Изображения страниц

tives of pardon and life among the sons of Adam that had been seduced into the great rebellion.

It is another pleasant meditation on this text, “ That God the father had not given away all his gifts to men, even when he gave them his only begotten Son ;" for since that time he hath given his Son more gifts to be distributed among them. Learn hence the unwearied love of God, the inexhausted stores of divine mercy. John iv. 10. Christ is called the gift of God. And, 2 Cor. ix. 15. The unspeakable gift. He gave his own Son out of his bosom, and gave him up

to death for us. His Son that was nearest his heart, his Son the delight of his soul, and darling of his eternal enjoyment; and yet he is not weary of giving. O the immeasurable treasures of grace! O the unlimitable bounties of our God! Stand amazed, 0 heavens, and let the earth lie low in thankfulness and wonder, and every holy soul adore this surprising love ! Our meditations

may take another step, and see here the divine condescensión to human weakness : how a giving God stoops to the capacity of receiving creatures, and bestows the richest blessings on us in a sweet and alluring manner of conveyance. When he


his Son to us, he first arrayed him in flesh and blood, that the glories of the Deity might not affright us, nor his terror make us afraid. When he proceeds to confer on us further gifts, he puts them into the hands of his Son dwelling in our nature, that we might have easy access to him without fear, and receive gifts from him as a delightful medium, by whom a God of infinite purity hath a mind to confer favours upon sinful


He has put all grace into those hands whence we ourselves would choose to fetch it. If a God of shining holiness and burning justice should appear like himself, and call to us, guilty wretches, and hold forth his hand, here are gifts, here are pardons, here are salvations for you, we should be ready to say with Job, xiii. 21. “ Withdraw thine hand far from me, and let not thy dread make me



afraid.” But here we sinners come to a man, to one that has worn our flesh and blood, that is our brother, and of our own composition ; we come with courage to him that looks like one of us to receive the gifts of a holy God, and the terrors of his holiness sink us not, nor doth the fire of his justice devour us. O my soul bow down and worship that God who stoops so low to thee, and has found such a mild and gentle method of conferring his heavenly favours on thee.

XI. The Gift of the SPIRIT. What is dearer to God the Father than his only Son? and what diviner blessing has he to bestow upon men than his holy Spirit ? Yet has he given his Son for us, and by the hands of his Son he confers his blessed Spirit on us. “ Jesus having received of the Father the promise of the Spirit, shed it forth on men,” Acts ii. 33.

How the wondrous doctrine of the blessed Trinity shines through the whole of our religion, and sheds a glory upon every part of it! Here is God the father, a King of infinite riches and glory, has constituted his beloved Son the High-treasurer of heaven, and the holy Spirit is the divine and inestimable treasure. What amazing doctrines of sacred love are written in our Bibles ! What mysteries of mercy, what miracles of glory are these! Our boldest desires and most raised hopes, durst never aim at such blessings ; there is nothing in all nature that can lead us to a thought of

such grace.

The Spirit was given by the Father to the Son for men ; for rebellious and sinful men, to make favourites and saints of them :: this was the noble gift the Son “ received when he ascended on high,” Psal. lxviii. 18. And he distributed it to grace his triumph.

Was it not a divine honour which Jesus our Lord displayed on that day, when the tongies of fire sat on his twelve apostles ; when he sent his ambassadors to every na

tion to address them in their own language, to notify his accession to the throne of heaven, and to demand subjection to his government? When he conferred power upon his envoys to reverse the laws of nature, and imitate creation ? To give eyes to the blind, and to raise the dead? All this. was done by the Spirit which he sent down upon them in the days of Pentecost.

But is this Spirit given to none but his apostles and the prime ministers in his kingdom? Was that rich treasure exhausted in the first ages of the gospel, and none left for us? God forbid ! Every one of his subjects have the same favour bestowed upon them, though not in the same degree : every humble and holy soul in our day, every true Christian is possessed of the Spirit, for “ he that has not the Spirit of Christ is none of his,” Rom. viii. 9. And where ever this Spirit is, it works miracles too; it changes the sinner to a saint, it opens

his blind eyes ; it new-creates his nature ; it raises the dead to a divine life, and teaches Egypt, Assyria, and the British isles to speak the language of Ca=

It is this gift of the Spirit which the Son sends down to us continually from the Father, that is the original and spring of all these strange blessings.

