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A DISCOURSE

PROVING

WEAK GRACE VICTORIOUS.

MATTHEW XII. 20.

A BRUISED REED SHALL HE NOT BREAK, AND SMOKING FLAX

SHALL HE NOT QUENCH, TILL HE SEND FORTH JUDGMENT UNTO VICTORY.

We need not take our rise higher than verse 18, where the quotation out of Isa. xlii. begins, where you find God, like a herald, proclaiming his Son to the world, under the name of his servant: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.” It contains, 1. His election of him; God chose, called him to his mediatorial office. 2. The agreeableness of the person to God; he did wholly acquiesce in him, and deposit in his hand the concerns of his glory. 3. The ability and assistance God gave him, “I will put my spirit upon him.” 4. The work he should do : “he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.” His coming is set down, not with pomp, or noise," he shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets,” ver. 19. The meekness and tenderness of his carriage, “ he shall not cry;" he shall not be contentious with the people; of which a sign

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is, an immoderate raising of the voice, and clamour against them. Take notice here of,

1. The object, a bruised reed. Jerome takes it for a musical instrument made of a reed, which shepherds used to have, which, when bruised, sounds ill, and is flung away by the musician, as disdaining to spend his breath upon such a vile instrument that emits no pleasant sound. But Christ will not cast off poor souls that cannot make so good music in God's ears as others, and answer not the breathings of the spirit with life and vigour; but he will take pains with them to mend them. Bruised reeds, such as are convinced of their own weakness, vanity, and emptiness.

The smoking flax of the wick of a candle, wherein there is not only no profit, but some trouble and noisomeness. Though the soul is noisome by reason of its corruptions, yet he will not blow out that expiring fire, but blow it up and cherish it; he will not rigidly oppress and throw off those that are weak in grace, and faith, and hope, but he will heal them, nourish them, inflame them. Maldonat interprets it—That though he walk in the way where bruised reeds lie, he will step over them, and not break them more; he will not tread upon a little smoking flax that lies languishing upon the ground, and so put it out with his foot, though it hurts the eyes with its smoke, and offends the nostrils with its stench. Smoking souls that have some weak desires, and fumings towards heaven, some small evaporations of their spirits towards God, he shall not quench. The Chaldee paraphrase is—Those meek or gracious ones which are like a bruised reed, shall not be broken by him.

2. The act. He shall not break; not quench ; he shall mightily cherish, support the reed, inflame the flax.

3. The continuance of it; till he sends forth judgment unto victory. In Isaiah it is, “Till he bring forth judgment unto truth;" but Matthew, instead of truth, puts victory.

Judgment is taken several ways. For,

1. Wisdom : “ The Lord will wait that he may be gracious, for the Lord is a God of judgment, Isa. xxx. 18. that is, of wisdom to give in the most convenient season.

2. Righteousness : “ Judgment is far from us, neither doth justice overtake us,” Isa. lix. 9; that is, there is no holiness in us.

3. Overthrow of a christian's enemy: “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” John xii. 31; now shall the devil be conquered, “ He shall bring forth judgment unto truth :" Isa. xlii. 3. that is, he shall govern in righteousness. Now Christ's government being chiefly in the souls of men, he shall assist and encourage that which is the better; as governors ought to be encouragers of the good, and discouragers of the bad. Matthew explains this, and shows the consequence of this government; if it be in truth, it will make the better part victorious. Some by judgment understand the gospel, the new evangelical law: “ The isles shall wait for his law,” ver. 4. So Christ will not rest till he makes the gospel glorious, and advances it in the world above the lusts and idolatries of men, which then overflowed the world. Some by judgment understand grace, which is the draught and copy of the gospel drawn in the soul; and both those senses the words

first sense,

will bear; the words in Isaiah seem to bear the

“ The isles shall wait for his law.” The other seems most consonant to Matthew, “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust;" that is, he will make their faith victorious, the effect of this judgment, or evangelical law should be the victoriousness of grace and faith. Implanting grace in the heart is the main design of the gospel ; and grace is nothing else but a moulding the soul into the form of that law and doctrine of Christ; as Christ will make the gospel glorious, above all the carnal reasonings of men, so he will make grace, which is the end of the gospel, victorious above all the corruptions of men. In this latter sense we shall now handle it, Christ shall make those beginnings of grace

and infused habits, to obtain a perfect conquest. By his governing of it, he shall make the conquest over corruption perfect.

DOCTRINE. TRUE, THOUGH WEAK GRACE SHALL BE PRESERVED, AND IN THE END PROVE VICTORIOUS.

Seeds of grace, though mixed with a mass of corruption, cannot be overcome by it: as gold cannot be altered in its nature by the dross, or transformed into the nature of the rubbish in which it lies. Grace is surely weakest at the first infusion, when it is newly landed in the heart from heaven, when the devil and the wickedness of man's nature have taken the alarm, and drawn together all the armies of hell to hinder its progress; yet though it be thus, in so weak a condition, indisposed to make a stout resistance, having got but little footing in the heart, and a man's own inclinations not well reconciled to it, nor his evil apprehensions and notions fully exterminated, and the predominant corruptions that held the empire before, having

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