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I believe that my soul shall perform all these No one is ignorant of the noise which the operations when my body shall be cold, pale, doctrine of grace excited in the ages which immovable, and devoured of worms in the followed; of the schisın of Pelagius, and of tomb: I believe it;—but why? Because this the immense volumes which the ancient faJesus to whom I have commended my spirit, thers heaped on this heretic.—The doctrines has said to the penitent thief, and in him to of grace have been agitated in the church of every true Christian, “ Verily I say unto thee, Rome: they formed in its bosom two powerful to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise," parties, which have given each other alternate Luke xxiii. 43.
blows, and alike accused each other of overI have no idea of this awful mystery, where turning Christianity. No sooner had our reby a God, a God essentially One, associates formers raised the standard, than the disputes in his own essence a Father, a Son, and a Holy concerning the doctrines of grace were on the Ghost; that as the distinction with regard to point of destroying the work they had begun Paternity, Filiation, and Spiration, is as real with so much honour, and supported with sucas the union with regard to the Godhead. cess; and one saw in the communion they had These mysteries have no connexion with my just formed, the same spirit of division, as that knowledge; yet I believe them: and why? Be- which existed in the communion they had left. cause I have changed my ideas, because this The doctrines of grace have caused in this reJesus to whom I have yielded up my spirit, public as much confusion as in any other part this Jesus, after preaching the doctrine of the of the Christian world: and what is more deunity of God, has decided, that the Father is plorable is, that after so many questions discussGod, that the Son is God, that the Holy Ghost ed, so many battles fought, so many volumes is God: and he has said to his apostles, “ Go, written, so many anathemas launched, the and teach all nations, baptizing them in the dispositions of the public are not yet concilianame of the Father, of the Son, and of the ted, and the doctrines of grace often remain Holy Ghost."*
enveloped in the cloud they endeavoured to dissipate; and so much so that the efforts they
made to illustrate so interesting a subject, SERMON XCVIII. served merely to confuse and envelope it the
But how notty soever this subject may be, ON REGENERATION.
it is not my design to disturb the embers, and revive your disputes. I would endeavour, not to divide, but to conciliate and unite your
minds: and during the whole of this discourse, John iii. 8.
in which the Holy Spirit is about to discover The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hear himself to you under the emblem of a wind, I
est the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence shall keep in view the revelation with which a it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one prophet was once honoured: God said to Elithat is born of the Spirit.
jah, “ Go forth, and stand on the mountain My brethren, it is not in our power to dis- before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed cuss the subject on which we now enter, with by, and a great and strong wind rent the mounout deploring the contests it has excited in the tains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the christian world. In our preceding discourses Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and you have seen the nature, and the necessity of after the wind, an earthquake; but the Lord regeneration: we now proceed to address you was not in the earthquake: and after the earthon its Author; and to call your attention to quake, a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: this part of Jesus Christ's conversation with and after the fire, a still small voice: (a sound Nicodemus; “The wind bloweth where it list- coy and subtle.) Then Elijah, awed with reeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but verence at the divine presence, wrapped his canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither face in his mantle," and recognised the token it goeth: so is every one that is born of the of Jehovah's presence. The first emblems of Spirit.” How often has this subject armed this vision have been but too much realized in Christian against Christian, and communion the controversies of the Christian church: but against communion? How often has it ba- when shall the latter be realized? Long enough; nished from the church that peace which it yea too long, have we seen "the great and seems so much calculated to cherish? No strong wind which rent the mountains, and sooner had the apostles entered on their minis- brake in pieces the rocks.". Long enough; try, than they magnified the doctrines of grace; yea too long, has the earthquake shook the pilbut in magnifying them, they seemed sent to lars of the church; but the Lord was not in set the world on fire. The Jews and the phi- the wind; the Lord was not in the earthquake. losophers, prepossessed in favour of human Yet at this very day the Vatican* kindles the sufficiency, revolted at a doctrine so opposed fire, and with thunderbolts in its hand, it preto their pride: they presumed on making a
sumes to determine, or rather to take away, progress in virtue, that they owed the praise the laws of grace: “but the Lord was not in solely to their own efforts of personal virtue. the fire.”
