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Serm. but in a Method suitable to a reasonable and IV. free Nature. ; 1 ' Si ini.
so that the true Meaning of these disputed Paffages must be, that a Man cannot believe the Gospel, unless God by his holy Spirit difposes and puts his Mind into a fit Temper seriously to weigh and examine the Evi. dence on which Christianity is built, and by Grace prepares his Heart to embrace it.
But if this be necessary, it may be asked, Why all Men should not be thus prepard ? The Rejection of Christ's Religion is as penal as any Offence can be ; for be that believeth not all be damned (a). And if no Man cometh to our Saviour, and by Faith is made his Disciple, but such as are dispofed and prepared by the inward Motions of the Holy Ghoft, does it not seem a very juft Conclusion, that God, who is no Respecter of Persons, can overlook none and leave them to be unprepared ?
· This Objection may be cleared up by observing, that tho' God will infallibly do whatever is right and equitable, towards all his Creatures, yet many may not by his Grace
be effectually influenced to receive and be- SERM. lieve the Gospel: The Reason is, because IV. they have their own Will still to govern them ; and notwithstanding Life is offered to them, and placed within their Reach, they may however thrust it from them, and choose Death by resisting and quenching those gracious Impressicns, which would otherwise be available to Salvation. The Spirit will not, and is not bound to, strive always with Man; neither does he work in so commanding a Manner, as to overpower the Perverse; and his merciful Condescension in , making repeated Tenders of Afistance will abundantly vindicate his severest Resentments of the Refusal.
The like may be urged in Relation to Repentance. This is represented to be the Gift of God, as well as Faith. Him, i.e. Jesus, says St. Peter to the Jews, bath God exalted with his right Hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give Repentance unto Ifrael (b). And in Meekness, says St. Paul to Timothy, instruet those ibat oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them Repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth (c). But then these Texts must not be under:
5 (6) Acts v. 31.
(c) 2 Tim. ii 25.
SERM. stood in the. utmost Latitude to which the . IV. Words may be extended. By God's giving
Repentance: is meant no more than his affording Mankind Grace sufficients and other Means requisite to bring them thereto ; by which, after all, many may be, and are, not brought to fo- happy a Change.
And agreeably tbe. Goodness of God is said by the Apostle to lead them-toRepentance, who were yet not actually prevailed on to repent; being such as after their Hardness and impenitent Hearts ireasured up to themfelves Wrath against the Day of Wrath, and Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God (d), as the necessary previous Steps were taken by him towards the Conversion of those incorrigible. Sinners, so very properly. may he be : said to give them Repentance by making them the Offer and yielding them all reasonable Affistance to close with it; though he did not perform the whole Work for them, nor discharge their Part together with his own. - If the expected Reformation was not at last actually produced, this arose not from any Deficiency of Grace, God having wrought in them whatever was fufficient on his Side to so defireable an'
(d) Rom. ü. 4, s.
Effect, had their own honest Endeayours. SERM, concurred with his gracious Energy: And. I., that he should do more for - wicked Men; whilst they will do nothing for themfelves, it must be the, Height of. Infolence to think and require.
ALL needful Help and Support does God likewise afford to. Men proceeding in their Christian Obedience, in order to their finishing it with Joy, He imparts; more: Grace, to those, who have made a good Use of what was before vouchfafed them; though from him that hath not, i.e. who improves not, the Measure of Divine Aid which he has obtained, pall - be taken away even sbat, which be. bath(e). The Spirit quickens us to good Works, and the morer we advance in them, the more we grow in Grace and encourage him to fix his Abode, with us. To obtain thiş Mercy was the End. of St. Paul's Prayer for the Philippians, That their Love might abound - more and more in Knowledge and in all Judgment, that they might approve the Things that are ex: cellent, being : filled with the Fruits of Rigbtr. ousness: (f). And the Ground of his Intercession was, his being confident of this very .
(e) St. Matth. XXV. 29.
(f) Philipp. i, 9, 10, 11,
· Serm. Thing, that be, which had begun a good
IV. Work in them would perform it until the m Day of Jesus Christ (g). He was persuaded,
that they and all other Christians might, if
This is what the Supreme Disposer of all Things positively demands in some Degree or other from every one of us ; we must do our utmost at all Times and in all Circumstances; God therefore ties it down as an unalterable Rule for his Conduct towards Mankind, that the Servant which knew his Lords Will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his Will, mall be beaten with many Stripes. But he that knew it not so perfectly as the other, and did commit Things worthy of Stripes, according to his Proportion of Knowledge, mall be beaten with few Stripes (h). And the Reason given by our
(8) Philipp. i. 6.
(b) St. Luke xii. 47, 48,