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hindrances out of his way, until the Lord thoroughly settle and establish him in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
But I must admonish the reader, that I do not expect this merely from what I have written. It is too high and great a work for any mere man.
Faith is the gift of God. And he alone who gives it can increase it. The author of the faith is also the finisher of it: and we do not use the means to set the Lord of all means aside. No. We use them that we may find him in them. It is his presence, which makes the use of them effectual
. By this, and this only can any reader of this book be rendered stronger in faith.' Being well assured of this, I have therefore looked up to him myself, and it will be for thy profit also, reader, to look up to him in prayer, for his blessing: Entreat him of his grace to countenance this feeble attempt to promote his glory and his people's good. Beg of him to make thy reading of it the means of thy growth in faith, and to accompany it with the supply of his Holy Spirit to every believer into whose hands it may fall. And forget not in thy prayers and praises to remember the author. I bless God who has enabled me to revise the
press, and to put my last hand to the work, by making such additions and alterations, as seemed to me necessary, to render the subject more plain to common readers. In this, and in all things, I desire to approve myself to my Lord and Master, whose I am, and whom I serve, and whatever good I have or do, to him be all the praise. Blessed be his Name this day, henceforth, and through the day of eternity.
TREATISE, &c. &c.
HE persons for whose use this little tract is drawn up, are supposed to be practically acquainted with these following truths; they have been convinced of sin, and convinced of righteousness. The word of God has been made effectual by the application of the Holy Spirit to teach them the nature of the divine law, and upon comparing their hearts and their lives with it, they have been brought in guilty. They found themselves fallen creatures, and they felt the sad consequences of the fall, namely, total ignorance in the understanding of God and his ways, an open rebellion against him in the will, and an entire enmity in the heart, a life spent in the services of the world, the flesh, and the devil ; and on all these accounts guilty before God, and by nature children of wrath. When they were convinced of those truths in their judgments, and the awakened conscience sought for ease and deliverance, then they found they were helpless and without strength. They could take no step nor do any thing, which could in the least save them from their sins, Whatever method they thought of, it failed them upon trial, and left conscience more uneasy than before. Did they purpose to repent? They found such a repentance, as God would be pleased with, was the gift of Christ. He was exalted to be a prince and a Saviour to give repentance. Suppose they thought of reforming their lives, yet what is to become of their old sins ? Will present obedience, if it could be perfectly paid, make any atonement for past disobedience? Will the broken law take part of our duty for the whole ? No. It has determined, that whosoever shall keep the whole law
and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. And let him be ever so careful in doing what the law requires, or in avoiding what the law forbids, let him fast and pray and give alms, hear and read the word, be early and late at ordinances, yet the enlightened conscience cannot be herewith satisfied : because by these duties he cannot undo the sin committed, and because he will find so many failings in them, that they will be still adding to his guilt and increasing his misery. • What method then shall he take? The more he strives to make himself better, the worse he finds himself. He sees the pollution of sin greater. He discovers more of its guilt. He finds in himself a want of all good, and an inclination to all evil. He is now convinced, that the law is holy, just, and good, but when he would keep it, evil is present with him. This makes him deeply sensible of his guilty helpless state, and shews him that by the works of the law he cannot be saved. His heart, like a fountain, is continually sending forth evil thoughts, yea, the very imaginations of it are only and altogether evil, and words and works partake of the nature of that evil fountain from whence they flow: so that after all his efforts he cannot quiet his conscience nor attain
with God. The law having done its office, as a school-master, by convincing him of these truths, stops his mouth that he has not a word to say, why sentence should not be passed upon him. And there it leaves him, guilty and helpless. It can do nothing more for him, than shew him that he is a child of wrath, and that he deserves to have the wrath of God abiding upon him for ever; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
The gospel finds him in this condition, as the good Samaritan did the wounded traveller, and brings him good news. It discovers to him the way of salvation contrived in the covenant of grace, and manifests to him what the ever blessed Trinity had therein purposed, and what in the fulness of time was accomplished. That all the perfections of the Godhead might be infinitely
and everlastingly glorified. The Father covenanted to gain honour and dignity to his law and justice, to his faithfulness and holiness, by insisting upon man's appearing at his bar in the perfect righteousness of the law. But man having no such righteousness of his own, all having sinned, and there being none righteous, no not one; how can he be saved ? The Lord Christ, a person in the Godhead coequal and coeternal with the Father, undertook to be his Saviour. He covenanted to stand up as the head and surety of his people in their nature, and in their stead, to obey for them, that by his infinitely precious obedience many might be made righteous, and to suffer for them, that by his everlasting meritorious stripes they might be healed. Accordingly in the fulness of time he came into the world, and was made flesh, and God and man being as truly united in one person, as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man. This adorable person lived and suffered, and died, as the representative of his people. The righteousness of his life was to be their right and title to life, and the righteousness of his sufferings and death was to save them from all the sufferings due to their sins. And thus the law and justice of the Father would be glorified in pardoning them, and his faithfulness and holiness made honourable in saving them. He might be strictly just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.
In this covenant the holy Spirit, a person coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son, undertook the gracious office of quickening and convincing sinners in their consciences, how guilty they were, and how much they wanted a Saviour, and in their judgments how able he was to save all that come unto God through him, and in their hearts to receive him, and to believe unto righteousness, and then in their walk and conversation to live
grace and strength. His office is thus described by our blessed Lord in John xvi. 13, 14. “ When the Spirit of truth is come he shall glorify me; 6 for he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you;" that is, when he comes to convince sinners of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment, he takes of the things of Christ, and glorifies him by shewing them what a fulness there is in him to save. He leads them into all necessary truth in their judgments, both concerning their own sinfulness, guilt, and helplessness, and also concerning the almighty power of the God-man, and his lawful authority to make use of it for their salvation. He opens their understandings to comprehend the covenant of grace, and the offices of the eternal Trinity in this covenant, particularly the office of the sinner's surety the Lord Christ, and he convinces them that there is righteousness, and strength, comfort and rejoicing, grace for grace, holiness and glory, yea, treasures infinite, ever-lasting treasures of these in Christ, and hereby he draws out their affections after Christ, and enables them with a heart to believe in him unto righteousness. And the Holy Spirit having thus brought them to the happy knowledge of their union with Christ, afterwards glorifies him in their walk and conversation, by teaching them how to live by faith upon his fulness, and to be continually receiving out of it grace for grace, accordo ing to their continual needs.
The corruption of our nature by the fall, and our recovery through Jesus Christ, are the two leading truths in the Christian religion, and I suppose the persons for whose sake this little tract is drawn up not only to know them, but also to be established in them, stedfastly to believe and deeply to experience them. The necessity of their being well grounded in them is very evident; for a sinner will never seek after nor desire Christ, farther than he feels his guilt and his misery; nor will he receive Christ by faith, till all other methods of saving himself fail, nor will he live
Christ's fulness farther than he has an abiding sense of his own want of him. Reader, How do these truths appear to thee? Has the law of God arraigned thee in thy conscience! Hast thou been there brought in guilty, and has the Spirit of God deeply convinced thee by the law of sin, and of unbelief, and of thy helplessness, so as to leave thee no