World. The Tragick Poets, saith Tully, when they had overshot themselves in a desperate Plot, that would never come about, ad Deum confugiunt, they were fain to flie to a God, to lay that unruly spirit that their phansie had raised. Upon Adam's sin and breach of the Condition of the First Covenant, there was no possibility in the wit of man, in the [ B] sphere of the most Poetical phansie, Fabulae exitum explicare, to come off with a fair conclusion, had not the Second Person of the Trinity, that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, come down in his tire, and personation of flesh, not in the stage Cloaths or Livery, but substantial form of a servant upon the stage. And he again having brought things into some possi∣bility of an happy conclusion (though it cost him his life in the nego∣tiation) leaves it at his departure in the trust of his vicegerent, the Spirit of his power, to go thorow with his beginnings; to see that [ C] performed (which only he left unperfected, as being our task not his) the Condition of the Second Covenant. The Spirit then enters upon the work, dispatches Officers, Ambassadors to all Nations in the World 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* to every creature, Mark xvi. 15. And himself to the end of the World, goes along to back them in their Ministery: And then the next thing the Scripture tells us of, is the coming to Har∣vest, after this Seeds time, and he that believeth not, shall be damned; and so that Sacred Canon is shut up. [ D]
The Issue of this second Pracognitum, is this, That if there still remain any difficulties, any impossibilities to be overcome; so they are like to remain for ever, unless there be some other Person in the Godhead to be sent, to make up Pythagoras his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, there is no new way imaginable to be found out; and that perhaps is the reasons of those peremptory denunciations of Christ against them that sin against the Holy Ghost, against that administration of grace entrusted to him, That there shall be never any remission for them, in [ E] this world, or in another, i. e. Either by way of Justification here, or Glorification at that grand Manumission hereafter. And that may serve for a second proof of the Proposition, That if for all, the duty of a Christian is not feasible, it must remain so for ever; an adum∣bration thereof you may see set down Heb. x.* comparing the 16 with the 26 Verse. In the sixteenth you have the Second Covenant de∣scribed, and the condition of it in the Verses following; and then Verse 26. if after this we sin wilfully, then our estate becomes de∣sperate, [ F] There remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fear∣ful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation; and he that takes not then quarter, accounted an adversary for ever: The Apostate, whether he renounce his faith, in fact or profession, must be a Cast-away.
Page 27 [ A] The third thing to be premised is, Wherein this condition of the second Covenant consists; and that is not in any rigor of legal perform∣ance (that was the bloody purport of that old obligation, that soon concluded us all under death irreversibly) nor in any Egyptian Pha∣raoh's tasks, a full tale of Bricks, without Straw, without any materi∣als to make them; no Pharisaical burthen laid on heavy, and no fin∣ger to help to bear it;* but an easie yoke, a light burthen, Mat. xi. 30. and not only light, but alleviating: He that was laden before, is the [ B] lighter for this yoke, Vers. 29. Take my yoke, and you shall find rest. And therefore Christ thinks reasonable, not to lay the yoke upon them as an injunction (as the worldly fashion is) but to commend it to them, as a thing that any prudent man would be glad to take up, in the beginning of the Verse, Take my yoke upon you.
In a word, it consists in the embracing of Christ in all his Offices, the whole Person of Christ; but especially as he is typically described in Zachary,* a crowned Jesus, a Priest upon a Throne; his Scepter joyn∣ed [ C] to his Ephod, to rule and receive tribute as well as sacrifice, and sa∣tisfie and reconcile: Consilium pacis inter ambo ea, those two Offices of his reconciled in the same, our Priest become our King, That being delivered, we may serve him (in the other Zacharie's phrase, Delivered without fear, serve him) in holiness and righteousness: the performance of that duty that Christ enables to perform;* the sincerity of the honest heart; the doing what our Christian strength will reach to. and hum∣bly setting the rest on Christs score. And then when that which can [ D] be done, is sure to be accepted, there is no room left for pretended impossibilities. Nay, because those things which there is a Logical possibility for us to do, and strength sufficient suppeditated, it is not yet Morally possible to do all our lives long, without any default; Be∣cause, as Parisiensis saith,* even the habit of Grace, in the regenerate heart, is as long as a man carries flesh about him as an armed man, Positus in lubrico, set to fight in a slippery place, all his armor and valor will not secure him from a fall; or again, as the General of a [ E] factious or fals-hearted army, a party of insidious flesh at home, which will betray to the weaker enemy that comes unanimous; or as a Warrior on a tender mouth'd horse, impatient of Discipline, or check, is fetcht over sometimes for all his strength and armor: Because, I say, there is none but offend sometimes, even against his power; there is therefore bound up in this new Volume of Ordinances, an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a New Testa∣ment, a Codicil of Repentance, added to the Testament; that Plank for Shipwrackt souls, that City of Refuge, that Sanctuary for the Man-slayer [ F] after sincommitted. And then, if sincere obedience be all that is required, and that exclude no Christian living, be he never so weak; but the false, faithless Hypocrite, if repentance will repair the faults of that; and that exclude none but him, that