* The Vaticau is a most magnificent palace at Rome; * The rest of this posthumous sermon is not in the origi- the residence of the Popes, and celebrated for its library. nal; neither is there any apology for the loss by the pres The learued Varro says it took its name from the answers byters and deacons who edited the volume.
or oracles called by the Latins vaticinia, which the Roments being resumed in the next sermon, and especially man people received there from a god of the same name, the sermon on “ A Taste for Devotion," will, in some who was said to be the author of the first sounds of in bort, develope the author's sentiments.
fants, which is va, from vagire, to cry.-J. S.
May this still small voice, the precursor of logy, be careful not to injure his moral code; the Divinity, and the symbol of his presence, and under the plea of rendering man orthodox, be heard to-day in the midst of this assembly! do not make him wicked. As there is nothing Excite thy hallowing accents, in these taberna- so rare in the intercourse of life, as a certain cles we have built for thy glory, and in which equanimity of temper, which makes a man alwe assemble in thy name, o Holy Spirit, Spirit ways appear like himself, and unfluctuating, of peace: may thy peace rest on the lips and how much soever he may Auctuate in circumheart of the preacher; may it animate all those stances; so there is nothing more rare in the that compose this assembly, that discord may sciences than that candour of argument, which for ever be banished from our churches, and be in maintaining a proposition, we leave in full confined to the abyss of hell from whence it force some other proposition we had maintaincame, and that charity may succeed. Amen. , ed, and which we had had some particular rea
We must now illustrate the doctrine of the son for so doing. There are some authors text, and state at large the ideas of the gospel constantly at variance with themselves. What respecting the aids of the Spirit of God, to is requisite to refute what a certain author adwhich regeneration is here ascribed by Jesus vances in a recent publication? We have but Christ, and without which we might justly ex to adduce what he has presumed to establish in claim with Nicodemus at our Saviour's asser a former work. By what means may we retion, “How can these things be?” With that fute what a preacher has just advanced in the view I shall propose certain maxims, which last sentences of a discourse? By adducing shall be as so many precautions one should what he presumed to confirm but a moment take when entering on this discussion, and before in the same discourse. Now, my brewhich will serve to guide in a road that con- thren, there is one point of the Christian doctroversies have rendered so thorny and difficult. trine, on which this caution is very necessary; We shall afterward include in six propositions it is that on which we spake to-day. Let us all which seems to us a Christian ought to take care that we do not merit the censure know, and all he ought to do on this subject. which has been made on the most celebrated This is all that remains for me to say.
of the ancient advocates of grace* (whether Maxim 1. In the selection of passages on correct or incorrect I do not undertake to dewhich you established the doctrine of the aids termine;) the censure is, that when attacking of the Holy Spirit, be more cautious to choose the Manicheans, he favoured the cause of the those that are pertinent, than to amass a mul- Pelagians; and when attacking the Pelagians, titude that are inconclusive. The rule pre- he favoured the cause of the Manicheans. Let scribed in the beginning of this discourse, and us detest the maxims of certain modern preachwhich we shall inviolably follow to the end, ers concerning the doctrines of grace; that a not to revive the controversy, prevents my as- preacher should be orthodox in the body of his signing all the reasons that induce me to begin sermon, but heretic in the application. No; with this precaution. It is a general fault, and let us not be heretics either in the body or in indeed a very delicate propensity in defending the application of our sermons. Let us neither a proposition, to adopt with avidity, not only favour the system of Pelagias, nor that of the what favours it in effect; but what seems to Manicheans. Let us have a theology and a favour it. In the warmth of conversation, and morality equally supported. Let us take heed especially in the heat of debate, we use argu- not to establish the doctrine of the divine aids, ments of which we are ashamed when reason in a way that attacks the other doctrines, as returns, and when we calmly converse. Di- those men do; for God, who is supremely vines are not less liable to this fault than other holy, is not the author of sin. Let us take men. By how many instances might we sup- heed in expounding the passages which estaport this assertion? But not to involve myself blish the doctrine of grace, not to do it in a in a discussion so delicate and difficult, I only way which makes them impugn those pasremark, that if there be in our Scriptures an sages of Scripture, where God “invites all equivocal term, it is that of spirit. It is equi- men to repentance:” Rom. ii. 4. and where it vocal not only with regard to the diversity of is said, that "he is not willing that any should subjects to which it is applied, but also because perish, but that all should come to repentance,” of the diversity of its bearings on the same 2 Pet. iii. 9; where he declares that “if we do subject. And what ought to be the more care- perish,” “it is of ourselves," and only of ourfully noticed in the subject