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blasphemed; his treasuries robbed : his judgements questioned; his reproofs despised: yet, in the midst of all this rubbish, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Though the church be not always visibly glorious, yet, in the most collapsed state thereof, in the worst times, it is never without visible professors, who have stood up to bear witness unto persecuted truth. The Lord hath seven thousand in Israels that had not bowed the knee to Baal. When our adversaries challenge us to shew where our church was before Luther, we answer, that "In the midst of the greatest darkness and superstition, there were such fundamental truths of faith, and repentance, and holy life retained, as the Lord no doubt did sanctify to the salvation of many, who lived in the body of the Roman church, and were, by their very ignorance, preserved from the dangerous superstructions which the doctors of that church built upon that foundation; as the renowned Bishop Usher hath observed. 2. There were, in no age, wanting holy and zealous men, who did boldly appear against the prevailing errors of the times; as our learned men have largely proved in their Historico-polemical writings; and large volumes have been written of the catalogues of such witnesses in every age of the church, who have declared against many corruptions of the times wherein they lived. But that there hath always been a visible conspicuous glory in the main body of the church, is evidently disproved by the persecutions which prevailed from time to time against it. How did the Arian heresy overspread the world, when such glorious lights as Athanasius and Hilary were persecuted for professing the truth!" "Ingemuit totus orbis," saith Jerome, "et Arianum se esse miratus est." It is not less easy for us to find out our religion, and the professors thereof, in the corrupt ages of the church, than for them to find out theirs in the pure and primitive.
Sure we are, in the worst times the Lord hath ever had a people that feared his name; whose hearts he hath by select promises and comforts supported, against the terror of those curses which he hath denounced against the corrupt body
g1 Kings xix. 18. adversus Luciferianos.
h Sermon, of the unity of the church.
of the people. "Say to the righteous, It shall be well with them." (Isa. iii. 10) "Bind the testimony; seal the law among my disciples." (Isa. viii. 16) "There is a remnant according to the election of grace," when the rest are blinded. (Rom. xi. 5, 7)
Hence that usual intermixture of threats and promises in the prophets, as a president unto preachers of the truth in all ages, who ought, with such prudence and tenderness, to manage this part of their ministry, as neither to harden the wicked in their sins by undue application of mercy, nor to make sad the hearts of those whom the Lord hath not made sad, by a promiscuous denunciation of wrath; but rightly to divide the word of truth, and to give every one their own portion.
2. Nor must we here pass by unobserved that discriminating grace of God, whereby the jewels and the stubble, the godly for healing, and the wicked for burning, are distinguished the one from the other. The Lord indeed doth most righteously dispense both healing to those that fear him, according to the grace of his covenant; and burning to those that hate him, according to the justice of his law. And it is true the wicked make themselves fit for the burning, for their "destruction is of themselves; (Hos. xiii. 9) " their way and their doings have procured it;" (Jer. iv. 18) it is a choice of their own making. (Isa. lxvi. 3) But they that are healed, are not the authors or original procurers either of the grace whereby they fear God, or of the mercy whereby God heals them. God alone, by his free grace, makes the difference between those that serve him, and those that serve him not.
He reveals to babes, what he hides from the wise and prudent, and that because it seems good to him. (Matth. xi. 25, 26) "To you it is given; to them it is not given." (Matth. xiii. 11) It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Rom. ix. 16) If I be one of that remnant that fear God's name, I have no reason to glory in myself; it is God that gives me a heart, and a way to fear him. (Jer. xxxii. 39) It is by his grace that I am what I am. (1 Cor. xv. 10) It is he that works in me to will and to do of his own good pleasure. (Phil. ii. 13) It is he that makes me to differ; (1 Cor. iv. 7) “ut totum
Deo detur, qui hominis voluntatem bonam et præparat adjuvandam, et adjuvat præparatam,"-as the incomparable champion of the grace of God, St. Austin, speaketh; That the whole work may be ascribed unto God, who both prepareth the good-will of man that it may be holpen, and helpeth it being prepared.
And again'; "Certum est nos velle cum volumus; sed ille facit ut velimus:" It is certain, that we will when we do will, but it is he that maketh us to will.-And again, "Nos volumus, sed Deus in nobis operatur et velle; nos operamur, sed Deus in nobis operatur et operari;" we will, but God worketh in us to will; we work, but God worketh in us to work also. And again; "Ille facit ut nos faciamus quæ præcepit; nos non facimus, ut ille faciat quæ promisit;" he maketh us to do the things which he commandeth; we make not him to do the things which he promiseth.—O that the wanton and proud wits of men would leave the Lord to do with his own what it pleaseth him; (as he will certainly do notwithstanding all their passionate altercations, Matth. xx. 15) and would let the difference between him that feareth the Lord, and him that feareth him not, be ascribed only unto the gift of grace, without which, no man would fear him;-which rich grace, "à nullo duro corde respuitur; ideo enim datur, ut cordis duritia primitus auferatur," as the same father speaks ",-is not refused by any hard heart; for it is therefore given, that hardness of heart may be taken away. Though man be free to resist grace, yet he is not free to conquer it: God's mercy is victorious as well as his justice. "That which cometh into your mind, shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you," Ezek. xx. 32, 33. Where the Lord threateneth to conquer them with his mercy.-He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. "Si Deus miseretur, etiam volumus; ad eandem quippe misericordiam pertinet, ut velimus." If
k Aug Enchirid. c. 32.
