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o be laughed at; and so indeed there are : their whipping themselves about that time of the year they call Lent : and great persons do this, kings, and queens, and lords, and great men; one would think it strange that so many great people should play the fool so : the true reason of it lies here, they have a conscience of sin, and they know they are sinners, and they do not know the true way of peace with God'through the righteousness of Christ, and they are taught these foolish ways, and, therefore, they pursue them. And truly, if the light of the gospel should be darkened yet much more in England, I cannot tell how many silly professors amongst us might be drawn, even into this foppery. It is natural for all men, ignorant of the righteousness of God in Christ, to devise ways of their own to render themselves acceptable in the sight of God,
2dly, The next effect of this woeful aversion from the grace of God, in justifying us by the righteousness of Christ, is in men's going to the law, and the works of it. I do but name this, because I shall speak more largely to it by itself, under the third and next doctrine.
3dly, I would speak something to the sad effects of this, that are found even in them whom God sayes. This aversion from the grace of God is so natural, that it puts forth itself strongly in them that the Lord is at work savingly upon; and I will name a few things about this, that some here can witness to; and I am sure that many more can witness to them than are here. (1.) Hence it comes to pass that, in many who
saved in the issue, there is a long sorrowful trouble of mind that they live under; and all the world shall not persuade them what the true cause of it is. They are full of sorrow and complainings; no other language to be heard to God or man, but many sorrowful complaints ; their corruptions are strong, their souls dead and dark, their consciences disquieted. And what is the true reason of all this? They are yet averse from giving glory to the sovereign grace of God in saving them by Christ. Many sorrowful hours, many of the elect of God have gone through in the strength of this corruption; and they have never seen it till a long while after, It is a shame and reproach to professors, and a dishouour to our Lord Jesus
Christ, that so many, in whom the root of the matter is, have their hearts sinking within them when relief is so plainly provided for them. The true reason is, because they are averse, and not willing, nor inclined to be indebted solely to grace, and to have all their supplies singly from it.
(2.) From hence it also comes to pass, that there are so many out-breakings of sin, or at least the working of it in the hearts of many that the Lord hath a mind to save ; and doch work savingly upon. How many poor creatures are there that know this? That from the time that the Lord first began to deal with them, and made them serious about salvation, their corruptions have grown more strong, and Satan more formidable and vexing; and, it may be, they are left of God to commit some gross sin, that they were never guilty of before. Whence comes this? It is not only from the strength of temptation, nor is corruption grown stronger ; but here lies the reason : Now God hath begun to awaken them, and they are not yet disposed kindly to yield themselves up
unto the entire conduct of grace; not willing to give the grace of God its proper employment : but this is the way, people generally take whensoever they are awakened, and made serious about salvation; then they fall to work, and set about dutythey pray, and hear, and read, and repent, and labour to reform their conversation, and in the mean time they are utterly unacquainted with employing Christ; and, therefore, the Lord in his righteous judgment leaves them to themselves, and lets them see that they must stand upon another bottom, or they will surely totter and fall; that they must be quite weaned from themselves, and all things made new in Christ, or nothing will be done rightly.
(3.) And thus some, as they live sorrowfully all their days, so they also die sadly; they have been leaning on their own righteousness as far as they could all their life long ; sometimes hanging upon one twig, and sometimes upon another ; and one breaks, and the other breaks, and here thưy get a fall, and there they get a fall; but at last, if the Lord hath mercy upon them, they are made to see the vanity of all these shifts; and then they betake themselves, in earnest to that which is without them, to a righteousness that they have no
hand in, that is wrought out by Christ alone, and given by pure grace. So much for this first head, How this sin of frustrating the grace of God is committed.
2dly, I am now to shew the sinfulness, and the greatness, of this sin of frustrating the grace of God. The apostle is here vindicating himself from it : I do not, saith he, frustrate the grace of God. Now there are two things especially that aggravate all sins, and the more of them there be in any sin, the more sinfulness is there in that sin. Ist, The direct tendency of any sin to damnation. 2dly, The direct enmity that there is in any sin to the grace of God; and wheresoever there is a sin that is especially framed both these ways, that sin must needs be a great one.