we discuss, is, that selves, Hos. xiii. 9; where he calls upon the it has significations without number when ap- inhabitants of Jerusalem to confess, that he plied to the aids of the Holy Spirit which hea- had taken all the proper care that his “vineven accords to men. Do not imagine that yard should bring forth grapes, though it every time it is said the Spirit of God is given brought forth wild grapes,” Isa. v. 3, 4; where to man, the gifts of sanctifying grace are to be he introduces himself as addressing to manunderstood. In very many places it signifies kind the most pathetic exhortations, and enthe gift of miracles. Select, therefore, the treaties the most ardent, to promote their conpassages on which you would establish the version, and as shedding the bitterest tears on doctrine of sanctifying grace; and be less soli- their refusal; as saying in the excess of his citous of amassing a multitude, than of urging grief, “O that thou hadst known, at least in those which are pertinent and conclusive. this thy day, the things that belong to thy Marim 2. In establishing the doctrine of peace,” Luke xix. 41, 42.
“O that my peothe operation of grace, be cautious of overturn-ple had hearkened unto me,” Ps. lxxxi. 13; ing another not less essential to religion. When you establish this part of our Saviour's theo
“O that they were wise; that they understood | nor to make a crime of remaining where I am." this; that they would consider their latter The second charge the first that in conferring end,” Deut. xxxii. 29.
too much honour on the powers of man, and in Maxim 3. Do not abandon the doctrine of affording him too much reason to believe he is grace, because you are unable to explain all still the arbitrator of his own will, they throw its abstruse refinements, or because you cannot the temptation in his way to crown himself reply to all the inquiries it may have suggest with his own merits, and to become the work. ed. There is scarcely a proposition which er of his own salvation. Now, supposing we could claim our assent, were we to give it to were obliged to choose either to lean to the those only whose several parts we can clearly pride of man, or to his corruption, for which explain, and to whose many questions we can must we decide? I am fully convinced that fully reply. This maxim is essential to all the the necessity of diligence, which is imposed sciences. Theology has what is common to all upon us, should not give any colour to our human sciences: and in addition, as its object pride: and you will see it instantly; you will is much more noble and exalted, it has more see that however great the application which points, concerning which it is not possible fully the best of saints may have made to the work to satisfy the mind. This is especially the case of their salvation, humility was their invariable with regard to the doctrine we now discuss. I sentiment. You will see that after having might, were it required, give you many de- read, and thought, and reflected; that having monstrations, that the nature of the doctrine endeavoured to subdue their senses, and to is such that we cannot perfectly comprehend sacrifice the passions God requires in sacrifice, it. We know so little of the manner in which they have believed it their duty to abase their certain ideas and certain sentiments are excit- eyes to the earth, and to sink into the dust ed in the soul; we know so little how the un- from which they were made; yea, always to derstanding acquiesces, and how the will de- say with the profoundest sentiments of abasetermines, that it is not surprising if we are ment, “O God, righteousness belongeth unto ignorant of what is requisite for the under thee, but unto us shame and confusion of standing to acquiesce, and the will to deter. face,” Dan. ix. 7. Hence, if we were obliged mine, in religion: we especially know so little to choose either a system which apparently faof the various means God can employ, when vours the pride of man, or a system which aphe is pleased to work on our soul, that it is parently favours his corruption, we could not really a chance to hit on the right one by hesitate, we must sacrifice the last to the first. which he draws us from the world: it may be The reason is obvious, because in leaning to by his sovereignty over our senses; it may be the pride of man, you do but favour one pasby an immediate operation or the substance sion, whereas, by leaning to the corruption of of our souls. But without having recourse to man, you favour every passion; you favour this mode of reasoning, the doctrine of my hatred, revenge, and obduracy; and in favourtext is quite sufficient to substantiate the maxim ing every passion, you favour this very pride I advance. I presume that you ought to admit you are wishful to destroy. Now, it must be the doctrine of grace, though you can neither incomparably better to favour but one passion, perfectly explain it, nor adequately answer all than to favour them all in one. the questions it may have excited. This is the Maxim 5. In pressing the laws of grace, do precise import of the comparison Jesus Christ not impose the law of making rules so general makes between the agency of the Holy Spirit as to admit of no exceptions. I know indeed and the operations of the wind. “ The wind that God is always like himself, and that there bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the is a certain uniformity which is the grand chasound thereof, but canst not tell whence it racter of all his actions; but on this occasion, cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one as on many others, he deviates from common that is born of the Spirit.”