lives and dies indulgent in sin, the common prostitute, final impenitent infidel: If whatsover he want∣ing, be made over in the demise of the Covenants; and whatsoever we Page 28 are enabled to do, accepted in the condition of it; then certainly no [ A] man that advises with these premisses, and so understands what is the meaning of the duty, can ever doubt any longer of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Omnipotence of the Christian, his sufficiency from Christ to perform his whole duty: Which is the sum of the conclusion of the second Arausican Council held against Pelagius,*c. ult. Secundum sidem Catho∣licam credimus, quòd acceptâ per Baptismum gratiâ omnes Baptizati Christo auxiliante & cooperante quae ad salutem pertinent possint & de∣beant (si fideliter laborare voluerint) adimplere. The not observing of [ B] which, is, I conceive, the fomenter of all that unkindly heat of those involved disputes, Whether a regenerate man in viâ, can fulfil the Law of God: Of that collision concerning merits, concerning venial and mortal sin, justification by works, or Faith, or both; all which up∣on the grounds premised, will to any intelligent sober Christian, a friend of truth, and a friend of peace, be most evidently composed. To bring down this thesis to these several Hypotheses, this time or place will not permit; I shall be partial to this part of my Text, if I pass [ C] not with full speed, to that which remains; the third Proposition.
I, not I alone, abstracted from Christ, nor I principally, and Christ only in Subsidiis, to facilitate that to me which I was not quite [ D] able throughly to perform without help, (which deceitful considera∣tion drew on Pelagius himself, that was first only for nature, at last to take in one after another, five Subsidiaries more; but only as so many horses to draw together in the Chariot with nature, being so pur∣sued by the Councils and Fathers, from one hold to another, till he was at last almost deprived of all; acknowledging, saith S. Austin, Divinae gratiae adjutorium ad posse; and then had not the Devil stuck close to him at the exigence, and held out at the velle & operari, he [ E] might have been in great danger to have lost an Heretick.) But I] ab∣solutely impotent in my self to any supernatural duty, being then rapt above my self, strengthned by Christs perpetual influence, having all my strength & ability from him, am then by that strength able to do all things my self. As in the old Oracle, the God inspired and spake in the ear of the Prophet, and then the Vates spoke under from thence, called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, ecchoed out that voice aloud which he had received by whisper, a kind of Scribe, or Cryer, or Herauld, to deliver out as he [ F] was inspired: The principal,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a God, or Oracle; the Prophet〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an inspired Enthusiast, dispensing out to his credulous clients, all that the Oracle did dictate; or as the Earth, which is cold and dry in its elementary constitution; and therefore bound up to a necessity of perpetual barrenness, having neither of those two pro∣creative Page 29 [ A] faculties, heat or moisture, in its composition; but then by the beams of the Sun, and neighbourhood of Water, or to supply the want of that, rain from Heaven to satisfie its thirst, this cold dry Element begins to teem, carries many Mines of treasure in the Womb, many granaries of fruit in its surface, and in event, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, contributes all that we can crave, either to our need, or luxury. Now though all this be done by those foraign aids, as principal, nay sole efficients of this fertility in the earth to conceive, & of its strength to bring forth, [ B] yet the work of bringing forth is attributed to the Earth,*Heb. vi. 7. as to the immediate parent of all. Thus is it God's work 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith Cyril,* to plant and water, and that he doth mediately by Apollos and Paul: yea, and to give the encrease, that belongs to him immediately; neither to Man, nor Angel, but only ad Agricolam Trinitatem,* saith S. Austin; but after all this 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, though God give the encrease, thou must bring forth the fruit. The Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary,* and she was found with child, Mat. i. 18. [ C] 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, she was found; no more attributed to her; the Holy Ghost the principal,* nay sole agent in the work, and she a pure Virgin still: and yet Luk. i. 31. 'tis the Angels Divinity, That Mary shall conceive and bring forth a Son. All the efficiency from the Holy Ghost, and partus ventrem, the work attributed, and that truly to Mary, the sub∣ject in whom it was wrought; and therefore is she call'd by the An∣cients not only officina miraculorum, & 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The shop of Miracles, and The Work-house of the Holy Ghost, (as the Rhetorick [ D] of some have set it) but by the Councils, (that were more careful in their phrases) 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not only the Conduit through which he past, but the Parent of whose substance he was made. And thus in the production of all spiritual Actions, the principal sole effi∣cient of all is Christ, and His Spirit; all that is conceived in us, is of the Holy Ghost: The holy Principle, holy Desire, holy Action, the posse,*& velle, & operari, all of him, Phil. ii. 12. But then being so overshadowed, the Soul it self conceives; being still assisted, carries [ E] in the Womb, and by the same strength at fulness of time, as oppor∣tunities do Midwife them out, brings forth Christian Spiritual Acti∣ons; and then as Mary was the Mother of God, so the Christian Soul is the Parent of all its Divine Christian Performances; Christ the Fa∣ther, that enables with his Spirit; and the Soul the Mother, that actu∣ally brings forth.
