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former and principal part of it too, i. e. perform the obedience which we owe to God, he would not fully have performed the office of suretiship which he undertook for us; and so would be but a half-mediator, or halfsaviour, which are such words as I dare scarce pronounce, for fear of blasphemy.
So that, though it is the death of Christ by which I believe my sins are pardoned, yet it is the life of Christ. by which I believe my person is accepted. His passions God accounts as suffered by me, and therefore I shall not die for sin; his obedience God accounts as performed by me, and therefore I shall live with him. Not as if I believed, that Christ so performed obedience for me that I should be discharged from my duty to him; but only that I should not be condemned by God in not discharging my duty to him in so strict a manner as is required. I believe the active obedience of Christ will stand me in no stead, unless I endeavour after sincere obedience in mine own person; his active as well as his passive obedience being imputed unto none, but only to such as apply it to themselves by faith; which faith in Christ will certainly put such as are possessed of it upon obedience unto God. This therefore is the righteousness, and the manner of that justification, whereby I hope to stand before the judgment-seat of God; even by God's imputing my sins to Christ, and Christ's righteousness to me; looking upon me as one not to be punished for my sins, because Christ hath suffered, but to be received into the joys of glory, because Christ hath performed obedience for me, and does by faith, through grace, impute it to me,
And thus it is into the merit of Christ that I resolve the whole work of my salvation; and this not only as to that which is wrought without me for the justification of my person, but likewise as to what is wrought within me for the sanctification of my nature. As I cannot have a sin pardoned without Christ, so neither can I have a sin subdued without him; neither the fire of God's wrath can be quenched, nor yet the filth of my sins washed away, but by the blood of Christ.
So that I wonder as much at the doctrine that some men have advanced concerning free-will, as I do at that which others have broached in favour of good works; and it is a mystery to me, how any that ever had experience of God's method in working out sin, and planting grace in our hearts, should think they can do it by themselves, or any thing in order to it. Not that I do in the least question but that every man may be saved that will; (for this I believe is a real truth;) but I do not believe, that any man of himself can will to be saved. Wheresoever God enables a soul effectually to will salvation, he will certainly give salvation to that soul: but I believe it is as impossible for any soul to will salvation of himself, as to enjoy salvation without God.
And this my faith is not grounded upon a roving fancy, but the most solid reasons: forasmuch as of ourselves we are not able in our understandings to discern the evil from the good; much less then are we able in our wills to prefer the good before the evil; the will never settling upon any thing but what the judgment discovers to it. But But now, that my natural judgment is unable to apprehend and represent to my will the true and only good under its proper notion, my own too sad experience would sufficiently persuade me, though I had neither Scripture nor reason for it. And yet, the Scripture also is so clear in this point, that I could not have denied it,though I should never have had any experience of it; the Most High expressly telling me, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. ii. 14. Neither can he know them, i. e. there is an absolute impossibility in it, that any one remaining in his natural principles, without the assistance of God, should apprehend or conceive the excellency of spiritual objects. So that a man may as soon read the letter of the Scripture without eyes, as understand the mysteries of the Gospel without grace. And this is not at all to be wondered
at; especially if we consider the vast and infinite disproportion betwixt the object and the faculty; the object to be apprehended being nothing less than the best of beings, God; and the faculty whereby we apprehend it, nothing more than the power of a finite creature, polluted with the worst of evils, sin.
So that I believe it is a thousand times easier for a worm, a fly, or any other despicable insect whatsoever, to understand the affairs of men, than for the best of men in a natural state to apprehend the things of God. No; there is none can know God, nor by consequence any thing that is really good, but only so far as they are partakers of the divine nature: we must in some measure be like to God, before we can have any true conceptions of him, or be really delighted with him; we must have a spiritual sight, before we can behold spiritual things; which every natural man being destitute of, he can see no comeliness in Christ, why he should be desired; nor any amiableness in religion, why it should be embraced.
