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was able to purchase this trust; he had not a stock and estate of grace enough by him : Christ himself hath it by purchase : for he being the second person, the apostle tells us, “ He emptied himself, and became of no reputation; wherefore God hath given him a name above every name," Phil. ii. 7, 9, that in the name and strength of Jesus Christ we should be more than conquerors. He had a great estate by him, he was the second person : yet notwithstanding, this purchase was so great, that says Paul, “ He emptied himself.” Surely no creature in heaven or earth was able to come to this purchase. He that must be the world's Joseph, to give out bread of grace to all the world, the saints in the world; he must have infinite knowledge to know the wants of God's people: and he must have infinite mercy, and patience, and goodness to pity them: and he must have infinite power, to reach it forth unto them, which no creature hath, and therefore no creature at all fit for this work.
Besides, God the Father hath so ordered things in the dispensations of his grace, that he might take the most contentment, and complacency, and delight in the duties and services of his people: this is the only way to it.
" This is my beloved Son (says he) in whom I am well pleased,” Matt. iii. 17. If there be a garment that is laid with gold-lace, hung or stuck full of pearls; though the cloth of the garment be not much worth; yet because of the gold lace, and the pearls that are upon it, you count it very precious. Such are our duties; the cloth of our duty is not much worth, but because of the golden lace, and the pearls of the graces of Jesus Christ, they are very precious. It is not in regard of our duties, as in regard of our flowers, or posies : let a flower or posie be never so sweet, they receive not any of the sweetness from the bosom that it sticks in: the posie does sweeten the bosom, but the bosom does not sweeten the posie. Aye but now the duty that is stuck in the bosom of Jesus Christ, is sweetened by the bosom, by the bosom that it sticks in. Pray mark, therefore, what is said in the with of the Canticles for this purpose. Says the spouse at the 12th verse, “ When (or while) the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof." My spikenard; what is that? The graces, and the duties, and the services of God's people, they are his spikenard : this spikenard sendeth forth the
smell thereof, while the king sitteth at his table; while it is in the presence of Jesus Christ; whilst the posie is in his bosom it smells sweet, else it does not. Now God the Father, I say, he hath so ordered things, that he may take a complacency and contentment in the duties and services of his people, and therefore it is that all their graces, they come from Jesus Christ, by virtue of him.
It will be objected yet. It should seem that all grace does not come from Christ; no, nor from God the Father neither : for in the xvith of the Proverbs, and the 1st verse, it is said, as some translations read it, “ The preparations of the heart are of man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” If a man can prepare his heart, that is a great matter: but now, says Solomon, “ The preparations of the heart are of man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord :” surely therefore, all is not of grace, and all is not of Christ.
By way of answer, I shall say these three things.
1. The meaning of this place cannot be according to this objection : for then, as Bradwardine does well observe, the greater should be given to man, and the lesser should be given to God: for it is a greater thing for a man to prepare his heart, than for him to speak words when his heart is prepared. And then again, as Austin observes, this would be contrary to other Scriptures : for our Saviour Christ, he says, “ Without me ye can do nothing," John xv. 5: yes, might a man say, according to Solomon's doctrine, I can prepare my own heart, and that is a great duty. And so whereas the apostle says, “ We are not able for to think a good thought,” 2 Cor. iii. 5 : a man might say, yes, but according to Solomon's doctrine, I am able to prepare my own heart. The meaning therefore of this place cannot be according to this objection.
2. The scope therefore, of this place is this: to shew the vanity and the bootlessness of all our thoughts without God. Let a man think, and think, and spend his heart in thoughtfulness, all is in rain unless God go along with him; for God can come between his heart and his lips. So it was with Balaam ; he prepared his heart for to curse the people; but God came between his heart and the preparation, and
he gave an answer of blessing contrary to the preparation of his heart. That is the scope of the place, to show the vanity of the preparations of our hearts to any business, unless we take God along with us.
3. This place is so far from speaking against the doctrine in hand, that it seems to speak for it. For according to the Hebrew, the words may be read thus: “ The heart preparations of man, and the answer of the tongue from the Lord :" giving both heart and tongue into the hand of the Lord. And if it be so, that after a man hath prepared his heart unto any work, God is able to come between the heart and the lip, and to give in another answer into the mouth than what was intended in the heart: this shows that all is of God, that all is of grace; and so this place does rather confirm the doctrine that I am now upon.