rules. There are miracles in grace, as in naMaxim 4. When two truths on the doc- ture: so you shall presently see, my brethren, trines of grace are apparently in opposition, in the use of this maxim, and in the necessity and cannot be reconciled, sacrifice the less im of this precaution. portant to that which is of greater moment. II. Entering now on the doctrine of grace, Two truths cannot in reality be in opposition. and with the precautions just laid down, do It is a fact demonstrated, that two contradic- not fear to follow us into this troubled sea, how tory propositions cannot both be true; but the dangerous soever it may appear, and how limits of our understanding often present a abundant soever it may be, in shipwrecks. I contradiction where in reality none exists. I proceed to associate practice with speculation, frequently hear learned men expound the gos- and to comprise in six propositions all that a pel, but adopting different methods to attain Christian ought to know, and all he ought to the same end, they suggest difficulties alter- do, in regard to this subje nately. Some press the duty of man; others 1. Nature is so depraved, that man, without enlarge on the inability of man, and on the supernatural aids, cannot conform to the conneed he has of divine assistance. The former ditions of his salvation. tax the latter with giving sanction to the cor 2. That how invincible soever this corruption ruption of man: and the latter charge the for- may be, there is a wide difference between the mer with flattering the pride of man. The man who enjoys, and the man who is deprived first object to the second, that in totally de- of revelation. stroying the faculties of man, and in straining 3. That the aids which man can neither de the necessity of grace, they authorize him to rive from the wreck of nature, nor from ex say, “ Seeing literally that I can do nothing, Iterior revelation, are promised to him in the ought not to blame myself for doing nothing; I gospel.
4. That though man can neither draw from say, that "in you; that is, in your flesh, dwellthe wreck of nature, nor from exterior revela- eth no good thing.” It will say, that “this tion, the requisite aid to fulfil the conditions of flesh is not subject to the law of God; neither his salvation; and though the grace of the Holy indeed can be." It will say, that you carry Spirit be promised to him; he has no right to within you, a law in your members, which presume on those aids, while he obstinately re wars against the law of your mind; a flesh sists the aids afforded him by his frail nature, which lusteth against the spirit.” It will tell and by exterior revelation.
you, that man in regard to the conditions of 5. That the aids of the Holy Spirit promis- his salvation is a stock, a stone, a nothing; that ed to men, are imparted at first by measure; he is blind and dead. It would be easy to hence to abuse those be already has, is the swell the list! It would be easy indeed, but in surest way to obstruct the reception of fresh adducing to you those passages of Scripture on support.
which we found the sad doctrine of natural de6. To whatever degree one may have carried pravity, I observe the caution already laid the abuse of past favours, one ought not to de- down, of preferring in the selection, a small spair of obtaining fresh support, which should number of conclusive passages, to the producalways be asked with servent prayer.
tion of a multitude. Nature being so far corThese, brethren, are our six propositions, rupted, man cannot, without the aids of grace, which apparently contain all that a Christian conform to the conditions of his salvation. ought to know, and all he ought to do on Here is the first thing you ought to know, this subject. God is my witness that I enter and the first thing you ought to do; it is, to on the discussion in such a way as appears to feel your weakness and inability; to humble me most proper to cherish among us that peace, and abase yourselves in presence of the holy which should ever be so dear, and to prevent God; to cry from the abyss into which you are all those unhappy controversies which have plunged, “O wretched man that I am, who agitated the church in general, and this repub- shall deliver me from the body of this death!” lic in particular. I shall proceed with these Rom. vii. 24. It is to groan under the deprapropositions in the same temper as I have enu- vity of sin. O glory of primitive innocence, merated them, and haste to make them the whither art thou fled! O happy period, in which conclusion of this discourse.