And hence it is that I believe, the first work which God puts forth upon the soul in order to its conversion is to raise up a spiritual light within it, to clear up its apprehensions about spiritual matters, so as to enable the soul to look upon God as the chiefest good, and the enjoyment of him as the greatest bliss; whereby the soul may clearly discern betwixt good and evil, and evidently perceive that nothing is good but so far as it is like to God; and nothing evil, but so far as it resembles sin,
But this is not all the work that God hath to do upon a sinful soul, to bring it to himself; for though I must confess, that in natural things the will always follows the ultimate dictates of the understanding, so as to choose and embrace what the understanding represents to it, under the comely dress of good and amiable, and to refuse and abhor whatever under the same representation appears to be evil and dangerous; I say, though I must
confess it is so in natural, yet I believe it is not so in spiritual matters. For though the understanding may have never such clear apprehensions of spiritual good, yet the will is not at all affected with it, without the joint operations of the grace of God upon us; all of us too sadly experiencing what St. Paul long ago bewailed in himself, that what we do, we allow not, Rom. vii. 15. that though our judgments condemn what we do, yet we cannot choose but do it; though our understandings clearly discover to us the excellency of grace and glory, yet our wills, overpowered with their own corruptions, are strangely hurried into sin and misery. I must confess, it is a truth which I should scarcely have ever believed, if I had not such daily experience of it: but, alas! there is scarce an hour in a day, but I may go about lamenting, with Medea in Seneca, Video meliora, proboque; deteriora sequor: though I see what is good, yea, and judge it to be the better, yet I very often choose the
And the reason of it is, because as by our fall from God the whole soul was desperately corrupted, so it is not the rectifying of one faculty which can make the whole straight; but as the whole was changed from holiness to sin, so must the whole be changed again from sin to holiness, before it can be inserted into a state of grace, or so much as an act of grace be exerted by it.
Now therefore, the understanding and will being two distinct faculties, or at least two distinct acts in the soul, it is possible for the understanding to be so enlightened, as to prefer the good before the evil, and yet for the will to remain so corrupt, as to choose the evil before the good. And hence it is, that where God intends to work over a soul to himself, he doth not only pass an enlightening act upon the understanding and its apprehensions, but likewise a sanctifying act upon the will and its affections, that when the soul perceives the glory of God, and the beauty of holiness, it may presently close with, and entertain it with the choicest of its
affections. And without God's thus drawing it, the understanding could never allure the soul to good.
And therefore it is, that for all the clear discoveries which the understanding may make to itself concerning the glories of the invisible world, yet God assures us, it is himself alone that affects the soul with them, by inclining its will to them: for it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13. So that though God offer heaven to all that will accept of it in his holy Scripture; yet none can accept of it but such whom himself stirs up by his holy Spirit to endeavour after it. And thus we find it was in Israel's return from Babylon to Jerusalem, though King Cyrus made a proclamation, that whosoever would, might go up to worship at the holy city, Ezra i. 3. yet there was none that accepted of the offer, but those whose spirit God had raised to go up, ver. 5. So here, though God doth, as it were, proclaim to all the world, that whosoever will come to Christ shall certainly be saved; yet it doth not follow that all shall receive salvation from him, because it is certain all will not come; or rather none can will to come, unless God enables them.
I am sure, to say none shall be saved but those that will of themselves, would be sad news for me, whose will is naturally so backward to every thing that is good. But this is my comfort, I am as certain my salvation is of God, as I am certain it cannot be of myself. It is Christ who vouchsafed to die for me, who hath likewise promised to live within ine; it is he that will work all my works, both for me and in me too. In a word, it is to him I am beholden not only for my spiritual blessings and enjoyments, but even for my temporal ones too, which in and through his name I daily put up my petitions for. So that I have not so much as a morsel of bread in mercy from God, but only upon the account of Christ; not a drop of drink but what flows unto me in his blood. It is he that is the very blessing of all my blessings, without whom my very mercies