(1.) This sin of frustrating the grace of God is directly against m.n's salvation, and tends directly to damnation. All sin against the law tends to damnation by its desert; every sin deserves hell. Every sin against the law of God works out wrath by deserving; but sin against the gospel works out wrath by special activity, by its apt acting ; and there is a great difference between these two: a man that commits a sin against the law, he commits a sin that deserves death ; but he that sins against the grace of the gospel, in that very sin he works out his own death. Other sins expose a man to the wrath of God as a judge, but this sin is like self-murder, the man executes the law upon himself. Every man by nature is under a sentence of condemnation, but rejecting the grace of God, leaves and binds a man under that condemnation : there is no other remedy for it, but only the grace of God through Christ; therefore rejecting that, is rejecting the only remedy.
(2.) This sin is directly against the glory of God. There is a great deal of the glory of God concerned in his grace. This grace of God tendered to us, through Jesus Christ, is God's great plot and contrivance for his own glory: and frustrating of it, is all that man can do to frustrate God, and to disappoint him in his main design. Blessed be God, no creature can do this ; but, woe be to them that do all they can against it. The Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, Luke vii. 30. Sirs, God would never have suffer
ed the first Adam to have fallen, unless he had had a greater contrivance for his own glory in raising him up again. God would never have suffered the dishonour that sin's entrance brought upon him in the world, unless he had designed the bringing about of greater glory to himself by the manifestation of his grace. Therefore, where sin hath abounded, grace hath much more abounded; and that brings a great deal more honour to God than sin brings dishonour. The grace of God is the very bowels and the heart of God; and to frustrate this, is to kick against the very bowels of God. The grace of God is all through Jesus Christ, it flows through him ; and therefore all reflections upon the grace of God reflect upon him. The grace of God is tendered to men by the Holy Ghost; and, therefore, refusing and frustrating the grace of God, is rejecting of the Holy Ghost. In a word, this grace of God is the great scope of the whole Bible ; and to frustrate the grace of God, is to make the whole Bible in vain, both Old and New Testament toe. The Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, but it is through faith that it is in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. iii. 15.
APPLICATION. There are only two words that I would speak to for the improving of this doctrine. Is frustrating the grace of God such a horrible sin ? Then, Ist, Do you all beware of it. 2.ily, Receive this grace of God; for there is no other way to avoid the frustrating of the grace of God, but only by receiving it.
1st, I would have you all beware of this sin of frustrating the grace of God; but, more especially, I would direct a: warning of fear against this sin unto several sorts of persons.
(1.) Unto moral, civil, well-natured people, good livers, as we use to call them. Through the mercy of God, some are born of a better nature, as we call it, than others; of a sweet easy temper; and it is a great mercy to have a well-tempered mind, by a natural constitution, as well as it is to have a wellframed body. Now, when this virtuous natural temper hath the advantage of a godly education, these sert of people come quickly to look very well; and, therefore, they ought to take great heed. You civil, well-natured people, do you have a
great care of frustrating the grace of God; for it is a sin that you are especially tempted to. There are some people so ille natured, and of so bad a temper, that they need, as we use to say, a great deal of the grace of God to save them. And are there
any that do not need the grace of God? The Lord save any of you from thinking so ! He is in a woeful case indeed, that thinks he doth not need the grace of God. Moral, civil, people are in great danger of this sin : they think they have a good stock of their own to set up with, and therefore, they do not borrow of Christ.
(2.) People that have taken upon them the profession of religion, had need to take heed of this sin of frustrating the grace of God. They have taken upon them a profession, it may be they know not how, nor wherefore ; but it is come upon them. If you be clothed with the garment of profession, have great care of this sin. There are many that profess the grace of God, that yet are strangers to the thing itself; and they are in a very dangerous case.
(3.) They that boast of outward privileges, should have a care of this sin of frustrating the grace of God: they were baptized when they were children, and have heard the word, and attended upon ordinances, and they begin to think themselves fair before God for the hope of eternal life. They are blameless in their walk, and conversation. Let such people, in an especial manner, take heed of this sin. I can assure you, that a blameless conversation hath been a great temptation to a great many to undervalue the grace of God, and the righteousness of Jesus Christ. These sort of people were never sick at heart, &c.
(4.) Awakened souls; they whose consciences are awakened, have great need to take heed of this sin of frustrating the grace of God. The Lord, sometimes, makes both light and fire too, to dart in upon the consciences of poor sinners, and they begin to see and feel what they never saw nor felt before ; and when it is thus with them, sometimes, they think things are a great deal better with them than they were before; and, sometimes, they think it is a great deal worse with them; and they that in their awakening think it to be a great deal worse with them than it was before, are in a more hope.