And now that we may begin to draw up towards a conclusion▪ Two things we may raise from hence by way of inference to our [ F] Practice.
1. Where all the Christians non-proficiency is to be charged, ei∣ther 1. Upon the Habitual Hardness, or 2. The Sluggishness, or 3. The Rankness of his own wretchless heart.
1. Hardness, That for all the seed that is sown, the softning dew that distills, & rain that is poured down, the enlivening influen∣ces Page 30 that are dispensed among us, yet the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the hardness [ A] and toughness of the Womb,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that dry unnutri∣fying Earth in the Philosopher's, or in Christs dialect, Stony-ground, resists all manner of Conception, will not be hospitable, yield any entertainment, even to these Angelical guests, though they come as to Lot's house in Sodom, only to secure the owner from most certain de∣struction. This is the reason that so much of Gods Husbandry among us, returns him so thin, so unprofitable an Harvest, ceciderunt in pe∣trosa; and 'tis hard finding any better tillage now a-days; the very [ B] Holy Land, the milk and honey of Canaan is degenerate, they say, into this Composition; and herein is a marvellous thing, that where God hath done all that any man, if it were put to his own partial judg∣ment, would think reasonable for him to do for his Vineyard, gather∣ed out stones, those seeds of natural hardness, and which deserves to be marked,* built a Wine-press, Isa. v. 2. a sure token that he expect∣ed a vintage in earnest, not only manur'd for fashion, or to leave them without excuse; yet for all these, Labruscas, wild, juiceless [ C] Grapes, heartless Faith, unseasoned Devotion, intemperate Zeal, blind and perverse Obedience, that under that name shall disguise and excuse Disobedience; tot genera labruscarum, so many wild unsavoury fruits, is the best return he can hear of.
One thing more let me tell you; 'Tis not the original hardness of Nature to which all this can be imputed, for, for the mollifying of that, all this gardening was bestowed; digging & gathering out, and indeed nothing more ordinary, than out of such stones to raise up chil∣dren [ D] unto Abraham. But 'tis the long habit and custom of sin which hath harrast out the Soul, congealed that natural gravel, and im∣proved it into a perfect quarry or mine; and 'tis not the Preachers Charm, the Annunciation of the Gospel, that Power of God unto Salvation, unto a Jew or Heathen; 'tis not David's Harp, (that could exorcise the evil Spirit upon Saul) not the every day elo∣quence, even of the Spirit of God, that can in holy Esdras his phrase, perswade them to Salvation. [ E]
2. Sluggishness, and inobservances of God's seasons and oppor∣tunities, and seed-times of Grace. God may appear a thousand times, & not once find us in case to be parlyed with: Christ comes but thrice to his Disciples from his Prayers in the Garden, and that thrice he finds them asleep,*Mat. xxvi. Christ can be awake to come, and that in a more pathetical language, Sic non potuistis horâ unâ, as the vulgar most fully out of the Greek; Were you so unable to watch one hour? The Pharisee can be awake to Plot, Judas to betray, their joint Vi∣gils [ F] and Proparasceve to that grand Passeover the slaying of the Lamb of God, and only the Disciples they are asleep, for their eyes were heavy saith the Text; and this heaviness of eyes, and heaviness of heart (whereupon 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the LXXII is ordinarily set for sinners) is the depriving us many times, not only of Christ, but his Page 31 [ A] Spirit too. So many apologies, and excuses to him when he calls, A little more sleep and slumber, and folding of the hands: Such drowsie∣hearted slovenly usage when he comes, that no wonder if we grieve him out of our houses: Such contentedness in our present servile estate, that if a Jubilee should be proclaimed from Heaven, a general Manumission of all servants from these Gallies of sin, we would be ready with those servants for whom Moses makes a provision, to come and tell him plaingly, We will not go out free,* be bored through [ B] the ear to be slaves for ever, Ex. xxi. 6.