Aye, but yet it will be said then : Grant it, that all grace is from Christ, that whatsoever grace a man hath, he hath it from Jesus Christ; yet so, as that when a man is converted, and drawn to Christ; there is a principle, or a habit of grace infused into the soul, whereby through ordinary concurrence and assistance from God, a man is able for to walk graciously without fresh assistance: for example, when the Lord made the world in the beginning, he gave unto the creatures a power to bring forth their like; he gave unto the beasts a power to bring forth their like; he gave unto plants, unto herbs, a power to bring forth their like; he gave unto man a power to bring forth his like; and so, grace being but a creature, he gave also unto grace a power to bring forth gracious actions without fresh assistance, only by ordinary concurrence: yet, because that this first habit is infused and comes from God, this is said to be from Christ, and from grace; so that though all is of grace, and all is from Christ, yet all is not from Christ in regard of fresh assistance.
Give me leave to answer this. Yes, all is from Jesus Christ; all grace is from Jesus Christ in regard of fresh assistance too.
For although in the beginning God made a covenant of works with man, and then gave that grace, that he had a power to bring forth its like; yet now the Lord hath brought us under a better covenant, a better covenant than the former was. In the first covenant that God made with us, and with
Adam, the Lord gave man a great stock of grace, but gave him no promise of perseverance; but now he hath. In the first, indeed, God gave man a great stock of grace, but Satan being stronger than man, came upon him, and beguiled him of it. Now though the Lord does give a Christian less grace in his hand for the present, yet he hath laid it up in so safe & hand, that though Satan, a stronger than he, does come down upon him, he is not able to wrest it from him, or beguile him of it, because it is in the hand of Christ, that is a stronger than he: and Jesus Christ, by a compact with the Father, from all eternity, hath engaged himself to do it; to give forth grace and assistance to all the elect, according to all their needs. So that, I say, now, all grace is from Jesus Christ in regard of fresh assistance. Therefore the Psalmist prays thus: “ Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise," Psalm li. 15. Lord, though thou hast given me habitual grace, yet, if I have not fresh assistance from thee, for to open my lips, my mouth will not shew forth thy praise. And so again, “ Lord, open mine eyes, that I may see the wonders of thy law," Psalm cxix. 18. And to this purpose, it is in the xviith Psalm, and the 5th verse, says David, “ Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” Mark, I pray, David ye know was a godly man, he had a habit of grace. Now, Lord, says David, as for the business that is between Saul and me, thou knowest
am in thy way; yet, Lord, says he, though I be in thy way, and have a habit of grace, yet if thou dost not hold up my steps, if thou dost not give me fresh assistance, I shall fall, I shall slip: “ Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps. slip not." Does not the apostle say, “ The will and the deed is from God?” Phil. ii. 13. You may observe, that the graces of God's people, they are called in the New Testament, “ the fruits of the Spirit,” Gal. v. 22. They are not called the fruits of a former habit, but they are called “the fruits of the Spirit.” And, indeed, if all grace were not from Jesus Christ, in regard of fresh assistance, truly, then, might a man have wherein to boast: as Bradwardine reasons the case: For, says he, though a child have his being from his father, his education from his father, learning, military skill; yet, notwithstanding, the valour of an action being his own, he hath in opposition to his father wherein to boast. True, I confess
indeed I had my being from my father, I had my nature from my father, I had my education from my father, I had this skill from my father; but the prowess, and the valour, and the spirit of the action is all mine own: and he hath wherein to boast. So if he hath the habit only from Christ, he hath wherein to boast : true, I had the habit, the grace from God, aye but the spirit of the action, that is mine: he hath wherein to boast. But there is no room for boasting, and therefore all grace is from Christ in regard of fresh assistance.
It will be yet said, but if all grace be from Christ in regard of fresh assistance too, why is it said that we repent, and we believe, and we ubey: for if all grace, in regard of the very work, be from Christ; if Jesus Christ do work all our works; why is it not rather said, that Christ does repent, and Christ does believe, and Christ does obey?
I answer, No. You know the persons that are responsible: if I owe a man a thousand pounds, and have never a penny to pay it; and another man he comes and lends me the money, and goes along with me to the creditor, the bond is taken up, and acquittance made, discharge made; he is not said to have paid the money, but I am said to pay the money that am responsible. So, now, you are responsible: and therefore, though ye have all strength from Christ to do it, yet you are said to repent, and believe, and obey. The devil is not said to commit adultery, and commit murder, yet by his instigation it is done. The sun does work with the tree, when the tree does bring forth fruit; and yet it is not said that the sun brings forth an apple, or brings forth fruit: because the sun does work as an universal cause, and the tree as a particular cause. So now, though Jesus Christ does work in all our workings, yet he is not said to repent, or believe, or to obey: because he works as an universal cause, and you work as a particular cause. Only behold here the mirror of grace : all is of Christ, and yet all is our's; all is our's in denomination, and all is Christ's in operation; all is our's in regard of encouragement, and all is Christ's in regard of glory; all is our's in regard of reward, and all is Christ's in regard of honour. Here is grace! Here is the mystery of grace! but still all, whatsoever grace a man hath, he hath it from Jesus Christ.
Aye but, will you say, to what end is this doctrine opened,