Sivut kuvina

gardless of these spiritual gifts, and satisfied with his own condition ; or, is in no apprehension of danger, and vậinly boasts the possesion of that which he has not. With respect to those, who make an external profession of faith, and live regular lives, we are bound after the example of the Apostle to judge and speak of them in the most favourable manner. For the secret receffes of the heart, are unknown to HS, And as to others, ulio have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with: laughtiness, as if we liad made ourselves to differ.


But as man by the fall did not cease to be a crea care, endowed with understanding and will, nor did fin which pervaded the whole race of mankind, deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravily, and spiritual death ; fo allo this grace of regeneration, does not heat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor takes away their will and iis properties, neither does violence thereto; bui spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time fweetly and powerfully bends it ; that where carnal rebellion and resistance forinerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in

which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist. Wherefore unless the admirable author of every good work, wrought in us, man could have no hope of recovering from his fall by his own free will, by the abuse of which in a fate of innocence he plunged himself into ruin.


As the almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs and supports this our natural life, does not exclude, but requires the use of means, by whick God of his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence : fo also the beforementioned fupernatural operation of God, by which we are regenerated, in no wise excludes, or fubverts, the use of the gospel, which the most wife God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration, and food of the soul, Wherefore as the apostles and teachers who succeed ed them pioufly instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to his glory, and the abafemene of all pride, and in the mean time however neelected not to keep them by the sacred precepts of the gospel in the exercise of the word, facraments and discipline : so even to this day, be it far from cither instructors or instru&ed to presume to tempo God in the Chuteh, by separating what he of his good pleafure hath most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions,

and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God work ing in us, and the more direaly is his work ad. vanced, to whom alone all the glory both of means, and their saving fruit and efficacy is for ever due. Amen.



Of the Perseverance of the Saints.


T HOM God calls, according to his purposes VV 10 the communion of his Son our Lord fesus Christ, and regenerates by the holy spirit, he: delivers also from the dominion and slavery of fin in this life, thouhg not altogether from the body of lin, and from the infirmities of the flesh, so long as they continue in this world

[ocr errors]

ART. II. Hence spring daily fins of infirmity, and hence. pots adhere to the best works of the saints; which

furnishi them with constant matter for humiliation before God, and Aying for refuge to Christ crucified, for mortifying the flesh more and more by the fpirit of prayer, and by holy exercises of piety, and for pressing forward to the goal of perfection, till being at length delivered from this body of death, they are brought to reign with the Lamb of God in Heaven.

ART. III. By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength. But God is faithful, who liaving conferred grace, mercifully confirms them, and powerfully preserves them therein, cyen to the end.


Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced and a&nated by ihe spirit of God, as not in some particular instances, sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be seduced by and comply with the lasts of the feíh ; they must therefore be constant in watcli. ing and prayer, that they be not led into tem pratici. When these are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous fins, by Saran, the world and the flesh, but sometimes by the righteous permission of God actually fall into these evils. This, the lamentable fall of David, Peter, and other faints, described in holy scripture, demonstrates.


[ocr errors]

By such enormous fins, however, they very high-'. ly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the holyfpi. rit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grieviously wound their conscience, and sometimes lose the senle of God's favour, for a time, until on their return. ing into the right way by serious repentance, the sight of God's fatherly countenance again hines upe on them.


But God who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of ele&tion, does not wholly, withdraw the holy spirit from his own people, even in their melancholy falls, nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto dcath ; nor does he permit them to be totally desert. ed, and to plunge themselves into everlasting defa truction,

« EdellinenJatka »