The Father has a heart of large bounty to the poor ruin. ed race of Adam: the Son has a hand fit to be Almoner to the King of glory, and the Spirit is the rich alms. This blessed donative has enriched ten thousand souls already, and there remains enough to enrich ten thousand worlds.

The Father, what a glorious giver ! the Son, what a glorious medium of communication! and the Spirit, what a glorious gift! We blush and adore while we partake of such immense favours, and gratitude is even overwhelmed with wonder.

O let our spirits rejoice in this blessed article of our relia gion ! and may all the temptations that we meet with from men of reason never, never baffe so sweet a faith!


[ocr errors][merged small]



XII. The Day of GRACE. If you ask the opinion of some divines concerning the day of grace, they will tell you it signifies that particular season of a man's life, when the Spirit of God, by convictions and good motions, stirs him up to seek after salvation, and gives him sufficient grace to convert him; and all this while it was possible for him to be saved, and it was within the reach of his own power to make this grace

effectual :-But this is determined to a certain, though unknown day, which if a man passes without being converted, then his salvation becomes impossible. Now, though I would not choose to borrow all my sentiments in the chief doctrines of the gospel from the sermons of a bishop published on the terms of salvation, yet against this scheme I may venture to use an argument taken from that book.

Let us suppose, that it was declared in the gospel, that there was a certain number of sins, or a certain period of time, beyond which God would not pardon; and not any particular number, or time, was specified to the world : yet still most men (it is too justly to be feared) would first be led by hope to commit many sins, with a flattering persuasion that they should not come to that number, or arrive at that period : and then, when the habit was become strong, they would be fixed by despair in this opinion, that being probably got past that number of sins, and that period of grace, they had even as good continue in their sins, as their inclination powerfully directs them ; they would go on in great wickedness and say, There is no hope. And thus we see, that even his supposition, which seems to take most care of the cause of holiness, leaves it not only in a naked and unguarded, but in a very desperate condition.

Concerning a day of grace, thus much may be said, and this is all that I can understand by it, (viz. That in the life of a man, there are particular seasons when he enjoys more of the outward means of grace, or advantages for the good of

if he

his soul, than at other times ; that is, more constant opportunities of hearing the word, a more useful and affecting ministry, better company, warmer admonitions, and plainer warnings by divine Providence ; more leisure and conveniences for reading, meditation, and prayer : or, if all this continue all his life-time, yet there are seasons when the Spirit of God, by his common operations, does more powerfully convince of sin, and stir up the conscience to duty, and impress his word with more force upon the heart ; but, being opposed and resisted, he is grieved and departs, his workings grow daily fewer and feebler ; or it may be he retires at once, and leaves the soul in a stupid frame, and returns no more.

Yet we could not say heretofore, That the Spirit of God, in his former operations, gave him a full and proximate sufficiency of inward converting grace before, since it proved so insufficient in the event, and ineffectual : nor can we say now, that his day of grace is quite past and gone ; because the Spirit of God, who is sovereign in mercy, may return again.

Yet it is a very good motive to urge upon delaying sinners, that it is a daring and dangerous piece of impiety and rebellion to quench the motions of the holy Spirit ; lest he depart grieved, and never return again ; lest he never give them so fair an opportunity for conversion, never bring them so near again to the kingdom of heaven.

XIII. God and NATURE unsearchable. How

ow poor and imperfect a creature is man! How unequal his knowledge of things ! How large and almost immensely diffusive his acquaintance with some parts of nature, but how exceedingly limited and narrow in others ! The man of learning, who has the highest temptations to pride, has also the most powerful motives to hamility.

Man can measure the heavens, tell how many miles the planet Venus is distant from Jupiter, and how far the earth D d 3


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »