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Ć H A P. VIII.
Upon the Seed-Corn,
seed-corn, that it may not only be clean and pure, but the pelt and most excellent of its kind. Ifa. xxviii. 25. “ casteth in the principal wheat." If any be more full and weighty than other, that is reserved for feed. It is usual with husbandmen to pick and lease their feed-corn by hand, that they may feparate the cockel and darael, and all the lighter and hollow grains from it, wherein they manifest their discretion ; før, accordiog to the vigour and goodness of the feed, the fruit and production is like to be.
are fowed, after they are prepared for it, doth admirably thadow forth those excelleot principles of grace infufed into the regenerate foul. Their agreement, as they are both feed, is obvious, in the ten following particulars, and their excellency above other priaciples in seven more.
1. The earth at first naturally brought forth corn, and every feed yielding fruit, without human industry; but since the curse came upon it, it inuft be plowed and lowed, or do fruit can be expected. So man, at first, had all the principles of holiness in his patare, but now they must be infused by regencration, or else his nature is as void of holiness, as the barren and up tilled desart is of cora,
2. The earlier the feed is fown, the better it is rooted, and ; * enabled to endure the asperities of the winter ; fo when grace is early infused, when nature is fanctified in the bud, grace is thereby exceedingly advantaged. It was Timothy's fingular advantage, that he knew the Scriptures of a child.
3. Frosts and faows conduce very much to the well-rooting of the feed, and makes it fpread, and take root much the better. So do fanctified afflictions, which usually the people of God meet with after their calling, and often in their very secd time. i Thef. i. 6. " And you became followers of us “- and of the Lord, having received the word is much amic“ tion," But if they have fair wcather then, to be fure they VOL. VI.
fhall meet with weather hard enough afterwards. Heb x. 32. “ But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye “ were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions."
4. When the feed is cast into the earth, it must be covered op by the harrow, the use whereof, in husbaodiy, is not only to lay a plain foor (as they speak) but to open, and let in the corn to the botom of the earth, and there cover it up for its fecurity from birds that would devour it. Thus doth the most wise God provide for the security of that grace which he at first, disseminated in the hearts of his people. He is as well the finisher, as the author of their grace, Heb. xii. 2. and of this they may be confident, that he that hath begun a good work in them, will perform it unto the day of Christ. The care of God over the graces of his people, is like the covering of the feed for security.
5. Seed-corp is in its own nature of much more value and worth than other cord; the husbaodman casts in the priacipal wheat. So are the feeds of grace lowo in the renewed soul, for it is called the feed of God, 1 Joko iii. 9. The divine nature, 2 Pera i. 4. One dram of grace is far beyond all the glory of this world; it is more precious thao gold which perishes. i Pet. i. 7." The price of it is above rubies, and all that thou can ft " defire is not to be compared with it,” Prov. iii. 15.
6. There is a great deal of spirit and vigour in a little feed, thaugh it be fmall in bulk, yet it is great in virtue and efficacy. Gracious habits are also vigorous and efficacious things. Such is their efficacy that they overcome the world, r Joho v. 4. " Whatsoever is bora of God overcometh the world." They totally alter and change the person in whom they are. " that perfecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith " which he obce destroyed.” They enable the soul to do add füffer great things for God, Heb. xi. 33, 34, 35. 7. The ftalk
and ear are potentially and virtually is a small grain of coro. So are all the fruits of obedience which believers afterwards bring forth to God, virtually contained in those habits or feeds of grace. It is ftrange to consider, that from a mustard seed (which, as Christ faith, is the least of all seeds) fhould grow such great branches, that the birds of the air may build their nefts in them. Surely, the heroical and famous acts and atchievements of the most renowned believers sprang from small beginniogs at first, to that eminency and glory.
8. The fruitfuloess of the seed depends upon the fun and rain, by which they are quickened, as is opened largely in the next chapter. And the principles of grace in us have as DC
ceffary a dependence upon the allifting and exciting grace with. opt us. For though it be true, they are immortal feed; yet that is not so much from their own strength as from the promifes made to them, and that constant influx from above, by which they are revived and preferved from time to time.
9. The feed is fruitful in some foils more than in others, prospers much better, and comes looser to maturity. So doth graces thrive better, and grow faster in fome persons than in others. “ Your faith groweth exceedingly," 2 Theff. i. 3. " Whilft the things that are in others are ready to die," Rev. ži. 2. Though no man's heart be paturally a kind foil to grace, get doubtless grace is more advantaged in fome dispositions thao in others.
10. And lastly, their agreement, as seed, appears in this, the feed-core is scattered into all parts of the field, as proportionably aod equally as may be. So is grace diffused into all the faculties, judgment, will, and all the affections are fowed with thele new priociples. " The God of peace fanctify you wholly," i Thess. 8. 23.
And thus you fee, why principles of grace are called feed. Now, in the next place, (which is the second thing promised, and mainly designed in this chapter) to shew you the choicedess and excellency of these holy principles with which fanctified fouls are embellished and adorned ; and to convince you that true grace excells all other principles, by which other perfons are acted, even as the principal wheat doth the chaff, and refase stuff, I all here institute a comparifon betwixt grace and the most fplendid, common gifts' in the world, and its tranfcendent excellency, above them all, will evidently appear in sevco following particulars.