man was naturally prompted to believe what is 1. Nature is so depraved, that man, without true, and to love what is amiable, why art thou supernatural aids, cannot conform to the con so quickly vanished away! Let us not deplore ditions of his salvation. Would to God that the curse on the ground; the infection of air; this proposition was less true! Would to God nor the animals destined for the service of man, that we had more difficulty in proving it! But that now turn their fury against him; let us study your own heart. Listen to what it whis- rather deplore our disordered faculties; our bepers in your ear concerning the precepts God clouded reason, and our perverted will. has given in his word: listen to it on the sight 2. But however great, however invincible, of the man who has offended you. What ani- the corruption of all men may be, there is a mosity! what detestation! what revenge! Lis wide difference between him who has the ada ten to it in prosperity. What ambition! what vantage of revelation, and him to whom it is pride! what arrogance! Listen to it when we denied. This is the second thing you ought to exhort you to humility, to patience, to charity. know on the subject we discuss; and this seWhat evasions! what repugnance! what excuses! cond point of speculation is a second source of
From the study of your own heart, proceed practice. Do not apply to Christians born in to that of others. Examine the infancy, the the Church, and acquainted with revelation, life, the death of man. In his infancy you portraits which the holy Scriptures give solely will see the fatal germ of his corruption; sad, to those who are born in pagan darkness. I but sensible proof of the depravity of your na am fully aware that revelation, unattended ture, an alarming omen of the future. You with the supernatural aids of grace, is inade. will see him prone to evil from his very cradle, quate for a man's conversion. The preceding indicating from his early years the seeds of article is sufficient to prove it. I know that all every vice, and giving from the arms of the men are naturally “dead in trespasses and nurses that suckle him, preludes of all the ex- sins.” It is evident, however, that this death cesses into which he will fall as soon as his ca- has its degrees: and that the impotency of a pacity is able to aid his corruption. Contem- man, favoured with revelation, is not of the plate him in mature age; see what connexions same kind as that of him who is still in pagan he forms with his associates! Connexions of darkness. It is equally manifest, that a man, ambition; connexions of avarice; connexions who, after having heard the doctrine of the of cupidity. Look at him in the hour of gospel, grovels in the same sort of error and of death, and you will see him torn from a world vice into which he was impetuously drawn by from which he cannot detach his heart, regret- his natural depravity, is incomparably more ting even the objects which have constituted guilty than he who never heard the gospel. his crimes, and carrying to the tomb, if I may Hear what Jesus Christ says of those who, have 80 speak, the very passions which, during life, ing heard the gospel, and who had not availed have divided the empire of his soul.
themselves of its aids to forsake their error and After studying man, study the Scriptures: vice; “Had I not come and spoken unto them, there you will see that God has pledged the they had not had sin; but now they have no infallibility of his testimony to convince us of cloak for their sin.” Here is the second thing a truth, to which our presumption scrupled to you ought to know; hence the second thing subscribe. It will say, that "you were con- you ought to do, is, not to shelter yourselves, ceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity." It will i with a view to extenuate voluntary depravity
under certain passages of Scripture, which ex- | vation; he has no right to presume on the grace claim not against the impotency of a Christian, of the Holy Spirit, while he obstinately resists but against that of a man who is still in pagan the aids which frail nature, and revelation af darkness; you must apply the general assertion ford. But here we seem to forget one of the of Jesus Christ to all the exterior cares that maxims already laid down, and what we ourhave been taken to promote your conversion: selves have advanced; that if it is requisite for "If I had not come and spoken unto them, me to fulfil the conditions with which the gosthey had not had sin; but now they have no pel has connected salvation, how can I do cloak for their sin.” O my soul, with what otherwise than obstinately resist the efforts humiliating ideas should those words of the which frail nature, and exterior revelation afLord strike thee! If God had not come; if he ford? This difficulty is but in appearance. To had not made thee to suck truth and virtue know, whether when abandoned to our natural with thy mother's milk; if he had not raised depranty, and aided only by exterior revelathee up masters in thy youth, and ministers in tion, we can conform to the conditions of the thy riper age; if thou hadst not heard so many gospel; or whether, when abandoned to the instructive and pathetic sermons, and read so depravity of nature, and aided only by exterior many instructive and affecting books; if thou revelation, we are invincibly impelled to every hadst not been pressed by a thousand and a species of crime, are two very different questhousand calls, thou hadst not had sin; at least tions. That we cannot perform the conditions thou mightest have exculpated thyself on the of salvation, I readily allow; but that we are ground of thy ignorance and natural depravity; invincibly impelled to every species of crime, but now thou art " without excuse." O un- is insupportable. Whence then came the difhappy creature, what years has God tutored ference between heathen and heathen, between thee in his church! What account canst thou Fabricius and Lucullus, between Augustus and give of all his care! Now thou art “ without Sylla, between Nero and Titus, between Comexcuse.” Here is the way we should study modus and Antony? Whatever you are able to ourselves, and not lose sight of the precaution, do by your natural strength, and especially not to sap morality under a plea of establish- when aided by the light of revelation, do it, if ing this part of our theology.
