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received but their first wound, and being much unmortified, and grace also as yet but in a strange soil, not naturalized at all ;-yet is grace
then strong, that all the legions of hell cannot totally worst it; though it be like a grain of mustard-seed newly sown, yet it springs up into a mighty tree : for as the weakness of God is stronger than men, so is the weakness of grace stronger than sin in the event and issue. The meanest grace is above the highest intellectual parts, as the smile of a sun-beam is more powerful to chase away the grim and sour darkness of the night, than the sparkling of a diamond. According to the degrees of its growth, its effects are wonderful; as a small spark, by a breath of wind growing into a flame, may fire and consume a spacious and stately building. The weakest grace by degrees shall have strength: “He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David,” Zech. xii. 8. which is meant of the Jews' strength at their conversion. David was a mighty man of valour, and when a stripling, laid Goliath in the dust; but in the strength of Christ : for the “ House of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before him," that is, Christ that descended from David. In the text you see God assures us, that Christ shall perform this; therefore let us see what engagements are on God's part, and what also on Christ's part to effect this business, which will be sufficient demonstrations of this truth.
In general. Grace hath great allies; the greatest power that ever yet acted upon the stage of the world, had a hand in the birth of it: should we see all the states of the world engaged in bringing a person to a kingdom, and maintaining him there in his right, we could not rationally think that there were any likelihood they should be baffled in it.
The Trinity sat in consultation about grace ; for if there were such a solemn convention held about the first creating of man, Gen. i. 26. much more about the new and better creating of him, and raising him somewhat above the state of a man. The Father decrees it, Christ purchaseth it, the Spirit infuseth it;the Father appoints the garrison, what grace shall be in every soul, Christ raiseth this force, and the Spirit conducts it. The Trinity have a hand in maintaining it; the Father purgeth out corruption, the Son washes, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies; all this is but the carrying on the new creature : “ But after the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, not by works of righteousness,” &c. “but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,” Tit. iii. 4-6, “God our Saviour," that is, God the Father, the Father is the author of salvation from sin, Christ the purchaser, the Spirit the conveyer. There is a special relation between the Trinity and grace: the Father is said to beget us, John i. 13; and we are said to be the seed of Christ, Isa. liii. 10; and born of the Spirit, John iii. 6; that therefore which hath so strong a relation, cannot perish. I. The Father, who is the first root of grace
in his good will and pleasure. Though Christ merited the fruits of election, yet he did not merit election itself, for Christ himself is a fruit of that first election.
God's attributes are engaged. Grace will engage God's assistance. Every grace is part of the Divine nature, because it is an imitation of one or other of the Divine attributes, and exemplifies the Divine perfections in its operations : “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” 1 Pet. ii. 9. Show forth the praise of God, upɛràs, the virtues of God. Grace in all the parts of it doth glorify one or other attribute of God; humility his power, contentedness his sufficiency, watchfulness his omniscience, prayer his sovereignty, repentance and sorrow for sin his justice, faith his love and truth; a fiduciary reliance on his word, his wisdom, &c.
1. The love of God is engaged in it. The riches of his grace was the motive to work grace in the heart. Goodness made him bring light into the world, and it is the same motive makes him bring grace into the soul. It is called God's workmanship, his poem, Eph. ii. 10. toinua, about which he spent more skill than about all other things. As usually men are more lofty in a poem than in prose, and enrich it with the sublimest fancies, and diligently observe their numbers and measures ; so is God exact in the production of the new creature, which is rather his ποίημα than έργον, as if it were not so much the work of his hands, as the work of his heart; for as his soul was pleased in Christ, (Matt. xii. 18.) so in all things which make to the glory of Christ. “His soul :" it denotes a high joy which we find not expressed of the creation ; and therefore his heart is chiefly set upon grace, as that which he chiefly designed Christ to purchase, and Christ to implant.
Well then, did God's love give his Son to die for
thee, to purchase that grace ? And will not the same love engage his power to preserve and perfect that grace ? Shall his common love to his creatures cause him to provide for sparrows, and will he neglect his children ? Shall he provide for his children, and not stand by to second that which gives them the denomination of children? Shall their hairs be numbered, and not one fall to the ground without the will of God ? Hairs, I say, which are inconsiderable, of which there is no miss, no endangering of life by their fall; and shall grace be thrown to the ground by corruption, which brings down with it the life and happiness of a christian and the glory of God? No, the weakest grace hath a certain interest in the love of God, because the weakest is the birth of that love; as the child that is crying in the cradle, is as much related to the father, as the son stoutly working in the shop.
2. The power of God. It is not in a bare moral, but physical way, that grace is brought into the soul. If power must be employed in raising the body, less surely will not serve to raise the soul, which is a far more noble and excellent work. Can it be possibly thought, that when Satan, the strong man, had possession of the soul, well provided for defence, had a great interest in the affections and love of a man, making no laws, enjoining no commands but what were suitable and pleasant to flesh and blood, that ever grace of itself could have dispossessed him, and wrested this empire out of his hands ? Surely it must be the power of God that did it, else so strong an enemy, so mighty a prince could never have been overcome, so well beloved a governor could never have been over
thrown. God is the strength of the soul; all the contrivances and stratagems against the flesh are from him : “ Our sufficiency is of God: we are not sufficient of ourselves, loyioafat, to think," 2 Cor. iii. 5; that is, to come to some certain resolution,
men do when they sum up their particular accounts, or state their own affairs; and when this is done, we cannot will it, or put it in execution without him; therefore, “He works in us both to will and to do, and that of his good pleasure,” Phil. ii. 13. évèoriac, love and power is put together. It would be derogatory to God, if that should be totally overcome, which his immediate power is the cause of, put on by his special love; for it would either argue a want of love, or a want of sufficiency to maintain it: but it is not thus; for the same power which brought us to God, keeps us from being drawn from him: If “ kept by the power of God through faith,” i Pet. i. 5, then that faith is also kept by the power of God; that faith whereby we overcome the invasions of Satan, and repel his fiery darts; that faith whereby the corruptions of the heart are resisted and expelled by its purifying act; for faith purifies the heart instrumentally, Acts xy. 9.
3. The holiness of God. Men are said to be like God, not in power, infiniteness, omniscience, &c. but in holiness, which is the attribute most extolled in heaven, Isa. vi. 3. an attribute which God doth most magnify, as swearing by it, Psa. lxxxix. 35. which he doth not particularly and expressly by any other attribute ; an attribute which he is so tender of: for what is the cause of that justice which employs his power in punishing offenders, but his holiness and hatred of sin ?