1 Aug. de Grat. et lib. arb. c. 16. contra duas Epist. Pelag. lib. 1. c. 6. et de dono perseverat. cap. 13. de prædestinat. Sanct.
Aug. de prædest. Sanct. c. 8.
Ad Simplic. lib. 1. qu. 2.
men be but contented that God should use his free will in giving his grace, as well as they contend for their own free will to accept it ;-if the time which is spent in disputing for free will, were spent in begging it; or if when we beg free will of God, that we may accept grace, and not refuse it, we would but allow it consonant to God's power and goodness, to grant us our petition, and to cause us not to refuse it, (and certainly lex supplicandi legem statuit credendi,' as Celestinus speaks, we may believe that God will grant, what we may pray for according to his will) the world would not be so continually troubled with the hot and passionate disputes in these arguments as we find it is. Certainly, every humble and holy man will not only think it his duty to praise God, for that he gave him a power to convert, but that he gave him conversion itself, and the very work of willing and turning unto God.
3. We may here observe the double, most different effect of the gospel of Christ upon proud and impenitent sinners; a savour of death, to one; of life, to the other; (2 Cor. ii. 15, 16) fire, to the one; balsam, to the other: as the same perfume kills the vulture, which revives the dove; the same Red Sea a passage to Israel, a grave to Egypt; the same pillar, light to one, and darkness to the other; the same sun makes the garden smell sweet, and the dunghill stink.
Great therefore must our care be, what affections we bring to hearing the word. It is given for life; but we may find it unto death, according to the disposition of the heart we bring with us thereunto. An honest and good heart,' a meek and quiet spirit, a melted soul ready to be cast into the mould of the word, is the best preparation to meet with Christ in his gospel.
II. We see here healing, promised to those that fear God's name; and thence we may certainly conclude, that the holiest men do want healing. 1. As we are like unto Christ, 'per primitias spiritus,' by the first fruits of the spirit ; so we are unlike unto him per reliquias vetustatis,' by the remainders of corruption. "There is not a just man that liveth, and sinneth not. P" Though the guilt of sin be removed in our justification, and the power subdued in our
• Aug. de peccat. Merit. et Remiss. c. 8.
P Eccles. vii. 20. James iii. 2.
sanctification; yet the sickness and remainders of it are not abolished till our dissolution. "Ista vitia gratiâ Dei medicaute curantur, prius ut reatu non teneant, deinde ut conflictu non vincant, postremo ut omni ex parte sauata, nulla omnino remaneant," as St. Austin speaks : These evils are cured by the grace of God, First, that they may not hold us by their guilt; next, that they may not conquer us in the conflict; and lastly, that being thoroughly healed, none of them may remain. And these remainders of corruption the Lord here leaveth in us to be matter of daily conflict, of deep humbling, of earnest prayer, "ut sit quod petentibus largiter adjiciat, quod confitentibus clementer ignoscat ";" that he may bountifully give the things for which we pray, and graciously pardon the sins which we confess. 2. Besides our sins, we are surrounded with enemies, and beset on every side with temptations: and though we have a promise of victory over them, and sufficiency of grace against them, yet we have no promise of absolute immunity, that we shall be invulnerable by them. The experience of our own lapses, and of the holiest and greatest saints, sufficiently evidence unto us what poor and frail creatures we are, when the Lord leaves us, to try us as he did Hezekiah. (2 Chron. xxxii. 31) 3. Sorrow is the natural offspring of sin and temptation. A sick and wounded man cannot but feel the pain of that which weakeneth him. There are not any men, more men of sorrow and acquainted with grief, than they whose eyes are most open to see, whose hearts most tender to feel the weight of, sin, the terrors of God and the assaults of temptation. Being therefore subject to sins, to wounds, to sorrows, no wonder if they stand in need of healing.
And indeed none call out so importunately for healing, either for themselves or for the church of God, as they that fear his name. (Jer. viii. 22. Psal. li. 8, 18. Psal. xxxviii. 3, 9) He that shall read the doleful complaints of Job, of Heman, of Hezekiah, and others mourning under the weight of sin and wrath; of Jeremy, Daniel, and Nehemiah, bewailing the breaches and desolations of Sion; will find it one principal evidence of a godly man, to pour out his com
Aug. contra Jul. Pelag. lib. 5. c. 7.
Aug. de Spir. et lit. cap. ult.