you wish to have any well-founded hope of ob3. The aids which man is unable to draw taining the supernatural aids, without which either from the wreck of nature or from exte- you cannot fulfil the conditions of your salvarior revelation, are promised to him in the gos- tion. But the Scriptures declare, you say, that pel: he may attain them by the operations of without the grace of the Holy Spirit you can the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God this con- do nothing, and that you can have no real virsolatory proposition is supported by express tue but what participates of your natural corpassages of Sci re; by passages the most ruption: I allow it; but practice the virtues conclusive, according to our first precaution. which participate of your natural corruption, What else is the import of the thirty-first chap- if you would wish God to grant you his divine ter of Jeremiah's prophecies? “Behold the aids. Be corrupt as Fabricius, and not as Ludays come, saith the Lord, that I will make a cullus; be corrupt as Augustus, and not as Sylnow covenant with the house of Israel, and la; be corrupt as Titus, and not as Nero; as Anwith the house of Judah.—This shall be the tonius, and not as Commodus. One of the covenant that I will make with them: I will grand reasons why God withholds from some put my law in their inward parts, and write it men the aids of grace, is, because they resist in their hearts." What else is the import of the aids they might derive from their frail nathe thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel's prophecies: ture. Here the theology of St. Paul, and the “I will sprinkle clean water upon you; I will decision of that great preceptor in grace, imgive you a new heart; I will put a new spirit poses silence on every difficulty of which this within you.” What else is the import of St. point may be susceptible. Speaking of the James' words in the first chapter of his general heathens in the first chapter of his epistle to epistle? “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask the Romans, he says, “That which inay be of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and known of God is manifested in them;" or, as I upbraideth not. And of Jesus Christ in the would rather read, is manifest to them; “but words of my text, “The wind bloweth where because that when they knew God, they gloit listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, rified him not as God, neither were thankful,” but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whi- Rom. i. 19–21. “That which may be known ther it goeth.” Hence the third thing that we of God is manifested unto them;" here then is should know, and the third thing that we should the aid pagans might draw from the ruins of do, is, to bless God that he has not left us to nature; they might know that there was a God; the weakness of nature; it is, like St. Paul, they might have been thankful for his temporal
to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ,” gifts, for rain and fruitful seasons; and instead Rom. i. 8; it is to ask of him those continual of the infamous idolatry to which they abansupports, without wbich“we can do nothing." don themselves, they might have seen the inviIt is often to say to him, “O God, draw us, sible things of God, which are manifest by his and we will run after thee. Create in us a work. And because they did not derive those clean heart, and renew a right spirit within aids from the ruins of nature, they became us," Cant. i. 8; Ps. li. 12.
wholly unworthy of divine assistance; “God 4. But is it sufficient to pray? Is it enough gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts to ask? We have said in the fourth place, that of their own hearts. - They changed the truth though a man may be unable to draw from of God into a lie, and worshipped and served frail nature, and exterior revelation, the requi- the creature more than the Creator, who is site aids to conform to the conditions of his sal- l blessed for ever."