1. The most excellent common gifts come out of the common treasury of God's bounty, and that in a natural way. They are bot the improvement of a man's natural abilities, (or as one calls them) the sparks of nature blown up by the wind of a more beniga aod liberal cducation ; bot principles of grace are of a divine and heavenly original and extraction, not induced or raised from nature, but fupernaturally infused by the Spirit from oo high, Joho iii. 6. " That which is born of the feia is " felh, and that which is born of the Spirit is fpirit.” When a foul is fanctified by them, " he partakes of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4.“ Is born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of “ man, but of God," John i. 13. In this respect they differ from gifts, as the heavenly manna which was raiped down from
heaven differs from common bread, which, by pains and indu, ftry, the earth produces in a natural way.
2. The best natural gifts afford ogt that sweetness and folid comfort to the soul that grace doth; they are but a dry stalk that affords no meat for a foul to feed on. A man may have aæ understanding full of light, and an heart void of comfort at the same time; but grace is a fountain of purest living streams of peace and comfort, 1 Pet. i. 8. “ Believing, we rejoice, with
joy unspeakable and full of glory: 'light is fown for the "! righteous, and joy for the upright jo heart.”. All true plea: fures and delights are semioally in grace, Psal. xcvii. 11. They are fowo for them iņ these divine and heavenly graces, which are glory in the bud.
3. Gifts adoro the person, but do not secure Like a precious the soul from wrath. A man may be admired fone in a toad's for them among men, apd rejected eternally bead.
by God. Who can confiderately read that
sixth chapter of the Hebrews, and not tremble to think in what a forlorn case a soul may be, though set off
. and accomplished with the rareft endowments of this kind! Mai, vii. 22. We read, that many shall say to Christ in that day, “ Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and \' io thy name cast out devils," @c. and yet themselves at last cast out as a prey to devils. How divinely and rhetorically did Balaam speak, and prophesy, Numb. xxxiii. What rare and excellent parts had the Scribes and Pharisees? Who upon that account, were stiled Principes feculi, the princes of the world, 1 Cor. ii. 8. What profound and excellent parts had the hea. then Jages and philosophers ? These things are so far from fecuring the soul against the wrath to come, that they often expose it uoto wrath, and are as oil to encrease the eternal burnings, but now gracious principles are the τα εχωμενα σωτηθιαν, as the apostle calls them, Heb. vi. thiogs that accompany and have fala vation in them. These are the things on which the promises of salvation run; and these treasures are never found but in elect vessels. Glory is by promise assured and made over to him that poffefses them. There is but a little point of time betwixt him and the glorified spirits above. And how inconsiderable a matter is a little time, which contracts and wiods up apace ? For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. And hence the scripture speaks of them as already faved, Rom. viii. 24. 4 We are saved by hope,” because it is as fure as if we were jo
heaven. We are made to fit in heavenly places.
may be better in respect of a man's own condition he had bever had them. Knowledge (faith the apostle') puffeth up, 1 Cor. viii. 1. makes the soul proud aad Aatulers. It is a hard thing to know much, and not to know it too much. The faiat's knowledge is better than the scholar's ; for he hath his own heart instead of a commentary to help him. Aristotle said, a little knowledge about heavenly things, though conjectural, is better than much of earthly things, though certain. - " The “world by wisdom knew pot God," (faith the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 12.) i. é. Their learning hanged in their light, they were too wise to submit to the fimplicity of the gospel. The excel. Teot parts of the old heretics did but serve to midwife into the world the monstrous birth of foul-damning heresies. Cupit abs te ornari diabolus, as Austin said to that ingenious young scholar; the devil desires to be adorned by thee. But now grace itself is not subject to such abuses, it cannot be the proper univocal cause of any evil effect : it cannot puff up the heart, but always hombles it, por ferve the devil's desigos, but ever opposes them.
5. Gifts may be given a man for the sake of others, and pot out of any love to himself; they are but as an excellent difh of meat which a man sends to a nurse, not for her fake, so * much as for his child that fucks her. God, indeed, makes use of them to do his children good, the church is benefited by them, though themselves are but like cooks, they prepare excellent dishes, on which the faints feed, and are nourished, though themselves taste them not. They are dona miniftrantia, non fanctificantia, miniftring, but not lapctifying gifts, proceeding pot from the good-will of God to him that hath them, but to thofe he benefits by them. And O what a sad confideration will this be one day to such a person, to think, I helped such a foul to heaven, while I myself must lodge in hell ?
6. Sin in the reigo and power of it, may cohabit with the most excellent patural gifts under the same roof, I mean in the fame heart. A map may have the tongue of an angel, aod the heart of a devil. The wisdom of the philosophers (faith Lactaptius) non excindit vitia fed abfcondit, did not root out, but bide their vices. The learned Pharisees were but painted fepulchres. Gifts are but as a fair glove drawn over a foul hand : But now grace is incompatible with fin in dominion, it purifies the heart, Acts xv. 6. cleapses the conscience, Heb. ix.'14. crucifies the affections and lusts of the flesh, Gal. v. 24. is not content with the concealment, but ruin of corruptions.
7. And lastly, Gifts must leave us at last. Whether there