3. Rankness, and a kind of spiritual sin of Sodom; Pride and fulness of bread, abusing the Grace of God into wantonness; either to the ostentatious setting themselves out before men, or else the feeding themselves up to that high flood of spiritual pride & confidence, that it will be sure to impostumate in the soul. Some men have been fain to be permitted to sin, for the abating this humour in them by way of phlebotomy; S. Peter, I think, is an example of that. Nebuchadnez∣zar [ C] was turned a grazing, to cure his secular Pride; and S. Paul, I am sure, had a Messenger sent to him to that purpose, by way of preven∣tion, that he might not be exalted above measure; and when he thought well of it, he receives it as a present sent him from Heaven, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, reckons of it as a gift of Grace, or if you will, a medicinal dose, or recipe, but rather a playster, or outward applica∣tion, which per antiperistasin would drive in his spiritual heat, and so help his weak digestion of grace, make him the more thriving Chri∣stian [ D] for ever after.
The Issue of this first Inference is this, That 'tis not God's partial or niggardly dispencing of Grace; but either our unpreparedness to re∣ceive, or preposterous giddiness in making use of it, which is the cause either of Consumption, or Aposthume in the Soul, either starving or surfeiting the Christian.
The second Inference, how all the Christians diligence is to be placed; what he hath to do in this wayfare to his home: And that is [ E] the same that all Travellers have, first, to be alway upon his feet, ad∣vancing minutely something toward his next stage. See that we be employed, or else how can God assist; we must 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or else he cannot 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; and see that we be employed aright, or else God must not, cannot assist. The Sluggards devotions can never get into Gods pre∣sence; they want heat and spirit to lift them up, and activity to press and enfore them when they are there. It was an impression in the very Heathen, Porcius Cato in the History, That watching, and act∣ing, [ F] and advising aright, and not emasoulate womanish supplications alone, were the means, whereby Gods help is obtained, Ubi socordiae atque ignaviae tradideris, frustra Deos implores.* And Jerome to the same purpose, that their sacrifice are but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, food for the fire to devour; and their richest offerings to the Temple, but a spoil to the sacrilegious to prey on: And the sinners devotions must not be enter∣tained Page 32 there; they would even prophane that holy place. He that [ A] was born blind,* saw thus much, Joh. ix. 31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any be a worshipper of God, and doth his will, him doth God hear.
And then secondly, to get furnished, whatever it cost him, of all provision and directions for his way; and so this will conclude in a double Exhortation, both combined in that of David to Solomon, 1 Chron. xxii. 16.* when all materials were laid in, and Artificers pro∣vided for the building of the Temple, and wanted nothing but a [ B] chearful Leader to actuate and enliven them, Arise therefore and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.
1. To set about the business as thine own work, as the task that will not be required of the Spirit of God, of the Scripture, of the Preacher, but of thee. When it is performed, thou wouldst be loth that God should impute all to himself, crown his own Graces, Ordinan∣ces, Instruments, and leave thee as a cypher unrewarded: And there∣fore, whilst it is a performing, be content to believe, that somewhat [ C] belongs to thee, that thou hast some hardship to undergo, some dili∣gence to maintain, some evidences of thy good husbandry, thy wise managing of the Talent; and in a word, of faithful service to shew here, or else when the Euge bone serve is pronounced, thou will not be able,* confidently to answer to thy name. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, said the Milesians to Brutus. All the Weapons in the world will not defend the man, unless the man actuate, and fortifie, and defend his weapons. Thy strength consists all in the strength of Christ, [ D] but you will never walk, or be invulnerable in the strength of that, till you be resolved, That the good use (and so the strength of that strength to thee) is a work that remains for thee. If it were not, that Exhortation of the Apostles, would never have been given in form of Exhortation to the Christian, but of Prayer only to Christ, Stand fast, quit your selves like men,*be strong, 1 Cor. xvi. 13.
Lastly, Or indeed that which must be both first and last, com∣mensurate to all our diligence, the Viaticum that you must carry with [ E] you, is the Prayers of humble gasping Souls: Humble, in respect of what grace is received; Be sure not to be exalted with that considera∣tion. Gasping for what supply may be obtained from that eternal un∣exhausted Fountain; and these Prayers not only, that God will give, but, as Josephus makes mention of the Jews Liturgy, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉That they may receive: And as Porphyry, of one kind of Sacrifice, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, That they may use; and every of us fructifie in some proportion answerable to our irrigation. [ F]
Now the God of all Grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus; after that you have obeyed a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
To him, be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.