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THE reason of my humbly and affectionately addressing this discourse to the clergy, is not because it treats of things not of common concern to all Christians, but chiefly to invite and induce them, as far as I can, to the serious perusal of it; and because whatever is essential to Christian salvation, if either neglected, overlooked, or mistaken by them, is of the saddest consequence, both to themselves and the churches in which they minister;-I say essential to salvation, for I would not turn my own thoughts, or call the attention of Christians, to any thing but the one thing needful, the one thing essential, and alone available to our rising out of our fallen state, and becoming, as we
were at our creation, an holy offspring of God, and real partakers of the divine nature.
If it be asked, What this one thing is? It is the SPIRIT of GOD brought again to HIS FIRST POWER OF LIFE IN US. Nothing else is wanted by us, nothing else intended for us, by the law, the prophets, and the gospel. Nothing else is, or can be effectual, to the making sinful man become again a godly creature.
Every thing else, be it what it will, however glorious and divine in outward appearance, every thing that angels, men, churches, or reformations, can do for us, is dead and helpless, but so far as it is the immediate work of the Spirit of God breathing and living in it.
All Scripture bears full witness to this truth; and the end and design of all that is written, is only to call us back from the spirit of Satan, the flesh, and the world, to be again under full dependence upon, and obedience to the Spirit of God; who, out of free love and thirst after our souls, seeks to have his first power of life in us. When this is done, all is done that the Scripture can do for us. Read what chapter, or doctrine of Scripture you will, be ever so delighted with it, it will leave you as poor, as empty and unreformed as it found you, unless it be a delight that proceeds from, and has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and strengthened your union
with, and dependence upon him. For love and delight, in matters of Scripture, whilst it is only a delight that is merely human, however specious and saint-like it may appear, is but the self-love of fallen Adam, and can have no better a nature, till it proceeds from the inspiration of God, quickening his own life and nature within us, which alone can have or give forth a godly love. For if it be an immutable truth, that no man can call Jesus, Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," it must be a truth equally immutable, that no one can have any one Christ-like temper or power of goodness, but so far, and in such degree, as he is immediately led and governed by the Holy Spirit.
The grounds and reasons of which are as follows:
All possible goodness that either can be named, or is nameless, was in God from all eternity, and must to all eternity be inseparable from him; it can be no where but where God is. As therefore before God created any thing, it was certainly true, that there was but "one that was good," so it is just the same truth, after God has created innumerable hosts of blessed holy and heavenly beings, that there is but "one that is good," and that is God.
All that can be called goodness, holiness, divine tempers, heavenly affections, &c. in the creatures, are no more their own, or the growth of their cre
ated powers, than they were their own before they were created. But all that is called divine goodness and virtue in the creature, is nothing else, but the one goodness of God manifesting a birth and discovery of itself in the creature, according as its created nature is fitted to receive it. This is the unalterable state between God and the creature. Goodness for ever and ever can only belong to God, as essential to him, and inseparable from him as his own unity.
God could not make the creature to be great and glorious in itself; this is as impossible, as for God to create beings into a state of independence on himself. The heavens, saith David, "declare the glory of God;" and no creature, any more than the heavens, can declare any other glory but that of God. And as well might it be said, "that the firmament shews forth its own handy-work," as that a holy, divine, or heavenly creature, shews forth its own natural power.
But now, if all that is divine, great, glorious, and happy, in the spirits, tempers, operations, and enjoyments, of the creature, is only so much of the greatness, glory, majesty, and blessedness of God dwelling in it, and giving forth various births of his own triune life, light, and love, in and through the manifold forms and capacities of the creature to receive them, then we may infallibly see the true ground and nature of all true religion, and when